Saturday, December 18, 2010

NOAAPort Signal Changes March 2011

In March 2011, the NOAAPort signal will change from DVB-S to DVB-S2.  That means if you are using the Novra S75 receiver, you will need a new receiver.  The Novra S200 will work with both DVB-S and DVB-S2.

This change will increase the data rate from 10.24Mbps to about 30Mbps.  There will be a 30 day window between March 5, 2011 and April 3, 2011 when both signals will be present.  After April 3, 2010, the DBV-S signal will be discontinued.

You can read more from this data management notice.

If you use NOAAPort, you need to plan on purchasing a new receiver.  Novra is offering a discount to existing S75 owners.

NWS Map Colors and Priorities

You will find a list of the colors used on the NWS web warning maps here:




The priorities for the colors can be found here:


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

NOAAPort Update

Here is the latest information announced in ADMNCF.


Subject: AWIPS SBN Status Update

On Sunday December 5th at approximately 2100Z, the AWIPS NCF moved all AWIPS NWS sites to a temporary frequency due to SBN interference problems that were found on the original AWIPS SBN frequency.

During the past 24 hours, the NCF has worked with the satellite provider, GLOBECOM, to ensure all interference problems experienced throughout the weekend have been corrected. Today between 1930Z and 2000Z, GLOBECOMM will perform intrusive testing on the original AWIPS SBN signal.

All AWIPS offices are still currently using the temporary AWIPS SBN frequency and will not be impacted by the intrusive testing that is taking place. External NOAAPORT users that are currently using the original AWIPS SBN frequency may experience brief data outages while testing is taking place.

Tomorrow, December 8th between 1400Z and 1500Z, the NCF will re-point all NWS offices back to the original AWIPS SBN frequency. The switch back to the original AWIPS SBN frequqncy will be done remotely by the NCF and sites should not see any downtime as a result of the switch back to the original frequency. Once all sites have been re-pointed back to the original AWIPS SBN frequency, another admin message will be sent.

On December 8th at 1600Z, the temporary AWIPS SBN frequency that was established will be terminated. Any external NOAAPORT users pointed to the temporary AWIPS SBN frequency will need to switch back to the original AWIPS frequency before 1600Z on December 8th.

Thank you for your continued patience while these issues are being resolved.
All NOAAPort users should switch back to 1193.5 before December 8th 1600Z.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

NOAAPort Receive Problems

There have been significant receive problems with the NOAAPort signal today.  After lunch my Novra receiver was not able to lock onto the signal at 1193.5 mhz.  Around 8:00 someone announced that the frequency may have changed.  Our friend Dave, KG4YZY, found out that the new frequency was 1138.5.  After updating the Novra with the new frequency, it is now locked and receiving data.

I don't know if this is a permanent change or only temporary until the original problem is resolved.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Polygon Siren Activation occurred today in Autauga County

The first polygon siren activation, using WxSiren Controller, occurred today in Autauga County.  Here is a copy of the automatic siren activation message.

NOXX02 KWXM 301515


915 AM CST TUE NOV 30 2010

PRODUCT : Tornado Warning


I will be posting a news release later today.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Windows not visible after screen resolution changes

Several users have run into situations where some of the Weather Message windows are not visible after changing the screen resolution.  I have added code to the programs to check and see if the program's window is on one of the connected monitors.  If the window is off screen, it will be moved back on the screen.

Right now this code works immediately with child windows.  If the program's primary window is missing, the user will have to stop and restart the program.  When it restarts, it will be visible.

In the past, users were required to edit the registry or an ini to get a missing window back.  This will save the user and me alot of time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weather Message 3.8 Beta 1

I am in the process of uploading Weather Message 3.8 Beta 1.  This release of Weather Message will using the Microsoft.Net Framework 4.0 if it is installed on the computer.  I recommend that all users install Microsoft.Net Framework version 4.  You can install the 4.0 framework from this link

Note:  If you install the version 4 framework, make sure you install the full version 4 framework.  Microsoft made a version 4 client profile that does not contain all of the version 4 assemblies.

All of the programs are compiled against Microsoft.Net framework Version 3.5.  Most likely they will be compiled against the version 4 framework before 3.8 is released.  The current beta will allow us to evaluate the programs using the version 4 framework.  Initial tests did not reveal any problems.  The version 4 framework contains a number of enhancements that may improve program speed and/or operation.

Several of the programs in this release of Weather Message will not work on Windows 2000.  I do not recommend installing Version 3.8 on a Windows 2000 computer.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NWS Products and Services Reference Guidebook

The NWS Products and Services Reference Guidebook can be found at this address http://www.weather.gov/om/guide/ This guidebook contains some good general information about the NWS products and services.

WxMap - Speed Increases

After researching an issue in WxMap, I ran some performance tests to see if using a county's database identifier was faster than finding the county by center point.  The current operation, in general, is faster than database access.  If the county appears in the database first, the database method is somewhat faster.

I did some research on my mapping component vendor's website and discovered that using 'rtree' indexing would make the spacial operations faster.  I thought I had already enabled that option.  Upon checking I did find that I enabled that option on each layer.

When I read through several posts, I discovered that rtree indexing should be enabled after adding the layer to the viewer.  I gave that a try and was blown away.  The speed increase is remarkable.  It is well over 100% faster than the old operation.  Users will definately notice the difference if they are alarming the entire United States.

This operation does create an additional file in the Map directory for each map layer.  You will notice a new file for each layer with the extension 'rtree'.  The files are not really large and are created the first time the map program is loaded.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

WxMap now supports a dynamic map legend

WxMap now supports a dynamic map legend.  The map can continue to be static or two versions of dynamic.  Dynamic 1 only displays products that are checked with the show in legend option.  Dynamic 2 displays all active products.  Here are examples of the legend.

These two map legends are dynamic.  The second map legend displays 'No Active Products'.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WxLoader and the PRO-Lite TruColor II

WxLoader can now upload text to the PRO-LITE TruColor II scrolling led sign. Here is a link for information on this sign - http://www.pro-lite.com/indoor-singleline-plm20.htm

Using WxLoader, the sign can read "A Tornado Warning as been issued for the following counties in Alabama, Tallapoosa, expiring at 9:00." (It flashes the word Tornado in red.)

This is a picture of the Pro-Lite PL-M2014RV6.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Weather Message 3.7 Released

Weather Message V3.7 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 80 changes in this release. Here are some highlights.
  • Updated support for Facebook and Twitter.
  • User defined products.
  • Updated map zones (You will need to download the map update).
  • WxMap can now embed an image in a saved map image.
  • WxLoader supports the Pro-Lite LED sign.
  • 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 3.8 right away. Watch the beta page for updates.

Suggestions for 3.8
  • WxMap add a dynamic legend
WxDataSave, WxLocal and the Retransmission applications have been respectively released along with Weather Message 3.7. If you are using any of these applications, they must be upgraded at the same time you upgrade Weather Message.

Note: I have a large number of pending requests. I will begin to address these over the coming months.

Note: I am working on a new Weather Message website. I hope to place the new website on-line by the end of this month. This change will ultimately allow users to login and obtain their registration codes. It is based on a popular content management system and will allow me to quickly update the website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

2011 Satellite Direct Readout Conference

The 2011 Satellite Direct Readout Conference will be held April 4-8, 2011 in Miama Florida.  For more information visit http://directreadout.noaa.gov/miami11/

The conference will provide information on:

● International Cooperation:
  • Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)
  • Satellite Providers and Users from the Americas
  • Frequency Management
● Current and Future Polar Direct Readout Services:
  • LRD, HRD
  • Argos DCS
● Polar Systems:
  • POES
  • MetOp
  • EOS
  • NPP
  • JPSS
  • Polar Field Terminals
● Current and Future Geostationary Direct Readout Services:
● Current and Future Geostationary Systems:
  • GOES-13, 14, 15, and R/S
  • MSG
  • MTSAT, etc.
  • Geostationary Field Terminals

Sunday, October 17, 2010

WxLoader - Interfaced to the Pro-Lite Scrolling Led Sign

After 5 months, I have gotten back around to testing my new Pro-Lite II scrolling led sign.  After I learned how to program the unit, I change WxLoader to support sending text to the Led Sign.  It works great.  I am still working with the colors so that I can make watch and warnings look different.
This is a picture of the Pro-Lite PL-M2014RV6.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WxMap - Adding a logo to the saved map image

The next release of WxMap will allow you to insert a user defined logo in the saved map image.  This allows you to personalize the image that you use on websites.  The Map Save tab allows you to specify the location on the map.  The logo must be saved in the same directory as WxMap.exe or WxMapNet.exe, generally c:\Program Files\WxMesgNet, with the name WxMapLogo.png.

If you create the logo with tranparency the map will show through the logo.  I created a test logo that will go out with the next beta.  Here is what it looks like this:

I used Paint.Net to create the image and make the background semi-transparent.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

EMWIN Success Stories

I am collecting user testimonials on how EMWIN has been used to "save the day". If you use EMWIN to protect citizens, save life, and property, I would like to hear your story.

With your permission, I will list your testimonial on www.emwin.net for others to read. We need to let others know the value of EMWIN.

You can email your testimonials to me or post them here on the Weather Message Yahoo Group. If you do not want your name or agency included with your testimonial, please let me know. I will respect your wishes.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Weather Message Support for Windows 2000 will end soon

Weather Message will no longer support Windows 2000 after version 3.7 is released.  Microsoft has dropped support for Windows 2000 in the Microsoft .Net Framework version 4.0.  I am planning on moving the software to the .Net Framework 4.0 version with the 3.8 beta. 

Here are the system requirements for Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0.

Supported Operating Systems:  
  • Windows XP SP3
  • Windows Server 2003 SP2  
  • Windows Vista SP1 or later
  • Windows Server 2008 (not supported on Server Core Role)
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (not supported on Server Core Role)
Supported Architectures:
  • x86
  • x64
  • ia64 (some features are not supported on ia64 for example, WPF)
Hardware Requirements:
  • Recommended Minimum: Pentium 1 GHz or higher with 512 MB RAM or more
  • Minimum disk space:  x86 – 850 MB, x64 – 2 GB

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Twitter and Facebook Support in Weather Message

Weather Message Beta 7 includes the new Twitter authentication changes.  This release also introduces Facebook support.  The F1 help's supplement section contains example setups for Twitter and Facebook.

Note:  After discussing the facebook implementation with one user, I discovered that you can only post to your personal page.  If you manage multiple facebook "pages", the current implementation will not post to those pages.  I have been testing changes that will allow you to post to any page that you administer.  Those will be available in the next beta release.
Update:  Beta 8 now includes support for multiple facebook pages.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Twitter Changes

Twitter is changing their authentication mechanism from "Basic Authentication" to "OAuth".  Twitter provides this description: "OAuth is an authentication protocol that allows users to approve application to act on their behalf without sharing their password."

Twitter will be disabling Basic Authentication at the end of this month.  For Weather Message to continue sending tweets, I will need to make some involved changes.

I have moved this item up on my priority list and will try to add this capability to Weather Message.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

WxLocal - Speaking the local weather conditions

WxLocal is receiving the ability to speak the local weather conditions.  The program can also write out the speech to a wave file.  It sounds good with the Windows 7 text to speech processor. 

I sure would be nice if WxLocal would send that wave file to Weather Message so it could upload it to a website and/or send it on to the clients to play.

The ability to play wave files in the Message Client would be nice addition.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sending Multiple Emails

Weather Message's email routines send email sequentially using a background worker thread.  When an alarm matches a received product, a task is created for each email group associated with the alarm.  These tasks are added to the email queue for processing.

The email processor will generally work through the queue in short order.  If the email group has a large number of email addresses, it does take some time to send each email address to the smtp server.  While all of that is taking place the other email tasks are waiting.

I have completed the code to create a pool of threads.  This pool could be used to spawn multiple threads that will take a task from the email queue and start sending it to the smtp server.  The question for now is whether this will make the overall sending faster.   If the smtp server is throttled per connection, having multiple connections could make sending emails faster. 

I ran into a situation with a SNPP server that was slow per connection.  In this case, using multiple threads could have made that faster.

Now that the code is complete, I will be running some tests to see how this will work.  If the smtp server allows for multiple connects from one user, we might be able to deliver emails faster.  For users that only have a few groups, this would not have any affect.  For users that have bunches of email groups that are activated often, this may make delivery faster.

Note:  If the limiting factor is the internet pipe speed, there is nothing that we can do to make it faster.

I will report further as testing starts later this week.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Siren Controller - Activation Notice

The Weather Message Siren Controller now has the ability to send email notification of siren activations.  Previously, you would email the actual activation product.  Now the program can generate activation notificates whether automatic or manual.  The Siren Controller sends activation notices to Weather Message Server for processing like normal NWS products.

Here is a example manual activation to cancel the sirens:

NOXX02 KWXM 052011


311 PM CDT MON JUL 5 2010


This gives the agency feedback on the sirens and groups that were selected for activation.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

National Weather Service Survey

The National Weather Service is asking users to complete a survey. In this survey you will have the option to selecting EMWIN or NOAAPort as your data source. I recommend that you take the opportunity to give the NWS feedback on your ingest method and their services and products.

The NWS is undertaking research on how satisfied you are with our products and services and would appreciate your feedback. The purpose of this research is to help the NWS improve its services. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and need not be finished all at once. We also encourage you to take a moment and complete one or more of the optional sections focused on Marine, Aviation, and Hazardous Weather.

The Survey is at the following link: https://svy.cfigroup.com/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.dll?idx=3XRBCG

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Backlog of files to be processed

A couple of users have reported a large backlog of files to be processed in their received files directory.  Under normal circumstances, this should not occur.  The processing of files depends on the number of alarms, number of connected clients, speed of the files being received, load on the computer and the speed of the computer itself. 

I have not seen this problem myself, however, I knew that the ingesting routine in Weather Message Server was ready for a make over.  I spend some time over a couple of days to rewrite the queue processing and ingest routines.  These changes will help with the backlog of files.

I moved the file processing to an independent thread. I moved the ingest directory read operation to another independent thread.  The ingest processing routine will now read all files in the directory at one time and queue them for the processing routine. The processing routine will then process them back-to-back without any internal delay.  The previous routine had some delay between each file.

I downloaded and processed the 3 hour EMWIN ftp archive.  This archive contains over 2400 files.  The server processed them in about 2 seconds.  The performance was definately improved.

I have to admit that I have a new 64bit Windows 7 computer with an i7 processor.  That cpu contains 4 cores with hyper-threading.  The i7 appears in the performance monitor as 8 cpu's.

A word of caution is always in order when creating additional threads.  Some think that the more treads you create the faster the processing.  That may not be the case for a single core computer.  Each thread has to share time on that one cpu.  You start to see the benefits of multiple threads when you have mulitple cores.

The changes will definately improve the program's processing speed, regardless of the number of cpu's.

Monday, June 14, 2010

User Defined Product File

The next beta release of Weather Message will add a user defined Product file.  In the current release, users that want to change the descriptions of products manually change Product.dat.  If they have user defined products, they update this file with their specific information.

The Weather Message Program Update installer asks the user if they want to install a revised Product.dat.  If this question is answered Yes, the installer overwrites the user's Product.dat.  In most cases that is not a problem.  For those users that are manually maintaining their Product.dat, it is a big problem.  The user can always restore the Product.dat file from the backup folder.  They however will not get the updated product file.

In the next beta, users that want to modify the product.dat file should update ProductUser.dat instead.  All additions and changes will be added or overwrite those in Product.dat.  This will allow users to easily add and change products without losing the ability to receive an updated Product.dat file.

This capability will allow me to easily define user specific products for the siren controller application.  I will not have to worry that the next update will wipe out my settings.

Thanks for the suggestion Todd.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Senate, House, Noaa, FCC Contacts

Regarding FCC ET Docket No. 10-123:  If you do not know your senator or representative's contact information, you can use the following links.



Noaa Administrator

Dr. Jane Lubchenco

Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230

National Weather Service Administrator

Dr. Jack Hayes

Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and Director, National Weather Service
National Weather Service
1325 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Department of Commerce Secretary
Secretary Gary Locke

United States Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

FCC Filing


EMWIN Satellite Transmission Threatened

On June 4, 2010 the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology "Requests Information on use of 1675 – 1710 MHz Band", ET Docket No. 10-123.  They are requesting information on the current users of this frequency spectrum.  The EMWIN Satellite data stream uses 1690.725 Mhz and 1692.7 Mhz. 

This release seeks to reallocate this frequency spectrum for "broad band" internet.  This action would completely destroy EMWIN and LRIT services. Users have until June 28, 2010 to comment on this request.  See FCC Release for more information.

I plan on posting a reply and writing to NOAA and my congressmen.  Now is the time for action - all EMWIN users, both satellite and internet based, should object to any reallocation.

I will be updating the blog on this as I learn more.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Support for WinFax Pro retired in 3.7 release

Support for WinFax Pro will be removed from Weather Message version 3.7.  WinFax Pro is no longer being sold by Symantec.  According to wikipedia, "Symantec discontinued sales and support of WinFax PRO on June 30, 2006."

Users that need support for WinFax Pro can continue to use version 3.6.

AT&T Natural Voices on 64 bit Windows 7

It took some time to figure out how to get the AT&T Natural Voices to work on Windows 7 64 bit.  Apparently the control panel applet for selecting the default voice only works with 64 bit voices (Anna). 

In order to change the 32 voices, you have to run:

This is the 32 bit control panel applet.  I need to keep reminding myself to look at the 32 bit control panels when I cannot get something to work.

Dell T1500

I am in the process of changing out my old Dell 8400 3.4ghz Windows XP system with a new Dell T1500 i7 2.8 ghz Windows 7 64bit system.  I already have spent about 6 hours reloading all of the software.  I am still not finished.

There are some software applications that I have not been able to get to run on Windows 7 64 bit.  For the most part everything else seems to work. 

I will say that this is a nice computer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Get control over the Message Box position

Alot of the Weather Message programs display message boxes to tell the user that they entered something wrong or to ask a Yes or No question.  The built-in message box appears centered in the screen.  You cannot center it over the calling form without a bunch of win32 calls.

I took several hours this morning to write a new message box class.  This message box works like the old one and has two new features.  It can be centered over the calling form and it now has the ability to automatically close after a programmed number of seconds.

I will be working to change the existing message box calls to this new class.  Users will not have to chase after the message box when this change is completed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

EMWIN Software Demodulator

Several users have reported problems with installing the NWS EMWIN Software Demodulator on Windows 7 computers.  Those problems are related with User Account Control (UAC).  In most cases turning off UAC allowed the software to install properly. 

I had a user attempt to install the EMWIN Software Demodulator on a Windows 7 64 bit system.  The NWS installer kept reporting that Data1.cab was corrupted.  Right now I don't know why it reported that file as corrupted.

In order to get around this problem, I created a new installer for the EMWIN Software Demodulator.  The new installer corrects a number of problems associated with Windows 7 (and I suspect Vista).  The new installer does not require the user to unzip the installer to a directory, then run setup.exe.  It also defaults the demodulator to the EMWIN-N signal (19200 speed).

For Windows 7 users, with UAC enabled, the EMWIN Control panel would not start or stop the Data Source or Demodulator services.  This happend because the control panel applet was not running with elevated privileges.  The new installer creates the menu option with the options necessary to launch the control panel with elevated privileges.  (WxEmwin should start it properly.)

I went ahead and included the Weather Message Software Demodulator extentions.  These extensions allow the EMWIN Software Demodulator to send status message to WxEmwin so that it can display operational information about the EMWIN Software Demodulator.

The NWS EMWIN Software Demodulator is provided free by the National Weather Service.  The repackaged installer is available on the Weather Message website.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Weather Message 3.6 Released

Weather Message V3.6 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 80 changes in this release. Here are some highlights.
  • Email subsystem now supports secure connections.
  • VTEC settings will now automatically populate based on the alarmed product.
  • The Message and Map clients can now automatically locate Weather Message Server on the network.
  • Support for posting to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Cell phone product email address lookup.
  • 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 3.7 right away.  Watch the beta page for updates.

Suggestions for 3.7

  • Release Weather Message Web Based User Manager
  • Add support for scrolling LED signs.
WxDataSave, WxLocal and the Retransmission applications have been respectively released along with Weather Message 3.6. If you are using any of these applications, they must be upgraded at the same time you upgrade Weather Message.

Note: I have a number of pending requests. I will begin to address these over the coming months.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

GOES 12 - drifting to 60 degrees - now transmitting

The GOES 12 satellite is now drifting to 60 degrees. The drift is about .5 degrees per day. As of yesterday, the satellite is back transmitting 9600 baud EMWIN data.

For those of you that do not have a 19,200 receive system and cannot see the west coast satellite, you should be able to reposition to receive the GOES 12 data stream. The satellite will continue drifting until it arrives at 60 degrees around May 21.

I have not tried to receive the signal yet, but will over the weekend. My dish, due to mounting location, cannot be positioned to the west coast satellite.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Feature ??? Scrolling LED Signs

One of my customers has a scrolling LED sign.  While talking to the customer, I mentioned that I was interested in seeing Weather Message control an LED sign.  One thing led to another and I ordered me one today for testing.

This is a picture of the Pro-Lite PL-M2014RV6.

This may be a good job for WxLoader.  I will know more when my unit arrives from California sometime next week.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Microsoft Releases the .Net Framework Version 4

Microsoft has released the .Net Framework Version 4.  The framework was released with the Visual Studio 2010 development environment.  I will be upgrading my development environment at some point in the very new future. 

I recommend that users go ahead and download the new framework at their convenience.  This will save you time when I release a software version that requires the version 4 framework.  You may also get some enhancements from the new framework.  You can download the latest version from this link Framework 4.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Testing the new EMWIN Internet Feed

My EMWIN byte blaster server is participating in a test of the new EMWIN Internet Feed.  It has been serving the new data stream for 18 hours now.  Everything looks good with no problems encountered.

Each connected client should consume about 19kb of bandwidth.  Some clients (ingest programs) can received compressed packets which reduces the bandwidth requirements.  Right now with 40 clients connected, the average bandwidth used is around 510kb.  That averages out to 13kb per connected client.

I have been submitting routine reports to the EMWIN Team.  I hope they find the test successful and begin moving all servers to the new EMWIN feed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

GOES-12 (East) has transitioned to GOES-13 (East)

At 15:35 UTC, the GOES-12 EMWIN feed transitioned to GOES-13.  GOES-13 is now transmitting EMWIN data at 19200 baud using QPSK modulation.

This was a big undertaking that has been planned for many years.  Thanks goes to all the people involved.  A special thanks to the EMWIN Team at NWS HQ who have been kind enough to answer my numerious inquiries.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Converting Werner Labs 3 foot dish to 6 foot

Tom Moore sent me some pictures showing his conversion of a Werner Labs 3 foot dish to his 6 foot dish.  He said it increased the signal strength and reduced his error rate.

Here is a picture of the original Werner dish.

Tom removed the antenna and moved it to the 6 foot dish.  Here is a picture of it installed on the big dish.

Here is a close up of the antenna mount.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Using Weather Message to update your Facebook status

Weather Message 3.6 Beta C allows users to update their Facebook status.  To send status updates to Facebook, you will need do do the following.  (Make sure you have version 3.6 Beta C installed)
  1. Go to Facebook and click on Mobile at the bottom of the page.
  2. Look for Upload via Email.  You need your upload email address.  (I had to click on an option at the top of the page that opened a window with the email address.  My next visit to the mobile page showed the email address on the main page.)
  3. Setup a Facebook email group.
  4. Set the Style for this group to Short.
  5. Set the Subject Style to Full.
  6. In the Subject Override line enter $Message$ (this causes the message to appear in the subject line)
  7. Enter your Facebook upload email address in the email address box.
  8. Save the Facebook group.
  9. Associate this group with the alarms that you want sent to Facebook.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

GOES East Transition still scheduled for April 26

The NWS issued a Public Information Statement today reminding EMWIN users of the pending GOES East satellite transition.  Here is an excerpt from the PNS.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Website - T1 upgrade

The Weather Message website got a speed increase yesterday.  The Internet connection went from 1.5mb to 6mb.  This should make downloads much faster.  It now has 4 bonded T1's.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weather Message Version 3.6 Beta A(10) posted

Weather Message Version 3.6 Beta A(10) has been posted to the website.  This beta contains a few changes to address some reported issues and add a couple of new features.  We are nearing the end of the 3.6 beta process.  I hope that version 3.6 can be released in a couple of weeks.

With each beta, the Weather Message beta testers load the betas and report their results.  I install each one on my production computer for a full evaluation.  If you are testing this beta, let me know if you encounter any issues.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lightning - Probably time to upgrade to Windows 7

My network took a lightning strike this morning at 5:35.  I was already up and moving around when I heard that "pop" coming from the computer/radio room.

I lost two wireless routers, an on board lan card in the development computer.  I don't have any phone service.  The ham repeater will talk but not listen.  I am sure there are other devices down, but will not know until I start restoring some of the things.

Good news is the internet satellite did not die, EMWIN receiver is good, and NOAAPort is working great.  Some people build great equipment and charge a little extra for lightning protection in their equipment.    I don't think the parts in the LinkSys with stood the test...

I am now considering a new development computer.   Lightning -- yes time to consider upgrading.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Autauga County Monthly Test

I traveled to Autauga County yesterday to participate their monthly siren test using WxSiren Controller.  Everything worked as planned.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weather Message 3.6 Beta 9

I have posted Weather Message 3.6 Beta 9 to the Weather Message website.  If you are a beta tester give this version a try.  I am thinking that this will be the last beta before the 3.6 public release.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

WxByte/WxIngest/WxEmwin will not decode - Regional and Language Options

A user was having a difficult time trying to get WxEmwin to decode data.  It had worked, but stopped decoding the EMWIN stream.  The program was reporting 100% bad packets with header errors.

I got the user to run WxEmwin with the LOG option and reviewed the results.  The program was failing to decode the date in the EMWIN packet header.  The date looked ok to me.  I got the user to check their Regional and Language Options and discovered they were set to English(Australia).  The user was in the southern hemisphere.  That setting changes the internal date routines to expect the date in DD/MM/YYYY order.  The EMWIN header is in MM/DD/YYYY order.

I got the user to change their Regional and Language Options to English(United States) and WxEmwin started decoding data.  Previously, it worked for sometime at the beginning of the month, but failed after the 12th day. 

This issue affects all version 3.x releases of Weather Message.   It may also affect the version 2 programs - I did not test them for this problem.

I have made changes for the next release that will address this problem.  I reviewed all of the programs that validate dates.  If they are expecting the date in MM/DD/YYYY order, they will now use the culture settings for the United States to make those validations.

Thanks to Colin for his help in identifying this problem.

Integer Overflow Checks

I disabled integer overflow checks in Weather Message 3.6 Beta 8.  I don't recall seeing an integer overflow in the programs.  This change will reduce the cpu consumption for all programs to some degree.

With integer overflow checks enabled, the internal routines would check to see if an integer overflow occurred for each math operation on an integer.  That is simply not necessary in Weather Message.  There are lots of loops that use integers in Weather Message.  Checking for an overflow in those well behaved loops is not necessary.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

EMWIN - Dual Ingesting (Serial and Internet) - Duplicate Graphic Files

I have several users that dual ingest.  They have the EMWIN serial ingest and internet ingest enabled at the same time.  One of those users noticed that they were getting duplicate graphic products.  After some research I discovered that the duplicate binary file routine was using local time instead of UTC.  That issue is now corrected.

The latest beta contains the fix for this problem.  Users that do not dual ingest may notice a decrease in the number of graphic files.  The EMWIN stream does output some duplicate graphics.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Introducing Grant Dark - Weather Message Sales

I want to introduce my associate Grant Dark.  Grant is the primary contact for sales and support for WxSiren Controller and emPager Pro.  He will also be helping Weather Message users.

I have worked with Grant for over 7 years.  He has a degree from Auburn University in agronomy.  How he became an acomplished computer technician, trainer and marketing person is another story.  He is married and lives on Lake Martin. 

Please join me in welcoming Grant to Weather Message Software.  If you are interested in WxSiren Controller or emPager Pro, email Grant directly at grant at wxmesg.com (replace the at with @).

WxSiren Controller Installed at Autauga County EMA

WxSiren Controller was installed Thursday February 18 at Autauga County EMA.  WxSiren will now be responsible for activating polygons based on polygons.  We performed tests to insure that the program operated properly.  We will run it through another round of tests in March.

Here is a link to the first Montgomery Advertiser article announcing the new system.  http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010100217040

Alarm Tab changes for Wind Speed

As part of the changes for setting wind speed and hail size, I made a couple of changes to make the Alarm tab cleaner and more informative.  The program will now use colors to indicate if a product as certain features.  Light-gray indicates that the feature is not available, a white background indicates it is available, while a light-green background indicates that the feature has been enabled.

Severe Thunderstorm - Wind Speed and Hail Size

The next beta release of Weather Message will support decoding the Wind Speed and Hail Size line in Severe Thunderstorm and Severe Weather Statements.  Forecast offices in the Central Region will start testing the "WIND...HAIL" line in SVR and SVS messages on March 1, 2010.

Only SVR and SVS products issued by Central Region forecast offices will contain the "WIND...HAIL" line.  If your forecast office is in the Central Region, you can use this option.  For other forecast offices, using this option will cause your alarm to not work.

Wind Speed will range from 60 miles-per-hour to 100 miles per hour.  Hail Size will range from .75 inches to 4.00 inches.  The alarm option will check for a match or greater speed.  (We could add variables for short messages if needed.)

This is a great addition.  I hope it will be implemented by all NWS forecast offices in 2011.

Note:  For everyone else, if you need this capability, you can use a regular expression to match wind speed embedded in the text.

WxEmwin - Pauses between packets - Revisited

Well sometimes you have to backup, punt and admit that you were wrong.  The explanation for pauses between some EMWIN Internet packets was a good definition.  It does happen as I explained in the previous post. 

The user that asked the question later sent me an example that I could not explain.  In his case, he was using WxEmwin to ingest an intermittent data stream create on a private network using WxRetran.  He setup WxRetran so that the stream was not sending data constantly like a regular EMWIN stream.  There was no fill file to make the stream constant.

After some research I found a problem in the buffering routines in WxEmwin.  When WxEmwin received a version 2 (compressed) packet, it kept that packet in the buffer until the next packet arrived or enough packets arrived to exceed the buffer processing point.  Once I saw it happen, I knew exactly what was causing the problem.

This issue would not really be noticed by regular EMWIN users.  When I added the option to disable/enable the version 2 (compressed) packet option to the program, the user changed the setting and noticed that the program no longer held packets in the buffer.  He just had to convince me that there was a problem.

So --- there was a good post about pauses between packets -- which lead to a real problem that was resolved in the last beta.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tigertronics - ESP-96

A couple of my users have been communicating with Tigertronics about the upcoming EMWIN transition. They have been asking Tigertronics if they plan to provide a new receiver that is compatible with the EMWIN-N signal.

Based on the last information that I received, Tigertronics is evaluating whether to develop a new receiver. At this time, they do not have a receiver in development. In no case will one be available by April.

Users on the West coast will be able to use their existing receivers until the West coast satellite is decommissioned at the end of 2011. The East coast users that can receive the West coast satellite can continue to use their current receive system until the end of 2011.

If you have receive equipment that is not compatible with the EMWIN-N signal, you may want to consider repositioning your dish to see if you can receive the West coast signal.

Monday, February 08, 2010

April 26, 2010 --- GOES East will transition to EMWIN-N

From the EMWIN Transition page:  http://www.weather.gov/emwin/transition.htm
There are currently two GOES-N series satellites, GOES 13 and 14 in orbit and awaiting full time operations. Once they are placed into service the EMWIN-N broadcast will replace the current legacy broadcast. In order to receive and demodulate the EMWIN-N broadcast all users with legacy EMWIN systems will need to obtain EMWIN-N capable systems.

Although subject to change, the current plans are for:
  • GOES 13 to replace GOES 12 (East) on or around April 26, 2010
  • GOES 14 to replace GOES 11 (West) in December 2011
After GOES 13 becomes operational, GOES 12 will be moved to 60 degrees west to help support the Caribbean and South America. We are attempting to have the EMWIN-I 9.6 kbps signal remain on the GOES 12 satellite in order to ease the transition for users.

The transition could occur earlier due to premature failure of one or both of the current GOES satellites. All users should consider migrating to EMWIN-N capable systems. Please see the vendor page on the EMWIN website. Anyone with an EMWIN-N system can try out the broadcast by using GOES 14 satellite, which is providing a test broadcast.

Why the transition to EMWIN-N:

Changes in the next series of GOES satellites, the GOES-N thru P constellation, have necessitated development of EMWIN-N. Sometime before 2011 the current GOES satellites will be removed from operation and will be replaced by the new series. This will allow for the use of improved technologies, but all current EMWIN users will need to migrate due to frequency, power and modulation changes.

Coming Improvements Include:
  • Data rate is doubled to 19.2 Kbps - More data!
  • Forward error correction - Greater reliability
  • Increased use of compression - More data!
  • Enhanced data stream - Including regional Nexrad images
  • Dedicated transponder
  • No eclipse seasons

Sunday, February 07, 2010

WxEmwin - Internet Ingest - Pauses between some packets

One of my users asked an interesting question today about WxEmwin's Internet ingest engine.  The user asked why there were pauses between some of the packets.  The user noted that data was being received ok, but it looked like there was some delay for some packets.

At 9600 baud, the current EMWIN data rate, one packet should be received about every second.  If the ingest engine is receiving a version 2 packet, the time between the packets could be longer.  A compressed packet increases the time between packets.

There are also other forces at work.  The TCP/IP subsystem in Windows uses the Nagle algorithm to improve the efficiency of the network by reducing the number of packets sent.  See Wikipedia's definition.

Windows may combine shorter packets into one larger packet before it is transmitted.  This act increases the efficiency of the network, but does cause small delays in packets.  The maximum transmission unit (MTU) for ethernet is 1500 bytes.  See Wikipedia.  This number could be less depending on the configuration of the network. 

A version 1 EMWIN packet contains 1106 bytes.  This number is less than a MTU of 1500 bytes.  Because of this windows could add additional bytes from the next EMWIN packet to reach the MTU support by the local network.  If the MTU is smaller it is possible that it could take multiple TCP/IP packets to transmit one version 1 EMWIN packet.

For version 2 EMWIN packets, this phenomena is more pronounced.  Version 2 packets are variable length.  This means that windows could possibly combine one or more packets into one larger packet before it is transmitted.

Regardless of whether packets are combined, WxEmwin's Internet ingest code will process the received packets properly.  You may simply notice some pauses in the status window.

Note:  The next release of WxBBSrvr will disable the Nagle algorithm so that I can evaluate the effect on the received data.

Monday, February 01, 2010

GOES 13 scheduled to replace GOES 12 on April 14, 2010

From NESDIS: GOES 13 is scheduled to replace GOES 12 on April 14, 2010.  See this link for more information:

This change will have a big impact on EMWIN users.  GOES 13 will transition the EMWIN data stream from 9600 baud to 19200 baud.  This will affect anyone receiving data from the GOES East satellite. 

When the transition occurs, if you do not have equipment capable of receiving the new EMWIN-N signal, you will be required to reposition your dish to the GOES West satellite.

You can watch for update messages on the Satellite Information website:  http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/SATS/

Saturday, January 30, 2010

EMWIN Port 2211

At the request of Antonio Querubin, IANA (Internet Assigned Number Authority), assigned port 2211 for the EMWIN (Emergency Managers Information Network) data stream in March of 2008.  The ByteBlaster network presently uses port 1000/tcp for distributing EMWIN data and ByteBlaster server lists. 

I am glad to see a recognized port adopted (Thanks Antonio).  I guess I just let this information get by me.  I will be running some experiments to see what problems users would encounter switching from port 1000 to 2211.  I am sure some users have opened their firewall ports for outbound connections to port 1000.

There is presently one ByteBlaster server running on port 2211.  I may change my server for testing.  Having a couple of servers on port 2211 will make the transistion easier to adopt.

Multicast Address

I knew that EMWIN was assigned the multicast address  I never had access to a multicast network, so I did not do anything with this information.  I am considering adding support for transmitting and receiving data by multicast.

Server Discovery

I was working with a customer that wanted to install the Weather Message Clients on their computers.  One of the setup steps was to enter the tcp/ip address and port of the server.  This resulted in a discussion about tcp/ip and how to determine the servers address.  For technical users this is not an issue.  For those that want to operate software, but not understand how it works internally, this can be a road block.

I am working on some changes that will allow the client applications to automatically discover a weather message server that is on the local network.  This will make installing the clients easier for the end user.

These changes are in the idea stage, but should be relatively easy to implement.

Update:  I have completed the changes for this feature.  It works well on the local network.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

SSL Email Changes - Message Date Problem

 After one user downloaded Beta 3, he noticed that his emails were being flagged as spam.  Apparently the SSL Email component had a problem properly formating the email message date field.  It was putting a colon in the time field when there should have not been one.

I received an update from my TCP/IP vendor that corrects the problem.  I will be releasing a new beta this Sunday to address the problem.  If you are having the problem, just drop me an email and I'll send you the installer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Optimization Weekend

I spent the weekend running a code analyzer on the Weather Message code base.  It recommended several changes that may help improve the speed of the programs.

I also started changing several of the internal lists to dictionary collections.  The dictionary collection can locate items much faster.  This would be something like getting the description of a product.  The old method was to iterate over the items.  The dictionary method is much faster in most cases. 

Before changing anything, I wrote programs to compare different approaches.  This has taken the better of three full days.  However, I am pleased with the results.

I want to do something with the county names list.  I am still running tests to see which approach is best.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weather Message 3.6 Beta 3 Posted

I am in the process of posting Weather Message 3.6 Beta 3.  This release contains updated TCP/IP components to support the new SSL/TLS features for email.  These changes have been tested for a couple of weeks without any reported issues.

This release also contains a few additional features.  See the release notes on the beta site.

Note:  Due to the update to the TCP/IP components, you will have to upgrade WxLocal, WxDataSave and WxRetran if you use them on your computer.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Weather Message Website Download Problem

Some users are reporting an issue with downloading large installers from the Weather Message website.  Some of the downloads are coming down corrupted.  I have been having problems myself. 

After spending all day today on the problem, I think the problem may be Internet or router related.  I have called a couple of people that have Charter Internet and their downloads are working. 

If you run into a problem, let me know.  I can email you the installer.

Weather Message 3.6 will have all "exe" and "dll" files digitally signed

Starting with Weather Message 3.6 Beta 3, all "exe" and "dll" files will be digitally signed.  Microsoft calls this authenticode signing.  Microsoft highly recommends that all "exe" and "dll" files be signed for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7.

This will bring the Weather Message programs into compliance with their recommendation.  I started signing the installers with the 3.5 release.  That did prevent alot of those "unknown publisher" messages.  This is an extra expense, but does bring a level of professionalism to the installation experience and program operation.

No Internet Slow Loading Revisited - Signed Executables

After many hours of research, I went ahead and updated the Weather Message installers so that they automatically disable the revolked certificate check in the Microsoft .Net framework.  What seemed so simple turned into a full day's worth of work.  The 32-bit and 64-bit directories have to be updated as appropriate.

Here is what Microsoft has to say about the change.
The common language runtime (CLR) tries to verify the Authenticode signature at load time to create Publisher evidence for the assembly. However, by default, most applications do not need Publisher evidence. Standard CAS policy does not rely on the PublisherMembershipCondition. You should avoid the unnecessary startup cost associated with verifying the publisher signature unless your application executes on a computer with custom CAS policy, or is intending to satisfy demands for PublisherIdentityPermission in a partial-trust environment. (Demands for identity permissions always succeed in a full-trust environment.)
For services they go one step further with this note.
We recommend that services use the element to improve startup performance. Using this element can also help avoid delays that can cause a time-out and the cancellation of the service startup.
After reading this information published by Microsoft, you would think they would disable this by default.  See this KB article for more information KB936707.