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Tel: 0114-287-8936Mob: 07971 846 153Email: office@wendywindblows.com

Wendy's MAJOR Upgrade!

Looking back, I can't quite believe that I created the first Wendy weather station at Bradwell, in the Peak district in 1987! That's fully 25 years ago!

Born out of the frustration of driving two hours to the flying sites on the basis of the BBC forecast, only to find that the winds on-site bore NO resemblance to Michael Fish's prognostications, Wendy was an immediate success, as it told you exactly what was happening on the hill.   Well, now it's time for a MAJOR change to how she operates - to take account of new technical possibilities...

Let's face it, with the recent rise in fuel costs, NOT wasting your time driving about the country has GOT to be a good thing!

So, Lynn and I have decided to upgrade Wendy to give you MUCH more accurate information, more often, AND loads of other, new services that will be extremely useful - saving you time, aggravation, AND money!

Rod Buck
Rod

Instead of having to work out what the nearest Wendy station reading will mean for your favourite site, we'll be able to give you site-specific winds and weather - we'll work it out for you!

No more trying to phone up and getting the Engaged tone, because 7 other people are trying to call the station. No missing a vital wind speed or direction when the call drops out momentarily. Wendy will TEXT you the information you want in a few seconds - and you can read it as many times as you like!

Users will be able to text in their own live reports from takeoff, and have them put on the website, and relayed out to their friends, or any other users interested in that site. There'll be discussion groups, a marketplace (like Ebay, only FREE!) where you can buy and sell equipment. A little later there'll be webcams on the stations, much more frequent weather updates, and a host of other improvements.

Lynn Buck
Lynn

So.... What's New?

(Click On An Item For Details)

Lots of New Services By Text, Email and Web!


Changes To The Phone Service

The New Mobile Site

If you want to use Wendy from a mobile, go to www.wendywindblows.com/mobile
Typical Wendy weather station
Rod, hard at work persuading Wendy to behave!

Wendy Information By Text, Email, and Web!

Up to now, we've delivered Weather Alerts by text - but the system is being expanded to be one of the MAIN methods that people will get Wendy reports when out and about.

As well as weather reports for each flying site, (instead of just the weather stations, see below) you'll be able to pass messages round Groups of members by email or text.

You can see messages for any Site or Group by:
  • Looking at the Wendy web page for that Site Or Group
  • Asking the Site or Group to send you messages by Email
  • Asking the Site or Group to send you messages by Text

Why Text?

Because we go flying in hills, where mobile signals are weak and erratic. Text messages require MUCH less signal than making a phone call - and going Online from your mobile to look at a website or receive email needs yet MORE signal.

Text is the most robust way of reliably getting the messages to you out in the boonies, where mobile coverage isn't so good. And it's the simplest to use.

And it works on any old mobile - you don't need an expensive fancy web-enabled phone - which you maybe don't want to take flying even if you HAVE one - as it may get damaged,stolen, or lost. Text means you can use any cheap mobile (or perhaps an older one you still have around?).

Text Means You Won't Be Drowned in Trivia!

People will send important messages, such as:

Treak Cliff Closed for lambing this week    or    Well flyable at the Dyke - convergence! 

On Wendy, you won't be drowned in trivia, like on Facebook or Twitter. To prevent abuse of the messaging system, we will NEVER accept messages by email - only on our website, (where you must be logged in) or by text, where we know who you are from your number. That way we can stamp on anyone who sends abusive or nuisance messages.

You'll get the stuff that helps you, and gets you more flying, or saves you mileage. You'll get very little crap. I think it would be a brave soul who sent abusive or annoyingly trivial messages when he is completely traceable, don't you? Anyway, I can prevent anyone who is abusing the service from sending messages - and I will!

Why Don't You Get Spam by Text - But Loads By Email?

Easy - because email is FREE, and text isn't! The price of free communication is that you get drowned in garbage. Ask any Facebook or Twitter user.

There is a small cost per text, but the benefit of that is that you don't get too many of them!

Can I Control When I Receive Texts?

Yes, of course!  You can:
  • Turn texts on
  • Turn them off
  • Set which days of the week you get texts
  • Set which times of day you get them (set a start time and a stop time)
  • Suspend them for the rest of today (they start again automatically tomorrow)
  • Suspend them till a future date (say if you go off on holiday)
You can do this either from the website, or by sending in a text command from your mobile.

Wind and Weather Reports For Each SITE - (And Messages Too)

As you know, Wendy stations can't always be sited at takeoff. There are many reasons for this, permission from the landowner for one thing, vehicle access for repairs and maintenance for another, and then, if walkers pass nearby, there's the risk of vandalism. And we'll never afford to put a station at each site - there aren't enough subscribing pilots to fund that sort of expenditure (Wendy stations cost around £3000 each to erect).

Up to now , you have had to listen to the weather report from a Wendy station, then try and guess how it might relate to your favourite flying site nearby.

Now, Wendy has some very clever algorithms whereby she does all the calculations for you, and she'll tell you what's to be expected RIGHT AT THE FLYING SITE, not at the Wendy station, which may be some distance away. Also, we can combine the readings from more than one station to give more accurate predictions for the flying sites nearby. To try and delivery reports for over a HUNDRED flying sites by phone isn't really practical! The complicated maths involved suits a website (and email or text delivery) much better.

You can get the weather for any flying site by:
  • Viewing its web page on our website
  • Asking the site to send you a text or email

You can also send in a message for a site (either by text, or online) - and it will be displayed on the page for that site, and relayed out to all those who've asked to receive updates from that site.

Weather Alerts By Text and Email

Wendy can keep an eye on the weather at your favourite sites, and it will email you or text you if it's flyable.

Instead of constantly checking things, you can rely on Wendy to let you know if it's "on". You can set the days and times you receive Alerts, too, (let's say you can't leave work on Wednesdays. You can tell it not to bother you on that day).

A aimple guide on how to set up your Alerts is here.

Text Requests For Weather

You can also send in a text request for the weather for a site, club area, or Group of sites.

To get a weather report for Devil's Dyke, you can text:

DYKE?

- to the Wendy SMS number 07786-200-431

Within about five seconds, it will send you back a text (or email) with the weather info for the Dyke. This will work for other sites too...

Text Caburn? for Mount Caburn

Or High? for High and Over

Or Newhaven? for Newhaven Cliffs

and so on.... (case doesn't matter, by the way, use either upper or lower case - BUT THE QUESTION MARK IS VITAL!   It tells the system you are making a weather request.

Basically, you text any site name (or an obvious abbreviation) + ?" to Wendy's text number 07786-200-431,and in seconds, usually, it will text you back a report on exactly what to expect at that site!

Noticed Something Very Easy and Simple About This? - you don't need a Wendy password!

Yes, because Wendy knows your mobile number, it knows that you are a valid member, and are entitled to get the weather. Therefore, NO PASSWORD IS NEEDED! You don't have to remember one - that's got to make life simpler, hasn't it?


Get The Weather For ALL Your Club's Sites in One Go

By Phone, you could only get one station (site) report at a time... with our new Text-request system, If you text in SHGC WEATHER you get a text back telling you the winds at ALL the Southern Club sites that are on!

(Case doesn't matter - you can use upper or lower case)
  • Dales Member? Text in Dales? - and it'll tell you which Dales sites are working, and what it's blowing on them.
  • Long Mynd member? Text in LMSC?, and you will check your sites in one easy report.
  • DSC Member? Text in DSC?, and you will get which DSC sites are working
  • Southern Club? send SHGC?
  • Pennine Member? send Pennine?
  • Peak Member? send Peak?

You can try this for free NOW if you are a Wendy subscriber (if we know your current mobile number).

Text any popular site name or club name to 07786-200-431 and you should get a text back within SECONDS with the info you need!

At the moment, the text just has wind info, but shortly it will have the full Wendy report)

(If it doesn't work, please log in to the website and got to My Account - Subscription Details to check that we have your current mobile number)

This isn't working for ALL clubs yet, but they will be online shortly. Notify us by email if your club or site doesn't work, please.

Current Clubs that are on the system are:

  • Southern Club
  • Wessex Club
  • Avon Club
  • Thames Valley Club
  • Peak Soaring Association
  • Long Mynd Club
  • Derbyshire Soaring Club
  • North Wales HG & PG Club
  • Pennine Club
  • Dales HG & PG Club
  • Northumbria Club
For a list of the abbreviatedclub names and site names, Click Here.

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Special-Interest Groups

You can join a Group that is interested in a particular site, a particular club, or activity.

Or, you can set up your own private or public Group for ANY purpose.  Obvious Groups might be:
  • The League, the BP Cup or other competitions.
  • A School could set up its own Group to send messages out to the pupils as to whether it's "on" for today.
  • BHPA officers
  • XC Enthusiasts
  • A Group of 6 mates all fly together and drink in the same pub!
You can send a message in to Wendy, tagged for that Group or Site, and it will be sent out and received by anyone who'se registered to that Group.

Create Your Own Personal List Of Sites!

If you don't fly all your club's sites (and who does?) - or you're a member of two or more clubs, You Can Create Your Own List of Sites!

Once you let Wendy know which sites are your favourites, you just have to text MYSITES WEATHER in to the number, and Wendy will bang you back a text with the wind info for any of them that are working!

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Site Reports From Other Pilots - And Messaging Service!

There's another excellent reason to change to text-delivery. It will be MUCH more accurate, as pilots can send in their own personal reports to everyone!

If someone is standing at takeoff at, say Wether Fell, he can text his own live report to Wendy of what's going on... it will be displayed on the Wendy website, and echoed back out to everyone who has asked to receive Wether Fell reports!

That might be the people who ONLY want to hear about Wether Fell, or all the Dales members, or your private group of flying buddies! (let's name your group BUDDIES for now)

 

"Text Rebroadcast"

 

DYKE it's NW 13-16, smooth - is what you text in to send it to just the Devils Dyke group.  Wendy adds your name and the time....
DYKE it's NW 13-16, smooth. Rod Buck 10:15am - is what they all get... so they know who sent it, and that you are out there.

SHGC Dyke NW 13-16 smooth is what you send to make sure it goes to all Southern Club members who have registered to receive Southern Club reports.
SHGC Dyke NW 13-16 smooth Rod Buck 10:15 is what they would see

This tells them that it has been sent to the whole SHGC Group, the message is about the Dyke, and who sent it when.

BUDDIES Dyke NW 13-16 smooth - would send it to your private group of 6 mates only. They'd get it with your name and the time added:
BUDDIES Dyke NW 13-16 smooth. Rod Buck 11:45 is what they would see.

As you can see, the FIRST word of your message is the Group it is addressed to - and the rest of the message is up to you. It could be a message to all your Club members that are on the Wendy system:

DSC Anyone going to the meeting tonight?   would go out to the DSC club Group with your name and the time automatically added:
DSC Anyone going to the meeting tonight? Rod Buck 15:23   is what they would see.

You can see how useful this will be. Uses that spring to mind are:
  • Making sure people know there is a meeting on tonight.
  • Arranging a retrieve if you land out, and maybe someone else is nearby.
  • Emergencies, such as an injured pilot getting help.
  • Making sure more than one of you turns up to fly - so it's safe.

I'm sure there are lots of other uses you can put it to that I haven't thought of... let me know if you think of any!

 

Common Questions About The Text Message Service


I Don't Need A Password?

No, you don't. Wendy knows who you are from the mobile number you text from. It will only accept text messages from, and send weather texts to, current subscribers.


How Many Phones Can I Text Wendy From?

One. We can store one mobile per Wendy subscriber. (You can register your landline too, and use it to phone Wendy, as before).


Can I Text From My Work Mobile Too?

You can register it with Wendy INSTEAD of your personal mobile, but, for technical reasons, you can only have ONE mobile number stored. Your other number is your home landline, if you have one.  You can have one landline AND one mobile.


My Friend And I Share A Wendy Subscription - How Can We Use The Service From Both Our Mobiles?

You can't!   Look, how do you think we pay for the erection and maintenance of the stations, the phone lines, and the website, and all the rest of it?

It comes from all the pilots who pay their subscriptions.

If you (and your pal who freeloads on your subscription) cheat the system, we have that much less to invest in the service.

I'm not going to rant on a lot, but I can tell you that Wendy isn't a money-making business - we have to do other things for a living. It's a LOT of hard work and travelling to keep it all going.

Sharing the information with someone else cheats all the other people who stick their hands in their pockets and support what we do.

People sharing a subscription with someone means that we have far less money to put into the service, to the benefit of all.

Wendy is CHEAP!

£2.50 a month - (that's 8p a day!!!) - a pint of beer a month, or, to put it another way, around a TENTH the cost of a mobile phone account. If you maintain you can't afford it, you can't afford to go flying! Don't be tight!



My Wife/Partner And I Share A Wendy Subscription - How Can We Both Use The Service?

If you always go out together, then it's not a problem, is it? Have one account and use one phone to get site weather messages.

If one of you is at work, and the other wants to go out flying, then you can change the designated mobile on your account for the day. (It's easy to do this on the website).

If this is too much hassle, if you both want independent access, because you go flying independently a lot, then BOTH of you join, please, and get your own individual account. After all - it's £2.50 a month. A ridiculously small sum. It's NOTHING. You pay ten times as much per month for your mobile, typically. (£25 a month is a typical mobile bill -Wendy is 1/10 of that).

After all, if you each have your own mobile, the phone company doesn't give you two numbers and two call allowances for the same monthly payment as ONE phone, does it? Nope, you have to pay for each phone. So why should Wendy give you two lots of access for one payment?

I'd love to hear you justify how you can't afford 8p a day!  Each. Come on, get out your credit card!


Can I Control WHEN I Receive Messages?

Yes, of course! You can:
  • Turn messages off permanently, or turn them back on again
  • Set what days of the week you want messages to be sent to you
  • Set what times of day they will be sent (you set a Start and Stop Time)
  • Suspend messages for the rest of today, (they'll start again automatically tomorrow)
  • Suspend them till a future date (useful when you will be busy next week, or off on holiday)
  • Cancel the suspension at any time, and turn messages back on.
You can do all this either from Wendy's website, or from your mobile, by sending a text in.  For example, Texting:

Messages Off to Wendy's text server will stop all messages.

Messages Suspend will suspend them for today.

Messages Suspend 230511 will suspend them until the 23rd of May 2011.

Messages On will turn them back on if they were off or suspended.

So if you work shifts, and never get up before 11am, and don't want messages from way back at 8am when you turn your phone on at 11am, set 10:45 as your Message Start time. Wendy won't send you anything until then.




Are The Texts Included With My Subscription?

I don't think, for 8p-10p a day, (which is the cost of a Wendy subscription) we can afford to pay for your texts, too.... Come on!!

Your Wendy subscription covers the costs of erecting and maintaining the weather stations - and the website. There's nothing left out of that fund to supply free texts! Yes, I know many people get free texts with a mobile account - but they usually pay a minimum of £20-£25 a month for that! Pay Wendy £25 a month, and we'll give you free texts!

The Difference between Passive Data and Active ("Push") Data
In the past, Wendy was passive - she was available, but YOU contacted HER at YOUR expense. You rang up. And unless you have a call package, a call from BT to Wendy is around 10-12p. It's around 30p if you are on Pay-As-You-Go mobile. You didn't pay that money to Wendy, you paid it to the phone company.

Now, Wendy has to push the data out to you, by text. Active, not passive, you see.

That costs money. We have to pay a monthly fee to the network for a connection to our website, and then it costs us around 8p a text to send them out, as we pay for priority routeing. It would be cheaper for secondary routeing, but it's not reliable - it's no use getting a vital weather text an hour or two late, is it? And on secondary routeing it can take this long.

Most Wendy texts, (because we pay for priority) arrive in SECONDS.  The slowest I've experienced so far is a couple of minutes, but that's rare.  Usually the text from Wendy arrives BEFORE the Delivery Report from my request text TO Wendy!

It's Like Pay-As-You-Go...

Basically, you have a Wendy Text Account, and you top it up when it runs low. Many Wendy users already have a Text Account, because they use the automatic Alert system, where Wendy notifies you if good winds occur at a site you have booked.  We can send you a text that your credit is running low, and top it up for you automatically. Basic top-up is £12 for 100 texts, although we will be giving some free texts out to kick the service off, so you can try it for nothing. You can pay as little as 8p per text, depending on how many you top up with. Go to Change Your Details when you log in to see the rates in detail.

So basically, you pay for text delivery like you used to pay for the phone call - the only difference is you pay Wendy for sending them, and we pay the phone company. Before, you paid the phone company direct to get the Wendy data..

Before you complain that it's expensive (I KNOW how proverbially tight some pilots are!) I think it's a pretty good deal. For many people,it will cost no more than ringing Wendy did. And even if you had a call package, and didn't pay for each call, to get a message for 10p or so that can save you two hours of driving and £30 in petrol has got to be good value! £30 in wasted petrol or diesel if it's not flyable when you get there pays for an AWFUL lot of texts. Three Hundred, to be precise!

Yes, I know you haven't paid for it before in this way, but it'll be so useful that I think you'll quickly see that it's a sensible use of money. And it will still be damn cheap!

It May Get Cheaper If It's Popular...

The text costs at the moment reflect the fact that we don't as yet use many - but if the service takes off, as I hope it will, then we may be buying much bigger quantities from the networks.   If that happens, I can probably screw them down quite a bit - and pass that reduction on to you. As I said, Wendy doesn't seek to make money on the delivery, just cover costs. If you all use it a lot, it'll get cheaper!


Can I Have Messages By Email Instead Of Text?

Yes, if you are at work, and have a computer available, it would be more convenient (and cheaper) to have Wendy messages arrive by email, wouldn't it? You can specify whether delivery is to be by email, or text, or both. Like many other websites, when there is a message for you, Wendy will email you about it, and there will be a login link in the email. Click the link to read the message.


Can I Send Messages By Email?

To prevent abuse of the messaging system, we will never ACCEPT incoming messages by email - people will only be able to send messages from our website, (where you must be logged in) or by text, where we know who you are from your number. That way we can stamp on anyone who sends abusive or nuisance messages.  Email can be sent anonymously, or from a spoofed address, so that's why we won't allow email input to the system.  Cuts out the garbage and trolls.

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Pay-By-The-Call (Premium-Rate) Phone Service Discontinued

We had, for many years, a number whereby non-subscribers could call at 50p/minute and get the weather data.

Thishas gone, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, our new low-rate subscription (as little as £2.50/month) means that calling more than once a week to this service is now more expensive for the user than being a member.

Secondly, Wendy is moving on technically - and members will now get specific information for EACH FLYING SITE! Not just the data from the nearest Wendy weather station. The old premium-rate phone service can't really cope with this.

Thirdly, premium-rate phone calls are a very old-fashioned way of contacting Wendy; the costs of hosting such a service have gone up quite a lot, and the traffic has gone down, so it's no longer economic to provide this service.

Central Phone Servers

People used to phone the stations direct-on-the-hill, but that had lots of drawbacks:
  • Getting the Engaged tone, because 7 other people are trying to call the same station on a flyable day.
  • Trying to remember your password in a hurry.
  • Missing a vital wind speed or direction when the call drops out momentarily.
  • Being unable to get back in for 15 minutes if you miss something

(We had to put this 15-minute re-call limit on to make it hard for several people to share one password. Yes, some people are so tight they'll do anything to avoid paying the tiny amount that Wendy charges!)

Eventually, I'm going to replace the current hardware with cellphone-network data-modem equipment on the hilltop which will dump data direct to the website and central phone servers every minute or two - along with webcam images.

Having phone lines on the stations is the cause of many of the faults that occur (especially in summer when it's flyable - lightning hits the phone lines and fries the electronics, or puts the phone line out of action).  At the moment, the data is radioed off the hill to a nearby place where there is power and phone line, and our office computer rings each station regularly to get the data, and then loads it up to the website.


Radio Linked Station


Getting rid of the phone lines will make the stations MUCH more reliable in summer. And in winter, too - Wendy stations are all out on the country, where those long miles of poles-and-overhead wires get a battering from gales, and the phone line often goes intermittent, or downright faulty as a result. Cellphone network data-transfer will be much more reliable.

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Improved Phone Service - No Password Needed!

  We now have a central phone server, where ALL the Wendy stations are on ONE number.

(It's 0114-287-4464, by the way)

There are loads of advantages to this system:
  • You can check several stations with one phone call
  • You don't need a password! - it knows your phone numbers, (home and mobile) so knows whether to let you in or not.
  • You can get in as often as you like! Because it KNOWS who you are from your phone number, I don't have to put limits on it to prevent people sharing a password. It only accepts calls from the home or mobile numbers of current Wendy members.
  • There's a simple 2-digit code for each station (Wether Fell is 15, for instance), and you can jump from one station to another at any point in the report. You press # to abort the current report, then it will ask you for a new 2-digit station ID. You enter it, and you have a new report for another station!

Common Questions About The Central Phone Service:


I Don't Need A Password?

No, you don't. Wendy knows who you are from the phone number you call from. It will only accept calls from current subscribers home and mobile numbers.


My Home number is Withheld when I call out, to keep it private. Will it still work?

No, the phone server won't let you in if the number is Withheld. It can't know who's calling. You can release your number for just this call by adding 1470 to the front of the Wendy number. In other words, you would dial 1470-0114-287-4464 to get the service. Or use your mobile (no one seems to Bar those).


How Many Phones Can I Call Wendy From?

Two. Typically your home number, and mobile number. (Thats the numbers we store for all Wendy subscribers)


Can I Call From My Work Number?

Sorry, No. For two reasons: Firstly, Wendy uses Caller ID to recognise who you are. Many companies hide the number on outgoing calls, or just present the switchboard number, not the "real" number the call came from. Because of this, we can't identify the caller on most Work numbers. Also, we only have the storage capability for two numbers per person on the system. You could leave your Work number on the system, but then it won't work from your Home number - and it may not work from Work anyway, if it goes through a switchboard.


I Have A Work Mobile, Can I Use That One Too?

You can register it with Wendy INSTEAD of your personal mobile, but, for technical reasons you can only have ONE mobile number stored. Your other number is your home landline, if you have one.  You can have one landline AND one mobile.


My Friend And I Share A Wendy Subscription - How Can We Both Use The Service?

You can't!   Look, how do you think we pay for the erection and maintenance of the stations, the phone lines, and the website, and all the rest of it?

It comes from all the pilots who pay their subscriptions.

If you (and your pal who freeloads on your subscription) cheat the system, we have that much less to invest in the service.

I'm not going to rant on a lot, but I can tell you that Wendy isn't a money-making business - we have to do other things for a living. It's a LOT of hard work and travelling to keep it all going.

Sharing the information with someone else cheats all the other people who stick their hands in their pockets and support what we do.

People sharing a subscription with someone means that we have far less money to put into the service, to the benefit of all.

Wendy is CHEAP!

£2.50 a month - (that's 8p a day!!!) - a pint of beer a month, or, to put it another way, around a TENTH the cost of a mobile phone account. If you maintain you can't afford it, you can't afford to go flying! Don't be tight!



My Wife/Partner And I Share A Wendy Subscription - How Can We Both Use The Service?

If you always go out together, then it's not a problem, is it? Have one account and use one phone to get site weather messages.

If one of you is at work, and the other wants to go out flying, then you can change the designated mobile on your account for the day. (It's easy to do this on the website).

If this is too much hassle, if you both want independent access, because you go flying independently a lot, then BOTH of you join, please, and get your own individual account. After all - it's £2.50 a month. A ridiculously small sum. It's NOTHING. You pay ten times as much per month for your mobile, typically. (£25 a month is a typical mobile bill -Wendy is 1/10 of that).

After all, if you each have your own mobile, the phone company doesn't give you two numbers and two call allowances for the same monthly payment as ONE phone, does it? Nope, you have to pay for each phone. So why should Wendy give you two lots of access for one payment?

I'd love to hear you justify how you can't afford 8p a day!  Each. Come on, get out your credit card!


Using Wendy from a Smartphone

Everything you can do by text, you can also do for FREE with a Smartphone - if you have enough signal.

Instead of logging in on our main site, just go to www.wendywindblows.com/mobile


Rod Buck

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Telespeed Weather Systems Ltd,135 Aughton Rd,Aughton,Sheffield,S26 3XD,UK0114-287-8936 E-mail:office@wendywindblows.com