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The Panic Sign (panic.com)
225 points by _pius on May 13, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

I've heard that the Durst family made an app for changing the lights on One World Trade Center. They guard its distribution pretty tightly, though.

I have a fantasy about going on a date at some rooftop bar that has a view of the spire, asking her what her favorite color is, directing her attention to the spire, and making it happen. I suppose I'd settle for changing the sign on a Portland office building, though ;)

I think this is what you're referring to: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/new-yorkers-control-skys...

I was in NYC a few weeks ago and a friend had the app and was able to change it. It was really cool. We could see it pretty clearly from his place in Long Island City.

I don't know how exactly he got an invite, but it wasn't too special. We also talked about how it would make for a great date idea.

Can you ask your friend to send me an invite? Price is negotiable :-)

I've been at Autodesk's demo center in San Francisco when the guy who did the lighting system for the Bay Bridge was controlling it from a laptop.

One of the towers at the Adobe headquarters has a sort of semaphore on top that displays coded messages, and spins whenever a plane flies over the building:


Also in downtown San jose, you can change the colors of the lights on The88 building:


The "Old John Hancock" building in Boston has a similar weather beacon and an accompanying rhyme:

  Steady blue, clear view.
  Flashing blue, clouds due.
  Steady red, rain ahead.
  Flashing red, snow instead.
In summer, flashing red means the Red Sox game has been cancelled.

That rhyme conveys virtually no information. It could just as well be:

  Steady blue, rains due.
  Flashing blue, clear view.
  Steady red, snow ahead.
  Flashing red, clouds instead.

True, but that's the case for many a rhyming mnemonic:

I never remember, is it In fourteen hundred and sixty-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?

But of course I remember remember the ninth of November.

Sometimes, though, I'm not sure if I'm correct with I before E except before C.

But I can definitely remember the order to get drunk in using Beer before wine, all is fine; wine before beer: oh dear.

Remember remember

the fifth of November

the gun powder treason and plot.

I know of no reason

the gunpowder treason

should ever be forgot!

Slightly off-topic: About the weather sign at the beginning; there is a tower in Istanbul that was initially build in 1749 to watch for fire and report with baskets (daytime) and lights (night).

Now it is is still in use today as a watch-tower as well as for signaling weather forecast and maritime navigation information to the ships on the Golden Horn at night.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyazıt_Tower

Really cool idea and hack. Unrelated, I wonder what Panic is going to do to keep up in terms software products. Coda was awesome, but then Sublime Text came along.. And then Atom came along.

Panic makes some of the most beautifully designed OS X software, so I hope they release something new and relevant soon.

Just spit-balling, but they should make a native OS X application to provision and manage infrastructure (AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, DigitalOcean).

I've thought similar things - Coda hasn't kept up with my progression as a developer - but after speaking to our designer at work I'm not convinced they have a problem. Coda is not for people who do full-time software engineering - it's much more targeted at designers, people who are iterating rapidly, possibly for clients, and for whom FTP is a perfectly reasonable deployment mechanism.

Unison is niche, but the only good piece of software in its category as far as I'm aware.

And Transmit is one of the best pieces of software I've used. I unfortunately have no use for it, but many people do.

Finally, I'm pretty sure that Firewatch did ok, so I'm sure that's some funding for them too.

I think Panic are in for the long haul. They're never going to be 'huge', but I think they're going to be financially successful for years to come.

One has to suppose that the primary reason they won't ever be 'huge' is their Apple devotion and reliance.

I wrote them and begged them to release "Prompt" for Windows. Pretty please. They politely said "no."

Yeah, they're not a Windows shop.

I feel their software is already relevant - I am about to buy Transmit iOS and Prompt, at least. Very helpful stuff for the price (and deliciously designed too).

It's been like this for at least a year, actually I can't remember when they first did this. Could have sworn they already wrote this up sometime before...

Yes! I know 100% that I have read this exact blog post before, like over a year ago. I'm glad I'm not going crazy.

They mention it taking 15 years from 1997 to get a sign (e.g. ~2012), so perhaps the article isn't dated correctly.

Now, it's just a matter of automating it:

    curl https://signserver.panic.com:54444/set/0/0/0/0/0/0
    sleep 1
    curl https://signserver.panic.com:54444/set/255/255/255/255/255/255
    sleep 1
If I was there to check IRL, I would probably like the sign to spell SOS using morse.

It's probably a good idea to add a queue and a minimum time for an specific configuration to run, although, that probably defeats the purpose.

On a recent Periscope, Cabel explained that the sign can only be changed every 10-15 seconds, and simply ignores requests silently during the timeout.

(Apparently the permit for the sign doesn't allow "rapid flashing".)

It's probably visible from a highway. Distracting signs are distracting.

So, every 10-15 seconds, there's the chance that one of the requests gets through, and all others are ignored? Sounds like a good enough solution.

Still curious about the color configurations though.

That's probably a good thing. People can get epileptic attacks from flashing lights...

This is awesome! My father makes signs, he'd love to read this article.

I grew up helping him install signs. It's a pretty neat thing to be involved in.

This is also great advertising for Panic ;)

They mention they Standard Plaza weather beacon at the beginning of the story -- we actually have one here in SF! The lights at the top of the south tower at One Rincon Hill turn red for warmer, blue for colder, green for rain, and amber for no change expected. Something fun to look for as you come west across the Bay Bridge.

I wonder how many people who are nowhere near SW Portland right now are fucking with their sign.

Quite nice: would be nice to have a camera focused on the sign so you could change it and see it update even if you're not on the corner.

He mentions in a comment that they considered a webcam and decided not to:

@lachlan We thought about a webcam for a minute or two, but realized it would be pretty logistically tricky (there’s not an obvious place to mount it).

Even more than that, though, we think it’s kind of appropriate that you have to visit Portland to experience the magic.

So, come visit us!

It also probably cuts down on the change requests from most of the people who can't see the building themselves, which - if you publish something on-line and blog about it - would probably mean 99.9% of the requests.

Posted the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11680369

No traction then, weird. Didn't know HN would accept dups within days.

It's not only been allowed for a few months, dang has mentioned that there's also some semi-automated reposting. There is also a 'past' link under titles now, that will show you links that the system thinks are reposts (e.g. there have been at least 4 submissions for this actual page, but the system also thinks an article, "CEOs are often the last to know" is the same? - https://hn.algolia.com/?query=The%20Panic%20Sign&sort=byDate...)

The past link only is a link to a search for the title. It isn't dupe detection (HNs automatic dupe detection AFAIK only triggers on exact URL matches)

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