Hurricane Sandy: NWS Assesses Itself

www.nws.noaa.gov os assessments pdfs Sandy13.pdf-1

The Weather Service just released its Hurricane Sandy “Service Assessment.” Publications like this aren’t unusual. Every named or numbered storm gets some sort of after-the-fact scrutiny. Of course, Sandy is a special case, having affected so many people and so much property. This is a beefy report touching lots of bases.

The Weather Service and Hurricane Center did a good job–not good enough. There were weak points. That’s me speaking, though the report acknowledged them too.

I was on-the-air at FoxCT for Sandy. We used lots of NWS/NHC raw data and forecast products. A huge part of my job was assimilating the immense treasure trove of data available. Some of what we used was so esoteric, co-workers didn’t know it existed!

If there’s ever been a time my years of experience and nerdy curiosity came in handy, it was during Sandy.

Once Sandy moved north of Cape Hatteras the National Hurricane Center passed off much of its responsibilities to local forecast offices. That was a big mistake which served to confuse more than inform.

www.nws.noaa.gov os assessments pdfs Sandy13.pdfI said it then. Even worse, I’d said it before, having complained loudly and traded emails with the Hurricane Center’s director Ed Rappaport after Hurricane Noel received the same pass-off in 2007.

This Hurricane Center policy will be changed going forward. It’s about time!

For future storms like Sandy, NHC should be the principal point of contact responsible for the event, including delivery of a consistent suite of products and a unified communications protocol within NOAA, to key NOAA federal partners, and the media. NOAA/NWS websites should consistently reflect all watch/warning/advisories on websites, regardless of organizational structure or office/center responsibility. Web page design should ensure the most important message is quickly evident.

The are other recommendations, including a some having to do with coastal flooding and the current lack of definitive storm impacts. Giving a tidal flooding range in feet is worthless to most people. More important would be to say, “Lower Manhattan will be under water,” or similar specifics.

The truth is most non-professionals need a trusted voice. There’s too much for you to wade through.

I hope I was your trusted voice, leading you in the right direction. If you were watching us on FoxCT you weathered the storm without any big surprises. It goes without saying I will miss being that voice for you in the future.

The NWS assessment and its findings and recommendations should help all of us do better next time. There will be a next time.

Another Website Goes Live

premier-speakup-screen

We flipped the switch on Laurie Murphy’s SpeakUpLLC.com website last night. She is a motivational speaker for little kids.

As the entire creative staff of DopplerDesign, I was responsible for developing her new logo and the rest of the site.

Something was missing. Video!

That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few hours. The screen above shows my editing program.

Helaine and I shot Laurie this afternoon in front of a nearby school. We brought my Canon 7D that’s usually used for still photography and a few lenses. Of course there was a microphone and tripod and other equipment specifically for video.

The video and site were fun to do. I’m not averse to wearing a multitude of hats.

There are still a few internal additions to make it more attractive to Google and Bing, but for humans it’s mainly finished.

Two Quick Read Recommendations

There are two newspapers on my steps every morning. I read online, but there’s a special magic about reading a newspaper in its native form, so I do that too. One form complements the other.

Without my printed New York Times I wouldn’t have read two profiles, one an obituary, the other about a sports star ascending. I stumbled upon both while reading something unrelated.

dr joyce brothersYou’d have to be a lot older than me to remember how Dr. joyce Brothers got on TV. She was there all my life, appearing as a psychologist, personality or playing herself tongue-in-cheek as an actor.

I did know her backstory. She was on the original $64,000 Question, the show at the center of the 50s quiz show scandal. Dr. Brothers was legit, though she learned her topic, “Boxing,” specifically to look ‘fish out of water’ to the producers.

Dr. Brothers quickly saw that the show prized incongruous matches of contestant and subject: the straight-backed Marine officer who was an expert on gastronomy; the cobbler who knew all about opera. What she decided, would be more improbable than a petite psychologist who was a pundit of pugilism? – NY Times obituary

The other profile was written about Felix Hernandez, King Felix of the Seattle Mariners.

safeco fieldHelaine and I watched Hernandez pitch while at Safeco Feld while in Seattle last summer.

I knew he was good, but not this good. He’d be a prominent national figure, if he played for a better team.

More important than his skill as a player is how he lives his life. He is a professional athlete who values happiness.

Why stay? Why Seattle? Why, when Roy Halladay went to Philadelphia and C. C. Sabathia joined the Yankees, when stars in all sports jump to more established contenders, did Hernandez not follow the same pattern?

The answer, in part, was pancakes.

For Hernandez, the choice came down to comfort. Comfort in his neighborhood, east of Seattle in the Bellevue suburbs, where his two children play in the local parks. Comfort in the direction being taken by the Mariners’ organization, its minor league teams laden with young talent. And comfort food at his favorite local eatery, Chace’s Pancake Corral, an unassuming joint that suits its most superstar of clients.

The two profiles were not Earth shattering. You will be a better person for reading them.

I’m a big newspaper fan.

Let’s Visit The Center Of The Earth

Hearth_5.aiWhat do you know about the Earth’s core? Probably nothing.

Don’t feel bad. Most people know little about what’s going on deep under our feet. There’s a new study published in Nature which says our core is rotating at a different speed than the rest of Earth. It’s variable. Sometimes a little faster, sometimes slower.

Like I said, most of us know nothing about the center of the Earth.

It’s hot there. Really hot.

From phys.org: The Earth’s core consists mainly of a sphere of liquid iron at temperatures above 4000 degrees and pressures of more than 1.3 million atmospheres.

I’ll do the math. That’s around 7,200&#176 Fahrenheit. Have I mentioned it’s hot!

The very center of the core is so hot and under so much pressure the iron turns solid again. Of course this is all theory. We’ve never explored the Earth’s core even though it’s closer than Hawaii, about 4,000 miles straight down.

Earth’s my subject because there’s been lots of talk lately about sending men to the Moon and Mars. Why don’t we explore the Earth instead?

We wouldn’t send men to Earth’s core, but we should find ways of tapping this incredible and practically limitless supply of heat and energy. I have heard how difficult it would be, requiring engineering skill and techniques far beyond anything we possess today.

Could it be more difficult than sending men to Mars?

The Android TV Stick That Almost Works – My MK908 Story

IMG_9206mk908

Early adopter. Experimenter. Tinkerer. Guilty as charged. The allure of tech is more than I can resist.

I don’t know how I got there. No memory remains of the links that brought me to liliputing.com and and an entry on the Tronsmart MK908. It’s a little computer about the size of a large pack of Juicy Fruit.

The MK908 is designed to be plugged into a recent vintage wide screen TV or computer monitor. It’s meant to be an adjunct to your TV. It gets Netflix and MLBTV and nearly anything that’s delivered via the internet. You put it behind the monitor where it’s not seen and talk to it via WiFi or Bluetooth. There’s also an HDMI port, plus one full size and two mini USB ports and a microSD card slot.

The MK908 runs Android–meaning nearly all the apps in Google’s Play store. It is rooted.

Based on the last four paragraphs you’re probably not surprised I plunked down about $90 and ordered one from China. Units like this are impossible to find in the States. That’s a shame.

Damn you tracking! I watched it move through a mail center in China, disappear for a week then reappear in Flushing, Queens, Springfield, MA and then my local post office.

It came physical intact, but electronically broken! Oh, damn, damn, damn, damn!

It has a fatal ailment that’s also tantalizing. The unit powers on and plays for a while, then shuts the HDMI output (audio and video) for a second. It does this 40 to 50 times an hour! It works enough to see what it can do, but not enough to want to do it!

I’ve replaced every cable&#185. I reflashed the ROM. The problem persists.

I’ve been in touch with Anna at geekbuying.com, where I bought it, following her instructions. I’m afraid the MK908 is going to have to go back.

IMG_9208mk908It’s a shame. This is really promising technology.

I’ve used it as a moving map watching the radar and later tracking airborne planes. It turns my TV into an additional all purpose screen.

What is that good for? Does it really matter?

I paid with PayPal. I will file a report with them Monday. I have filed a dispute report.

&#185 – Even I was surprised to find an extra HDMI to mini HDMI cable was in my cabinet.

To My Mom On A Very Happy Mother’s Day

I wrote a blog entry from the hospital in Boynton Beach last Mother’s Day. My mom was a patient. Things didn’t look good. I was pretty certain my mother’s health would continue to spiral downward. I’m a grown-up. She’s still my mommy. It was very painful to watch. She and I spoke on the phone […]

-read more-

In The Palm Of My Hand

That thing in the palm of my hand is a micro SD card. They’re used in cellphones, tablets and some cameras. This particular one stores 32GB of anything that can be turned into bits. Oh… and 32GB is not 32,000,000,000 bytes. It’s actually 34,359,738,368 bytes. Math! It’s 8-bit binary, not decimal. Do you really want […]

-read more-

Why TV As We Know It Is Doomed

Growing up in Queens we had seven TV channels to watch. In the general scheme of things the Fox family had it good. Most folks could only get three or four. Some got fewer. In the early 50s the world came to a halt when Milton Berle was on. If you didn’t watch Uncle Miltie […]

-read more-

The Road To Hell

As I pitch new website designs I also get to peek at old ones. Think of this chore as performing Internet autopsies! So often I find the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions. Often it’s simple stuff, like out-of-country, non-American English speaking designers, working for large companies with big TV ad budgets. […]

-read more-

Peter And The Cheerleaders

I phoned my friend Peter this afternoon. He lives in South Jersey in a condo at the water’s edge. “I can’t talk,” he said seconds after we made contact. He was on the beach. He wasn’t alone. The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader’s calendar photos were being shot. Really? That’s more important than a call from me? […]

-read more-