Android Tokenized Auto-Complete, a New Splitwise Open-Source Project

gmail autocomplete in Android 4
This is what we’re going for.

For the past few months, Splitwise has been hard at work making much-needed improvements to our Android app. We released a faster, less buggy build in late August, and since then we’ve devoted nearly all our developer resources to a pristine 3.0 candidate that we can’t wait to get into your hands.

To achieve Android awesomeness for 3.0, we needed to build a Gmail-style autocomplete field for selecting friends when creating expenses. I was expecting to find this fairly easy to do with the Android SDK. Lots of apps must need this need, and I was aware of the AutoCompleteTextView and MultiAutoCompleteTextView classes. How hard could it be?

The short answer: Pretty darn hard! Hopefully, not anymore. We’ve just released an open-source version of the code on GitHub! Go grab the Splitwise TokenAutoComplete project to have your own wonderful, tokenized autocomplete view up and running in about half an hour. It works on Android versions all the way back to 2.2 (Froyo). More on my process below the fold.  Continue reading Android Tokenized Auto-Complete, a New Splitwise Open-Source Project

The 2010 US Census Population By Zip Code (Totally Free)

US Population By Zipcode / ZCTA
Population by ZIP code / ZCTA from US Census 2010. Why was this so freaking hard to find?

I’m going to kick off a multi-part series on US Census data by offering a totally free download, in XLS or CSV format, of something strangely hard-to-Google: the 2010 US Census population by Zip code (technically, by ZCTA). Splitwise is offering these files free of charge and in the public domain, and I can’t believe how many other sites are charging for them!

But the difficulty I had in creating this data set and using the US Census website has inspired me to write a bit more about how to use one of the world’s most interesting open data sources.

Continue reading The 2010 US Census Population By Zip Code (Totally Free)

Safari ‘Top Sites’ Pollutes Google Analytics and Mixpanel

Average browser visit time chartIf you are the creator of a website or web application yourself, you might want to install the rack-preview gem for Ruby, or something similar. We discovered Safari Top Sites was polluting Splitwise’s Google Analytics and Mixpanel data.

A couple of weeks ago, while digging into our site analytics, we noticed something strange with Safari. We’d just launched Fat Rabbit and were really interested in making sure we measured all the useful  statistics around user growth and engagement. As we pulled out interesting details about website visits (using a combination of Google Analytics and Mixpanel), we started seeing an odd pattern – the average visit length on Safari was half that of our other browsers and the bounce rate was much higher.

Continue reading Safari ‘Top Sites’ Pollutes Google Analytics and Mixpanel

Splitwise Pivots To A New Business Model

Coming soon to a t-shirt near you
Coming soon to a t-shirt near you

After two long years of trying to figure out how to make money, Splitwise has finally settled on a sustainable business model that will enhance the user experience of our website and keep ourselves profitable into the future.

Charging money for payments? Lame. Advertisements? Meh. Premium features? What premium features?

The only logical path, as I’m sure you will agree, is to become a web-comic. Continue reading Splitwise Pivots To A New Business Model

Keeping Your Place Warm On the Cheap

Here in New England the fall is upon us, which means for the next couple of months heating bills will be through the roof. It’s also the time of year where I ask myself why I left California in the first place. From every October to March my usual $30.00 monthly gas bill rockets up to $250.00, and I’m lucky enough to have a gas furnace and not oil like many of my friends and neighbors. I have one friend who pays $300.00 a month all year round to heat his house with oil in the winter. That’s $3600.00 a year for heating their house for measly 4 months!

For those in rentals and apartments, the choice of heating system isn’t usually in your hands. You’re stuck with what’s there, and depending when it was installed or the age of the building you live in can effect the cost of heat dramatically. If you live in an place with older/non-maintained windows and doors you can practically see the money floating through those cracks whenever your heat turns on.

Continue reading Keeping Your Place Warm On the Cheap

An Interview With JumpOffCampus

JumpOffCampusRecently, Katie from JumpOffCampus conducted an experiment: what happens if you tape record me talking for 15 minutes, and post it almost word-for-word on the internet?

Find out the results by reading the interview on the JumpOffCampus blog (except for the parts that were “too colorful for the internet”, kindly censored out).

JumpOffCampus is, in my honest opinion, the world’s best off-campus housing tool. It’s only available with schools that partner with them, so if you are a student and looking for a good apartment search tool, you should reach out to them.

A widget-ized version of the rent calculator is currently available as a resource on their page, which we hope will be very valuable for their students. Woot!

The Real Story About Transferring Money

Hey Barbarians, get your damn hands off my money!

Ron Lieber wrote an article with a moving headline in the NYTimes on Friday: “Why It’s So Hard To Transfer Cash To Your Friends.” I am passionate about this issue – Splitwise’s mission is to reduce the awkwardness of sharing money. Stress about money poisons relationships and dealing with the logistics of repayment is one cause of stress. Let me elaborate on that story and give you Splitwise’s take. Continue reading The Real Story About Transferring Money

Giving Helpful Feedback To Awesome Developers

How do you give useful feedback to a coworker who is solving a technical problem outside of your area of expertise? This issue surfaces in all kinds of highly skilled work, from design to engineering to finance to basic science. It’s also highly relevant for technical and non-technical founders of a software start-up. Continue reading Giving Helpful Feedback To Awesome Developers

Homeowners: Have A Spare Bedroom?

There are many reasons that a family or individual would choose not rent out spare bedrooms in their house. A homeowner might have a desire for more privacy, a fear of having bad tenants, or a need to keep a guest room free (perhaps because they have adult children who use them periodically).

But for many homeowners and empty-nest-ers, the primary reason there are spare bedrooms in their house is because they didn’t go to trouble of looking for renters.

The Ann Arbor Home Share program is looking to change that. It hooks up University of Michigan renters with local homeowners interested in finding tenants. This is a fantastic idea, because students and young professionals often face a scarcity of good housing resources, and homeowners can improve their retirement finances or keep their large houses with the help of the additional income. So many more cities could use this kind of forward-thinking leadership.

We have heard from people using Splitwise that our site is great for this managing and organizing this sort of arrangement. One user wrote to us recently:

“I have been using your system for about a month and love it! I am leasing rooms in the house I own…”

Non-traditional as it may be, we’re so happy to see Splitwise helps makes it easier for people to share space and live in rental harmony together.

A Round-up On Roommates

With the financial crisis still fresh on our minds and wallets, sharing costs and being thrifty has become increasingly important for many people around the world. Several US newspapers wrote stories this week about how having roommates is often part the solution to dealing with a tough economy.

Splitwise is on the record with a colorful quote in the Forbes story: Continue reading A Round-up On Roommates