Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fog Bank, October 20, 2014

Eric Fisher, Chief Met. for CBS in Boston, has a nice article on technology & tornado identification

Astronomy Picture of the day gets two slots, with a short video of  sprite lightning in slow motion.

and an Auroral corona picture taken in Norway, from Astronomy Picture of the Day

An oldie, but goodie. From April 25, 2013, NOAA's Weather Ready Nation news on Dual Polarization Radar

I'll close with two links from ESPOD.

ESPOD again with lenticular clouds over the Andes

ESPOD has a photo of a roll cloud in Brazil

Audio Fog Bank

Fog Bank, October 13, 2014

Jesse Ferrell had a great set of photos of asperatus clouds over NYC

CoCoRaHS has a webinar coming up October 23, on atmospheric rivers. The webinar will be recorded and available for later viewing.

NASA offers a mailing list to get science updates from the ISS lead scientist.

The National Snow & Ice Data Center published their 2014 arctic melt season review has a very nice gallery of photos of the lunar eclipse

CIMSS_Satellite tweeted a picture of the Blood moon from the GOES East satellite

Audio for Fog Bank

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fog Bank, Oct. 6, 2014

I'll start this week with a photo of a fog bank, from Earth Science Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day with a full circle rainbow

@NOAASatellites tweeted about National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) and the Deep Space Climate Observatory, DSCOVR. The satellite is going out to the earth-sun Lagrange 1 point, about 1 million miles from Earth, and will monitor solar activity.

Tony Rice commented on pictures of the Milky Way. How about a picture of the Milky Way just before the sun rises over the Sahara, taken from the ISS?

A great aurora picture taken in Norway

I sent out a tweet at the start of the show with my solution for watching The Weather Channel on a television .. Here it is:

Bonus link --- the polar vortex

Audio Fog Bank

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fog Bank, Sept. 29, 2014

I really should have numbered these ...

Hello, WeatherBrains listeners, this is David Phillips, skydaver on Twitter

Astronomy Picture of the Day, with a photo of the Aurora & volcanic light pillar

Earth Observatory had a great photo and discussion of Clouds & Dust over the Sahara, taken from the ISS.

ESPOD has some great rainbow photos on Sept. 27.

I've got a comic about the science news cycle I think you'll like

A few final, short, comments on the WeatherGeeks show on The Weather Channel. Dr. Shepard. A+. Guests, A+ (you were great, James, can't wait to see next week) Graphics … makes me think of a bad Geocities web site.

Thanks for listening, Skydaver Out

Audio FogBank

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Critique of "Weather Geeks", from The Weather Channel

In my last Fog Bank segment, I went off on a rant about "Weather Geeks", the new show on The Weather Channel.

I thought it might be worth while to go into details about the show.

First, the good things about the show. The host, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, is great. It's obvious that he's having a good time with the show, and talking with his guests. His guests are great. I think Dr. Shepherd's interviewing skills will improve, as well. That's the single issue I have with Dr. Shepherd; I think he takes a little too much time asking his questions, and could get to a question more quickly, rather than setting up so much background as he asks the question. That's a pretty minor issue, and one that others may disagree upon.

It's the video production of the show that irritates me.

I'll start with what isn't in the show. On a high definition TV, the Weather Channel shrinks this show down to about 3/4 of the screen. In the space made available, they have a bottom and side bar to show stuff.

The bottom bar is almost tolerable. It has The Weather Channel logo on the left hand side, with the time & temperature alternating above that.  To the right, the local conditions & forecast are displayed.
There is a crawler bar above the current conditions, that is a distraction, and nearly content free. It showed "information" such as "PollenCast" for El Paso, Game Day Kickoff temperatures for NFL games, and non-weather headlines. It is a waste of space.

The side of the screen is worse. This portion is divided into three sections. The top section says "Brought to you by The Weather Channel". Really? I'm SO glad you told me! I might have missed the logo on the bottom, and the fact that I TURNED ON THIS CHANNEL TO WATCH THIS SHOW!

The middle section of this bar is even worse. It's showing things like days until events (fall, winter, Halloween, Christmas), barometric pressure, temperature, dewpoint, and on and on. Some of the bits of information are not uninteresting, but could be shown (and may be shown) in the bottom section along with current conditions. What is inexcusable about this section is the way the information is presented. Every single infographic is animated, in a speedometer type graphic. As the temperature is displayed, a circular line winds around until it reaches a point on the scale to match the temp. Inside the circle, the numbers flash as if they're counting up to the value being shown. Even the days to an event get animated like this. This is just stupid.

In the lower section, they show the name of the next few items that are going to be displayed in the middle section.

This is a complete waste of space.

Onto the video of the show itself.

There's a large, opaque, bottom third, showing "WxGeeks", and a banner that describes the topic under discussion. When that banner changes, it's animated. The banner slides to the left, then slides back out with the new text. If the name of the guest is shown, that's shown on top of this bottom third, taking away even more of the screen real estate.

The set has a large green screen or monitor bank behind the desk where the participants sit. The graphics shown are constantly changing, with storm clouds rolling by, lightning flashing, numerical formulas scrolling around, animated charts, and on, and on, ad nauseum. Not one single bit of that information has anything to do with what is being discussed.

My final gripe (for now) concerns the switch from the in studio cameras to footage from other locations. For every single transition like that, the screen shows an animated (less than 1 second) Wx Geeks logo screen. The footage being shown, while usually slightly relevant to the discussion, is only rarely discussed by the participants, and provides very little value to the viewer. Coming back to the studio camera, the same animation is shown.

To the directors and producers of this show, I say that just because you have a production effect capability doesn't mean that you have to use it all the time. I'll stop short of saying that someone should take a fire ax to the control board ... but that thought is in the back of my mind.

I'll continue to watch, because Dr. Shepherd & his guests are great, and the discussions are great. I might watch the show online. Doing that gets rid of the bottom & side bar, and the small screen size on a computer or tablet make the junk shown behind the guest less obtrusive. The Weather Channel should make the show easier to find on the website, though.

To paraphrase an old insult, this TV show is perfect for radio.

I'll update this post with corrections or further observations after I watch episodes.

(@WXGeeksTWC tweeted a line to the online video of the show, which, as I mentioned, does not have the bottom or side bars. It still has all of the other issues I mention.)

Fog Bank, Sept. 22, 2014

Hello, fellow weather geeks, this is David Phillips, @skydaver, with the Fog Bank.

The magazine "Communications of the ACM" has an article about high power computing, big data, & weather forecasting. I think the article is available to the public.

NWS tweeted out a FAQ on Wireless Emergency Alerts

Capital Weather Gang's Jason Samenow had a great post about the ISS-RapidScat, a new weather instrument about to be placed on the International Space Station

This pick this is going to take some time.

I finally had a chance to watch WeatherGeeks on The Weather Channel. The episode is saw was with Dr. Ucellini. I watched it on my large flat screen.

The show sucks. It sucks pond scum. It could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. I'm almost certain that the director is an 8 year old child that has eaten nothing but cotton candy for a week.

Dr. Shepard, his guests, and the discussion are great. Unfortunately, they are overwhelmed by the absolute video garbage put on the green screen behind them.
This is a television show that should be on radio. The video  is horrible, with far, far too much distraction.

On HD, the picture is shrunk down to allow a side & bottom graphic. Those graphics are intolerable.  I can just barely allow the bottom bar which is showing local conditions & forecast, The side bar is just fluff, and I can't think of any non vulgar words to describe it.
What is inexcusable and visually jarring is the animated crap that the producers put on the green screen behind the host & guests. It is horribly distracting, and has nothing whatsoever to do with what the people are discussing.
I've edited out other more intemperate remarks.
But that's just my opinion.
In the time since I wrote that, I've seen more episodes online. Those are much more tolerable, probably because the video is only 5", not 60".

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Sept. 22 has a time lapse video from a geosynchronous satellite of an equinox day.

Thanks for listening,
Skydaver Out.

Audio Fog Bank

Fog Bank, September 15, 2014

Hello, WeatherBrains listeners, this is David Phillips, skydaver on Twitter, returning with the Fog Bank.

My vacation wasn't really a month long. We left the day before one WeatherBrains, were gone for the next one, and returned the day after the third one.  I was still catching up, and wasn't able to put one together for last week.

Lets get to it.

Earth Science Picture of the day with a hole punch cloud & fall streaks

ESPOD again, with a shelf cloud photo for Sept. 12 had a couple of nice Aurora photos, along with a great photo of the ISS transiting the sun, next to a fairly large sunspot. Unfortunately, their site crashed the same day, and they don't have an archive for Sept. 12. (as of Sept. 23, they still don't have an archive page for the 12th.

Not weather, but I find this amazing. A photograph from the Rosetta spacecraft, which flew for ten years to rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft is now in the vicinity of the comet, and is sending back photographs. Astronomy Picture of the Day has one of those.

ESPOD is one of my go to sites when I need to fill out my five picks. Here's a nice picture of a solar dog has a nice video of a recent Aurora

Thanks for listening, Skydaver out.

Audio Fog Bank