[One Extra Hand] Makes Light Work

Wordle for WPFIt’s said that a true expert mostly knows how much he doesn’t know.  By that criteria, at least, I could certainly be called an expert!

Take WPF.  As things turn out, I’m a pretty dab hand at WPF and XAML.  Regardless, I’m not so dab at the ins and outs of rendering and transforms.  Now on most days, this isn’t a big problem.  I can generally hack together something useable, or even better, I can find exactly what I want on the web.  After all, as any modern programmer can tell you, there’s a ton of wonderful code out there; ripe and ready for the use.

Unfortunately, a bunch of that code tends to be just a tad “off;” exactly what you want, excepting a couple of critical details  Take my latest project.  I’ve been playing around with Tumblr tag parsing (don’t ask me just yet why!)  Along the way, I came across the wonderful Java-based Wordle and the similarly wonderful WordCloud for Silverlight.  One problem, though.  I ran into a bunch of conversion errors when I tried to convert the Silverlight code to WPF, and it looked like a bigger job than I’d want to handle on my own.

Enter FreeLancer.com.  I’ve know about the site for some time now, but I’d heretofore been more than little skeptical.  My little task, though,  turned out to be a perfect test of the system.

The whole thing was incredibly simple:

  • Post your project,
    • Include a fixed price range, deliverable description, time to deliver, etc.
  • Review the programmers and their bids for both cost and competence
    • I received 10 separate bids for my tiny project in 2 hours
    • The fixed price bids ranged from about $80 to $250
      • I chose the final bid mostly on skills and competencies; not the $110 price
      • Ironically, the higher priced programmers appeared to be less skilled
        • Many of these people also had poor English language skills
  • Select one of the bids then wait for the work to be done
    • In my case, the first iteration took about a day
    • The second iteration was out of the original scope, but the programmer agreed to do it for an additional $50
  • Review the code; iterate if necessary
    • You communicate with the programmer via messages through the Freelancer.com portal
  • Pay for the code if it met expectations; otherwise go to arbitration
    • I found the mechanics of this task to be a bit of a pain.  They need to improve the portal a bit.
  • Review (or in my case praise) the programmer
    • The programmer did a great job
      • He was fast and courteous and did exactly what I wanted!
      • Even better, he appeared to enjoy the work; so it was a win/win/win all around!

Now, to be clear, my task was incredibly focal.  I have to imagine that your results for a more speculative task might not turn out as well.  Regardless, the entire experience has left such a good taste in my mouth, and I will certainly give it a go the next time I need some extra hand(s).

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