ForeFlight iPhone Edition! It’s Live!

MyMetar.com and SilverCurve, producers of ForeFlight Desktop Edition™, have teamed up to produce a new product: ForeFlight iPhone Edition™! Here’s the press release:   

ForeFlight.com announced today the availability of two new mobile applications designed specifically for the iPhone. MyMetar iPhone Edition™ provides pilots access to their MyMetar.com accounts and aviation weather information from their Apple iPhones. ForeFlight iPhone Edition™, a premium offering, combines MyMetar.com’s functionality and an innovative A/FD, automatic favorites™, airport and weather searches, integration with the iPhone’s native Google Maps application, and integration with the iPhone’s calling system. These two ground-breaking applications provide pilots access to the information they need from any location.  

 

“Pilots are, by definition, ubiquitous travelers, and so being able to get the information they need right in their hands and on demand can really make their routines a lot more efficient,” said ForeFlight.com co-founder, Jason Miller. “It’s a great application on a very cool hardware platform – flight data in your pocket.” ForeFlight iPhone Edition™ is the marriage of ForeFlight Desktop Edition™, a tool for combining airport and weather data with intuitive graphics, and MyMetar.com, a popular Web 2.0 service for accessing frequently needed weather information. The combined features delivered on the most innovative mobile platform available make ForeFlight iPhone Edition™ an amazingly useful companion.  

 

“Since our launch on July 7, 2007, we have already signed up an impressive number of subscribers. We expect that the large MyMetar.com and ForeFlight user bases will welcome this new addition to the family, “ said Tyson Weihs, co-founder of ForeFlight.com. “Since ForeFlight iPhone Edition™ is fundamentally a web application, we can add new functionality quickly and keep surprising our users with inventive, time-saving features. Our roadmap is very, very exciting.”  ForeFlight iPhone Edition™ is available through a monthly or yearly subscription service. MyMetar iPhone Edition™ is available free of charge. Additional information can be found at http://www.foreflight.com.   

 

Contact:     

Tyson Weihs or Jason Miller, team@foreflight.com     

832.203.0297 

Upgrade and iPhone!

MyMetar.com “Gamma”

The MyMetar.com “Gamma Release” is now live.  Woot! This release includes many bug fixes, performance enhancements, and new features that we hope you will enjoy.  Improvements include:

  • A new, more colorful page design.
  • Tabbed interfaces for easily moving between search, preferences, and your page.
  • Integration with Google Maps: see your favorite stations and the current flight rules layered on top of a Google map.
  • Flight rules indicators for TAFs.
  • An improved mobile interface and automatic browser detection, ensuring the right interface for your device is displayed.
  • Themes!  The groundwork is laid so that you’ll be able to select between different page layouts.
  • More Radar Ensembles.
  • Plain language interpretation presented in the same order as ATIS.

MyMetar.com on iPhone! Woot!

On June 29th, it looks as though people will be flocking to AT&T and Apple stores to pick up an iPhone.  If you will be one those individuals jumping in to the frenzy, don’t fret: your MyMetar.com weather will be waiting for you via an iPhone friendly user interface.

See what your MyMetar.com page will look like by pointing your browser to http://www.mymetar.com/iphone/ (keep the the slash on the end).

MyMetar.com is the first aviation weather website devoted to pilots that will provide a tailored user experience to aviators toting an iPhone!

ForeFlight Integration and “Coming Soon”

The good folk at SilverCurve released version 2.0 of ForeFlight, a handy desktop weather tool for visualizing past, current, and forecasted weather. And, it’s integrated with MyMetar.com! So, head over to http://www.foreflight.com and download a demo copy.

Also, a bevy of updates are in the works for MyMetar.com. The final touches are being applied to user interface enhancements (new colors!), visual indicators for TAFs, more radar collections, and some under-the-hood plumbing for future developments.

“No records found!” for KDAL. Wha?

NACO WACKO?

Point your browser to this page on the National Aeronautical Charting Office’s website. Type in KDAL and make sure the “FAA” radio button is checked. Then, click “Complete Search”.

No records found!

Wha? What do you mean no records found? I’m on the Texas procedures page – isn’t that where I find procedures for KDAL? Silly me, I didn’t check the “ICAO” button letting the system know that I was using an ICAO identifier to locate the airport. Here is a screen capture of their search box:

200703301715

After banging my head on the coffee table, I cried aloud, “Come on guys – add the smarts to treat DAL and KDAL equally!”. I was annoyed because it took four clicks to get to the page, only to end up with No records found. Four clicks in Internet-land is forever!.

How I would suggest changing their from: remove everything except for the “airport identifier” label, text box, and search button. All the rest can be figured out after the user clicks the search button.

So many examples exist where a web site could have easily shown you relevant results without having you fiddle with toggles and switches. Google, for example, keeps it really simple: one search box and one button.

NACO’s primary purpose is designing, developing, and distributing instrument flight procedures. I think it should take one – at most two – clicks to get to a desired procedure from their home page. Each extra click means more page scanning (takes time) and backtracking (takes time) if you click on the wrong link. More clicks => more pages => more scanning => more time => more frustration.

Here’s an exercise to try on your own: find the Biter Four Arrival STAR on the NACO site and report back how long it takes :)

FCP and Disambiguation

We have two principles at MyMetar.com that govern usability: fewest possible clicks (FPC) and disambiguation. Firstly, we need to get you where you want as quickly as possible. Secondly, if you are searching, we have to get you as close to the right answer as possible. Disambiguation – knowing that DAL could mean one of six things – helps us quickly create a path to the right answer.

You can see FPC and disambiguation concepts in action on your personal page. For example:

  1. Type “DAL” in the either the “Add Station” or “Get METARs” search box.
  2. “KDAL – Dalls Love Field” is third from the top, along with other results that match the string “DAL”.
  3. Type in another “L”.

The options are narrowed to Dallas area results. As you type more characters, the search string becomes less ambiguous, and we lead you more quickly to the desired result.

The next evolution of our disambiguation logic will be such that if you type in “Love” you get “Dallas – Love Field” and “Arizona – Love Field”. Performance is key, so we’ll add this in so long as we can keep performance status quo.

User fees: like chewing earthworms

The FAA’s proposed funding plan includes “user fees”, which basically means the meter will be ticking more loudly while we’re cutting holes in the sky. My personal opinion is that the aggravation factor will be high if user fees come to fruition.

As a software developer I can’t fathom the size of the application development project that the FAA will have to under take to support point-of-use billing and account management. Credit card processing, account management, returns, credits, web applications, invoicing, customer service, 1-800 numbers, yada, yada, yada. The guys left holding the reigns for making all this happen will be sitting in project management meetings in months to come saying “What the heck were they thinking?”

The investment in IT and application development for managing this program will be enormous, buggy, and take years to iron out. Simply imagine the pain that will be involved disputing a bill you received for flight services that you think is full of errors.

The word that comes to mind when I think about how this will change aviation is “bleech!” – the sound you make when chewing a bunch of earthworms.

So, get active and write your representatives. Here’s a communication sent out by the President of the NBAA:

A recently released FAA funding proposal represents one of the greatest threats business aviation has ever faced. To keep this proposal from becoming law, you need to take action now.

The recent news excerpts alongside this message demonstrate that airline lobbying has succeeded in getting the FAA to unveil a funding plan that gives the giant airlines a major tax break while imposing massive tax hikes and onerous new user fees on the businesses that rely on general aviation.

The airlines’ FAA plan also dramatically reduces Congressional authority over the air traffic system, gives airlines a bigger say in FAA operations, and establishes a huge new multi-billion dollar bureaucracy to assess and collect user fees.

NBAA is fighting this toxic mix of massive tax increases, user fees and airline power, but our success depends on you. Your elected officials need to hear from you about the airlines’ FAA proposal, because you can be sure that every Member of Congress is hearing from the big airlines and their army of lobbyists.

Please take a minute to voice your opposition to the airlines’ FAA proposal by using NBAA’s online resource for communicating with Congress (if you have used the resource before, I urge you to use it again to send a new letter that has been prepared specific to the FAA proposal). To access Contact Congress, visit:

www.nbaa.org/userfees

Once you have accessed the resource, fill in the information requested and NBAA’s software will automatically prepare an email you can send to your Senators and your House Representative in opposition to the big airlines’ radical scheme. You can edit the letter before sending it if you wish.

I also urge you to forward this email to others you know who care about the future of business aviation in the United States. Encourage them to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. If we act collectively, we can not only defeat the big airlines’ FAA plan, but modernize our air traffic control system to ensure that all Americans have access to the largest, safest and most efficient aviation system in the world.

Sincerely,

Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association

On The Flight Line and MyMetar.com

If you haven’t yet visited OnTheFlightLine.com (“OTFL” for short) – pop on over for a glimpse into the future of flight training. On The Flight Line Productions produces OnTheFlightLine.com, an online flight training website, and TheFinerPoints.net, an aviation podcast.

Jason Miller, founder, brings a unique blend of creativity, style, energy and technology to the audio and HD video productions that is unique among flight training content providers. Support the venture by adding a few of the video products to your flight training library.

Also, MyMetar.com and OTFL just launched a weather feature we were collaborating on. The feature is accessible to registered OTFL users.

200702281751

Updated Blog and Web Widget

The blog and web widget got an upgrade this morning. The theme of the upgrade is customization. You now have greater control over the display of the widget. Customization now includes:

  • Toggle the Cleared Visual flight rules indicator.
  • Toggle the TAF indicator.
  • Toggle raw METAR observations.
  • Toggle the header.
  • Toggle the “powered by” text.
  • Change the header background and font color.
  • Change the widget background color.
  • Change the link color (blue links just don’t look too hot on colored backgrounds)

Get your widget now!


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