Category Archives: development

Zik-Tok Talking News And Weather iPhone App

These days it seems like the WeatherBug API is really picking up interest on the mobile platforms available. In my latest example, we have an application that quite honestly, is unlike anything I have used before. The application is called Zik-Tok, it’s currently available for free on the Apple iPhone and here soon, it looks like it will be making an entrance into the Android Marketplace as well.

What is Zik-Tok?

The idea behind the application is to be able to let it run, speaking the day’s events to you. News, Weather (from WeatherBug), Traffic Reports, Stocks, Twitter and Personal (tasks/reminders). What makes this application interesting is that if you’re someone who does a lot of driving, you can have your iPhone plugged in through your existing speaker system (many cars offer this) which means you will have the content of the day spoken aloud to you, as it cycles through the events of the day.

The application is highly customizable, so you can have it just reading the weather highlights or perhaps just keeping up up to date on the latest Twitter feed happenings. But for drivers, it’s the weather info and the traffic reports that are likely to hit home almost immediately for the end user.

Zik-Tok Talking News And Weather iPhone App
Enlarge photo here

Where can I get Zik-Tok?

You can download this application for free, from the Apple App Store or from this iTunes link. Remember that some aspects of the app need to be customized to your preferences before its ready to be used. And also keep in mind that if one voice tone is difficult to understand, you can select the second option. People have different levels of tone deafness, so this setting up right can play a crucial role in having a good experience with any background noise going on around you.

WeatherBug has an API?

Yes, WeatherBug has a fantastic API packed full of functionality that will meet with the needs of most developers looking to integrate real time weather data into their applications. All you need to do is apply for a key, then start developing! Real-time data, Geo-mapping, this is an API that will keep up with the most demanding development project. Best of all, it’s already done the heavy lift for you. All you need to do is get it included it with your software.

iDress For Weather Update To 2.0

In the past, I have shared news about one of my favorite apps for the iPhone called iDress. Utilizing WeatherBug’s own API weather data, the application allows its users to make appropriate clothing choices depending the weather outside. The audience is primarily aimed at those with disabilities that might make choosing clothing selections, challenging without some guidance.

Here’s a list what makes the iDress application unique:

  • It is the only weather app designed for people with disabilities (assistive technology)
  • It was just updated so that photos could be placed in the closet thus making it directly meaningful for each user!
  • I believe that iDress is the ONLY weather app made with kids in mind!

iDress is an application in the spotlight for those with special needs:

Who is iDress best for?

  • Think: child with autism who will ONLY wear that one red jacket

  • Think: grandmother with Alzheimer’s who struggles to remember what her own jacket looks like

  • Think: veteran with a traumatic brain injury who has limited short term memory and needs visual cues/reminders

  • Think: college student who puts rival’s mascot in the “hot” closet

  • Think:Teen-ager who wants that A&F jacket for Christmas and puts it in the “cold” closet as a reminder to the parent.

  • Think: anyone who just wants to have fun with weather

Do you have an idea that you’ve always wanted to see built into an application?

Let’s face it, the concept and mission behind iDress is fantastic. From idea to finished product, it’s clearly a winner with a clearly defined audience. And thanks to the inclusion of WeatherBug’s API data, software like this is able provide maximum weather accuracy to its user base.

Want to create your own applications using WeatherBug’s API data? You should, it’s easy to get signed up and started developing desktop or mobile software of your own with the WeatherBug API.

WeatherBug Data To Work With Smart Power Grid Technology

For users of  WeatherBug software both in its mobile form and on the desktop, having access to current weather conditions and timely forecasts is practically second nature. But did you know that weather data can also be very useful for more than merely telling us what the weather is? Data gathered through WeatherBug weather stations is also valuable for those looking to get “hyper-local” weather data for the development of smart electrical grids of today and tomorrow. As this article from GigaOM points out, WeatherBug is looking to gain a real foot hold in being the big provider of weather data in the growing smart grid market. This translates into a better run, smarter energy grid for everyone involved.

How does WeatherBug’s weather data relate to a smart power grid exactly?

According to this press release explaining more about WeatherBug’s interest in providing their solutions to the booming smart grid market, the how to comes down to the  following:

- Load Balancing and Demand Forecasting: Integrating live, hyper-local information from points within the service area improves load balancing and enables accurate demand forecasting. Additional WeatherBug monitoring stations can be deployed at locations throughout the service area, improving weather visibility at critical asset locations.

- Demand Response: WeatherBug EcoResponse™ is a next-generation demand response program that combines live weather information and sophisticated algorithms to provide real-time insight and analysis for peak-demand reduction and load shifting through customer opt-in activity.

- Consumer Engagement: The WeatherBug EcoConnect™ portal is an educational energy resource portal integrating real-time weather, energy consumption information, home energy audit information and energy smart tips to engage consumers in demand response programs – reducing costs for both the utility and consumer.

- Outage Management: Improve situational decision making with real-time weather information to correlate outages with defined weather thresholds, gauge storm severity during severe weather events, and deploy crews more safely and efficiently. In addition, the WeatherBug Total Lightning Network™ provides both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning detection, providing detailed, advance severe storm warning capabilities for crew safety and asset protection.

- Grid Visualization/GIS: Comprehensive GIS and API weather data feeds from WeatherBug integrate observational and historical weather information, enabling precise grid visualization to protect key assets, improving mitigation of outages and service disruptions, and enhancing transmission throughput.

- Real-Time Energy Markets: Energy traders utilize the WeatherBug StreamerRT tool, which enables detailed views of weather on multiple layers, for simple, easy access to real-time weather – making it possible to monitor and react to conditions impacting demand shifts and pricing.

As you can see from the list above, the WeatherBug approach to working with the coming smart power grids comes down to Response, Engagement, Management and Visualization.

Launching WeatherBug’s Smart Grid Solutions at GridWeek

So when is WeatherBug’s Smart Grid Solutions program going to be coming to life? It is launching during the annual Grid Week conference happening this week. From there, more details will be made available at WeatherBug’s press page as things progress forward.

Channel 9 Chat With WeatherBug About Silverlight, Bing Maps And Windows 7

On July 1st, Microsoft’s Ashish Jaiman spoke with some of the WeatherBug software development team about how WeatherBug is using Silverlight and Bing Maps to further their end user experience to new heights. You can view the video for yourselves here.

Bing Maps and Silverlight

Right off the bat we hear from WeatherBug’s CTO, Chris Sloop, who gives us a quick highlight about what the team will be talking about in this video. From there, we jump to Justin Dearing, who is the Director of Software Engineering at WeatherBug. Justin explains that his most recent efforts have been working to integrate Microsoft Silverlight technology and Bing Maps with WeatherBug to provide a new level of control for the end user experience when utilizing WeatherBug’s Map Layers.

From there, Justin goes on to share a little behind the scenes tidbit that a new WeatherBug.com redesign is coming this summer and that Microsoft technology is to be part of the site’s redesign. One of the biggest takeaways is a better understanding as to why WeatherBug was motivated to switch over to Bing maps in the first place. Better maps, improved map coverage and the blend of Bing plus WeatherBug technology is going to provide a whole new level of end user experience.

Windows Phone 7 WeatherBug Application

Further into the interview, Justin drops the news that the Windows Phone 7 WeatherBug App, under current development, will include Bing Maps and Silverlight technology as well. From there, WeatherBug’s Alex Nichol continues the conversation as he is currently the software developer behind the WeatherBug Windows Phone 7 application. Alex points out why using the Bing Maps technology has been a benefit for him personally. Rather than dealing with creating the back-end control for maps, Alex explains that using Bing Maps takes care of this by utilizing the same controls as Justin uses for the website redesign. Talk about a real time saver and most importantly, a consistent experience between phone to Web!

What you can take away from this video

WeatherBug has been working very hard at providing the best experience possible not only with their mobile products, but also to put the same effort into the upcoming website redesign. Because the end users expectations remain high, WeatherBug must balance out their development without breaking out of a decent experience along the way. It’s tricky to do and at times, takes ongoing effort to get it just right. This is why WeatherBug works to take all feedback, into consideration.

With the inclusion of Silverlight and Bing Maps, WeatherBug is hoping to close the gap between Website and Mobile phone experiences using Microsoft’s latest technology.

Weather Syndication For Your Web Site

Weather on your Web site: what are your options and which is best for static sites vs. blogs? This is a question that has come up a few times in recent months. Based on this, I thought it might be worth putting together a blog post to explore what WeatherBug offers for those who wish to stream their local weather to Web site visitors.

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Option 1) WeatherBug Widgets – Simple to use, easy to work with in an HTML environment, this is my first choice for most Web sites. I also recommend them for those looking to add local weather to WordPress blogs as they do not produce some of the common RSS issues seen with the WordPress platform. WeatherBug Widgets are my first recommendation as it will work with anything and you can select a format that will fit just about any size constraints you throw at it.

Option 2) WeatherBug Weather RSS - For many Web sites, syndicating RSS feeds for the local weather is just more practical. Again, I have found that it is hit or miss with WordPress, yet on other blogging platforms this can be a fantastic way to share your own weather. Select either text only or include available images in your feed, in addition to a national weather news feed from WeatherBug as well.

Option 3) WeatherBug Backyard Blog Feed – For many people wishing to syndicate weather data on their blogs/Web sites, just tossing a weather feed up is simply not enough. In instances such as this, it might be worthwhile to select your closest Backyard Blogger as to syndicated a more personalized RSS feed for your own Web site. This is especially helpful for Web sites that deal with a specific location rather than the Internet at large. Just select the region on the map from the link above and then choose the RSS feed to use – it is that easy.

Option 4) Roll your own solution – Thanks in part to the WeatherBug API, advanced users are free to utilize data produced from the largest professionally maintained weather station network out there… period. As you can see from the provided link, there are Web site based examples that demonstrate just how customized and able this API truly is to use for the advanced user.