Tags: weather

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100 words 092

The weather’s been pretty good lately. That shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as it’s the middle of June but this is England.

Brighton really shows its best side in the sunny weather (once everyone’s done starting fires with unattended barbecues). We get to have picnics out on the deck at the Clearleft office. And sometimes we end the day on the beach having a nice cold beer.

But today it was pissing down.

Cue the usual weather banter about summer being all done.

It cleared up in the afternoon and the sun came out. Makes you appreciate it even more.

August in America, day nine

Today was a day of rest. And in Arizona, that means lounging in or near the swimming pool.

Thanks to recently-installed solar panels on the roof, the water was nice and warm. Jessica did laps of the pool, while I splashed around spasmodically. Y’see, I can’t actually swim. Yes, I grew up by the sea, but you have to understand; that sea was bloody freezing.

So now I’m trying to figure out this whole swimming thing from first principles, but I’m not sure my brain has enough plasticity left to grasp the coordination involved. Still, it’s fun to attempt to swim, no matter how quixotic the goal.

It’s monsoon season in southern Arizona right now, meaning it’s almost certain to rain sometime in the afternoon. That’s why we got our swimming activities done early. Sure enough, thunder clouds started rolling in, but there wasn’t much rain in the end.

Clouds Clouds at sunset

Fortunately the clouds had mostly dissipated by the time the sun went down, so a few hours later, when we went outside to look up and search the starry sky for the Perseids, we got to see a few pieces of Swift-Tuttle streaking across the firmament.

Sea change

Every now and then I come across a site that reminds of just why I love this sad and beautiful world wide web: a site with that certain intangible webbiness.

Wikipedia has it. That’s a project that’s not just on the web, it’s of the web. It’s a terrible idea in theory, but an amazing achievement in practice. It restores my faith in humanity.

Kickstarter has it. The word distruptive is over-used in the world of technology, but I can’t think of a better adjective to describe Kickstarter …except, perhaps, for empowering. There’s something incredibly satisfying about contributing directly to someone’s creative output.

Old Weather has it. It’s the latest project from the magnificent Zooniverse crew, the people behind the brilliant Galaxy Zoo.

Old Weather is another collaborative project. Everyone who takes part is presented with a scanned-in page from a ship’s logbook from the early 20th Century. The annotations on the pages aren’t machine-readable but the human brain does an amazing job of discerning the meaning in the patterns of markings made with pen on paper (and if you need help, there are video tutorials available).

Converting this data from analogue paper-based databases into a digital database online would in itself be a worthy goal, but in this case, the data is especially valuable:

These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and improve a database of weather extremes. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and the stories of the people on board.

But the value is not just in contributing to a worthy cause; it’s also great fun. It makes excellent use of the that Clay Shirky talks about.

What a shame that the situation in which we are most often called upon to demonstrate our humanity is through the vile CAPTCHA, a dreadful idea that is ironically dehumanising in its implementation.

I’d much rather have people prove their species credentials with a more rewarding task. Want to leave a comment? First you must calculate the optimum trajectory for a Jupiter flyby, categorise a crater on the moon spot a coronal mass ejection or tell me if you live in fucking Dalston.