ARCHIVED NEWS ITEMS

Oct 1:  Updated the monthly BLIPMAP usage statistics.
Sept 27:  Contour colour alternatives:  Back on Aug 29 I switched from the "classic" BLIPMAP coloring, which had been in use for 3 years, to a "fixed" coloring in which a given color always represents the same value, which also needs a larger number of colors.  Many people preferred the fewer colors of the original coloring (as noted in posts to the forum).  The two approaches are significantly different, and since individual user usages/preferences differ neither coloring method can be considered always "best".  So I have now decided to simultaneously produce both "classic" and "fixed" colored maps and let users make their own choice of which to utilize!  While I will use "classic" colored maps for links on the "index" pages, since I feel that fewer colors are best for initial users, the javascript Viewer for experienced users now has a button to select the coloring method, and a similar option should later be available for the UniViewer (I've also added a button allowing users to save default Viewer settings, such as the coloring type).  For those wanting to utilize URLs directly, as in bookmarks, the image filenames differ with the classic/fixed colored maps having tails of .png/.PNG respectively. 
Sept 16:  Viewer resizing:  The original viewer now allows images to be re-sized.  FYI, to get equal distances on both RUC and ETA plots, the ETA (RUC) plot should be 64% (157%) of its original size.
Sept 2:  BLIP SkewT PopUps:  For the original viewer and UniViewer, this new popup provides a sounding based on the exact same data used for the BLIPMAP - and it available for both ETA and RUC models so their forecasts can be compared at the same location.  Also, for the RUC viewer it is now possible to get soundings from both the NWS and FSL RUC variants at the same location as an indication of the variability/uncertainty of the forecast.
Aug 29:  Fixed contour colours:  In response to user requests, I have implemented "fixed colors" for many parameters (indicated by "FIX" on the color bar), which will facilitate comparison of BLIPMAPs between different times/days/models.  The downside is its requirement of a large number of tints to cover the wide range of possible values, so distinguishing between tints can be more difficult than when a smaller range of tints was employed.  Those in the east might experience more tint-resolution problems, since the number of tints needed for their plots must be increased such that strong western soaring conditions will lie within the chosen limits - but maybe not.  Comments on this change can be posted to the DrJack Forum
Aug 27:  BLAST returns:  Chuck Deerinck's BLAST program, which displays BLIPMAP data in SeeYou, is again running and available at a new URL, http:www.dragon-aviation.com/Pages/Blast/blast.htm.
Aug 12:  Popup MiniBLIPSPOT Correction:  Discovered that for the convergence vertical velocity parameter the viewer MiniBLIPSPOT pop-up has been giving values for a location one grid point to the west of the correct one, so corrected that.
Aug 11:  Additional ETA time:  I am now providing ETA forecasts for both 18Z and 21Z for all regions, instead of just a single time as previously.  The additional times are accessible through either the original viewer or the UniViewer, not through the regional "index" page.  This change is primarily a response the fact that the "best soaring time" for regions such as OK/TX tend to lie between the two times, so this allows users there to look at either/both times.  But users in other regions, such as the east coast, might also use the 21Z forecasts to view "end of the soaring day" conditions.  The main bottleneck of the ETA forecasts is the NWS data file download, not the processing, so overall processing efficiency is not significantly changed. 
Aug 5:  RUC miniBLIPSPOT/Sounding PopUps now for Mozilla too:  For both the original viewer and the new univiewer, these popups now work for Mozilla/Netscape browsers in addition to IE!  Also, I found that I had broken the popup miniBLIPSPOT and corrected that - all that had been appearing was the lat/lon and not the data, so if that was all you saw you didn't see the miniBLIPSPOT!
Aug 3:  RUC+ETA Forecast Availability information:  I just realized that I had forgotten to mention a webpage I had previously created which gives information on the latest available forecasts times for the RUC and ETA models.  For the CANV region use the URL "http://drjack.info/cgi-bin/forecast_availability.cgi?CANV" - for other regions, replace CANV by NW, SW, GP, OKTX, NC, SC, NE, or SE
Aug 2:  RUC miniBLIPSPOT/Sounding PopUps:  For RUC BLIPMAPs, both the original BLIPMAP viewers and the new BLIPMAP UniViewer can now pop-up either a miniBLIPSPOT and/or a sounding for any lat/lon via a mouse click at that point.  Caveats:  this is for IE users only (see July 31 news item) and miniBLIPSPOTs are only available to RUC subscribers.
July 31:  RUC Viewer PopUp Soundings:  For IE users of the RUC javascript viewer (not the new UniViewer), a single click on the BLIPMAP now pops up the corresponding RUC sounding at that location (from the FSL sounding page).  Note that for a "previous day" BLIPMAP the previous day sounding is shown.  Of course, this is all dependent upon the availability of those soundings on the FSL website.  Also, this can be used to simply get the lat/lon at a given point, since that is displayed on the sounding.  Although I have performed several successful tests, my IE testing capability is limited so users should be on the lookout for possible problems/errors.  Any errors should be reported on the DrJack Forum.  [As a Mozilla user it galls me that this function only works for IE, but cursor position is much more easily available in IE than in Mozilla/Netscape - if anyone knows how to get cursor coordinates in Mozilla/Netscape, so that the popup would be available for that browser also, that knowledge would be greatly appreciated.]
July 22:  New Viewer:  John Whitney has worked some magick (I understand that a rainy weekend in NJ was partly responsible) and created a new viewer which has definite advantages over the current viewer, for example in allowing image resizing and in usage simplicity.  Right now its formatting still somewhat primitive, it's not a finished or well-tested product (so there may be hidden bugs), and it's best used only by experienced users - but with those caveats you are welcome to test fly it for yourself at BLIPMAP UniViewer   Thanks, John
July 20:  Javascript experts:  I am trying to write some javascript code for the BLIPMAP viewers which would have a left mouse click on a BLIPMAP image pop-up, in a separate window, the sounding associated with that latitude/longitude.  However I do not know how to do that trick - so if you do know how, I'd appreciate your replying to my post on the DrJack Forum, which also contains more information.
July 19:  ETA-RUC Monthly Differences:  Due to interest in differences between the ETA and RUC model forecasts, I have created plots of the monthly average differences between model predictions for selected parameters.  They can be viewed using the RUC-ETA Monthly Difference Viewer
July 6:  Merged RUC+ETA processing:  In a significant step toward obtaining a reliable operational program, I have now switched the RUC processing to use the same (new) program version as the ETA processing.  There was one glitch associated with the changeover but that has been corrected.  This version will improve somewhat the times at which new RUC forecasts become available, but the primary determinant of that is the download speed allowed by the NWS server.
July 4:  Next year update:  In an earlier announcement giving reasons for wanting to curtail my work on BLIPMAPs, I said I would provide an update on July 4th.  My present plan is to free up time for myself by reducing time spent on BLIPMAPs to the maximum extent possible come October, and to that end I expect to put the BLIPMAP processing on "auto-pilot" status sometime after Oct 1 for a period of at least a year.  The operational status of BLIPMAPs will then be maintained by the present server system administrator, Richard Hanschu, and by my involvement when necessary.  The bad news (for users) is that I will then not be making any improvements to BLIPMAPs, no new BLIPSPOTs will be added, etc.  The good news is that because no development will be undertaken, yearly subscriptions for access to all BLIPMAP forecasts need cover only server maintenance costs and so will be greatly reduced, to at least half of what they are at present.  I do not yet have a finished "operational" program (I thought I did back in April, but that proved to be a false summit) so will spend this summer refining the present version to make it ready for "auto-pilot" operation in October.
July 4:  NWS Server having difficulties:  The NWS server came back up around 0630 PDT for a short time but now seems down again.  Some BLIPMAP RUC forecasts were produced while it was up.  Interestingly I see that most Unisys maps are old, so they must be getting their data from that same server.
July 3:  NWS Server down:  No idea when it will again be available.
June 26:  NWS server download slowdown lowdown:  The NWS server download speeds continue to decrease so ETA forecasts, which are most affected since their file sizes are very large, are becoming available increasingly later.  To show how dramatic this decrease is, so you will understand what we are having to deal with, here is a plot of daily NWS server download speeds
June 25:  NWS server DOWN:  as of 9:48 EDT, so no updated forecasts were available - but it now appears to have recovered.  This is the first time I've known this to happen for a long period, so am having to make changes in my scripts.
June 24:  ETA Availability:  For the past two weeks I've been continually working on the question of ETA BLIPMAP availability, since with the old program some NWS forecast files were not being obtained due to time constraints.  My first attempt was not satisfactory, but I now have a version which (so far) is consistently obtaining and processing all forecast files created by the NWS.  I've also spent time working on server processing performance, which is now more efficient than previously.  The net result is that ETA BLIPMAPs will now be available as soon as reasonably possible, given the limitations imposed by the slow NWS server download speeds.  I expect to later switch the RUC forecasting to the new version, since that will result in earlier availability of its forecasts.  So progress is being made.  {However, a consequence of the need to work on this availability question is that I've had to spend considerable time that otherwise would have gone into other things, so improvements I had previously mentioned that I wanted to implement have now been indefinitely postponed.]
June 18:  Altered 18Z ETA program:  The new program version definitely outperformed the old version yesterday, so today I also started using it for the operational 18Z forecasts.
June 17:  Altered 21Z ETA program:  Back on June 10 I reported that downloading of the large ETA files from NWS was taking increasing longer and/or been failing.  This has not changed - it has resulted in long delays before the "latest" results can be posted on this website and caused some forecasts to be skipped.  To reduce these problems, so far as possible, I have spent this past week creating and testing an altered program which downloads available NWS files in parallel (asynchronously) instead of serially.  I have now switched to that version for the operational processing of the ETA 21Z forecasts, since those have had more problems than the 18Z forecasts (for unknown reasons).  This version is more complex than the previous one and not as tested, so "stuff" is more likely to "happen" - but the 21Z downloads have become so problematical that I felt it important to make this version operational as soon as possible.  Users should be aware that glitches may be likely for the immediate future - I expect these will generally be manifest as forecasts not becoming available when expected.  I will be actively monitoring the new program and will report on any major problems I find as they occur if they affect users.  By finding and implementing solutions to those glitches as they arise, I expect to eventually make this version as robust as the previous one.  At some later time I will also switch the RUC and 18Z ETA forecasts to the new version, after I have determined that it has no major problems. 
June 14:  ETA-RUC Monthly Comparisons:  Those who use forecasts from both the ETA and RUC models may wonder how the forecasts typically differ the two models.  So for selected forecast parameters at various locations I have computed the monthly average (and variation) of ETA-RUC differences.
June 12:  Problems, changes to come:  Back on April 13 I optimistically wrote of having resolved all problems which affected forecast accuracy or reliability (which I consider "major" problems since they demand my attention).  However, this past week it has become apparent that for the ETA runs downloading from the NWS server farm is going to be a continuing problem impacting the program.  This could be helped by altering my processing method to download files in parallel instead of sequentially, so I have determined to make that change.  However, the changes needed are significant ones and will require much testing.  I don't know when that new program will become available so in the meantime we will have to live with uncertain availability of ETA forecasts.  [And my toothache is back - when it rains, it pours.]
June 10:  NWS Server problems:  The NWS server supplying the data files seems to be experiencing problems, as downloads have taken increasingly longer or been aborted - the result has been missing ETA BLIPMAP forecasts, expecially the ETA current+2 forecasts. 
June 6:  ETA Cumulus Cloudbase/Potential Bug Correction:  I have found and corrected a bug which was producing ETA Cumulus Cloudbase (Sfc.LCL) predictions much lower than was correct, which in turn produced bad ETA Cumulus Potential forecasts.  Thanks should go to those users who reported instances of this parameter being inaccurate on the DrJack Forum, for it would have been a very long time (likely the entire season) before I would have found this problem on my own.  Additional information can be found in my forum posting.
June 3:  Philippe Athuil, holder of multiple world and US records and so no stranger to long-distance flights, has become an "Angel" and DrJack thanks him for his support.
May 19:  Updated the "Parameter Details" webpage for the "Height of the BL Top" parameter to point out how that parameter can be misleading when mixing is created primarily by wind shear rather than by convective thermals (i.e. when the B/S value is low).
May 19:  ChicagoLand Glider Council has just become an "Angel" and DrJack thanks them for their support.
May 17:  Subscription Access Now Active:  As previously announced on March 9, "subscription-only" access was today made active for many forecasts - this is described in more detail on the Subscription webpage
May 16:  SSAers:  Recently I was contacted by a representative of the SSA wanting to discuss BLIPMAP's future.  As I've written elsewhere, this is not the time for such discussions - I do not have the needed time, I don't feel ready to make such decisions, and (as I've also written elsewhere) I am tired and in an irritable mood.  I can't give answers when I don't know what the answers are myself.  From the start this has been an evolutionary process, and that evolution is not complete.  Right now I need time to recover and to have a chance to step back and evaluate what has been achieved to date, the effect of the recently introduced changes, and where it would be best to go from here.  Sometimes one's mental state is such that he should not fly, and right now I don't trust mine to make such decisions.  A continuing insistence on having answers provided immediately is not helpful to the cause, and I get angry when others don't appear to understand or accept that position. 
May 15:  Free of Pain:  I don't normally put personal items here, but my joy can't be restrained.  For the past two months I've had a toothache which had really worn me down - but last Thursday they finally figured out what was wrong and today I can report that I am once again enjoying life pain-free!
May 15:  BLAST users:  Chuck Deerinck's site has gone down and with it all access to his BLAST program.  He (and I) are working on a solution which will transfer things to my site and get them back up and running again.  I will let you know when that is in place.
May 11:  The sky is not falling (yet):  Recently I've heard that some users, after reading my subscription decision webpages, are afraid that BLIPMAPs are going to suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke.  Those web pages indicate that for the forecasts to continue I do need to free up time for myself.  And I do need to generate a source of funding instead of continuing to work gratis.  But I have been thinking about these issues for many months and hope I have a viable plan for achieving those ends:  first by establishing a subscription base and secondly by shifting my efforts, including some to others.  Of course it is possible that my plans will not work as expected.  But that will reveal itself as time goes by, and should that not go as hoped I would not continue on that same course but instead investigate alternatives and additional ways in which users could assist.  In any event, I will continue to keep you informed, as I have in the past.  My present expectation is that I would provide an update on July 4, since that date is associated with independence.  In the meantime:  chill.  I will be implementing subscriptions soon and we shall simply see how things go from that point onward.  If a time to panic ever does arrive, I will definitely let you know. 
May 7:  Subscription Update:  I now expect to establish "subscription-only" access to most forecasts, as originally announced on March 9 and described in more detail on the Subscription webpage, on May 17. 
May 1:  Updated the BLIPMAP To-Do List.
April 30:  New System Administrator:  I have asked Richard Hanschu, who flies out of the Williams (CA) Soaring Center, to become system adminstrator of the BLIPMAP dedicated server.  One reason is to re-cycle those funds back into the soaring community (they had been going to Denmark!) - but I also think that Richard will prove to be a better administrator (though, like me, he is undoubtably underpaid!).
Apr 29:  For the birds:  Lately I've been getting quite a few registrations who indicate their pilot type as "none of the above" and have UserIDs such as "raptorhal", "birdherd", "falcosparverius", etc.  So I've put two-and-two together and now added a "Birdwatcher" choice to the registration signup list!
Apr 28:  Server has the "slows":  For security reasons yesterday I upgraded the server's Red Hat "Enterprise" (sic) Server kernel - but this has greatly affected (adversely) the processing and last night's "load average" went way above previous values and the RUC 21Z forecast did not get processed until 4.5 hours after its previous "normal" time.  So it's very likely that processing will also be very slow today and some forecasts will likely be skipped.  And you might experience a significant slowing of response time on the website.  I am working on this new problem, but it may take at least a few more days to figure things out so don't be surprised if there are processing/website problems for the immediate future.  Update:  I have now altered some of the kernel parameters from the RedHat-supplied values and seem to have the system again operating respectably.
April 15-20:  I thank Richard Hanschu (who flies out of Williams CA) for watching over BLIPMAP processing while I was away from home and without Internet access. 
April 13:  Good news:  I have resolved (for the time being, at least) all known outstanding major problems with the processing program ! (i.e. those problems which affected forecast accuracy or reliability)   Although most changes made over the past months were not visible to users, they were necessary to provide a stable foundation - for instance, establishing procedures for dealing with the various data access problems which can arise.  I am now turning to "minor" outstanding issues, the first being to set "fixed color" plotting for the W* parameter.  Here the good news is that I have now re-coded both my plotting program and the processing program to allow that - and those coding changes worked successfully in simple test runs.  But the bad news is that when I tested it "for real" the "non-fixed" parameters failed to plot, for reasons presently unknown.  I think I am close to success - but right now don't know where the error lies.  This has taken enough time so far that I must postpone further work until later in the summer, but someday it will get done.
April 11:  New Wind Shear Parameter:  I have now added the "BL Wind Shear" parameter, previously used only for the ETA forecasts, to the RUC model predictions.
April 10:  Apologies:  I will be away for 6 days next week, visiting among other places Harris Hill, and have been working on providing a capability for others to "babysit" the programs under such circumstances.  Last night I tested a simple program stop and restart sequence using that capability and my check of the progress file produced indicated that all was well, so I went to bed and thought no more about it.  Today, however, while using the website I noticed that the RUC forecast plots were reported as "not available", which was strange since I knew they were being produced.  In short, a subtlety resulted in the processing program running successfully but an auxiliary program which copies the resulting forecasts to the website was not working.  So I have corrected that and all should work well with the new processing tonight - yet another bug quashed.  I usually try to avoid any testing on Fri/Sat evenings since the Sat/Sun forecasts are heavily used - in this case I felt there was little chance of something going wrong, especially since I was monitoring things closely, but I was wrong (yet again).  I apologize for being the cause of the missing RUC forecasts today.
April 9:  I have updated the BLIPMAP FAQ webpage.
April 5:  SWITCH TO NCEP RUC BLIPMAPs:  Oops, I've needed to change from the FSL (research) to the NCEP (operational) RUC forecasts sooner than I expected.  With the change to daylight savings time my older processing program, which analyzes the FSL model data, broke and rather than try to fix it I've simply stopped running that job since I would need to do that eventually in any case.  Actually, my new program also had problems with the time change, but I have now fixed that.  The FSL RUC forecasts were very useful, but time marches on and for me the time has come to focus solely on the new processing program.  I again thank Vit Hradecky for hosting the old processing program on his machine.  I have implemented redirections which take old bookmarks to the "new" (NCEP) RUC forecasts locations, but you might want to save new bookmarks containing the new addresses. 
April 5:  drjack.NET bookmarks now WORK!?:  A month ago I posted a news item here warning that bookmarks which use "drjack.NET" were no longer working - but now they seem to be working again!?  I had no good explanation for why they failed to work back then and have no good explanation for why they are once again working!  (Hey, I'm just a meteorologist!)  My guess is that when I switched registrars their "domain pointing" feature was not as advanced as it should have been but they have now upgraded that.  While users are welcome to use old bookmarks if they work, please remember that the "official" domain name is "drjack.info" and use of that name is less likely to have problems than the older "drjack.net" name. 
Mar 22:  I'm having to make another major change in the algorithm by which files are obtained from the NCEP server.  Though so far it has worked in my test runs, it has not been tested under all the different failure scenarios that can occur under operational conditions, so for the immediate future there will be an increased possibility of that forecasts might be missing.  I have waited until after the weekend to introduce this change and will of course be monitoring the situation and expect to eventually find and fix any problems that may develop.
Mar 21:  Turbulence ahead:  This soaring season there will be many changes from last year's BLIPMAP/BLIPSPOTs.  While I have provided notices of these changes in previous "news" items, for user convenience I have now assembled them together in a summary description of forecast changes for 2004.
Mar 9:  BLIPMAP access for this soaring season:  I have decided on the structure for BLIPMAP access for this year, which I have changed from that indicated in the User Survey.  See the subscription decision webpage.
Mar 8:  Survey summary available:  I have placed on-line summary results from the second BLIPMAP User Survey.  I thank all those who participated.
Mar 5:  BEWARE of bookmarks containing IP numbers:  For a short time during at the introduction of the new website it was resolving as an IP number instead of as "www.drjack.info".  If anyone saved bookmarks (or cookies) during that time it will contain that IP number and not work properly with a cookie (or bookmark) saved using "www.drjack.info".  So if you are experiencing difficulty accessing some individual maps, check to see if they inadvertently use the IP address and if so replace them with bookmarks using "www.drjack.info".  Additional information is available in a Forum posting: Beware of bookmarks with IP _numbers_.
March 3:  Alternate BLIP display formats:  In addition to the traditional BLIPMAP plot, BLIP data can now also be viewed in alternative graphical display formats using two different BLIP data display programs, written by Chuck Deerinck and Dale Kramer  Those programs utilize BLIP data files downloaded from the DrJack website - if anyone else is interested in utilizing those files, further information is available at the BLIP data description page.
March 1:  Domain name resolution problems:  There were some domain name resolution problems Sun evening associated with a change in nameserver, causing the site to be treated as an IP number instead of "drjack.info".  They did not affect obtaining the webpages but did affect my email and the registration cookies.  I seem to be getting email again and although things seem to be working properly again have turned off the registration system for a day to allow any changes to propagate through the web.
Feb 29:  PRELIMINARY ETA FORECASTS:  In my User Survey form I gave a brief synopsis of reasons for pursuing ETA BLIPMAP forecasts, but did not have space for an extended description or to explain why the RUC (traditional) and ETA BLIPMAPs each have advantages and disadvantages and so complement each other.  Although I have not read all the surveys (at 450 and counting, you can figure out for yourself how long that's going to take me) I have scanned many of the overall comments and can see that some are unclear about RUC vs ETA differences and advantages.  I have now been running ETA forecasts for about a month and while there are still things I want to tweak, they are sufficiently stable that I have decided to announce their availability so that users will be able to to investigate and to use them prior to the spring/summer soaring season, to see for themselves what they are like.  While that section of my website is still under construction, the forecast links do work.  I have also added some webpages to describe RUC vs ETA differences and present "issues" with the ETA forecasts.  If you find any problems in the forecasts or in accessing them, please let me know.  In short, ETA BLIPMAP forecasts can now be viewed by following the regional links given at http://www.drjack.info/BLIP/ETA
Feb 24:  Registration Activation:  Today I turned on "registered user access only".  Those using cookies will need to get a new cookie due to the domain name change from "drjack.net" to "drjack.info" (but my cookies are only good for a year, so you would have had to get a new one sometime this soaring season anyway).  If the "Forecast Access for Non-Registered Visitors" screen appears, then you should click the "Get new cookie" link to do so.  Those using the javascript viewer or who just want to get a new cookie can use the registration Logon page Those users using "cookie-less" access methods should not be affected.  If you experience problems you cannot resolve, please let me know via a posting to the DrJack Forum.
Feb 21:  Website Progress:  Putting this new website together is running into more than the usual problems and is taking longer than expected, but progress is being made.  As you can see I now have the "news" operating again.  I have also altered the nameserver operation so that new bookmarks should automatically incorporate the new domain name "drjack.info".  Registration is presently non-functional so it will remain turned off until I can get it working properly.  Some other functions, such as the "website statistics" logging, also need work.  Accordingly, I have had to delay posting of the 2003 User Survey Questionnaire but hope to do so within the next two-four weeks and will send an email to all registered users when that is available on-line. 
Feb 8:  THE 2004 WEBSITE IS NEW, WITH DOMAIN NAME "drjack.info":  I had to put a new website, on a new server, on-line suddenly while it was still under construction, but now have it mostly working.  With this move, the official name is now "drjack.info" because I think "info", rather than "net", better expresses what this website is for.  Due to the domain name change, if you obtained your present registration cookie at the old 2003 website you will need to get a new cookie for this website - see the Feb 24 "News" item for more info.  The old domain name "drjack.net" should also point here so your old bookmarks should still work - but that may at times be flaky so use of a new bookmark with the "drjack.info" domain name is recommended.
Feb 7:  Website lost!  For as yet unclear reasons, I suddenly lost my old website so needed to immediately put a new website on-line.
Dec 29:  Dallas Gliding Association has just become an "Angel" and DrJack thanks them for their support.
Dec 22:  Do hawks use BLIPMAPs?  Apparently so, or at least that is one possible interpretation of the findings of Canadian naturalist Paul Summerskill who studied migration routes within the eastern and central continental flyways of North America for the 2003 spring and fall migrations and wrote in his report: "The relationship of [BLIPMAP] Thermal Updraft Velocity to the preferred direction of flight over and adjacent to hawk-watch sites proved to be valuable in locating flights and in predicting large or small counts."
Nov 22:  AOL and aggressive anti-spam users:  For those who have forgotten their registration password and asked that it be sent to them via the "User Info Recovery" webpage, I have found that the email sent is being intercepted by some overly aggressive anti-spam filters, including "challenge/response" software, so you will not receive it unless you go to the mailbox where it has been sent!
Oct 30: Website Operational Again:  Yesterday's problems due to my website provider "upgrading" the website have been fixed and the website is working again.
Oct 19: DrJack Flies Convergence  After years of predicting convergence lines, pointing them out on BLIPMAP forecasts in talks, and hearing of the convergence line flights of others, I finally got a chance to see what one was like by following one back to Hollister CA.  I've decided I like flying straight and level in a glider.
Oct 10: AOL users:  "In our continuing efforts to serve you better" :-) I have added a header to the forecast images which should prevent AOL caching servers from caching those images, so the forecast you get will be the latest one and not a now-outdated cached forecast previously requested by another AOL user.  However, your local browser will still cache the images to allow you to (say) rapidly shift between images in the viewer [if an updated image is desired in the viewer you, just as non-AOL users, must click on its "New Cache" button].  If any problems are experienced with this, please let me know.
Sep 23: FSL sounding webpage:  For those who use the FSL forecast sounding webpage to supplement the BLIP forecasts, I have discovered that two factors degrade the data used by the FSL sounding forecast webpage and thus can produce apparent discrepancies when compared to the BLIP predictions - so I have added a note on this to the "Frequently Asked Questions" page.
Sep 22: Dueling BLIPMAPs:  There have been some strange problems lately, including loss of "previous" day results.  I finally figured out that Bill Hall's machine has come back on-line and both his and Vit's machine have been running BLIPMAPs!  I have now killed the automatic scheduler on Bill's machine so things should be back to "normal" tomorrow.
Sep 6: Land use info:  Everyone knows that thermal production is very dependent upon the surface type.  The RUC model considers surface type but only on a rather coarse scale.  For those interested in seeing the surface type variation I have now added maps of surface types to the regional grid orientation webpage.  Additional information is available at the Model Notes webpage.
Sep 5: Normal operation:  Yesterday's slow transmission speed appears to have been a transient difficulty and the processing is running normally this AM.
Sep 4: More difficulties:  While BLIPMAP processing is running, for some reason the internet transfer speed is unworkably slow this evening on the new machine - 5 times slower than my dialup modem!  This was not the case in my earlier test runs so I hope/assume it is a temporary condition.
Sep 3: SUCCESS:  Thanks to Vit Hradecky's compilation of a new graphics program and my finding a years-old bug in my plotting program, BLIPMAPs are again up and running.  The processing-to-website transfer speed is at least twice as fast on the new machine, so "first of the day" BLIPMAPs should be available at least 30 mins earlier than previously.
Sep 3: MAJOR PROBLEM:  FSL data is now being obtained and I fixed another piece that "broke" in the transition, but the graphics program is also broken and at this point I do not know how to fix it so when/if BLIPMAPs will become available is presently unknown. 
Aug 30: OUTAGE:  Bill Hall has had to pull the plug on his machine and FSL has not added the IP of Vit Hradecky's machine to their allowed list, so FSL data cannot be obtained and no BLIPMAPs are available.  I expect this to be the case until after the holiday.
Aug 28: NOTICE:  Bill Hall is moving and we have suddenly needed to change the processing from his machine to Vit Hradecky's volunteered machine.  I am still working on making needed changes and some things may break so do not be surprised if BLIPMAPs become unavailable - if that happens I will work to restore them as soon as possible, so please do not email me concerning any such outage. 
Aug 23:  Those concerned with DrJack's health, mental and otherwise, will be glad to hear that I took a sailplane flight today - for the first time in 10½ months (staying up 2 hrs until I got tired).
Aug 10:  I was away for the weekend and did not know that BLIPMAPs had developed a problem until I returned Sunday evening.  I have fixed that problem and BLIPMAPs are again being produced.  FYI I do feel committed to keeping BLIPMAPs operating through the end of this soaring season (barring some major problem developing), but I no longer make the near-daily checks that I formerly did (e.g. previously when away from home I had taken my old laptop so I could do so) since I consider myself on "vacation".  Similarly, while I still read email and forum postings, since that is quickly done, I am not now spending the time needed to respond to them. 
July 19:  "Vacation" Update:  Although I have not been answering emails or Forum posts, I have not yet been able to actually begin my longed-for "vacation" because behind the scenes several BLIPMAP-related demands arose which could not be deferred! (namely, a pilot report of a model glitch which required discussion and investigation by both FSL and myself, a so far unresolved communication slowdown, and an enquiry from the SSA BOD)  So I am now going to try again to begin my BLIPMAP-free vacation, but before doing so thought I should update you on one important decision I have made in the past two weeks, namely that BLIPMAPs will not survive in their present form next season.  Rather than fill up this message area, I have created a separate webpage giving my thoughts on next year's BLIPMAPs.
July 11:  The transfer speed at the processing site has slowed by a factor of 10 this last week, for unknown reasons, affecting forecast availability.
July 4:  DrJack Declares Independence!  The DrJack soaring forecasts have been frozen so that I can take an indefinite vacation from that work and spend time on other concerns.  There will be an announcment posted here if DrJack is later unfrozen.  Thanks for your understanding.  Further information
July 3:  Convergence Parameter Updated:  What had been the "BL Max. Upward Motion" parameter is now the "BL Max. Up/Down Motion" parameter, i.e. I have made what had been the "Experimental" parameter permanent since it contains all the information of the previous parameter and adds useful information on where extensive sinking motion may exist.
July 2:  Registration update:  Subsequent to one early glitch, in the first week of May, I have found no problems in the registration system, despite diligent investigation - instead, all problems reported to me have turned out to be user errors such as using incorrect passwords, supplying incorrect email addresses, etc.
June 23:  The website down for about 16 hours yesterday.  All email sent to me was lost.
June 21:  Updated the Contributors webpage.
June 14:  The website down for around an hour early this AM.
June 7:  Updated pilot flight experiences using BLIPMAPs.
June 2:  What kind of accuracy can be expected from these forecasts?  The question of surface temperature prediction accuracy has come up on the DrJack Forum so I've posted a predicted vs observed Tmax comparison for a remote ridgetop, since that is a location where soaring pilots would like to have good predictions.
May 28: DrJack thanks his users for their support!  It is most gratifying that 93% of the BLIPMAP requests are now coming from registered users.  DrJack likes to occasionally pause while at the computer to see the number of users that hour and obtain pleasure and motivation therefrom.  The present fractions of Sailplane, HangGlider, and ParaGlider registrations are 81%, 13%, and 5%.  Those who are interested in the size of the group they belong to can check out the number of active registered users, which is updated daily.
May 17:  Now for all regions, viewing multiple times without using javascript can be done using the Multi-Time BLIPMAP Index.
May 16:  I got my allotted one inspiration per year yesterday and have now augmented "cookieless" access for registered users to allow cookieless access via the regional BLIPMAP pages and javascript viewers as well as for individual maps. 
May 14:  Prior to today the registration software did not detect whether your browser had cookies enabled and would blithely tell you a cookie had been "successfully sent" even when it was not successfully received!  If you have been experiencing difficulty your browser might not have cookies enabled - you can test that by clicking on the Cookie Tester to get a message "Cookies are enabled" or "Cookies are disabled" (if you get neither, then you must not have Javascript enabled!)
May 7:  I added more information on how to deal with possible problems to the Registration Information webpage, although I have had remarkably few messages describing difficulties and so far 650 registered users have been able to successfully view forecasts.
May 6:  I implemented a module to let registered viewers who have forgotten their password or userID send that information to the email address supplied when registering. 
May 4:  For those who tried to access or "Login" this AM and received an error, that problem has now been corrected.  The long story is provided here.
May 1:  Today I implemented a system which registers users of DrJack forecasts.  The locations of the individual forecasts have therefore changed!  The primary reason for this change is to better assess present forecast use.  Further information is provided when you click on a forecast link, if you are not yet registered, and at the Registration Information webpage
April 29:  Updated BLIPMAP "to-do" projects list.
Apr 21:  THIS IS THE NEW WEBSITE !  If you are reading this then you are at the new website!  I have constructed it to (hopefully) be identical to the previous one, but if you find something that does not seem to work properly please let me know as there are likely undiscovered bugs/deficiencies.
Apr 2:  I got some feedback on the April 1 BLIPMAPs!
Mar 30  The clouds are fixed!   I finally got things sorted out and am now running a corrected program with BLIPMAP cloud predictions turned back on.  Bob Gibbons of Texas deserves thanks for having both the initiative to critically evaluate the "Cumulus Cloudbase" prediction and the knowledge to compare it to a simple surface-humidity LCL condensation formula.  As a check, the "EXPERIMENTAL" parameter in the BLIPs will give the approximate formula prediction, which should be within 5% of the printed "Surface LCL" - after the validity of the latter has been demonstrated I will remove the EXPERIMENTAL parameter print.  Those interested in additional details can read the "Sfc-humidity LCL: short and long stories" posting on the DrJack Forum.
Mar 24:  Contributors:  I have added an option to send you, if interested, a daily email when the first BLIPMAP is produced for your region (this is primarily useful on those days when the "first of the day" BLIPMAP is delayed and you may want to "filter" it to a mailbox separate from your main mailbox).  If you wish to be added to that list please let me know.
Mar 22:  BLIPMAP "HELP" page created:  This is now the primary source for finding additional on-line information about BLIPMAPs and is the first place to look if you have a question about BLIPMAPs or are a new user - it is available at the BLIPMAP Help webpage.
Mar 21:  Updated the Info on First Available Times.
Mar 21:  Parameter descriptions changed  I have rewritten the parameter descriptions on this page and created a new linked page with "parameter details", with some diagrams, at the "MoreInfo" link of each parameter.  Having a "parameter details" page provide a good basis for further growth since info can be added to it which would be too cumbersome to add to the basic parameter description.  If you think anything can be improved upon or added to or leaves a question unanswered, please let me know and I will make changes.
Mar 21:  A Google Search specific to the drjack website has now been added (see bottom of this page)
Mar 15:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BLIPMAP !!!    March 16 is the first anniversary of the day on which the first nationwide BLIPMAP forecasts became available.  When did you first hear about them??
Mar 13:  More timely forecasts!  Additional forecasts have just been implemented, so the BLIPMAPs you get will now have the the most timely information possible.  Last summer, when the processing was being done on my old, slow machine, I was forced to provide only half the possible forecasts, i.e. even though FSL provides updated forecasts every 3 hours I was skipping every other one.  Some users have noted that the forecasts sometimes change rapidly in the AM when conditions are uncertain.  Also, some have to leave their houses (and their internet connection) hours in advance to drive to the gliderport.  These additional forecasts will help such users, and all users, to have more timely forecasts than were previously possible.  I should note that this is being done only after coordinating with Bill Hall, and he has agreed to this change which requires more processing on his machine.  There is always the chance that this will later prove to be more of a burden than anticipated and have to be reversed - Bill is doing everyone a great service so this processing should not become bothersome to him.
Feb 28:  Added a "Rainfall and Soil Moisture" note to the model prediction notes.
Feb 13:  I have created climatology plots from the 2002 forecasts, giving the monthly average of each parameter for each time of day (when available).  In addition, I have computed statistics giving the average, standard deviation, minimum, and maximum for all parameters for all regions.  These plots and statistics can be accessed via the BLIPmap 2002 Climatology webpage
Feb 5:  In response to the many requests received on the first BLIPMAP User Survey, I have created a discussion group for thermal soaring forecasts and meteorology and I am asking that BLIPMAP users generally use that forum if they have a question or comment, since it likely is also of interest to someone else in the soaring community, rather than simply sending an email to me directly - although the latter is of course appropriate if there is some comment you wish to keep private.
Mar 7:  CA-NV Users:  Daily "WINDIP" forecasts of upper-air winds and a simple mt. wave forecast are once again available at the WINDIP webpage.
Feb 3:  Updated the webpage giving information on creating new BLIPSPOT prediction locations nation-wide Note that there must be a contribution to the BLIPMAP effort, of either money or time, to create a new BLIP for your location.
Jan 28:  Activated two new parameters intended to help forecast the presence and cloudbase of small puffy cumulus clouds that form in the BL.  As indicated in their description, there is a theoretical difficulty with these parameters but I have had several reports that for some sites the method is nevertheless effective so decided to include them and let users evaluate how well these parameters work for their site.
Jan 27:  I'm glad I was able to meet many BLIPMAP users while at the SSA Convention in Dayton and at the Wright Aviation Museum and appreciate being presented with an SSA Exceptional Achievement Award there.  I have placed on-line the slides presented in my talk at the 2003 SSA Convention.
Jan 17:  Summarized results from the first BLIPMAP User Survey are now available
Jan 1, 2003:  Congratulations to the first three awardees of the newly created "Order of the BLIPMAP Hero":  Milt Hare (who flies his ASH-25 out of Williams, CA),  Bill Hall (who flies with the Greater Boston Soaring Council), and  John Whitney (who flies his ASW-20 at Blairstown, N.J.).  As a testimonial to the time and effort they have voluntarily put into helping make BLIPMAP a product useful to pilots across the country, they have been presented with a "BLIPMAP HERO"[tm] award suitable for displaying on any T-shirt, sweat-shirt, or undergarment of their choice!  These awards are not available for purchase in any store.  Let's have a hearty round of applause for our "heroes"! 
Dec 29,2002:  In response to user requests, to aid orientation with respect to the smoothed model topography I have modified my plotting program so placename IDs can be plotted on a BLIPMAP region.  The first such plot has been created for AZ (SouthWest region) based on data provided by Gary Evans, so to see what one looks like you can view it here. There are currently (sparse) ID plots available for the CA-NV, NorthEast, SouthEast, OK-TX, NorthCentral, SouthCentral, and SouthWest regions:  to view your region's ID plot or if you are interested in adding IDs for your region, see the regional orientation webpage.
Sept 23:  Who Uses BLIPMAPs?  Of the 1,021 people who responded to a 3 week poll, 80% were Sailplane PIlots, 15% were HangGlider Pilots, 4% were ParaGlider Pilots, 0.6% were Weather Enthusiasts, 0.5% were Weather Workers, and 0.4% were None of the Above.  Based on SSA and USHGA membership numbers, equally random voting from SailPlane/HangGlider/ParaGlider pilots would have given respective percentages of roughly 50/25/25 - the difference between those percentages and the actual results suggests to me that those who fly longer distances are more likely to use BLIPMAPs.
Sept 2:  Remarkable convergence prediction!  Labor Day (today) was a remarkable day in the Sierras with many long flights.  I was particularly interested in reports of a very long convergence line which moved eastward with time, since the BLIPMAPs predicted the occurrence of just such a convergence!  Moreover, subsequence comparison to satellite photos confirms not only that BLIPMAP prediction but also it's prediction of a second (unflown) convergence line!  I have created viewers to look at the hourly development and movement of both the convergence line forecasts and the satellite photos, with viewing instructions and a brief description, here
Aug 18:  THE FUTURE ??  I have begun experimenting with BLIPMAPs using the NWS 12km ETA model instead of the FSL 20km RUC model.  Advantages of the ETA are its higher resolution, 12km instead of 20km, and it provides extended forecasts out to 84 hours.  Some results, for the "Current+2" and "Current+3" days only, can be viewed here  [Note: the ETA regional areas differ from those of the RUC FSL model due to differing map projections used - if you find a different region is needed, go to the regional ETA webpage].  The program is still under development and these forecasts are not being updated daily, but these plots do illustrate what can be done.  At present, the accuracy of ETA vis-a-vis RUC is not known and the accuracy of the longer-range forecasts is especially unknown.  Whether such products might become regular predictions is uncertain, as each forecast requires downloading a half-gigabyte file and there is a cost associated with that. 
July 25:  Added a link to an on-line version of the July 2002 SOARING magazine BLIPMAP article, which is a good "first thing to read" for potential BLIPMAP users.
Mar 16, 2002:  DrJack done wrote hisself an article giving motivations for BLIPMAP use, a discussion of some parameters provided, how BLIPMAPs are computed, and the future that might be anticipated for such soaring forecasts.  It is a manuscript submitted to SOARING magazine for publication consideration and they have requested that the manuscript not be "web published" prior to any publication they might make but have indicated that I can provide individual "copies" to interested individuals, so if you wish to prevue this article let me know by email and I will reply with the URL address at which it can be viewed.