Blog Fiasco

October 9, 2010

Mobile radar page updated

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , , — bcotton @ 10:12 pm

After some effort, I’ve completed my to-do list for the mobile radar page and decided to call it version 1.0.  It is now available from the Mobile Weather page (http://weather.funnelfiasco.com/mobile/).  A mostly complete list of changes is below:

  • Bugfix: Fixed problem with selecting alternate products. An update in the previous version caused the site variable to not be set correctly when an alternate product was selected at the bottom of the page.  This has been fixed.
  • Added adjacent site dial. Toward the bottom of the display page, there is now a dial to select the same product from an adjacent site (if it exists).  This is really handy for times when the area of interest is right on the edge of a site’s coverage.
  • Images now have a file extension. Previously, images were saved without an extension.  This wasn’t really a problem unless you wanted to right-click on the image.  All images are now displayed with a .gif extension, even though some of the static images are actually PNG files.  This does not appear to have any adverse effects.
  • Site name now in the headline. The name of the site, as well as the ID is now given in the headline along with the product type.

September 28, 2010

NWS mobile radar page updated

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , , — bcotton @ 4:53 pm

I put a little bit of effort into the NWS mobile radar page this afternoon and am proud to announce that it has been bumped to version 0.2b.  It is now available from the Mobile Weather page (http://weather.funnelfiasco.com/mobile/).  A mostly complete list of changes is below:

  • Added site selection menu.  I didn’t think it was necessary initially, but several users have suggested it, and my own experience while on vacation proves that there probably aren’t too many people who know the ID for all 154 sites.  The added bonus is that I’ve begun support for a requested feature, which is to select adjacent radar sites.  The difficult part will be filling that information in for each site, so it will likely be a gradual roll-out.  Sites can still be selected manually, which is probably quicker if you already know the ID.
  • Added license information.  In line with the rest of the website, the code for this script is licensed under the CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0. That information is now contained in the comments as well in the code output.
  • Put site selection and product selection on separate lines.  This is a small tweak to (hopefully) improve usability.  While horizontal real estate is constrained, there’s more room to separate things vertically on most devices, so let’s go with that.  If nothing else, users are used to vertical scrolling.
  • Added spacing of other products under radar image. Another usability tweak, which should make the clicking process a little bit simpler, especially on touch-only devices.
  • Change radar image label from <p> to <h3>.  This makes the site and product a little more visible and adds some vertical spacing to keep things from looking too jammed together.

May 3, 2010

Presenting: Funnel Fiasco mobile weather

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , — bcotton @ 7:01 am

You may recall on Saturday that I mentioned some big things that were coming.  Fortunately, you don’t have to wait long.  I’m proud to announce that an idea I’ve been thinking about has finally been realized this weekend.  Without further ado, the Funnel Fiasco mobile weather site. The idea behind this site is simple: the National Weather Service makes a lot of data available but it isn’t always in a mobile-friendly format.  Even the NWS mobile page has some bad navigation (and more importantly, doesn’t include velocity data, which is very important to chasers).  All I’ve done is to re-package the data in a way that I want to see it when I’m away from the computer.

All of the data is mirrored and hosted locally to minimize my impact on the NWS servers (and thus save taxpayer money!).  The local storm reports (LSRs) are grabbed by a cron job every 10 minutes.  I use the comma-separated value (CSV) files hosted on the Storm Prediction Center’s storm report website.  The CSVs are parsed by a Perl script I wrote and then a static HTML page is generated.  For the radar data, the images are mirrored on demand and a Perl script generates the output on the fly.  The radar data piece is a fairly heavy-duty script (by my standards, at least) and so I still consider it in beta.  For now, it actually runs on my server at home and not on the main funnelfiasco.com server.  I plan to move it onto funnelfiasco.com (and hope it doesn’t kill my bandwidth limits) after further testing.

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of the work I’ve done, almost all in the space of a weekend.  It’s nice to be able to add some useful content to my site.  I hope that it will get some good use and continue to grow.  As I come across data that can be easily manipulated, I’ll add it to the site.  Of course, if you wonderful readers have data you’d like to see, please let me know.

December 11, 2009

The first few weeks with the N900, part 2

Filed under: Linux — Tags: , , , , , , , — bcotton @ 11:26 am

This is part 2 of my review of the N900.  Part 1 includes “Unboxing”, “The screen”, “Connectivity”, “Web browsing”, and “The camera and other multimedia goodness.”  Part 2 includes “E-mail, calendar, contacts, and instant messaging”, “Other applications”, and “The phone.” (more…)

December 9, 2009

The first few weeks with the N900, part 1

Filed under: Linux — Tags: , , , , , , , — bcotton @ 10:16 am

Three months to the day after I first wrote about the N900, Nokia’s newest smartphone ended up on my desk.  Since I’ve talked so much about it on Twitter (and since I had to lobby my wife aggressively to let me buy it), I think I owe the world my review.  I get the feeling that this review will end up focusing on a lot of the negatives, but don’t misunderstand me: I really like this phone.  The N900 is great phone with a lot of potential, but it is currently an early-adopter’s phone.  I’m generally not one to play the early adopter game, but this time around I couldn’t help myself. (more…)

August 24, 2009

I may have found my next phone

Filed under: Linux — Tags: , , , , , , , , — bcotton @ 7:41 am

I fully expect to be in the smartphone market in the not-so-distant future.  My BlackBerry 8700c has served most admirably these past few years, including untold drops onto various surfaces and a 9-hour nap in a snow bank.  Despite it’s faithfulness, it is not the phone it once was.  Aside from some cosmetic problems, it has a tendency to freeze up every so often, which requires me to remove the battery to shut it off.  Not to mention the lack of 3G capability.  That really hurts.

I’ve been eyeing the iPhone since it first came out, and the more I learned about the phone itself, the more I like it (especially the 3G S).  Unfortunately, the more I learn about the way Apple and AT&T rule the network, the more repulsed I am.  That, among other considerations, is a big reason why I still have yet to let the BlackBerry go.  Still, when I look at the features that I want out of a smartphone, the iPhone fares the best.  Until now.

There has been quite the buzz (or at least mild hum) on the Internets since Mobile-review.com did a preview of the Nokia N900.  Holy crap, this looks like my kind of phone.  From a hardware standpoint, it seems more like the G1, which is a solid-feeling phone.  What really sets it apart is the software side.  The phone runs Maemo, a Debian-derived Linux distro designed for mobiles and tablets.  My knowledge of Maemo is still pretty sketchy, but from the Slashdot discussion I’ve gathered that it is a full-featured Linux distro, capable of running just about anything you want.   Has freedom finally come to the cell phone market?

At the moment, it appears that most of the discussion on the Internet begins with the Mobile-review article, any other details are hard to find.  One site did suggest that it might be available in the US in September, and since Nokia World is scheduled for Sept 2-3, that’s not unreasonable.  The list price is supposed to be $780 (which compares well to the iPhone 3G S list price) and I expect the carrier (likely T-Mobile) will offer some nice subsidizing.

So for now I will wait and see what develops.  It looks like a great phone, the real deciding factors for me will be the release date, the price and the carrier.  For all the bad things that I’ve noted about AT&T, they’ve been my wireless carrier since back in the Cingular days and I’ve never had any problems.  Plus, they offer a discount because of my employer, which is always a nice incentive.  Will I end up switching carriers so that I can get the N900?  Will the price be such that I can just buy it and bring it onto my existing AT&T account?  Will I chicken out and just try to do everything on my Samsung Sync?  I guess we’ll find out soon.

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