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Big Screen “GlobalBYO”? Weather for Vista Media Center

with 2 comments

A number of overseas users (non Aussies) who have checked out Big Screen Weather (for Vista Media Center) – have given feedback that they’d really like to see a version that supports World Locations. Currently the addin is developed to access it’s weather data from the free ftp data services provided by the Australian Bureau Of Meteorology – so apart from the World Weather Summary section – its not much use to those residing outside Australia.

For those inside Australia however – the data I use is substantially more accurate and localized then anything being offered from o/s providors.

While it would be relatively simple to make the current MCPL based User Interface communicate with a different backend server – the data that is on offer (ie. Yahoo! weather,, Foreca etc) – all comes with terms/conditions and restrictions that essentially make it hard for me (as a commercial based entity) to do anything that useful with it.

For example – one of the restrictions on a couple of these is that the data can’t be mixed with data from any other source – and if I developed my application to download and display forecast data – I wouldn’t be allowed to show any satellite images sourced elsewhere. Similarly – I couldnt have a single addin that communicated both with BOM and one of these sources – even though BOM have no problem with this at all. Also a number of providers expect you to link back to their HTML/Browser based web sites from the ‘screen where the data is displayed’ – and while I’d be happy to obligue – MCPL isn’t running in a browser – and hence HTML linking is not that straightfoward.

An idea I had – which might possibly solve this problem – is to also allow for BYO (Bring Your Own) data.

This way – Big Screen Weather essentially becomes a ‘Browser’ which supports a particular data format (‘weather’ xml – to be invented?) – thereby absolving me of any of the issues associated with providing this functionality in the addin.

In a nutshell – this would involve enhancing Big Screen Weather to read in a ‘weather’ data file from your harddrive/internet (XML based) – which could contain all the required information/data. The data format for this ‘weather’ xml file would then of course be made available to developers and users.  

This would then pave the way for end users/developers to create utilities for creation of this data file (ideally wrapped up into a Windows Service/Scheduled Task/Background Addin – or offered directly from a website) – and then its up to them to decide how/where the data will be collected – and you as end users to determine if its legally OK for you to run it.

Also, given that Big Screen Weather is currently freeware (and has a donation based system) – I thought I’d put the problem back into the hands of the developer and end user community. 8)

So anyhow what do you think?

Any developers interested in writing something?


Written by mobilewares

February 12, 2007 at 3:09 am

2 Responses

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  1. Hey Niall.. awesome idea. I suggested exactly what you are suggesting when impact was looking at building iWeather for MCE05. See this post in Sept ’05:
    I’d still like to see it happen (not that it matters as much for me, since we have your awesome Big Screen Weather), but it would be kinda neat to do. Count me in 🙂
    (PM me via the above site).


    February 12, 2007 at 6:14 am

  2. Doesn’t the US have the NOAA government sourced weather feed?  Couldn’t this be hard-coded along with the Aussie weather source?  Independent of this, I agree that the BYOW scheme is killer, and would definitely open up larger user bases throughout Europe. 


    February 25, 2007 at 6:07 am

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