First iPhone App – What’s My Weather?

Wow, my last post was in November, where has the time gone?

weather-appFor most of the winter my evenings have been spent learning how to code, and in particular how to build iPhone apps using Xcode and the newish programming language Swift. I purchased a number of online training courses through Udemy and have been diligently working through the lessons. I will admit that it has been a struggle; my brain finds it hard to retain the information nowadays, but my understanding of the coding has improved and am able to follow many of the lessons.

One of the courses, iOS 9 and Swift 2: From Beginner to Paid Professional, teaches through a bootcamp style and whilst it is geared for people who want to make programming a career, it also is effective for people who just want to try to learn to code and create apps for fun (which is why I am learning!).

Anyhow, one of the techniques it covers is extracting JSON data from the internet and presenting it in an app. The example app is a basic weather app and the course encourages students to hone their newly learned skills and build on the basic version to create a more functional version.

And so I did.

And I managed to build an app and release it in the Apple app store.

So those of you who have an Apple device can download What’s My Weather for free.

I have a few ideas for different apps which I would like to charge a fee to download but need to do some more lessons and lots more coding before I have confidence to release them.

PS I’ve just supported the developer of some of the online courses through a Kickstarter campaign. Worth checking out if you are interested in learning how to code.


dawnOne of the advantages of getting up early is that you get to see some wonderful sunrise light shows and this one was particularly spectacular. Taken on my Samsung S4, I love the silhouette of the tree and dark landscape against the coloured sky.

Not much Photoshop manipulation, just a bit of enhancing the colours but otherwise it was how the camera and my eyes saw it.

50 not out!

happy_birthdayToday is a big milestone in my life; namely I’ve reached my half century!

No major celebrations planned so instead Tina and I are off to London as the kids have bought me a Virgin Experience. And before you wonder why Tina would want to accompany me whilst I spend the day with a seventeen year old virgin, I should explain that the present is a trip up The Shard followed by a meal at Marco Pierre White’s Steak and Alehouse.

As usual, things have conspired to try to spoil the day; the weather forecast is not ideal for skyscraper viewing and the rail unions appear to be intent on holding their second tube strike this evening. But we’ll make the most of it and try to have a great time and Tina may even buy me a prezzie too!


Happy reunion

For the first time this summer we experienced a lovely, warm day yesterday which was fortuitous as we had organised a BBQ for the friends we met in Egypt in 2010. For the past three years we have held a reunion at one of the couples houses and this year it was our turn. We kept an eye on the forecast all week  and were relieved to see that yesterday was going to be perfect outdoor eating weather, with temperatures likely to rise up to the high twenties.

Everyone duly arrived late afternoon (including an edition to the group as one couple had a baby girl earlier in the year) and we were soon catching up on news, enjoying the warm weather which reminded us of our happy times in Egypt three years earlier. It was really nice that we have kept in touch especially as we are such a diverse group of individuals, with a wide age gap too.

The youngest couple, Santosh (postman) and Catherine (solicitor) were blessed with a girl, Riya, in January and she was so laid back and calm throughout the day. Catherine told us all about their recent trip to Nepal (where Santosh was from) and how they coped with a baby under six months old in such a remote part of the world. Karen (Teacher) and John (between jobs) hadn’t changed at all and were grateful for the invite, using the opportunity to see Karen’s brother who lives at nearby Sywell. John had explained that he’d lost his contract job at the MOD earlier in the year and was considering his  employment options but was enjoying working outdoors in a temporary job clearing lakes. And finally Stuart and Barbara who have been retired a few years and had recently become great-grandparents.

Of course for us the news was of Rio, who was the new addition to our family. I was a bit apprehensive on how he would be with so many people in the house, but he behaved remarkably well. We had to keep him on a close lead for most of the afternoon/evening and everyone said he was a lovely, well behaved dog.

I cooked the food on our new BBQ, using it fully for the first time this year and it was such a nice, relaxing evening; it’s amazing how some decent weather can make outdoors eating such great experience. The only downer was the insects that decided to join the party late on. As soon as the sun went down we started getting bitten; both John and I being attacked by ants on our feet and others being pestered by kamikaze mosquitos. I woke this morning with two itchy bites on my legs and a large, double bite on my back which I know will drive me crazy for days to come.

Still, it didn’t really spoil the evening and as everyone left we were already organising the next reunion in 2013 when Karen and John will play hosts at their house in Dorset.

Rio in sunny Hunny

Another of the ‘holiday list’ things on our staycation was to go to the seaside.

We wanted to do so for a couple of reasons. a) we are on holiday and that’s what you do when your on holiday and b) we wanted to take Rio to the beach to let him experience the sand and sea.

We decided that a trip to Hunstanton, on the North Norfolk coast would be ideal distance to travel with the dog as apart from when he was brought home as a puppy, it would be the longest car journey he’d undertaken.

We checked the weather forecast and although not too promising, we set off yesterday morning after packing a picnic and bits for Rio (dog chews, water, food bowl, a bone, dog leads). The clouds were gathering, suggesting we were in for a wet day, but at least it would be a day trip away from home.

At first Rio got a bit restless but soon settled down for the journey ahead. Within twenty minutes we were halting at Peterborough for a wee stop, but not for the dog but for Tina, who breakfast cuppa had gone through her system. I walked Rio for five minutes then we set off again once Tina had returned, bladder empty again.

We then headed towards Wisbech, before stopping again on the hour mark for some fuel and another wee stop (both Tina and I this time), whereas Rio refused to go. We set off towards Kings Lynn before spotting signs for Hunstanton and by midday we were arriving. Fortunately as we approached the seaside resort the clouds cleared to reveal a beautiful blue sky, with temperatures at a pleasant low twenties Celsius.

I had checked out the dog friendly beaches around and noted that we were OK to go to Old Hunstanton beach to the north of the main town. We parked on the cliff top car park and headed towards the beach. It was this point Rio became very excited, he seems to sense that this was place he was going to enjoy and it was hard to hold him back from getting to the expanse of sand.

The beach was not too crowded and so we found a spot near to the sea and I immediately took him down to the waters edge. As he’s not great off-lead I kept him secured for a short while only letting him off when the coast was clear, so to speak. He took his first tentative steps in the water and was soon splashing around chasing the waves. As there were other dogs on the beach I decided that his freedom off-lead had to be short lived and managed to get him back to stop him from running off. We walked back to Tina, where Rio immediately started digging.

It is clear that Rio has digging tendencies and for the next ten minutes that’s all he wanted to do, dig holes. We then took him back to the sea for more frolicking in the water before deciding that eating a picnic with a dog spraying sand around was not a good idea so walked back to the car and ate our lunch there whilst Rio could shelter in the shadow cast by the car.

After lunch we strolled towards the main town, stopping for an ice cream along the way. It was good to see the place was ‘dog friendly’ with most cafe’s leaving a bowl of water for canine refreshment. There was also lots of dog poo bins strategically placed along the way, clearly the council were determined to make it as easy as possible for dog owners to be responsible and pick up their pooches waste products. And they were definitely needed for Rio as soon the salty water went through him, giving him the runs, which is not the easiest of things to gather up using the poo bags we use.

Once Rio had done his business, we had a bit of a wander along the promenade (which didn’t take long if you have ever been to Hunstanton), had a sit down in the shade for a while and then turned around and headed back towards the car. By this time the clouds were drawing in and we could see that it wouldn’t be long before the rain arrived.

We agreed to drive home, this time not needing to stop. As we arrived back at Thrapston, the rain arrived with a heavy downpour.

It was clear that the day had worn Rio out so we agreed we would skip his ‘Disobedience’ class and as it happened he slept for most of the evening, probably dreaming about this wonderful place where he could did and dig and dig. Let’s hope he doesn’t try re-enacting it back in the garden again.

And all from a phone…

I was up early yesterday, not because I was anticipating hundreds of birthday cards to open but because I always get up really early, even on a weekend. And even on my birthday!

I decided to take advantage of the lovely morning and go for a walk with Rio so I took him down the field on the other side of the River Nene which leads to the old railway line. I firstly negotiated the High Street and Islip bridge, which was really slippery in the ice and was especially difficult as I was being led by a dog that knew he was heading in a direction that meant ‘play’. The field is great for letting him off his lead as there are not normally too many dog walkers and plenty of room for him to get a runaround.

Yesterday was especially good as there was still lots of snow on the ground and he was able to bound around like a mad thing, chasing snow balls that I was throwing at him :). He also enjoyed digging  through the snow, either looking for rabbits or moles, I’m not quite sure, but digging all the same!

Anyhow whilst he was playing I was also able to take some photos. I took some not only of him but the of the frost-laden landscape, which looked spectacular with the winter sun low in the sky. What I didn’t realise at the time though that the temperatures were between minus ten and minus five degrees Celsius which was why the the frost covered the whole of the trees making them look very spectacular! Although I only had with me my iPhone camera with it’s limited capability I was still able to capture some picturesque shots and am quite pleased with the results. It is incredible that you can get such detail and resolution in a camera built into a mobile phone.

Just as I was leaving I saw a couple walking towards the field laden with their SLR cameras. I wonder if they were able to get any better shots that I did with my iPhone?

It sure snows fast in Thrapston…

I have always been fascinated by video and in particular stop motion photography and watching how things change by small amounts over time. Whilst watching the snow come down last weekend, I remembered a video I saw last year that was shot in someone’s back garden in America that showed a table with no snow on it at first and then the snow falling over time.

I love the way the clock has to be cleared of snow to allow the viewer to see the time going past.

And so earlier in the week I happened to be listening to MacBreak Weekly on when they mentioned a new app for iPads and iPhones that allow you to do time lapse photography on the cheap. So I thought I’d give it ago. And I am quite pleased with the results.

I can therefore exclusively reveal my first time lapse video from a couple of hours of recording last night when we had the snow downfall (the video only lasts 12 seconds so don’t blink!). Not quite the same as the American version but a bit more time would have had better results. You may also spot a fleeting appearance by Rio too.


For those that want to know the details it was created with iStopMotion and photos were taken at 1 minute intervals. The only error I made was that I should have recorded it in Landscape rather than Portrait as unless you watch it full screen it is difficult to see the changes. Next time I will remember.

PS – Matt woke up this morning with a text from his mate saying he’s better leave for a work a bit earlier this morning…

That is some clever snow drift...

Boys will be boys…

When I was young when it snowed one of the ‘must do’ things was to build a snowman. This activity was all very innocent with a carrot for his nose and stones for shirt buttons and the occasional scarf for added realism.

Trying to roll the biggest snow ball down a hill and then struggle to get another ball on top  for a head made it a real challenge, but it was a group effort, with the satisfaction of knowing it would last well after the rest of the snow had melted.

And so with that in mind we were looking forward to seeing what the kids of today were capable of building when we took Rio out for a walk yesterday.

Yes we saw the usual snowmen and snow animals and even an attempted igloo, but the funniest sculpture was built on our neighbours son’s car. I think there might have been some teenage mischief at work don’t you?

The forecasters said it would snow…

And it did!

It has been talked about for days and everyone has been on high alert to ensure they are fully prepared for the wintery download from the sky. The weather persons (you can’t call them men now) have been predicting this for about a week now and for once they were right.

The gantry signs on the main roads have been warning us that ‘severe weather’ was coming and that ‘gritting is in progress’. My Blackberry has been getting e-mail updates from our Network Management Centre detailing the likelihood of snow affecting the roads which might prevent engineers travelling to faults and my iPad weather station saying there would be a 99% chance of snow by 9pm.

We got a text from Abby who was in Birmingham saying that it was snowing there at lunchtime today…and settling.

At 4pm I took a snap shot of the weather radar view on my iPad and it showed the snow very close to us but not quite arriving. I also took a photo of the sky which looked dark but with no snow at that time.

iPad weather station

Dark skies

The red dot is us







At 6pm we had a light covering and Rio had to eat his dinner with a carpet of the white stuff.







By 10pm there was a pretty heavy covering. Abby texted to say in Birmingham they had about 4 inches of snow.







Rio then went out and encountered his first deep snow and loved it, staying out and playing for quite a while. Both Tina and I video’d him taking his first steps.

And so to this morning where I looked out onto the garden to see further snow had fallen after we’d gone to bed. Rio now loves the snow and for once I’m not too bothered about him digging holes as they’ll be gone once the snow has melted 🙂







This morning I will attempt to take Rio for a walk in the snow, now that will be fun!