By the hyperactive Zorro!
What is it with certain GEM apps coders? They have a productivity rate that
puts everyone else to shame. We've seen this with the many versions of
Highwire that quickly come around, and now our friend Zorro, of zView fame,
has diverged into yet another new project.
Zorro is only a masked avenger at night, as he uses his daylight hours
coding all these goodies. His latest project, and the subject of this
article, is an interesting gadget called 'zWeather'. It seems that not all
weather obsessives live in the UK after all?
To put it as simply as possible, zWeather is an online and realtime weather
station for your Atari. Any multi-tasking system with a 68020 up will do,
and it uses some of the same common components as zView.
So how does it work? Well you have to do a little bit of preliminary setting
up at the www.myweather.com website when you first run it. From the front
page of the website, you search out your neighbourhood, and enter the link
code in the options box on zWeather. For example, it could be the cryptic
'ukxxx0102' for where my CT60 lives. At that point on, zWeather is pointing
to that location, and takes the relevant weather information from there,
whenever you are online.
So you get a weather report, which is nice, but you can get this from any
one of a dozen places on the web. The BBC website does a good weather report
for most places in the world too. So what does zWeather offer above that?
Well you get a lot more detail than usual. Apart from the normal
'sunny/cloudy' statements, and the temperature, you also get
windspeed/direction, visibility, and atmospheric pressure for barometer
freaks. There are also sunrise and sunset times. Not to mention humidity
levels. And of course for sunshine freaks and vampire avoiders, there is the
all-important UV factor. Even simple things like the temperature are refined
into what the temperature is, and what it feels like on the skin (a
windchill factored in?) Also the dew point, where condensation starts to
form, is shown.
On another menu, you also get a nice five day forecast with much of that
information as well.
Where zWeather lifts itself above the competition, is in the fact that it is
realtime, and it updates periodically, either to a user-defined time period,
or when you click to update. It looks like www.myweather.com is directly
linked to weather stations on a realtime basis as well, and what zWeather
accomplishes, is the ability to take this information and present it on your
Atari, without tying up your browser. So you can find out what the weather
is doing at the very moment you ask. Less of a 'forecast' and more of a
You can iconify it, so it sits quietly in the background whilst you get on
with other stuff. The design of zWeather can be described as a fully
featured attractive modern gem style. You can get some idea of what it looks
It started life as a Mint and Mintnet based application, but Zorro has
thoughtfully added STinG support in the v1.0 which extends its use to just
about anything else with a multi-tasking O/S. It works perfectly well under
This is a pretty specialised application, but one which is nicely presented
and hard to resist. Who wouldn't want to be a weather obessive after all?
It's nicely done with a modern look.
A genuinely new way of using the real time properties of the internet.
Lots of accurate and detailed information given to you.
Cleverly re-uses zView codecs.
A little bit fiddly initially setting up. (But can be left alone thereafter.)
Needs a higher end machine, and multi-tasking O/S.
CiH, for Alive Mag,March '05