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News Editor

Dear WeatherBug ….

Mar 27, 20063 mins
Data Center

When last we heard from WeatherBug CTO Chris Sloop he was at my invitation penning this spirited defense of his company’s flagship product against persistent complaints from IT professionals that WeatherBug is about as welcome on a corporate network as, well, WeatherBug.

Sloop and I developed a nice report during the back-and-forth editing of that piece he wrote. I’m convinced at this point that WeatherBug in recent years hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves for having shaken free of past practices that earned it such disrepute in IT circles. And I’m equally convinced that WeatherBug is not spyware, as the occasional critic continues to maintain, much to Sloop’s chagrin. (More importantly, the anti-spyware vendors are convinced of that fact.)

But where Sloop and I continue to disagree is on the question of exactly how relevant WeatherBug is to the typical workplace. Oh, sure, Sloop acknowledges that his weather monitoring and alert app is not right for every company and every desktop. And I’ll grant that there are places and circumstances where it makes sense. But there’s still a gap.

In particular, I’m of the opinion that WeatherBug oversells the value of its product as a potential life-saver. That’s where Sloop and I first came to clash, as a matter of fact.

Which is why he was writing to me the other day.

“Not sure if you are still skeptical of WeatherBug and our life-saving abilities, so I wanted to fire this off your way,” Sloop writes. “This is an e-mail we got recently with all the severe weather in the southeast U.S.”

“Dear WeatherBug,

“WeatherBug helped keep my family safe when a series of F-3 tornadoes ripped through Bentonville, Ark., on Sunday, March 12.  

“I was aware of the storms but not concerned enough to take shelter. Fortunately, I had just turned on my computer to send e-mails when I noticed my WeatherBug was chirping a Severe Weather Alert.  I read the Tornado Warning just as the sirens went off.

“The WeatherBug/National Weather Service alert described this storm system as ‘particularly dangerous,’ and it was.  At that moment, three funnel clouds were on the ground and headed directly my way.  Within minutes, the path of the largest funnel was projected to hit within blocks of me.  The storm created a fantastic light show followed by debris smacking our windows, as my daughter and I took cover in an interior room just in time.  The tornado blasted a hole in my roof and shattered four windows.  Some area homes were completely destroyed, while some neighbors lost entire second floors.  Had I not been on my computer to see and hear the WeatherBug alert, I could have, but for the grace of God, been in bed when the storm hit.” 

The e-mail was signed, “Judy H., Bentonville, Ark.”

Now I could go ahead and quibble that Judy was at home, not work, when the tornado hit … but that would be small of me. Nope, gotta score this round for the WeatherBug CTO.

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at