Well, I broke it.

The main weatherangel.com server is going to be down for a while, until I set up the scripts to show the hurricane tracks on a newer CMS. It was bound to happen – I updated PHP, and well – that set the tone for the issues littering the site. Trust me, you don’t want to see the errors.

For the teachers that follow the site, I will do my best to get it up and going again before the hurricane season starts.

As always, thanks for visiting my humble abode on the web.

Stop SOPA

It’s time to stand up for our rights…

I try not to get political here, but there are certain things that really byte my butt. Internet Censorship is right at the top of that list. While I get what the RIAA is trying to do through congressional power, and while I get what our congress is trying to do by approving such an appalling bill, neither seem to understand the real consequences, and the large loopholes that are in this legislation. In short, our rights that were being eroded one by one are about to be taken by storm!

All of my sites will be participating in the tomorrow, and I encourage you to 1) educate yourself about SOPA, and 2) join in our ranks. I’d love to dub this , but that would make it look like this has something to do with the big banks, when in fact, this is just big corporations with a lot of lawyers and no clue how the internet really works.

SOPA Count Down

SOPA Blackout – who’s going on strike!

You’ve gotta stand up for something – these are our rights being trounced, one by one…

Near Field Communications and RFID Tags

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how Near Field Communications would not replace QR codes, especially where mass produced print materials are involved. Over the last few months we’ve been talking internally about some really cool things that could be done with RFID tags, like interactive location based games. As you may know, we have a game called Traveler’s Quest which gets you out and about to look for treasure with your iPhone as your treasure hunting device. The experience of this game is fantastic for large scale travel, especially for state to state and international travelers. But what happens if you want to bury a treasure at a specific place, like in Mouse Gear at Epcot in Orlando’s Disney World? You can most certainly do that, but if you’re trying to use your treasure to show that you’ve been there, it’s a little more difficult to make sure the other person also goes to Mouse Gear. While as a game we couldn’t do much more without the permission and sanction of Disney, they could create a game much like their Kim Possible game that uses RFID tags to allow you to play a game inside the park.

Have you ever played a game called MagiQuest? If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of the game, but I can assure you it is quite fun to play! We happened across the game at a Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA where we only intended to stay for a single night – however after happening across both the lodge and the game, we fell in love! The game consists of a wand for each player, and “magical” items, pictures, and touch screens, all of which are needed to complete each of several quests. The game uses Infrared technology in the wands, but could do even more with RFID, allowing you to purchase upgrades to your wands and the game to tell which items you have based on the individual RFID tags. Really awesome concepts in my opinion.

To go a step further, Disney is also play testing games using either the same or similar technologies – which I can’t wait to hit the parks and use once it’s available!

While most people would think of these things as great for marketing, I personally feel that these would be great for games, allowing people to interact even more with the games that they play. It’s hard to go into some of the ideas without giving too much away, but the ideas are definitely there, and the possibilities are definitely endless. Just one more way to add a little magic to your day :D

Pondering the bleeding edge…

One of the things that I loved the most about working at Disney a few years ago: There was always a challenge! The group was hanging on the other side of the bleeding edge, using all of the latest technologies, while staying backward compatible. I learned a lot there, and the group drove me to learn even more.

What’s more, when my contract ended, I was able to take those skills and write the front end for Travel 2 – AAA’s booking engine, making it completely customizable by the clubs… It was a fun task because I was able to take the time to research new ways of doing things, even if the firewall tied my hands a good part of the time.

Needless to say, it is a toss up between The Weather Channel and Disney as to which outside job was my ultimate favorite… It really is too bad though, that the National Hurricane Center is in Miami – a place I would never live in or near again. I would be very tempted to apply and make that my ultimate favorite considering my passion for hurricanes and weather. There’s so much I could do to improve their systems, so many great ideas. I’m glad to see that some of the ideas are being written, and the website improved over time.

Looking forward to the National Hurricane Conference in March where I can meet with and talk to colleagues about the latest research and information.

Monthly measurements!

When I started on Medifast, I had high hopes, but low expectations. Nothing I tried before had worked. However, I’m now 2 full months in, and here are a few statistics:

&nbsp 3 Oct 2011 7 Nov 2011 5 Dec 2011 Summary
Total Inches 307.25 298.75 292.75  
Total Inches Lost   8.5 6 14.5
Total Pounds Lost   14 11.5 25.5

In short, I’ve been following the diet, almost to the letter – slipping up every so often, but over all, hitting my goals. I was happily surprised this week with a 4 lb boost that all of our time at the parks and skating did! I can’t wait to do more!

As of today, I am 1/3 of the way to my goal, and have 3 months left on the diet to complete that goal. While it’s a lot of time, I’ve also wasted some time by not exercising enough and not quite sticking with the goals. This is something that I’m really trying to change, so I can see a better me.

I have to thank my family though, for making me get out and do what needs to be done, even on days that I just don’t feel like it. I wouldn’t have gone roller skating, or wanted to buy new skates if it weren’t for them pushing me just a little this week – THANK YOU!

Getting FIt…

So I’m on a program, and trying to get fit… I’ve had this extra MASS of weight on me for far too long, and have hated it since it intruded on my body several years ago. I’ve finally found something that works for me – not easy I know – and now I’m keeping track of how much I’m loosing as well as all of my food intake so that I can transform how I live moving forward.

I started my program on October 4, 2011, and my anticipated completion date is Feb, 2012 – long time, but a really big goal too. The MyFitnessPal.com button above will allow you to see how much I’ve lost to date, and it will continue to update itself each week as I check in. I’m on week 5 now, and have lost roughly 17 lbs. That in itself is exciting!

Through this process I’m learning a lot… I’ve always needed a dietician since frankly, I have no clue. We’ll see how it continues to go. Feel free to watch as I continue my progression to a better me.

UltraMegaFantastic!

Yes folks, that is my word of the day – borrowed from our latest app review, and that’s just how I feel.

Early this afternoon I was pointed to a tweet from Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel… It seems that she’s been posting screen shots from her iPhone of the official NHC tracking maps using Hurricane for the iPhone. While it wasn’t a shock, it was a definite feel good moment. The response to my thank you tweet by Mrs. Abrams was absolutely fantastic – hearing from her how much she loves our app, and the work that we’ve put into it really made my day. She’s already known for being a very kind person, always talking about the positive; she definitely has a motivational personality. In truth, this is the best recommendation we’ve received so far – as far as I know. What makes it so much more significant is that she even responded to the post letting everyone know how she feels about the app. To me, that was huge. I’m not sure if I can express how huge that was to me… I think it is right up there with going to the National Hurricane Conference and seeing my app on the forecaster’s phones as I was talking to them. I know when it comes down to it, these are regular every day people, just like myself. Like most people though, I’ve watched the work of these fantastic people from a far for many years now, and consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to create something that they find worthy. I don’t think it gets much simpler or more down to earth than that.

So today was UltraMegaFantastic – the perfect single word that completely describes my day and how I feel right now.

Thank you for making my day!

Elastic…

I usually hate these things because they threaten you with something bad if you don’t forward it.  Well, I am sending it along not because they threatened me, but because I believe she has some great wisdom to share… Even if it’s not truly from her (I didn’t check Snopes), these are great words to live by… I hope you enjoy them as much as I did…

This image was sent around with the email that contained the text in this post.

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday… Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.
And, there on television, she said it was ‘exciting…’
Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day…..like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:

‘I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.’

‘I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.’

‘I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.’

‘I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.’

‘I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.’

‘I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back…’

‘I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.’

‘I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.’

‘I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back…’

‘I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.’

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

 

Proxies, you’re doing it wrong!

If you do a search for User Agent Strings, you will find that there is a VAST number that use the following string:

“Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; InfoPath.1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MS-RTC LM 8; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)”

While normally, I wouldn’t think this is that big of a deal, there are two problems I can see with it:

  • This practice DOES skew analytics to thinking that there are more of this particular device than there actually are.
  • Servers that rely on the user agent string to send mobile content to mobile devices will instead send desktop content to mobile devices.

When customizing user experience, beginning with the user agent string (one of the first pieces of data we have available to us as web developers) the first thing we decide is what kind of browser is being used. If the first piece of data we get is wrong, the whole process can be thrown off. If a mobile application is working in a browser-less experience, that user agent string becomes all the more important to the experience, telling the server what it should send back to you.

User Agent strings have been used for years by all sorts of proxies, data grabbers and more, allowing us to customize the experience for a desktop machine as opposed to a mobile device.  User agent strings announce who they are, and when they are being used as a robot to grab data, they should always announce who they are.  Usually this includes:

  • the administrator’s email for easy contact from the server to the person requesting data in case the server administrator needs to make contact, request tuning, etc.
  • The name of the proxy/bot for easy recognition of applications like proxies.

When you send a desktop experience to a mobile device, simply because the proxy changed the user agent string, you are causing the server to send MORE data than necessary to the mobile user that is footing the bill for that data. That is not fair to them for the amount of data they are now receiving, as well as not being fair to their experience (a desktop view rather than a mobile view). Of course, we could probably hack around that, but why should we have to? The information is sent to us from the device, and you should not be changing it.

Gamers, how many times have you had to turn off proxies to get your game to work?  How many times have your games not been able to logon to the game network for seemingly no reason, but as soon as you turned off the proxy, poof! it just works?  One of the first things tech support asks you to do is just that.  This is the reason why.  This is also the reason that your DSL provider tells you that you can’t have a WIFI, router or other device between the modem and computer.  Those devices can also change the user agent string, making it impossible to tell if the problem you are having is local or not.

In short, providers please, STOP CHANGING THE USER AGENT STRING!


@ThinkGeek creates another April Fools joke that everyone wants!

While the first day of April in the US means that the net is practically useless, there are good things to be had.  I always check in on to see what their gag for the day is, and today they REALLY upped the ante with the iStore found here:
[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSU3ijxkp8Y&feature=player_embedded[/tube]

The page for this great April Fools joke will probably be gone tomorrow, but here’s a look at it today: ThinkGeek.com: Apple iStore by Playmobil

Following the twitterfeed, they’ve apparently been contacted by already. I wonder if would give the OK? Either way, it’s lots of fun watching this one unfold. Hope you enjoy too!