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

16 במאי 2008

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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.

© 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


As you can see this one is much better and uses 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.

UPD (18-May): Some issues were fixed (zips starting with 0, negative prices, sorting). You can download new version of the gadget from the same url and update your local version. Great thank to all, who reported issues.

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30 תגובות

  1. Tom16 במאי 2008 ב 21:32

    Yeah! You tell em, Tamir! 🙂

    Just wanted to point out two things:

    1) It's "scraping", not "scrapping"

    2) Your gadget is unusable for me because when I enter 01003, it tells me "No information for 1003". All of the zip codes in my area start with 0.

  2. Tamir Khason16 במאי 2008 ב 23:45

    Tom, I saw the problem and fix it as soon as possible.
    Thank you for feedback, but English is not my native language. BTW, is there meaning difference? 🙂

  3. Tom16 במאי 2008 ב 23:55

    Understood, and I think your English is generally pretty good.

    There is actually a big difference in meaning in this case. Web scraping would be scraping information from the web, as you would scrape ice from your car's windshield on a cold winter morning. Web scrapping would be cancellation of the web, as you would cancel a project or drop a feature, with the implication that it didn't work out very well. For example, the idea of including WinFS in Vista was scrapped at some point. (You can see this usage of scrapped on the Wikipedia page for WinFS, actually.)

  4. Tamir Khason18 במאי 2008 ב 16:07

    Tom, Fixed. You can download the new version from the same url.
    Thank you for reporting

  5. Larry Weber24 במאי 2008 ב 9:00


    Thanks for the update. It works well. Your experience (has happened to many others) explains why many of us do not trust Micro$oft and are switching to Linux. Thank you sir, you did good.

  6. Yossi 25 במאי 2008 ב 4:13

    שלום תמיר
    נהניתי מאוד לקרוא את הפוסט הזה. מה דעתך לערוך אותו שוב? נראה לי שבסערת הרגשות התגלצ'ו לך כמה טעויות דקדוק וסגנון.

    – יוסי

  7. Mr. Sustainable6 ביוני 2008 ב 16:13

    I love my gadget sidebar but am uncertain how I will feel when the numbers reach nosebleed levels.


  8. Tamir Khason Impersonator7 ביוני 2008 ב 5:53

    Isn't signing with a private cert the same as not signing at all? Can't I create my own private cert and claim to be Tamir Khason, then release my own botnet version of your gadget?

  9. Tamir Khason7 ביוני 2008 ב 11:16

    Tamir Khason Impersonator, you are absolutely right. However it nothing to do, if I'll buy strong key cert for any other name and sign bot with this cert. So it tells nothing to end customer about safety of gadget

  10. Jay19 ביוני 2008 ב 1:24

    Excellent point! And an even more excellent Product (gadget)!!
    Thank you…

  11. Chuck E24 ביוני 2008 ב 5:26

    I just downloaded the "new" version and I still get the red X instead of whatever graphic is supposed to be there for the actual gas station prices.

  12. Chuck E24 ביוני 2008 ב 16:38

    Thanks Tamir. I clicked on your link above and now I got the new version that is associated with

    I tried downloading it several times from the other links and I kept getting the same MSN program.

    Thanks again.

  13. Chuck E26 ביוני 2008 ב 4:22


    I tried putting one instance of your program for regular gas and another for premium gas on the Sidebar and the second instance does not show anything besides the link.

    Though when I click on it, I do get the individual gas station prices.


  14. Chuck E26 ביוני 2008 ב 4:23

    On second look, it still shows the same gas prices for CA I had before – I'm in Arizona.

  15. Brian Moura5 ביולי 2008 ב 2:25

    Is there a way to change the new gadget so that the numbers display as clear (vs distorted) and that all 3 gas grade prices show on the fly out vs. just the one selected ?

  16. Nate14 ביולי 2008 ב 4:02

    when i downloaded it and put in my zip code nothing shows up it is just blank.

  17. Kent25 ביולי 2008 ב 11:06

    Hello Tamir,
    I have downloaded your latest gadget for getting gas prices but it will not load. What program opens it? If I use Windows Sidebar to open the program, only the sidebar appears but not your gadget.
    Any Suggestions? Windows Vista 32 bit with SP-1 installed.


  18. Tamir Khason27 ביולי 2008 ב 0:47

    Kent, all you have to do is to run thje downloaded file with .gadget extension, then right click the sidebar and choose Gas Price from the gadget list. Then you can drag it into sidebar and see it.
    If you cannot see, it's probably, that you have more gadgets, then the space on the sidebar. If so, you'll see arrows in the upper left side of sidebar. Click it to see the second page.

  19. Ahanix5 באוגוסט 2008 ב 21:38

    yes, but the old version looks better, and when you live in a town small enough that you don't need to "search" for the lowest price but would rather just know ahead of time whether prices are going up or down… the old version is better. The blue one with the digital-style numbers is much easier than the screaming red one with 'violent-impact' numbers.

  20. samedy10 באוגוסט 2008 ב 0:30

    It is excellent! and heplful for user. Thank you!

  21. samedy10 באוגוסט 2008 ב 0:33

    It is good and helpful for user.

  22. Scott S.10 באוגוסט 2008 ב 11:54

    I like that you said screw you to microsoft!! The only thing that I wish is that it was as clean as your older one that you used with MSN gas price.. This one looks like the picture has been zoomed in so much that the quality looks crappy.

  23. Jim4 באוקטובר 2008 ב 15:02

    Hi, great gadget. I run three of them on my sidebar because of the three areas of Denver I travel. However, the gadgets always move on my sidebar s I am never sure which area I am looking at. Could you add displaying the Zip Code on the Gadget so when multiple instances are run I can tell which area is which without having to check each time?

    Thanks for this awesome tool.


  24. albert17 באוקטובר 2008 ב 16:52

    Need Canadian one with Postal Code entry. Live in Quebec and love this gadget but it's kind of useless for me.

  25. Al Faraldi17 באוקטובר 2008 ב 23:39

    Gas Gadget 2.o is great
    But the fony is difficult to read.
    The font for GAs Gadget 1.0 was perfect.
    Does Gas Gadget 1.0o longer work.
    I cant get it to update


  26. user19 באוקטובר 2008 ב 20:08

    Thank you for your work, even though Microsoft doesn't appreciate it I do, this is one of the most usefull sidebar gadgets out there. I am glad to see that there is a way to fix the problems I was beginning to have with the "MSN" version. I don't like the red background as much but I'll make do because it actually displays the prices. Thank you again.


  27. Darin19 באוקטובר 2008 ב 22:04

    Wondering if you could write code for the actual average, and not just the median. Other than that I changed the font on mine for clarity and wanted to say thanks for a great gadget.

  28. sam2 בדצמבר 2008 ב 13:17

    its broke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. gasguzzler26 בדצמבר 2008 ב 15:30

    installed this on 12/22, prices have not updated. how do they refresh? if I go to and put in my zip, the prices are different at the same stations that area listed on the gadget