Using Twitter Effectively during Severe Weather

With Twitter becoming more mainstream everyday, it becomes obvious that people will use and adapt it to what they do day in and day out.

As some of you know I work with the ALERT group. ALERT is a Ham Radio group that works directly with the National Weather Service in Birmingham to pass spotter reports to forecasters. We are always looking for ways to help gather reports for NWS.

With the help of James Spann the use of the hastag #alwx was born.  Hash Tag terms are used in Twitter to denote ways to search for topics of interest. In this case #alwx stands for alabama weather.  Many spotters across the state (and other states) have adopted this style tag. Other states would use their abbreviation ending in wx. (example: mississippi #mswx, georgia #gawx, ect…)

Now that  you have some background how can you facilitate this?
Here are some tips:

  1. Twitter web page: you can type in search terms in the following box, once entered you get the option to save that search.
  2. Find Twitter desktop client you can run on your pc or mac.
    • Seesmic Desktop: has a way to save searches much like the twitter home page utilizing the bar at the top:
      then you will get a new column that you can click on:
      image  image
    • TweetDeck: also has a way to add a search column to the application.
      image  image
  3. Find a client you can use mobile.
    • PockeTwit: a windows mobile client that has saved searches as a feature as of today.  At the time of this writing I’m not aware of any other mobile clients that have integrated search.

I hope that give you a starting point! I look forward to seeing your weather reports around the Twittersphere!

Questions or comments can be posted here or give me a shout on Twitter! @KV4S

Russell Thomas, KV4S

DevConnections 2009 in Orlando, FL

Tomorrow morning my family and I will be heading to Orlando so I can attend the DevConnections Developer Conference being held next week.
We are going down a few days early so we can site see and maybe go to Disney World or Sea World.
Keep an eye out I’ll probably have some pictures and maybe some video to post after we get back!

I will be posting travel/trip/conference news in real time, so if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook freind that’s where you’ll get the most up to date info!

My 10 year Amateur Radio Anniversary

January 21st 2009 marked my 10 years in Amateur Radio!

I wanted to post this then but it’s been very busy.

I can’t believe it’s flown by already.  My interest in Amateur Radio started years before.  I had got a police scanner for Christmas one year. Before I had a list of stuff to program i hit search just to see what i could hear.  The first thing it picked up was the 145.350 KX4I repeater in Tuscaloosa, of coarse at the time i had not clue what it was.  I just hear people chit chatting on there.  Over the next few months i continued to listen and learned quite a bit from the hams that talked on that repeater.

I found other repeaters to listen to over time time and had a great time.  I also found out I had a relative who was a Ham and I got up with him to find out more about the hobby. Leland Hartley WR4O, came to visit and he showed me his 2 meter radio. He had a custom mic on it that was a an old style Telephone handle that had a PTT on the hand grip.  I was fascinated.

I still didn’t get my license right away. I don’t really remember any specific reason that made me start wanting my license after so many years of listening.

It wasn’t until I had completed a year of college.  I had just finished a fall semester of 1998 and was going to have a few weeks off when I started studying for the Technician (entry level) class. At the time there were 6 license classes.  A month later after talking with some other Radio operators I was ready to take the test.  One Friday night the Tuscaloosa Amateur Radio club was giving a test session so I drove up to some church just before the Northport bridge on HWY 69.  I got to meet some of the Hams that I heard on my scanner over the past few years.  The test was easy because i was really prepared!  I think I only missed one or two questions.  Over the next week I checked to see if my license had been granted.  I don’t remember exactly when but it finally showed up and my callsign was KG4BQK.  I ended up getting a mobile radio the Yaesu FT-2500M which I’m still using but for APRS now. I had a lot of fun programming in the repeaters i used to listen to and getting to finally join in on what everyone was talking about.  One of my favorite things to do was check into the AICN link net.  At this time the AICN was a link system that covered the entire state of Alabama. The system is no longer around at least in that form.

When I graduated college in 2001 and was on  a 5 month job search, I took the opportunity to upgrade.  The license classes had changed so now there were only 3 licence classes. I got my General and Extra almost back to back.  Studying for 5 WPM morse code was a difficult thing for me. I was very opposed to having to know such an archaic means of communication just to get a higher license class.  What funny is once i got into it i really enjoyed morse code. I easily passed the code portion and the question pools weren’t that difficult either.  I got a yaesu FT-100D for HF communications.  At a ham fest I got a paddle and I used CW a few times on the air.  I ended up applying for my current callsign KV4S because I wanted a short callsign to reflect all my hard work!

The rest is history! The next couple years i got interested in SKYWARN and now I’m active with the ALERT group in Birmingham. They assist the National Weather Service in getting storm reports from spotters in the field.

Russell Thomas, KV4S