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The QVS Alerts Tool provides a pop-up window that displays the latest earthquakes as they come in. It is directly associated with the QVS Data Service and thus it is only appropriate to have it running if the service is installed.
Once running the interface is an icon in the system tray that has a menu when you right click.
The menu is straight forward and contains options for the placement and size of the Alert window, and the facility to install the tool to run at start-up. You can also view the last alert. I added sound alerts to the tool as well the details of which you will find further down.
The Alerts Tool is synchronised with the Service in that when a new file is created the Alerts Tool recognises this and pops up the data. Since it ‘watches’ the program folder it will always provide new alerts when they arrive, unless there are no new earthquakes listed in the details. In this instance the Alerts tool just skips the display and goes back to waiting for the next one.
Auto start up
Ideally the alert tool should be started as your computer starts up so you can get alerts from the moment the service commences – which will also be at start-up. Once you see the pop-up on start-up you can view the last detail to see the complete list of incoming quakes since you turned off.
If the service is configured to start already the menu item will say Turn Auto-Start ON otherwise it will say Turn Auto-Start OFF as in the picture above or below.
View Last Pop-up Detail
This shows you the details of the last pop-up screen, but note that it has much more information at the top as it tells you how many new records, duplicates etc and also if any errors occurred. If there are errors the grey background behind the boxes and command buttons will be red as an immediate warning that something has gone wrong.
In several years of running now I have had very few errors show and invariably they are because of problems due to the data provider. Duplicate earthquake ID code was a favourite but that seems to be better now since I have complained about it in that past several times. Normally you would not be notified of these service errors as the service is a standalone program and has no connection to the QVS program or the Alerts Tool.
What is New Zealand lookups? Currently the program uses a web based look-up to get the names of New Zealand places. It builds it’s own database of these but counts the times it has to go out to the web. This particular function will almost certainly be changed once the new GL seismic regions have been incorporated into the program.
The first line is the time that the import finished in your local time. The second line is that time in UTC / Zulu / GMT. (These are all the same thing. Zulu is generally only used by the military but you may find it used in meteorology on occasions and the Z is used in computing hence the Z at the end of the second line date.)
The ‘Save List’ command button saves the current details to a file in your documents folder as determined by the system.
The content of the listing above which I saved looks like this:
The ‘Go to QVSData’ command button loads the QVSData program.
You can use the tray icon as a quick launch for QVS Data. Simply right-click the tray ton and view the last pop-up and on that click ‘Go to QVSData’. And then close the pop-up. This will launch QVSData with the 7 day earthquake list open and maximised.
Pause QVS Alerts
If you want to temporarily turn off the alerts, but don’t want to stop the program use the Pause command. If you should happen to close down with the alerts paused they will not be paused when you start up again. This does not stop the service, only the alerts.
Pop-up Window Position
There are 6 possible positions for the pop-up which are basically the four corners of the screen and the middle top or bottom. The default position is bottom right, but the choice is yours. Your selection will be remembered until you next change it. Personally I like Top Middle.
Pop-up Window Size
The standard size of the pop-up window is the small version which shows 3 lines of earthquakes. If there are more than that you have to scroll the window.
The larger version shows around 10 lines of quakes. If the service is set to 5 minutes (the default) then the smaller screen is sufficient. I have plans to have a mini version of 1 line but I am not sure if than is useful.
On Screen Close Time (Pop-up Delay Time)
The default value for the pop-up window to remain on screen is 30 seconds. You can change this to anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. (If anyone desperately wants a shorter or longer delay let me know.)
Clicking on the icon in the tray (as opposed to right clicking) will display the status of the Alert Tool.
The menu itself is also an indicator of the status since if the alerts are paused the menu will change accordingly.
Because this tool is designed to run with the QVS Data Service, it will check every five minutes to see if the service is running. Actually it is a file watcher so if a new file is produced by the service, the Alerts tool responds. Since you can now set the service ‘lapse’ time the Alerts tool will always be in time with that. Generally once the service is running it will not stop unless there is an error thus if you get the warning screen below you need to check and see what is wrong. You do NOT get a warning if there is a problem in the image service.
A later addition to the menu the audio alerts. You can now set audible alerts for Magnitude 6 or greater earthquakes.
You can set a sound for each of three levels
Pst, want to hear the default? Klaxon (Takes a few seconds to load)
Note: If you have the audio alerts on you may find that you get what seems to be several audible alerts for a single earthquake. This is normal and the reasons for it are as follows.
- First provider alert. Say EMSC is first with a mag 6.5 the alert will sound.
- Second and/or third provider alerts. If these turn up at a different time from the first EMSC alert then they will also fire the alarm sound as they are new earthquake entries in their tables.
Quite often these will all come in together so the highest value will cause the alert alarm.
- Some providers, notably and fairly exclusively USGS, will promulgate an earthquake from say the AK network which triggers an alarm, and then a few minutes later will delete that network quake and substitute a different version on the US network. When this happens a second alarm will be triggered. This does not always happen but be aware that it can.