Windows 8

 

My NWS-NOAA Weather Prediction Mini Center Windows 8 app lets you quickly view the National Forecast Chart for three days, shows the Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts for up to 7 days, and view Excessive Rainfall Forecasts. It’s available now in the Windows Store (for USA) and of course, it’s a free app.

I’ve been using Microsoft Project Siena to write some weather related apps and realized that I didn’t have anything that would supply an instant overview of the USA weather, especially rain, snow, and other nasty weather. I spent some more time on the NOAA-NWS site and was able to find exactly what I was looking for and decided to author a third app. I can’t say enough good things about Microsoft Project Siena for rapid app development. While Microsoft created this tool primarily for business users, I’ve found that for some of the things I’ve wanted to do, MS Project Siena does most of the work for me. I need to fine tune apps in Visual Studio, but considering the tool is at Beta 1 status, I am more than happy with the results.

 

The Main Screen is the entry way to the  section for each of the three types of forecast charts. Each section contains a scrollable gallery. Images are pulled from NOAA/NWS.

mainscreen

For each section, I’ve included an About screen with details on how to read the charts, information on the update schedules for each chart, and other technical information as shown in the sample screen shot below.

aboutscreen

Hope you like my latest app. Let me know on Twitter @barbbowman

 

If you have a Surface RT (original), Surface 2, Nokia Lumia 2520 or other ARM device or system you have probably noticed that there is no obvious way to request help from another person and have them log in to assist you with a problem. Programs like Team Viewer require a program to be installed on your device, and this isn’t possible on Windows RT devices.

If you really need another person to assist you, there is indeed a way, although it is well hidden, and it requires a few steps. (Remember, only invite someone you absolutely trust, never a stranger or someone who calls you on the phone or emails you that there is something wrong with your computer as these unsolicited requests are always scams.)

Turn on Remote Assistance/Verify it is Turned on:

1. Swipe in from the right to display the Charms, then select the Search Charm.

1 remote charms

2. Start typing the words remote assistance and you should see “Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer” pop up. Tap to select this option.

2 turn on RA

 

3. The desktop will open and display the System Properties window with the Remote tab already open. Verify there is a check mark in the Allow box (tap to place the check mark there if needed) and then tap Advanced.

3 turn on RA2

4. In the Remote Assistance Settings Window, again verify the Allow box is checked and if needed, change the amount of time that invitations can remain open. If you are doing this in real time with a helper on the phone, you don’t need to do this and can just select OK in the preceding window.

4 turn on RA3

After performing the above steps, your tablet should remain set up to receive remote assistance and you would only need to revisit these steps if you need to change the amount of time for invitations to remain open.

Create a Remote assistance invitation to send to your helper:

1. From the Start Screen, swipe to display the Charms again and select Search.

2. Type the word help. Other characters will be filled in after the word help and you need to backspace over them/delete all but the word HELP.

5 type help

3. Once ONLY the word help is displayed, tap the Search icon/press Enter.

6 backspace help

4. A window displays with multiple listings. Select Invite someone to connect to your PC and help you or offer

 

7 select invite

5. Windows Remote Assistance displays a choice. Select Invite someone you trust to help you.

 

8 invite helper

6. Next, select Save this invitation as a file.

 

9 save as file

7. Windows File Explorer will open. By default, Windows should offer to save this in your Documents folder located on SkyDrive. You can skip to step 9 if your Documents folder is open and expanded.  (If that folder does not display automatically, navigate to your SkyDrive and expand it to show folders if necessary by tapping the arrow to the right of the SkyDrive icon).

 

10 savetoskydrive

8. If Windows did not automatically open your Documents folder, and you navigated yourself, select the Documents folder

11 save in documents

9. Now that you are in the Documents folder, select Save. This will save the file with the name Invitation.msrcIncident.

 

12 select save

10. After you click save, a Windows will display with a password for the session.

13 invite code

11. Open your email client (Windows Mail from the Start Screen or Outlook 2013 on the desktop) and attach the Invitation.msrcIncident file you saved in step 9 and address the email to the person who will be helping you and send the email. Call or text the person helping you with the password. It isn’t a good idea to include the password in the email with the invitation for security reasons. Do not close the Remote Assistance Window with the password.

 

12. Ideally, your helper should be on the phone with you when performing remote assistance so that you can discuss and troubleshoot. When this person connects, they will send a request for remote control which will pop up on your screen. You should select Yes to allow control.

13. When the session is finished, you can close any remaining Windows Remote Assistance windows. Go to your Documents folder and delete the invitation you created in step 9.

 

I’ve been using Microsoft Project Siena (beta) for rapid app development and am really excited about the possibilities this tool holds for the future. Project Siena is a truly visual tool that lets you visually construct apps and bind data in the background so you can design and preview in real time from a single interface. It’s a whole lot easier than coding in Blend or Visual Studio, and a whole lot faster. A week or so ago, I decided to build an app that displayed the real time available Doppler Mosaic animated images from NOAA, with a future goal of adding the individual 155+ individual stations in the USA. I sat down over the past weekend and added the individual stations, by sector. Release 3 of my NOAA Doppler Radar Mosaic Imagery app is now available in the Windows Store.

It was a lot easier to add the individual stations that I thought it would be. I had to massage some data from NOAA, create some Excel tables and set up some galleries. Finding the animated images and creating the Excel workbooks was actually the most time consuming part of the project. Once I had decided on how I wanted to display the data (images), actually building this out took very little time.

So what’s in my major update?

For readability/usability, I changed the background graphic. Should be far easier to read any text in the app.

menu

OK, that isn’t so major. What IS major is that I added all available 155+ local Doppler stations and current animations to each applicable mosaic sector, displayable as a gallery. Below is the Northeast Mosaic Sector display.

individual sector

So from each individual sector, simply select either the pushpin map on the left or the text below it. The stations in the Northeast sector (or for whichever of the 12 sectors you display) are presented in a scrollable format so that you can visualize the details. City names are also shown, making it easier to understand.

sector station gallery

NOAA refreshes the images every 4-10 minutes, so each time you launch the app, you will see a nearly real time animated Doppler radar display.

 

Living in New England, I’ve always watched storms come across the country or up from the South and visited several sources on the web to see what the Doppler radar looked like. I hadn’t yet found a Windows Store App for Windows 8 that provided all this functionality, so I sat down with Microsoft Project Siena and went to work. I came up with an idea that I liked and the second release is in the store (you can download it here).

NOAA divides the USA into a “mosaic” and produces nearly real time updating animations for 12 mosaic sectors, like 12 tiles.

The entry point for my app is a representation of the mosaic with options to select a tile to view that particular sector or view all of them as a gallery that is swipable/scrollable:

main menu

If you view a sector, a larger image displays, showing animated Doppler radar:

ne mosaic

Gallery view as you swipe:

doppgallery

Release 2 adds some About/Learn more screens to provide the explanation for the colors and the measurements:

page1

My next plan enhancement for future releases is to drill down from the individual sector to tiles to the stations within it and present animated Doppler loops in a scrollable gallery. This will provide a close up view. (The image below is not animated, but you get the idea.)

individual

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