Re: DIFAX situation

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Hi Pam-

I presume you have been following the DIFAX debacle, including one that arrived today saying the Unisys is taking advantage of the newly created market to gouge the weather community (apparently going from $300/yr to $3300/yr for a DIFAX like product.

Only if you sign up with them. ;-)  The reality is that there are other sources 
of DIFAX info other than Alden or UniSys.  Unidata has sent several messages to 
the community about our position on DIFAX.  I've appended a note from Dave 
Fulker about this issue.  Nolan, Mark and Bill are all on the ldm-users list 
and should have received this message.

    Can you shead any light on the situation, or make any recommendations?  
Since we have for some time been putting DIFAX products on our Intranet for use 
in the classroom, in addition to the paper copies, this represents a dire state 
of affairs for my forecasting classes.

The key thing that sites need to realize is that the NWS has said that they are 
going to terminate DIFAX and will give a 6 month notice.  That could happen 
today, tomorrow, next year, or whenever.  If I were a DIFAX user, I'd look at 
alternatives specified in the appended note because eventually, you won't be 
able to get DIFAX maps.

Many of the maps on DIFAX can be created with McIDAS or GEMPAK using the raw 
data in the IDD.  One of the solutions is to get the scripts that UW is using 
and generate your own products locally.  This may not be a good solution for 
you because of your IDD reception problems.

Any help you or anyone there could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, the best advice I can give is to start perparing now for the 
inevitable demise of DIFAX and use one of the alternatives listed below.  If 
you need more help implementing one of the solutions below, please send a 
message to support@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and we can help you further.


Dave Fulker wrote:

This was intended for all LDM users, but my typing...

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Date: Monday, August 28, 2000 5:01 PM -0600
From: Dave Fulker <fulker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: Gilbert Sebenste <sebenste@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Comments on Alden solvency
Dear Gilbert,

I write in response to your recent question:

So my second purpose in writing is to ask if WSI or another
vendor would pick up when Alden leaves, by providing DiFAX at a
reduced rate to the UNIDATA community via the LDM? I know it will
be tough to do, since DiFAX will be gone in a year or two anyway
(if not sooner). But it's worth a try.

Perhaps you already were aware of this, but Alden's provision of
DIFAX was not based on any formal relationship with Unidata.  Alden
simply chose to continue utilizing LDM-based delivery of DIFAX after
we concluded our contractual relations, following the deployment of
NOAAport.  As your note suggests, other companies could do the same
thing (if they are motivated to do so), and this could occur without
involvement from our office.  However, I read your note to suggest
that perhaps we _should_ get involved.

As indicated in the appended message from 25 July, we have been
trying to help Unidata users prepare for the inevitable demise of
DIFAX by offering a variety of work-arounds.  This stance was
endorsed by the Unidata Users Committee and the Unidata Policy
Committee, and I believe it remains our wisest course.  More
specifically, trying to strike a DIFAX deal with some vendor would
consume staff resources for short-term gain and necessarily would
detract from other important advances.

To help mitigate the burden that has been so rudely imposed by the
failures of Alden's DIFAX service, our user support staff is willing
and prepared to provide assistance to any department that has
immediate need for one of the work-arounds that have been devised in
consultation with the Users Committee.  I hope this offer is at least
partially satisfactory and will help Unidata participants prepare for
the not-too-distant day when DIFAX is completely unavailable.


Dave Fulker
Unidata Program Director
University Corp for Atmospheric Research

---------- End Forwarded Message ----------

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