Boy Was I Wrong


I was looking back through some old tech stories last night when I came across one on cellphone tracking. Maybe you remember the story?

A few years ago, an iPhone user found his phone was compiling a list of cell towers he’d pinged and when. He even plotted his iPhone derived itinerary on a map (above).

It’s obvious, your cell carrier has to know where you are to deliver calls. What was surprising was the ‘dossier’ being kept. A lot of people were upset.

Here’s where I was wrong. I said cell companies could do that tracking, but not the government. After all, there’s the 4th Amendment.

Now we have Edward Snowden’s revelations. I feel like a sap. My script was very naive.

I’d rather not be enough of a cynic to see conspiracy everywhere. I’d rather not be so jaded I can’t believe denials from those in the know. I was played. We were all played.

It’s tough not to be jaded and cynical now.

The Easterly Trend Continues

WunderMap®   Interactive Weather Map and Radar   Weather Underground

I’ve been away all day and just got a chance to look at the 12Z ECMWF, the European model. The storm for early next week is now forecast even farther east.

Fish storm!

This highlights a forecaster’s quandary. We know predictions for weather nearly a week out are often inaccurate. That seems to be the case here.

Do I sit on my hands or present what I know with enough provisos that readers understand it’s still carved in chocolate pudding? In other words, is a heads up OK?

Twenty years ago the answer was absolutely, positively say nothing! Post Sandy, in this era of more insightful computer models, it’s not so easy.

Understanding how and when to present potentially scary info is still a work in progress. I’m not sure there’ll ever be a firm answer. You go with your gut.

Inconsistent Models

A problem with computer modeling is even small errors get multiplied over time. A slight shift from run-to-run becomes much larger when you’re looking out five or six days. That seems the case with the latest run of the European model and its positioning of a potential Northeast storm for early next week.

The storm track is now farther east. That’s good for most of the heavy population along the East Coast–not all. Under this newer scenario the Cape is very much under-the-gun.

The American GFS model is even farther east than the Euro. Its solution would make this a ‘fish storm.’ That is a very typical scenario for this type of system.

Of course, after last year’s run-in with Sandy we’re all sensitized to tracks that aren’t typical!

It’s only Wednesday. This storm’s potential impact comes early Monday. The models will shift again. They always do.

It’s a good time to remain cautious and do little more.

Heads Up To The East Coast

This posting was made Tuesday, September 27, 2013. Forecasts change. This one has radically since it was published. – Geoff

WunderMap®   Interactive Weather Map and Radar   Weather Underground

Last year, when Hurricane Sandy was a little pipsqueak south of Cuba, I noted how the European computer model was developing a storm unlike any I’d seen before. Its path took it toward the New York/New Jersey metro area, then Southern New England, moving toward land from the east.

The Euro was right. Sandy struck.

That’s why I’m a little uneasy about the last two Euro runs. Both bring a storm up a similar path.

Make no mistake, it’s very early. These two runs disagree on exactly where this storm will go, but they’re reasonably close. All the areas affected by Sandy are threatened again, probably late this weekend into early next week.

I can’t emphasize too strongly, computer modeling is notoriously suspect this far out. Beyond that, models like the European are made for synoptic scale weather–larger systems. Tropical cyclones are too small to be handled properly.

However, you can’t dismiss the Euro’s uncanny accuracy last year in a very similar situation.

There’s probably nothing you can or should do right now, except think about what you will do should this threat persist. If you’re in one of the affected areas, you’re already battle hardened.

Hurricanes and tropical storms seem romantic in the abstract. It only takes a day or two without the necessities of 21st Century life to bring you back to reality.

I hope the Euro is wrong.

Delayed At McCarran


Gate C19, McCarran International, Las Vegas.  There is no other airport like this one.  It’s busy round-the-clock, just like the rest of the city.

It is an eclectic crowd, to say the least.  Judging by facial expression I’m not flying home with any jackpot winners.

My flight is delayed.  7:30 has become 8:10.  The plane is in the air on its way from Reno.

I passed through security and immediately came upon another flight going to SNA (John Wayne Airport).

“Are you going to OC,” I asked the gate agent?

“Sorta,” he replied.

“I have no checked bags, so if there’s room can I go?”

“I said sorta because it’s going to Sacramento first!”  He smiled.

Like I said, my flight’s delayed.  I’m at Gate C19  with my fellow travelers.

A disembodied voice is telling passengers on another flight the previously announced delay has disappeared.  This won’t end well   How many folks will be at the bar when the plane leaves the gate?

It was a good trip.  Helaine and I had fun at the wedding.  I have photos.  They’ll probably get posted tomorrow.

Taking the tablet (Asus Google Nexus 7) was a huge success.  It’s much more portable than even a laptop and, except for handling my photos, was equal to the task.  Even my cheapo no-name Bluetooth keyboard has worked well.  No complaints.

I’m hoping to be home by 9:30.

PBS Nature: I Simultaneously Loved And Hated It

I’m in bed watching Nature on PBS. It’s a show about migrating birds in Europe. The photography is amazing with many fly along shots. EARTHFLIGHT invites us to see the world from a bird’s perspective with state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated camera techniques that take viewers on a breathtaking aerial adventure over six continents. It took […]

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Rachel’s Getting Married

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It’s Gloomy And I Feel Cheated

I’ve seen this weather before. Just not since moving to California. It’s cloudy. It’s gloomy. It’s chilly. California, this is so not like you. Here’s the awful part. I feel cheated, as if I’m entitled to eternal sunshine. I’m sure in SoCal I’m not alone. If the weather models are to be believed, it’s the […]

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The Physical

New city. New doctor. New year. It’s time for my physical. This always seems like asking for trouble. I’m feeling decent. Why turn over rocks looking for stuff? First step, the weigh in. I unloaded my pockets as if the weight of my keys, cellphone and wallet would make a difference. The scale read at […]

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Talent As The Product

First it was Nate Silver taking his FiveThirtyEight blog from the New York Times to ESPN. Now Nikki Finke seems likely to move Deadline Hollywood from Penske Media (publisher of Variety and others). Finally Dow Jones announced it is parting ways with Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg and their All Things Digital franchise. It too will […]

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