To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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photo of Dave Middleburgh
Hong Kong

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Last year we moved into a flat with big ships sailing past the window.; I searched for a website which might show a map of the sea lanes with details of the passing boats based on their AIS (automated Identification system). At the time the best free website was MarineTraffic.Com. Unfortunately they didn't cover Hong Kong so I went and bought a pair of binoculars. The problem was that I still didn't know what was '"coming" down the "lanes" so to give me a clue I created an email alert for ship movements based on data published by the HK Maritime Department . Unfortunately for reasons beyond me the alert stopped working after 6 months and I have only just got arround to fixing it!!.

The first thing I discovered was that MarineTraffic.com now covers Hong Kong so I have embedded a really cool map showing all the boats in the channel and hererabouts more or less real time (allowing for the delay in updating) in a seperate website which will be dedicated to things about the East Lamma Channel.

I was moderately proud of myemail alert It was a trivial mashup I cobbled together using Yahoo Pipes basically taking 2 XML files which the HK Martime Department (God bless them) generates daily, consolidating and converting them to an RSS feed sorted alphabetically by Vessel Name. I discovered that the pipe was still working but the alert function ie sending the emailing wasn't and I still haven't worked out why. Academic really because I decided to embed a script into a post on the new Blog which takes the the pipe output as a JSON file and renders it into the post. I did consider using a script to embed the RSS feed but I thought JSON would be neater (and it works!!)

As it happens when I developed the movements pipe I had also done another based an XML file which lists all the ships at anchor in Hong Kong.Since I was on a roll I decided to embed this feed into a post too.

As a matter of principle any site related to ships and the sea should have a link to the local shipping forcast.(ie the weather for seagoing folk) The Hong Kong Observatory has a couple of general RSS feeds but none specifically for sailors. Typically ships rely on radio or NAVTEX* broadcasts by Hong Kong Coast Radio Stations for their weather information. There are however web pages listing both the Maritime Forecast and the forecast for the South China Coastal Waters . So this afternoon I knocked up a quick pipe which generates a feed based on the Coastal Waters Forecast and I embedded it into a post too. (I embedded it as an RSSfeed because it was easier to format.)

Obviously I will probably add other posts of a nautical nature to Lanna Channel blog in the future but before ending this post I think it fitting (and necessary) that I should explain about the background image and my relationship with the young lady in the water... she is in fact the daughter of an ex colleague.... I once held her in my arms when she was a wee baby in nappies (without dropping her!!) .... and yes she has blossomed.... and isn't she a sweetie!!... I am sorry Tony I couldn't resist her cheeky smile ... and the context is relevant even if it's not the Lamma Channel .. So what if it the Singapore Straits!!!!

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