The VolcanoCams webmaster is currently on a wildland fire assignment. Your incoming emails are read daily, but it's next to impossible to respond right now. Rest assured your various comments, questions and suggestions will be addressed, but now is not a good time. If you are experiencing difficulties viewing a VolcanoCam image, be sure to check out the web site FAQs page.
Mount St. Helens has joined the digital world. As you can see, we have a new VolcanoCam. The new camera (VolcanoCamHD) is an all digital camera. Our current camera (now being called VolcanoCam Classic) is really a NTSC analogue video camera. The analogue signal is converted to digital before images are uploaded to the web server. That's because inside the Johnston Ridge Observatory is a television monitor for visitors to view the volcano live. That is a bit ironic when to the immediate left of the monitor display is a glass wall some 20 feet high and more than 100 feet long with a clear view of Mount St. Helens. Well, at least when it's not foggy, cloudy, rainy, etc.
The new VolcanoCamHD is completely digital. It's also it's own server with built-in FTP capabilities. So the images you see are straight from the camera with no image conversion. (A VolcanoCamHD viewer has pointed out that it isn't really a high definition image because HD is a 16:9 ratio and the VolcanoCamHD image is still a 4:3 ratio. It is our understanding that high definition --- when it comes to HD TV -- refers to the lines of resolution and not screen ratio size. Any engineers wish to confirm this?)
We will still be tweaking the web site to accommodate the larger VolcanoCamHD images so please bear with us. At the same time, watch for some additional features with the new camera. We may not have the complete control of the early 1960s science fiction program The Outer Limits ("We control the vertical; we control the horizontal ...") but we now are able to remotely zoom in and out from here in Vancouver. The view is currently set for a wide view. Watch starting next week as we zoom in and out. Of course, we may just have a closer view of clouds and rain if the weather forecast for next week proves to be accurate.
Please let us know of any problems you may be experiencing with the site redesign, and the viewing the volcano. There are still a number of tweaks to perform for the next few weeks.
VolcanoCam viewers continue to send us emails concerning the new site design and their respective problems with viewing Mount St. Helens. The two identified groups are Mac users (generally running Safari or Netscape) and Windows Vista users (running IE 7). We need help from both groups in identifying the problem(s) and offering potential solutions. In the case of Mac users, we haven't established a pattern yet so we cannot offer any suggestions of where to look. For Vista users, that operating system apparently has some security features preventing use of the Java applet. We have no Macs here for testing and Vista doesn't even exist within the Fortest Service so we're asking both groups to do some research for us.
In the mean time, we have a non-Java web page available.
The phrase, "minding your Ps and Qs," has not been lost to history just yet, and if the linked definition is accurate, we failed to mind them when switching over to the new format. Dropped the ball might be a more up to date phrase. For that, our apologies. The reality is that a single misplaced character ( in this case a period --->.<---) caused the web server to generate a 500 error message. The problem was corrected as soon as we logged in for a VolcanoCam view Saturday morning. If there is anything positive in all of this, it is the number emails received late Friday night and early Saturday morning bringing the problem to our attention. Thank you to those of you who sent us polite notices of our error. They were easy to find among the rest that were not.
There are a number of tweaks we still need to make with the new look and feel, and the underlying code. We ask your indulgences. In fact, we ask for your opinions in helping us find errors. So picking nits is encouraged for the next few weeks. All we ask is to be specific with them and point them out to us with a smile.
Welcome to the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam News Blog!
For our regular VolcanoCam viewers you can see we made a few changes to the look and feel of the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam web site. We also are implementing a few Web 2.0 features, with more to come.
The most important change we made is the use of a Java applet to view Mount St. Helens. The VolcanoCam home page will no longer refresh automatically just to grab the latest view of Mount St. Helens. Instead, only the image itself with refresh. And to confuse you even more, while the Java applet will refresh the images every 60 seconds, the VolcanoCam itself will continue to send a new image every five minutes. We did this to ensure you will always have the latest view available, regardless of what may be happening with the VolcanoCam and/or the World Wide Web.
If you are a first-time viewer of the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam, welcome! You are among friends. If your first view of Mount St. Helens is met with an obscured view, please do not let that discourage you from coming back at a later time for another look. Weather plays a significant role with viewing Mount St. Helens, even in the middle of summer. Clouds will obscure the view, but they don't last long.
We plan to use the VolcanoCam News Blog to inform you of what's happening at Mount St. Helens and with the VolcanoCam. We may not post every day so periodically checking back is probably your best option.