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9/7/2012
03:32 PM
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App Rescues You From Boring Meetings, Dates

GetOutCall, created in one weekend by a nonprogrammer, is an example both of how easy it is to code these days and how technology can come to the rescue even in the most mundane of emergencies.

Never again will you have to rely on a friend or coworker to rescue you from a bad date or endless meeting. Seattle-based consultant Rob Ousbey created GetOutCall, an app powered by Twilio. The premise is simple. Text 4245 GET OUT (424-542-8688), with the time that you want it to call you.

When you answer the call at the appointed time, a computer-generated voice says, "Thank you for using the service and have a nice day."

While you were probably relaxing over the Labor Day weekend, Ousbey was coding away on his project.

Ousbey's day job is COO of Distilled, an online marketing firm. He created GetOutCall "without being a developer and a coder," he said.

It's getting easier to code, said Ousbey. "You don't have to have a CS degree," he said. "Using Google App engine was really simple. Things like Twitter Bootstrap make it easy too. There are lots of these APIs like the Twilio API. The Twilio system means that I just have to write a few lines of code."

He got the photo for his website for free through Creative Commons.

If you are a hacker with a good idea, there are tools available to turn it into an app. To build his app, Ousbey used Twilio's API and Google App Engine. He coded the app using Codeanywhere, so he didn't have to store files in any one spot. The hosting is costing him next to nothing at the moment. The cost of the Twilio service is 4 cents for each person who uses it.

Ousbey said he personally wasn't desperate to get out of meetings or dates. He kept starting projects and not finishing them, so he wanted to see an app through to its completion.

Right now, the service is only available in the U.S. He might expand it for international use soon.

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