Local Weather, Satellite and News Pages

Aug 6, 2014
Posted by Austin

Good evening everyone,

As promised, Austin’s Atmosphere continues to construct and update this new site, and as expected it takes time. However, progress feels good, as does sharing this progress with all of you. So what have I been busy doing since last you heard?

Local Weather:

I’ve always felt that a weather-focused website is a little out-of-place if it does not include some way for users to get access to their local weather without being directed to an outside webpage. Someday I would love to design my own javascript applet that can pull weather forecasts from the National Weather Service based on a user’s search criteria or IP address. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time and resources to put towards that kind of project at the moment.

So I had to search the internet for an embed-able widget that could do exactly what I described above. What I found is that there are many widgets for weather forecasts, but most of them only do a part of what I wanted. Some that I found, like AccuWeather’s are quite slick, however, I tend to not like AccuWeather’s forecasts and they limit their widget to only 3 days.

Finally, I came across a widget by WillyWeather that fulfills all of my requirements and even is able to detect IP locations of visitors and display the weather for their nearest station. Best of all, it’s free! So many thanks go out to WillyWeather for such an awesome little widget.

Satellite:

The satellite page is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve broken down the page into three sections, one for satellite images of the Contiguous United States, one section for international images, and another for full-disk global images.

The US and international images are stationary by default, however, when you click on any image it “zooms” and begins to loop. All these images are provided by the National Weather Service and are direct links to the images hosted on their servers. The good news is that they will update automatically every time the page is refreshed (if a new image is available. Images are generally refreshed every hour or so). The bad news is that it takes some control out of my hands. If the NWS servers go down the images will be broken until their servers return.

In the future I will look into possibly setting up a CRON job to fetch those images on a regular schedule and host them on my servers. That way if the NWS servers go down I will still have the latest image available and the links won’t be broken.

News:

I’m something of an info-maniac. I really like to be as knowledgeable about current events as I can be. When a big news story breaks (real news, not some Justin Beiber crap) I like to be the first to know. That means I’ve spent some time finding the best news sources on the internet, which naturally lead me to Twitter.

Over the past year or so, I have found that Twitter tends to pick up on breaking news stories almost a full hour before the old and tired mainstream media do. One of the best sources for breaking news is a site called, quite appropriately, Breaking News (they also have a Twitter account). The editors over at Breaking News are on a 24/7 rotation and are just constantly scouring twitter feeds and other local news outlets for that breaking news story. And I have to say, I love the way they deliver the content to the users. I find it easy to read and very logical.

So what I’ve done for Austin’s Atmosphere is create two Twitter lists. One of the lists is built on weather-based Twitter accounts, the other is for other non-weather breaking news Twitter accounts. Using Twitter’s widget feature I am easily able to incorporate both of those lists in two neat, easy-to-read columns on my own website. Best of all, these feeds will automatically update without the user needing to refresh the page!


 

So go ahead, check out those new pages and let me know what you think. As always, comments and suggestions are highly valued!

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