Edited to add: I'll freely admit that the VM approach I took was an inelegant, "brute force" approach -- but it enabled me to cobble together existing software that I was familiar with to get something up and running fairly quickly. There's enough data-crunching going on in the background (on the order of 100 MB ASCII-formatted temperature data from thousands of stations has to be normalized, sifted, sorted, and averaged) that an all-in-browser or java/.net/whatever approach might not be feasible.
Some time ago, I released some software that I called "WattsBuster" -- it was named in honor of serial climate-disinformer Anthony Watts. Once it was set up and running, it would allow users to debunk all of Anthony Watts' favorite claims about the NASA/Hansen global-temperature work with a simple series o' mouse-clicks.
The big problem with it (which I was aware of at the time) was the "get it set up and running" part. It was way too much of a PITA to install/configure for most folks to bother with. (Those of us who live in a "computer nerd / programmer" bubble often tend to forget what "easy to use" is really supposed to mean).
Since then, I've been experimenting with ways to package the WattsBuster software up in a more user-friendly (and portable cross-platform) format.
The current solution I'm trying isn't ideal. It requires folks to download a pretty big "virtual machine appliance" file (which is about 1GB in size), and it still requires additional software to be downloaded and installed. But it is much less of a PITA than the previous version.
You will also need sufficient memory on your PC/Laptop -- 2GB or more is preferred, but you can get away with 1 GB if you shut down your other apps before you launch WattsBuster. You will also need approximately 4GB additional disk-space to expand the appliance file.
Here's a quickstart summary of the installation/configuration procedure.
1) Download the virtual-machine appliance file from http://tinyurl.com/...
2) Download and install Oracle's free VirtualBox virtualizer software from http://virtualbox.org. VirtualBox runs on most Macs and PC's (there are issues with pre 10.5 OS-X versions, unfortunately). VirtualBox is a snap to install -- just a quick series of mouse-clicks.
3) Launch VirtualBox and then import the appliance file via "File-->Import Appliance...". For any options that pop up, just accept the defaults. This process could take a couple of minutes.
4) Click on the VirtualBox "Start" button (at the top of the VirtualBox window).
5) Allow the virtual-machine to boot up in its own window -- wait for the Google Maps browser interface to appear. Once the Google Map display appears, give it another 30 seconds or so to make sure that the "back end" global-temperature calculator fully initializes.
6) To shut it down after use, simply right-click near the top of the virtual-machine desktop window. A popup menu with an "exit" entry at the bottom should appear. (It may require more than one try to get the right menu). Select "exit" to shut down the virtual machine cleanly. Simply closing the virtual-machine window could cause virtual damage to the virtual file-system ;).
7) The appliance file needs to be imported just once -- after that, you can start up and shut down the virtual machine at will via the VirtualBox control panel.
To whet your appetites, here's a link to a screenshot of WattsBuster in action (too big to embed here): http://img818.imageshack.us/...
-- disclaimer: This is an earlier version -- the new version has a few more control-panel features.
The software all runs in its own isolated "virtual machine" -- it cannot modify or harm your system in any way.
More details after the jump.