Buzzworthy! (Feb 2010)

February 25, 2010 by

Checking out the blog buzz, it seems oDesk is doing well in taste tests. First, buyer Simon Bunker compares our marketplace to a competitor and declares we're "now the site of choice for all my outsourcing activity." Then for the provider perspective, the remote-work gurus at CertifiedFreelance.com provide "Five Reasons Why oDesk Tops Other Freelance Sites." Network Solutions blogger Steve Fisher talks about using oDesk with your iPhone, and a provider writing as "Sufidreamer" offers his fourth in-depth post about getting started on oDesk, this time focusing on cover letters and interviews. If you're tired of reading websites, here are a couple of YouTube videos you can watch: Camitta Davis offers a video intro to becoming an oDesk provider, and "MrWebMarketing" asks, "Is Outsourcing Just a Fad?" Watch and learn, folks — and remember to send us your links when you talk about oDesk online. For a few lucky winners each month, there's a free T-shirt in it. Over at the developing oDeskGuide.com, Rikki John De Castro continues to create an independent resource for oDesk providers. Recently he offered a friend advice on dealing with a difficult buyer who kept demanding broad revisions on a fixed-priced project (check it out just for the cartoon about a web design project gone awry), and he finished January by celebrating his first $1,000 in earnings through oDesk. Congratulations, Rikki! … Read Full Article

Google App Engine VS. Amazon AWS: Apples and Oranges

November 30, 2009 by

Building an application that runs "in the cloud" is easier than ever before utilizing Amazon's Web Services (AWS) and/or Google's App Engine. Both give individuals and businesses the ability to start small and think big, while being prepared for the potential that your website or online application will grow in ways that would require the kind of massive infrastructure that both Amazon and Google have already invested in. When comparing the merits of the two, it's tempting to pit them against each other, however it's really the case of selecting the right tool for the job. Programming opportunities for these platforms has steadily increased on oDesk over the last year, and its unlikely that we'll see either company or platform going away any time soon. As you'll see in the graphs below the demand for Amazon AWS developers is higher on oDesk, and upon closer inspection of the trends pages for Amazon AWS and Google App Engine, you'll notice that the ratio of programmers to available jobs is also higher for Amazon AWS. Amazon AWS Amazon's Web Services, is an entire suite of services dedicated to providing cloud computing, database, and storage services. The main strength - and also main weakness - of AWS is in its extremely flexible configuration. EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is the main attraction, offering users the ability to configure any combination of operating systems and servers imaginable via Amazon Machine Images. There is an entire library of pre-configured machine images to select from. Amazon offers fair pricing for these services, but the configuration can be complex if you are developing an application that wants to take advantages of load balancing and other benefits of … Read Full Article

Optimizing Computer Performance for Online Work Success

November 16, 2009 by

If you're working with others online, as a small business owner or freelancer, then your computer is the conduit to your work. Your computer's efficiency correlates directly to the your work productivity. Below are some tips to optimize performance and make the most out of the computer you already own. Disclaimer: Changes of this type may have the potential to cause loss of data. Before making any alterations to your system, backing up your data is strongly recommended. Proceed at your own risk! OS and Memory Memory (RAM) is where programs live while your computer is turned on. Your operating system(OS) is the first program loaded in to memory. You or your OS can then load more programs. However, if your OS has been instructed to load spyware, viruses, worms, or non-essential software in to memory, this can cause your computer's processing speed  to grind to a halt. This particular article is aimed at users running Windows XP. However, if you are running a Mac, check out Onyx. In my experience most Mac problems stem from Disk Permissions issues. Onyx is great at fixing these issues. Malware Cleaning and Prevention PC Tools Spyware Doctor and PC Tools Anti-Virus, are both available as free downloads. They can help you identify and remove malware from your system.  Once they're installed they will auto-update unobtrusively and let you know if there are any more problems. If the above doesn't work, then the offending piece of software is brand new and really evil. Check out the forums on MajorGeeks.com. Chances are someone else has had the same problem and the solution is there, or they are in the process of figuring it out. Unwanted Legit … Read Full Article

The Future of Work

October 28, 2009 by

The oDesk team recently pulled together our thoughts on the ways business, technology and the working world intersect. The result of our brainstorm? The Future of Work: An educational presentation that explores how technology is changing how the world works. The Future Of Work View more documents from Jeff Brenman. Check it out, share it, discuss it - We're excited about the future of work, and we hope that you will be too! … Read Full Article

iPhone vs. Android - Goliath vs. Goliath?

October 21, 2009 by

As sales of smartphones rises so does the demand for talented developers to exploit these new platforms. The two most popular mobile platforms in the oDesk marketplace are Apple's iPhone OS, and Google's Android OS. Below is a run down of how the demand for these skills has fared over the last 12 months, and where developers can get started developing on these platforms. iPhone The Apple iTunes App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been open for just over 15 months, with Apple reporting over 2 billion App downloads. The gold rush to develop iPhone apps, fueled by Apple's marketing efforts and ambitious entrepreneurs, has led many buyers to the expert developers in the oDesk marketplace and fueled steady growth in demand for skilled iPhone developers. The iPhone's addictive multi-touch screen and sleek design offer an attractive platform for potentially viral Apps. iPhone and iPod Touch development requires that you have an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X Leopard, X-code, the iPhone SDK, and some knowledge of Objective-C language. Owning an iPhone or iPod touch would be necessary for proper testing, but isn't required for writing and running programs in the included iPhone Simulator. Apple also offers a $99 iPhone Developer Program, but this is only necessary if you plan on releasing an app to the app store directly. Android Google's Android mobile phone OS, without the fuel of Apple's App Store has not garnered the same popularity on oDesk, but still employs a significant number of Android developers, outpacing demand for developers of any other mobile OS on oDesk aside from the iPhone. Android is an Open Source, Linux-based OS running on phones from HTC, Motorola, … Read Full Article

Trend Spotlight: Microsoft Silverlight

October 14, 2009 by

Microsoft Silverlight is a browser plugin that allows the delivery of rich media experiences over the web. If you've ever watched a movie on Netflix using "Watch Instantly" then you are familiar with the power of Silverlight's video streaming capabilities when coupled with Microsoft's IIS Media Services Server. While streaming video was Silverlight 1.0's main focus, iteration 2.0 expanded upon that, offering the ability to run programs written using any .NET language. Version 3.0 has been out since July (notice the spike on the trend chart for Silverlight developers below) and boasts the ability to stream 1080p HD video, as well as a slew of upgrades that speed up performance and improve the development process. Silverlight on oDesk There are currently 520 programmers on oDesk with Silverlight experience. oDesk's data on the trends for Silverlight developers shows a significant increase in demand over the past six months. While this isn't as impressive as oDesk's data on recent Flash developers trends, Silverlight 3 offers some fantastic new features that should keep the demand for talented Silverlight developers on the rise. Key Features Highlighted below are some of the key features that Silverlight offers. See Scott Gu's article on Silverlight 3 for more in depth reading. GPU accelration - Processing of video and graphics can be offloaded to the client's graphics card, making streaming of 1080p and rendering of 2D and 3d graphics less CPU intensive. Smooth Streaming - Microsoft's IIS Media Services Server can vary video streaming bit rates on the fly to insure smooth playback, regardless of client's CPU load or network congestion. Codec Support - H.264, MPEG-4, and AAC formats are now supported, as well … Read Full Article

Stay Employed Q4 2009 - Jobs with the Least Competition and Greatest Opportunity

October 12, 2009 by

Due to the popularity of our Stay Employed - Jobs with the Least Competition and Greatest Opportunity post (and the ongoing requests we've received for updated information), we thought we would follow up with recent information from the oDesk Trends vaults to help you develop your resume and determine what skills to focus on to stay employed or forge a new career path. We will take an updated look at various skills and technologies and the competition - or lack thereof - for positions needing those skills. In viewing these numbers, keep in mind this is for oDesk, which is primarily concerned with placements for freelance and contract positions. This may vary with respect to full time placement numbers, though the data can be a useful indicator of overall trends. In looking at the table below, there are three columns: one with the skill or technology, the second with the total jobs posted and the last with the Fill Ratio, which shows the competition for these postings - a low percentage in this column indicates great job opportunities, whereas a higher percentage score indicates that jobs requiring those skills get filled at or above our usual rate.  Anything not on this list is getting filled at a higher rate, which indicates high competition for the skill or technology. Skill Average # Jobs Per Month Fill Ratio C++ 168 17.31% Java 263 20.00% Facebook 116 22.41% XML 172 24.20 C#/.NET 169 25.15% .NET 141 25.27% Drupal 205 25.85% AJAX 424 25.94% iPhone … Read Full Article

Top Tech Skills You Used to Know

September 17, 2009 by

The speed of innovation means new technologies are being introduced every day. What you may not realize is that some of the "older" tech knowledge is still in demand today, and with an abundance of new-generation programmers flooding the digital realm, programmers with some old-school knowledge can be worth a pretty penny.  Here are five savvy skills from yesteryear that can still prove themselves valuable, even if they don’t pop up in every day conversation. LOTUS NOTES Lotus Notes has a history spanning more than 20 years, causing some industry analysts and mainstream business press writers to make predictions of its impending demise, but the numbers don't lie: IBM reported an increase of 100 million seats over the last decade. While the market for jobs requiring Lotus Notes skills has been up and down, there are a few folks out there consistently looking for those with the knowledge to handle any Lotus-related curveball that may come their way. UNIX SHELL The Unix shell was unusual when it was first created in 1977. On systems using a windowing system (as many do these days) some users may never use the shell directly. On Unix systems, the shell is still the implementation language of system startup scripts, including the program that starts the windowing system, the programs that facilitate access to the Internet, and many other essential functions. Due to the recent movement in favor of open source software, most Unix shells have at least one version that is distributed under an open source license, which may further explain why this "old school" technology is still a desirable job skill. COLDFUSION ColdFusion was anything but cold when it hit the digital realm in the mid 1990s. Read Full Article

Magento vs. osCommerce - Online Stores Mean Business

August 24, 2009 by

The past year has been a roller coaster ride for the economy, but tracking open source e-commerce programs over that same time period shows that online sales are still serious business. Here, we take a look at how programmers with skills for two popular choices in open source e-commerce have been faring on oDesk. osCommerce osCommerce has been around a while and  there is a very well established and responsive community to offer support. There are also innumerable ‘modules’ to be found on the OS site, which allow for increased customization and osCommerce's simplicity and flexibility means these can be easy to add. But the appeal of osCommerce is in its ability to be translated and localized into any language. The structure of the site, written in php and using clear definitions, means all the text seen on an osCommerce store is handily stored in reference files which contain only plain text for translation - minimizing the risk of file corruption by a web page translator. osCommerce has been around a while, but those versed in this area have seen a dramatic increase in job availability over the last year. The number of jobs posted each month requesting knowledge of the platform has risen to over 5 times the number of osCommerce jobs available in July of 2008. Magento This newer store scores highly for its look and overall features. The backend is well organized and most items of concern are thoroughly covered from the get-go, including re-writable URLs (a must for a well optimized online store). Magento also has ‘Store View’ which allows online shop keepers the ability to set up multiple stores - with the same products, at different prices, and even in different languages - from a single admin area. This also … Read Full Article

The Death of Hi5?

August 17, 2009 by

Many lately have been predicting the fall of Hi5, the third largest social netowrking site (after MySpace & Facebook)  Does Hi5 have what it takes to co-exist with the big boys?  Lets take a closer look... The Market Share As you can see from the graph below, Hi5 may be in the top three, but it's a distant third.  In fact, in recent months their unique visotor counts seem to have been in a downward trend while MySpace and Facebook have been gaining market share at a rapid pace.   The Demographics The one thing that has historically kept Hi5 from being more popular in the United States may be it's one saving grace.  Lets take a look at the user demographics for the top three sites...see anything unusual about Hi5? Thats right, Hi5 has the dominant position in every category except "Caucasian".   The one that especially stands out is "Hispanic".  Hi5 has over 10 times the market share in the Hispanic community than Facebook, and nearly 5 times that of MySpace!  Right now Facebook and MySpace might be hot in the USA and UK, but eventually their growth will slow in those areas.  If Hi5 can leverage their current user base to expand further into non-english speaking markets, they could quickly become a formidable contender to MySpace and Facebook.   The Conclusion: Is There Room For All Three? Some things are hot in one area of the world and don't catch on quite as well in others.  Look at the game "Lineage".  One of the hottest Multiplayer MMO games in the world, with a subscriber base of over 1 million, but almost all of them in Korea.  Even the American juggernaut "World of Warcraft", isn't able to penetrate the Korean … Read Full Article

Remembering Cory

August 4, 2009 by

As all of our Pinoy providers well know, former President of the Philippines Corazon "Cory" Aquino passed away last weekend at the age of 76. Cory was the wife of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, the opposition leader who was famously assassinated at the Manila airport in 1983, after which Cory, a self-proclaimed "plain housewife" with no previous political aspirations, was swept into power under the People Power Revolution. I was lucky enough to meet Cory in 2006 at the Aquino Museum, and I thought I'd post this picture as my little tribute to Cory. I'm the big guy on the left, my lovely wife Amanda is second from the right, and my father-in-law (born in Bicol) is on the right. And front and center, gracious and full of optimism, wearing her trademark yellow, is President Cory. Just thought I'd share! Michael Levinson Director of Products, oDesk … Read Full Article

Stay Employed - Today's Jobs with the Least Competition and Greatest Opportunity

July 29, 2009 by

. Due to the popularity of our Stay Employed - Jobs with the Least Competition and Greatest Opportunity post last December (and the number of requests we've received for updated information), we thought we would follow up with more interesting information from the oDesk Trends vaults to help you develop your resume and determine what skills to focus on to stay employed in these challenging economic times. We will take an updated look at various skills and technologies and the competition - or lack thereof - for positions needing those skills. In viewing these numbers, keep in mind this is for oDesk which is primarily concerned with placement for freelance and contract positions. This may vary with respect to full time placement numbers, though we think the data is useful to all. In looking at the table below we give you three columns, one with the skill or technology, the second with the total jobs posted and the last with the Fill ratio. The Fill Ratio  shows the competition for these postings - a low percentage in this column indicates great job opportunities, whereas a higher percentage score indicates that jobs requiring those skills get filled at or above our usual rate.  Anything not on this list is getting filled at a high rate indicating high competition for the skill or technology. Skill Average # Jobs Per Month Fill Ratio iPhone 93 23.96% AJAX 315 27.07% Java 75 27.65% Graphics 106 29.13% XHTML 163 29.31% SQL 112 29.89% XML 111 30.28% PHP/IIS/MS SQL 114 30.31% JavaScript 339 … Read Full Article

oDesk Visitors from Near and Far

July 24, 2009 by

Here at oDesk, we really enjoy getting visitors. We have a nifty office space, lots of food handy, and you can challenge one of us to a game of ping pong or foosball if you're feeling lucky. Recently, we had a nice visit from Paul Sedacove, one of our affiliates and principals at Oggetto Web.  The 17 providers at Oggetto have worked 9,000+ hours on oDesk in the last ten months with a handful of customers. Paul had great things to say about the help he received from our staff (nice job, Ron and Kendra!), and  Paul mentioned that our platform was 'perfect' and had a few very minor suggestions to improve. Paul left us with a book on Russia, which he signed, 'from Russia with love'. We were also visited last week by Elliott Ng, Co-Founder, VP of Marketing at UpTake and founder of CNReviews.com. Elliott brought his video camera, and chatted with our CEO Gary Swart about outsourcing, oDesk, and the global impact of remote work. The video is also available at The China Business Network at: http://www.thechinabusinessshow.com/special-features/gary-swart-ceo-odesk/2009/07/ Going to be near Menlo Park? Want to stop by and tell us about your oDesk experience? Let us know - we'll show you around (and maybe even let you win a ping pong game or two)! … Read Full Article

A Retail Employee's Guide to Free Stuff

July 20, 2009 by

Long Hours, No Weekends or Holidays off, Low Wages and No respect; If this sounds familiar to you, you just may work in a Retail job. Well, fear no more, my Red-Collared Friends, it's time to get some free stuff and then give yourself a raise with our newly compiled list. Read Full Article

Pricing Skills and Services as a Freelancer: Part 2, Tips and Quotes

July 9, 2009 by

Last week I began my series on pricing with some heavyweight current theory. I believe it's almost always worth the time to become a better pricing and negotiation expert as the actions taken in the few hours of settling on terms can affect the output of countless hours working under those terms. A big part of negotiation is confidence and mental conditioning--how you react and respond will signal how ready you are to do business. People found ZOPA a valuable topic and I'll find a way to drill deeper into it in future posts - the gist to keep in mind with ZOPA is all about knowing your customer intimately. This is a topic many bloggers cover and, in that spirit, this week's post is about exercise for the pricing mind. I've collected some of my favorite blogs on the topic of pricing programming and freelance services and extracted the quotes I found most useful. A web design service's blog tips on pricing: "Some potential clients will think your prices are high no matter what you charge. Some clients will understand what’s involved with designing and developing a website and others will not. Because there are people out there willing to design a website for next to nothing, some clients will think that you should be willing to do the same, even if your service is completely different. Try not to worry about turning clients off, and focus more on proving a service that’s worth the price (and being able to explain why it’s worth the price)." A web design blogger's top pricing tips: "Some jobs will present challenges and opportunities for you to improve your skills and your experience. If you are interested in learning a new aspect of design, … Read Full Article

Humor at the Corporate Layoff Gallows

July 8, 2009 by

With US unemployment hitting almost 10% this month, the number of awkward, jarring, painful, surprising and horrific layoff moments at work have hit an all time high. These are the moments in corporate relationships of high emotional tension and dark humor. I saw this phenomenon firsthand; at the end of a spring internship, one of my friends stuck a "hire me" sign on his back (an homage of sorts to a "kick me" sign). He walked around all day pretending to be oblivious to it, provoking laughter wherever he went. It was gallows humor; after six months his run was ending without an offer to stay full-time. I scoured the web to see just how awkward it can get... Sequoia's Mystery Scrooge When you care enough to send the very worst... "Which startup laid off some folks recently, but had planned to make much deeper cuts? They went as far as having their outsourced HR firm send out final paperwork and checks to a number of employees — and then changed their mind. The CEO was so spacey he wasn't sure who got sent the paperwork. So he sent an email out to the entire company saying, "Please ignore any package and letter you might get from our HR firm - you're not fired." Ouch. Squidoo's Layoff Queen I can't imagine she was that professional before the lay off... "I yelled, I ranted and raved, I threw my badge across the office, and I cried. Then I began to beg, much to my chagrin and humiliation. I said I would take a demotion or admin work, anything to keep my job. After about a half hour of enduring what has to be the worst layoff in my entire life, I was 'escorted' … Read Full Article

Interesting Trademark Controversies

July 6, 2009 by

Trademark and copyright is an important topic to many freelance writers, developers, and graphic designers (among many others). Below is a collection of various and interesting trademark controversies - remember to educate yourself and tread carefully when uncertain of ownership rights! Burning Man This case is particularly interesting in that the entity of "Burning Man" is open source, for lack of a better expression, in that it is near impossible to determine or prove who, if anyone, really "owns" it. The danger of no one owning it is that it now becomes open to outside interests adopting this orphan since no one is really parenting it. When there is money to be made, this is an immediate danger. Burning man sponsored by "Taco Bell" anyone? Chris Messina over at FactoryJoe does an excellent write-up on the topic , saying: "What’s so interesting and didactic about this controversy is that it embodies, on a grand scale, the kind of micro-controversies that open source communities have faced for a long time around intellectual property and trademark matters." (Photo credit: Original uploaded by Sterling Ely and shared under a Creative Commons License.) Podcasting A few years ago, Apple tried to flex their muscles to own the term "podcasting".  In fact they seemed to be after anything with the word "pod" in it. This, of course, is interesting in that we are now getting into the contentious "common terms" area. What if Coke wanted to trademark the term "Cola"? Adwords Google has tried to dump its responsibility for ensuring that a competitor of a company cannot advertise using Google Adwords the trademarked terms of another company. In other words Coke cannot have Adwords advertising on the term … Read Full Article

Bing: The Buzz, Microsoft's Expensive Gamble, and SEO

July 2, 2009 by

Microsoft’s $100 million ad spend seems to have done a great job so far in attracting interest and search queries to their new search engine, Bing.  In terms of recent market share, many search industry data sources are reporting as much as a 50% gain in market share for Bing, from about 8% of search queries to about 12%.  According to figures from Compete.com, that equates to roughly 550 million additional queries.  If we use standard web ad metrics, this equates to a cost/click of $.20 (divide $100,000,000 spend by 550,000,000 queries).  Nice job on the ad buy, Microsoft. You’ve generated buzz and also driven a very significant amount of searchers to Bing. Can this trend hold? We think not. Microsoft’s history in online, in our opinion, is one of playing a game of catch-up, and generally playing it poorly.  When it comes to the Internet, Microsoft copies others’ efforts, and usually does quite a mediocre job of it. Bing is no different – they have copied Google’s search page almost exactly.  Even the color of the premium sponsored ads at the top of the page are shaded orange, just as Google’s are.  But one doesn’t need to look for long to see the silliness of Microsoft to shine through.  A sponsored ad goes to three lines long and looks amateurish (screenshot at right).  The #2 organic result for the query ‘php developers’ is for the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is billed as “your source for information about using PHP with Yahoo! Web Services APIs."  It would be a very, very small minority of searchers for this phrase that would care about this specific topic, yet it’s the second result. We think that the buzz will die down, and Bing’s market share will trend … Read Full Article

Top Weird iPhone Apps

June 29, 2009 by

Today we are going to look at the some of the interesting creations that have graced the iPhone App Store. Whether popular or not, these oddities stand out above the rest. Annoy A Teen It gets points for honesty in advertising. Apparently teenagers hear high frequencies that the rest of us do not and use of this app will irritate them thoroughly. iFart™ I'll spare you the explanation. Needless to say, the value this app provides to mankind is immeasurable. Hello Cow! It has a cow, that moos at you. Vital! Hold On Hold on to the button as long as you can. Compete against yourself, compete against the world, prove to everyone you've got the stamina to out hold them all! iDrunkTxt Here is a disaster waiting to happen. The premise here is that you are out on the town, drunk, and want nothing more than to call up someone and have a conversation. This handy app will randomly select a friend or date from your contacts list and dial for you - no need to trouble yourself with deciding between your boss and "that girl" to determine who is more worthy of hearing your slurred speech! Zits and Giggles For those who enjoy this sort of thing. Uh ... yeah. That's What She Said Pro The easy way to come up with a response for anything and everything. There you have it. If you like developing iPhone apps, there may be inspiration above.  As always, post missed gems in the comments. Read Full Article

When Marketing Stunts Attack: The worst of paid viral videos

June 24, 2009 by

It hurts me to share these. Prepare for major cringe. But with the good viral efforts (thank you, exploding Mentos guys!), we must also accept the bad, as well as the... paid. It's time for the most contrived corporate viral videos and ad campaigns. Our first hackneyed harlot is from casual dining with Ruby Tuesday. They went to the extreme of blowing up a building and still weren't funny. The whole thing feels staged from the start. Let's follow the sickly saga, shall we? The wrap video. It's at least funny in a dry, office humor kind of way: And for the truly masochistic, the behind the scenes clip: Nike's mistake with the next clip was the same: over-producing it and doing it entirely with suspecting actors and special effects. Do the paparazzi seem believable in this video? It might make a reasonable TV commercial, but there is nothing surprising or worth retweeting here. The two second zoom on her shoes in the beginning is a nice touch though--well done. Cheetos. OMG this is so hard to watch. Make it stop, please. All told, only 17 people ever blogged about this monstrosity. (Now, the count is up to 18.) I'm going to close my eyes - tell me when it's over. >> Visit Cheeto's Underground Sony threw a whole slew of pay-for-post PSP drek around for Christmas. Whoever picked out this guy's hat needs to be abandoned somewhere in the Arctic. Don't forget the tribute video to their marketing consultant, I'm sure he is doing well on the back of his work for Sony: For my money, no one wastes more cash on worse ads than Microsoft. They somehow even took the funny … Read Full Article