Monthly Archives: February 2012

BestCast™

After years of development, Weather Underground replaces NWS forecasts with their own prediction algorithm that incorporates tens of thousands of personal weather stations – like my dad’s – into its forecasts. The algorithm is called BestCast™. The press release talks about 42,000 stations, but I suspect that actual number is a bit less. Wunderground came up with this figuring by summing the total number of stations from each of three different data sets, however a number of stations actually send data to many different sources. For example, thanks to wview, my dad’s station sends to directly to Weather Underground and to the National Weather Service’s MADIS program via CWOP.

Another thing that’s new on wunderground.com (or at least I never paid much attention to it before) is if you scroll down to the “Forecast” section for a location they publish the RMSE for this location both their forecast and the NWS forecast. As a data guy, I find that transparency absolutely wonderful. Also, they link to the predicted hour-by-hour weather for a location (I suspect this is using an NWS model, since it’s reporting for an airport.), and the NWS’s “Area forecast discussion”, which is a conversational and wonky forecast. Personally, I like how it discusses how different models agree or disagree.

Cryoscope

The Cryoscope by Robb Godshaw is a solid aluminum connected to a peltier, which is in controlled by a computer. The cube heated and cooled to indicate the temperature forecasted tomorrow. The cube doesn’t directly give the predicted temperature, since at room temperature, the metal cube is perceived as cold. Instead, a 73°F outside temperature is mapped to 85°F on the cube, since that temperature was perceived as neutral.

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The Transparency Grenade

The Transparency Grenade by Julian Oliver is a “weapon” for radical transparency. A case modeld after a Soviet F1 hand grenade contains a gumstick linux computer with wifi and an integrated microphone. The gumstick packet sniffs the wireless network while simultaneously streaming the ambient audio to a remote server for analysis. (Essentially, the gumstick is running DriftNet or EtherPEG.) In an interview with We-Make-Money-Not-Art, Oliver says that he wanted to make the “information war” a bit more visual and iconic.

The Transparency Grenade was made for Weise 7, an artist collective in Berlin, and their Labor 8 exhibition. The exhibition features a the nexus of technology and surveillance.

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From Our Vat to Your Table

Dr. Mark Post‘s lab at Maastricht University has created meat in a vat. The press is calling it “hamburger,” so I guess it is cloned bovine muscle. In a 2009 Wired interview, Post said that the problems facing in vitro meat is creating the texture. Taste is of little concern because, “The food industry is already expert at enhancing taste.”