Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm looking for a (freelancing) job

After 1.5 years an Italian period of my life is about to end, since I'm moving from Milan to Cracow, Poland in September. After working from home as a web and Android developer and then doing the European Voluntary Service project for a local NGO I'm ready to finally move on to do something else. I'm not sure what that "something" will be, but I'm hoping to find a job related to game development, Android or both. I tried to look for online gigs that I could do from home, but it didn't really work that well. Here's what I experimented with along with the results.

It's one of the biggest freelancing portals with lots of projects and categories to choose from (from software and design to data entry, sales, marketing, engineering, accounting, and translations). It has changed a lot, mostly for the better, during the last year, but still there's a lot of space for improvement. Projects on Freelancer are usually poorly described, which makes it very hard to bid. Other than that, there's always tons of people from Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.) who are willing to work for $2/hour, which is probably not a salary suitable for Europeans or Americans. There exist premium accounts and specialized tests that you can take to increase your chance of being selected, but most of them are paid (usually $5) and I didn't feel like spending money on something that I wasn't sure would even work. My final balance is about 50 bids and never being selected... Perhaps you can be more lucky or find your niche. The most popular categories are very difficult to compete in.


Another freelancing portal from the big trio. Mostly IT centered. Project descriptions seemed to me more detailed than on Freelancer, but again the competition is quite fierce.


The last from the best known freelancing portals. The least known by me. Perhaps I made a mistake by not trying it out more thoroughly, because it's the most restrictive (you can't place so many bids), which prevents people from spamming every project they can possibly find.

Rent a Coder

It's a small, software-oriented freelancing site. Being less known might be an advantage here though. There's much less projects than on Freelancer, but also much fewer people to compete with. I managed to get a response from some employers once or twice, but the negotiations never got very serious. I haven't used it for some time, because I thought it had been bought by a biger portal and not being updated any more. It turns out that I was wrong.


I practically just got to know about it. It's an elitary portal with 4-step recruitment process - you can't just sign up and start looking for projects. I'm on the third step now. If they let me in, I'll make sure to tell you more about it. Almost for sure being part of it gives you the biggest probability of finding a job to do. They even insist that you work full time. They use Codility for their programming assessment, so you may want to give it a try beforehand. Oh, and they also have a blog where they published quite an interesting article with possible questions you can encounter on your Android job interview.


Have you ever been curious about what you can buy for five bucks? Well, now you know... Pretty much anything, from simple logos, illustrations, to apps, voiceovers and pranks. I was helping people to add ads to their Android apps and I managed to get to know a guy who was giving me more work afterwards (reskinning apps bought on CodeCanyon). After that I wasn't so lucky though, so I decided to take down the gig and replace it with new ones. Check them out here.

The point of the above rant is that freelancing is not an easy thing to do, even if you're a fairly good programmer. That's why I'll probably be looking for something more stable this time. As a side thing it can be interesting though and I'll definitely keep trying alternative ways of augmentig my income. By the way, if you have something to do for me, let me know :P

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My new app: Blogger Stats

As I mentioned some time ago, I've been working on a simple app for displaying pageviews statistics for blogs on the Blogger platform. The idea interested me, because I wanted to check how many people viewed my blog, and there was no app like this on Google Play. Using a browser to go to the administration website was simply inconvenient. It was slow and you had to log in to see the information. That's why I decided to try to create an app for it.

You can get Blogger Stats for Google Play here:

The screenshot on the right explains perfectly what the app does. It basically tells you how many people visited your blog in the last week, in the last month, and since you started it. Unfortunately, more detailed statistics are not available, because the Blogger API does not support it right now. This information is usually satisfying enough though.

What's great about the app is that you don't have to log in to your account, because it uses the built-in Android authentication mechanisms. This way it's also safer, because your username and password are not stored anywhere. What is more, you can use it offline, because it stores historical data on the device. Finally, if you have more than one blog, you can easily switch between them using the dropdown menu in the action bar.

What I'm particularly proud of is that Blogger Stats handles orientation changes elegantly by using retained fragments. This way the user does not even realize that the app is being restarted. To read more about this technique, go to the Handling Runtime Changes section on the Android Developers site.

If you're interested in implementing something similar or in using other Google API's, I recommend the following resources:
Blogger API reference
Google APIs authentication guide
Sample Android App for Google Tasks (todo list)
Google Plugin for Eclipse

As to additional libraries that I used, there was Crashlytics for crash monitoring and discreet-app-rate for displaying an elegant notification encouraging users to rate the app. Both helped me a lot with my other apps and are very easy to implement.

Once again, you can find Blogger Stats on Google Play. If you have a Blogger blog, I'm sure it'll be useful for you. And don't forget to leave me a nice review :)