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A full year after starting work on it, I’ve launched BumpySkies, a free, web-based turbulence forecast tool for most any upcoming flight within the continental United States*. I’ve been talking about writing a book for my fellow nervous fliers for some time, but it turns out that this is what I had in me instead: an interactive tool to help both them and me manage our fears.
Inevitably, I launched a blog for BumpySkies as well. Please follow that site for updates specific to the service. I reserve the right to continue writing on my jmac.org blog regarding subjects interestingly tangential to BumpySkies but not necessarily of direct concern to its users.
Its still-notional users, to be sure. After the formal, press-release-laden launch of my last major project (ably assisted by co-founders far more versed in public relations than I), it felt right to take the route of the soft launch for BumpySkies. I may have swung its front doors wide open today, and tweeted a few tweets in its name, but I’ve otherwise spent no energy on the problem of letting the public know that it exists. I feel comfortable enough in both its value and its uniqueness that I don’t feel immense pressure to shift immediately into full-time PR mode for it — but I do intend to start evangelizing it, after a short break.
My starry-eyed visions for BumpySkies’ future involve its feature-set expanding to cover more topics of interest to harried air passengers, as well as methods for me and mine to draw an income from it. I feel lucky to know many smart people with whom I’ve already begun imagining some possible paths, all with the goal of keeping the basic turbulence-forecasting both free to use and free of annoying, ineffective advertising. But before any of that, we’ve got to make sure we have a service that many people want to use, and come back to again and again because it does what it says and does it well. For the first time in my umpteen years as an independent creator of web-based tools, I think I’ve built something for myself with more than nerd-niche appeal. Let’s see where it goes.
* BumpySkies also includes flights between the U.S. and other countries’ airports, though it can’t provide forecasting for any point far outside of continental U.S. borders. I have decided to just abbreviate this as “flights within the continental United States” and let its limited support for international-flight forecasting remain a mildly happy surprise for users to discover.
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