Doppler Radar and gust fronts

July 26th, 2012 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

For those of you using radar apps on your smartphones or watching radar online I want to show you something that will help you get a little more out of the information you are seeing on the phone.

The gust front is the really impressive part of an approaching thunderstorm and it really can look like the end of the world. It’s the leading edge of whats called an outflow from the approaching thunderstorm, winds of 35 to 70 mph an hour are what creates the awesome looking cloud formation.

As a novice weather nerd I’ve been noticing that in a lot of storms the gust front can be spotted on radar, it’s helpful to gauge exactly where that wind is.

The circled area is what that gust front looks like on radar. Keep an eye on the storms today, there shouldn’t be any trouble seeing them. To learn more about Doppler check this National Weather Service primer

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June 24-26 Weekend Events

June 24th, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

Hey there… it’s been a loooong week and this is the first official weekend of summer. in a blink of an eye it’s going to be back to the cold frozen tundra of Northeast Ohio so get out and have some fun.

Here’s a list of some of the events going on in and around our area.

FRIDAY June 24

  • International Festival 2011 kicks off the food booths and outdoor entertainment (Link)
  • NHRA Summit Nationals Qualifying at Norwalk (Link)
  • Lake Erie Crushers vs Beach Bums, Fireworks Night! (Link)
  • Lorain Lighthouse boat tour (Link)

Saturday

  • NHRA Qualifying at Norwalk. this is premier drag racing. (Link)
  • Downtown Oberlin has their annual chalk walk.
  • The Ohio Scottish Games will be at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington (Link)
  • Great tasting food at the Lorain International Festival (Link)
  • The Black River 5k will be held in Spencer
  • Cleveland Gladiators vs San Jose Sabercats (Link)
  • The US War Dog Association Fundraiser (Link)

Sunday

  • International Festival features great food and music in downtown Lorain, also the International Parade (Link)
  • The 6th Annual Columbia Half Marathon (Link)
  • 12-8pm The Elyria Eagles hosts a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Fundraiser. (Link)
  • The Finals at Norwalk, best drivers in the country come together for the NHRA Summit Nationals (Link)

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iPhone and Blackberry App Review: Mapquest for Mobile

May 25th, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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$29, $39, $49, yep, that’s the going rate for most of the turn by turn GPS apps for the iPhone. One of the advantages Android users love to hold up is the free built in GPS app on their phones.

Yesterday I used the Mapquest for Mobile app and I have to say I was pretty impressed with it. In the past some of the programs I’ve used have had a problem keeping up with navigation and were just pretty clunky. This app was good enough that I’m finally considering a dock for the dashboard or the suction cup style window clips. I input several locations and had no problem getting from place to place. The app has a reroute function so if you take a wrong turn the app will get you right back on the way. The only real negative I found is a common one. I was frustrated by the use of the state route names in place of the city street names for some roads. After all Abbe Rd is Rt 113, Center Ridge is also Rt. 20, there are plenty of similar examples.

The app has all the standard search functions that you would expect, need a restaurant, gas, location of a school, you name it.

Again, the real value on this one is the beauty of that always magical word…. free.

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iPhone Apps: Lightning Detector

May 23rd, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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With the storms we’ve been having lately I wanted to share another great weather app with you. This one is called Pinpoint Lightning 2011 I have been beyond impressed by the accuracy of this app as well as the advantage of a heads up when heavy weather is on the way. Lightning is the number two weather killer in the United States so it’s worth knowing when it’s moving in on you. The app begins notifications at 30 miles with an option to set it to 15 or 20 miles.

You have several setting options, Doppler Radar overlay, lightning progression maps, and when you start to get clutter from multiple strikes you can turn off all but the most recent strike. The app also allows street level detail. If a bolt strikes and an address is available that pops up on your screen.

The information is provided by the National Lightning Detection Network, the data is generated by lightning detectors across the United States. During a storm the system will notify you with an alert tone and continue to update you as new strikes are recorded. A good size storm can mean an awful lot of alerts so the snooze function they include is really nice to have. There are multiple options to keep it from driving you crazy with the once a minute reporting.

I recently used this app to get a lightning shot for the newspaper. I checked for the heaviest activity in a cell and positioned myself directly in the path. It worked exactly as I hoped it would. At $5.99 it’s not cheap but I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t know that it was a really great value for anybody into weather or afraid of it.

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iPhone App review: Instagram, the instant artist photo app

May 17th, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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These days taking pictures with the iPhone is called iPhonography and it’s catching on. It won’t be long before that word gets added to the steadily growing list of tech words that have made it into the dictionary.

 Every generation of the greatest phone ever made brings new and improved resolution as well as apps that make art from almost nothing at all. My favorite photo app right now has to be Instagram. It’s part art and part community so those of you closet artists have a ready made audience out there. Instagram takes your pictures from the library or as you shoot it and offers a collection of different filters that completely change or enhance your photo. Add hash tags to it and now there is a searchable photo floating around inside the Instagram universe.

 In the same way that Facebook is generally a pretty friendly place. I haven’t seen any attacks on people or their photography in the last few months that I’ve been using Instagram. That’s pretty significant because most interaction on the internet has a group of unhappy people trying to make life unpleasant for the masses.

 I did a quick #Cleveland search and right away had neighbors to the east that I began following. It’s nice to see local people mixed in the listing along with a good size group of Japanese users. The latest thing tying into the Instagram app is Printsgram. This gives you the opportunity to take your iPhone sized works of art and actually print them. You can make books, cubes, even stickers from your own work.

Sharing is also integrated into the app. You can share with all the standard services, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, and several more. For now this is an iPhone only app but boards are saying the app is being developed for Droid users also.

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iPhone App Review: Radar Scope

May 16th, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Apps

radar-scope

I get a lot of questions about the applications I use on my iPhone and my iPad. I frequently post screen caps of my favorite weather app so I’m going to start with that one.

This app. is designed for the iPhone and the iPad and has a simple clean basic interface. I like it so much I’m going to start off the review by putting down the only real negative. The price. It’s one of my most expensive apps coming in at $9.99. I normally spend .99 to $3.99 on average so I was taking a risk when I bought it. Unfortunately it was one of the first app I bought and I have always been looking for the next big thing. Nothing has ever come close so I’ve ended up wasting twice the purchase price buying new and different apps.

In this particular case the saying you get what you pay for is a basic truth.

The Radar Scope app is clean, it moves fast, and offers a really clean zoomed in image to get a great look down to neighborhood level. The only thing I really wish it did was display all the Doppler Radar sites at the same time. I’m not sure why it won’t I’m under the impression it’s just too data intensive. The number of upgrades I have seen as a user tells me that if it were an easy doable thing it would have already been instituted.

Take my word for it, if you want a good Doppler Radar app you won’t do better than Radar Scope.

Here is the sales pitch from the Radar Scope website.

RadarScope is a specialized display utility for weather enthusiasts that allows you to browse NOAA’s public NEXRAD Level 3 data feed.  It can display the latest base reflectivity, base velocity, storm relative velocity and more data from any NEXRAD radar site in the United States (now including Alaska and Hawaii), Guam, and Puerto Rico.

These aren’t smoothed PNG or GIF images, this is real Level 3 radar data rendered in its original radial format for a high level of detail.

Whether you are scanning reflectivity for a mesocyclone’s tell-tale hook echo, trying to pinpoint the landfall of a hurricane’s eye wall, or looking for small features like velocity couplets in the radial velocity product, only RadarScope gives you the power to view radial NEXRAD weather radar on your iPhone or iPod.

Pinch or stretch to zoom in and out. Drag your finger around the map to scroll. Tap the radar sweep button in the toolbar to switch radars. Select one of the more than 140 different radar sites, with the rotating radar beam representing each radar’s approximate coverage area. Plot your current position by tapping the location button. Tap the loop button to download and animate over the last six images. Display the names of over 25,000 cities and towns on the map as you zoom and scroll. Tap and hold the color legend to see the data values.

Meanwhile, RadarScope will retrieve and display updated data automatically (approximately every 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the radar scan strategy).  NEXRAD radar data are obtained from a public access web site operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

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PlayStation controller mistake brings guns and questions

March 22nd, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

playstation-controller

So here is our mental exercise for the day. Yesterday the Lorain County Sheriffs Department and the Elyria Police received a call that a black man about 6’ tall wearing a purple striped shirt and long black shorts was seen with a .380 semiautomatic handgun in the parking deck of the Lorain County Administration Building. He was last seen heading towards the Justice Center.

 That’s all you have to go on. Now, you are the police officer, what do you do?

 What the deputies did when they spotted the man walking along on the sidewalk near the buildings in question was to order the man to the ground at gunpoint and cuff him. He was searched and as it turns out the gun was nothing but a PlayStation game controller. The officers were forceful but not overly so and they brought the man to his feet and questioned him for a couple of minutes before determining that he wasn’t armed or a threat to anybody and released him.

 When we ran the story on our Facebook Page the comments were quick to point out a few points that create a bit of a dilemma for me.

  • The man is black, would it have been handled the same way if he were a white man.
  • It’s legal to have a gun in Ohio and it’s legal to have it concealed if you have the proper license and registration.
  • The caller was beaten down from about the moment the story was posted. Readers were calling her a liar, accusing her of inducing panic, and saying that she was wrong for “causing all the trouble”.

 In my opinion it’s not about race. I can’t answer that so I’ll just simply say that I’ve seen a lot of people black, white, and every other shade on the ground and getting cuffed over the years.

 When you come down to it the issue is as simple as this. At the end of the day the police deserve to go home alive. The deputy that cuffed the man was wearing a black band over his badge. It was a tribute to the Sandusky Officer who was gunned down in the middle of the street after he stopped to talk to a man. In this situation they had a duty to talk to the guy and find out what was going on. If the only way to do that is to order the guy to lie down so he could be searched then I’m not seeing a problem with it, unless of course it’s me.

 Nobody wants to be in that situation it’s one of those things that we might not like but just simply have to face. One of my friends who really fits the title “Gun Nut” even agreed that the deputies really don’t have any better way to handle the situation. What they do by making you lie down on the ground and cuffing you is take complete control of the situation. It’s a matter of their safety and to a lesser extent the safety of the person they are talking to. We have been forced to give up certain expectations over the years and local police officers are clearly being more vigilant with the rash of local officers killed in the line of duty the last couple of years. It’s sad that we have reached this place where the expectation is that everybody has a weapon.

 I’ve saved the best for last, the woman who started this whole mess by calling the police and reporting the man with the gun. What exactly does she deserve, a ticket or maybe a steep fine? No, what she deserves is a thank you and a citizen of the year award. She called the police and she was mistaken, flat out wrong. But she did exactly what law enforcement and our government has been asking people to do for years. She thought she saw something out of the ordinary and she acted. If more people did just that we would be in a place where the criminals know and understand that people are watching and reporting what they see. Police don’t want or need citizens to insert themselves into dangerous situations. We all have cell phones, if you see something hit 911 give them a good description of the person and you will be doing more to help out than you could ever imagine.

 The bashing she took is the kind of stuff that makes people put their heads in the sand and simply ignore what they see. When somebody climbs into your bedroom window would you prefer that your neighbor assume that you lost your keys or that somebody is breaking into your home to do harm to you and your family?

 

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8000 calorie 8 slice cheeseburger and a dead spokesman.

March 4th, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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Proof that Darwin does have a hand in all things natural… Blair River the 29 year-old spokesman for an Arizona Restaurant called The Heart Attack Grill is dead. River wasn’t your average spokesman, he weighed in at 575 pounds and was the spokesman and video star extolling the virtues of a restaurant that has a motto that reads, “Caution, This establishment is bad for your health”

 

We aren’t talking McDonald’s double cheeseburger bad, this goes to a whole different level of decadence. Imagine an 8,000 calorie burger called the Quadruple bypass, hard liquor, unfiltered cigarettes, fries cooked in lard, Coke made with real sugar, a two pound hamburger, it just goes on and on from there. The hospital themed restaurant includes hospital gowns for diners, wrist bands, and even a wheelchair ride to your car if you finish off the two pound burger.

 

How this restaurant or something like it hasn’t managed to pop up in Lorain County is beyond me. I could see this place doing better than a Wal-Mart on half-off day.

 

Want to know more?

Sydney Morning Hearld, story and photo gallery

 A story about the spokesman’s demise and a November interview with him.

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The worst dressed dictator on the planet

March 1st, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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Sometimes you have a great idea for a blog post and while researching it you realize somebody has already done it, and they probably did it better than you can. In this case I have to tip the hat to Vanity Fair.com for their web exclusive on the frightening fashion choices of the dictator of the day.

 

While ordering the deaths of angry mobs Colonel Muammar Qaddafi blends his unique brand of political crazy and nonexistent fashion sense to come up with some fairly horrendous looks.

 

His many variations on the militant dictator look and his summer in northern Africa combos are only overshadowed by his stunningly poor choices of accessory items. The row of war ribbons sewn on a piece of hard board, the African continent logo that adorns his dress white ice cream sales guy look, and lastly the ultimate accessory— the loonies that surround him as security and whatever other capacity these people serve.

 

Clearly the next guy who takes over in Libya will have a hard time filling the oversized alligator and rhinestone shoes of the ultimate fashion victim.

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Facebook Unfriend Finder

January 31st, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted by Bruce Bishop under Uncategorized

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I recently started using a Google Chrome plug-in called Unfriend Finder. It’s important to understand this app is not available for people who use Internet Explorer as their browser. You need to be using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera— You also have to have a healthy mental status because I’m still a little crazed over one of my “friends” that dumped me.

When you log into Facebook the tab sits at the top of your page and updates you to changes in your friends list. If anybody gets rid of you or quits Facebook the notice sits there in red….mocking you.

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