Better Than a Webcam

I was just browsing the 1976design blog and I’m amazed at what Dunstan has done with his realtime weather panorama images for the header of the site.
Redrawn from actual photos of the view from his location in England, an XML feed from weather.com triggers the correct image — detailing time of day and whatever weather condition is actually occurring at that moment. What a brilliant idea, and I’m amazed at the detail — moon phases?! Zodiac signs?!
More is explained on the Colophon, with original photos before they were redrawn as well as listings of every possible weather condition. And be sure to expand your browser window to reveal the entire scene. I’m impressed.

26 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    May I just say that I enjoy the mini-redesign?

  2. ste says:

    Yeah, I find that feature absolutely fascinating, even though it’s almost always night-time when I’m browsing his site. (6 hour different plus the fact that I more often visit weblogs in the afternoon rather than the morning.) I love that the “position and distribution of the sheep are copied exactly from the photographs.”

  3. Tom says:

    Yeah, Dunstan is a whiz and really creative. I worked with him on the Maccaws[1] initiative for a year and a half and he did a bang up job on the site then, always had innovative ideas. Anyway, I first saw this about a month or so ago and it really blew me away! Not just the idea, but the effort involved in getting all working, doing all the drawings (and doing them WELL), a really innovative idea. And innovative ideas (real ones, good ones) don’t come along all that often.
    I’m going to try a very *much simplified* version of what he did (and smaller too) for fun. For those of you in the US, there are some weather xml feeds at:
    http://weather.boygenius.com/xml_index.html
    Completely free to use as well. I’ve gone as far as parsing the file with PHP but that’s all (sorry, lazy!). Anyway, I’ve begun to ramble.. bye!

  4. Jon Hicks says:

    Agreed – this is a great site. As well as the weather image its a clean design that makes it an easy read.
    Talking of designs – you and Bowman go fixed width in the same week! What are the chances of that?

  5. guido says:

    uuu

  6. Matt Haughey says:

    The site has probably the best 404 page I’ve seen on a blog, too.

  7. Dan says:

    Jon – “Talking of designs – you and Bowman go fixed width in the same week! What are the chances of that?”
    Ha! Too funny. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about fixed vs. fluid. It got me thinking about many of the things I dislike about the fluid width format I had here. I thought I’d try fixed out for a variety of reasons that maybe I’ll write up sometime. Most of you are probably familiar with the pros and cons of each. Not to get too off topic…
    Matt – wow, that is the best 404 page I’ve seen. Great ideas there.

  8. Luuc says:

    While off topic anyway (heya :), when going fixed width (I figured twas bugs both here and at stopdesign), maybe center content ? Looks weird to me, then again, just me.

  9. Brian says:

    so can anyone explain to me how he did the picture-to illustration translation? I would love to find something that could do that for me, since I am all thumbs when it comes to illustrating.
    This idea is based on a javascript that was around circa 1997 which let you change your site elements based on time of day, now this integration w/weather feeds makes it uber-cool.

  10. Josh S says:

    I think he’s slashdotted! ;)
    For some reason his site is going very slow…

  11. Mike says:

    Its always slow for me, and my college has a few OC3 pipes coming into it.
    I’m sure its just the overhead of pulling down an XML file, parsing it on the fly, and then pulling in a 1000 pixel wide image for display into the webpage.

  12. Rick says:

    I just wanted to comment and say that that having the layout centered is a lot better than having it aligned to the left. Looks good.

  13. dusoft says:

    Very pretty cartoons, he has done wonderful work there. Very, very creative.

  14. Luuc says:

    What Rick said ;).

  15. Dan, with reference to you pointing out blo.gs and Dunstan in the one week – is it just your duty of community service pointing to these useful and brilliant sites? Or a tactic on your part to make those familiar with the sites get a warm fuzzy by feeling like early adopters?
    ;-)
    Either way thanks for the pointers (and fuzzy).
    Putting the two together, Dunstan should now be being blo.gged (added to blo.gs subscriptions) all over the place!

  16. hi,
    i was just surfing the internet and thought that i would leave a short small comment that i visited your beautiful site.
    kaushal parikh
    http://www.kaushalparikh.com

  17. kazi says:

    what a great idea, I need to learn PHP now!

  18. bk says:

    Aaron Holovaty did something similar for the 6 News Lawrence weather forecast. Pretty sweet.

  19. David House says:

    bk — yeah, I believe Dunstan said that’s where he got his inspiration to do those style images from.

  20. David House says:

    Oh, and with the redesign of this site, the slate theme makes the sidebar illegible.

  21. Dave S. says:

    “Oh, and with the redesign of this site, the slate theme makes the sidebar illegible.”
    So use another theme?

  22. David House says:

    >So use another theme?
    Lol, I was just pointing out a possible error with the page. I don’t use the slate theme myself, and the sidebar in slate has now gone back to its purpley goodness again. Don’t know if it was my browser or the CSS that was wrong.

  23. Lars says:

    Pretty much what everyone else said. It makes moving a lot more difficult though. He would either have to replicate the landscape and atmospherical conditions (think terraforming), not to mention relocating those sheep, or do the images all over again.
    On the mini-redesign: I like the centered layout.

  24. Spookit says:

    So use another theme?
    Yeah, great solution there. I hope you were being facetious.

  25. stew says:

    slight bug with the photos and the comments box (at least on IE6 windows XP)
    they over lap the sidebar
    now before you all shoot me for not using Firebird let me explain – im lazy and have jsut finished testing a client site and cant be bothered waiting 30 seconds for Firebrid to open up :P

  26. Eduardo says:

    Where’s the Weather.com XML feed? can’t fint it.