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PMY Tested: Mobile My-Cast
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — August 2002
I recently tried Mobile My-Cast, a technology from personalized-weather provider Digital Cyclone that delivers Doppler radar and up-to-date weather information for anywhere in the United States right to your Nextel Java-enabled cellphone. I was skeptical that the phone would actually be able to display the data accurately and clearly, maybe because it seemed like something from a Dick Tracy comic strip.
Upon receiving the phone, a Motorola i185s, I skimmed the 198-page user's guide and broke into a cold sweat. This looked like way too much information to absorb for operating a phone. I decided to forego reading the directions--a bad habit of mine--and just wing it. To my surprise, I could follow the prompts on the LCD after powering up the phone, and within a couple of minutes I was able to access weather and radar data for Manhattan, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Montauk Point, Long Island.
I confess to having a slight advantage over most subscribers. The My-Cast team had already loaded the software needed to run the info into my phone and programmed these geographic areas in its memory. I simply turned on the phone, pressed the Java button, and selected My-Cast on the menu. It listed the applications, which included Weather, Radar, Alerts, and Setup & Help.
I highlighted the program I wanted to use by pressing the phone keypad's up and down buttons to scroll through the functions, then simply pressed Run. In addition to the pre-selected areas, My-Cast allowed me to check weather conditions and radar around the country by entering the appropriate zip code. I was impressed that when I viewed the radar display for an area with bad weather, I could see the clouds sweeping across the LCD on my phone. Granted, it's not immensely detailed, but then, how detailed can a one-inch screen be? Nonetheless, the data was informative. Moving the keypad buttons left and right allowed me to zoom in on the radar image. In Weather mode, I was able to scroll through the forecast by the hour using the left and right buttons.
The Alerts function, which I luckily didn't need, informs you of any problems the phone may be having with the transmission. The Setup & Help feature allowed me to add and subtract locations for viewing.
Setting up your phone will take a bit more work, but not much. First you must call your Nextel provider and request the Power Apps plan. This plan's cost is in addition to your monthly voice plan, and the charges are based on kilobytes, not minutes. My-Cast uses about 10 kilobytes to display the radar and weather data, with a monthly charge of about $9.95.
To download My-Cast onto your phone, you must scroll through the menu on your phone's LCD and press Java Apps. Then choose Download Apps, followed by Free Applications and Business and Productivity. Now highlight My-Cast and press Get-It. After you've downloaded My-Cast, exit the program and press Install. This is similar to installing software on your home computer. Now you're ready to call My-Cast or go to its Web site and start the service. A few minutes later you'll know if you should leave the dock or duck into the saloon for a day with the TV.
Digital Cyclone Phone: (866) 6MY-CAST. Fax: (952) 974-3350. www.my-cast.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.