Seasonality 'knows where you are as soon as you run it.'
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

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New OS X gems: Seasonality for weather data, DivX 6 for stunning DVD-quality videos

Jan. 4, 2006

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, The Post-Standard

   Got a new Mac OS X computer? Good software is every bit as important -- pardon the pun -- as good hardware. Here are my two most recent discoveries in the world of OS X applications.
   -- Seasonality, from Gaucho Software at www.gauchosoft.com. I'm a big fan of good weather-reporting software for years but never thought I'd find nirvana so easily. No weather program I've ever tried, for Windows, Linux or OS X, comes within a light year of Seasonality.
   First, it knows where you are as soon as you run it, showing the local weather and forecast in your little town. (Mine reported the Baldwinsville, N.Y. temperature within a few seconds of the first launch.)
   Second, it can show you a realtime, live view of weather conditions in your greater area -- in my case, for example, all of Central New York -- or, with a few clicks, in your section of the country, such as the entire Eastern seaboard.
   Third, it has all the doodads that other weather programs have, such as quick notification when bad weather's on the way, easy checks on weather in other locations and customized reporting of data.
   Fourth and probably most impressive, it looks like a million bucks. No, make that two million bucks. If Apple doesn't hire Mike Piatek-Jimenez, the programmer responsible for Seasonality, as its chief interface designer, we'll all be poorer. The guy is a genius.
   You can try Seasonality for free. It costs $25 for a single license or $30 if you want to install it on multiple Macs.
   -- DivX 6 from www.divx.com/divx/mac. DivX is a format for playing very-high-quality videos and movies with equally stunning sound. It's been around for years. DivX is sometimes described as MP3 for video, and casual movie pirates (you know who you are) usually know where to get DivX-encoded movies from file-sharing sites.
   But I'm high on DivX because it gives us all a way to store and view our own videos in files that are MUCH smaller than equivalent DVD video sizes without losing any quality. How much smaller? Some of the DivX videos I've seen are 1/100th the size of the equivalent DVDs.
   That's hard to believe, I agree. So go to www.divx.com/divx/mac and download DivX 6 for Mac. Playback capabilities cost nothing, but if you also want to create your own DivX videos -- and who wouldn't, given the incredible space savings -- go ahead and pay the $20 fee for the version that converts regular video files to DivX.
   But don't stop there. I guarantee you'll spend an entire Saturday raving about DivX if you download any of the free DivX demos from DivX.com. They're at www.divx.com/movies. I was most impressed with the "Madagascar" movie demo.