if wishes were horses, these products would exist

I spend a lot of time on the internet doing the things that I would otherwise have to do in person. As a result, I've gotten pretty good at finding the right app or website to solve the problem I'm looking for. It's amazing what people have built - some motivated person in the past experienced the problem and generously built a product to solve it for everyone else too. Some fun examples of products like this:

  • Pictaculous - generate an appropriate color palette from an image
  • smallpdf - compress PDFs into email-able sizes (also, all kinds of useful PDF tools)
  • Loungebuddy - find all the lounges in an airport, sorted by cost and terminal location

This week, though, I found myself trying to find information and I couldn't find a way to solve it on the internet. Ultimately, I either hacked my way around it or gave up so I thought it would be interesting to post them here.

  1. find a place in between point A and B - several times this week, I wanted to meet friends in SF and other places. I wanted to find something convenient for both of us, and because I was meeting people at different times, I wanted to find a coffee shop, a bar or a restaurant in each of the cases. However, location searches require that you specify a particular location to search around. Instead, I'd love a way that I could say find a bar that is roughly equidistant between two places.
  2. multi-city flight search with multiple nearby options - I wanted to book a flight as follows: A -> B -> C -> A. I had fixed points for A and B but C could be anywhere within a large radius. All the major flight searches allow you to do multi-city but you have to specify all the points. What would have been ideal is to specify a region (multiple countries or drawing an area on a map), or even to have a large radius for a nearby flight search (e.g. any major airport within 1000 miles). While Matrix purports to do this, it kept freaking out and not showing anything. Or if I did find something, the prices didn't compare to looking up that exact flight on another flight search engine.
  3. best credit card to use to optimize rewards - I love to travel, especially internationally. As a result, one of my larger expenditures is flights and hotels. I also have a few different rewards credit cards (thanks to tips from The Points Guy and One Mile at a Time). Different cards yield different rewards, either because of the hotel affiliation or special free night benefits or additional free amenities (free spa services, food and beverage credits, etc.). They also might have different rewards back to the card in terms of number of miles. I'd love a way to know which card I should use to pay for a specific flight or hotel, based on lowest cost and maximum rewards value.
  4. amazon order categorization in personal finance tools - Like most people, Amazon tends to be my first destination for online shopping especially since I have a prime membership. I also am a big user of mint and other personal financial tools to track my spending. I want to be able to see how my Amazon spending breaks down by category. Right now, everything under Amazon gets categorized as Shopping, which makes me feel like I'm a frivolous consumer. Of course, it's not entirely true. While I certainly make the occasional frivolous purchase, I also bought a new faucet to replace my 10 year old faucet that was leaking all over the kitchen. It would be great to hook my Amazon account up to mint so that it could auto-categorize those purchases accurately.

With the possible exception of the first example, I recognize that these products don't exactly have a large market. But hey, a girl can wish, right?

Happy (belated) Canada Day and Happy 4th of July!