WeatherBug is an interesting service that brings you local weather from more than 6,000 weather stations, with a search box that lets you get results from five major search engines.
The program is the offspring of a partnership program that allowed broadcast television stations to place state of the art weather monitoring stations in local schools. On-air meteorologists display live, local, neighborhood weather conditions from participating community schools.
WeatherBug allows you to tap in to this same information via the web. The program is a downloadable utility that runs constantly on your desktop, or minimized in the system tray. The full screen display provides instant access to detailed weather conditions, local forecasts, web cams, radar, storm alerts, pollen counts, and more.
There's also a search box that functions in a similar fashion to the newly redesigned HotBot. From this search box, you can query Google, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, AlltheWeb and LookSmart. Once you've run a search, you can re-run the query on any engine by clicking on its tab.
Beneath the tabs for Google, AltaVista and AlltheWeb are links that also let you search the respective engines' specialty catalogs, such as Google Images or AlltheWeb News.
The search function is provided by MySearch.com, and while it makes it easy to compare results among the five engines, it lacks HotBot's extensive customization capabilities or advanced features.
WeatherBug also offers a downloadable MySearch toolbar that enables this searching capability even when you're not running WeatherBug. However, it too is weak compared to other search toolbars, such as Google's or Teoma's, or the multi-search capable Ultrabar.
Although its multi search capabilities are useful, the real utility of WeatherBug lies with its presentation of real time or near-real time weather information from its 6,000 local weather stations. In my test, I was able to fetch weather information from a weather station at a school just two miles away.
This is great, because the area that I live in is notorious for many "microclimates" where the sun shining in the front yard while it's snowing out back!
WeatherBug comes in two versions. The "free" version is ad-sponsored, with a slight twist -- you get to select which advertiser's promotions you wish to see.
WeatherBug Pro is ad-free, with an annual subscription fee of $28.90. The program is available for Windows only, with no Mac or other platforms supported.
HotBot is Hot Once Again
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HotBot has been redesigned for the power searcher, delivering, speed, control, and a unified interface to four of the web's best search engines.
Beyond the Google Toolbar
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UltraBar emulates the most powerful features of the Google toolbar and makes them available using virtually any search engine on the web -- and it's free.
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