Kathy Wendolkowski is a 49-year-old suburban mother of three with a secret life.
When she is not busy in her kitchen, or doing data entry at home as a contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency, she slips back in time to 1922, joining the crew of the HMS Foxglove, a 1,200-ton minesweeper on patrol along the China coast near Fuchau, north of colonial Hong Kong.
Along with hundreds of OldWeather.org volunteers around the world, Wendolkowski works at her home computer, slowly paging through photo images of the daily logs of 282 Royal Navy ships that sailed the globe from 1914 to 1924.
By extracting the log-keepers’ handwritten, six-a-day weather observations and transferring them to an online digital database, the volunteers are filling large voids in the planet’s observational record. A more complete record can ultimately improve weather forecasting in many places around the world, and provide a more accurate accounting of how the global climate has changed over time.
Instead of unveiling an elegant response to the iPad, Microsoft came to the tech industry’s premier gadget show with a collection of exposed computer guts, news about microchips and a shallow preview of yet another Windows.
The uninspiring performance served as a reminder that the world’s largest software maker remains years from a serious entry into the tablet craze, raising more doubts about whether Microsoft Corp. will ever be able to grab a meaningful piece of this fast-growing segment. If it can’t, Microsoft Corp.’s dominance of personal computers may become increasingly irrelevant as people embrace ever-sleeker portable devices.