Have You Ever Seen The Rain? Check Wind, Clouds, Rain And Much More With Windy.com

check winds

My vote for the prettiest website I’ve seen in a long time goes to Windy.com.

I went in looking for real-time info about Hurricane Irma, coming into the Caribbean as I’m writing this as a category 5 hurricane.

I found a site that offers real time information on wind, cloud cover, temperature, precipitation, ocean wave activity and barometric pressure.

Note the little arrow at the bottom left of the image below, where you can get weather forecasts in all these categories. I bookmarked this immediately.

check winds

Fun Typing Games For Kids

If you have a kid–or adult–in your life who can’t put the game controller down long enough to learn to touch type, have them try Z-Type. It’s a surprisingly addictive, fun typing game that makes use of the old words-as-space-aliens metaphor, challenging players to touch-type each word falling toward your gun turret before it’s too late. The game plays a whole lot more fun than the way in which I have related it; it is simple and challenging, with an apocalyptic soundtrack that helps keep your head in the game so that you hardly realize you’re learning. Which is always the goal, right?

Funniest Website Of 2010, So Far

There is hope for mankind. Our imagination will save us. Or something.
What do you do if your wife cries uncontrollably at the end of every single movie you watch? Clearly you buy the domain cryingwife.com and post videos of her weepy film reviews. As a bonus there is her hysterical railing against the injustice of it all, such as at the end of 2012 (not referring to the waste of money). Subtitled for your convenience. Hilarious, somebody hire these two for something. If this particular video does not go viral something is very, very wrong with whoever is choosing which videos are able to go viral in our ‘system’.

Embed A PDF Into A Web Page

I’m sure there are 20 ways to embed a PDF or a PPT file into a web page but this tip is so easy that it’s worth a post. Just paste in this code, with the URL of the document you want to embed in place of the bold text:

<iframe src=”http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf&embedded=true” style=”width:600px; height:500px;” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

With this we’ll get:

The PDF/PPT doesn’t have to have been uploaded to Google Docs, it just needs to be online. What uses can you think of for this functionality? It’s one thing to post a link to another page that you found helpful in a blog post but when you can display a PDF right on your site-without having to host it-you certainly get a much richer site. Via googlesystem.blogspot.com.

Online Graph Paper

With all of our tech tools today, there are still a few whose utility has not been superseded by digital aids. What’s better than a fresh sheet of graph paper to help inspire you to create mankind’s next big breakthrough, whether or not you’ve found funding? Online graph paper has the advantage of not having to sit in your drawer for years until you need it, and the range of easy-to-print patterns is much larger than anyone would ever want to keep on hand.

Digital Media Minute did an enthusiastic post a few years ago regarding free online graph paper; I thought it might be helpful to update the situation in the form of a short list of providers of online graph paper generator.

1) The subject of our original post was Incompetech and their really impressive variety of digital graph paper patterns, which seems to have expanded since we last reviewed them. Simply browse through the thumbnails of almost 50 basic patterns, choose one that fits the task at hand, and then the fun really begins. You’ll click through to a page where you select your PDF document size (or specify your own custom dimensions), your line or dot weight, a border distance value, grid spacing, grid color, and any other aspects of the particular pattern that you’ve chosen. Man, talk about quick and easy! Don’t think it’s just the standard simple square pattern graph paper either. Octagonal, Semi-bisected Trapezoid, Circular-Grid Pattern, Guitar Fretboard Diagrams, Storyboards, Chinese & Japanese Character Guide Paper, and a whole lot more. Incompetech sets the bar high.

2) Print Free Graph Paper gets good marks for the beautiful simplicity of its one-page site. While the pattern choices are not as comprehensive as other sites, there is no navigation to be done other than choosing your graph paper specs from four menu buttons. Eight graph paper patterns are offered, along with an explanation of each, and a thumbnail is shown before you print your PDF.

3) Waterproof-Paper is a site that offers all sorts of waterproof bags and cases, as well as a fairly large selection of graph paper PDFs available for free download. I don’t see the connection either, but there are about 25 different patterns from which to choose.

4) The graphically pleasant Math Bits site offers some great math graph papers such as trigonometric patterns and polar graph papers in addition to the standard rectangular and dot graph paper.

5) Mathsphere is another site that gets high marks for simplicity–just hit the link to open or download your PDF. The downside is that you apparently can’t vary any of the specs for any of the graph papers. Still, very fast to use.

Upside-Down-Ternet

Do you expect that your neighbours are stealing your WiFi?  Sure, you could turn on encryption and other security measures, or you could have some fun with them!  Upside-Down-Ternet is a geeky solution to this problem that will show you how to intercept any images that might be sent to your neighbours computer and flip them upside down!  You can be the judge of whether this is too much of an inconvenience to impose upon your neighbors, but it doesn’t do any permanent damage and after all they are stealing from you without giving you the courtesy of asking if you might not mind that they piggy back on your WiFi!

New Personal Avatar Service

Pavatar is a service much like Gravatar which allows you to provide a personal avatar of yourself that can be used on sites that support the service.  Unlike Gravitar which hosts your picture for you,  Pavatar relies on your personal picture being hosted on your webspace.  There are plugins available for most blogging platforms as well as libraries that you can use to incorporate pavitars into your own applications. It’s funny how almost everybody is becoming a web publisher nowadays, so that you have entire de facto standards and ecosystems created by people who want to improve elements of the entire experience for everyone.

New Year – New Design

To start the new year off on a fresh start, I have finally redesigned DMM. I was pretty happy with the last design, but felt it was time to renew the look. The new design is a bit more “blog-like” but my main goal was to widen the content area so that I can present screencasts in the content are more easily. Screencasting is regular feature that I hope to post regularly this year. I also have some ideas for the left sidebar that you should see appear within the next week or so. I am also going to bring back the rotating banner image (a popular item in the design before the last).

I hastily updated the site before Christmas with the hopes of cleaning it up over the holidays. Well we got pretty busy and the time to clean it up didn’t happen. So I know that the overall design is still not quite done. I need to spend a bit more time on validatation (a necessary evil) and there are some issues with the footer on IE6 that need to be fixed.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to become active in the open source community. Seeing as WordPress my most used open source application, it seems only logical that I participate in their community. So starting now, this blog is being powered by the WP2.1 nightly builds. I know that running a production site on unstable code is a little risky, but I’m brave and prepared to submit great bug reports. I actually haven’t found any problems yet, but that’s not to say I won’t come across any in the near future. On the topic of WP2.1, I am really enjoying the new features added to the admin backend. Features like post auto-saving and the reorganization of comment management, make this blogging tool a pleasure to use!

A Personal Wiki Notepad

ZuluPad is a desktop application that provides you with a local Wiki. It combines the simplicity of Notepad with the functionality of a Wiki. The application is free and is available for both Mac and Windows! The home page of the website says that what the developers were trying to accomplish was to combine the best parts of a wiki with the best parts of a notepad. It’s a little bit like Wikipedia except that it’s your personal desktop wiki. It incorporates an ingenious way of creating hyperlinks automatically to content that you have already written; it’s fascinating, go check it out.

Free Photoshop Actions

If you’re looking to create a virtual digital darkroom, you should definitely take a look at this collection of Photoshop CS2 Actions. All the actions are free and if you like them enough, send the creator a donation via PayPal. I recently used the Digital Velvia action to enhance a few pictures I took at a local park.  The site also offers a tutorial for people who are new to Photoshop as to what exactly Photoshop actions are and how they will help you in enhancing your photography.

Suffice it to say that almost everything you do with your camera can be enhanced by Photoshop by way of actions, and once you get a knowledge foundation established regarding them you’re going to probably be taking a lot more photos!

Creativity Self-Assessment Test

How creative are you? CREAX has a neat Creativity Self-Assessment Test that only takes a few minutes to complete and gives you a fairly detailed analysis of how creative you are. The test scores you in the areas of abstraction, connection, perspective, curiosity, boldness, paradox, complexity and persistance. It’s an interesting little test and I find it fascinating that even online testing can be as sophisticated as this is. Go take a look and see how you do!

I was happy with my results. I scored 83.77 while the typical score is 61.43. Here is a screenshot of my results:


(click image for larger view)

Help with Choosing Colors

colr.org is a very cool JavaScript application that will help you find colors for your next web design. There are user submitted schemes and colors that can be discovered by searching on tags. The coolest feature is that you can upload a photo and have the tool randomly select a color scheme from that image. I have pointed Digital Media Minute readers to a lot of these tools over the years as they become more sophisticated, and I have noticed the recent trend toward functionality that enables the user to make a make use of sample photos with color schemes already in place that you might like to copy.

Free Menu Designs

e-lusion.com is offering a set of nicely designed and simple CSS Free Menu Designs for you to download and use any way you see fit.  CSS is rapidly becoming the method by which web designers use to create virtually everything you see on the web, from designs for menus to almost any other aspect of functionality for websites that you can think of. This is a great set of designs  that you can either use as is, or pick one that strikes your fancy and use it as a foundation for implementing your own ideas, most likely with the help of a designer.

Free Online Graph Paper

If you like to sketch out your ideas or designs on graphing paper, here is a great resource. Free Online Graph Paper offers over 30 different styles of gridded graph paper that should suit any need. The “paper” comes in the form of downloadable PDF files (yes, you need to provide your own paper).

So why would a blog extolling the virtues of digital media be excited about online graph paper? Because the more digital we get, the clearer it is that there are some analog formats involving paper that are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. In fact, all these digital tools are showing us exactly what paper formats can not easily be replaced by applications and tools on our desktops and laptops. Here are two: Post-it notes and graph paper!

Gorgeous Photos

A Daily Dose of Imagery is a fantastic photoblog from Sam Javanrouh of Toronto. The images are beautiful and updated daily. Sure the Internet is a great place to learn virtually any skill that you ever want to pick up, but you can’t overestimate its importance as a way to share the collective creative work of individuals from everywhere in the world, even if they are not professionals. And as for professionals such as Sam here,  distribution and promotion of sheer excellence like this within a concept like daily photo blogging is just a wonderful thing both for him and anyone who runs across his website. Do go check it out.