Hack 29. Find the Best Gasoline Prices

Drive your mouse for cheaper fueland then catch a movie.

My friends in construction spend a lot of time driving up and down Highway 101, and they all know where the cheap gas is. I spend my time sitting in front of a computer, but thanks to http://www.ahding.com/cheapgas/,I also know where the cheap gas flows.

4.2.1. What a Gas!

The Cheap Gas site in Figure 4-1 uses data from http://www.gasbuddy.com/, which aggregates user reports of gas prices so that everyone can benefit. You can also contribute to the Gas Buddy web site by becoming one of their volunteer spotters, thus gratifying your natural human desire to tell other people something that they don't know.

Figure 4-1. Where are the deals?

After you pick a city, the site lists gas stations on the side bar and markers on the map. The green icons represent the lowest half of gas stations by price and the red icons are the high half. As shown in Figure 4-1, each station has a marker with more information.

What is interesting about this example is the integration with http://www.gasbuddy.com/. GasBuddy.com provides the database of cheap gas, but is not run by cartographers, so Ahding.com was able to create the now-classic mashup.

What causes gas price variations? An interesting project in geospatial analysis would be to see if one could draw any conclusions about why there is such variation in prices from station to station. Overlaying different thematic layers and doing calculations based on multiple data sets is exactly what a Geographic Information System (GIS) is all about, but Google Maps has shown that there has been an enormous demand for an easy-to-use "put a push pin on a map" solution. That is now a solved problem!

Once you get your fuel price woes straightened out, you can click on the Movies link at http://www.ahding.com/movie/ and use the same basic interface to query the Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com) to check out local movies.


4.2.2. GasWatch

Another low-cost-gasoline solution is GasWatch by Adrian Gonzales, which is available from http://www.widgetgallery.com/view.php?widget=36500. This is a widget that will run under Konfabulator for Windows and Mac OS X (the grass is greener on both sides) and show you the best prices for gas. "GasWatch shows you the lowest priced gas in your ZIP Code. It also provides a handy button to show a map to the gas station. Maps for Mac users provided by Google Maps."

To install the widget you need Konfabulator (http://www.konfabulator.com/download). Konfabulator is a JavaScript environment for your desktop. People can write small programs called widgets, and you can run them under Konfabulator.

For Mac OS X, download the disk image (.dmg) file. When it is finished downloading, mount the .dmg by double-clicking on it. When the folder opens, drag the icon into your applications folder. Now you can download the GasWatch widget. Double-click and it will prompt for your ZIP Code, and then sit quietly on your Desktop, as shown in Figure 4-2, letting you know the current cheapest local gas prices.

Figure 4-2. Cheap gas on your desktop

Clicking on the Map button will bring up Google Maps with this address highlighted. This is a great example of the value to be gained from connecting different sources of data in new ways.

You Are Here: Introducing Google Maps

Introducing the Google Maps API

Mashing Up Google Maps

On the Road with Google Maps

Google Maps in Words and Pictures

API Tips and Tricks

Extreme Google Maps Hacks

Google Maps Hacks
Google Maps Hacks: Tips & Tools for Geographic Searching and Remixing
ISBN: 0596101619
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 131

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