Māori weather and climate indicators – a poster from NIWA

I notice that NIWA, New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, has a poster of Māori climate and weather indicators for download on its website. You can either grab the pdf or order a full-sized paid-for poster. This is a slice of it:

Maori Climate Poster from NIWA (part)

The weather (day-to-day state of the atmosphere, varying from minutes to weeks) predictors include:

  • From Te Roroa: The sound of breaking waves up the valley = Approaching rainfall and inclement weather is expected
  • From Te Whānau a Apanui: The plume from White Island lies to the left = Rainfall expected; The plume flattens and the end breaks off = Watch out for extreme weather

The climate (synthesis of weather, averaged over longer periods from months to years) predictors include:

  • From Te Arawa: Flowering starts on the upper branches of Pohutukawa and progresses downwards = A cold and winter-like season will follow; Flowering starts on the lower branches and progresses upwards =  A warm and pleasant season lies ahead
  • From Kai Tahu: Early and profuse flowering of Tï kouka (Cabbage) tree = A long hot summer follows

A good companion read for the poster is this piece on Te Ara, New Zealand’s encyclopedia, about Māori customs around weather and the creation stories of where wind, clouds, rain and storms come from.

The only weather predictor I remember from childhood is: Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning, which the UK’s Met Office interprets thus:

The saying is most reliable when weather systems predominantly come from the west as they do in the UK [and New Zealand]… A red sky appears when dust and small particles are trapped in the atmosphere by high pressure. This scatters blue light and leaving only red light to give the sky its notable appearance.

A red sky at sunset means high pressure is moving in from the west so therefore the next day will usually be dry and pleasant. “Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning” means a red sky appears due to the high pressure weather system having already moved east meaning the good weather has passed, most likely making way for a wet and windy low pressure system.

I came across a lot of sites featuring old-timey weather predictors. I like this one on Farmers Almanac about dew:

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light,
Look for rain before the night.

Why? If dew has time to form on the ground overnight, it means the night was clear without any clouds. Clear skies allow the earth to cool, and water to condense in the form of dew (or frost at cooler times of the year). If the night is cloudy, the clouds act as a heat barrier keeping the heat in and not allowing dew to form. This saying assumes that if the night skies are clear, the day following will also be cloud-free.

NIWA has a bunch of other posters for sale that depict, among other things projected rainfall, what the seabed looks like around New Zealand, undersea volcanoes, and the country’s energy assets.

Other NIWA posters

On a related note: If you’ve ever wondered how weather balloons are used in New Zealand, check out this post by Jacqui Bridges on the Met Service blog.



Matt’s guides to Google Analytics and the value of informative file names

Matt Lane has done a nice job explaining how Google analytics works in two nicely illustrated posts over on Medium. I particularly like the way he explains (and shows) what the snippets of code look like and how and where to add functionality.

The first piece, An Idiot’s Guide to Google Analytics, looks at the basics, starting with images of the source code for a webpage without tracking code and with tracking code.

The second, Supercharge your Google Analytics, walks you through how to get more information out of analytics, including demographics, filtered views, time-spent-on-site calculations, and tracking search, downloads and external links.

Screengrab of tips on useful sample size

I want to endorse Matt’s advice on giving the views you create in Google Analytics informative names – so that anyone in your organisation can see the name and understand what the view is going to show them.


Examples of well-named files

Giving files, images, folders, views – anything you create – useful names is the best of habits to get into. The small amount of extra time you take to give your file a useful name (that you or anyone else will understand today, next month or a year from now) will spare you hours and hours of time and frustration later.

Matt gives a couple of examples of well-named views:

www.domain.com (UNFILTERED)

www.domain.com (EXCL. <orgX> and <orgY>)

I like the tips offered by the people over at ustwo on naming systems for web design/development workflows. In their fantastic Pixel Perfect Precision design guide they suggest the following system for naming design components:

A good approach is to base your naming on a hierarchical system, which starts off with a broad identification of the component and then progressively adds more information. So you might end up with a structure like this:


The type refers to the category the component belongs to, such as:

bg (background)

btn (button)

 icn (icon)

img (image)

The next step is to add the screen or location where this component appears:



Then add the unique identifier, as an example, buttons on the home screen which create and delete documents would be called:



Finally, if the component has multiple states then add them to the end:




Naming System Visualisation

Designer Kerem Suer has shared a naming convention for Photoshop files (and their various iterations) on Dribbble:

filename platform direction iteration

For example:


You’ll see other people’s suggestions in the comments on Suer’s piece, and some more here.

Kerems File Naming Convention

Jill Duffy makes some good points about file names on PCMag. She says file names need to be:

  • unique
  • indicative of what the file contains
  • in line with how your business thinks about information
  • scannable (with the human eye) according to how you and your employees find information
  • naturally ordered alphabetically
  • consistent!

Just think of how much more productive you and your colleagues could be if you knew with high certainty what each file contained before you opened it.

She gives the following examples:

date code context description

For example, for a photo of a market in Montreal taken in September 2010:


If there are lots of market images she’ll add more detail to the name:

1009bg_mnrl_mrkt_peppers01.jpg (image of peppers taken in market in Montreal in September 2010)

Righto. That’ll do for now.


How to add macrons to Māori words

Macrons are the little lines on top of a vowel that indicate it should be pronounced long rather than short. If you’re not sure where to use macrons when typing Māori, try the Māori Dictionary (there’s also an app).

Below are a few ways of adding macrons to Māori words on your keyboard.

  1. Macs
  2. Windows 7 or later
  3. Older PCs

1. Macs

You can try holding down the letter on your keyboard and see if a little menu appears with all possible accents/macron. Then type in the number of (or click on) the accent/macron you want.

I prefer to enable the Māori keyboard and use OPTION-letter to add a macron. To do this:

1. Go to Systems Preferences

2. Click on Keyboard

3. Choose Input Sources and click on + at bottom left of screen

4. Select Māori from dropdown menu and click on Add

5. Close System Preferences.

6. Go to Menu Bar (top right of your computer screen)

7. Click on little flag icon and select Māori. The keyboard should stay enabled.

Now, whenever you want to add a macron, use OPTION-vowel.  For example, if you hold down the Option key and type a, you will get ā.

2. Windows 7 or later

The Māori keyboard is built in but, as I understand it, you need to enable the keyboard:

1. Control Panel>Clock, Language, and Region>Change Keyboards

2. Change keyboards

3. Select Māori (New Zealand)>Keyboard>Māori>Click OK

4. Select MR Māori (New Zealand) and click on Apply

5. Check keyboard is enabled

6. Type a backtick ` before the vowel that needs a macron. So `a will give you ā.

The keyboard should stay enabled until and unless you select another.

3. Older PCs

Check out the advice on kupu.maori.nz.

You might also want to check out:

Tips from @modsta on being careful with browser extensions (2013)

From Mike O’Donnell’s column on stuff.co.nz, some sage advice on being careful with browser add-ons and extensions:

1. If you start seeing weird or inappropriate ads on websites there’s a fair chance you’ve been targeted. You should go to your “options” menu in Internet Explorer (or “settings” menu in Chrome) and disable recent extensions.

2. If you get an email inviting you to install a browser extension or a new Flash player, be wary.

You should Google the title text from the request to find out if it is associated with a scam before proceeding.

3. You should only install browser extensions from known companies like Google and Mozilla – this means going to the vendor’s website and installing directly from there (and reading reviews first).

4. There is a bunch of good free PC check-up programmes you can run your lappie or desktop computer through – Bellguard Internet Security and Microsoft Security Essentials are a good place to start.

Read more about some of the scams and the rest of Mike’s column here.



‘What to ask an expert when evaluating scientific research’

SCMNZ's Reporting on Science

Five questions to ask experts when you’re evaluating scientific research for a news story. They come from the excellent Desk Guide for Covering Science, which is published by the Science Media Centre New Zealand and free to download.

  1. How does this study compare with others that have come before?
  2. How does it add to or contradict existing scientific views?
  3. Was the study well designed?
  4. Are the results compelling enough to recommend a change in our current behaviour/treatment/regulations?
  5. What would be the effect of such changes versus keeping things as they are?

This graphic on the scientific process, and when to report on it, is also in the Desk Guide for Covering Science.

SCMNZ's Reporting on Science




How to measure the wind (and when to hang out the washing)

Measuring The Wind

I love the language in the Beaufort Wind Scale as rendered in the 1947 edition of the textbook Mapwork and Practical Geography.

6 Strong breeze – whistling heard in telegraph wires; umbrellas used with difficulty

7 Moderate gale – inconvenience felt when walking against wind

8 Fresh gale – generally impedes progress

Beaufort wind scale

The Beaufort wind  scale was “devised in 1805 by Francis Beaufort (later Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort), an Irish Royal Navy officer”.

In the early 19th century, naval officers made regular weather observations, but there was no standard scale and so they could be very subjective – one man’s “stiff breeze” might be another’s “soft breeze”. Beaufort succeeded in standardizing the scale.

The initial scale of thirteen classes (zero to twelve) …  related qualitative wind conditions to effects on the sails of a frigate … from “just sufficient to give steerage” to “that which no canvas sails could withstand”.[2]

In 1916, to accommodate the growth of steam power, the descriptions were changed to how the sea, not the sails, behaved and extended to land observations. — Wikipedia

The NZ Met Service has a colourful poster of wind measurements describing the terms it uses in our forecasts today. The poster is free to download for personal use: another worthwhile addition to the newsroom wall.

Some of the terminology has changed since 1947 – “whistling heard in telegraph wires” has become “whistling in wires” and “inconvenience felt when walking against wind” has become “impedes walking” – but otherwise much remains the same.

Measuring The Wind

Sometimes, though, all you really want to know is whether or not to hang out the washing. For that, you might try shouldihangmywashingout.com (caution, there be swear words).

Should I Hange My Washing Out?

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Did you know?

  • New Zealand has had one of the warmest winters this year since reliable records began in the 1860s.
  • Temperatures in New Zealand this winter are 1.1 degrees higher than they were in 1870.