Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GasCalc Launch!

A week or so back I was riding in my mom's SUV, and we were talking about the rising gas prices. In that conversation it became apparent that:

  1. It's not obvious how the price of a barrel of oil corresponds to what you pay at the pump.

  2. It's not a super quick mental calculation for figuring out how much you would save a month/year if you updated your gas guzzler into a more fuel efficient vehicle.

  3. Tracking miles per gallon may be built into some cars, but that doesn't record how much you actually pay for the gas, or the real cost to drive a mile.
So on the plane ride home, I did a quick javascript application using the Google App Engine which allows for offline development. The result of that little experiment is the GasCalc website.

GAE and Twitter Too

As if learning one application framework wasn't enough, I decided to add support for the Twitter API too.

With the Twitter API, you can send directed messages from your cell phone via Twitter to "gascalc" to record your miles, price paid, and gallons entered (MPG). For example, if you went 300 miles, paying $3.09, and put in 10.24 gallons, you would send the following tweet: "d gascalc 300 3.09 10.24". GasCalc would use Twitter to send back your MPG, as well as record it on the site, so you can view it later.

It's a Beta Release, Baby

It's fair to say that the site is pretty "beta"... I don't own a car, and so have only tested it in real world scenarios a couple of times.

Also, Twitter has been flakey lately, so YMMV with how reliable that link is...but it's been fine for me in my testing.

I setup a discussion group, as well as this blog with the hopes that the community can help point out the deficiencies and suggest new features.