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1May 2020

The best weather apps

Yesterday, I was reading the news online and saw a weather alert with tornado warnings.  The alert provided a link to another website that supposedly had a radar system to track the weather, but the site wasn’t working.  I then decided to download a weather app on my smartphone so I could track the radar there.  When looking at weather apps, there were a handful to choose from.  They all basically do the same thing, which is, of course, communicating weather conditions.  And they almost always integrate radar technology into the process. 

There are a few apps that are absolutely necessary as tier 1 apps for a phone, and a good weather app is one of them. 

Here is a review of the most popular weather apps

The Weather Channel

Download coast: Free

If free is the name of your game and you’re happy with the basic, utilitarian features of a simple weather app, then The Weather Channel’s free, ad-supported app is for you.  It is supported on Apple and Android devices and does a pretty good job keep users updated through its Doppler radar data. 

Radar Scope

Download cost: $9.99

The name says it all for this one.  Radarscope is all about radar technology.  The entire user experience is focused on the incredibly-detailed radar interface made available in this app.  The radar is optimized for users in North America, so if you’re looking for radar in Europe, maybe you should steer clear of this one.  Otherwise, this tricked-out radar app is a not-to-be-missed addition to your weather toolkit.

AccuWeather

Download cost: Free

Another basic, yet robust-enough, weather app serving up daily and multi-day weather forecasts.  It also provides a “MinuteCast” feature which gives localized forecasts for the next two hours.

Dark Sky

Download cost: $3.99

Out of all the apps on this list, Dark Sky is my favorite. And it seems I’m in good company because Apple was impressed enough with Dark Sky to purchase it . . . which presents bad news for Android users because it will no longer be available on Google Play beginning this July. 

Carrot Weather

Download cost: $24.99 annually

Apparently, some people want entertainment and humor served up with their weather forecast.  If this describes you, then you should probably check out Carrot Weather.  The app pulls weather info from Dark Sky and then injects it with sarcastic humor to (according to another reviewer) “cushion even the gloomiest outlook.”

For a weather app, though, it is quite expensive with a $24.99 per year cost.

Mixing old technology with new technology

Humans have had a necessary interest in weather patterns from the dawn of time.  Today we can track weather events with phones.  In days gone by, our ancestors tracked weather by daily observations and measurements using thermometers, weather vanes, precipitation gauges, and barometers.  Like many in his day, Thomas Jefferson recorded weather readings in a weather notebook.  I still think it is a great exercise to keep track of weather readings in a notebook, using the assistance of a smartphone as the tool for taking those measurements.  I use a flexible leather journal book available from retailers like Melaleuca, Barnes and Noble, and Staples.  The Melaleuca reviews for my journal book were solid enough that I went with them.  However, a journal is a journal.  Pages are pages.  Just buy one and enjoy the process of merging old technology (a journal book) with new technology (a weather app).

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25Nov 2016

Five apps that make Outlook easier to use

For most us living in a hectic world of enterprise communication, our email client is where we spend most of our workday. It is the application that ties together all the other productivity apps we use on a daily basis. For Microsoft Office 365 users that means Outlook. Outlook is the leader in corporate email communications, as top companies like Melaleuca and others use it to expedite workflow.

While Microsoft has spent a great deal of time and resources trying to improve the Outlook interface, the app could still use some help when it comes to ease-of-use features. Here are five add-ins that could improve your daily interaction with the Outlook email client.

1: Bing Nearby

Whether it’s an onsite meeting with an important client or a lunch meeting with the team, it is important to get there on time. One of the best ways to keep yourself on schedule is to know exactly where you are going. The Bing Nearby app gives you instant access to Bing’s mapping features from within the confines of the Outlook interface.

Just click the Bing Nearby icon while you are composing a new message or creating a meeting on the calendar and you will see a dialog box in the right-hand pane. Type in an address or the name of a restaurant and the app will give you location choices. Click one of those choices and the pertinent location information will be attached to the message or calendar entry automatically.

2: PayPal

In today’s world, sending someone money can be accomplished with just a few clicks on the computer. However, the PayPal add-in for Outlook makes that process even simpler, assuming you have an account. While in Outlook writing a message, merely click the PayPal icon and you’ll be presented with a screen that will allow you to send a PayPal payment. All you need to fill out is the recipient’s address and your account password. Of course, the recipient will also need a PayPal account to collect the payment. The PayPal add-in is free, but depending on how you structured your account there may be a transaction fee attached.

3: DocuSign

Even in the digital age some documents must be signed—there is no way around it. However, with the help of the DocuSign add-in for Outlook, you can “sign” documents electronically without leaving your email client to do it.

The DocuSign add-in will lead you, and all the other signees of a document, through the process, clearly explaining each step along the way. Once the process is complete, the document will be signed just as well as if you had used a ballpoint pen.

The one catch is that DocuSign is not free. Installing the add-in to Outlook does not cost anything, but using it to get documents signed requires a subscription of at least $10/month—more for business uses. However, DocuSign does offer a 30-day free trial so you can check it out beforehand if you want. The expense is likely worth it for lawyers and real estate agents, for example. It may be worth it for your enterprise too.

4: Find Time

One of the more frustrating activities surrounding collaboration in an enterprise is scheduling a meeting time that works for everyone involved. This frustration goes beyond just finding a time when all the participants can attend, according to their Outlook calendars. People tend to have times during a workday when they would prefer to avoid having a meeting, for example. Find Time can help you find a meeting time that works best for all concerned.

Find Time will create a polling email for you to send to all potential meeting attendees. You can propose a meeting time or several times and the attendees can vote on which times they prefer. Find Time will compile the results and determine a time that the majority of attendees prefer. Problem solved and morale boosted.

Find Time was developed by a team at Microsoft and is a free add-in for Outlook. The service does require that you register an account the first time you use it.

5: IXD Secure Mail

Collaboration with team members about a project is all well and good, but sometimes you need to email sensitive documents that should remain confidential between the parties involved. This is where an encryption add-in for Outlook can come in handy.

IXD Secure Mail adds an extra level of encryption to an email and/or attachment to an email all within the Outlook interface. It does this by storing those documents in an encrypted form on a cloud-based server and coordinating access based on the information you provide.

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3Nov 2016

Connecting online with offline: tech must-haves in a post-channel world

The retail market has now evolved beyond ‘omnichannel’ and ‘multichannel’. The burgeoning capabilities of API orchestration and its ability to harmonise data from an almost limitless range of sources means that the industry is effectively inhabiting a post-channel world.