Weather Widgets

This being an outdoor oriented web page, I thought it would be nice to have some weather information immediately available for our readers. Bearing that in mind, I did a thorough search the other day on web pages like widgetbox, springwidget, and google gadgets (google stubbornly refuses to call widgets "widgets" and confusinly labels them as "gadgets"). Of course I was instantly amazed at how USELESS are the vast majority of weather widgets out there!

Essentially what I was looking for was an interactive map of the US that could be set to the midwest and which gave CyclovaXC readers an instant "overview" of the general temperature for the day (essentially this is because I check this page while I'm having my morning coffee and sometimes I want to see what the temperature is). If you go to official weather pages like weather.com, there are INSTANTLY a couple useful widgets that tell you everything you need to know. However, none of those widgets are available on google gagets or widgetbox or anything. What ARE available are a bunch of regional widgets that give you the temperature in Spokane WA or something idiotic like that. I didn't find a SINGLE widget that automatically checked the code of the computer accessing the page to then display temperature in THAT region (sheesh...).

Honsetly, I spent several hours working on this, and the best widget in terms of practicality was the one I found in the image above. That one was on google gadgets and it required me to manually pick the seven cities listed and then dig up the RSS feeds for those pages and then put them in the gadget/widget (pain in the ass...). The advantage of this widget is that it gives you a forecast for a day. But it's kind of an ugly widget, and even when it's working properly you get that big ugly "internet explorer cannot properly display page" symbol appearing in the bottom of the widget (I edited it out for the above picture...but believe me, it's there). It's also not a useful widget if you don't live in one of those seven cities. Another widget that I've been using is the f5data widget:

This is a pretty spectacular looking widget (I like all the bright colors), but Frank's impression was that it was a little bit more form over function (and he's right...but I'm a form first guy I suppose). This widget is nice in that it's got a set of selections along the top that you can click off and play with and that give you almost unreadble overviews of various weather conditions all across the US. In short, this widget gives you enough information to let you know if something serious is happening, so then you can go to some other source and get the REAL information...which isn't a terrible compromise really. The other down side of this widget is that it occasionally goes off line which is irritating.

The last semi-useful widget I found was the following:

Now, the advantage of this widget is that it seems to give you up to the second weather updates (the others can be off by a couple hours). The other thing that's fun about it is that you can grab it with the mouse and scroll around on the image or zoom in (you can't on the image above, but go down to where I have it installed on this page...or hit the "weather" option in the navbar above, that will take you there). Although the scrolling thing is kind of fun, it is also a disadvantage in that it doesn't take you instantly to the midwest. Instead it boots up in the Southern US where people don't ski. The advantage of this one is that you can zoom in as much as you want and get a precise reading for exactly where you live, the problem is that it's a lot of dinking around.

Up until now, I've gone with the f5data widget at the top of the page. The bands of color let you know at a quick glance what your current temperature is, and they're more visually appealing for people who care nothing for the temperature. The other two widgets are embedded further down the page (just above the CyclovaXC gear that's available for sale) and you can get to them by hitting the "weather" option in the navbar (that last bit was included for those of you out there who don't read anything I write inside parenthesis...I hate those people incidentally, glad you're not one of them!).

The most useful widget is the seven city bar, but it's also the ugliest one so I don't want to waste valuable upper web page real estate on it (always a bridesmaid).

We'll keep these weather widgets like this for a time and see how they do. I've already switched them around occasionally as one or the other has appeared not to be working for the day...sigh...people who work in computers really have to get their act together, I mean seriously! And while they're at it, how about a small, convenient, free widget that can be set to display the midwest, have a week long forcast, radar, and multi-city temperature readings, and which allows you to grab it with the mouse and zoom in or move it around? Really, is that too much to ask?



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