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View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop UNIX
This hint explains how to view an in-motion Doppler weather radar image from The Weather Channel on your desktop. A little precaution is in order, though: this will eat up quite a bit of CPU cycles (between 12% and 30% on an Intel Mac mini). I use it on a machine that does monitoring/notification, but I'd never use it on a machine I use for normal work. The "animation" is somewhat slow, but tolerable in my opinion. This hint requires use of the command line. Also, I make no guarantees that it won't break something, etc. I've only done this on Leopard, but I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work with Tiger (no Panther or earlier, because they don't have launchd).

There are two components to this: A unix script to retrieve the images from The Weather Channel or NOAA or wherever else, and a launchd agent that periodically runs the script. Here's the shell script:
#!/bin/sh

if [ ! -d ~/Library/WeatherMaps ]; then
mkdir ~/Library/WeatherMaps
fi

curl -s http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/1L.jpg?1213024402403 ~/Library/WeatherMaps/latest1.jpg;
curl -s http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/2L.jpg?1213024402403 ~/Library/WeatherMaps/latest2.jpg;
curl -s http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/3L.jpg?1213024402403 ~/Library/WeatherMaps/latest3.jpg;
curl -s http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/4L.jpg?1213024402403 ~/Library/WeatherMaps/latest4.jpg;
curl -s http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/5L.jpg?1213024402403 ~/Library/WeatherMaps/latest5.jpg;

defaults write com.apple.desktop ChangeTime 1;
killall Dock;

exit 0
Edit the script to suit your location by retrieving the image URLs from weather.com or somewhere else. I've added the commands to reset the refresh interval and restart the dock, because in my experience, this stops working after a couple hours without doing so. Drop the script in the /Library/Scripts folder. Also make sure to make it executable with this command: sudo chmod 750 /Library/Scripts/get_weather_radar.sh

Now, open System Preferences, go to Desktop & Screensaver, and specify ~/Library/WeatherMaps as the folder to load images from. Check the Change Picture option and don't bother setting the interval. The preference pane doesn't let you set it below five seconds (and for good reason, given the load this imposes on the CPU). Now, create a launchd agent to periodically run the retrieval script above. Save the file as GetWeather.plist: Place the agent in your ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder and load it with this command:
launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/GetWeather.plist
If it loaded correctly, you should see a folder full of pictures named WeatherMaps in your ~/Library folder, the dock should have restarted, and your desktop should be showing you weather maps. The launchd agent will automatically retrieve the images every 10 minutes and restart the dock, and they will be displayed with about a one-to-two second delay, showing the radar "in motion."

Of course, you could just use one of the many weather map Dashboard widgets, but what fun would that be!?
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View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop | 6 comments | Create New Account
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View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: chleuasme on Jun 12, '08 09:45:15AM
- Only looked at your shell script; Read some man pages! ;-)
#!/bin/sh

mapsdir=~/Library/WeatherMaps
mkdir -p "$mapsdir"

curl -s -o "$mapsdir"/latest#1.jpg http://image.weather.com/looper/archive/us_ind_closeradar_large_usen/[1-5]L.jpg
- And this doesn't work for me (10.5.3):
defaults write com.apple.desktop ChangeTime 1
killall Dock
I have to edit the ChangeTime value in the sub-items of the Background key of the plist file to make it work.

[ Reply to This | # ]
View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: jvajda on Jun 12, '08 10:32:59AM

Thanks. I didn't know curl could be used that way.

Is there a way to use defaults to change all the ChangeTime properties in com.apple.desktop?



[ Reply to This | # ]
View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: Viridian on Jun 12, '08 10:35:27AM
Interesting, and I hope I'm not belittling your work, but the Weather Channel Doppler radar is available as a Dashboard widget. Why not just put it on the desktop using this hint? Or if you don't mind spending the money, with Amnesty Widget Browser? Let me hasten to say that I haven't tried either your method or the hints that I've just mentioned, so I'm in no position to judge whether one is better or worse than the other.

[ Reply to This | # ]
View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: BB on Jun 12, '08 11:07:54AM

Or I dunno, use a WebClip maybe? I have two Radar's running now via WebClips one wide view and one close up. This seems like an unnecessarily overly complex way of viewing this information.

Load the radar's web page, click the webclip button in Safari, select the Radar and done.



[ Reply to This | # ]
View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: Jailer Joe on Jun 12, '08 05:51:23PM

Then this hint would be titled "Put Doppler Radar in your Dashboard". The hint is for putting the radon on your desktop, which would be pretty cool except its from The Weather Channel.



[ Reply to This | # ]
View Doppler radar-in-motion on the desktop
Authored by: UberFu on Jun 16, '08 03:10:02PM

but the point you are missing that theya re making about the Widget alternatives is that running this via the desktop eats up a significant amount of resources to do so_

Running these from the Dashboard does not_



[ Reply to This | # ]