My NOAA Doppler Radar Mosaic Imagery App has retired

Posted Posted in News and Stuff, Software

My most successful Windows App, NOAA Doppler Radar Mosaic Imagery has had a great run over the 6 years it has been available in the Microsoft Windows Store.

NOAA has changed their source to a totally different model (they’ve been changing the target date frequently but it looks like it has finally happened). My app used the same sources as Doppler Radar National Mosaic – NOAA’s National Weather Service   (which is also no longer working because the NOAA source used the now dead and discontinued Adobe Flash to power the animations) – the individual sectors lead to pages like New Radar Landing Page (

NOAA’s new implementation is at NWS Radar ( which is a totally different way of viewing this information and  it is interactive  and allows you to specify  your location as opposed to static stations. My advice is to use the new Chromium Edge, find your location and then use the install site as app menu and use it as a replacement. I hope you enjoyed using my app; I also hope that using Edge’s ability to install as app will work for you as a replacement.

To use Edge Chromium to set the NOAA site up as an App, navigate to the new NOAA site at and specify your location. Then select the three dots … on the upper right to open the menu, then Install this site as an app.

If you are a Google Chrome user, select the 3 dots …, then More tools, then Create shortcut.

And if you are a Firefox user, select the three dots … then Use This Site in App Mode

How to get online With Verizon with an unlocked Surface 3 LTE

Posted Posted in Software


Ever since I first heard about the Surface 3 with LTE, I was chomping at the bit to replace my Nokia Lumia 2520 with a better Windows tablet that included cellular capabilities. When I heard that the first devices would be AT&T only, and then T-Mobile I was disappointed. Then I heard about an unlocked version. When that unlocked SKU became available in mid September, I asked about Verizon. I couldn’t get an authoritative answer, but was told that a VZW specific model was coming. So I waited.

On November 12, I saw an announcement that Verizon was finally selling a VZW Surface 3 SKU. I tried to order online, but found that it was business customers only. Five lines, five devices. I called and was told the same thing. As a consumer, no chance. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

I decided LTE was LTE and that just had to be a way to get an unlocked Surface 3 LTE working on the VZW network. And I followed my instincts. Here are the steps. Don’t skip any.

1. Go to a Verizon company owned Store (not an agent)

2. They’ll need to add an unauthorized device to your account/plan (or swap out one that is already there).

3. They need to make a NANO SIM.

4. They need to place this NANO SIM in their demo iPad and activate it.

5. They need to turn WiFi OFF on the demo iPad and wait for the SIM to activate on the network and verify by successfully browsing the web.   Making the connection to the Internet with the activated SIM is a critical step. Don’t let the VZW tech tell you this is not needed.

6. Completely turn off your Surface 3.

7. Put the NANO SIM in the Sim tray and slide into your Surface 3.

8. Turn on the Surface 3.


On the Surface 3.

1. Open Settings, Network and Internet and turn Cellular ON if it is off. You should turn Wi-Fi off temporarily to test your LTE connection

airplane mode


2. You may need to wait a few minutes, but as long as you or the VZW tech followed the first 5 steps above, you should get connected to Verizon’s LTE network. You’ll see an icon in the task tray indicating signal strength and should be able to visually confirm your connection in the Action Center.



Network and Internet, Cellular will show Connected as well.


Trouble Shooting

If the above doesn’t work (it really should), a few things you can check:

1. If Network and Internet, Cellular does NOT show Verizon Wireless (LTE), turn on Wi-Fi.


2. Tap the signal strength icon. This should let you access the info online about the SIM and the device. I’ve removed so PII from the screenshot below, but the important pieces are there. Under Network Mode, insure that it shows LTE and APN is set to vzwinternet. If it isn’t, get Verizon to make a new NANO SIM. A partially activated SIM might show GSM as the Network Mode.



connection manager

3. If you tap the Network Settings box above, on a successfully activated and working connection, the Network Type may show as Global. This is OK.




Verizon employees don’t have much experience with this and you can print this article out so they have a reference. Don’t let them tell you they have to send your device IMEI and other info in to a special team to be added to a database of devices. It isn’t needed and won’t help.

I hope this is helpful. If you’ve used this to get an unlocked Surface 3 online, let me know on Twitter @barbbowman. Enjoy

Able2Extract Cures PDF Hell

Posted Posted in Software

One of my longest standing pet peeves has been the non-manipulative nature of PDF files. I realize they are a necessary evil, especially in the print and marketing worlds where the authors want you to see something presented exactly as authored. PDF is also the most accepted camera ready format for both eBooks and print. For the past couple of years I have been using a program called Able2Extract Professional from Investintech on a casual basis to convert PDF files to Word files in order to comment on content for other people. This software is able to convert PDF documents into just about any format, and it is a must have tool for anyone that works/edits/comments on with PDF’s received from others. They offer a free trial, so it is a no brainer for anyone looking to check out the capabilities.

Those of you that know me probably know that I work with media files (mostly images) a lot of the time (see but probably don’t know about my forays into personal digital publishing (iBooks) and customized print books.

Recently, I wanted to do something extra special for my cousin’s 85h birthday. I decided I wanted to make him a coffee table book of his family relationships and ancestry loaded with historical images and genealogical info. I also wanted to make an iBook out of the same content for the rest of the family. There were a couple of choices but they involved doing the work twice. Apple’s iBook Author on my Mac could make a wonderful iBook and also export a PDF, but the PDF export is NOT for print quality work. Blurb, which makes quality print books, even onesie’s and twosies, was definitely the company I wanted to use to produce a coffee table book. They have super stringent PDF requirements for their PDF to Book service (or you can use one of their tools, which are more limited in terms of creativity). I really did not want to have to double the work just to get both a physical book and an iBook so I tabled the project for a few days. Then it struck me that I had seen a setting in Able2Extract to convert a PDF to image files.

I had a plan!

I downloaded a trial version of Adobe’s InDesign and the free Blurb template. Using InDesign and the Blurb plugin, I create the contents of the book. Using InDesign is like using almost any modern publishing software, so there was no learning curve. It supports drag and drop so positioning images was easy.


Once I had my layout finalized and proofread, I exported a Blurb compliant PDF from InDesign.

I opened Able2Extract Professional and open the document and selected ALL.



I then selected the IMAGE format for conversion and specified PNG, 100% (and the directory in which to place the converted files).


After conversion, I had a single PNG file for each page.

I then prepared the cover using InDesign and went through the same process.

I copied the output folder to my Mac, and using iBooks Author, dragged each sequentially numbered PNG file to a blank page and position it (or chapter heading page, etc.). This took at most 10 minutes for a 40 page book. I was then able to export a finished iBook!

Net result, I had perfect PDF’s to upload to Blurb. Perfect PDF’s to convert using Abble2Extract Pro. And a perfect iBook that was already proofread, inspected for proper layout, and ready to share with family.

Fixed: IE9 “Only Secure Content is Displayed” warning

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Microsoft, Software, Technology, Windows 7

For a very long time, it seemed as through every site I visited with IE9 created an annoying prompt about secure content and encourage me to show all content. I’ve seen fixes that involve lowering your security etc., but never thought THAT was worth the risk. I had an “Ah HA!” moment while troubleshooting a similar annoyance with a wordpress plugin. It turns out that this issue occurs if you are logged into Facebook using https (and you should be using https) and have elected to always stay logged in that since nearly every site in the world has a Facebook Like button or some tie in to Facebook.


My solution? (Edited 8/9/2011) Stay logged into Facebook with Firefox, but NOT with IE. And strictly use Firefox for Facebook. (And note that this warning does not happen when I use Firefox to browse other sites while still logged into Facebook because Firefox is displaying mixed content by default.). Microsoft has other solutions posted, but they involve allowing mixed content to kill the prompt, or not allowing it ever (which kills the prompt) and even adding Facebook’s https site to the trusted zone. I prefer to use IE for financial sites and keep prompts and elect to only display secure content. And I am not by any means advocating dumping IE9.

I’m almost always running at least two browsers, but I just had not figured out what was causing OE to behave this way. There may be similar situations with other Facebook type sites or plugins, but with Facebook being by far the most widespread, my solution solves 99% of the problem for me. Now I know, and if you didn’t know this before, I hope this is helpful.


Sonos S5 Music Players, Connected, Converged, Fantastic

Posted Posted in Apple, DLNA, iPad, iPhone, Media Center, Networking, Software, Sonos, Technology, WHS, Windows 7, Wireless Streaming

I’m not easily impressed, but my jaw is hanging open today after installing two Sonos S5 Music Players to cover my home with end to end music. I’ve used computers, Media Center Extenders and all kinds of hardware and software in the past to move music around my home, but I always had to cobble together pieces and use separate devices and controllers to get what I wanted.  What did I want? Well, everything imaginable. The list below is not in any particular order:

1. The ability to stream from ANY of my computers (using Play To or anything else) to more than one music player/renderer simultaneously.

2. To be able to control the volume above individually or together.

3. Play Pandora Radio and other Internet sourced digital music

4. Use existing/create new playlists

5. Use iPhones, iPads and  iPxxx whatever to control and manage the device as a remote control (including graphical menus).

6. Use the system as an alarm clock with choices to wake from alarm, music, Internet music, whatever

7. Wireless connectivity in my Living Room

8. A system that was upgradeable.

9. Quality sound

10. Expandability

I’m still stunned that I found a system that does ALL of the above. (And I’m betting I discover more features – I’ve only had a few hours experience with this all, so my exploration and discovery has only just begun).