Tuesday, October 4th, 2022
Thursday, July 21st, 2022
A few years back, Jessica got a ceiling fan for our living room. This might seem like a strange decision, considering we live in England. Most of the time, the problem in this country is that it’s too cold.
But then you get situations like this week, when the country experienced the hottest temperatures ever recorded. I was very, very grateful for that ceiling fan. It may not get used for most of the year, but on the occasions when it’s needed, it’s a godsend. And it’s going to get used more and more often, given the inexorable momentum of the climate emergency.
Even with the ceiling fan, it was still very hot in the living room. I keep my musical instruments in that room, and they all responded to the changing temperature. The strings on my mandolin, bouzouki, and guitar went looser in the heat. The tuning dropped by at least a semitone.
I tuned them back up, but then I had to be careful when the extreme heat ended and the temperature began to drop. The strings began to tighten accordingly. My instruments went up a semitone.
I was thinking about this connection between sound and temperature when I was tuning the instruments back down again.
The electronic tuner I use shows the current tone in relation to the desired note: G, D, A, E. If the string is currently producing a tone that’s lower than, say, A, the tuner displays the difference on its little screen as lines behind the ideal A position. If the string is producing a tone higher than A, the lines appear in front of the desired note.
What if we thought about temperature like this? Instead of weather apps showing the absolute temperature in degrees, what if they showed the relative distance from a predefined ideal? Then you could see at a glance whether it’s a little cooler than you’d like, or a little hotter than you’d like.
Perhaps an interface like that would let you see at a glance how out of the tune the current temperature is.
Monday, October 8th, 2018
When a storm comes, some of the big news sites like CNN and NPR strip down to a zippy performant text-only version that delivers the content without the bells and whistles.
I’d argue though that in some aspects, they are actually better than the original.
The “full” NPR site in comparison takes ~114 requests and weighs close to 3MB on average. Time to first paint is around 20 seconds on slow connections. It includes ads, analytics, tracking scripts and social media widgets.
Meanwhile, the actual news content is roughly the same.
I quite like the idea of storm-driven development.
Monday, December 7th, 2015
A subset of one of my favourite sites on the web:
Explore the Arctic of the past from the deck of a whaling ship.
Choose your vessel and get transcribing.
Monday, June 22nd, 2015
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.
Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.
Monday, August 12th, 2013
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.
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.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
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
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 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.
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.
What a superb project! Forget Mechanical Turk — this is the way to harness the collective intelligence of humans: transcribing weather observations made by naval ships at the beginning of the twentieth century. It's all grist for the climate model mill.
Friday, December 18th, 2009
An excellent way of visualising weather. Brighton is currently like Hoth.
Thursday, December 21st, 2006
A nifty mashup in which Twitter bots update twice a day with weather updates. I am now friends with Brighton Weather. I feel so in touch with nature.
Sunday, September 3rd, 2006
I think it could be fun to mash up events (via location) with weather. This API would let me do that. How useful would it be to know what the weather would be like before coming to dConstruct, for instance?