Friday, May 16, 2008

Gas Price Windows Vista SideBar gadget – new version is available for download

This post is dedicated to some people in Microsoft and it’s subsidiaries. It begun about year ago, when I developed Gas Price information gadget (do not download it there). Before I started, I sent some personal email to those in MSN, who maintains it’s Auto section. I wait two days and got no response, so wrote this post about HTML scrapping and then I finished the gadget, that uses this technology.

image
© Christopher Robbins

Couple of weeks later, Senior Channel Manager of MSN Marketplace replayed to me. He asked whether I want to convert this gadget to “legal” one by gifting all rights to Microsoft. I asked about my benefits of doing it (my time costs money) and the conversation ended – he even did not responded. I was waiting for “YES” or “NO”, but got only silent.

Year after he mailed me again with warning, that they going to “protect” Auto section in order to prevent unauthorized content grabbing. He asked again about possibility to “legalize” the gadget – I told, that they can do with this gadget whatever they want, so handed it off to MSN team. Nothing happened. No one took care on this.

A month later, I asked again by proposing to allow Windows Vista SideBar referrer too aside with affiliate sites for MSN Auto images, thus the gadget can continue to work and MSN remains protected from other “grabbers”. But he demand to completely remove any reference to MSN from the gadget. The same time I got some proposals of using another data for this very popular gadget and populize other resources instead of very unpopular crappy MSN.

I decided to build new version of the gadget (here you can download) and did it today (my spare time – not work [this is for my manager]). This version even better, then previous one. It contains more information, that updates more frequently. I also includes distance from station and gas stations in Canada. So, this how it looks today

image

As you can see this one is much better and uses Automotive.com information. So what I have to do? Submit it instead of old one, right? This the response, I got from automatic system upon submission.

Your item appears to be either missing a valid signature or a valid certificate. You may also want to check the signature to make sure that it includes the date

Just to make things clear, I signed the code with private signature. They want me to sign it with Trusted Authority. This is very smart request, however I do not want to pay $200-$400 to make their sidebar better! There is neither ROI, nor benefit for me to pay money for something, I’m giving for free to anyone.

Just in case, signing code with certificate, trusted by authority even do not removes regular live gallery end-user warning.

Unverified submission.

Only install applications from developers you trust. This is a third-party application, and it could access your computer's files, show you objectionable content, or change its behavior at any time.

So why me to pay? Only because I want to be nice to Microsoft and replace my old gadget by new one to serve dozen thousands of people, who using Windows Vista with SideBar and my gadget?

NO WAY! I will not submit it there. I will never contribute anything for free to Windows Vista Live Gallery. They want me (and million of other developers) to submit it to Google or Yahoo? I’ll do it! I’ll force my customers to use 3rd party addons and visit 3rd party websites to get the information they want to get without paying anyone. At least their marketing guys know how to make developer not to suffer from his own good wish.

Thank you and good buy! You want to win web? You just impossible to do it.

Download Gas Price gadget for Windows Vista SideBar >> (it signed with personal certificate, so do it for your own risk :) )

P.S. Next week, I have a meeting with Steve Ballmer and I’m going to ask him all those questions. If you have any questions and want me to ask him, please send it to me or leave a comment.

4 comments:

Ryan H said...

love the gadget! Not to keen on the font used, displays very grainy. I edited the display a bit see the pastie link for changes:

http://pastie.org/283607

Ahanix said...

New color is too loud, and the font is difficult to read. I'm trying to, for personal use, convert your new code to use a style similar to the old version, but running into some problems

James said...

Very nice! When I grow up, I want to be like you :P

Thank you for keeping this application free & out of Microsofts greedy hands.

Ahanix said...

Turns out the old version stopped working because I selected "Use New Display" or whatever on the MSN Autos website. Your new Automotive version, besides being too visually distruptive, has a horrible tendency to display stations up to 40 miles away. That's not even reasonable. MSN Autos only shows within 5 miles of city limits, which I can accept.