[aprssig] findU major project...

Steve Dimse k4hg at tapr.org
Mon Nov 8 22:17:35 EST 2004

Last Friday I fell (not even a good story, I was just walking out to get my mail
and slipped on my gravel driveway) and suffered a bad fracture of my ankle.
Sometime in the next week I will be getting an operative fixation, followed by
three months of non-weight bearing and a couple months of intensive rehab. This
obviously is not going to be fun for me, but with all this time sitting around
with my foot elevated, I figured I would tackle one or more of the major
unfinished projects in findU. 

Before I start planning what to do, I thought I'd see if there might be a little
discussion generated in terms of priorities, or perhaps someone might come up
with a new idea. So, these are the big things on my to-do list, please feel free
to let me know what you think...

1. User written web pages...what I've thought about here is first, a more
comprehensive registration system than the one in place now, with the ability
for each user to write their own web pages, embedding in it any information
findU keeps in its database. In other words, everyone could have their own
customized find.cgi, wxpage.cgi, and so on, with its own look and feel.

2. A more complete set of cgi's for users to incorporate in their own web
pages...for example, a cgi to return just the text info at the start of find.cgi
or wxpage.cgi, which people could then insert into their own pages. I'm also
thinking of graphical elements, like a thermometer for temperature and so on.

Ideas 1 and 2 differ mainly in where the web page page is stored, in idea 1 it
is on findU, and in idea 2 it is on the users' web servers. I do not believe
anyone has trouble getting web space these data, almost all ISPs gove some,
there is qrz.com and qsl.net, and many others that offer it free or cheap as

I've always favored the 2nd approach, anyone that has strng feelings for #1
should speak now or forever hold their peace...if I'm not convinced to do it now
it will be dropped from my to-do list.

3. use cookies for cusutomization...have the user configure how the pages
appear, with the data saved as cookies on the user's computers, things like
metric or english, hide photo-relief, and so on, once configured any web pages
they bring up will be correctly configured.

4. weather charts....the cgis I wrote for temp, wind rain, and pressure were not
meant to be permanent. I've always planned on something with more capability,
such as autoscaling, better labeling, and of course metric units...the latter
being the most-requested feature over the years. I've looked at several
different plotting packages, and may be able to use on of them instead of
starting from scratch, but either way is a significant amount of work.

5. map caching...this is something I really need to do, the trouble is it will
improve performance but not add any new features. Basically the problem is that
except for NEXRAD images (which cache for 3 minutes, limiting the maximum load
findU can place on the NWS machines), everytime findU is requested to bring up a
geo file from an outside machine it fetches it anew, slowing down response. A
good caching system might even improve things enough that I can bring back the
three maps in find.cgi, I recently had to cut that down to a single because of
the load on the APRSworld map server.

6. animated radar images...it is pretty easy to assemble single GIF/PNG images
into animated radar loops, the biggest difference in my infrastructure would be
that instead of fetching the radars on demand and caching them for three
minutes, I'd get them in a continuous fashion and save the last n of them for
each radar to assemble a loop.

This could be interesting in that I could also draw on each image before
assembly, created animations not only of the radar but also of the overlying

7. routes for special events...for the Baker to Vegas run I have a system which
uses waypoints to calculate where along the route a tracker is. I had an even
more accurate system for the Mississippi River Challenge, as I was given a
lat/lon for each mile of the river. I'd like to create a more generic set of
tools to create a findU route page for any special event. I'm not sure if enough
people would avail themselves of this to make it worthwhile.

8 and beyond....this what I'm really hoping for. All of these others have been
around for a while, and not gotten me excited enough to finish them. I'm hoping
someone will come up this an idea that will make the next three months fly

Steve K4HG

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