Weather forecasts have become much more accurate

Hannah Ritchie, writing at Our World in Data:

The first big change is that the data has improved. More extensive and higher-resolution observations can be used as inputs into the weather models. This is because we have more and better satellite data, and because land-based stations are covering many more areas around the globe, and at a higher density. The precision of these instruments has improved, too.

These observations are then fed into numerical prediction models to forecast the weather. That brings us to the next two developments. The computers on which these models are run have gotten much faster. Faster speeds are crucial: the Met Office now chunks the world into grids of smaller and smaller squares. While they once modeled the world in 90-kilometer-wide squares, they are now down to a grid of 1.5-kilometer squares. That means many more calculations need to be run to get this high-resolution map. The methods to turn the observations into model outputs have also improved. We’ve gone from very simple visions of the world to methods that can capture the complexity of these systems in detail.

As someone with two armchair meterologists” in my life, I found this article fascinating. There’s so many extensions of this idea of more data capture and faster computing leading to increasingly accurate predictions at scale. One that comes to mind for me is crash detection in cars. It’s a stepping stone to the somewhat inevitable conclusion of full self-driving capability. The stones in-between are simply more data and better compute power. And oh, by-the-way, your vehicle will know if it’s going to rain and adjust for that too.

2024 Apr·02


A Special Type of Hoarder

I lean towards minimalist tendencies as much as I can. In a very different set of life circumstances, I’d be someone with few physical possessions, in a tiny house in some lush remote location. The life that I find myself in, the life I’m happily living to its fullest potential, has both more people and more things in it. I try to ensure that the possessions I have serve a purpose. The older I get, the more aggressive I become about thinning those items to just the things that truly add value to my life. My goal isn’t number of items, but more that I don’t feel the anxiety that comes with having a life overburdened with stuff.

Then there’s the part of my brain that sees items that most would consider trash, yet I see future purpose. Future could be two weeks from now or two years from now. This characteristic demonstrates itself with some household need to fix, adapt or adjust some thing in some way and then me excitedly saying, I have just the thing for this!” I then normally head to the garage and come back with a random part or component that was destined for the garbage can when I placed it into one of many little jars of future potential inventory.

This happened yesterday, which is when I got the idea to write this post. My wife received a lovely wind chime from a neighbor a few weeks back. We hung it on our back porch, where we already had a bamboo wind chime, and then we heard the problem. The bamboo one had conflicting tones from the metal one. I took the metal one down and told me wife I’d come up with a solution. I had just the thing and just needed a free moment to deal with it. Yesterday was that moment. After an oil change in one of the cars, I was putting my tools away and saw the wind chime hanging there on the shelves.

I took it down and reached for one of my containers. This container used to be filled with parmesan cheese. For the past several years, it’s been filled with various bits of plastic and rubber. I get this thrifty storage system from my mom and dad. Growing up, if you saw a Land O Lakes margarine container in the garage or anywhere other than the refrigerator, it contained something important. I have former pickle jars with machine screws. A former jelly jar has extra nuts and bolts that came with assemble-at-home furniture.

In the rubber & plastic parts container, I pulled out six rubberized corner guards. They came off the corners of the mirrors I used for a garage dance floor project. In an ironic twist, I often have not only just the thing, but also just the right number of said thing in these scenarios. The wind chime had six metal tubes. I trimmed the corner off the rubber triangle pocket and slide it into the tube. I took a screwdriver and gently pushed the material up in to the tube so that you could no longer see it. I repeated this with the other five rubber triangles and metal tubes. I lifted the wind chime to hear the result, and it was perfect. It now has tonal harmony with the bamboo one that hangs on the back porch and they sound lovely together.

I fully recognize that this behavior is off brand” for an aspiring minimalist, however, if my goal is to keep only the things that serve a purpose… I’m not far off in the end.

2024 Apr·01


A Life Item Inventory

Uses pages are awesome. You see them all around the web, especially the indie blog scene. I’ve had an itch to create my own ever since creating my Now page. Recently, I received a lovely email from Pete Moore. Upon taking a look at his site, I found his Uses page. What a gem it is. After being impressed by the aesthetic he has going on with the page, photography and the curated items he has in his life, I found the itch growing to join the club.

The ironic thing about starting a uses page is that it literally forces you to take inventory of items in your life. I always joke that if I didn’t have six children, I’d be more of a practicing minimalist. Documenting the things that I have in my home office and coffee equipment has me asking myself if the items belong in my life. I regularly perform decluttering exercises, and regularly write about them here. I think now, the updating of my uses page will serve as a moment of review, reflection and recommitment to not having things in my life that don’t serve a purpose.

The other nice thing about finally creating a uses page is that I’m further along the path of my submission to the awesome Workspaces newsletter. Ryan has been an internet friend” for a long time and I can’t wait to have my space highlighted there.

While it will take some time to get it fully updated, I published what I had as a starting point today. You can access it from the links above, or from the nav link on my About page under the header image.

2024 Mar·31


OverARChing

Not long ago, I wrote this linkpost as an extenion of or response to Manu’s post. Since then, The Browser Company seems to be going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. They’ve decided to unship some features that I use often, like Notes. I’m all for refining your product, but it seems as though this is more of a pivot they’re not yet sure how to make. I’ll keep watching from the sidelines to see what comes of Arc on MacOS and Arc Search on iOS, but that’s about the extent of my engagement. I’m no longer using Arc as my default browser on either one. I’m back to Safari and enjoying it.

Ironically, Manu and I shared a laugh the other day when we saw that The Browser Company is launching a miniseries on their YouTube channel titled We Might Not Make It and in the teaser they feature his post:

Manu’s rant makes an appearance.Manu’s rant makes an appearance.

2024 Mar·24


My Own Micro

Ever since I left Twitter, I’ve been torn. I knew when I left I was done with social” media. I didn’t replace Twitter with Mastodon or Threads or both. I don’t care to consume information in that form anymore. I did, however, miss the ability to post a quick blurb or thought that may be valuable to someone else or to future me.

These are things that haven’t, and may never, marinate in my brain to the point that a blog post will be written. They’re not just writing ideas. Many folks call them micro blogs. Some of those same people post them to a service like Micro.blog. I think it’s awesome that Micro.blog exists, but I had no interest in spreading my micro posts or thoughts to another service. I’ve grown to embrace the everything is a plain text file mantra that Blot fosters. So… I created my own Micro.blot? I call them fleets and you can view them by clicking the balloon icon in the navigation bar of my site. You can also just visit or bookmark them here.

I can post them very quickly with either a shortcut I built or by sending a text message 1. Yes, good old SMS to the rescue. Why both? Well when I’m driving, it’s pretty easy to invoke Siri via CarPlay to send a text. I’d argue it’s easier than using the shortcut, though I know that could be made to work too. Messages is one of my most used apps throughout the day, so I figured why not make a way to write fleets I have floating around in my brain while I’m there.

They won’t appear on the front page of the blog, nor in the list of posts on the site index. They won’t appear in the RSS feed. In fact, you can’t subscribe to them in any way. They’re just something to stumble upon, or browse occassionally. They aren’t social”. They don’t appear in any algorithum ranked flow of information. They’re slow. They’re small. They scratched an itch.


  1. More on the shortcut is written here.↩︎

2024 Mar·24


42

I turned 42 today. For most of my life I’ve been both pretty good at math, and aware that my birthday also happens to be Pi Day. Since 42 is an interesting number for other mathematically significant reasons, I’ve decided to start a yearly tradition of a post on my life anniversary.

42 is mostly known for its pop culture reference as the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. While I love fiction, I can tell you that nothing about turning 42 makes me feel like I have any ultimate answers to any ultimate questions. In an ironic sequence of events, I did happen to find myself in Chicago this week and went to the Adler Planetarium yesterday. The 25 minute power nap I took during one of the Sky Shows felt like I’d found the meaning of life, but that’s mostly because it was a great nap in a cool location.

42 is the sum of all the numbers on a pair of dice. More interesting and on theme for a human that entered the world on Pi Day, 42 is the highest possible score in the International Mathematical Olympiad. For those that, like me, love a great logo, feast your eyes on this gem:

Logo of the International Mathematical Olympiad.Logo of the International Mathematical Olympiad.

If all of that weren’t enough reason to make this the first of many birthday reflection posts to come, 42 is also the ASCII code for the asterisk symbol. This is the symbol that represents the wildcard for everything in many computer programming contexts.

I’m an analyst both by career and by nature. Maybe there’s some celestial correlation to being born on Pi Day and being particularly analytical. Albert Einstein was also born on Pi Day, which seems like enough evidence for me, selfishly. So while this post hasn’t been particularly reflective on my life at 42, I’ll just say that the way I’ve lived it so far, and the way I plan to continue to, can be summarized as:

SELECT *
FROM life
ORDER BY tangibility_score DESC

2024 Mar·14


Guestbook

I was so inspired by Manu’s guestbook that I set out to create one of my own.

I wanted to keep the setup really simple. My site runs on one of the many awesome static site platforms (Blot), which did limit options a bit. In searching around, I found the web3forms. It’s a dead simple way to create a form on a static site, that will email you the entry. It even allows for custom redirect values when the form is submitted.

My flow looks something like this:

  1. Visitor fills out the guestbook entry form on my site.
  2. Email with the entry info comes to me.
  3. I review to ensure it’s not spam or someone being a jerk.
  4. I forward the email to IFTTT with a tag in the subject line.
  5. A IFTTT applet uses the email as a trigger and then appends the guestbook entry to the Markdown file that serves as my guestbook page.

That’s it! I wanted soemthing simple enough to receive, review and than forward in email without having to pull up and update the Markdown file by hand regularly. This flow works well within a simple framework and I’m pleased to have it live on the site. Please do sign it sometime.

2024 Mar·12


Less Is More Interview

This is a really interesting interview, because it shows Rams reflecting on what comes after good design principles are applied to products, architecture or otherwise visual mediums.

We need new structures for our behaviors, and that is design. We have enough things. We can improve some things, but it’s not spectacular. To improve a television or a computer, to make it more self explanatory, to make it more usable, it’s always a very important thing, but it’s not a spectacular thing.

The unspectacular things are the important things, especially in the future.

The music that was added throughout this video is an example of poor design, which is ironic given the context.

2024 Feb·25


We were never supposed to see our own faces this much

I’ve been saying this ever since the company I work for moved to remote work during the pandemic. Thankfully, for me, it decided to stay that way when many other companies shifted back to the office.

Imagine you walk up to someone to have a conversation and you hand them a small rectangular mirror and say, Would you mind holding this so I can study my every facial expression as we talk?” That’s pretty much what the standard settings on most team collaboration or video chat services are creating. I wish the default setting could be set to hide self-view”, but in the platforms I’ve used, it is something you have to toggle on a per call/meeting basis. Microsoft Teams gives you the ability to do a quick self check” before joining a call, which has value, but hiding the self-view once you are in the meeting would be a welcome default.

I turn the self view off not because I’m overly self-conscious about my appearance (though I recognize this is something that makes it even more stressful for many people), but because I can’t help but get distracted by my dog in the background or looking to see what item I may have left on the table behind me. Sometimes, I become focused on my facial expressions. No matter the distraction, these are all things that can be avoided by disabling the self-view and focusing the attention on the other people, as you would in an in-person conversation.

One point I’d never considered:

Before mirrors were invented, the earliest type of mirror” used was nature — reflections in ponds, lakes and rivers when waters were calm enough to reveal a flat surface.

Isn’t it ironic that we seek out these same locations for their serene peacefulness, likely never using them as a selfie-eval tool in modern times.

2024 Feb·21


Vitsœ: A Purpose

Paynter Jacket Co. did an interesting feature on Vitsœ for their site. While they’re a jacket maker, they have insightful blog posts under the Stories section.

I’m familiar with Vitsœ from the documentary film Rams. I knew that Dieter Rams had worked with Vitsœ for many years and his fingerprints can be seen on the company’s website and products to this day. I learned a lot more about the company from this article and the current managing director, Mark Adams, has a few insightful quotes throughout it.

Focus on better, not on newer. Why are we obsessed with the new? We should be obsessed with better. That is what drives us at Vitsœ. After all, it is the way that the natural world operates: constantly improving, not launching new species.

This seems so logical, yet almost none of the companies making the products we all hold in high regard foster this ideal.

The other quote I highlighted was about his wardrobe:

My wardrobe is a ruthless kit of parts. Everything goes with everything. Much of it lasts 20+ years. It is repaired. Shoes from Northampton. Socks from Leicester. Shirts from the US. Polo-necks from Derbyshire. Better, not newer.

I look forward to the day that I can say this about my own wardrobe.

2024 Feb·21


Audiobooks Are Books and They’re Also Practice

Simon Harris, writing about his love for audiobooks and the reasons he believes they can hone a skill vs. merely informing or entertaining.

Listening is a skill. One you should take seriously and one that might have atrophied in recent times. I can’t prove this change, though I think we can infer it a little from changes in media — for instance movie scenes, cuts, and dialogue have all been shortened over the decades. Generally the pacing of nearly all media has quickened. Possibly the delivery of more, faster” is the result of a too-great respect for novelty as an artistic flourish. I think these changes, and maybe others I can’t see, affect how people choose to make conversation in their daily lives, and make it shorter and faster too.

I agree with these points. I’m often saddened by the short duration of great songs today. Efficiency has infected conversation. Many folks would rather have several short burst message threads vs. one long-form meaningful conversation either verbally or in written form with a single person.

And you can practice this lengthening by listening to audiobooks.

I never thought of it as the practice of listening.

Keeping the thread of an uninterrupted narrative, holding your concentration and attention for it against all the other forces, this is a muscle worth stretching. You might find that over time you get better at it, you absorb much more, and it will make you a better listener elsewhere, too.

Having recently written about wanting to become a better listener, this resonates.

If you try to listen to them on 1.5x speed you are absolutely going the wrong way.

Guilty as charged… I may try 1x speed, unless the narrator is unusually slow paced.

2024 Feb·20


Steve Jobs Archive Logo

I was looking over the Make Something Wonderful book from the Steve Jobs Archive. I don’t yet (and may never) have a copy of the physcial edition, but they did such a great job on the website version. I’d heard about it on several podcasts when the book was first released.

What struck me while on the site was what a great logo the Steve Jobs Archive has.

Steve Jobs Archive LogoSteve Jobs Archive Logo

It’s simple, yet it has complexity that the Apple logo lacks. It’s perfect for the use and I wish there was more about it’s creation. I would venture a guess that Jony Ive had a hand in its creation, but I can’t find any reference to it online.

If anyone knows more about this logo’s creation, reach out with a link or to share, please.

2024 Feb·19