National Weather Service



  • The NWS needs to take it easy on the technology.  I appreciate that they let me know about weather alerts and all, but this is ridiculous.

    On my commute home this afternoon, the DJ interrupted a song to tell us of a tornado warning.  This is all well and good and needs to be done.  He subsequently restarted the song and all was good. 

    Apparently the NWS didn't think so, for they interrupted the song themselves to tell us of the very same tornado warning.  Apparently they have the right to do that.  But they did it in the MOST annoying way possible. 

    First there was a series of annoying beeps and whistles.  If you've heard them do this, you know the sounds I'm talking about.  THEN they had a "print to speech" voice reading the report.  I could only understand about half of what it said.  Luckily, the tornado warning was about 50 miles from me.  

    Seriously, DJs are paid to talk on the radio and be understood.  Let them read the report.  You're making yourselves look like idiots when you give the DJ the report AND hijack the station.  OR if you're going to hijack every radio station in the area, have someone read it aloud who can be UNDERSTOOD.  



  • That system was probably put in place in the 50s when the government was afraid the Commies would find a way to control the weather and destroy our precious, precious dollars.  Since Communism only exists in 4th-world countries like Cuba and Slovenia now, it's probably safe to phase it out. 



  • Tell it to the [url=http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/services/eas/]Federal Communications Commission[/url]

    The annoyance of it is to get your attention. I mean if the DJ was just his jovial self "And that was Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin but you already knew that. Hey there listeners you might want to pay attention because there's a big nasty storm headed our way. Now here's Journey with Who's Crying Now." Do you really think you're going to notice?

    I can agree a bit on the computer voice thing but I call caltrans frequently for highway conditions when I go to Tahoe and it's really not that impossible to understand.

     



  • @medialint said:

    The annoyance of it is to get your attention. I mean if the DJ was just his jovial self "And that was Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin but you already knew that. Hey there listeners you might want to pay attention because there's a big nasty storm headed our way. Now here's Journey with Who's Crying Now." Do you really think you're going to notice?

     

    If my choices were between listening to Journey and dying a horrible, tornado-y death, there is absolutely no contest. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Since Communism only exists in 4th-world countries like Cuba and Slovenia now, it's probably safe to phase it out. 

     

    Slovenia? WTF?



  • @ammoQ said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Since Communism only exists in 4th-world countries like Cuba and Slovenia now, it's probably safe to phase it out. 

     

    Slovenia? WTF?

     

    <SwampLing> ender is a communist by heart



  • @medialint said:

    The annoyance of it is to get your attention. I mean if the DJ was just his jovial self "And that was Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin but you already knew that. Hey there listeners you might want to pay attention because there's a big nasty storm headed our way. Now here's Journey with Who's Crying Now." Do you really think you're going to notice?
    The thing is that the DJ got my attention plenty.  But then the NWS had to go blab their bit too.  



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    If my choices were between listening to Journey and dying a horrible, tornado-y death, there is absolutely no contest.

    Oh, absolutely. Now if it's Foreigner, I don't want to be interrupted for anything less than global thermonuclear war.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    First there was a series of annoying beeps and whistles. 
     

    Actually, that was techno. I agree it should be banned.



  • If it make you feel better, I could just go downstairs and give the guy a smack on the back of the head for interrupting your music.  </sarcasm>

    Seriously though, the severe storms people are two floors below me.  And yes, they do have the right to break through a broadcast if they feel that a station did not adequetely convey information. In the room for the severe storms people, they have a whole wall of televisions that has access to every (or just about) network channel in the country so that they can see if a station meteorologist is relaying their warnings and watches (or as is sometimes the case, is putting out their own unauthorized warnings and watches).

    I should see if I still have a picture of that room... 



  • @WeatherGod said:

    If it make you feel better, I could just go downstairs and give the guy a smack on the back of the head for interrupting your music.
    That would be great.

    @WeatherGod said:

    </sarcasm>
    Shit.

    @WeatherGod said:

    yes, they do have the right to break through a broadcast if they feel that a station did not adequetely convey information.
    Apparently my (and the DJs) definition of adequate differs from theirs.  I was assuming they broke through every station in the city.  The DJ was even talking about it after their broadcast was done, about how he had JUST said it.  

    But I think what annoyed me the most was the electronic voice.  The rest I can (mostly) understand.

    Thanks for your insight, by the way. 



  • @belgariontheking said:

    But I think what annoyed me the most was the electronic voice.

    Oh, I think most people in the NWS hate that voice.  I don't think it has been updated in 10 years (or however long they have been doing text to speech). I sometimes wonder if they just never bothered to get a speech technician that can modify the voice parameters to something more pleasent.  At the least, would it be that difficult to get the Weather Channel's automated voice?

    I don't use festival... does anybody know if the default voice for festival sounds like the NWS emergency voice?



  • @WeatherGod said:

    I don't use festival... does anybody know if the default voice for festival sounds like the NWS emergency voice?
    Does it sound British?



  • It's part of a new system that all licensed stations must implement. And they have a computer do it because -- no joke -- the Coast Guard had a problem where people reading the reports over the air would fail to convey the gravity of gale warnings in the tone of their voice.

    They promptly spent millions on a TTS system that had the exact same problem.



  • How about an uber-sultry seductress female voice in a c'mere kind of tone -- I know it would get my attention :)

     



  • What you heard was the Emergency Alert System.  The buzzes at the start of the message are FSK data bursts that identify the scope of the message, and the concept is that these messages,  unlike the DJ breaking in, are self-propagating.  

    In a nutshell, every radio station over a certain power level (I believe it is 100W) is required to monitor at least one other.  When an EAS signal comes over the air, they have a device at the receiving station which determines whether or not the message is in scope, and, if it is, it relays it from the station being monitored.

    The National Weather Service also uses the same protocol for SAME alerts on their own broadcasts (you need a scanner or weatherradio to pick these up).  As such, messages are quickly and easily propagated between the NWS network and broadcasters as appropriate.

    This is a fully appropriate system.  What if the DJ hadn't made the announcement?  What if the DJ didn't notice that there was an announcement to make?  What if there was no DJ?    



  • @Critter said:

    This is a fully appropriate system.  What if the DJ hadn't made the announcement?  What if the DJ didn't notice that there was an announcement to make?  What if there was no DJ?    
    Except that according to someone that works at the NWS earlier in this thread, they listen and determine for themselves whether the station read the warning to their satisfaction.

    Also, if you're going to just cut in, why give the DJs something to read in the first place?

    The radio station that I listen to is the most anti-establishment station in the area.  By that I mean that if any station is going to say "screw that I'm not reading this," it would be that station.   And they STILL cut off a song to read it.

    I'm comfortable with them cutting in and telling me about emergencies.  I mean, if it affected me, I would definitely want to know.  I just think that the implementation is a WTF.

    Whoda thought I'd spend so much energy defending my WTF?



  • @snoofle said:

    How about an uber-sultry seductress female voice in a c'mere kind of tone -- I know it would get my attention :) 

    So are your daughters up to doing some recording sessions?


  • @belgariontheking said:

    @medialint said:

    The annoyance of it is to get your attention. I mean if the DJ was just his jovial self "And that was Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin but you already knew that. Hey there listeners you might want to pay attention because there's a big nasty storm headed our way. Now here's Journey with Who's Crying Now." Do you really think you're going to notice?
    The thing is that the DJ got my attention plenty.  But then the NWS had to go blab their bit too.  

     

    Its understandable about the public service anouncement. They should have had a GOOD english-speaker who can easily be understood read the message. OR REALLY good TTS software where they manually evaluated the output BEFORE it went on the air on its own, just to make sure it could be understood.



  • @dlikhten said:

    Its understandable about the public service anouncement.
     

    dlikhten probably types up the NWS announcements, so they need to repeat the message to make SURE it is effective.

     

    "tere is tronades onteh wai!"



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @Critter said:
    This is a fully appropriate system.  What if the DJ hadn't made the announcement?  What if the DJ didn't notice that there was an announcement to make?  What if there was no DJ?    
    Except that according to someone that works at the NWS earlier in this thread, they listen and determine for themselves whether the station read the warning to their satisfaction.

    To be honest, I am only somewhat familiar with the NWS broadcast proceedures.  I know that they keep an eye on television broadcasts, but I don't know how much attention is paid to radio broadcasts.  Critter's comment about the relay system seems right.  Maybe this information is relevant: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/

    (Also, to be clear, I don't work for the NWS, I am a research student in the same building as the NWS) 



  • @Critter said:

    This is a fully appropriate system.  What if the DJ hadn't made the announcement?  What if the DJ didn't notice that there was an announcement to make?  What if there was no DJ?

    What if you're listening to a CD/Tape/8-Track? Then you're screwed.

    Or is that just your fault for not listening to the radio?



  • @belgariontheking said:

    First there was a series of annoying beeps and whistles.

     TRWTF is that you post on a tech message board and can't recognize a modem tone when you hear it.

    If you don't like the voice, build yourself a SAME decoder (the specs are open), and have it read you the message in the voice you want if you feel it really applies to you, just muting the audio if it doesn't.

     



  • @flipperanubi said:

     TRWTF is that you post on a tech message board and can't recognize a modem tone when you hear it.

    I don't think it's a modem tone.  It doesn't make any sense to broadcast modem tones over the air, and it doesn't really sound like them much.  I think it sounds a bit more like the alert tones that a fire station gets when they're dispatched.

    We bought a weather radio which I adore.  It does take some tuning to block out the irrelevant broadcasts (distant counties, watercraft alerts etc).  When I hear the tones, I look like the RCA dog.  :-D

    "Beep Boop Bahhh  The . . . National . . . Weather . . . Service . . . in . . . Sterling . . . Virginia . . . has . . . issued . . . the . . . following . . . announcement . . . . . . . "



  • Maybe it's just a tone signal that tells the car radio to switch from CD playback to radio because there is something important coming? 



  • @ammoQ said:

    Maybe it's just a tone signal that tells the car radio to switch from CD playback to radio because there is something important coming? 

    I don't know what you guys do in Europe, but I don't want a CD player that can be told to turn off by some external radio signal. While I do agree that might be useful feature, I can see how that can easily be abused.



  • @WeatherGod said:

    I can see how that can easily be abused.
     

    Oh... I would abuse the shit out of it.



  • @WeatherGod said:

    I don't know what you guys do in Europe, but I don't want a CD player that can be told to turn off by some external radio signal. While I do agree that might be useful feature, I can see how that can easily be abused.

     

    That's why the radio has a button to turn this feature on or off. Of course we use it for traffic anouncements to, since tornado warnings are not likely to happen.

    And no, advertising does not send this signal, as desireable as it may seem to some people. 



  • @ammoQ said:

    That's why the radio has a button to turn this feature on or off. Of course we use it for traffic anouncements to, since tornado warnings are not likely to happen.

    And no, advertising does not send this signal, as desireable as it may seem to some people. 

     

    Where is belgarion? We could really use a babbling bitches comment right now....



  • @WeatherGod said:

    I don't know what you guys do in Europe, but I don't want a CD player that can be told to turn off by some external radio signal. While I do agree that might be useful feature, I can see how that can easily be abused.

    The system was put in place to warn them of the rise of MechaHitler, so that they can all go home and put on their armbands before the rally.



  • @ammoQ said:

    That's why the radio has a button to turn this feature on or off. Of course we use it for traffic anouncements to, since tornado warnings are not likely to happen.

    And no, advertising does not send this signal, as desireable as it may seem to some people. 

    Well, that's news to me.  But I think it would be best if I don't tell the guys downstairs about how they can gain more control over broadcasting.

    As for advertisers, I can easily imagine some marketing guy thinking that interrupting somebody's CD listening to pitch their product would be a good idea. 



  • @WeatherGod said:

    I don't know what you guys do in Europe, but I don't want a CD player that can be told to turn off by some external radio signal. While I do agree that might be useful feature, I can see how that can easily be abused.
     

    In Europe, or in Germany anyways, we have a modern radio system that includes:

    - RDS, Radio Data System, which allows stations to broadcast a station ID as well as other meta data. This allows your radio to automatically display station names rather than frequencies.

    - TA/TP traffic programming notices, which signal the start and end of a traffic announcement. When your radio is set to listen for this, it will automatically switch from CD/Tape to the radio broadcast, then back to your music when the broadcast is over. On most receivers it's also possible to set a certain volume for traffic announcements, so you can have the radio on mute and it'll only come on for traffic announcements.

    - TMC, another RDS feature that allows stations to broadcast traffic announcements in digital form. This data can be decoded by navigation systems and then used to navigate around traffic jams. With this you don't even need to listen to the radio at all, you can have your music playing and simply scroll through all traffic announcements that have been broadcast in the last X minutes.

    Modern car radio systems all work with multiple tuners as well, so traffic announcements (FM as well as TMC) on other channels can be monitored, and the radio will switch automatically from a music to a news channel, and back.

     So, lots of features and no abuse. You either have the radio in TP mode and it will switch when needed, or you turn TP mode off.



  •  @Nandurius said:

    @WeatherGod said:

    I don't know what you guys do in Europe, but I don't want a CD player that can be told to turn off by some external radio signal. While I do agree that might be useful feature, I can see how that can easily be abused.
     

    In Europe, or in Germany anyways, we have a modern radio system that includes:

    - RDS, Radio Data System, which allows stations to broadcast a station ID as well as other meta data. This allows your radio to automatically display station names rather than frequencies.

    - TA/TP traffic programming notices, which signal the start and end of a traffic announcement. When your radio is set to listen for this, it will automatically switch from CD/Tape to the radio broadcast, then back to your music when the broadcast is over. On most receivers it's also possible to set a certain volume for traffic announcements, so you can have the radio on mute and it'll only come on for traffic announcements.

    - TMC, another RDS feature that allows stations to broadcast traffic announcements in digital form. This data can be decoded by navigation systems and then used to navigate around traffic jams. With this you don't even need to listen to the radio at all, you can have your music playing and simply scroll through all traffic announcements that have been broadcast in the last X minutes.

    We also have those in the US.  My 2004 model car has an RDS radio; I don't know how much earlier the technology was available here.  Unfortunately, it seems that no stations use it for the traffic and weather alerts even though many indicate that they do (and I have them enabled). 



  • @bstorer said:

    Oh, absolutely. Now if it's Foreigner, I don't want to be interrupted for anything less than global thermonuclear war.

    That'll get you Hot Blooded



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    @bstorer said:
    Oh, absolutely. Now if it's Foreigner, I don't want to be interrupted for anything less than global thermonuclear war.

    That'll get you Hot Blooded

    If someone dared to do it, they'd have to be Cold As Ice.



  • A breif search of Wikipedia for SAME turns up the encoding.  It is AFSK, which while not the tones used by a standard modem that you would put in your computer, certainly do carry significant data.  300 baud modems also used AFSK, with a different pair of tones for 1 and 0.  The message contains 74 different types of emergency, the locations affected (up to 32 different county codes in a single message), the duration of the alert, who issued it, and a couple of other things.  So, it does make great sense for them to send modem tones over the radio.



  • @bstorer said:

    @SuperousOxide said:
    @bstorer said:
    Oh, absolutely. Now if it's Foreigner, I don't want to be interrupted for anything less than global thermonuclear war.

    That'll get you Hot Blooded

    If someone dared to do it, they'd have to be Cold As Ice.

     

    Just a Dirty White Boy, At War with The World, wanted to be a Jukebox Hero but got caught up in Head Games, That Was Yesterday it was Urgent he do something being A Long Long Way from Home... but now The Damage Is Done.  



  • @WeatherGod said:

    Oh, I think most people in the NWS hate that voice.  I don't think it has been updated in 10 years (or however long they have been doing text to speech). I sometimes wonder if they just never bothered to get a speech technician that can modify the voice parameters to something more pleasent.

    Actually, it has been updated once that I recall (at least at the NWS office here in Georgia). Originally they used the same DECtalk system that's most famously used by Stephen Hawking, but because of intelligibility issues, they upgraded to AT&T's Natural Voices. Still not perfect, but a whole lot more intelligible than DECtalk.



  • @ammoQ said:

    And no, advertising does not send this signal, as desireable as it may seem to some people.
    That depends on the station. I know that some italian stations do this (learned the hard way when I left the traffic announcement enabled, and the radio tuned to some station that interrupted my CD with something that definitely wasn't a traffic announcement). Of course, after pressing the TA button, it didn't interrupt me anymore. BTW, the commercial stations here usually squeeze a short ad at the end of traffic report, something that I don't really mind them doing).

    Anyway, RDS doesn't use audible signals, and doesn't just send info on when a traffic announcement (which can come in 2 varieties, local and distant, though not many stations take advantage of it) is being broadcast, but also caries station name, alternative frequencies (so your radio can automatically switch to a frequency with better reception), program type (music [with genre], news etc., again, something that's not widely used, at least around here), current date and time, and something like newsticker (radiotext, but I only ever saw 1 radio support this, and back then only 2 stations were transmitting this data, and one of them looked like manufacturer's default message).

    RDS isn't a new technology - I think I first saw a RDS enabled radio around 1995, and I know that my father's previous car (Ford with Ford-brand autoradio) has it around 10 years ago.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    Also, if you're going to just cut in, why give the DJs something to read in the first place?
     

    Okay this much I think is a wtf. 

    But having read up on what the SAME EAS header tones are (because I'm one of those funny people who live Down Under) your argument is a bit like saying 'sod having HTTP headers and all that TCP/IP stuff because everyone can read words'.

    Edit: does anyone have any links to recordings of this stuff? Other than the one on wikipedia.



  • @Nyquist said:

    @belgariontheking said:

    Also, if you're going to just cut in, why give the DJs something to read in the first place?
     

    Okay this much I think is a wtf. 

    But having read up on what the SAME EAS header tones are (because I'm one of those funny people who live Down Under) your argument is a bit like saying 'sod having HTTP headers and all that TCP/IP stuff because everyone can read words'.

    Edit: does anyone have any links to recordings of this stuff? Other than the one on wikipedia.

    Congrats on rezzing an almost 2-year-old thread.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Congrats on rezzing an almost 2-year-old thread.
    They didn't, a spam post did.



  • @PJH said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    Congrats on rezzing an almost 2-year-old thread.
    They didn't, a spam post did.

    Well, congrats to him for being tricked into posting in a rezzed thread.



  • Thread locked.


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