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.

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.” –


Oh well...

Holy crap, it's cold!

At about 2 pm yesterday, I stepped outside from work and it was nice. About 75 degrees, a bit overcast, raining. When I left work at 4:30 pm, it was 45 degrees.

That’s right, in two hours, it dropped 30 degrees.

It also decided to get so dark in the sky that it looked like night. Okay, so night was only an hour away anyway, but still, it was suddenly dark and cold. It’s like we skipped fall and went straight to winter, all in the space of two hours.

I’m not a winter person. I need heat.

On a plus note, there’s new bars around that are pretty fun, and I’m planning on enjoying them this evening. Although if it’s overly crowded at the Saucer (with the Dempsey’s playing it probably will be), then I might just leave there early and head straight for Hoop’s instead. He better be open, or I’m going to have to drink somewhere else. And I really don’t want that.