Web Crawling

(Does anyone else remember WebCrawler, one of the much lesser known (and used) search engines out there? According to Wikipedia, it started in 1994 and oddly enough, is still going.)

This post isn’t about WebCrawler. Though it is about the interesting things you can come across when you’re just wandering around the great World Wide Web that is the Internet.

Today at lunch, after having dispatched my salad, bag of popcorn and grapes, I was wandering around the web and found a post in Twitter which was a retweet of another retweet of a tweet by a website that had a picture of a 737 with a wheel stuck in a pothole at LAX. Curious, I clicked the link, and while I didn’t find the picture, I did find something that I’ll admit has mesmerized me for quite a while today: This.

Go ahead and click. And probably laugh at me. Then come back.

Yes, it’s a site that has two live video feeds showing two runways and a whole bunch of taxiways at Los Angeles International Airport. Below the video feeds is a map showing incoming and outgoing flights in almost real-time.

And yes, you’re right. There isn’t a point. Except for aviation geeks like us to just watch a busy airport operate.

That triumph led to another search, just because, you know, more airport webcams could be totally awesome. And I found this site. Airportwebcams.net looks like crap. But there are a few good links off of there. Want to see Tokyo’s Narita International? No problem! Liverpool John Lennon Airport? Click away! A disappointing 30-second refresh feed from Boing Field? Okey doke!

Okay. I get it. That might not excite you. What about watching the flights come and go on a virtual radar view of the planes coming and going from airports across the country? Try this. You can click on each little plane icon and see where they’re flying from and to. I know, “what the hell’s the point,” right? That’s just it: it’s fun to see that that plane that just went overhead a bit ago is this flight from MSP to Paris…Or something.

No point. Just fun.

If all of that hasn’t got you excited yet, try this. Live, streaming air traffic control radio. And, just for fun, put them on each of your screens in a dual-screen setup and combine listening to that with watching the radar feed above, and you can track a flight as it leaves your airspace! It’s awesome!

I know. I’m a loser that way. I’ll report on my therapy later.