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Isabella sensor not likely to be fixed soon
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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 791
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject: Isabella sensor not likely to be fixed soon Reply with quote

Just got my second "We're working on it" kiss off letter from Weatherflow, doesn't look to me like they give a crap. The good news is there's two sensors and a forecast (other than mine, of course). Takes some getting used to, but at least their sensors WORK!
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 760

PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Isabella sensor not likely to be fixed soon Reply with quote

H Spennie,

Good to hear you are alive and kicking.

Your receiving a "We're working on it" mail is not a kiss off letter that just means we don't give a crap. The letter means exactly what it says. Unlike other companies we have many hundreds of sensors of our own sensors in the USA and other countries that are sited as perfectly as possible at sailing sites. We make our living in large part from those sensors. If we did not give a crap about a sensor not working we would not be in business long.

We also use thousands of Public Domain sensors that many companies display on their web sites. If you go our windalert.com link below you will see 4 of of these PD sensors located in the Isabella area.

http://windalert.com/en-us/Search/ViewResults.aspx#35.706,-118.469,12,1

However as you can see these sensors, like most PD sensors, are of very limited use due to local topography, trees etc. Typically they are just someones backyard and may be in wind shadows etc. But they are better than nothing while we continue to work on finding a Isabella solution.

There is a recent thread on iwindsurf.com that discusses the issues with the Isabella sensor. Basically we have a crew ready to do the sensor install but we need a new location or permission to use the old location.

To get an idea of the lengths we go through to maintain the best possible sensor network check out this video of just 3 days I spent with the sensor crew on a repair trip.

http://windnotes.phanfare.com/4743675_5825871#imageID=144749929

These guys are amazing and they work their ass off for you. Saying they just don't give a crap is simply not fair.

Thanks for your patience.

Mike Godsey
iwindsurf.com



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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 791
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started with this, very polite:

Can you update me on the status of the Lake Isabella sensor? Date of expected repair? It's been down for quite a while, and the season is starting up, now. Paying member for about 20 years.

Got this back:

Spennie,
The anemometer has failed. Unfortunately, in seeking permission to service the sensor the USFS informed us that we need to acquire two new permits. These will take a few months for processing (the typical government red tape). So, we're working with two options: 1.) get the needed permits; 2.) find a new site that is not on federal property. We do hope to expedite this process as much as possible.
Sorry about this!
-Benjamin Miller
WeatherFlow Support

So they didn’t even try to fix it, just called the Forest Service, and are going to sit around and wait for “a few months” instead of raising hell with the F.S. on a daily basis and getting it going. So I sent back this:

This is a bunch of B.S., and you guys are dropping the ball. That sensor has been there for something like 20 years, and you’re telling me suddenly you can no longer service it? Send somebody out there, put a ladder up & fix the friggin’ thing! I’ll bet that nobody says anything, or even cares. If somebody pulls up & says you need a permit, tell them it’s been there for 20 years, you have paying customers that rely on it, and you’ll be happy to pull a permit, but you need to keep it working in the meantime. They can’t shut down part of your business just because the regulatory agency changed, tell ‘em!
I’ll do it, for free, send me the parts. I’ve been a builder & now maintenance man for over 35 years. I’ve helped my friend Jim Martin replace sensors before, it ain’t rocket science, and we did it without asking anybody, except the lifeguards inside the tower.
It feels to me like you guys are taking the lazy way out. You called the Forest Service, they said you needed a permit, and you guys just said “Oh, OK.” and are now waiting out the process. It’s already been down for a month or more, now you’re saying it’s going to be what amounts to basically the rest of the 2014 Isabella season?! If you don’t want to do anything without the proper paperwork (really?), go down to the F.S. offices and tell them you need it right away, that you can’t wait months. It’s a friggin’ anemometer, not a nuclear power plant!
Isabella season is starting right now, and the natives are getting restless, take a look at the SoCal forum. I’m not the only one upset by this crap. You want to start a letter-writing campaign to the F.S.? No problem, get an e-mail address & post it on the SoCal forum, we’ll write some letters. Meanwhile, you need to get our sensor working.
Spencer Thompson

To which I got another of what I refer to as “kiss off” letters:

Spencer,
The "We believe this is solved" statement is from ZenDesk, whom we use for our customer support system. We obviously understand that the sensor issue has not been resolved.
We appreciate your offer to help and we'll keep this in mind. We are taking measures to get this sensor back online as soon as possible. We have plans to visit Lake Isabella and to see what can be accomplished.
As unfortunate as the situation is, we strive to always have official and formal permission, which in this case will require acquiring the proper permits. This, of course, seems better than risking the alternative of being banned from the federally owned location.
We understand your frustration and ask for your patience as we restore both the permissions and the equipment.
Also, please note, that we are providing a meteorologist forecast daily for this site.
Sorry for all the inconvenience.
-Benjamin Miller
WeatherFlow Support

Translation: We’re not willing to do anything other than sit & wait, so F--- you.

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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13834

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spennie, I hate bureaucracy as much as you, but IMO you're way overreacting here. Did you watch the video? Have you worked with the bureaucrats iW must ultimately satisfy over the long term? Do you realize that "That's the way we've done it for 20 years" means absolutely nothing (Obamacare comes to mind)?

Piss off ONE government bureaucrat and you might never see another Isabella sensor on USFS property there. ONE anarchist WSer who wants to run my favorite Gorge park himself lied to the Corps of Engineers about the finest park host I've ever seen and got that host banned from WA. Many letters from many users to the regional Corps commanding officer trying to correct that problem have been in vain because ONE local Corps bureaucrat got pissed.

Bureaucrats have us by the short'n'curlies. It's that simple. Even if force or subterfuge sometimes works in the short term, bureaucrats are like elephants; we aren't going to fool or circumvent them twice. It's their court and their ball; they're taking both and going home if we tread on them.

Now, if you believe the bureaucrats are at iW, that changes some things. What it doesn't change, though, is the effect of an F-U. Your "F-U" is just noise, much like sanctions on Russian bureaucrats; iW's "Oh, yeah, well F YOU", if they so choose, can look more like closing the court and taking the ball home.
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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 791
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ISO As far as I can tell, they never even TRIED to fix it, and waited a month to do anything. Look on the Isabella Windsurfers Facebook page, run by the Boardlady, Eva Hollmann.

The F--- you was my iterpretation of iWindsurf's reply to me, not me telling them to F--- off.

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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 760

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:34 pm    Post subject: “Just Do It” Reply with quote

Spence, I have a question for you. Would you, as a builder, place a commercial structure on federal property without a permit and argue to the government that you should be allowed to do so since you didn't bother with permits for the last 20 years?

it is true that in the old Call of the Wind days sensors were sometimes installed without formal permission of the property owner. Jim, in Southern California, or I, in the Bay Area would just ask someone, like a lifeguard, janitor, cook at a location if we could put up a sensor to help the local windsurfer dudes find wind. Often they would say “Sure dude” and we would install the cheapie $500 sensors we used at the time. They failed frequently but we would use the same “Hey Dude” approach to sneak back onto the site to repair the “covert sensor”.

As the years and decades passed eventually the actual property owners of every one of these “covert sensors” discovered that Cotw was using their property without permission. And then the nightmare began as they either removed the sensor themselves or denied us permission to repair the sensor. And in every case we lost access to those sensor site for weeks to months to forever while we tried to negotiate a formal lease from an angry property owner. And in every such case some customers, such as yourself, raised hell about us “not giving a damn” when the sensor disappeared.

Ask yourself, as a property owner, how you would feel if someone installed, without your knowledge, a structure on your property and for many years sold that product others. Pissed I would guess.

I really miss those “wild west” days when we just did what ever we felt like. But it quickly became clear that sensors deployed in that fashion were a liability in terms of maintaining them and also legally. Sensor masts corrode and imagine if one of those uninsured masts damaged property or person. The liability costs kill our entire sensor network forever. These days many of our most useful sensors are on federal property like Nav. Aids and we have complex contracts allowing us, as a private company, to use federal property commercially.

I get the idea you think we are leisurely just asking the local Forest Service guys at Isabella for a permit. It does not work like that. The local guys do not have or want the legal responsibility to allow a private company to use federal property. The issue immediately goes to the FS legal dept. And we are calling and e-mailing them continually while trying not to be obnoxious. Remember this sensor is near zero priority to them and their easiest answer is just… no.

It is hard to believe but to the Federal Government a sensor at a lake for windsurfers is not the highest priority. Do you really think we got permission for all those Nav. Aid sensors at Sherman Island, Crissy, 3rd and The Gorge and then entire east coast by pleading the cause of windsurfing and our profits? Understand that if we go rogue and get caught illegally installing or repairing a sensor on federal property we would lose all of our most valuable water based sensors in the entire USA. Sorry but your “Just Do It” solution is potentially too costly for all the windsurfer and kiters nationwide who depend on those sensors.

Incidentally Isabella is one of those sites that is a net loss for us. To break even on the costs of sensor and maintenance we need lots of local people using the site daily. We are dedicated to keeping such sensor sites going because that is the spirit of our company. And I should point out that we have been working on getting this permit from the very day the sensor failed and we were told that we could not keep the sensor without a permit.

Given all of this…. things seem to be speeding up and the sensor MAY be back on line soon.

Mike Godsey
iwindsurf.com


Last edited by windfind on Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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stevenbard



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 3958

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike, I feel your pain. Permits are mind boggling. Especially when some low level, low self esteem dude gets ahold of your plans. They always want to change something. Location, color, size, structural.

Can't you just "REPAIR" the existing locations without worry? Isn't your equipment considered an easement by it's own existence? IOW, you are helping save the LG's time, so they are receiving financial benefit by your product being on their (State) property. In he case of the homeowner, they are receiving good will, or free services aren't they>

In the old days I used to call the LG and ask him for a wind and surf report. They gladly provided this usually. The "Windtalkers" ended up saving them a lot of time.

Thanks for keeping the system up and running.
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dogalone



Joined: 10 Apr 2000
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wait till they get the bill for the Environmental Impact Survey.....
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windoggie



Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 2361

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berkeley flatlands sensor


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superkraut



Joined: 18 Mar 2001
Posts: 201

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

best Isabella wind guess at the moment
Windfinder at http://www.windfinder.com/report/lake_isabella uses a sensor atop the Corps' maintenance building near the Forest Service Office overlooking Engineer's Point. With Southerly/South-Westerly winds, that sensor is in the lee of a bunch of tall trees and does NOT give an indication of conditions at our sailing sites.
Besides climbing on my roof and checking the Vons flag, the best approximation of sailing conditions I have found is by combining the wind direction data from iwin, completely disregarding wind direction from Windfinder, but taking their wind strength data, though it often seems a tad low.
At the moment, for example, it is blowing SW at my place, the Vons flag is confirming that, and waving in a 15mph sort-of-way, iwin confirms it is out of the SW, Windfinder claims it is North - right... - but confirms it is gusting to 13
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