Aaaaaaand we’re back online

Ok, I knew from the start that the Google Weather API I used for howcoldisit.com was never official so it wasn’t a surprise when they silently killed it yesterday, possibly killing weather apps everywhere. Including howcoldisit.com and the associated Chrome app and Pokki app.

But, thanks to World Weather Online and their ease of implementation and the fact that it’s free (so far I haven’t found out anything about usage limits, fingers crossed), our website and apps are back online.

Beware of wonkiness, as the new API uses other weather descriptions than our back-end expects. I’ll be fixing that soon.

Redesigned, and coming to a taskbar near you!

Hi there!

In short: I got tired of the way howcoldisit.com looked so I’ve redesigned the shit out of it. The new design is ready and coming soon to the website, but you can already use and experience it. How? As a Pokki-app.

Pokki is an awesome application for Windows (and soon Mac) that adds HTML5-apps to your desktop. It works like a charm: it’s fast, it’s stylish and also just very useful. Using its integrated app store you can find apps with just a few clicks, and add them straight to your taskbar. It’s generally awesome and has this whole wow-I’ve-got-webapps-on-my-computer-man-I-feel-so-next-gen feeling to it. And I mean that in a good way.

But don’t take my word for it, have a look!

Here’s the Pokki app store:

And here, *drumroll please*, is the freshly redesigned web app, dressed in a coat of Pokki happiness:

Head over to pokki.com right now to download Pokki, or clickez ici to download How Cold Is It + Pokki directly.

Some final notes on the topic: HowColdIsIt for Pokki is somewhat of a beta version, so expect some refinements in the short term. Also, the Chrome app will be updated to the new design and finally the website itself will be updated with some extra bells ‘n whistles. Stay tuned and have fun!

Battery Wallpaper at 10.000 downloads

Ok, this Battery Wallpaper app for Android that I’ve developed some time ago is not really part of this blog, but since it’s somewhat of a sister-project to the How Cold Is It wallpaper (and it doesn’t have its own website) I figured I’d brag about it here.

Today its download-counter beat the 10.000 barrier!

So, there it is. Humming proudly at 10.007 downloads to date, Battery Wallpaper is my most successful app; competing only against How Cold Is It, which is currently at 6577 downloads but has been online for quite a while longer. The number of active installs is at 19% (versus 12% for How Cold Is It).

Battery Wallpaper is another live wallpaper, groovy yet elegant, that works like a battery indicator. It changes color depending on the status of your battery: deep red when it’s running empty, forest green when fully charged. Multiple background patterns are included, like retro baroque wallpapers, funky flowers and shiny metal, and you can choose different gradients. Very customizable, very much fun.

Of course, Battery Wallpaper is available as a free version as well as a donate/ad-free version in the Android Market.

(Graph by Distimo

Howcoldisit.com as a Chrome extension

chrome web store

How cold is it - Chrome web app New feature live today: Howcoldisit.com as a web app in the Chrome web store. The free extension will show a big fat icon in your list of installed web apps, allowing launching howcoldisit.com from your ‘new tab’ screen directly as a new tab or as a pinned tab. The app will launch in ‘safe mode’, but you can change this in the options. Get it here.

Less fucking

New on howcoldisit.com: kiddie-safe weather forecasts! By visiting //howcoldisit.com?safemode=true or following the ‘Hey, I don’t live there!’-link you can enable the so-called ‘safe mode’, a mode which gives you the forecast in a way just as boring as any other website. Specially hand-crafted for all the people who give too much of a fuck.

Although is it somewhat against howcoldisit’s nature to depart from it’s motto "Don’t be uptight - get weather with a bite" (ok, I made that up on the spot, I might come up with a better motto later), I thought it might be easier this way to reach a wider audience. The fucking-version is still the default, and always will be.

Not just a kid-friendly mode, also a cleaner interface. The descriptions have made place for larger temperatures so everything looks a little less cluttered.

Internet Explorer 9

Ok, so the release of IE 9 may be overshadowed by all the other browsers out there that have been awesome for quite a while longer, in relative terms IE 9 is quite awesome itself. When compared to it’s predecessors, that is.

We can go on a while about browser superiority and compare popularity (IE9: 2 million downloads in a day, Firefox 4: 1 million in an hour) but we can also have a look at that little bit of interesting newness introduced by this new Internet Explorer release: jumplists and browser customization.

How Cold Is It was secretly using these new features while IE9 was still in beta so technically I’ll be introducing something old; however now seems the time to explain the new features.

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) jumplists for How Cold Is It

Jumplists

In IE9 under Windows 7 users can pin individual webpages on the taskbar by simply dragging a tab to the taskbar. Pinned websites can, with only a little bit of code, fill the jumplist (fancy for ‘context menu’) with custom links, like is shown the in the sample below:

<meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=sometitle;action-uri=http://yoururl.com;icon-uri=http://yoururl.com/yourpath/icon.ico" />

Put this somewhere in the head of your page, upload your icons to the appropriate folder and you’re good to go. Unfortunately, (or: fortunately, as this could possibly pose serious security issues) I’ve been unable to execute javascripts on the page from the jumplist links.

Custom colors

Another nice feature presented in IE9 is the fact that you can change it’s appearance. Back- and forward buttons will change to a color you specify and you are given the opportunity to insert an icon of choice right to the left of ‘em. Again, changes will only appear when your website is pinned to the taskbar and launched from there, which gives your users the experience as if your website is a standalone app.

How does this work? Using three meta tags (put ‘em in the <head></head> part of your site) that specify name and tooltip. The larger icon (48x48) is included in the regular favicon.ico.

<meta name="application-name" content="My Website" />
<meta name="msapplication-tooltip" content="Tooltip" />
<meta name="msapplication-navbutton-color" content="#rrggbb" />

Besides the features implemented on howcoldisit.com there is more awesomeness available, like using thumbbars and iPhone-like notifications. Be sure to check that out.

Of course it can be argued that the new features are not according to any official standards and that Microsoft is (again) introducing there own formats, but as far as I can tell there’s no harm in using these tags. The tags are regular Meta-tags and comply to regular (X)HTML standards. As long as you don’t expect other common browsers like Chrome and Firefox to change color or support jumplists, there’s nothing holding you back from spicing up your website for your IE9 visitors.

Android Market goes web

How Cold Is It? on the Android Market&trade;Finally, I might say. Android lacked an online version of their app store, similar to the Apple iStore, for a while but now you can browse available apps right from your conveniently-sized desktop screen. Plus, I really like the fact that you can simply click the ‘install’ or ‘buy’ button and apps are automatically installed on your phone. Of course, the HowColdIsIt?-apps are present.

App version 1.7 released

On January 15th I released the newest version of the How Cold Is It mobile app for Android. Version number: 1.7.

This version is the first non-beta release of the app (and therefore should have been 1.0, I guess) which means that the beta-limitations are now lifted. The app is free and will remain free without expiring. However, a developer’s got to eat so I took the liberty of adding advertisements to the app. Nothing too obtrusive - you won’t see anything on your wallpaper it’s just in the settings panel. If you don’t like the ads, you have the option of getting the ad-free version for only a buck. Yep, just $1. But please, don’t look at it as paying for an app that you might as well get for free, look at it as donating half a beer to a dev. Also, from version 1.8 on the ad-free app will feature more wallpaper patterns than the free one, so you’re actually getting something out of it.

1000 app downloads!

How Cold Is It?It was about to happen for the last few days, but today we finally broke the barrier of 1000 app downloads. Hurray! It is very nice to see so many people taking interest in the app, even though the first few versions were so terribly buggy. Now, with version 1.6 (after which the number of downloads really took a flight) as the most recent update the app has become prettier, easier and more robust. Even so it’s still in beta and just today I found out that that’s not underestimated: the rare and weird artifacts in drawing the wallpaper seem to happen pretty much all the time when the shadowy borders are disabled. Seems like I have some stuff to fix for update 1.7. So, big thanks to all you droids out there who’re using my app on their phones. Stay tuned for updates, because besides the bugfixes I’ve more plans to add extra awesome to the app…

There we go, a proper blog.

Howcoldisit.com, once launched as a website that fitted two purposes (the main one being a platform for myself to practice my webskills on) has grown and matured to a website that’s no longer only telling me and my friends about the conditions on the other side of our windows, but telling it to a whole bunch of folks around the globe. And not only that: it has grown to a fancy little bugger that integrates and integrates with the newest of webstuff: not only Ajax and Google API’s, but also Twitter, Facebook and now, to top it off: Tumblr.

With the continuous creation of new features, changes and improvements (with the addition of a serious Android app to the How Cold Is It Initiative™ as a prime example) I felt it was becoming more and more of a shortcoming that howcoldisit.com was lacking a way of providing news updates. Somewhat more elaborate updates than tweets, I mean. So now, as a start, I’ve created this Tumblog to keep y’all in the loop. Let’s just hope Tumblr stays online from now on.