The Apple Philadelphia Weather Widget Bug


Found a funny little bug with Apple’s dashboard weather widget this week. It comes installed and running by default when you set up a new OS X installation or buy a new Mac. I just got a new MacBook Pro a month ago and have been using the weather widget religiously. As John Gruber of Daring Fireball described, it’s one of the favorite widgets (and he has a good old how-to on how to make it better).

But rather than validating by zip code, the weather widget validates by city name only. It grabs the first city name, alphabetically, and plugs that in as your local weather default.

There are five cities in the USA with the name Philadelphia. In alphabetical order, they are Philadelphia MO (Missouri), Philadelphia MS (Mississippi), Philadelphia NY (New York), Philadelphia PA (Pennsylvania), and Philadelphia TN (Tennessee).

Apple’s widget grabs Philadelphia, MO for Philadelphia, PA (and MS, NY, TN). Until this week the weather patterns for MO vs. PA were the same for precipitation and within a few degrees on temperature. It took a month before the cities were different enough to notice the discrepancy.

For all you’z Philadelphians buying Macs, remember to plug in your 191xx zip codes :) To see this in action if you’re in another city, add a weather widget to the dashboard and search for “Philadelphia”. The same occurs This does not occur on an iPhone’s weather app.

Population data on the Philadelphias:

GPS Running

Link to today’s run

I love running. I skip wearing headphones or listening to music because I love hearing the world race past me. Things that interfere with the actual experience of being there aren’t interesting to me.

Nike+ on an iPod (a music player first and foremost) thankfully has the option to do a workout without music (and without a headset). I’ve been using this since Christmas 2007 when my wife gave it to me. It’s great! Nike has training programs you can follow to get you the next level.

Recently discovered when I got an N82 is the Nokia Sportstracker app. It keeps track with GPS and gives an amazing amount of live metadata. Not only are you able to follow your speed, pace, average pace, distance, location, etc, in real time, you can pump the data live to the web.

There are a couple things lacking with both systems: Social interaction outside their gardens. Both offer links to back to your workout pages, but neither supports easy placement of the data elsewhere (read: No RSS feeds of the content).

An RSS feed of the workouts would be an ideal next step for either company. RSS being available would allow WordPress and TypePad widget development much more easily.

It would also be slick to have Twitter and Facebook integrations (Nike+ has some Facebook apps written by third parties – I haven’t been impressed with these since they’re all Flash).

Running profiles:

N82 for my broadcasts – iPhone 3G for everything else

I picked up the Nokia N82 yesterday from Import GSM, a great hybrid brick-and-mortage / online store. Think Dynamism for phones. It was my first visit, right at closing, and despite trying to get stuff out the door for the evening shipment the guys helped out with descriptions and subtle nuances between the N95 and N82 (special thanks to Eric – good guy).

Anyway, so why the heck would someone get a Nokia N82 when the iPhone 3G is getting released tomorrow? There are five reasons, one for each megapixel, and a lot of backup arguments. The iPhone 3G doesn’t hold a candle to the image sensor quality, flash, or lens quality.

This wasn’t meant to be an N82 vs. iPhone 3G post. They’re both the best mobile equipment one can get (imo).

The N82 is going to be my net enabled camera and broadcast machine. No more notebook + Canon SD-1000 combo!

The iPhone 3G is for everything else. I had the iPhone (1.0 / original / whatever). iPhones are the best for usability and communication. I gave it to my wife and she’s gone from check-email-and-browse-at-home to check-email-send-texts-and-monitor-weather-while-away. The wife-o-meter was pegged.

The Nokia’s OS, after 30 hours of tweaking, is finally usable for me. Very steep appreciation curve. I would only recommend such a phone to a power user needing the best tool for quality images… I can’t wait to start posting and qik’ing them.

Mobile phone GPS a security risk? Only to those who follow you

Steven Hodson, in a post over on Mashable, describes security risks and the waste of information that mobile phone GPS use brings (when pinpointing and announcing our locations). He poses some extremely valid points in regards to announcing one’s geolocation via Twitter, Brightkite, or FriendFeed being useless noise.

Telling people via a highly conversational medium such as instant messaging or an SMS text that you are currently at 13th St and Ash Lane is nothing more than noise. It’s a waste of precious conversation. To a few of your closer friends it may be relevant, such as a buddy that would meet you for coffee. But for the masses, it is unimportant and you’re guilty for wasting their time.

I’m guilty of this lately. I’ve been trying various mobile phone GPS services. It’s been fun and interesting, but I’m in agreement with Steven about this announcement being a waste (at least if it’s without background information). Steven doesn’t mention it, but my thought on optimal geolocation announcement is in a widget placed on one’s blog. It’s there for interested followers, but not intrusive or annoying.

But that’s where we agree. He describes broadcasting one’s geolocation as a security risk and I strongly disagree. Yes, there are some situations where it is. US soldiers in Iraq will not benefit from this feature. Folks in witness protection programs, runaways, victims of domestic violence, those being stalked, cheating spouses, and those in organized crime probably won’t either.

The typical citizen without conflict is not at risk. It’s easy to figure out when someone is normally at work, so knowing an optimal time to break in to someone’s home is already simple. It’s easy to find a person in a public place, so it’s already easy to find the optimal time to commit physical harm.

Note: If one is being stalked or believes him or herself to be in a situation where announcing location is dangerous, it’s simple to turn the feature off.

As I’ve said before, people are inherently good. They don’t go around looking for someone to damage or rob. There are some people who commit these crimes. These people use crow-bars instead of Facebook, and are stopped by alarm systems and deadbolts rather than a lack of geolocation data.

More ideas on mobile GPS mashups

Artist's concept of the GPS satellite constellation
Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

Just a couple ideas on GPS, tied to proximity of a mobile phone…

  • Proximity based ads (walk by Banana Republic and get a coupon via SMS)
  • Location based music ( channels playing artists from your location)
  • Mobile OnStar

Think of your favorite services on the net and add a GPS component… It probably enhances it.