NDFD Data Available in WeatherNet and GRIB Explorer Plus for the iPad

For decades some of the finest weather forecasts in the world were captured in the weather charts produced by the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center. Forecasters poured over the very best available models, buoy, ship of opportunity and satellite data, combined this with their years of forecasting experience and local knowledge and produced weather charts every ocean mariner learned to rely upon. Until the 1990’s, these charts were only available via weatherfax broadcast and mariners went through reams of chart paper and hours of time tuning their weather fax radios to receive the data. With the growth of the Internet in the late 1990s, chart distribution expanded to this medium and OCENS WeatherStation was the first such service to make them available to satellite phone users.

For years, NOAA has been working on the next step in this evolution. To move the static OPC and NHC weather charts and their classic picture file formats into GRIB data so these data become all that more relevant to the at-sea user now dependent on satellite phones, electronic charting and so many other components of the electronic ship. The first realization of these efforts is that which is now available in the NDFD data just released in WeatherNet and GE Plus. NDFD data preserve all the human intelligence and local knowledge put into the OPC and NHC charts but make this information available in the form of GRIBs which can be animated, layered and closely analyzed.

For a lot more information on the NDFD data, including where to find it within WeatherNet and GRIB Explorer Plus for the iPad, check out the extensive YouTube video on the topic prepared by OCENS at:



Handheld Satellite Data: The Importance of Turning Off Internet Applications

A while back, Mark posted a blog article regarding Spyware/Malware and it’s effect on your Satellite connection. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here’s the link: http://blog.ocens.com/?p=321

Going off this premise, today I’m going to talk about applications that use your Internet connection and their affect on your Satellite data service, ESPECIALLY the handhelds. So first, let’s put these connections into context so it’s something we can understand.



I apologize in advance… as this will get a little technical, but we will have to pull out some math to explain the underlining concepts.

When talking about files and their size, it’s important to understand the measurement standard used. All data, regardless of what it is, can be broken down to the smallest measurement unit, a bit. A bit is a binary code; think of it as a light switch, it’s either on (1) or off (0) the next measurement up from a bit is a Byte, which is 8 bits. From there, it follows the 1024 sequence of Kilobytes, Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes and so forth:

8 bits = Byte
1024 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte (KB)
1024 KB = 1 Megabyte (MB)
1024 MB = 1 Gigabyte (GB)
1024 GB = 1 Terabyte (TB)

When dealing with a data connection, however, you often hear companies talk about their transfer rate, bandwidth or throughput. This is a measurement of how fast data can be pushed over their service. Think of them as pipes… the faster the throughput, the larger diameter the pipe.

Throughput is measured in how many bits per second you’re able to push across the connection. The abbreviated listing ALWAYS has the “B” in lowercase, which stands for bits, as apposed to the “B” in uppercase, which stands for Bytes. For example, here are some typical connections and their advertised throughput:

Fiber Optic = 1 Gigabit/second [1Gbps] (1,000,000,000 bits per second)
Cable Internet = 30 Megabits/second  [30Mbps] ( 30,000,000 bits per second)
DSL = 7 Megabits/second [7Mbps] (7,000,000 bits per second)
56K Dialup Modem = 56 Kilobits/second [56Kbps] (56,000 bits per second)

Let’s do a little math. Let’s say we have a normal email that we want to send, and we want to attach 3 pictures that total 4Megabytes (MB) the email is fairly large… a page in length, so we will say the measurement of it is 6 Kilobytes (6KB) So, in total, the email size is 4.06 MB (4102 KB) If we break it down to the same measurement as the Throughput (bits) that means the email is 3360584 bits ( 4102 x 1024 x 8 )

Applying the throughput speeds listed, that means the email will take:

.033603584 seconds on Fiber
1.1201195 seconds on Cable
4.800512 seconds on DSL
600.064 seconds on a 56k Modem

So, what about Satellite connections then?

VSAT V3 = 3Mbps (3,000,000 bits per second)
Class 1 BGAN = 492Kbps (492,000 bits per second) (T&T Explorer 700 is a Class 1)
Class 2 BGAN = 464Kbps (464,000 bits per second) (Hughes 9202 is a Class 2)
FBB 150 = 150Kbps (150,000 bits per second)
Iridium 9xxx = 2.4Kbps (2400 bits per second)
Inmarsat ISatPhone Pro = 1.2Kbps (1200 bits per second)

So, that same email would take:

11.20119 seconds on a VSAT V3
68.29997 seconds on a Class 1 BGAN
72.42152 seconds on a Class 2 BGAN
224.0239 seconds on a FBB 150
14001.49333 seconds (that’s 3.89 hours!) on an Iridium handheld
28002.98667 seconds (that’s 7.78 hours!) on an Inmarsat ISatPhone Pro!!

Talk about pushing a watermelon though a garden hose!

Also keep in mind that these are theoretical times, since we haven’t considered overhead data usage to establish and maintain the connection, addressing information, error correction, and other things that occur in a data transfer.

If you take into account issues that can occur like what’s discussed in our blog article Satellite Data Connections Explained (http://blog.ocens.com/?p=296) it’s a feat of engineering that data can be sent at all! And this is just the time spent sending what you WANTED to send… so this brings us to the topic of the article:


Applications Internet Usage

Now a day, there are MANY programs running on your computer that utilize the Internet in one way or the other. Operating systems like Windows or Mac OSX use the Internet to pull updates or submit error reports. Internet browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari & Firefox use the Internet to pull updates as well. Antivirus programs use the Internet to update their virus definitions. Java and Flash pull updates from the Internet. Even hardware drivers can check into the Internet with the intent to pull updates or submit error reports.

On a typical Internet connection this isn’t an issue, and most of these programs are setup to pull these updates without the need for you, the user, to monitor and initiate them.

It’s important to note however, that they only know is that the Internet is “available” not what type of Internet connection it is.

These updates can range widely in size… anywhere from a couple KB all the way up to major updates (like version changes, or service packs) that can be in the MBs or even GBs!! Imagine pulling down Windows 7’s Service Pack 1 (73.7MB through Windows Update) over an ISatPhone Pro connection…

If any of these programs realize an Internet connection is available, and wants to pull an update on slow connection, it will bog that connection down further or even cause the connection to fail completely (watermelon the size of a house trying to go through a garden hose)

On top of that, if your computer contracts malware, spyware or viruses, they all try to push info over the Internet as well.

Then to compound the issue further, you pay for the usage done on a satellite device; per MB on broadband terminals like the FBB 150 or BGAN, or per minute on handhelds like the Iridium 9xxx or Inmarsat ISatPhone Pro.


How To Address These Issues

There are a couple ways to combat the issue of moving data over a Satellite Internet connection.

The first is to make sure your computer is clean of spyware, malware and viruses. You can also go through every application on your computer and verify that they are not set to download updates automatically. Though a tedious process, doing so will GREATLY decrease the amount of data trying to be pushed over your connection.

You can also employ devices like the OCENS Sidekick (http://www.ocens.com/Sidekick-Satellite-Wi-Fi-Router-P760C96.aspx) that employs a firewall and proxy server to manage that connection between your Satellite device and your computer, making sure that only the data you want to send is what gets through.

You can also employ services like WeatherNet, OCENSMail and OneMail to compress the data you’re sending… making it as small as possible to save time & money.

Any and all of these products truly are “Value-Add” services meant to maximize the value a Satellite Internet connection provides, while helping minimize the cost of using them.


If you have any questions, or would like to know more about maximizing your satellite connection please give OCENS a call.

Portal Mode the best feature in the new WeatherNet 3 software

With the new release of WeatherNet 3 back in June, OCENS software developers created some new features with the aspiration of making WeatherNet 3 with an intuitive interface that is convenient and powerful. One of these new features is the Portal Mode: a new means of using WeatherNet that integrates a handful of functions to create a seamless experience.

The thoughts behind the Portal Mode feature are to make the requests of WeatherNet product files more accessible with the click of a button, along with being able to update WeatherNet product files based on the user’s Wizard selections and current geographic location whether or not WeatherNet 3 is linked to a GPS. (GPS integration is another new feature of WeatherNet 3)

Of the three main modes  of  WeatherNet 3 (Basic, Library, and Portal), Portal mode is the most robust due to its ability to identify, acquire, and update new products relative to the user’s wizard selection and current location. Portal mode provides quick access to just the data you want without losing access to the immense storehouse of weather and ocean products which is the WeatherNet library.

The Portal mode building blocks are:

1)- The Launch Wizard button (in the upper left corner) which links  the user to the new Content Wizard in order to select  the type of weather files they are interested . The Content Wizard provides pages of content based on the different types of weather data: like GRIB data, weather charts, text weather forecasts, etc. that make up the WeatherNet 3 weather product list.

2)- Buttons (across the top of the screen) that link to specific pages of content in the Content Wizard to allow the user to revise their weather product selection or focus on just one or two types of products of particular interest to them

3)- The Content List (also called the Content Tree; on the left edge of the Portal mode screen) is a list of all the weather products selected by the wizard based on the user’s weather interests and geographic location.  Because it is the Wizard’s function to identify all weather products relevant to the user’s interests and location, we recommend that you check the Content List after finishing the Content Wizard to fine tune your selection and make sure that only the files you need are selected before hitting the download button.

4)- The Refresh List button (under the Content List)  will update the Content List based on movements in the Map area.

5)- The Re-Center & Reload Map button (at the base of the screen) is useful if the WeatherNet software is linked to a GPS. Clicking the Re-Center & Reload Map button will re-center the map to the user’s present geographic location and refresh the Content List relative to this updated location and the user’s wizard selections.

What makes the Portal Mode the best feature in the new WeatherNet 3 ?                 Portal mode heightens WeatherNet 3 functionality by using its ability to dig and inquire into the WeatherNet file database. It does that by using as a reference the user’s interest selection and current location to provide a set of suggested products that matches user criteria.

For a visual instruction about the Portal Mode on WeatherNet 3 click on this link http://www.youtube.com/user/OCENSSupport

Tip: How to Export and Import Batches in WeatherNet

This tip applies to WeatherNet 3 as well as previous versions. Consider doing this before upgrading to WeatherNet 3 to preserve your current batches.

  1. In the Library Window, click on Batch > Backup Batches… This will backup your entire list of batches.
  2. The Save As window will pop up. Name your file, and select the Desktop or another destination folder that will make it is easy to find your backup file. Click “Save.”
  3. To import your batches, in the Library Window, click on Batch > Restore Batches…
  4. In the Restore Batches window that pops up, select the backup file that you created and click  “Open.”
  5. Your complete backup batch will now be imported into your current WeatherNet version.

Using the Auto Dialer in WeatherNet 3

When using WeatherNet 3 with any satellite phone connection or the Optimizer 102, the Satellite Dialer option in the WeatherNet 3 settings needs to be selected.

To select the satellite dialer option:

  1. In WeatherNet 3, go to the Account Control Settings (gateway icon).
  2. Under “Connection Information,” select “Satellite Dialer” as the Default Connection.
  3. Click “Finish.”


OCENS releases WeatherNet 3

NEWS – For Immediate Release

New WeatherNet 3 Portal mode screen

OCENS Inc., Seattle WA
Media Contacts:

Jeff Thomassen

OCENS releases WeatherNet 3 Weather-on-Demand 

Enhances award-winning service with intelligent product wizard and new Portal mode

SEATTLE, WA July 23, 2012 – OCENS proudly announces version 3 of its award-winning WeatherNet Weather-on-Demand service. For a decade, WeatherNet has warehoused the most robust collection of weather, ocean and fishing data on the planet. Its patented WeatherNet data transfer engine continues to hold the preeminent position in the accelerated delivery of content across all satellite and wireless platforms.  These twin pillars of content diversity and file transfer performance are now integrated together in unprecedented fashion with the launch of WeatherNet 3’s Portal mode and the imbedded intelligence of its ingenious Content Wizard.  The Content Wizard personalizes WeatherNet’s vast content library to the specific weather, ocean and fishing interests of the individual user. It’s Portal mode then stages selections for the rapid and reliable global delivery of these products via satellite or cellular, wired or wireless connections.

WeatherNet 3 transforms the product selection process by asking users for their general weather interests and then responding with definitive file suggestions for their area of operation. No need to get specific, just let WeatherNet know whether you’d like GRIB or classic weather charts, text files or buoy products, fishing data or ice forecasts, satellite pictures or tide information…the list goes on. WeatherNet’s intelligent content algorithm then merges your general interests with your present or proposed location, anywhere in the world, and the work by OCENS professionals who have mapped each one of the thousands of products in our large library. The result is a personalized list of products that satisfy the specific insights required for prevailing and predicted weather, ocean and fishing conditions.

‘We wanted to take WeatherNet where no other weather service on the planet has gone.’ summarized Mark Freeberg, OCENS President and CEO. ‘So not only does it have the largest GRIB and classical weather and ocean data library and the most robust means of delivering that information to users, it can now skillfully help them find the products best suited for their needs and area of operation.’

Just some of WeatherNet 3’s new features and capabilities:

  • GPS integration
  • OCENS Positional Packet sharing with OCENS GRIB Explorer and MetMapper
  • Content Wizard and Portal mode
  • Content Preferences page to help you personalize GRIB model preferences
  • Content Box and integrated content search algorithm
  • Graphical user interface for selection of coastal, offshore, high seas, and MetArea text products
  • Buoy location map for choosing buoy(s) data feeds for your area of operation
  • Zoom capabilities on all content reference maps
  • Portal mode tracking of present geographic position relative to selected content
  • Satellite Dialer for auto-connect/disconnect to satellite phones and docking stations
  • Integration with Optimizer, webXaccelerators, and Iridium AxcessPoint
  • Refreshed interfaces and new icons for WeatherNet’s legacy Basic and Library modes
  • Updated Basic mode ‘Personalities’
  • Rapid access to Basic mode content ‘Personality’ switching and content options
  • New data classes (Tides) and sources (Terrafin)
  • Race and Tournament mode editions

WeatherNet 3 is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7, both 32 and 64-bit versions, and Apple Mac computers with virtual machine PC installations.

It is bundled with drivers and auto-dialing/disconnect capabilities for most serial, USB and Ethernet-based satellite telephones and will operate through any wifi, DSL, cable, or dial-up connection. It seamlessly works with the entire webXaccelerator line, including the Optimizer 102, and the Iridium AxcessPoint.

Pricing and Availability
WeatherNet 3 service is priced at $99 per year and is immediately available from OCENS and through OCENS dealer network. Content fees are charged on a per item basis with such fees starting as low as US 18 cents. WeatherNet prepaid content cards are available in $75, $250, $500 and $1000 denominations.  3-day no-charge demos of WeatherNet with full access to all WeatherNet content and features are available with each installation.

About OCENS, Inc.

OCENS data services and software merge easy-to-use applications with unprecedented content offerings to affordably deliver data to remote users around the world. Using patented pull-me technology, OCENS WeatherNet provides fast access to the world’s widest selection of weather and ocean information. MetMapper transforms static weather chats to dynamic planning tools. OCENS Mail accelerates the transfer of email over wireless phone connections while OCENS XWeb provides fast wireless web browsing with up to a 10x improvement in speed through customer satellite equipment. These services have been bundled in strategic partnerships with some of the leading nautical software and satellite providers in the world such as Nobeltec, B&G, Expedition, Globalstar, Sailfast, GMN and Sattrans. OCENS augments its software core with satellite equipment and airtime solutions it provides in cooperation with all the major satellite providers.