My 5 Favorite Weather Websites and Apps

It’s that time of year when people start looking at the weather maps to see how their holiday travels will be.  I’ve got a few favorites and will share them with you here.

NOAA –  When you enter your city and state into the “Local Forecast” box, you can see just what is in store for your area.  In addition, if there is a big storm coming, you’ll see a “Hazardous Weather Conditions” box across the top.  I like the NOAA forecast because it is generally right on target.  (Although they blew it with the last storm, predicting 10-14″ when we only got about 5″!)  NOAA also has radar and satellite maps.  By the way, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is located right here in Boulder, Colorado!

Weather Underground  – I just started using Weather Underground about a year ago.  I like that I have several different weather stations to choose from in my town. In addition to the forecast, WU tells me what’s happening right now.  When you click on the information from a particular station, you can also see if they have a webcam set up.  Then you can see the snow and wind for yourself!

The Weather Channel – The Weather Channel has all the same information the other websites have.  Because they consider themselves a news site, they’ve also got, what I can only call Weather Entertainment.  Big Floods! Amazing Ancient Ruins!  20 Places Overrun by Animals!  And More!!  My favorite feature on the Weather Channel is their travel map found here.  When you enter your starting place and destination, and the date you will be departing, the map calculates your route AND the expected weather.

NEXRAD – “Nexrad (Next-Generation Radar) is a network of 158 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service” This website shows the radar for the whole US, or just your state.

WeatherTalk –  is a Facebook page I’ve recently found.  Lyons Weather Analyst Greg Berman gained recognition when he accurately forecasted the extent of the rains and subsequent floods in September 2013.  Just recently, he bucked the NOAA trend and called for zero to just a few inches of snow last week in Boulder County and said most of the snow would land south of Denver.  He was right on both counts.  If you’re on Facebook, I’d highly recommend this page to “Like” and bookmark.  His forecasts include most of the Ft. Collins/Boulder/Denver Front Range area.

Some other apps I found while researching this post include Storm Shield Weather Radio  and RadarScope. 

Do you have a favorite website for weather forecasts? Share in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

When Were They Invented?

Have you ever wondered when different components of the modern computer were invented?  Me too!

The Original Mouse

The Original Mouse

Mouse – The mouse was invented in 1964 by Doug Engelbart in his research lab at Stanford.  He had been looking for an accurate way to plot X-Y coordinates on the computer screen.  He and his team went through several prototypes including one with a foot pedal, but settled on the small pointing device we use today.  In Engelbarts words:

“Five or six of us were involved in these tests, but no one can remember who started calling it a mouse. I’m surprised the name stuck.
We also did a lot of experiments to see how many buttons the mouse should have. We tried as many as five. We settled on three. That’s all we could fit. Now the three-button mouse has become standard, except for the Mac.

Keyboard – The keyboard is a natural extension of the typewriter.  There’s a lovely write up of the history of the typewriter here:     The typewriter was first invented in 1706 by Henry Mill.  (There’s no proof that he ever built it, however.)  Other models followed, but the typewriter, with a QWERTY keyboard, wasn’t commercially available until 1873.  Little has changed since then, except making typewriters electric.  The biggest difference between the typewriter of yesterday and the computer keyboard of today are the function keys.

remote shag memeRemote Control – Few things have encouraged the rise of the couch potato (pun intended!) as the remote!  The first “remote” was developed by Zenith in 1950 and was called the “Lazy Bones“.  It was “connected to the television by a wire. A wireless remote control, the “Flashmatic”, was developed in 1955 by Eugene Polley. It worked by shining a beam of light onto a photoelectric cell, but the cell did not distinguish between light from the remote and light from other sources. The Flashmatic also had to be pointed very precisely at the receiver in order to work.”  The Universal Remote – a remote that would work with multiple devices – wasn’t invented until 1985!

Router – We probably wouldn’t have the network we have today if William Yeager hadn’t invented the router in 1981.  It all started at Stanford:

“This project started for me in January of 1980, when essentially the boss said, ‘You’re our networking guy. Go do something to connect the computer science department, medical center and department of electrical engineering.”

History on even more gadgets are available herehere, and the flops are here.

Do you have a favorite history story about technology?  Share in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Smartphone?

If it’s time for you to upgrade your SmartPhone, you might be wondering which one is best.  There’s no secret that I’ve only used iPhones, starting with the very first iPhone all the way to my most recent upgrade to the 6S.  I love the look and feel of them, and the way it integrates seamlessly with my music collection.  (Yes, I buy CD’s.  If it’s a local musician, I buy directly from them.  Paying musicians for the music you listen to is the topic of a whole ‘nother discussion!)

But I know that the iPhone isn’t the only one out there.  My brother, for instance, will probably never switch from his beloved Android. Some of the things you should look at when getting a new phone are:

  • Battery Life – How long will it last on a charge?
  • Price – How much do you want to spend?
  • Apps – Are the apps that you require available?
  • Size – How big is it?  Do you want a smaller phone or a phablet?
  • Compatibility – Which phone do other family members have?  Is it important to share cords and other peripherals?
  • Camera – Do you want a good camera?  Camera resolution is measured in megapixals.  For example, the iPhone 5 has 8 mp, the iPhone 6S has 12 mp.
  • Storage – How much storage do you want or need? If you have a large music or photo collection, you should choose the largest available.

Here are some descriptions of types of phones and reviews on what others think are the best SmartPhones and why:

Which SmartPhone do you use?  What do you like or not like about it?  Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

How to Take the Headache Out of Asking for Computer Repair

Many people call in a panic about their computer. They’ve been living with something for awhile, but all of a sudden, it’s broken and they don’t know what to do.  Now they’re in crisis mode and a little bit flustered.

Last week we got a call from a customer who wasn’t able to print.  I asked a few questions to determine what the problem might be.  With printers, it can be any number of problems.  Sometimes when you get a new WiFi router, the printer stops working.  Or, your Operating System gets updated overnight and now the printer won’t work. With this gentleman, it turns out that it stopped working months ago.  He had no recollection of what happened before hand, just that it stopped working sometime during the summer.  Now, he was taking a trip and needed to print the boarding pass … no later than tomorrow!  Could we help?

You really don’t want to be in that position.  So, what can you do differently?

  • Probably the most important thing to do is to get your computer serviced regularly.  We recommend getting a tuneup once a year.  During the tuneup, Chris will check for viruses, extra files, update your anti-virus, as well as any other things that might need to be completed.
  • During the year, if you start noticing a problem, grab a piece of paper and start a list. Remember to add the date.
  • Tape it to the side of your monitor, or another easily accessible place.
  • Every time you have another question or problem, write that down too.
  • Some of these you may be able to fix yourself, or get your nephew to fix the next time he’s visiting.  If that’s the case, just cross them off!
  • When it’s time for your annual computer tuneup, or if something is really starting to bug you, give us a call and schedule your appointment.

What tips do you use to make sure you don’t forget about the little annoyances?  Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.