Shining the light on WeatherBug

Shining the light on WeatherBug

Summary: While I was at Gnomedex in Seattle, I met with blogger and PR maven Steve Rubel (CooperKatz & Company) and his client, Chris Sloop, a founder and the CTO of WeatherBug. Steve believes that the Web is transforming the practice of his profession.

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TOPICS: Networking
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While I was at Gnomedex in Seattle, I met with blogger and PR maven Steve Rubel (CooperKatz & Company) and his client, Chris Sloop, a founder and the CTO of WeatherBug. Steve believes that the Web is transforming the practice of his profession. He came up with 10 Commandments for PR professionals in the age of participation, which includes sage advice such as commandments 7 through 9:

7. Thou shall embrace blogging – It’s not a fad, it’s here to stay. Be part of it.

8. Thou shall banish corporate speak – People want to hear from you in a human voice. Don’t hide behind corporate speak. It will soon sound like ye olde English.

9.  Thou shall tell the truth – If you don’t tell the truth, it will come out anyway.

But the reason for our get together was to talk about some WeatherBug announcements. WeatherBug is the owner/operator of a weather network far bigger than the NOOA National Weather Service. In fact, NOAA is a client of WeatherBug, which has a proprietary weather network of 8,000 tracking stations and more than 1,000 cameras located at schools, TV stations and other facilities in the US. The company has about  200 employess and revenues of $50 million.

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PR maven Steve Rubel and WeatherBug CTO Chris Sloop presenting at Gnomedex 2005

I got a preview of the news at dinner (paid for by Chris) with Steve, Chris, Steve Gillmor, Marc Canter, and J.D. Lasica, and then the following day Steve managed to catch flack from the Gnomedex crowd, turning his talk about"Tomorrow's Public Relations" into a press conference for WeatherBug. He was sort of violating one of his own commandments--#4, Thou shalt not be fake. Nonetheless, he and Chris weathered the storm (pun intended). One of the PR issues that Chris discussed was the perception that the WeatherBug desktop application (more than 66 million downloads) was spyware. Many, including myself, suggested that the company get rid of the 'bug' in Weatherbug. Chris likes the name (like a persistent logo on a TV screen) and he said changing the name would create just as much havoc among users as leaving it as is. OK, you've made up your mind.

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The cool news for WeatherBug was an API, giving developers access to the data for building applications that integrate weather data and alerts. any developer to build rich applications that integrate live, local weather information and alerts. WeatherBug also has a "Backyard Network," which allows consumers to install a sophisticated weather station (for about $500), hook it up to a home automation system as well as share data with the extensive WeatherBug network. WeatherBug also will support RSS feeds by zipcode and have a Mac OS X version this year. Oh, I almost forgot--WeatherBug also has a fledgling blog. That said, the capabilities of WeatherBug and its weather station network are impressive. It would be good to see the company expand its footprint of tracking stations and data acquistion outside the US. Thanks to Steve for bringing WeatherBug to my attention...

Topic: Networking

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4 comments
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  • Try to keep it from starting.

    I don't need weather all the time. Some days the weather program can stay off.

    Maybe it's been changed, but when I tried Weatherbug there was no way for the ordinary user to keep it from starting with Windows.

    Even turned off by a separate program, it was more relentless at blasting back to life than qttask.exe.
    Anton Philidor
    • Almost as bad as Gator...

      WeatherBug is probably amongst the top ten most annoying pieces of software ever written. Not only is it useless, in and of itself (it seems to only give current weather, which I can find out by swiveling my head 90 degrees to the left), but as the previous poster mentioned, just try to get rid of it. I've always been able to dump it, but it wasn't without pain. And if it's not spy/adware, why do I notice that (like Gator) it seems to come bundled in with a "free" piece of software with no option as to whether or not I want to install it? If it isn't spy/adware, why is it that when I worked at computer repair, every computer that we sold with a clean Windows install seemed to have it within a few weeks? If it isn't spy/adware, why does it hog so many system resources, just to do what? Get an XML document with current weather conditions on a periodic basis?

      I'm sorry, but the author of this article seems to be blinded by the fact that the CEO of a small-potato company wrote "Ten Commandments" that agree with his own opinions, and totally ignored reality. A typical ZDNet story.
      Justin James
      • Not In the Commercial (Paid-For) Version

        WeatherBug Pro does not suffer from any of the spyware-like behavior others have mentioned. The free version does, but if you pony up a few bucks (which only seems fair) you won't see the problems you're mentioning. Personally, I'm willing to pay for products instead of expecting software developersto give their work away for free. Also, the WeatherBug people are very honest about what they're putting on your computer. Nothing sneaky or steathy about it. If it's "spyware", it's only because it's being installed by people who aren't paying attention. (I realize I just described a lot of "users".)

        Also, WeatherBug shows not only the weather outside your window, but also what's going on in any other zip code you specify, including short and long range forecasts. If you want to see a 24-hour time-lapse movie of the weather conditions anywhere in the US, you can.

        Before you trash a product, perhaps you actually should try something other than the freebie.
        GeoFrank
    • RE: Try to keep it from starting.

      It's not that difficult...all you need to do is choose the Preferences button on Weatherbug, then Connection tab...in the Start Up section, uncheck all 3 options.

      That's it !
      wapmaster