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FAA Using Webcams to Aid Alaskan Pilots

chrisd posted about 12 years ago | from the no-faa-wishlists dept.

Technology 101

Isthistakenyet? writes "CNN is running a story about a series of FAA webcams designed to give fliers in Alaska pictures of current weather conditions around the state. I can even get current conditions near where I used to live - check out the 'Clear Day Image' :)" Hopefully the slashdotting won't keep a legit pilot from checking conditions.

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101 comments

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A bit better than my quickcam (0, Offtopic)

BlueTooth (102363) | about 12 years ago | (#4023706)

...ya know

Well fuck me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023707)

A first AC FP?

End Israeli Imperialism (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023792)

My beloved son Arik, my own flesh and blood, was murdered by Palestinians. My tall, blue-eyed, golden-haired son who was always smiling with the innocence of a child and the understanding of an adult. My son. If to hit his killers, innocent Palestinian children and other civilians would have to be killed, I would ask the security forces to wait for another opportunity.

My beloved son Arik was murdered by a Palestinian. Should the security forces have information of this murderer's whereabouts, and should it turn out that he was surrounded by innocent children and other Palestinian civilians, then - even if the security forces knew that the killer was planning another murderous attack and they now had the choice of curbing a terror attack that would kill innocent Israeli civilians, but at the cost of hitting innocent Palestinians, I would tell the security forces not to seek revenge.

I would rather have the finger that pushes the trigger or the button that drops the bomb tremble before it kills my son's murderer, than for innocent civilians to be killed. I would say to the security forces: do not kill the killer. Rather, bring him before an Israeli court. You are not the judiciary. Your only motivation should not be vengeance, but the prevention of any injury to innocent civilians.

Ethics are not black and white - they are all white. Ethics have to be free of vengefulness and rashness. Every act must be carefully weighed before a decision is made to see whether it meets strict ethical criteria. Our ethics are hanging by a thread, at the mercy of every soldier and politician.

It is unethical to kill innocent Israeli or Palestinian women and children. It is also unethical to control another nation and to lead it to lose its humaneness. It is patently unethical to drop a bomb that kills innocent Palestinians. It is blatantly unethical to wreak vengeance upon innocent bystanders.

It is, on the other hand, supremely ethical to prevent the death of any human being. But if such prevention causes the futile death of others, the ethical foundation for such prevention is lost. A nation that cannot draw the line is doomed eventually to apply unethical measures against its own people. The worst in my mind is not what has already happened but what I am sure one day will. And it will - because the political and military leadership does not even have the most basic integrity to say: "we are sorry". We lost sight of our ethics long before the suicide bombings. The breaking point was when we started to control another nation.

My son Arik was born into a democracy with a chance for a decent, settled life. Arik's killer was born into an appalling occupation, into an ethical chaos. Had my son been born in his stead, he may have ended up doing the same. Had I myself been born into the political and ethical chaos that is the Palestinians' daily reality, I would certainly have tried to kill and hurt the occupier; had I not, I would have betrayed my essence as a free man. Let all the self-righteous who speak of ruthless Palestinian murderers take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what they would have done had they been the ones living under occupation. I can say for myself that I, Yitzhak Frankenthal, would have undoubtedly become a freedom fighter and would have killed as many on the other side as I possibly could. It is this depraved hypocrisy that pushes the Palestinians to fight us relentlessly - our double standard that allows us to boast the highest military ethics, while the same military slays innocent children. This lack of ethics is bound to corrupt us.

My son Arik was murdered when he was a soldier by Palestinian fighters who believed in the ethical basis of their struggle against the occupation. My son Arik was not murdered because he was Jewish but because he is part of the nation that occupies the territory of another. I know these are concepts that are unpalatable, but I must voice them loud and clear, because they come from my heart - the heart of a father whose son did not get to live because his people were blinded with power.

As much as I would like to do so, I cannot say that the Palestinians are to blame for my son's death. That would be the easy way out, but it is we, Israelis, who are to blame because of the occupation. Anyone who refuses to heed this awful truth will eventually lead to our destruction.

The Palestinians cannot drive us away - they have long acknowledged our existence. They have been ready to make peace with us; it is we who are unwilling to make peace with them. It is we who insist on maintaining our control over them; it is we who escalate the situation in the region and feed the cycle of bloodshed. I regret to say it, but the blame is entirely ours.

I do not mean to absolve the Palestinians and by no means justify attacks against Israeli civilians. No attack against civilians can be condoned. But as an occupation force it is we who trample over human dignity, it is we who crush the liberty of Palestinians and it is we who push an entire nation to crazy acts of despair.

So when the pr0n? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023708)

Is there going to be a 'Female Cabin Attendant' jug-o-rama cam?

Re:So when the pr0n? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023750)

Mr. AC writes:
Is there going to be a 'Female Cabin Attendant' jug-o-rama cam?
The word you're looking for is stewardess. Sheesh. Thy this:
Is there going to be a stewardess jug-o-rama cam?
That's a little better, isn't it?

Re:So when the pr0n? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023767)

Try using 'Try' instead of 'Thy':

The word you're looking for is stewardess. Sheesh. Try this:

That's a little better, isn't it?

Seems like we could do something with this (1)

philStyle (591844) | about 12 years ago | (#4023709)

drew.corrupt.net

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024048)

It seems a plane was hijacked and it nearly run into the sears tower. Experts blame the near-hit on poor weather conditions.

ironic editors... (3, Insightful)

YellowSubRoutine (230089) | about 12 years ago | (#4023717)

Hopefully the slashdotting won't keep a legit pilot from checking conditions.
Just guess what happened right now? The editor knew that would happen, and yet he posted the article...

Re:ironic editors... (1)

mike3411 (558976) | about 12 years ago | (#4023719)

Just thought of that, and _forcefully_ abstained from clicking through. Wait a few days, fellow /. 'ers!

Re:ironic editors... (1)

jmkf (520045) | about 12 years ago | (#4023977)

I can hardly imagine that at this time of day something useful is present on the webcams. They aren't that light sensitive - are they -

Re:ironic editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023926)

The editor knew that would happen, and yet he posted the article...

This is a clear-cut case of cyber-terrorism; intentionally targeting the nation's critical infrastructure. Thank God we now have appropriate legislation in place to deal with these types of attacks.

Re:ironic editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024192)


Yes, that shows forethought and planning. You DOSed a tool for pilots. That is an attempt to interfere with or damage a commercial airliner, that is terrorism. But don't worry I am sure they will take your "but I was only curious" defense.

Re:ironic editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024726)

Dumb ass. I'm sure the FAA and bush pilots will be excited when their system goes down.

{{{ BOOM }}}

But then.. (1, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 12 years ago | (#4023720)

this is slashdot, so who cares if an innocent server is forced to shut down? Stop being "Hopeful" and start being responsible.

Re:But then.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023828)

yeah, be responsible, don't post links on slashdot at all, because people might click them and cause plane crashes!!!

damn (2, Funny)

lingqi (577227) | about 12 years ago | (#4023724)

the next time i go with gf in to the wild to have a romantic weekend when noone is looking... it may not be so simple anymore. damn your FAA! i want my freedom of ... ... back!

Re:damn (1)

Noodlenose (537591) | about 12 years ago | (#4023950)

the next time i go with gf in to the wild to have a romantic weekend when noone is looking...

I thought there are no Slashdotters with girlfriends?

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024559)

Well, don't think then, and you won't have any more problems. It works for 80% of the population...

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024735)

He never mentioned a girlfriend. I think it's a romantic weekend with his hand.

*** *** translates into jerk off.

Uh oh! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023727)

Hopefully the slashdotting won't keep a legit pilot from checking conditions.

Tragically, the Slashdotting has kept me and my pilot's license from checking out the weather conditions in Bumfuck, Alaska.

Fortunately, I've never flown within a few thousand kilometers of Alaska.

Statistics (3, Funny)

af_robot (553885) | about 12 years ago | (#4023728)

Alaska averages an aviation accident a day and a fatal crash every 10 days.

So how many Alaska pilots * still * alive?

Re:Statistics (2)

martissimo (515886) | about 12 years ago | (#4023757)

you have to remember that Alaska (once you get north of Anchorage) is as close as it comes to the old west, their license plates don't say "last frontier" for nothing.

i remember working up there one summer and wanting to fly to a non-dry town for the weekend so i could get liquored up... the guy who flew me literally pulled his plane out of a barn for the flight. they don't even have real roads between many towns up there, bush planes are very common.

this ain't American Airlines they are reffering to with those stats, but it is pretty cool getting to sit up in the cockpit next to the pilot and learn a bit about flying (assuming you survive) ;)

Re:Statistics (2)

Cy Guy (56083) | about 12 years ago | (#4024619)

So how many Alaska pilots * still * alive?

In Alaska I would say its about as common to have a pilot's license as a motorcycle license in the rest of the country. If not more so. I ahve seen statisitcs that at one time 50% of the population had pilot licenses though I found that hard to believe. A more reliable source says "Aviation is a more common source of transportation here than anywhere in United States, with six times the average private pilot's licenses and 14 times as many private planes per capita." Another site says the figure is one out of 58 residents. And a file [state.ak.us] on the state's Dept. of Transportation website says the following:
It is estimated that Alaska has about six times as many private pilots per capita than the
rest of the United States. Approximately 1 in 50 Alaskans has an airplane pilot's license.
Currently 8,752 pilots reside in Alaska, and 3,776 of these have a private pilot certifi-
cate. Based on its population, the average Alaskan is sixteen times more likely to own an
aircraft than the average American citizen.


Bush planes that can be quipped with pontoons, wheels, or skis, can land on any horizontal surface - and so are a necessary mean to access remots areas such as native villages.

Re:Statistics (1)

delorean (245987) | about 12 years ago | (#4024702)

and that's only the licensed pilots.
I don't have a license, and I flew a little when I lived there. It's like farm-kids hopping in the farm pickup and going to school when they're 14; they do it because they have to (no busses) and the cops don't care because they are responsible enough to do it.
I never ever flew in major air space; heck, I mainly just kept wings level while the pilot napped. But you know the law of human averages: if you go an inch one direction, someone else has already gone six. And like an earlier post'r said-- it truly is the last frontier. Gotta love that frontier spirit.

All of them (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 12 years ago | (#4025127)

The dead ones aren't pilots any more...

to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (2)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4023730)

They could add some logic in there, which would automatically calculate whether the sun has already risen or not. There's not much point in sending gigabytes of data to just show and convince people that: 'Yes, it's black'. Or atleast they could optimize the image and save some bandwidth, a black-only image does not take many bytes, now it takes 7 kB. Well, I could mail this to them as well.

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (2)

Jugalator (259273) | about 12 years ago | (#4023762)

But I guess they want to know more than if the sun has risen or not, like if it's clody, looks like it's going to be rain, etc.

If it only was for sun up/down, you can do that calculation in your head if you know the time zone.

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (2)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4023766)

> But I guess they want to know more than if the sun has risen or not, like if it's clody, looks like it's going to be rain, etc.

Yes, but when the sun is down, the image is totally black. From that you cannot even quess any details. So you might just as well not take the picture at all when it is useless.

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023851)

What if you want to see if some guy with a flashlight is hanging around near the camera?

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (2)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4023865)

> What if you want to see if some guy with a flashlight is hanging around near the camera?

well, if that guy is awfully tall, then it might be a problem, otherwise I don't believe it causes a high-priority danger to the pilots.

Seriously, that's why they should a light-sensor instead, as someone already wrote .)

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (1)

Kazimira (161852) | about 12 years ago | (#4025435)

Any city has lights on somewhere 24/7. If you look at the Anchorage or Sitka webcams and it's all black.....it's either down or you're in for some nasty weather.

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023771)

Yes, or a light sensor would do the trick as well.

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (1)

cez (539085) | about 12 years ago | (#4024630)

it would be much much faster...isn't it "night" in alaska for like 6 monthes sometimes? Wouldn't be much good if you could only use it half the year...sides they want the weather...not the time of day, i would hope the pilots up there would know if its dark out

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (2)

captain_craptacular (580116) | about 12 years ago | (#4025702)

Actually that cam is on Level Island in Southeast Alaska, just north of Ketchikan. To get an idea of the climate/amount of light think Seattle - 10 degrees. The Light is a bit trickier. In the summer ad an hour, in the winter take one away. But either way it's not dark 6 months a year.

There are only days of complete darkness above the arctic circle which is approximately 100 miles north of Fairbanks...

Re:to make it faster (and avoid being slashdotted) (1)

Kazimira (161852) | about 12 years ago | (#4025379)

Those of us who live up here already know if it's dark outside and won't bother looking at the site.

WebCams have another side (5, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | about 12 years ago | (#4023731)

When reading about the latest Mars in Antarctica mission at the Flashline Station, Robert Zubrin wrote that at one point a cargo plane scheduled to come and pick up the staff was told to reschedule by one of the scientists at the campsite. He asks why, and they point at their computer monitor and say that according to the webcams outside, it's very overcast.

He pokes his head out of the shelter and sees that the skies are clear, but the scientists INSIST that the webcam shows that they are very overcast.

The funniest part was that no matter what he did, he could not convince them to just look out a window or come outside because they were so certain about what the webcam was showing them that they saw no need.

Todays technology seems most effective when it supplements or enhances something, not when it absolutely replaces it.

Re:WebCams have another side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023972)

hmm..
akweathercams.faa.gov
Server: Apache/1.3.22 (Win32) .22 .. on windows .. hmm

weeee

Re:WebCams have another side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024347)

I love anecdotes like this, that show the blinkered, cloistered, sheltered existence of university graduates. You can apply this scenario to dozens of fields, especially medecine. Most university goers are like that station scientist, but I'll get modded down for pointing it out.
Typical cult behavior.

Re:WebCams have another side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024448)

Nah, you'll just be ignored.

Re:WebCams have another side (1)

dacarr (562277) | about 12 years ago | (#4025000)

Welcome to the other side of GIGO: Garbage in, gospel out. I guess with the advent of mass computing as we now know it, people come to rely more and more on the data that is contained therein. What surprises me here, however, is that rather it being some droid (IE, a clerk at Fry's explaining why the computer is correct, despite the higher price than is tagged), I realize it's a scientist - presumably one with enough of a brain to be admitted to the Antarctica bases.

Ah, life.

? is where does the responsibility lie? (4, Insightful)

puto (533470) | about 12 years ago | (#4023733)

Does the responsibility lie with the poster who submitted the story?

With the editor who let it pass?

Or the readers who know they will kill the box?

So I am saying we are all responsible for killing some box that is out there to help pilots. Not a Kewl view of the Alaskan landscape.

A little social responsibility is needed. You CAN be your brothers keeper by proxy.

Puto

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (3, Insightful)

flonker (526111) | about 12 years ago | (#4023744)

The editors waited until the dead of the night (in the US) to post this story. They did this because it will mitigate the slashdot effect to some degree.

They're not complete morons, you know.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023768)

They're not complete morons, you know.

If he didn't warn them before posting the story then he's a moron in my book.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (2)

sydneyfong (410107) | about 12 years ago | (#4023789)

And more importantly, nobody would expect to get anything from that camera at the darkness of night. The current images gives a single color: black. Wouldn't matter (as much) if it was slashdotted now.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (2)

echucker (570962) | about 12 years ago | (#4023993)

The editors waited until the dead of the night (in the US) to post this story. They did this because it will mitigate the slashdot effect to some degree.

Frankly, unless you have some mind-reading skill that the rest of us don't, it's just as likely that the story was posted at that time by pure chance. It's also worth noting that as it is summer, there is a midnight sun effect which leaves some portions of the state without a sunset for months on end. Click on a webcam for a place like Barrow (no, don't click on it and /. it now, folks), and you'll likely see full blown daylight, which would make that cam useful to a pilot.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (2)

flonker (526111) | about 12 years ago | (#4024096)

I remember reading the editors mentioning it some time ago on another article. They said that they posted it early in the morning, so that the site wouldn't be /.ed. But I can't seem to find a reference for that now.

For some weird reason, it's rather difficult to get any meaningful results on a search for "slashdot effect" on slashdot.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024198)

They're not complete morons, you know.

Yes, they are. So they mitigated their DOS of an aviation tool, they still DOSed it.

click the damn link (5, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 12 years ago | (#4023886)

It's just a webserver. It's not the control tower at the airport. And as I pointed out below [slashdot.org] , it's only arrogance that makes us think a slashdotting is different from a link appearing on the New York Times website or salon.com. And there is no information on the webserver that a pilot wouldn't be able to learn by looking out the window or making a phone call. Don't act like planes are going to start blowing to pieces and careening out of control all over Alaska if the server goes down for a couple hours.

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (2)

quintessent (197518) | about 12 years ago | (#4023890)

Well said. I did my part by not visiting the site. Maybe someone will post a few sample images on a robust mirror site.

anyone notice this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023970)

Server: Apache/1.3.22 (Win32)
? .22 .. on windows .. hmm

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (1)

dloolb (159254) | about 12 years ago | (#4024007)

Moderators should be able to moderate story submissions, in this case:

(-3) Irresponsible

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024165)

No they shouldnt, or you`d end up with a site as retarded and worthless as Kuro5hin. They let anyone post any old crap, and remove shit-flooders by hand. Here the site owners pick the stories, and have a much better way of filtering out comments. (What is the point of comment scoring in Kuro5hin, anyway? Each post has a number, but given that theres no way of filtering on it, its a complete waste of time! Very amusing!)

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024157)

"Does the responsibility lie with the poster who submitted the story? "

No. Put a site on the net, and you have to expect large amounts of traffic at random. Feel free NOT to expect it, but be prepared to deal with it anyway. Your choice.

Or, alternatively, pay for a proper solution which doesnt involve using the net, or which limits access. Jesus christ, this is kids stuff. Hello? Anyone there?

Re:? is where does the responsibility lie? (2)

akb (39826) | about 12 years ago | (#4026443)

If this was an essential part of flight operations then the fault would be the FAA's for hooking it up to the Internet. I can't believe it is an essential part of operations so go ahead and look. I mean the FAA may be reliant on vacuum tubes but they aren't stupid.

Forget online weather cams... (1)

Toasty16 (586358) | about 12 years ago | (#4023736)

...We need online cockpit cams to see how buzzed the pilots are before takeoff.

And please, if its alright with everyone I think we should abstain from using any puns involving "crashing" and airline websites...oops, too late.

Serious question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023743)

How can I prevent coming the moment I enter a child's anus?
--Michael (michael@s...)

Dear Michael,

You can try one of the sprays or creams to deaden sensation, but be sure they don't have oils that can ruin a condom (many do). Also try and ejaculate one time before you attempt anal sex. That should prolong the amount of time it takes you to do it again. If all this fails you can try the desensitizing techniques outlined in my book or take medications that decrease premature ejaculation.

Hopefully.... (-1, Offtopic)

mbennis (160025) | about 12 years ago | (#4023745)

They'll use their webcams on pinguins....

Slashdotted? (2)

Peridriga (308995) | about 12 years ago | (#4023770)

If your slashdoted this is what I see: Image Capture [std64.com]

Does anyone else see this :-D?

I'm whore.. So Kill me...

Re:Slashdotted? (1)

FaRuvius (69578) | about 12 years ago | (#4024069)

You are a dork.

Re:Slashdotted? (2)

laserjet (170008) | about 12 years ago | (#4025521)

That was quite possibly the supidest thing I have ever seen someone do on slashdot. You are like the kid in class that always wants everyone's attention and for everyone to tell them they did a good job.

well, you are a dork. wow.

Re:Slashdotted? (1)

BitHive (578094) | about 12 years ago | (#4025838)

Go back to making [H] graphics for the HardOCP. I'm sure Kyle will post your every creation on the main page.

Remember to press F5... (1)

Ted Maul (582118) | about 12 years ago | (#4023794)

...for the latest conditions.

/. DOS attacks FAA infrastructure. Story at 11. (0, Redundant)

mildness (579534) | about 12 years ago | (#4023796)

This can *easily* be construed as a DOS attack.

By stating "Hopefully the slashdotting won't keep a legit pilot from checking" the poster is admitting foreknowledge of possibile DOS.

This story should be pulled.

"Hopefully" readers will have more sense than the poster and not view this webcam.

Beal

censor slashdot to protect pilots! gimme a break. (2)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 12 years ago | (#4023852)

This can *easily* be construed as a DOS attack.... This story should be pulled

Come on folks, it's not like slashdotting a picture of black sky in alaska is going to cause a freakin' plane crash! So many posters bitching about slashdot's responsibility for slashdotting servers, and now here's a post advocating censorship. First of all, web links were made to be clicked. And as much as many of us like to inflate our self-importance as we confidently click our mice, a slashdotting is hardly a DOS attack, any more than a link showing up on nytimes.com would be considered an attack. Also, "legitimate pilots" includes anyone with a pilot license; not just people actually in the process of flying a plane, or about to fly a plane. Finally, if someone actually flying a plane is relying on a freakin' webcam to land, we're all in trouble. Quit acting like this is some huge air safety issue; it's just a webserver ferchrissakes. Sometimes webservers have to reboot; life goes on.

Re:censor slashdot to protect pilots! gimme a brea (2, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 12 years ago | (#4023878)

Well, I wouldn't be so quick. I recently testified in a federal case in which the defendant was accused of nothing more than sending email. The server he was sending mail to had an absolutely awful design, it crashed due to the small volume, and the defendant found himself in court accused of "accessing a remote system to do damage", a 5-year rap. It seems but a small step from sending email to sending hits.

Re:censor slashdot to protect pilots! gimme a brea (2)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 12 years ago | (#4023917)

Was the defendant spamming the server? Did he actually serve time for this? That seems ridiculous to me; I'm certainly not going to let it stop me from sending email, and I don't think it should stop slashdot (or any other popular site) from posting links. I agree that a slashdotting could be interpreted as a DOS attack by a sleazy lawyer. "Up" could be interpreted as "down" by such people. I can see it now; Ashcroft goes after slashdot as terrorists for DOSing a federal air traffic-related website. There are few things that could make the US govt look substantially more ridiculous than it already has looked throughout the war on terrorism, but that would definitely be one of them.

Heh, all that said, I'd like to see them try it. What would be really interesting would be if the webserver actually was on the same computer as some other critical system, and the person who sent the link to slashdot actually had reason to know that fact; then you'd actually have a case that made a little bit of sense.

Re:censor slashdot to protect pilots! gimme a brea (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 12 years ago | (#4027275)

Here's the press release [fbi.gov] the FBI issued. As you would expect from the FBI, the release is riddled with inaccuracies. The company pulled the $350,000 number out of thin air...outages were extremely common. They also say he gained unauthorized access, which is a total lie. The case can be looked up at the usual places, for those interested in more.

Re:censor slashdot to protect pilots! gimme a brea (2)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 12 years ago | (#4029398)

Yeah it looks like this guy is getting screwed; and it looks like the company was just getting back at him for sending thousands of "disparaging" emails. Did the guy actually go to jail or is the trial still in progress? This definitely sucks but I'm not going to let it stop me from sending email and I don't think slashdot (or CNN) should let it stop them from posting news. But that trial is interesting and worth discussion in its own right since it's another example of how the fear of "hackers" has led to injustices that often make no sense whatsoever.

Re:/. DOS attacks FAA infrastructure. Story at 11. (2)

MADCOWbeserk (515545) | about 12 years ago | (#4024032)

The FAA released this to the Associated press, I don't think they care about a flood of traffic. Actually webcams are far less useful than detailed weather reports from weather stations, as the national weather service provides.

I used to use webcams to check the surf in the morning. here [warmwinds.com]

Worth it? Doubt it. (2, Informative)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 12 years ago | (#4023801)

My guess is that the 'webcam' method is an attempt to limit government liability.

Typically, automated weather comes from a series of ASOS and AWOS sensor stations typically located at airports. These probably cost in the area of a few tens of thousands of dollars each to install. Even many pilots dont know this, but it is even possible to phone many AWOSs/ASOSs directly, and hear their automated robot guy tell you about current conditions.

AWOSs/ASOSs are industrial-strength weather sensing. They occasionally get confused (especially when there are multiple cloud layers), but in general they're good to get a good picture of what is going on.

So, the question is: why doesn't the government just put ASOSs/AWOSs wherever in alaska they're setting up webcams?

Ok, the answer to that one is probably cost and intrusiveness. A webcam uses next to zero space.

But is there an inbetween alternative? Why not put together a thousand dollar sensor station that does things like compute windspeed and take a good guess at ceilings?

Ah--because even though that data would likely be better than the meager stuff that a webcam provides. What does a webcam do for weather? Possibly less than a weather rock.

If it takes pictures of the ground, I can't tell how deep the snow is. If it takespictures of teh air, I can't tell how high the clouds are. I dont know what the windspeed is. I dont know if the visibility is terrestrial radiation crud or something more substantial.

So why not a mini weather station? becuse the quantified, interpreted data provided by them is not reliable. webcams force the pilot to do the interpretation him/herself. Less liability.

Also, perhaps, less safety.

- FAA Certified Gold Seal Flight Instructor

Re:Worth it? Doubt it. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 12 years ago | (#4023891)

They should just point the webcam at a rock.

If the ROCK is WET - It's RAINING
If the ROCK is MOVING - It's WINDY
If the ROCK is HOT - It's SUNNY
If the ROCK is COOL - It's OVERCAST
If the ROCK is WHITE - It's SNOWING
If the ROCK is BLUE - It's COLD
If the ROCK is SHAKING - EARTHQUAKE
If the ROCK is GONE - TORNADO

Re:Worth it? Doubt it. (1)

AB3A (192265) | about 12 years ago | (#4026410)

Mr. FAA Certified Gold Seal Flight Instructor, have you NEVER encountered a malfunctioning AWOS or ASOS? When you get an AWOS reporting 3000 scattered, did it ever tell you WHAT that 3000 scattered was?

I've never met a pilot I was willing to fly with who thought those things were reliable. A web cam may not tell you much, but it can provide a valuable cross check to verify that the ASOS or AWOS are giving realistic readings.

If that's not worthwhile then I don't suppose you think cross checking instruments is worthwhile, either.

Don't expect me to let you act as Pilot In Command of anything I fly.

Fucking irresponsible (2, Flamebait)

JimPooley (150814) | about 12 years ago | (#4023803)

As a pilot (well, a pilot in training) I'd just like to say how fucking irresponsible putting this on /. has been.
The article says:-
The agency is cautious in promoting the system because of the need to ensure reliability, said Joette Storm, an FAA spokeswoman in Alaska.
So please - DO NOT go to the FAA site looking for this because you think it's cool to look at the pictures or something. Leave the FAA site to the people who actually need it, OK?
At least CNN had more sense than to give a link through...

Re:Fucking irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023915)

http://akweathercams.faa.gov/wxcams/wxcampublic.ph p?Location=McKinley

Re:Fucking irresponsible (2)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | about 12 years ago | (#4024003)

Well, I can give you about 10 different ways to restrict access to a site, and hell, if I had to present really important information on limited bandwidth, I'd be sure to allow only access to those people I could confirm really needed the info. So who's responsible here?

Re:Fucking irresponsible (2)

isorox (205688) | about 12 years ago | (#4024123)

Well screw you. If you dont want people visiting a website, dont put it on the internet, or at least shield it by having a seperate authentication server.

Jim, You're Fired (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4024210)

Stop reading slashdot in work time. You're fired.

Anyway, you're flying in Scotland. The weather there is always "pissing it down with lots of cloud", what difference would it make?

Re:Fucking irresponsible (2)

Jugalator (259273) | about 12 years ago | (#4024218)

Check HTTP referrers and block anything from slashdot.org then?

Re:Fucking irresponsible (1)

Isthistakenyet? (140224) | about 12 years ago | (#4025530)

At least CNN had more sense than to give a link through...

Um... If you had actually read the CNN story, you would see right there at the bottom this little snippet of text:

RELATED SITE:

FAA Alaska weather webcams [faa.gov]

Open mouth
Insert foot

And one final note: How is posting this story on /. any different than posting this story on CNN?

Re:Fucking irresponsible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4026540)

You ever hear of 1-800-WX-Brief? That is where you should be getting your weather reports from not some web cam.

Re:Fucking irresponsible (1)

orfeo (152294) | about 12 years ago | (#4027134)

If there was a concern about having to restrict this to pilots only for bandwidth or any other reason, it probably would have been integraded into duats [duats.com] or something like that. Oh, wait, I'm assuming common sense from the FAA or any other part of the government. Nevermind, continue with discussion.

Looking at the webcam stats page... (1)

Ikari Gendou (93109) | about 12 years ago | (#4023827)

current time is 1:45am PST
Number of views of the Level Island Test Site (the one linked to): 1032, and growing by about 10 hits every few seconds.

who is this ted (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | about 12 years ago | (#4023875)

and why should I care about his customer or his data?

Even Vienna has some ... (1)

rfc822 (598132) | about 12 years ago | (#4023909)

.. nice cams around. But no good pictures today. In the midst of summer the only thing is for sure that this week is, that it's is raining (?!?!): Vienna Cams [vienna.at] (German)

Some time ago there's was radio cam installiert in the Donauturm (sp?) which you were able to control via a java applet. Unfortunately I can't find the link again (maybe it doesn't exist anymoer), but if someone knows.

Pull this story. (2, Flamebait)

Perdo (151843) | about 12 years ago | (#4023920)

This is the first slashdotting that could cost lives.

Someday, a pilot that should have checked the cam will not because he belives the service is unreliable because it was down today.

Re:Pull this story. (1)

Ikari Gendou (93109) | about 12 years ago | (#4023940)

If a pilot bases his entire flight on what he sees out a webcam, he deserves to get in trouble. A pilot has Flight Service Stations enroute, automated weather service, etc, etc, to pull a legit weather report.

Re:Pull this story. (2)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 12 years ago | (#4026373)

not to mention he could look out the fucking window! sheesh....

First of all...think about this: (2, Interesting)

dbCooper0 (398528) | about 12 years ago | (#4023951)

Sure, if some pilot actually relied on a webcam to be his/her eyes, then having this site /.ed would pose a problem. So would covering the windshield, etc. and using a CCTV to do visual navigation with. Go figger. The alarmist posts here are typical geek FUD.

But check this out from the article: Flying into bad weather is the leading cause of fatal accidents among Alaska's commuter airlines and air taxis. Alaska averages an aviation accident a day and a fatal crash every 10 days.

I can't be the only one who has a problem with this statistic; whatever happened to "seat of the pants" decisions - where the pilot (or driver or captain, depending on the craft they have control of) has to make the call to turn back and return to safety instead of flying (or driving or sailing) into bad weather?

IMHO, this is a good use of now-common technology to provide extra knowledge, but not meant to be a navigational aid.

Re:First of all...think about this: (1)

krazed (27525) | about 12 years ago | (#4025101)

I was actually just reading an article in an aviation magazine about turning back to safety. Many pilots don't because they think "I've done this route before, I'll do it again."

Re:First of all...think about this: (1)

Isthistakenyet? (140224) | about 12 years ago | (#4025608)

Occasionally pilots find that they cannot turn back. I remember hearing about a helicopter crash about 50 miles south of our house. The helicopter was heading south from Wrangell in good, clear flying weather when the came upon a bank of clouds that cut visability to nil. They turned around to head back, but the route back had also closed off. In a matter of a few minutes they were completely blind and the pilot flew right into a mountain.

Finally, I'd have to agree that most of the alarmist posts are pure FUD. The webcams only cover a tiny portion of the state, so they are only useful to pilots flying in a few areas. And even then they are not the primary source for weather information. They are only intended to suppliment existing, offical weather and flight information.

Re:First of all...think about this: (1)

dbCooper0 (398528) | about 12 years ago | (#4026502)

That's a good point. I had forgotten about the effect the sheer presence of the mountains as well as the arctic climate can have on seat-of-the pants navigation. Probably it could make an altimeter nearly useless, depending on the average elevation of the surrounding peaks.

I did a google for images of Wrangell, and I'm not surprised now to hear your account of the helicopter. I would guess that the sheer size of your state could also make turning back a no-win decision with a fixed-wing aircraft, as well.

Re:First of all...think about this: (1)

core plexus (599119) | about 12 years ago | (#4027389)

You forgot to mention that we use small planes here like many places use taxis or bicycles. And we have a saying: "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there aren't any old, bold pilots." Most of the crashes are due to pilot stupidity, and there are some people here who don't feel the need for a license. Webcam or no webcam, most people just call someone near the strip and ask "Whats the weather like?"

Re:First of all...think about this: (1)

dbCooper0 (398528) | about 12 years ago | (#4027792)

I remember the saying you quoted...my baby bottle was warmed by the fins of a Stinson's engine on a trip to Beaver Island (in Lake Michigan), and I'd often make trips to Detroit with my Dad in his Cessna 180 for him to appear weekly on a TV show called "Michigan Outdoors".

He was a Certified Flight Instructor who taught many to fly at the local airport under the G.I. Bill during the late 40s and through the 50s. He would roll over in his grave to think of the un-licensed pilots you mention.

He almost worshipped his weather radios, and was known to not fly if he'd had as much as a Bromo-Seltzer.

Thanks for the info, though. If I'm ever lucky enough to vacation in your fair state, I'll be sure to validate the pilot's credentials :)

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4023955)

So there's a bunch of webcams with hot college girls undressing : How does that help the pilots out?

Re:I don't get it (1)

yatest5 (455123) | about 12 years ago | (#4023971)

So there's a bunch of webcams with hot college girls undressing : How does that help the pilots out?

It helps them stay up, innit?

Public link (1)

pipboy (583474) | about 12 years ago | (#4024001)

How would clicking on this link be bringing on some terrible consequences? If you'll notice in the URL, theres a public in there. Slashdot=Public. I don't think this is going to bring down any planes.

Ummm..who cares about Slashdotting? (2)

jea6 (117959) | about 12 years ago | (#4024026)

Last time I checked, cnn.com gets more traffic than Slashdot. And the article first appeared on CNN. Having survived both a partial Slashdotting (link off a +5 comment), and a CNNing (main link off a sub-section) I can tell you that a CNNing hurts more. So, even though getting "DoS"d by interested parties sucks, Slashdot does nothing worse in this case than CNN.

Sometimes.. (1)

zapfie (560589) | about 12 years ago | (#4024187)

Sometimes I feel like they get headline ideas out of that random Slashdot headline generator I found once..

The reason for the camera is... (1)

AB3A (192265) | about 12 years ago | (#4026199)

...because any pilot who has ever used AWOS or ASOS knows the ceiling and visibility estimates are often wrong.

Alaska used to have flight service stations all over. Budget cuts forced many to close. Keep in mind how vast the state of Alaska is (yes, it's bigger than Texas!). They can easily have entire weather systems contained in one corner of the state. And as sparsely populated as this state is, it's not hard for those weather systems to go almost unnoticed.

Further, in mountains, you have weather that can go from CAVU (Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited) to 0/0 in just an hour or two. Current and reliable weather information is not just a convenince, it's survival.

For those of you who are wondering why the readings are often misleading, an AWOS reports from a ceiliometer that tells you what's directly above the station. When it says 3000 scattered, it may be seeing the edge of a thunderstorm or it may be a few harmless stratus clouds.

Sometimes these stations read gloom and doom when everything is fine. Insects frequently make their homes in the ceiliometer and visibility instruments and often make the station indicate readings which are much worse than they really are.

How can you tell what's what? Until now, we had no cross check. That's what the web cam is for. Some day maybe someone will find a way to get that data directly to the aircraft in an economical fashion.

Anyhow, I think this is a very good idea. And for you who doubt this, keep in mind that even pilots like me who fly the lower 48 states take the AWOS and ASOS readings with a healthy dose of doubt. Thankfully, its unusual when those are the only sources of weather information at the destination. In Alaska, they often don't have that luxury.

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