Devin's Blog

Some Thoughts on Pittsburgh International Airport Terminal Modernization

The dream of the 90s is soon to no longer be alive in Pittsburgh. Or at least not at the Pittsburgh International Airport. This afternoon, the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages the airport, announced a $1.1 billion "Terminal Modernization Project". The major project will reconfigure the airport, which is currently split into separate "Landside Terminal" (check-in, security, baggage, and rental car facilities) and "Airside Terminal" (gates and most AirMall shops) buildings. Currently, post-security, you take an automated tram from one building to the other. The new plan eliminates the separate Landside Terminal building entirely. All facilities currently in the Landside Terminal building will be moved to a large, new addition to be directly built onto a reconfigured Airside Terminal. About that "dream of the 90s" reference? The current Pittsburgh International Airport opened in 1992, replacing "Greater Pittsburgh International Airport" (or "Greater Pitt" as it was sometimes locally referred to), located on the northeastern corner of the current airport property. It was built with a capacity of 100 gates, a size justified by its role as a hub airport for USAir (renamed US Airways in 1997). Several design decisions, beyond just the large gate count, were made because of...

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under Pittsburgh

Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement Turned Out To Be a Good PR Move for Pittsburgh

The press, and likely your social media feeds, are abuzz over President Trump's decision today to leave the Paris Agreement, signed by 195 countries in December 2015. His decision will result in the United States joining only Syria and Nicaragua as countries that are not in agreement with this plan. Syria, mind you, is currently trapped in a civil war, and Nicaragua did not sign the agreement because it did not go far enough (the agreement is non-binding, meaning there are not penalties for failing to follow the agreement). In a completely unexpected turn of events, however, the city of Pittsburgh ended up benefiting from generally positive PR in the wake of this announcement. Although I haven't lived in the Pittsburgh area since graduating college in 2014, I still consider myself a proud Yinzer and am always interested in following the new economy of the Steel City as well as how it is portrayed on the national and world stages. Thus, I thought it was necessary to bring some attention to this interesting development. In President Trump's speech announcing the U.S. would be leaving the Paris Agreement, he stated "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not...

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Google Public Alerts: An Effective Weather Communication Tool

Winter 2017 is certainly picking up in intensity across New England. After a strong storm brought 12-18" of snow and 4+ hours of blizzard conditions to much of Massachusetts, another storm is is expected to drop 1-2 more feet of snow from northeast Mass to much of the Maine coast Sunday through Monday night. Then there's a chance at yet another storm later in the week. The National Weather Service posted Winter Storm Watches for MA/NH/ME Friday afternoon, then on Saturday afternoon about 4:30 PM, upgraded the watches to Winter Storm Warnings (as expected) and issued Blizzard Watches along the immediate coastline. Winter storm warnings are now in effect for all in pink. Blizzard watches from Maine to Nantucket. #nh1news— Ryan Breton (@RyanBretonWX) February 11, 2017 In 2017, there are many ways to get notified of these warnings, from the traditional local TV broadcast, to apps by major weather providers, to variable message signs along highways. Each of these can contain varying amounts of information. Obviously a highway sign conveys much less information than a human speaking with graphics behind them. One solution I'm a big fan of...

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Weather Model Deep-Dive: Surface Pressure Artifacting

In my group at The Weather Company, speed is of the utmost importance. We serve traders in the energy markets, so getting our customers weather data faster enables them to in turn make decisions faster than their competitors on the trade floor. One of our major products is plotting weather model data on maps from all the major global weather models. One of these is the Global Forecasting System (or GFS) model, run by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) within the United States government. NCEP offers GFS model data for download in a handful of different spatial resolutions. As a result of the speed requirements in our products, our site offers graphics produced with the lowest (that is, coarsest) resolution data since that data will be available and process significantly faster than the full resolution data. We also produce maps made with this full resolution data, though, so that clients can see the finer details of this weather model output. This background sets the stage for a situation I was tasked to explain earlier today. Hurricane Matthew is currently churning in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and is expected to make impact as a major hurricane to...

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Super Simple Node.js Continuous Deployment using SaltStack and systemd

I'm a big fan of the SaltStack configuration management system. It's an extremely flexible and powerful system, but is also quite easy to use. When I initially set up this new release of this website, I had done most of the configuration manually. Not that it's a particularly complex operation, two Node apps and nginx proxying those sites. I used forever to keep those two sites running. Since that initial deploy, I've gained more exposure to the systemd platform (and learned that just calling it an init system is probably a good way to get called out online). Despite the criticism it receives, I think that as an init system, it is a great improvement over previous systems like Upstart. In fact, when it comes to defining new services, I think it shares the same adjectives I used to describe SaltStack in the opening sentence of this post - flexible, powerful, and easy to use! Besides easy creation and management of services, running Node apps via systemd offers some other benefits, like powerful integrated logging via journald and a simple-to-use dependency system (so you can ensure your Redis database is running when your web app goes to start). This article...

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under saltstack