Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year End Comments

It is hard to believe that Weather Message is now six years old. For an application that started out as a paging add-in for other EMWIN applications, it has turned into so much more. I credit the success of Weather Message to you the end users. Your suggestions and ideas have driven my development efforts.

I spent all of 2006 rewriting the Weather Message applications. Users started testing version 3.0 at the end of 2006. It was officially released in March 2007. Versions 3.1 and 3.2 were released this year with a number of major enhancements.

I am still working down my list of change requests. The list has gotten smaller, but there is still alot of work to be completed. Look for more of these in version 3.3.

I thank you for your continued support. My hope for you, your families and the agencies and communities you serve is a great and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

December Note

December has been a busy month for me personally. I have been extremely busy with my "day job". New responsibilities and other concerns have required my full attention.

With a couple of days off for the holidays, I will be making some additional changes. Look for them sometime Christmas evening. I am off now to make my rounds and visit family.

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Windows Vista - UAC

Windows Vista's new UAC (User Account Control) may be redirecting the registry and c:\program files\wxmesgnet access to a virtual directory. I have not received a problem report yet, but it would cause an issue if two different users log into the same computer. They would have independent program settings.

The rerouting of the registry and program files directory is a result of virtualization by the UAC changes for 32 bit applications. Microsoft no longer allows standard users to access c:\program files\(application name) any longer. They has have removed the ability to access HKey_LocalMachine\Software for standard users.

Basically Microsoft does not want developers to store application configuration data in c:\program files\(application name) any longer. The same goes for the registry location HKey_LocalMachine\Software.

Virtulization occurs for applications that do not have an embedded manifest. An embedded manifest identifies the type of access that the application needs. The manifest can request administrator access or invoker access. At the present time Weather Message does not contain an embedded manifest.

With the new VS2008 development environment, I can easily embed the manifest. I am concerned that turning on the manifest will result in users losing their existing settings. I will be testing this further before enabling the manifest.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weather Message 3.3 Beta 2 Released

I just posted Weather Message 3.3 Beta 2 on the web. The two big changes are the way that passwords are handled and the addition of multiple state selection. If you run into any issues, please let me know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Weather Message Beta 3.3 beta 2

I will be releasing Weather Message 3.3 Beta 2 over the weekend. Here are some of the changes.

1) WxLoader has several new options that effect the short message format. This closes a number of user requests.

2) Weather Message Setup will now allow users to select multiple states for one alarm. This request has been outstanding for some time.

These changes were quite involved and took alot of time.

.Net Framework 3.5 - No support for Windows 2000

The Microsoft .Net Framework version 3.5 does not contain support for Windows 2000. It appears that Microsoft is dropping support for that operating system as they release their new technologies. I already knew that version 3.0 did not include Windows 2000. I had hoped it would be included in 3.5. They are supporting XP, Vista, and Windows 2003.

This makes it difficult on the developers that want to take advantage of the features. The Microsoft developers have given me the ability to support the 2.0 framework using their new development environment. That is a big plus. This allows me to take advantage of the new productivity features.

This however does mean that support for Windows 2000 will end in the near future. It looks like Microsoft's decision is to get developers to encourage their users to purchase their newer operating systems.

I have a windows 2000 laptop that works great. I hate to discard it, but as some one famous said "time waits for no man". I guess I will have to get something newer also.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Visual Studio 2008 - Framework 3.5

On Monday, Microsoft announced the release of Visual Studio 2008 along with the Microsoft .Net framework version 3.5. I currently use Visual Studio 2005 as my development environment.

Microsoft says that the move to 2008 should be relatively simple from a developers perspective. The original move from Visual Studio 6 was a year long project. I have read that I should not have to make any changes in the software to take advantage of the new developement environment.

I am looking for the DVD to arrive soon. When it arrives I will be testing this new environment and framework for Weather Message. If everything looks good, I will release the next version using the new environment. This will require users to download and install the 3.5 framework. It should be available from windows update soon --- if you want to get a head start.


I have had a number of discussions with users about password security. The next Weather Message beta will contain changes that address these concerns. The passwords that are stored in the setup files and registry will now be obfuscated. Obfuscated basically means that they are not stored in clear text and cannot be read.

I tried to change all of the screens that show passwords so that they will mask the password. If I missed any, please let me know.

The ftp debug file will no longer show a clear text password. If you see any in other debug files, please let me know.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Files now stored with UTC time suffix

Starting with version 3.3, Weather Message will be storing files in the WxText and WxGraph directories with the UTC time instead of local time. This change will prevent problems when the time changes between standard and daylight savings.

I am still testing these changes. Several programs had to be changed to know that the time is stored as UTC.

TCV Product Change from C coding to Z coding

The Tropical Cyclone Watch/Warning (TCV) product is now being issued using zone (Z) encoding. Weather Message version 2.10, 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 lists this product as FIPS or county (C) coded.

In order to properly alarm this product, the Weather Message versions listed above need to be reconfigured. To manually reconfigure Weather Message, edit the "WxCtype.dat" file in the c:\program files\WxMesg or c:\program files\WxMesgNet directory. Remove the line that contains TCV.

You can optionally download an updated WxCtype.dat file from the Weather Message additional downloads page at http://www.wxmesg.com/misdownloads.htm. Scroll down to Updated FIPS product file. If you have alarms setup for TCV, you will need to double check them. After this change you will need to reselect "All Counties" or the individual counties based on your requirements.

Apparently when the product moved from experimental to operational, the NWS decided to change the UGC coding.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geographical Warnings

Tom and I have been discussing Geographical Warnings. These are warnings based on your location. Weather Message now has the capability to send emails and pages based on a fixed latitude / longitude falling inside or near a polygon.

A really neat application would be to have your gps equipped phone know when it is getting near or inside a watch or warning. Is that possible? Yes and it is not too difficult.

It would require one of two approaches.

1) Run an application on the smartphone that would send the current gps position to a weather server. The server would then search the active watch and warning products to see if the position is near or inside one of the watch and warnings. The application would then alert the user. I am thinking that it would have to send that position once per minute.

2) Run an application on the smartphone that would receive a SMS/email message that contains the polygon information. The application would then check the current position against the polygon and issue an alert. The information would only need to be sent once. It would be the applications responsibility to keep the active watch / warnings in memory and check once per minute to see if the phone was in a warned area.

With smart devices (phones and pda's) this application could work. Some major players in technology have been talking about this for sometime. They even want to put this in cars...

So can it be done on a Weather Message budget? I believe a low cost server solution is possible. All it would take is a user that wants this capability, a phone that supports Windows Mobile and a calling plan that allowed for unlimited SMS or reasonable internet access.

WxPda - Version 3.0 - Beta 2

I had a chance today to install WxPda on a Pocket Pc 2003 computer. I quickly discovered that there was a problem with vga screens. I have corrected that problem and uploaded a fresh beta.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WxPda - Version 3.0

I have upgraded WxPda to Microsoft's Compact Framework 2.0. This upgrade also adds support for Windows Mobile 5. I am changing the program version to 3.0 to match the current Weather Message Net major release number.

I have run some very limited tests. I do not know if it will install on Pocket PC 2003 or Smart Phones. If you give it a try, please let me know your results.

I switched the display on my windows mobile 5 device to landscape and the software now looks correct. You can now use landscape on a windows mobile 5 without problems.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weather Message 3.2 Released

Weather Message V3.2 has been released. You can download the update at
http://www.wxmesg.com/downloadsnet.htm . For information on what has changed in this release, please read the release notes.

There are over 56 changes in this release. Here are some highlights.

Highlights -

* Weather Message Server can now run as a Windows service.

* Support for storm based warnings. You can now alarm by latitude longitude.

* WxMap now supports painting polygons.

* WxMap has all colors located in one tab. You can now select the items that appear in the map legend.

* WxMap supports the NWS Zone and Marine layers. To use this feature you must download the latest map layers.

* See the release notes for a complete list of changes.

Thanks for all of your suggestions, bug reports and assistance with the software. Work will begin on version 3.3.

Suggestions for 3.3

- Multiple state support in one alarm.

- User manager.

WxDataSave, WxLocal and the Retransmission applications have been respectively released along with Weather Message 3.2. If you are using any of these applications, they must be upgraded at the same time you upgrade Weather Message.

Birmingham NWS Weather School

I will be making a one hour presentation on EMWIN and Weather Message at the Birmingham NWS's Weather School October 16, 2007. The Birmingham NWS is a long time supporter of EMWIN.

They have incorporated information about EMWIN into their annual Weather School. Because of this, they will not be holding an EMWIN workshop this year. If you are interested in attending an EMWIN workshop, I suggest you contact your local WCM and ask them to sponsor a class.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Weather Message 3.2 Beta 9

I am getting prepared to upload Weather Message 3.2 Beta 9. I have made a number of internal changes in the programs. I discovered that all of the programs contained some code associated with creating windows that was not needed.

This extra code was a result of the original conversion. I knew it was there, but did not realize the magnitude it had on the application. After removing the extra code from Weather Message Server Setup, the size of the "exe" was reduced by 30,000 bytes. I made the same changes in all of the applications - about 10 hours worth of work. This should help all of the programs load little faster and reduce the size of the installed application.

I have added a third option map layer to WxMap. This layer can be user defined or populated with the new rivers layer. I will be updating the map layers download to include an option rivers layer.

If the test reports on this beta are favorable, I will look at releasing beta 9 as the offical 3.2 release.

Look for the update later this evening.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weather Message Webserver Crash

The computer that contains the Weather Message website crashed this afternoon. The website is hosted on the computer that contains several other websites. I have been working to get this computer back working all afternoon and into the late night.

I am in the process of updating the website with the latest content. I hope it is back to normal by noon Tuesday.

Update 10/2/2007 - I believe the webserver is back to normal operation now....

Monday, September 17, 2007

WxMap - Polygon Styles

After much discussion with one of my beta testers, I have renamed one of the polygon styles and added an additional style.

The Outline style has been renamed Area. Area paints the double lines around the warned area. The new style is named Outline. This style paints only an outline in the color of the alarm. It causes the program to not paint the county. Here are a couple of examples.

The image above shows an example of a severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning with no other watches or warnings active.

This image shows a severe thunderstorm along with a thunderstorm watch.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blogging - One year has passed

I started this blog one year ago. It is hard to believe that one year has passed by so quickly. I did not think that I would be able to find items to post when I got started. I spend alot of time working on Weather Message, so I was not sure if I could keep the blog updated.

To the number of people that follow my development progress here -- thanks for taking the time to read this blog. This blog has received 5,793 hits since it was first started. Not alot, but then again, EMWIN and Weather Message are well kept secrets. Hopefully not for long - please keep spreading the word.

WxMap Polygons Release

I should be releasing a new beta this evening that contains the polygon changes to WxMap. Here is a preview of the two styles of polygons supported in WxMap.

This style is called pattern. The pattern is the color associated with the alarm color.

This style is called outline. The polygon is painted with an outline that is the color associated with the alarm color.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

WxMap - Polygon Support

I have started changing WxMap to support storm based polygons. Here is snap shot of some polygons drawn on the map. There will need to be a number of options added to determine how they are drawn.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

WxControl - Service Controller

Based on user requests I have made a couple of changes relating to WxControl.

1) The program now be setup to connect to two different servers. It will only connect to one at a time.

2) The Weather Message full install will have an option to only install WxControl. For those that want to only install WxControl, this option will meet that requirement.

From the initial reports that I have received, WxControl works great on a local network. It however does not work across an Internet connection. Due to the mechanism used, I have not been able to resolve this issue. More testing should reveal the nature of the problem.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Weather Radio Recall

On August 29, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Oregon Scientifc, announced a voluntary recall of four models of Oregon Scientific Weather Radios. Details are provided on the CPSC Website

Sunday, August 12, 2007

WxControl - Remote Operation

If you are wanting to run WxControl remotely and cannot get it to connect to Weather Message Server, the following information may be helpful.

1) If you get an error 5 Access Denied, you have a security / authentication problem. See if you can create the same user name and password on both computers. The next Weather Message beta will reduce the security requirements for the server. That may also address the problem.

2) Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003's firewall may disable remote access to named pipes. Try opening port 445. Here is a Microsoft article that discusses SQL Server, but the information applies to opening port 445. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/839269

3) See if named pipe security has been enabled - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/925890

If you have to use one of these means to obtain access, let me know what you did and I will see about automating the procedure.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Service Controller now available

I have completed the initial work on the Weather Message Server Service Controller. This application will allow you to monitor Weather Message Server when it is running as a service. It will also allow you to monitor a remote Weather Message Server even if it is not running as a service. I am sure there will be requests for refinements, however, it fulfills the basic need to monitor the server.

This gets another request off my list that has been there for some time. Version 3.2 contains a number of good enhancements that have required quite some time to implement. After some clean up work, I will be making other changes.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Service Controller

Since releasing a version of Weather Message that runs as a service, several customers have asked what happened to the user interface. Well when an application runs as a service, most of the time you lose the user interface because the application is running in the background. Most software packages provide another application that can be used to monitor the background service.

I have spent the last week studying interprocess communications. I have decided to use named pipes since they appear to be quite efficient. Named pipes are basically memory files that can be shared across process boundaries. I need a way for a 'controller' application to talk to the server and get the screen updates. Named pipes should do this well.

The 2.0 framework does not have built-in support for named pipes, so it was necessary to write all of the code to communciate with named pipes. Support for named pipes will be in the Microsoft 3.5 Framework. That Framework however will not work on Windows 2000 computers. The 3.0 Framework does support a mechanism that I could have used, it also does not support Windows 2000.

I completed the routines today and the tests look good. I should be able to create the WxController application sometime this week. It will be a small application. The big change will be updating Weather Message Server so that it will send data to the connected controller application.

One good point is that named pipes can be used across a network. So it will be possible to run WxController on a remote computer to monitor the server. I will say that this is only recommended on fast networks. If the primary goal was to monitor remotely, then using tcp/ip sockets would be a better approach.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fire Zones

I have taken the time to add fire zones to the County_Z.dat file. These zones are used for fire weather products. After adding the zones, I have mixed emotions about including it in the regular distribution.

There are some duplicate county names that may confuse users that do not know the difference between the forecast and fire zones. I added "FZ" before the names so that I could tell the difference.

I will include County_FZ_Z.dat with my normal distribution. If someone wants the fire zones, they can simply replace the stock County_Z.dat with County_FZ_Z.dat.

Note: Fire Zones are generally used in the Northwestern states.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weather Message Server - Service Support

Weather Message Server now has an option to run as a Windows Service. There have been a number of requests for this ability.

The current version of Weather Message requires you to login before Weather Message will be started. The ability to run as a Windows Service alleviates the need to login. As soon as the computer boots, Weather Message will be started.

I still have a number of tests to run, but my initial tests have been successful. There are some additional enhancements that need to be made. Basically an interface needs to be written that will communicate with the Weather Message Server service.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

SSL Support for SMTP Instructions

I have posted a document on the Miscellaneous downloads page that describes the steps necessary to setup Weather Message for a secure smtp connection. The example I used is for gmail.

Here is the direct link Secure SMTP Setup

Changes in file access routines

I have changed the file access routines, that read or write products, to use file streams. File streams are more efficient than the commands that were previously used. Changing the file access routines was the last thing pending from the original software conversion from 2 to 3.

While changing these routines, I discovered that WxByte and WxIngest were creating the tracking file twice when the first block of a product was received. I eliminited one of those. That will reduce the number of writes to the harddrive.

I also made changes in Weather Message server that will reduce the number of times that it accesses a new product. It was checking the size of the file, then reading the file. This has now been incorporated into one file access.

Although the programs seem to run efficiently like they are now, these changes will make them more efficient and ready for the faster data stream.

Friday, July 13, 2007

SSL Support with 3rd Party Application

Several users have expressed a desire to have SSL/TLS support for SMTP in Weather Message. The cost of this upgrade from my tcp/ip vendor has been too costly for the small number of users needing this capability.

After alot of research, I discovered a free application that will create a secure tunnel to the smtp server. Stunnel is a universal SSL wrapper. I have tested it tonight with my ISP and it works fine. I also tested it with gmail with success. I will publish setup information on the WxMesg group about this application.

You will find information on Stunnel at http://www.stunnel.org/

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Polygons on WxMap

I am experimenting with placing polygons on WxMap. One of the problems is dealing with the color of the polygon?

This picture is not very clear, but the polygon is green. In WxMap is it clear and distinct.

Weather Message Version 3.2 Beta 1 Released

I am in the process of uploading Weather Message Version 3.2 beta 1 to the website.

If you will be using the new polygon alarm, I would recommend that you set it up as a second alarm and leave your original alarm. It should be tested before replacing your original alarm.

If you will be using the new zone and marine layers, you will need to download the new layers. See the release notes.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

County and Marine Zones added to WxMap

WxMap now supports the County Zone and Marine Zone layers. This has been a feature requested for some time.

County zones, in some cases, are different from the County Fips area. The Fips area represents the actual county outline. The Zones area may be for part of a county or extend into multiple counties.

The Marine zones cover the coastal waters and the Great Lakes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Polygon Alarms Completed

I have completed the changes to enable polygon alarms. You can now enter a latitude, longitude and radius for each alarm. The software will require the incoming message to have LAT...LON information.

If the message has this information, the software will determine if your latitude and longitude are inside the polygon. If not, it will then get the distance your latitude and longitude are from the nearest edge of the polygon. If it is within the radius you specified, the alarm will trip.

This feature will require careful testing. It will also require users to have a good understanding of polygon warnings. This capability requires that the incoming messages be properly coded.

Polygon Alarms - What is my latitude / longitude

As I have moved forward with polygon alarms, I needed a method to get the latitude / longitude for an address. As it turns out there are several public sources for this information. They however do not allow integration with an application without paying a monthly cost.

Due to those restrictions, I created a public webpage that will allow users to get their latitude and longitude. I selected Google Maps for the provider. The webpage can be accessed from the Weather Message home page or directly at http://www.wxmesg.com/geomap/wxgeomap.htm

I will try to put a link in the setup program to take users to this webpage.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Map Layers

I am in the process of integrating the NWS Zone and Marine layers into WxMap. My initial tests have been promissing. They do require some additional memory due to the size of the layers. I should be working on the internal processing logic over the next couple of days. I hope there will be a beta by the weekend.

I have updated the Weather Message .Net download page with the latest map files. The install includes two new options: Map Base - County Zones and Map Base - Marine. These will have to be installed before any of the new zone changes will work. If you install all of the layers, you will install approximately 54 megabytes of map data.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Polygon Status

I have completed the code necessary to determine if a point is inside a polygon. Also the code necessary to determine the distance in miles of a point in relation to a polygon.

This paves the way to start changes that will allow for an alarm based on a latitude / longitude. This was some involved code.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Polygon Warnings

All of the responses regarding polygon warnings have been favorable. I have ordered a book on computational geometry to help with the changes. Adding the option to test for a point or distance of a point from a polygon sounds easy in concept, but difficult in practice.

I will be looking at adding this ability after further research and study.

Map Changes - Combined Product List

I have completed changes that now centralize all products in one list. There are no longer two lists, one for the 8 main products and another for "Other Colors". This allows users the flexibility to arrange products to fit their needs and area.

The screen still allows you to add products by typing in the grid. For new users, the Add Product button will allow you to select the vtec combination, color and legend option.

This capability completes a set of involved changes that have been going on for the past 3 versions.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Polygon Warnings Discussion

I started a thread on the Weather Message Yahoo group about Polygon Warnings and Weather Message. I am seeking input from users on whether the software should allow you to enter a latitude and longitude as part of the alarm.

If anyone is interested, please join the group and make a comment.


Weather Message 3.1 released

Weather Message 3.1 has been released. There are over 70 changes in this release and a number of new features. From the reports that I have received from beta testers, this release is stable.

This release gets us back on track with quarterly updates to Weather Message.

I should start this afternoon preparing the software for a version 3.2 beta.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Version 3.1 Beta B

Due to the number of changes that I made to the programs and installer for the new user selectable 'Auto Startup' option. I decided to go ahead and release a beta so that I could test it on a couple of computers at my office on Monday.

If all goes well, I will go ahead publish the official release.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Auto Startup Options

After being prompted by a user, I made changes to the programs and installers so that a user can easily change the Windows startup options for each program. I have been thinking about this change for sometime.

The next update will automatically remove existing startup shortcuts from the "Startup" folder and move them to the registry. Each program can then easily change the "startup" option. You will find the option "Auto Startup". The valid entries are "No", "Yes" for the current user, or "Everyone" for all users.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

LAT...LON decoding

I have completed the LAT...LON decoding logic for Weather Message. The decoder will be included in the next beta. At the present time it simply decodes these items. They will be used in different ways in the 3.2 release.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Testing Alarms

I have added the ability to test alarms by right clicking on an alarm and selecting "Test Alarm". This feature works well when the product does not have alot of wild cards. It will not work for user defined product prefixes or products that have wild cards.

This should help alot of users with testing alarms. Especially alarms that generate emails or pages.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Weather Message 3.1 Beta 9 Released

I have uploaded Weather Message 3.1 Beta 9. We are reaching the final changes for the 3.1 release. Due to some errors found in the 3.0 release, I have been pushing forward to release version 3.1.

I have a number of pending changes that I am looking at now. I may hold them so that 3.1 can be released and make them available in the 3.2 beta.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Changes to consider

I have been running over my list of changes to catch up some old items. In the process I have thought of a couple of items that I want to note to check on as time permits.

1. Add the ability to test the smtp settings from the email setup options window.
2. Add the ability to create a test message from the main setup screen. Right click on an alarm and select "Test Alarm" or "Send Test".
3. What about having a test option on the email, page, and fax group page. Right click on a group and select "Send Test Message". (This could probably be accomplished with item 2)
4. Consider disabling the state and county boxes when the product is not coded as having UGC. The same for VTEC. (There are warning messages now.)

From a support position, I believe items 1 and 2 need to be completed. Some users have difficulty getting their email server information setup properly. A test option would let them know if they have that part correct.

Item 2 would be a big help with "knowing that it works". It however would basically require me to rewrite WxMesgText in the setup program.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Retry ability added to the paging subsystem

The Email subsystem has had a retry mechanism for some time. The Paging subsystem now has this capabililty. The paging services setup screen now allows you to specify the number of retries and minutes between retries.

Both options are available for http-get, http-post, snpp and wctp. The number of retries is available for TAP. Neither option is available for pagegate.

The Fax subsystem has always had support for retries. The number of retries are currently hardcoded in the software.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

ByteBlaster Server Beta Changes

I have been studying changes to the ByteBlaster Server to make it more efficient. We know that the EMWIN data stream will be moving from 9600 baud to 19200 baud in the near future. Due to this change the bandwidth required to run a ByteBlaster server will double.

With that thought in mind, I have implemented changes in the ByteBlaster Server code to compress the data block and make it variable length. My initial tests for a 20 minute period indicates a 30% decrease in packet size. This test period included a number of graphic products that do not compress.

I will be testing this server code on my production system. I will release a beta version of Weather Message that incorporates these changes in WxByte. If the tests are successful, I will publish a paper on the protocol changes.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I have been working with one user to write some scripts in WxScheduler. I have to admit that this feature is nice. It allows for a degree of flexibility that could not be implemented in the base application. I really want to seriously look at adding plugin capability to weather message server. This could provide some additional capabilities with short messages and archiving.

Map Changes

I have started making some changes to WxMap. The color information for the legend items and other colors has now been consolidated in the same area of the ini file. This change allowed for some optimization in the code.

The other color products now have the option "legend". If you check this item, the product is added to the legend on the main window.

I have added a label counties option to the map menu. This option will try to label counties depending on the zoom level. The program attempts to fit the county name inside the county. Right now the program requires 60 pixels of space to show the county name. Zooming in will show more of the names. I may need to add an option to allow users to set the minimum pixel size.

I have found that if you enable this option while there are active alarms, it may take a little while for the program to label the active counties. The same goes for disabling the alarms. I will find out why the mapping program does that. The name is displayed with a yellow background to help make it stand out. This also may require a user setting.

The next change for the map involves optimization. Right now when a new product is received, the program redraws all of the active weather. This takes a considerable amount of CPU time. This change will be involved. I will see if I can get that started today. This issue must be resolved before adding other capabilities.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Radar Server Problems?

I ran WxRadar this more to take a looking a the weather coming to my area. Everything looked normal. This afternoon I received an email from a user saying that WxRadar was broke. I tried running WxRadar on my computer and it failed also.

It turns out that there is some problem with the radar server. It almost looks like they have discontinued the radar on that server. A quick check through the nws site found that the radar was working. After some digging I found that they were pulling radar from another location http://origin-radar.weather.gov

There is a registry key that can be created to use this server. I sent that information to the few users that asked about it this afternoon. I have sent emails to several NWS addresses to see what is happening.

WxScheduler - Script Support

I am completing the changes that will allow users use vb.net scripts in WxScheduler. The software will pass the received data to the script and you can then modify the data and pass it back to WxScheduler.

The scripts must conform to the syntax in vb.net 2005. WxScheduler compiles the scripts before running them, allowing them to be more efficient.

I am sure there will be some questions about this capability after it is released.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Windows Vista Desktop Problem

I have had a user report that their desktop was not updating properly after running for serveral days. Apparently this is a problem with Vista. The user supplied me with this link from Microsoft - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932406/en-us


I am working with a couple of users to resolve a problem with ProFTPD. When you use the No Overwrite option, there is a 2 minute delay in sending the file to the ftp server. I have a work around available now.

It appears that this ftp server returns a 450 status code instead of 550. I have sent an email to my ftp vendor about this problem. Hopefully I will know more next week.

Version 3.1 Beta

I have release a version 3.1 beta to correct a couple of problems identified with the 3.0 release. I am trying to update the 3.1 beta with corrections on Sundays. Check for updates on Sunday evenings.

Depending on the reports that I receive over the next couple of weeks, I may go ahead and release 3.1. There were a couple of problems that could be issues for new users.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Version 3.0 - Released

I am in the process of releasing version 3.0. Some links may not work initially. It will take me some time to get the website completely updated. As soon as I complete the website changes, I will post a series of notes about 3.0 on the yahoo group.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Version 3.0 Beta J

A group of issues were reported last week. Due to those reports, a new beta has been uploaded to the website. I hope these will be the last reports before the final release.

There is an issue with saving the map image as a TIF. I have been communicating with my map component vendor and they are working on that issue.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Final 3.0 Changes?

I am uploading an updated beta based on the feed back that I have received this week. There were a couple of things that did not work, or caused problems.

I hope this is the last upload before release.

Friday, February 16, 2007

VTEC Alarms to the Map and WxLoader

It appears that all VTEC lines are being set to WxMap and WxLoader even went you enter specific VTEC alarms. I have confirmed this issue and will get changes made for the 3.0 release.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Weather Message 3.0 Beta H Uploaded

I have uploaded Weather Message 3.0 Beta H. This should be the last beta unless a problem is reported.

I still have a good deal of work to do on the website in preparation for this update. Watch for further news later this week.

Note to Version 3.0 Test Users

If you are testing or using version 3.0 and have any pending issues, please get them to me as soon as possible. I am getting prepared to relase version 3.0.

Note to All Users: I will be releasing information on the yahoo group about version 3.0 soon.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Weather Message 3.0 Beta G Refreshed

I have refreshed Weather Message Net 3.0 Beta G with the latest tcp/ip dll's. I hope this is the final major component needed for 3.0. I will begin production testing on Wednesday and watch this for a couple of days. If all goes well, I will begin the process to release 3.0. (I was beginning to think this day would not come.)

If you are a beta tester, please give this version a try. Exercise the parts of the program that use tcp/ip; email, ftp, and client connections.

Weather Message 3.0 Update

Weather Message 3.0 should be released soon. I have been waiting on a fix for the tcp/ip control. This change arrived today. I will get the binaries updated tonight and refresh the beta on the website.

I will get this version install on my production system and allow it to run for a couple of days. If everything looks good, I will start getting everything prepared for the release.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Configuration Files Move to XML

Some of the Weather Message programs already use xml configuration files. Two weeks ago, WxLoader moved to xml. This weekend WxScheduler was changed to xml.

While I am waiting on some tcp/ip changes, I am trying to get as many, if not all of the configuration files in this format. Using xml allows me to easily add new features without having to worry about writing conversion programs between releases.

This however does create a problem for beta testers. They have had to reenter some of their information during the beta period. The full install will convert exising 2.x versions to the new 3.0 formats.

I can convert beta tester's files should that be needed.

Memory Upgrade

If you want to breath some new life into your computer, consider a memory upgrade. I purchased a new development computer, for Weather Message, two years ago. I ordered it with 1gb of memory. Moving from a computer with 512mb to 1gb made a big difference.

At any given time, I have a number of programs running, including Weather Message. A couple of copies of the development environment, Word, and Weather Message consume more memory than you think. I recently added an additional 1gb of memory for 2 gb total. Although the computer does not seem like it is alot faster, the hard drive activity has dropped considerably. This is a result of the operating system not having to swap programs out to the hard drive's paging file.

As you are working, bring up the task manager and click on performance. Watch the PF Usage. This shows how much of the hard drive's paging file that is being used. Hard drive paging file access is slow.

Systems that are running low on memory have a high paging file usage. This results in alot of hard drive access when programs start. If there is not enough memory, inactive programs are moved from physical ram to the paging file on the hard drive to make room for active programs.

The next time you think your system is running slow, take a look at the Task Manager and see if you need a memory upgrade.

Web Server Upgrade

The Weather Message web server has had a number of upgrades in the past six months. The first upgrade moved the computer from a 2.8 Pentium 4 to a 3.4 ghz Pentium D. This past week, the original hard drive started to fail. The ide drive was replaced with two SATA2 drives in a RAID 1 configuration.

There have been several outages as this latest upgrade was implemented. There will be a couple of outages next week when the other drives are upgraded. This web server is running Windows 2003 Server Standard and hosts the Weather Message website along with my Weather Message production software. It has a full T1 connection to the internet.

The company that I work for allows me to host the Weather Message website on this server. It services their website along with the website for my volunteer fire department. This is a great benefit from my "day job".

In addition to developing Weather Message, I have to keep up the Weather Message website in my spare time. When I started this endeavor, I never thought that there was so much work involved. Sometimes it seems like I spend more time doing administrative jobs than working on the software.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


While I have been waiting for the TCP/IP fix from my vendor I have been busy with changes to WxLoader. WxLoader has been completely reworked. This application now connects to the Weather Message Server using tcp/ip and no longer needs a processing directory. This eliminates the need for setting up alarms to archive products to a WxLoader directory.

It connects as a map client and can process any message sent to the map. There are a number of changes to this application. I hope to release a beta version by the weekend. It does require you to change the "files name" to "awips" identifers. This is caused by the fact that it no longer processes files.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


A problem was identified with the new purging capability. If you used the number of products option, the program would not purge December products when January products arrived. I uploaded the fix to the website.