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.

Look at what Dad brought me!

The finished piano-bar:

(click any of the pictures to see it larger)

Closed Piano

It looks good closed, but then you can break it open to show off the keyboard too (not working yet, but soon):

Piano with keys showing

And then, of course, you can whip out the full on bar:

Open Bar

Nice. Dad did a damn fine job, I have to say. The bottom section also is removable, to reveal more shelf space and such. Very cool, very good work. I’m extremely happy about how it worked out.

Thanks Dad!

40 years of X-Men

x-menCheck this out.

Yeah, thatÂ’s all forty years of X-Men, on DVD, in a printable format, for only $40. (Update: $33 now!)
485 comics. 17,500 pages.

How freakinÂ’ awesome is that?

There’s also a version that comes with the Ultimate X-Men on DVD as well. It’s $50 for the bundle of both of them. Here’s a link to the bundle.

Seems like a hell of a good deal, for an X-Men fan (like everybody should be!).