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Issue #788: Aug 28 – Sep 3, 2022

Geek Note:  This week, I received multiple reader e-mails asking about issue #787, which was supposed to publish the week of August 21-27, but which apparently didn’t make it into at least one of the newspapers in which it normally appears. If you were denied your weekly dose of Geekdom, I sincerely apologize.  I assure you that the column was completed and submitted on time.  After that, it’s out of my hands.  I cannot explain why the paper chose not to run it.  Please remember that all current and past issues of It’s Geek To Me are always available on the column’s website at (not .com).  I do appreciate you letting me know of the column’s absence, and how much it means to you to be able to read it!

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Q: I have been visiting in another time zone. The weather widget (or is it an app?) that I have always used since it came with the computer has ceased giving anything like the full daily weather reports for three places I often spend time. Microsoft has been as unhelpful as usual, unless they exist solely to eat up customers’ time trying to fix their peccadilloes, whilst hawking new products. I carry a MS Surface Pro 4 with Windows 10, updated regularly, Home & Student, always with my present local date and time wherever I go, and a Verizon jetpack, both of which seem to be working fine for everything but the weather reports. I get my news, mail, etc., through Duck Duck Go, with Microsoft Edge the default.

 – John P.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Hi John.  I can certainly see where this would be a problem for you.  I personally use weather apps on various devices, usually multiple times a day.  When I do, I need the weather for where I am physically located, not somewhere else across the state, or across the country.

This is one of those times when it would have been very helpful if you had included a screenshot of the software with your question.  I don’t believe there is a weather app (or widget, or whatever) that could rightly be considered “the” weather source on your version of Windows. Now, I could be wrong, because I don’t run a Surface, and I don’t know if they come configured with some other software for these mobile devices that doesn’t come with versions that run more sedentary laptop and desktop PCs.  Of the computers I do currently use on a regular basis, there are a spate of different weather apps among them, but none of these provide data for multiple locations simultaneously.

I can tell you that most location-sensitive apps like those that deliver your weather information use any of several sources of information to determine the location.  The best choice would be the Global Positioning System (GPS) if available, since it would be able to pinpoint your location without relying on any external feature except available power.  My sources tell me that your Surface 4 Pro is, unfortunately, not equipped with GPS.  The next best choice would be a feature called Windows Location Services, which uses a combination of features to provide an estimated location.  These include WiFi, local cell towers, and the system’s IP address.  Depending on how you’re connected to the Internet, this can provide wildly inaccurate locations.  For example, the computer on my desk where I work consistently thinks it is located several states away, because that’s where the corporate data center is located that it is connected to.  Since your connectivity comes through a Verizon Jetpack, your mileage may vary.  You might consider contacting Verizon directly to inquire how that device helps or hinders with Windows Location Services.

The final method of selecting a location is user entry.  Every one of these apps that I’ve ever used has the ability for you to enter a city and state, or a Zip code for which you want to see the weather data.  I used to have various Zip codes from around the country programmed into the weather app that I use on my iPhone.  These were for places I travel, and the homes of family and friends, just so I can keep up on what the weather is like at that location if I so-choose.  To set this up, or to switch to one of these locations, I had to take specific, manual steps, usually involving entering a Zip Code.  Then I had to manually switch back to auto-locating via GPS when I was through.

So, John, I apologize for not giving you a straight-up, solve-‘em-all answer.  I hope something in my discussion of location services will be a help to you

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