Tag Archives: weather

PTJ 175: Wicked Weather and the Return of Scully & Mulder

While still wrapping our brains around the fact that X-Files is back on TV, we found time to pack this episode with snark and shenanigans that will (hopefully) keep you informed and entertained during your commute, at the gym, at home or anywhere you listen to the best darned tech-themed around. This week, J.D. highlights some apps that mix in a dose of fun with the weather details and in the news, Twitter shakes up its executive ranks; Sony does some corporate housekeeping; Amazon gets duped by hackers; and those sites tracking Abe Vigoda’s status make one final update.

Of course there’s more. Just take a listen!

Cloudy With a Chance of Goofballs

People on the East Coast probably had about enough of The Weather Channel’s wind-whipped dramatics last week with the Blizzard of 2016 — even though it is important to keep in the loop on potentially life-threatening conditions.  True, we all probably have at least one weather program on the smartphone to check in times of need, but if you get tired of the more earnest forecast apps, here are a few that put a decidedly different spin on the weather:

• Funny or Die Weather (for Android and iOS). In addition to actual legit forecasts and current conditions, the FOD app provides plenty of humorous pretend “facts” to entertain. For example, did you know that “Rain drops are just God crying because he’s disappointed in you” or “The humidity of water is extremely high”? Funny or Die Weather is free.

• Swackett (various editions for Android, iOS, Mac and Web). Here’s a weather app that tells you what it’s like outside and then suggests what to wear — like coats, hats and sunglasses — when you do venture out of the house. The company also makes a dog-walking app for iOS that tells you when the weather for the day might be best to take the pup out. Most apps are free or 99 cents, but have in-app purchases for another buck or two to get more content.

kittyweather• Weather Puppy / Weather Kitty (for iOS and Android). Speaking of pups — and kittens — the Weather Puppy and Weather Kitty apps are still around. These have been around for a few years, and still bring big pictures of adorable fuzzy animals to your weather watch. Both are free, but you can upgrade with in-app purchases for different themes and pets (Grumpy Cat is an option). Some of the money goes to shelters and animal non-profit groups.

Now, if cute or lightly humorous is not your cup of tea in a tempest, you can also find several weather apps that take a more…profane look at your forecast.

awFor those who don’t mind a little F-bomb with your current conditions, there’s Authentic Weather for Android and iOS. It costs about a buck and bills itself as “probably the most honest weather app.” To prove its point, Authentic Weather often mixes in a dose of profanity with its observations; the screen shown here is one of the milder forecasts. You can snap a photo with the current assessment superimposed over the image, and there’s an active Tumblr online to share your shot.

The free Effing Weather for Android is similar, except without as much overt cussing. If you like your weather with curse words, the freemium Grumpy Weather Widget for Android and iOS is another one of the many apps that fit the bill and even has a bleeped word on its icon. And finally, it you live in New England and want a little regional flavor, check out the two-buck Wicked Weathah app for iOS that sports conditions like “Wicked rainin’ like effin’ cats and dahgs.”

These are just some of the options in your local app store. Yes, these more foul-mouthed weather apps can be a bit juvenile. But let’s face it: That weather app is probably saying exactly what you’re thinking when the storm blows in.

New News Apps

The official arrival of Apple News last week brought a reminder that there are tons of customizable news-gathering apps out there. Some even serve like RSS readers to collect the top stories on topics you actually care  about. Yes, Flipboard and its ilk are still around, but here are a few news apps to consider if you don’t use one already.

  • applenewsApple News for iOS 9. Fresh out into the open, Apple’s elegant news reader invites you to tap through a series of tiles representing your favorite newspapers, magazines, blogs and other information sources — plus your favorite general topics — and set up your own personalized current-events feed. Once you create your news preferences, you can tap the For You button to see the headlines and the stories behind them. The Favorites area lets you select a specific news source, or topic like The Atlantic or Gadgets. Tap the Explore button to see suggested topics and channels. You can also search and save stories. Some news outlets have even said they’ll release exclusive content for Apple News.
  • GoogleNWGoogle News & Weather for Android and iOS. If you love Google News on the web, this standalone app takes you right to your personalized feed without having to dig through menus in the Google Mobile app or web site. The app pulls in news from 65,000 sources around the world. Once you select a story, you can tap it to drill down into other sources, opinion pieces, videos and more about that topic. You can easily swipe through your favorite news subjects and add them. Oh, get your local weather, too, if you let Google News pick up your location settings.
  • NuzzelNuzzel for Android and iOS. Unlike an app that gathers news using its own algorithms to crawl across the World Wide Web, the Nuzzel app grabs its headlines from what your friends are posting about on Facebook and Twitter. You do have to give the app permission to see your followers and friends lists, but it does help you keep up with what everybody else is talking about. So that could be helpful, especially when people are all up about momentary distractions like Pizza Rat.
  • BBCOthers. If you want a straight up news service app, there’s the Associated Press’s AP Mobile app for Android, iOS and even Windows Phone. Likewise the Reuters news starwarsapp works on all three of those platforms and has a version for the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, too. The BBC News mobile app (shown above) got redesigned earlier this summer. In addition to online stories created by BBC journalists, you also get a live stream of BBC World News Radio. The app is available for Android and iOS and you can set up your own list of personal topics of interest. And one of those topics can be Star Wars, but if you want all Star Wars news, just get the Star Wars app. Seriously.

PTJ 126: Winter Is Coming? Nope, Winter Is Here.

Admit it, you want a Holotable like the one in Tony Stark’s lab just as badly as El Kaiser does. Those fantastical computers Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report controlled by waving his hands are not just Hollywood movie magic.You may already have a  gesture controlled interface sitting in your living room.

This week Pedro breaks down gesture recognition technology in his Tech Term and J.D. helps us prepare for the brutal winter condition witha (Hopefully) Helpful Hint.

We also have a ton of tech news and shenanigans so pop on those headphones and get ready to have some fun!

PTJ 76: The Desolation of El Kaiser

This week J.D. helps us deal with holiday travel by sharing tips on making the experience a little easier and Pedro helps us stuff our stockings — and our ears — with a review of two new earphones from RBH Sound and Bowers & Wilkins. In the news Twitter changes its blocking policy but has an immediate change of heart; Facebook rolls out auto-play video ads; Samsung gets set to release its own Android gamepad; Apple announces its iTunes year-end Top Ten; The Museum of Science Fiction is set to open in 2017; and Flash Gordon could be headed for a serious big-screen remake.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hints: Fly the Less-Crabby Skies

Yes, it’s Holiday Travel Season time once again, and that means it’s time for our annual list of tips that can make the experience slightly easier:

  1. Get the app for your airline. You can check in for your flight, get updated gate information, get alerts about delays and even download your electronic boarding pass. United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines are among the major air carriers packing their own apps for the popular mobile platforms. If you’re packing an iPhone, you can usually download your boarding pass to Apple’s Passbook app so it pops up on your lock screen, ready to scan, on the day of your flight.
  2. Check the weather. Winter travel has already proved a little insane due to the Thanksgiving and early December snowstorms this year, so hit up your phone’s app store and download one of the forecast apps that tell you what may be messing up your travel plans — so you can get to work on contingency options.
  3. Track the flight. If you’re on the go or picking up family at the airport, a flight tracker app or mobile site can also come in handy for alerts about delays, cancellations and other news you need on the go. FlightView, FlightAware, FlightTrack and Flight Update are just some of the options and paid versions of some apps also include bonus features like alternate flights and airport maps; check out a few apps here. The free Kayak app can also track flights and maybe even help you find a cheap hotel room near the airport of the weather screws up your plans.
  4. ipadcafeStay charged. When you get to the airport, scope it out thoroughly to find the charging stations for your phone or tablet. And keep in mind, some airlines like Delta are even sprucing up their waiting areas with free loaner iPads to help you pass the time before you fly. As shown here at Terminal D at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, some terminals are even getting high-tech refurb jobs with plenty of charging stations and free loaner iPads that can help you pass the time — and even order a pricey diner breakfast while you wait to board your early-morning flight.

And if you’re looking for easier, the Transportation Security Administration is expanding its TSA Pre✓™ program that lets you keep your shoes, belt and laptop where they were when you left the house. Every little bit helps.

Safe travels to 2014, Pop Tech Jammers.