Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Plasma: Environmental Awareness

Last time around I mentioned the plasmoids I finally decided to write to show information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, or BOM as it's lovingly known in some circles. I have put in place a few more touches to make it useful and have been experimenting with it since the last post. Shown below is the updated radar view which uses a custom background image and a modified locations overlay. The sat images are from Google Maps.

This gave me the idea that this particular plasmoid should be "Environmental" instead of just weather. If there is a crash on the north bound road that you use, seeing a little red dot there would be great. Having it pulse when you animate the radar would also be good so you have a much greater chance of seeing it. Likewise, for bus and train services, seeing which lines of interest are inactive due to track work or where delays are. It is more about showing things that are of interest today than just the weather.

I'm thinking that using Marble and Nepomuk (RDF) here would be the way to go. Telling marble that the doppler radar images are for dlong/dlat and extend to dlong/dlat should be OK for overlaying them. Nepomuk would be the way to go for harvesting the other information, like the delays or traffic reports and if they are properly geotagged, perhaps geo84, then a sparql should be able to bring them to the map. Of course, a timeline slider would then live on the top so you can see things that might have happened but been already resolved.

My mind's eye could see the benefit to the gust / average wind speed vs time plot plasmoid, but now that I have had it running for a while I can also show folks that I wanted... as you can see, looking at the plasmoid on the right, the red is the average wind speed and the blue extends to the gust speed. It becomes obvious not only if it is breezy, but if there is a large amount of variability in the wind. This metric is very important to some activities that are sensitive to wind. For weather geeks, the drop in wind should also show in the temp graph on the left because the apparent temp will alter as well. Though at 16C with winds < 10km/h it is to small to really see. BTW I know that the times are wrong in the title, there is an erroneous UTC offset happening to that epoch somewhere along the lines it seems.

I am not fully happy with the Forecast view. The icons and max temps for today and tomorrow are shown on the left and the detailed text on the right. It is very hard to show the detailed BOM text graphically, as things like "Chance of a late storm" require strange combinations of the "Fine" and "Storm" icons from the KDE set, and that doesn't take into account the "chance of" part in the text forecast.

These will likely be shoved into KDE's svn as aaron suggested. If anyone feels strongly _against_ that choice then please ping me, otherwise I'll assume sunshine and lolly pops.


earthwings said...

Looks nice, but what about the license of the map data? Afaik Google only allows usage in web browsers, which plasmoids are not.

You could of course just exchange it with marble. There's a marble plasmoid you can borrow some code of. Or just drop by in #marble, we're glad to help out :)

monkeyiq said...

@earthwings: Using the google sat maps is only done by changing one of the layers manually, not by abomination itself. Abom will just happily use any 512x512 png that you say is the "background".

Though it definitely makes sense to move to marble so I can start adding the other stuff at my leisure. And conversely, possibly have weather information added to other marble views throughout the desktop.