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Alive 10
Zweather v1.0

                          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 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 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
'nowcast' perhaps.

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
like below.

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

Alive 10