Thursday, July 09, 2009

Google does everything

except a very simple thing I want it to do.

I've spent weeks, on and off, trying to find something to quickly and easily calculate mileage when I'm out with my PA, so that I know how much petrol money to pay her, and I can't do it.

We mostly go to the same dozen or so locations, but not in the same order and not all in the same day. For instance, on week 1, we might go from my house to the doctor's and then to the bank and then to the swimming pool and then to the shop and then to my house. On week 2 we might go from my house to the bank and then to the library and then to the park and then to my house. On week 3 we might go from my house to the shop and then to the doctor and then to the park... you get the idea.

Currently I calculate mileage by typing all the locations into the Google Maps "get directions" thingy, and then confirming which one I mean for most of them, and then making sure all the dots are where they should be, and adding them up. It only takes ten minutes, and it works well because it plots a route that accounts for one-way systems and suchlike, but it's getting tedious because it's always the same places that I'm having to type in again and again and again, and I have to do it on-the-go or as soon as I get home because by that point I'm really tired and I can't depend on being able to remember exactly where we went post-nap.

I played with the google "My Maps" thing and put a handful of my regular locations into a "local places".

What I want to be able to do is open that up and then drag-and-drop the locations I went to on a given day from my "local places" map into the "get directions" boxes, click OK, and get a list that looks like this:

My House to Doctor: 0.6m
Doctor to Shops: 0.2m
Shops to Park: 2.6m
Park to My House: 3.0m
Total: 6.4m

... which I can just copy and paste into the mileage sheet ready to send off to the salary service each month.

I don't understand how there can be a google app to make my G1 look like a Star Trek tricorder, but not one to calculate mileage. Geeks have expenses claims too, right?


jiva said...

well you're phone is trackable.. but I'm not sure how to set that up.

Plus there is the fun of gmaps pedometer. Still not quite what you want but fun for a few more goes.

Mary said...

This is the point - 1,000 apps that are nearly but not quite what I'm after.

I only have to pay mileage for distance travelled in her car. I suspect tracking the phone would also try to account for distance walked around the park, and distance travelled by other forms of transport.

Anonymous said...

It's failing the pencil and paper test. All cars have a mileometer; read the mileage when you leave your house and again when you return, deduct the first from the second and that's the miles travelled that day. You don't even need to turn the computer on or do the maths at the time. As long as you have the mileages out and back recorded you can do the maths once a week. T.

Mary said...


*awards T a cookie of common sense*

Tim Almond said...

There's certainly a way of building such an app as the Microsoft Bing Maps have an API which could be fed postcode from/to and return a distance.

Carie said...

There used to be a way of saving a route on google maps or google pedometer or something like that - we used it when we were running to be able to add regular routes together - or you could just do the milometer thing!

Mary said...

Tim: yes, this is more or less what I've been doing with google maps. It's just been getting tedious to be typing in the same placenames/postcodes, and then having to adjust half of them. I was hoping to use My Maps to set the definite points I wanted, and then go bambambambambam for a copy/paste mileage breakdown (eg Social Services want to see I went to the Library (which is what it's called on My Maps), not to "CV32 4AA"") and total.

Carie: the trouble with regular route things is that, looking over past mileage sheets, I go to the same dozen places, but never in the same order or route.

Typing them in isn't a tragedy - nor is asking my PA to note her car's mileage every time we park - I just felt it was an obvious function that My Maps could fulfil and was surprised that I couldn't find an app for it.

Kristi said...

I don't know if Mapquest works for you the same way it works for me here in the US....

But I do have a list of places I go. I start with the first place that I can select from a drop down list, and then my next location is on the 'next' drop down list. After you click to get those directions - it calculates the route. But if I scroll down to the bottom of the map/picture - there's a place to 'add another location.' So then I have points - A, B & C. It just keeps adding to the directions list and cumulative miles for the total number of points I insert.

Hope that helps.

Mary said...

That may well help - I'll investigate Mapquest as soon as I remember.