When I created eatlunch.at, I had little knowledge of existing “vote for lunch” applications that had already been made. In fact, the question “Where shall we have lunch?” is the universal third stage of civilization, and many have attempted to create a solution to that problem. Many have been brought to my attention, although I clearly think mine is the best. 🙂 Here are a couple for your perusal:
Dave Regan’s lunch.cgi – it’s written as a perl cgi, so we can basically dismiss it entirely. 😉 It looks like it does single-party management, with categorization, list of eateries by last access (a point of argument on eatlunch.at), and automated emails. This one actually does a final email that’s supposed to be authoritative at 11:00 am (more on that later) – Found as the #1 result for ‘vote for lunch’ on google.
Dave Renteria’s Wheel ‘O’ Yum – disclosed to me on the makingstuff list, the wheel o’ yum is an actual desktop application that basically picks a random place to go to eat. Apparently the original version decides where you go to lunch, and that’s final; but, due to embarrassing situations, Wheel ‘O’ Yum Supreme now emails you a decision. Hmm… DrLunch.com – a similar web application written in JSP, that gives out helpful stack traces when you try to register. No idea what is inside, but it certainly sounds interesting. It actually makes a choice itself as well. Apparently, Photo Matt found this on a AdWord for this google search: “What are we having for lunch?” Nice. I tried the query, but no longer see the AdWord. Too bad.
In one of the more freaky google AdWord displays for “eat lunch”, BeMyBuddy.co.uk somehow promises to “Find people online to have lunch
with, throughout the UK.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds kind of odd, especially when combined with the pastel kiddy color scheme.
So, it seems like there are several differentiating factors in play here.
- Whether the application chooses a place for you, or allows you to vote
- Whether there is a “final result” that must be obliged.
- Sends email
- Desktop or web application
- Downloadable Program or a service
- Maintained, or, ‘et by the hogs’
Let’s look at the lunchtime voting matrix.
|eatlunch.at||lunch.cgi||Wheel ‘o’ Yum||Wheel ‘o’ Yum Supreme||Dr Lunch||BeMyBuddy|
|App Chooses / You Vote||Vote||Vote||Pick||Pick||Calculate||Too Scary|
|Final Result?||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Too Scary|
|Sends Email?||When first vote cast||Reminder & Final||No||Final||???||Too Scary|
|Desktop / Web||Web App||Web App||Desktop||Desktop||Web App||Too Scary|
|Download / Service||Service||Program||Program||Program||Service||Too Scary|
|Maintained / et by the hogs||Maintained (by me!)||et (?)||et||Maintained||et||Too Scary to et|
One of the most controversial factors in play is the “final decision” factor. For me, this was a design decision. I designed eatlunch this way because the final decision of where to go to eat is still a social one. The primary problem that we face as lunchtime adventurers is extracting daily preferences from each person. There are often those that profess “anywhere is okay,” but renege by rejecting suggestion after suggestion.
Making a final decision within an application not only leads to failure of the application, but also a sense that the application is useless anyway. A good lunchtime voting application should give you important data about your decision, and provide a way for you to express your preferences without committing a great deal of time or effort, and without blocking the way to last-minute lunch audibles.
With that said, there are plenty of improvements on the way for eatlunch.at that will make it easier for others to use and understand. Among those are: vast improvements for the spot directory, “opt-out” from the day feature, rss feed for your party, better explanation of the site, improved ‘hints’, better tag management features, spot detail pages (!), and more! But it’s still pretty fun to use as-is.
Well kids, that’s it for today’s market roundup. Remember, if you have a hard time deciding where to eat lunch at, try eatlunch.at.