Save Those Receipts!

Over the weekend I was on a team of (potential) winners participating in the 2008 Rails Rumble. The application idea was something that I had prototyped for myself years ago and quickly lost, and it solves the problem I had at the time:

I was living near Fenway, and I suffered from too many choices of where to purchase milk (and other groceries). The best solution, to me, was to track the price of milk at various shops so I could have an accurate measurement of which was cheapest, or if there were any correlations I could use to predict the price.

That’s it.


So Chad, Joe, Micah, and myself met the day before it started and mapped out a gameplan for Where’s The Milk At. We watched Blur’s “Coffee & TV” for visual inspiration, drew mocks on paper, and discussed just how awesome we’re gonna rock.

Chad, Micah, and myself set to work at 8PM EDT on Friday (midnight GMT), lasting until 2:30AM. Fueled by pizza, we knocked out most of the server setup, sign up and sign up (both password and OpenID), page layout and design, and the logo.

The next day Joe joined in to hack from 9AM to 9PM (Chad stayed until midnight), fixing some bugs and propelling forward with some crazy JavaScript. More pizza was ordered, and Joe’s girlfriend stopped by with some delicious, large cookies.

I felt unrested and failed to pull my own weight on Saturday, but on Sunday we all worked full-steam toward the 8PM EDT deadline. We found browser incompatibilities with two hours to go, and two bugs in our code with an hour to go; we were down to the wire, but we got everything in with 30 minutes to spare. (Joe used those 30 minutes to improve the JavaScript.)

All of this was caught on video.

Inspired by this weekend of hacking for 32.5 hours, I’ve started work on another idea I suggested during the brainstorming (word blogging), with the intent of doing a 12-hour code sprint on Saturday with anyone who is willing to join. Find me on IRC to join in.

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