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NOAA Adopts New Net Policy 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-handle-the-weather dept.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has adopted a new policy which applies to provision of all National Weather Service environmental information, including forecasts, warnings, and observations. In June, /. reported that NOAA was taking comments on the proposed policy. Hundreds of Slashdotters responded. And it made a difference: NOAA will make its data and products available in internet-accessible, vendor-neutral form and will use other dissemination technologies, e.g. satellite broadcast, NOAA Weather Radio, and wireless, as appropriate. Congrats to the Slash community for making a difference and helping to set US Govt policy.
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NOAA Adopts New Net Policy

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  • Good stuff! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Joel from Sydney (828208) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:52AM (#10971768)
    It's good to see a Government agency actually doing something proactive with technology! Props all round.
  • The system works!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by plover (150551) * on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:54AM (#10971775) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot even got an honorable mention [noaa.gov] in the NOAA writeup (third paragraph)!

    I'm happy because my concerns were addressed. I was afraid that the proposed policy was going to give commercial interests the ability to reqeust the NOAA discontinue a service without review, meaning that if weather.com didn't like the ability of the NWS to issue point forecasts they could behind-the-scenes ask for it to be ended. The modified policy now states they will "Establish... orderly processes for seeking input and suggestions to create, modify, or discontinue products and services".

    It's a cool feeling to be a part of a process that actually seems to have worked to our advantage for a change.

  • Re:free weatherbug? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:55AM (#10971782)
    Just get yourself the WeatherFox extension for Mozilla Firefox to use instead. That way not only is the code of it free (as in beer and freedom), but also the updates come from the Weather Channel and not the Weather Channel rejects that end up working for WeatherBug.
  • Re:free weatherbug? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2004 @01:02AM (#10971821)
    http://www.singerscreations.com/AboutWeatherWatche r.asp [singerscreations.com] Weather Watcher is far better. Try it - it's fantastic. No ads, no nagging. The author accepts donations.
  • NOAA & EAS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Y-Crate (540566) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @01:08AM (#10971852)
    It can never be emphasized enough how utterly valuable a SAME [noaa.gov] equipped weather radio can be. They do not just allow you to get up to the minute weather reports, but they also act as your first warning of any kind of serious emergency in your area.

    Warning sirens are only intended to notify people outdoors, and TVs and radios are only useful if you are awake, the unit is on and you are within earshot and paying attention at the time.

    When NOAA or an emergency management agency (NOAA allows them to utilize the system without running the transmissions by them first) sends out a warning message, it is proceeded by what sounds like intermittent static. In fact, the system is sending out a burst of number sequences that are decoded by SAME equipped radios that compare the number sequence to that which the user has previously entered. If they do not match, the radio ignores the message, if they do match however, a generally ear-piercing alarm sounds while the radio interprets the alert code and displays the corresponding text message before the computer voice announcement (or real person if the situation warrants it) from the NOAA station begins to broadcast. The process takes about 10 seconds (this is to give you a chance to get closer to the radio before the voice warning begins).

    Here is a complete list of all of the emergency codes [weather.gov]

    They are not as cheap as a clock radio, but they are worth every penny. I'm still astonished when I come across people who live in tornado-prone areas who don't buy them despite their financial ability to do so and their fear of dangerous weather.
  • by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @01:50AM (#10972006) Homepage Journal
    You can find this stuff pretty easily from NOAA if you take a look around. I'm a broadcaster, and I look at these every day when I'm preparing my forecasts. We get prepared weather from a commercial provider, but I find it to be severely lacking, because the community my station serves has weather that can be quite different, depending upon where you are. During the winter, you can go from just rain to a foot of snow within 40 miles.

    Here's the site [noaa.gov] I visit every day. Take a look at things like the "Area Forecast Discussions." While they're a bit cryptic to read, they give you a better picture than the limited local forecast.
  • by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @02:25AM (#10972114) Journal
    In addition to having written a weather warning widget [widgetgallery.com] with the information they provide, I've noticed that their system usually takes beatings nicely whenever widespread severe weather occurs. Based on the interactions I've had with the website in creating the widget, their backend consists of the PHP/MySQL duo... they also run Apache 2 and Red Hat according to Netcraft [netcraft.com]. Their warnings are in both RSS and XML feeds. So it's been nice working with what they've been willing to provide, especially when you consider the large audience they serve.
  • actually... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Grandmaster Mort (731817) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @02:29AM (#10972133)
    It's called ForecastFox now because of trademark issues with The Weather Channel. You may download it at http://forecastfox.mozdev.org/
  • by eean (177028) <slashdot@mo[ ]e.nu ['nro' in gap]> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @02:35AM (#10972157) Homepage
    It is true that a lot of power in Democracy (and probably other forms as well) is given to those that show up. It looks like Slashdot did. But before we pat ourselves on the back, I found an interesting comment when I was scanning the FairweartherComments3.pdf, page 332, it was from the Director of Sales-Media of Accuweather Inc who was also in support of rejecting the changes, citing that it would break a 60 year understanding on the line between what work was done by the private and publich sector.
  • by swiftstream (782211) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @03:45AM (#10972347)
    Before anybody accepts this immediately as true, I'd just like to point out that this guy has posted lots of things about his personal achievements and his accomplishments, so much that you have to be a bit skeptical. Besides being the brother of an NOAA analyst, he claims all of the following... (taken from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=131294&cid=109 59811 [slashdot.org])

    Ken Jennings was my roommate freshman year at Brigham Young University

    I worked for NASA for 8 years straight out of MIT undergrad.

    I'm an editor for Tom's Hardware Guide

    I worked for a particular company that denied another company a lucrative contract just because that company's CTO had bullied my company's CEO when he was in high school

    I have TWO friends who work at Bungie

    I work on LAMP software and deploy to customer's websites.

    I obtained a preview release [of GIMP 2.0]


    Forgive me for being skeptical, but I have trouble believing all that. A child of the post pointed to above says that the parent poster is a known troll, and a check of his recent comments shows many rated troll.

    So perhaps this shouldn't be 5, Interesting?
  • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @03:49AM (#10972358) Homepage
    Yup, I can vouch for that. While I am not a broadcaster, I am a hardcore weather nerd. I visit the local [noaa.gov] forecast discussion daily. It offers the details that you simply cannot get anywhere else. During the spring/early summer months, the forecast discussion pages offer a *gold mine* of information on where the severe weather will be. Depending on how closely the models agree with eachother, I can usually get enough advance notice to make an eight hour drive to see some action.
  • Thank you NOAA (Score:3, Informative)

    by ttys00 (235472) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @04:41AM (#10972541)
    I'm an Aussie who uses the free NOAA weather data services extensively in my travels around the globe. I don't pay for this service, nor fund it with my tax dollars, but I can still access it for free and without restriction.

    Thank you NOAA, for making the right decision for everyone on the internet, not just those that fund you.
  • by museumpeace (735109) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @07:13AM (#10972990) Journal
    Be sure to attend The FTC workshop on P2P networks [ftc.gov] If you read the adgenda, you would think FTC is trying to convince people that P2P is a threat to consumers. It would make sense to use a spurious issue that pushes congressional hot buttons if you wanted to slap restrictive laws on P2P since protecting copyrights doesn't get out the votes.
    Oh, yeah the weather. I bike to work in new england: a very detailed forcast is critical to my saftey so this little victory is a serious win from my perspective. I already paid taxes for this data...be damned if I'll pay twice for it.
  • Re:free weatherbug? (Score:2, Informative)

    by wworf (217597) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:17AM (#10973671) Homepage
    If you're using windows, I'd suggest using Weather Corner Alert [weathercorneralert.com]. It's unobtrusive and accesses METAR data from NOAA. Why would you want something that accesses a commercial (though free) source if the whole purpose of this story was to gain more free access to public data?
  • Re:free weatherbug? (Score:5, Informative)

    by randyjparker (543614) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @11:17AM (#10975032) Homepage
    I just corresponded with Jon, the developer of ForecastFox. I work as a contractor at The Weather Channel, and was surprised that they had objected to the name 'WeatherFox'. Jon explained that it was the owner of the domain name weatherfox.com that objected, not TWC.

    TWC is actually a huge supporter of open source software, to the point of providing full time employment for a FreeBSD kernel developer. We've directly funded some other open source projects too, and try to give back in lots of ways.

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?

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