Monday, March 15, 2021

WxService Update Available

WxService ow4j210214

  • Updated to 64 bits OWAPI library by default
  • Java 11 LTS support
  • Single executable jar (all self-contained dependencies)
Everything else is pretty much the same as it ever was... same as it ever was... because over the years, the code has just become pretty solid, and there's no reason to change it further.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Neutrinos Have Mass! (And Not Just on Sunday)

Image courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory
We used to think neutrinos were massless, because from what little we knew about them, they appear to travel at the speed of light. Massive particles cannot do that, because it would take infinite energy to accelerate them that much.

Neutrinos don't interact with matter very much at all. It has been estimated that a ball of lead the size of our solar system would only affect about half of the enormous stream of neutrinos emitted by the sun each second. Those babies fly through everything at nearly the speed of light, as if it were nothing. Consequently, they're very hard to measure.

Somehow, we figured out that neutrinos come in three flavors: electron, muon, and tau. Yeah, whatever. They just do. And yes, particle physicists call them 'flavors'. But recently, scientists discovered that neutrinos can change flavors on the fly. Apparently, this can only happen if neutrinos have mass.

This is the part that mystifies me. All the articles I've read simply say that the ability to change flavors requires (or implies) that neutrinos have mass, but they don't say why. That's understandable, I guess, when the explanation looks like this. I'm going to have to study mass eigenstates for a while, I guess. Yowsa!

Recent experiments have established the maximum range for the mass of a neutrino at about 1eV. This is still a miniscule mass-slash-energy, and neutrinos of such a small mass can still move so fast that for all intents and purposes, they appear to be moving at the speed of light. The difference is negligible, and neutrinos are hard to measure anyway.

It's a strange, strange world, quantum physics is. A great deal of it has been experimentally verified to very high precision, with reproducible regularity. But if you're into weird, you can't make this stuff up.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Space Aliens Cannot Hear Our Radio Broadcasts

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft was a song by Klaatu and popularized by the Carpenters way back in 1975. It explored the idea that we've been broadcasting radio signals for about 100 years, and those signals are now about 100 light years away. The idea being that remote intelligence could be eavesdropping on our goings on by listening to these broadcasts. Classical, jazz, swing, rock'n'roll, The Honeymooners, Lucy, Star Trek, General Hospital, Mary Tyler Moore, Friends, Seinfeld, and so on.

Except none of that is even remotely possible. A spacecraft orbiting our earth might be able to pick up short bursts and squawks, if they knew the details of our modulation schemes. Maybe analog AM and FM would be decipherable, but digital is highly unlikely. What's more, our terrestrial commercial broadcasts are designed for terrestrial pickup. A very small amount of power is accidentally beamed up into the sky, and even less makes it outside of our atmosphere. The ionosphere reflects most of it back to ground. But it gets worse. Anyone outside earth orbit would receive a hodgepodge of signals from all over the planet: nothing but a scramble of noise and interference.

We do beam some signals out to satellites, spacecraft, and once upon a time, to men on or near the moon. But those transmissions are beamed specifically at the target, with tracking antennae. And remember, the earth is spinning on its axis. The radio signals we beam out sweep across the sky as the earth rotates. The farther away it gets, the faster it sweeps. So someone 100 light years away would only get a blip of a single station for a fraction of a second every 24 hours. If they were trying to listen to a conversation, or a newscast, let alone decode our picture format, forget about it. If they could receive us at all, we'd look like a noisy radio source; a pulsar.

Keep in mind that our signals would get weaker and weaker as the beams spread out, the further they get from earth. Besides, there would be natural and alien made interference near the alien's receivers that would drown out our feeble squawkings.

The idea that anyone could actually receive, decode and listen to our stupid broadcasts is absolutely ridiculous. That's why I cannot take anything Carl Sagan says seriously.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

WxService Update Available

WxService ow4j180316


  • Modified WxMonitor display to make the wind vector easier to read, and display peak wind speed as red dots, while the average speed is still a blue vector. The direction is now a white line on a gray background. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

WeatherBug Personal Weather Stations Phased Out

WeatherBug was purchased by EarthNetworks, and the personal weather stations WeatherBug Backyard system has been phased out. 1-Wire Weather Service for Java has not deleted support for reporting in this format, but there is no longer any reason to attempt it.

If your 1-Wire system is reporting errors while attempting to send weather data to http://data.backyard2.weatherbug.com/data/livedata.aspx, you can remove the weatherbug formatter from wxservice.formatter.task.names and apply your changes.

For more information, see Changes to the WeatherBug Backyard/Earth Networks PWS Program, and What Happened to WeatherBug?

1-Wire Weather Service for Java includes support for CWOP NOAA MADIS, so you can migrate your backyard reporting over there if you wish. Most of the default settings are already configured, so all you need to do is obtain a station ID as described here, and configure your station ID, latitude & longitude, and add the aprs formatter to the formatter task names.

Changes to the WeatherBug Backyard/Earth Networks PWS ProgramChanges to the WeatherBug Backyard/Earth Networks PWS Program

Sunday, December 10, 2017

WxService Update Available

WxService ow4j171209

  • Modified WxMonitor wind vector display to clean up a problem I've had since day one with 'crawly' wind direction display. The problem is, even when I retain precision and round properly, trying to display a short direction indicator line on the outer circle, the graphics resolution simply isn't good enough to draw a line with the proper slope and length. When I draw a line at the full radius, the problem goes away, because the resolution error is spread out along the full length of the line, instead of a short line segment. This is easiest to visualize if you imagine a two-pixel length line. The length and slope errors become overwhelming. When the line is thousands of pixels long, the length and slope errors are usually negligible. 
  • Changed the way WxMonitor displays UI updates. The monitor will now 'animate' each sensor update, instead of coalescing them. This improves the behavior for historical markers, such as the wind vector memory. It is also entertaining to watch the last 12 hours of data being animated when first starting WxMonitor. 
  • Modified the default command line behavior. The backlog default is now set to 12-hours, and the polling interval default is 5 seconds. If these values are acceptable to you, there's no need to specify anything on the startup command except for which weather server you want to connect to.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

WxService Update Available

WxService ow4j171123

  • Simplified sensor data module, and moved domain-specific 'timeout' into the Weather Underground formatter, where it is actually needed. Basically code cleanup. 
This change will not affect normal operation of anyone's weather station; I just wanted to do some code maintenance.