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20011212: setup of ldm-mcidas, LDM, XCD, and McIDAS at COFC

>From: "James R. Frysinger" <address@hidden>
>Organization: College of Charleston
>Keywords: 200111061842.fA6Igt112242 LDM binary install


re: writing clear, useful manuals
>       Between my Naval career experience and my teaching experience, I fully 
>understand and can appreciate the difficulties of writing clear 
>directions. The classic case is "write the directions -- without using 
>pictures -- for tying shoelaces in a bow knot". My students have 
>beta-tested many of my tutorials and not one has passed on first 

I knew a person whose job it was to translate manuals into English.
Mind you, the originals were written using English :-)

re: NLDN data

>       Just got a response from him; we've been added to the allow list and 
>he provided the html page URL that discusses the restrictions. I'll 
>make sure that all of our users are aware of those.

I see lightning data being decoded.  All is well.


>       Yeah! :-) I scoped out the menu lists and especially the Help 
>function. And then I just tried things. My wife and son finally put 
>their feet down and refused to come over to admire yet one more neat 
>display. Some people just don't appreciate the finer things in life.... 

Isn't it the truth.

>       This reminds me of a thought I had while experimenting with it last 
>night.... If it's not possible at the present time to toggle individual 
>graphics inputs, that would be a neat feature to add if the program 
>architecture permits it. For example, while building up a wx map, I had 
>SL pressures plotted then decided to shift to contours instead. Not 
>having to start all over would be nifty. This would also be extremely 
>useful for teaching purposes. We've got two "smart" classrooms with 
>computers and projectors.

McIDAS allows you to erase individual graphics levels or turn on/off
individual graphic levels.  The MCGUI has the intervace for doing the
former, not the latter.  Try the following (this like many other
things requires you have a 3-button mouse):

1) put up a satellite image of your choice
2) overlay T on the image matching the image time
3) overlay a contour plot of pressure
4) overlay surface streamlines

Now, this _is_ a busy display.  You might want to erase one or more of
the displays.  Here is how to do this with MCGUI:

Click on the Erase button just to the right of the Graphics check button
with the right mouse button.  A list of the colors used in the frame
will drop down.  Select the color you want to erase and click on it
with the left mouse button.  The graphic level selected will be
erased while leaving all of the others and image unaffected.

Since McIDAS allows you to toggle graphics levels on/off on a per frame
basis, I will be adding that feature to MCGUI.  Stay tuned.

>Unfortunately, those are Macomputers; but if 
>I can convince the department to put linux/PCs or Sparcs in the 
>classrooms, we could project wx maps on the screen and toggle things on 
>and off to show how the various parameters interact (e.g., isobar 
>density and wind velocities).

Sounds good.

re: running from the SPARC machine at work.

>       Yes, I'm anxious to check that out and see what's going on. I may need 
>the assistance of my colleague who is more SparcSmart than I am to look 
>at window managers and video card limitations. BTW, I'm pretty sure 
>that I didn't have Netscape or any other app running the other day when 
>I saw that, but I can't remember for sure. I'll try it again today.

One quick comment.  GEMPAK _must_ run in an 8-bit display.  McIDAS can run
in 8, 16, 24, or 32.

re: finish McIDAS setup before moving on
>       OK, I'll tackle that next. I did go ahead and download the gempak 
>files into my home computer just to get them on board and to scope out 
>download problems. No problems seen. I suppose I might as well go ahead 
>and create a gempak directory on home (parallel and at the same level 
>as mcidas) to put those in and to build gempak later on.


>       I had actually thought about the possibility of setting up and running 
>an LDM at home for a couple of reasons but I'm not sure if I want to do 
>this or not. Pros: (1) I could use gempak at home. (2) I would gain the 
>experience of running LDM on yet another platform. Cons: (1) That's a 
>heck of a lotta bits coming through! But then, I've got a decently 
>powerful machine (620 MB RAM; 500 MHz; >10 GB hard drive space that I 
>can use just for data). (2) I would need permission to feed from 
>UNIDATA sources unless I could set up 'weather' at the college to be my 
>feedpoint (with no failover site). (3) Setting up ADDE to pull in data 
>'on demand' would be alot simpler and would keep my homeline bandwidth 
>usage down.

I agree, ADDE is a LOT easier.  Plus, it can give you access to data
that is not available in the IDD.

>       The ability to use gempak at home is a _big_ item for me, I 
>anticipate. Doesn't it provide a lot more functionality and 
>computational/manipulative capability than mcidas?

No, but this is my biased opinion.  The bottom line is:

o if you want to analyze gridded data or do synoptic meteorology things,
  GEMPAK is the preferred package
o if you want to analyze satellite imagery (and not just use it for
  wallpaper), McIDAS is the preferred package

>That's the 
>impression I get from my NWS Forecast Office colleagues here in 
>Charleston. Even if that's not so, I have a lot more time to become 
>familiar with these programs at home than I do on campus.

GEMPAK/NMAP is great.  I won't try to disuade you from using it.  I
am a big fan of McIDAS, however.

re: setting up NEXRAD stuff later.

>       Go for it! That will also give you the chance to see the NLDN stuff 
>coming in. I'm going to go check that out myself (from home) right now.

OK, and I have already seen lightning data being decoded on your machine.