Sunday, August 12, 2007

"The Clouds" online for July 2007

I was quite busy, but I finally found some time to compute "the clouds" animation for the month of July 2007. The clouds is one of my fun and educational projects. I initially thought of it as an astronomy project, but it soon turned out that it can be equally useful for understanding geography and, of course, physics in general.

The coulds offers stunning, satellite-based views of earth's revolving cloudbands as seen from weather satellites. So far, I used EUMETSAT services, but plan to expand that to other satellite providers, too.

I usually create the animation in the first week of the month. This time, it took much longer. Part of it was that I was quite busy with rsyslog. The other had to do with my laziness. When I started the project back in early may, I thought it would be a one-shot for one month. Consequently, I pulled the sat images via a "secondary" system without any fault tolerance. When it turned out that "the clouds" would run for an extended period of time, I changed none of the setup. And, guess what - the hard disk failed early August. I didn't even monitor that system for health (my second fault, especially *I* should have done that...). So I didn't notice until a few days later.

The really bad thing is that I couldn't get any past images. EUMETSAT thankfully offers current satellite images without charge for non commercial use. However, the archive is a paid option. So I initially feared I'd lost all of July. Thankfully, I could recover that satellite images. So July 2007 is complete. I lost four days at the beginning of August, but that doesn't hurt so much. And, yes, I've at least learned a bit out of the whole situation: The image grabber now runs on two systems concurrently and both of them store images on mirrored disks. That should keep my on the safe side.

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