Category Archives: Linkery

The Debt Keeps Rising

… while the Republicans keep using non-free software.

Anybody examine the difference between http://republican.senate.gov/ and http://democrats.senate.gov/ lately?

Hint, one of them is complaining about the debt, while the other one is using the free and open-source software package, WordPress, to create their website.

Guess which is which. No points if it takes more than one guess.

The Republican website seems to be running on ColdFusion, a software package that kinda went out of style in 2002-2003, but for which Adobe nevertheless keeps releasing version after version, hoping somebody will notice. Well, at least now I know they have one client, I suppose.

On the other hand, the Democrats site is clearly running on WordPress 3.1.3 (not the latest version, but they’re only half a day behind, and probably not even that by tomorrow), which is a free software package that runs roughly 14.3% of the sites on the internet, including all the major websites that the people who read my blogs read every single day.

Hmm… I wonder who’s more in tune with the times.

Disclaimer: I work on WordPress, but would be heavily biased against the Republican party regardless of who my employer was. #justsaying

The future is awesome.

This tweet got me to thinking about the myriad uses of technology used for rather simple things.

Weather Station Example

Weather Station Example

For example, the weather. The National Weather Service has set up climate observation stations throughout the US, at places like airports, on top of tall buildings, alongside freeways, random places in the countryside, even on ships and buoys in the ocean. These monitor the temperature, humidity, and a bunch of other things of that nature. Sometimes they’re integrated into the overall system, like at an airport tower, sometimes they’re just self contained boxes mounted somewhere with power, like on a freeway sign or beside the road. Anyway, these boxes record this information and generally use radio transmitters to send updates back to some centralized location in each region. Usually a local university, TV station, NWS local offices, etc.

This information is then sent on to the next stop via various methods. As the technology evolved, old methods like phone lines got replaced with the internet, or on other more secure lines. They call this overall system The Gateway, and it has its own special protocols and methodologies along with it as well. Anyway, the data is sent back to the NWS’s central server center somewhere. Probably in DC, although they likely have multiple redundancy in various other locations. This information is naturally combined with all the other information from all over the world, so that a complete up-to-date system of meteorlogical data of the entire world can be maintained.

Thousands of other organizations read from this data via various protocols of their own. For example, The Weather Channel gets a lot of their information from this large, distributed, database via some kind of real time feed. They even re-serve the data themselves using various formats, such as the XOAP system.

That XOAP system is interesting because it’s a pretty good feed of weather related data for various regions. I use it myself, indirectly. On my iPhone, for example, I have the Typophone Weather application, which uses the 3G network (which is itself a highly connected system of radio towers using multi-spectrum packet switching technologies), to connect to the internet (this big system of pipes which is in reality not all that well put together but nevertheless works because of incredible fault tolerance in its various protocols), in order to query that XOAP system (which uses XML and SOAP standards for its interface).

All this happens in order to display the current temperature on my iPhone’s lock screen, while I sit here on a couch, not four feet from a friggin’ window.

The future is awesome.

Woot Bag O’ Crap

I got lucky on Woot on the April Fool’s Day sale they did, and ended up being able to order a Bag O’ Crap around level 8 of their game. First bag of crap I’ve been able to order from them.

Got it in the mail the other day. Here’s the haul (with links to their previous sales of the same items):

2 sets of Woot TrueFire Cedar Grilling Planks: http://www.woot.com/blog/viewentry.aspx?id=12309

2 180s Adjustable Ear Warmers: http://www.woot.com/Blog/ViewEntry.aspx?Id=15075

3 Reusable Strawberry totes: Can’t find the previous sale on Woot, but here’s the same thing on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Shopping-Tote-Bag-Strawberry/dp/B0032LO96K

1 Digital Photo Displaying Snowman Ornament (working): http://sellout.woot.com/blog/viewentry.aspx?id=15078

 

Also got 2 Black and White tote bags: No sales on woot, this is just some random crap, I think.

Not a bad haul for $8. The cedar grilling planks may be useful this summer. I’ll probably give away the bags to somebody. Mom is definitely getting the snowman. Spent an entertaining half an hour trying to decipher the instruction sheet, and find the software for it online (it had a CD of software which didn’t work on Windows 7). Works fine. The photos displayed on the low-resolution 1.8 inch screen look like photos displayed on a low-resolution 1.8 inch screen.

Like they say, thou shalt not get the crap you want, want the crap you get.

Press Mentions

“Otto is 255 miles northeast of Grand Turk Island and is moving in a northeasterly direction at a speed of about 2 mph.” – Source

“Otto’s presence in the western Atlantic might increase the risk of riptides along the southeastern coast of the U.S.” – Source

“The Miami-based hurricane center said that on its forecast track, Otto could end up affecting the Portuguese Azores archipelago in the Atlantic … in four to five days.” – Source

“Otto poses no threat to land. The forecast calls for it to aim northeast out to sea…” – Source (that’s what they think…)

“Otto remains … strong …, maintaining some non tropical characteristics. The forecast calls for Otto to soon shed its subtropical look, becoming a totally tropical system later Thursday. Then Otto will begin to be steered to the northeast through Friday…” – Source

“Otto is currently nearly stationary and has lost a bit of his energy. However, … he is over very warm waters. He will remain in a favorable environment through Friday, which is why he should be able to grow. A cold front on the east coast will push eastward which will knock Otto into a faster steering flow. Otto will race northeast over the weekend, … to the Azores early next week … Otto will not impact the mainland United States during his life span.” – Source

“Otto is being referred to as ‘an area of low pressure.’” – Source

“Bad news: Otto will continue to move to the north and then northeast. He’s already heading back north before Saturday gets here. By the way, it’s no coincidence that Otto is heavily-orange, right? I know that has nothing to do with heat signatures and everything to do with random chance. Obviously.” –

Source

Oh well...

Ottopress – A New Blog

Joseph Ducreux, original pimp.

Joseph Ducreux laughs at your nonsense.

For those of you who read this site for my WordPress knowledge, code, rants, or what have you, I’m writing this to point you in a new direction. I’ve started a new site just for that sort of thing: Otto on WordPress. Despite the name, I plan on putting other things there too, including code and other geekery.

Partially I’m doing it because I feel that I want to post more personal information type stuff here. More stuff about Memphis and what I’m up to and photo libraries and such, and my friends aren’t much into that sort of thing. Partially I’m doing it because I’d like to build more of a personal brand.

But, mostly I’m doing it because the ottopress.com domain name was available and I liked it. :)

I won’t be eliminating all geekery from this site, but it will be significantly toned down. Maybe. Dunno yet.

So, I’d suggest going over there if you like my technical rantings and ravings, since those won’t be here anymore. Also, this site may not be busy for a while. It’ll take a while to get into the swing of things, and I may start pulling more smaller microblog type posts in here. So if you want to switch your subscription around, now would be the time, while I make the changes.

For those people subscribing only to my WordPress tagged posts feed (I know there’s a few), I’ve redirected that feed now. You don’t have to switch, though you may want to. And if you suddenly got a bunch of repeat posts, that’s why. I moved a few of them over there when setting up.

So there you go.

BTW, if you’re not subscribing to my feeds, but prefer to use Facebook or Twitter, then I’ve separated some of that all out now too.

You can follow Otto on WordPress on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=334947428931

You can follow this blog, Nothing to See Here, on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=116002660893

And you can follow both of them on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/ottodestruct (Still working on this one, it’s not 100% reliable yet).

Twitter Geolocation

Heard of geotagged tweets yet? Not surprised, a lot of my friends seem to have not caught on to it, so I’m writing this in a possibly futile attempt to get them to try it out.

How to add your location to your tweets

1. Turn on Geotagging. To do this, go to your Twitter settings page. Down under the “Location” section is an option to enable geotagging. Turn it on.

Twitter Settings

2. Get a Twitter client that supports Geotagging. These are generally mobile applications. Tweetie 2 for the iPhone added support for it in 2.1. Several other clients support it as well. Find one.

3. Turn it on in your client. How you do this depends on the client, but it can usually be enabled on a per-tweet basis.

Here’s an example of how it works and looks in Tweetie 2 for the iPhone.

First, you type in a new tweet, and pull open the drop down.

Next, you enable the geotag feature, and you'll see a little red pin appear.

You'll see little maps on tweets with locations attached to them.

Click on the map icon for greater detail.

You can do more with your Twitter location too. For example, this website will read your twitter feed and get your latest location, then send it over to Fire Eagle, which is Yahoo’s location service. Fire Eagle can do all sorts of things, but basically it’s just a service that stores your location for other programs to use. So if you want to display your location on your blog, or on Facebook for your friends to see, or anything else you can think of, you can do that, using nothing more than your already existing tweets.