Monday, September 10, 2007

Preview of My Pet/Hobby Project

Well, I keep stalling on the release of this project I've been devoting a few hours to a week for the past few months. It definitely still needs some work, but I thought maybe giving a preview of the idea here will motivate me to finish it up.

Not listening to my own advice, I decided to work on this project using PHP, which I've used maybe a 10th as much as .NET languages. The thing I love about PHP is that it's lightweight. The laptop I typically travel with is one of those 3 pound tablet PCs, which is great to travel with, but not so great to compile a program with. Visual Studio barely runs on the thing. The thing I don't like about PHP is that it's not as organized/readable as C#. It's much more natural to be object oriented with C# since the code is removed from the design. But I love that it's lightweight, and all you need is a text editor.

Ok, so onto the project. I love to travel. I love Geography/Geopolitics (I even double majored Geography in college). After ChimSoft, I really wanted to work on something I enjoyed and understood thoroughly. Sometime last spring my wife and I were trying to figure out somewhere we could go on vacation. Oddly enough, there is nothing/almost nothing out there on the web that will recommend a place for you in an unbiased way. Almost every site assumes you know where you want to go first. Well, most American's knowledge of world geography is limited to "The Iraq", Cancun, and Punta Cana. So there are all these really great places to vacation that no one even considers.

Well that was the idea I had going into this project. I would dig up a bunch of potential vacation spots from around the world, and make a wizard to help you figure out where you should go. I was particularly inspired by a site called, that I stumbled across a few years ago and thought was neat.

By far, the hardest thing to do was research all these places, get unbiased opinions, and make some sort of rating for that place. I'd say the research behind this took about 80% of the time, and the creation of the site took the other 20%.

So please check out the site,, and let me know if the results "feel" right.

I've found the results from family members have been pretty good so far. Adding more content is the next step. Right now almost all of the text content is a excerpt from Wikitravel, which isn't the most reliable of travel sites. Most of the pictures are actually photos I or someone I know have taken, and any other ones were from stock photo sites with the author's permission.

How does this idea make money? Currently, the only way it does is via the Flight/Hotel referrer links on each page. It may never add up to more then chump change, but entire companies run off these type of referrals ( and

Version 2 will allow users to suggest their own destinations and the site will then provide my recommendations vs user's recommendations. Feel free to let me know any other ideas you may have to improve the site, and what you think of it in general!


At 6:25 PM, Blogger tgmayfield said...

Except in rare circumstances, I refuse to write PHP without Smarty.

It does have some overhead to have it load Smarty for each page, but it's nearly always worth it. Templates compile to PHP, and it's a lot easier to be OO if your PHP isn't worried about presentation.

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be "that guy", but...

"a 10th as much" -> "1/10 as much"

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Phil said...

tg: I'm not a real big fan of frameworks, but I'll check it out.

anon grammar nazi: You must be new here if you think grammar is my strong suit ;)


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