Odesk contractor rip-off

I previously a positive experience on Odesk for finding a graphic artist. I even offered a bonus.
The job was correctly after 3 hours, I decided to polish the work for a total of 10 hours.

However recently, I posted a job to build server side on Python Google App Engine for a new venture kowifi.com

How a contractor on Odesk can rip off

The people I invited were top talent, so they were busy with other projects. Some contractors bided . The ones who beg for the job are actually the needy. I interviewed two contractors from Ukraine both seemed good. I took the cheaper one and he seemed competent enough to do the job on his own. I planned 5 hours to get a first draft of the job done and as a test of skillset.

I passed some interview with great companies and before you get on an site or even technical skype interview, you have to pass a 5 hour challenge. Some are shorter like 30 minutes of coding test. But I said to myself : “no one will want to pass these tests for free”. Actually these tests filter the good candidates from the rest.

I should checked more on the dumb contractor. One job accomplished on Odesk for more than 200 hours and no review , sounds strange.

I hired him on friday. WRONG.
I set the time limit at 5 hour per week.
– However after 3h of work, nothing was visible. It was clear he had a poor understanding of “foreign key” and SQL. On the interview he bragged how he knew about PostgreSQL , GeoDjango … and showed his references project. But he had to look at the documentation every time. He hardly knew how to read SQL schema and translate into a Django model. Just three tables.
– I prolonged to 5 hours. still nothing. I should have stopped by then.
The Odesk  billing summary starts on Monday next week.
– On the next week, he worked unauthorized hours. I clearly said to wait for my instructions.
I saw my project on his github repo. No need to say some employees will get immediately sacked. It’s common sense not to make public the client’s project. When outsourcing software, the intellectual property is really important . But the bozo just pushed the source code on github. There was also the previous client project …

At the end , it’s a total of 8h, the test job is not done, time over run. I filed a dispute to get some cash back and for the extra log time.

Odesk makes money on hours billed

After reading this http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?987335-Odesk-getting-ripped-off

It’s clear Odesk is protecting the contractors or the hours billed by the contractors. Simply Odesk makes money on the percentage of hours billed. So it’s in their advantage not to refund money because it’s a loss. Odesk does not evaluate the quality of work. Even if I leave a bad review ( extra log time, put the source code on github … ) , the contractor can still make the comment private.

This open doors to shady contractor who will exploit it in the sense where as long they log their hours properly, they will be paid even though what they did is not usable nor complete.

Clearly I will never be fooled again by some bad contractors.

 

Munich facts

After spending 4 days – 3 nights from August 16 to 19  2013 in Munich. On Monday, I got a job interview, the dates were flexible so I arranged a longer stay to enjoy Munich.
Like always I book on airbnb because it’s cheaper than hotels and more fun.
I arrived on Friday at 17:20 , and luckily the lady hoster was at the airport on Friday. People associates Munich with  Octoberfest, massive beer stein but not surf.

1 Surf culture

She told me to wait at Surf & Style , a surfing contest just outside the airport . A friend of her drove us to the apartment .
Munich has a  surfing culture  , strange for a city far from the sea. Sometimes, I see some people with a surf in the subway.
airport_surfnstyle

2 Englischer Garten

The next day,  at viktualienmarkt I tasted the weisswurst literally white sausage ( it is eaten before noon ). I like it because of the mustard honey sauce.
I visited the Englischer Garten ( which is bigger than New York’s Central Park ).  There is a Chinese tower in the center of the park surrounded by a beer garden.  And there is a surfing spot on the river south end.
IMG_0055

3 Bavaria

Then on Sunday, I had tour on a segway .  I took the chance to do a segway tour for the first time in my life. The tour covered what I did the day before plus some landmarks and the history. Here is what I learnt :
  • BMW ( Bayerische Motoren Werke AG ) , the auto maker, has its headquarter in Munich.  The blue and white logo is the flag color of Bavaria. Buying at BMW Museum and import can be cheaper depe nding on your country.
  • at Odeonsplatz , Nike posted in front of Theatinerkirche   a giant poster of Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich player, wearing the King robe  . The guide said : “It’s funny, he’s French muslim in a Catholic state. He drinks beer alcohol free.”
  • since WW2 , most buildings were destroyed. In Munich the buildings were rebuilt as the same traditional ones unlike the rest of Germany.
To finish the day, I walked past Theresienwiese ( the place of Octoberfest ) . Actually Theresienwiese means the Therese ‘s wedding . During the wedding, the place was used for horse racing . Now it hosts the famous Octoberfest . The 2 week long feast  generates around 1 billion euros every year.
Munich has great standard of living . Lots of people speak English . The subway is cleaner than Paris.
Bavaria ( the region ) has the most holidays in Germany and the most successful economically. Low unemployment , some people even have two jobs.
Here are some photos of the trip.
 

Raygional 3.0 with notification

A user contacted me this year. Due to his visual impairment, he uses Android Talkback. He found Raygional useful for switching the system locale. He asked me if I could build with notification, so it can be easily accessed on the system menu.

Battery by MacroPinch is an app I find really useful. The app is really useful to indicate the battery charge level. I really like the notification. My inspiration for Raygional comes from Battery.  I reversed engineer Battery and I found for each level , there is 3 icons ( one for GingerBread, one for Honeycomb, one for others ) , so there are at least 300 icons just for the status notifications. The programming of Battery is not so difficult, the main attraction is the graphic . BTW I’m looking for graphic designers, anyone ?

Because Google Keyboard does a great job to switch the keyboard settings for message typing, I did not use my Raygional as often. With my day job, if I did not set timeboxed goals. It took FOUR months , that’s way too long. During the last few weeks , I started to get interested to update the app. Today I released Raygional 3.0, it feels nice to use the notification.

raygional30

The app is only compatible from Android 4.0 because the UI uses the latest updates . To make compatible from Android 2.1 , I have to import the Holo theme and ActionBar UI pattern , I’ll have a look at the latest Action Bar Compatibility which the Google ‘s answer to ActionBarSherlock .

 

Thanks Peter

 

Github library : Android-TextFontStyle

The designer studio where I work has a tendency to use special font in the text  because it’s eye-catching.

In others previous projects, I saw the font is applied programmatically. It’s difficult to maintain each TextView because you have to keep track in the java code.

For design purpose, I prefer to work in xml.
Style in Android works like Microsoft Word style : define a style and apply it to a TextView. Any change  to the style will be taken in account the TextView.

I hope more developers use typography as the app really stands out. Maybe Steve Jobs was right about the importance of typography.

And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.

The library is available here.  https://github.com/raychenon/Android-TextFontStyle

screenshot

 

 

 

Android studio after 15 days

Shortly after Android studio came out, I installed it at work. As a long user of IntelliJ ( BTW I visited their office in Prague ), my IntelliJ projects were imported into Android studio.android-studio

What’s the difference between the two ?

Just like ADT Bundle bundles Eclipse + ADT plugin +  Android SDK now , Android Studio is pre-packaged with the Android SDK, so it already knows about android.sdk.path . In short it ‘s easier to install Android Studio than IntelliJ + Android SDK.  IntelliJ Community edition is more general. As this quote from Yole ( from JetBrains team )

Yole : The main point of this for Google is being able to have an experience focused on Android – as an example, Android Studio bundles the Android SDK and configures it automatically for you. IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition has a broader focus; for it, Android development is just one of the many scenarios it supports.

As far as I remember IntelliJ supported Android since 2011. Back then, there was no  graphical preview for the layout editor. But I used it for the fast code completion and faster compilation time. IntelliJ Community Edition bundles a Android plugin, so there was no need to download the equivalent of ADT.

But still for me,  Android Studio == IntelliJ specialized on Android . I use their names interchangeably

Stability

As an early preview  (currently v0.1.1 ) , I caught and filed the issue number 56000 ( round number , am I lucky ? )  that IntelliJ 12 did not have . I had to switch back to IntelliJ. After a few days ,  I opened Android Studio and an upgrade notification popped up. The issue was fixed.

Choices

Now there are two official IDE for Android : Eclipse and IntelliJ

Eclipse Android Studio
Version Control System ( VCS ) Need a plugin for each VCS. Update with an external VCS client, you need to refresh the workspace VCS integrated. It supports Git, subversion, mercurial. When you update with an external VCS client, IntelliJ will sync automatically . WIN
Code completion faster and indexes the world. WIN

There is one area that Eclipse beats IntelliJ : the number of plugins available. I only switches to Eclipse when there is a large team that uses Eclipse because we can easily share dependencies with the .properties files, whereas IntelliJ use .iml files.

By default, Android developers used Eclipse by default. Now Google officially supports two of them. My current choice is IntelliJ ( or Android Studio ). I don’t like the darkcula theme, I prefer light color . Matter of taste like WordPress themes . And  you , what will be your choice ?

 

One Day in Tallinn

During my trip in Helsinki, me and my buddy spent a day in Tallinn ( Estonia ). We took Tallink Silja at 9 am . It’s 2 hour long trip one way. The boat is really gigantic and has a shopping center, a buffet inside. Now Tallinn is a popular shopping destination for Finns because the alcohol’s tax are really low.

IMG_0019

For us, we wanted to visit the Old Town.
The good surprise about Estonia is that the currency is Euro €  since 2011.

With the influx of tourists , prices have risen a lot in the center. For example , lunch cost about the same as in Helsinki. This borscht soup below cost 6 € in a restaurant in the center of the old town. Much later I found a 60 meter square apartment cost 325€/month.

Borscht soup

Outside of the old Town, the new city looks like any modern European city with a Scandinavian feel. Prices drop sharply outside of the old town.

Tallinn is famous for the development of Skype. With its affordability and the engineer’s talent, Tallinn took scene as a high tech hub.

On the return, we saw Finns packed with alcohol in their cars. As for me , I bought Riga black balsam chocolate ( very good for the price ).

Estonian

Estonian language is related to Finnish. Listen to his song to have a taste of Estonian language  https://soundcloud.com/liisa-m/mario-m-feat-liisa-maripuu
Even tough I don’t understand any words , it amazes me.

 

Helsinki facts

After spending 3 days in Helsinki in May 2013, here are snapshots of my visit.
The first thing ,  Finnish people would be surprised for tourists to choose Helsinki  as first destination. After all,  the Finns are not themselves full of ego on the their capital . But as the most Russianized of Nordic countries and as member of eurozone ,  Helsinki is my first Scandinavian country ( well not exactly scandinavian ) . My travel buddy living in Sweden said Helsinki was really a  party destination.

We are in the best period to visit : from May to August . May is still spring , most attractions open in summer.

Sightseeing

Churchs

The landmark of Helsinki is the Helsinki cathedral. In front is the senate place. Overall I’m not impressed.

cathedral

The Temppelinauko church made inside a rock

Temppeliaukio2 Temppeliaukio1

The orthodox church ( my favorite )

orthodox

Boat Cruises

At the market square , there are of tour  boats. I chose Suomenlinna , a sea fortress , classified as UNESCO world heritage .

Other

A walk from the start of the Esplanden avenue  (filled with with luxury boutiques) earned a design award to the market square is really worth.

National pride

Nokia, the biggest Finn company , is very present in Helsinki . Even thought some Finns have bought smartphones from other OEM , they feel a bit of ashamed.

But the current national pride right now is “Angry Birds“. There are two “angry birds” shops in whole Finland, one is at Kamppi center, the other is at Vantaa. Rovio  , the company behind the global success, is located in Espoo west of Helsinki. But the brand is so huge that different merchandising such as clothes, bubble gums, sweets can be found anywhere in Helsinki. One my reason to come visit here is  Rovio Ltd.

angry_birds_shop

Cost

As a Nordic country the cost of living there is expensive.

Housing is expensive. For more than 100€, you can get only 2 stars hotel. Airbnb is still the better solution. Even food can be expensive, hot dog on the street cost 4€.

Alcohol is expensive. A pint in a bar is about 6€. Beer cans at supermarket are 2€. Not wonder, people go elsewhere shopping ( see Tallinn, Åland )

Languages

Everyone speak fluent English. Swedish is also an official language.
Finnish language sounds like no other language ( except Estonian ). It’s not related to the Indo European languages group.  FIt inspired the Elvish tongue in “the Lord of the Rings” series . Tolkien wrote :

Finnish, which I came across when I had first begun to construct a ‘mythology’ was a dominant influence

Cuisine

A lot of unflattering jokes has been around Finnish cuisine.

From my experience , I had a wonderful dinning experience at Konstan Möljä.
The buffet has fresh salmon, reindeer meat, pork meat , Borscht ans other specialties for only 18€ . On the left side of the photo is a rice Karjalan piirakka. At first I thought it’s eaten like a pizza. But Finns put something on top of it ( eggs, butter ).

helsinki_diner

Salmiakki

On Finnair, I bought a Salmiakki pack . The vendor asked and laughed: ” Do you like it ?”. “No but I ‘ll give it to my colleagues so they can have a taste of Finland :)” . Maybe only the Finns can like because it’s an acquired taste .

Helsinki as a Gateway

As its position in the Baltic sea , it’s easy to go visit Tallinn , Estonia . Most Finns go to alcohol there due the high taxes on alcohol in Nordic countries.  The old town of Tallinn is worth the trip ( read on  a next post )

It is also possible to visit St Petersburg without a Russian visa under 72 hours. I will explore more this option fur a trip to Russia.

Global rating

Sightseeing : 2/5  not really impressive landmark places
Cost : 3/5 expensive
Infrastructure : 5/5  transportation is really good. Thought Ion saturday May 11 , all the electronic display did not work. I had to take a taxi after waiting 20 minutes
People : 4/5 . Finns are willing to help and fluent in English.

 

29 years old

Today I’m turning 29 years . Time to reflect on year 2012 . It was a year with lots of change :
– I created a one man company around August : provide consulting services. Really different from being an employee. I learnt much more in the short time than being a permie. I think I’ll focus more on products rather than building apps for customers. Clearly build apps for client is regular pay , few developers make a living selling their own apps.
– travels : I was lucky to travel to London ,  China (Shanghai, Shenzhen ), Hong Kong, Macau, Geneva …

Some resolutions : I will learn more about business side. My “Expert Comptable” (Chartered Accountant) explained legal status, tax declarations and co clearly.
In February , I’m going to register for a training to create a company, raise  funding….

 

Pratique : faire réparer un smartphone

Ayant eu un iPhone 5 , j’ai naturellement fait une demande pour la nano SIM. Comme le Galaxy Nexus prend les cartes SIM standard, il faut un adaptateur de carte pour re-insérer ma nouvelle nano SIM dans le Galaxy Nexus.
Jusqu’au jour où j’insère cet adaptateur sans nano SIM , le bout de plastique , dans le GN . Et c’est la cata, le bout de plastique reste bloqué à l’intérieur par des barrettes.

Mon outil de travail ne peut plus recevoir de carte SIM. Je cherche des réparateurs de smartphone.

Adresse du réparateur 

La boutique est France GSM sur Parmentier au 12 av République 75011 PARIS

Ca me coûte 20 euros . Ca a pris moins de 30 minutes montre en main pour démonter la coque, tester avec une carte SIM si tout marche bien et revisser le tout. Le gars a le temps de s’occuper simultanément d’autres tels aussi.J’ai pris cette photo ci-dessous pour immortaliser ce moment.

Au passage le déblocage d’un smartphone simlocké chez un opérateur coûte 20 euros  quelque soit la marque. D’ailleurs à quoi ça sert pour un opérateur de confirmer votre identité et votre numéro de client ( différent du numéro de téléphone , ce que personne n’a en tête), si ce n’est que rajouter des obstacles pour désimlocker votre téléphone. Ah peut-être pour plus de sécurité en cas de vol, oui le voleur n’a pas le même opérateur que vous, il souhaite se servir de votre portable. On peut bloquer (le rendre inutilisable ) à distance son portable en donnant l’IMEI ( l’identifiant du portable ). Ah encore un truc inventé par les opérateurs comme le simlockage.

.

 

Free mobile : plus de connexion data

Depuis lundi 19 Novembre 2012 , je n’arrive plus à me connecter en 3G. J’utilise la 3G pendant les transports de Place d’Italie vers le Trocadéro . La ligne 6 est en partie aérienne , aucune page web ne passe pourtant j’ai bien l’icône 3G affiché avec le maximum de barre qui témoigne de la qualité. J’en discute avec un collègue Freenaute , il constate ce même problème depuis le début de semaine.

Bizarre jusqu’à présent j’avais de faibles mais là plus rien du tout.

Et ce samedi 24 Novembre 2012 , l’icône 3g G ne s’affiche plus. Le téléphone , SMS fonctionnent toujours . Encore heureux .

En cherchant sur twitter/ google  personne d’autre qui  rencontre ce problème je tombe sur cet article http://www.rue89.com/rue89-eco/2012/10/24/bug-de-free-mobile-les-usagers-otages-du-bras-de-fer-avec-orange-236449

J’en conclu :
– Free mobile refuse de payer les consommations data de ses abonnés à Orange.
– soit c’est l’itinérance/ roaming ( le changement de réseau entre Free et Orange ) qui ne fonctionne pas.  Orange y est pour quelque chose.

Comme beaucoup de freenautes, j’attends une communication à ce sujet. Le manque de communication est encore pire. A quoi bon payer un forfait à 15 ou 20 euros quand on a pas de connexion internet , ça devient un  forfait à 2 euros.
Pourtant faisant un usage modéré en “bon père de famille” de la connexion internet, j’ai été coupé sans dépasser la limite de 3Go.

Au moins Free Mobile a le mérite de briser le prix, les filiales low cost des opérateurs historiques s’alignent sur le prix . Donc si ca s’améliore pas, j’irai ailleurs. Merci le “sans engagement”.
Comme la femme d’un ami le dit :  “Si t’as Free Mobile, c’est que t’as RIEN compris”.