How high gas prices paid for my new (used) car

The stage is set:

I drive my VW Jetta exactly 50 miles a day to and from work. When gas prices started going up in the Summer of 2006, I decided to figure out exactly how much fuel was costing me each workday. So, one morning on the way to work, I stopped at the gas station nearest my home. I filled my tank and reset my trip counter to zero. I recorded the price per gallon ($3 something a gallon!). Then, I drove directly to work, worked, and drove back to the same gas station. I pulled up to the same pump I filled up at that morning. I took note of how many miles I had driven, and sure enough it read almost exactly 50 miles. Next, I refilled my gas tank. It cost me $7. I had burned $7 dollars worth of fuel just going to work and back! That came as quite a shock. I knew gas prices were high, but I never thought that I was spending that much each day. $3 a Gallon?!? Somethings gotta give! After doing some homework on the web (, et al., I decided to buy a much more fuel efficient car (and a soon to be FREE CAR).

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Dashpc Carputer

My carputer: The Dashboard PC
In 1999 (many years ago), I had the crazy idea of putting a personal computer into my car. After much though and some serious planning, I decided to do it. I started the project in 1999 and its been evolving ever since. A lot of people may wonder why I wanted to put a personal computer into my car. Well, back when I started the project, there were no iPods or portable music players. Navigation systems for cars only existed in specialty markets (military, super luxury, etc) and nothing provided useful information like traffic conditions. So, I set about installing the computer and customizing it for my needs / desires. The project became wildly popular on the internet and it catalyzed the carputer craze. I blogged about it as I built it and it developed quite a following on-line. It was featured on a popular technology website and later in two books:
Geek My Ride (forworded by Apple co-founder Steve Woz Wozniak) and Car PC Hacks. As I built the carputer, I had to develop my own electronic circuit to control power issues in the car. After an overwhelming number of requests to purchase this circuit, I began selling it (the DSSC startup and shutdown controller) via my company Dashwerks, Inc.

I created a website dedicated to the project, dubbed The DashPC where you can find more detailed information. DashPC is an amalgam for Dashboard Personal Computer.

Here are some pictures
Screenshot of my dashpc software
Red Hat Linux booting in the car
The screen and keyboard
The computer in the trunk
The wireless keyboard

Technology Used:

(add freshmeat link here)


Dashboard Linux

In 1999 (many years ago), I had the crazy idea of putting a personal computer into my car. There were no frameworks or code bases available at the time because a project of this magnitude had never been done, so I set about writing my own frontend software: Dashboard Linux. The entire system was initially built around Linux From Scratch (LFS). I started the interface with Perl & TCL/TK, then later ported it over to C. On it’s final iteration I used C++ with Qt.

This post is mostly for posterity because the project has been abandoned and there are many newer projects that are much more capable.

Pictures / Screenshots

ScreenshotThe old Perl TCL/TK interface (circa 1998)
Bare GTK interfaceSame interface with a different theme applied
Another theme applied... and another theme
The FM Tuner card interfaceGPSDrive on Linux

Technology Used: