Category Archives: freelance

The Freelance Series: Getting Tech Director’d Up.

On April 16th, I started my new position as Technical Director for Kolody, Inc!

I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about this company and it’s two partners; Mark Kolody and Colin Turnbull

They have a drive for doing what hasn’t been done. The latest of which is being part of a multi-agency campaign for Dove and Unilever called Show Us Your Skin. There have been a number of write ups on the campaign and I am stoked to be part of such an innovative company.

So, while my “freelance series” blog entries are likely to stop, I am thinking another series might be in order. “Managing Managing” pops instantly in mind.


Everyone I know who is self employed goes through a period of work scarcity at some point in their career. I’ve been there. It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I was young, I took things for granted, didn’t appreciate things and I needed some humbling. Plan for this. One of the benefits of being self employed is that I know exactly what is coming in and going out in terms of bills. Pay yourself, before you pay your bills and use that money to build up a “emergency saving slush fund”. Either by saving or safe investing(i.e TFSA). In Ontario, if you are self employed you can still pay into EI. It’s your option. Being self employed doesn’t mean, you can’t have nice things. You can still have nice things as long as you can afford them.

Also use this period to assess if this is where you want to be in terms of your career goals and to further your education. Look at emerging trends and position yourself accordingly.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t go through a period of self doubt. You give it power and allow it to manifest and also make yourself sick. I’ve interviewed consultants for clients who have been out of work for a period of time. They may not realize it, but when you’re negative, it permeates through who you are. Potential clients can detect it.

Depending on your situation, sometimes it is worth moving backwards to go forward. A number of years back, I had two potential clients. One kind of the same old same, I’ve always done, the other a pure management consulting gig with a big Consulting company, that paid less. After much debate, I took the management consulting gig and added a new dimension to my skill set and career. These days that skill set is more in demand then what I use to do and has opened up a new world of clients. Take calculated risks.

Lessons I’ve learned:

    • Trust your gut. If you’re uneasy about a project, organization or the people, walk away.

    • Always read and understand contracts. Never assume anything. Ask questions. If the answer is unsatisfactory, have a lawyer look at it.

    • Get everything in writing in the contract.

    • Everything is negotiable on a contract.

    • Have a lawyer. It’s been rare, but I’ve had issues getting paid in the past. After exhausting all avenues on my own, having a really good lawyer to advise you helps. If you’re doing cross-border corp to corp business agreements a lawyer is useful, some States have some interesting laws.

    • Never do work without a signed and agreed contract in place.

    • Don’t get stuck in a niche or vertical. Expand your skill set and industry experience

    • In your contract, set the project scope as best as possible. This sets expectations for both sides.

    • I always provide work plans and estimate costs where applicable for projects. This is to avoid surprises on the client side, when I bill. I also track my portion of the project cost with the client. If we’re getting close to the high end of the estimate, I let them know.

    • It’s okay to do business with organizations that are in bankruptcy re-organization, however to reduce financial risk to yourself, its best to work off a financial retainer. Monitor that financial retainer with the client and have them top it off when it starts to run out.

    • Get yourself a very good accountant. One that specializes in self employed people or small companies. It took me 3 tries to find the right person who understands both CRA wording and tax laws.

    • Not all clients are equal.

    • Always be professional.

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn


Searching for work:

When I first started out in self employment by virtue of my skill set, I was basically stuck in one vertical. I have learned from other consultants to strategically gain experience in as many different verticals and industries as possible. You don’t want to get stuck in a niche or stuck in one vertical. Niches and verticals go through recessions. You want to gain as much experience as possible. Self employment works well for this.

I’ve learned being successful at self employment is largely self-driven. You need to constantly be “on the look” for future projects even while you’re working at a client. It’s very self motivated. In the course of a day or a week, I’m constantly in dialogue with existing clients, old clients, intermediaries, contacts and other self-employed people

So how have I managed to find clients?

    Other self-employed people – Because I’m self-employed, I know other self-employed people. We stay constantly in touch with each other and try to help one another out. Some of us have similar skills and experience some of us quite different; we do all complement each other in some way. If I know someone is looking, I’ll keep my ears open; they’ll do the same for me. I have sent convertible leads to people and they’ve sent convertible leads to me.

    Simply keeping in touch – I’ve kept in touch with people from the beginning of my career to present. I’m very sociable and I talk to everyone. I’m always amazed at the number of interns and front desk people, I’ve met years ago, who are now in management roles at public and private organizations. Recently I converted a lead received by someone I worked with 15 years ago into a project. It pays to stay in touch.

    Introductions – I’ve made introductions for people and people have made introductions for me. Sometimes introductions lead to work.

    Opportunities at your existing client – Simply know what other projects are attached to your project or what other similar projects are on the horizon at your client. If what they need lines up with your skill set and experience and they’re happy with your work, you can be at that client for awhile.

    Social Media – Believe it or not, but I have converted a couple of leads that came in via social media. I have never met these “go betweens” in person, but I’m grateful for their help. But be smart about it, trust your “spidey senses”. If you suspect a scam, it is likely a scam.

    Networking – I think every skill set, technology or professional designation has its own group, a lot of them have once a month meetings. Many are free. Go to them and talk to people. Don’t go asking for or looking for business. Go to meet people and build relationships. People who go either single mindedly looking for business or for work repel people. If you’re uncomfortable going by yourself take someone with you. If you know people there ask them to introduce you to people you don’t know. If not make introductions yourself (but don’t interrupt conversations). It takes some practice. Once upon a time, I was fairly shy, now I can confidently work a room.

    Talk to strangers – Toronto, is not exactly the friendliest city on Earth. A “good morning” a smile or a “simple compliment” to a stranger tends to weird out most Torontonians. However, there is good news. A lot of cities not named Toronto in Canada, the US and elsewhere are friendly. Innocuous small talk has led to an opportunity to build relationships which has led to opportunities.

    RFS – A lot of organizations put out Request for Service (RFS) tenders via different tendering methods. In most cases, anyone can respond to them. When, responding to the RFS, read the instructions carefully and note the deadline dates. A lot of RFS have specific requirements in terms of what they expect to see in a response. These items are not options. Follow the instructions.

Benefits of self employment over full-time employment

There are no absolutes in life. Very few full-time jobs have any sort of job security. I’ve worked for a lot of public and private organizations and very few have had any sort of employee career planning. If you’re good at your job they basically want to keep you at that job. As a person, I love to learn, I love to be challenged, I enjoy solving problems, I love to think and I love to teach. Self-employment for me has allowed me to take on different challenges. I‘ve had the opportunity to manage my own education and experience and build my career the way I wanted too. I’ve worked in all different verticals, in different roles from technical to project/program management, executive advisory, business process re-engineering, change management, conflict resolution, etc. I’ve honed my leadership skills under a cross section of excellent c-level executives at some pretty big private and public organizations; these executives aren’t only excellent business people, but also people. They’ve taught me, how to listen, strategize, manage conflict and politics, negotiate, be a better communicator, lead, manage, mentor others, admit mistakes and be a better person. I don’t think, I would have gotten the depth and breadth of the experience that I currently have, if I was a full-time employee somewhere.

end of part 2… to be continued in part 3; Downtime and Lessons Learned

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn

Tyger’s Tale: Advice for Self-Employment – PT 1.

I’m very grateful to Hugh to allowing me to post on his blog. Thanks, Hugh.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”
-Andre Gide

Different people call it different things: freelancing, contracting, consulting. More broadly defined, it is self-employment.
I became self-employed, not by choice, but because of necessity. I came out of school in the 90’s. The early 90’s went through a fairly severe recession. Full-time jobs or internships for new university or college grads were few and far between. Your choices were contract (self-employment) opportunities or not working. I chose self-employment. I was told by a number of people this was a negative work choice and it would haunt me down the road, but so far I have parlayed it into a successful career. Everything I learned about being successfully self-employed is from; watching others, reading and researching, asking questions and personal trial and error.

Advice and Lessons:

When I started out, working as a programmer/analyst. Hourly rates were set in narrow ranges based on years of experience, practical programming knowledge and the economics of supply and demand. Most leads for gigs where controlled by headhunters/recruiting companies. Headhunter/recruiting companies usually tacked on an extra 20% to 25% on to the hourly rate. To keep myself competitive, I use to charge something in between what I would get from a recruiter per hour and the mark up. It proved attractive to my clients.
As my experience and skill set has broadened and become more management consulting oriented, I know from working at some of the big consulting companies at what they bill me out at to clients, my hourly has been adjusted to stay both fair and competitive.

My advice, when positioning yourself in the marketplace, especially if you have broad skill set is to have a sliding hourly rate instead of one fixed rate hourly rate. I’ve had clients, in the past that had work, which I could have done, but in terms of effort and skill was slightly below what I was doing for them and they were “scared off” because of my hourly.

For some of my long time clients, I will give them a fixed price on work as long as they provide me the scope, instead of billing them an hourly rate. This has allowed me to keep some clients for years.

I have also a slightly less than market rate for start-ups and new companies. Being a type of entrepreneur, I have a sort of soft spot for other entrepreneurs. Not always, but sometimes this has led to future work for me at market rates. Some entrepreneurs are very appreciative of any help you provide them when they’re starting out and sometimes this leads to future work at market rates.

Have some flex in your rate. Rates are determined by a number of factors, chief among them supply and demand; the economy goes through up and down cycles. In order to stay competitive and working you will have to adjust your rate from time to time. Don’t get married to a specific hourly rate.

To incorporate or not to incorporate?
This is something that depends on your situation. If you don’t have long term aspirations of being self employed are in between jobs and only contracting or consulting till you find your next full time permanent gig, then incorporation isn’t for you.

If however, you are planning to do this as a career or for an extended period of time, incorporation carries many tax advantages. Being incorporated also allows one to join organizations like local chambers of commerce and boards of trade. These organizations allow “group buy” benefits for everything from benefits, dental care, software, office supplies to local networking and RFS bid opportunities.

Contract Length?
This is a question that I’m often asked. Is a long contract better then a short one? My answer, I’ve parlayed 4 week gigs into 4 years. Every client is different, every situation is different. Expect the unexpected.

Pros and Cons of using a recruitment company?
Some self employed folks like using recruitment companies/headhunter and some larger corporations insist that you use a recruitment company(some will assign you one), especially if you aren’t incorporated. The benefit of using a recruitment company/headhunter is that you get paid weekly or bi weekly instead of net 30. The trade off is you make less per hour. Everyone has their own financial situation. Choose what suits you.

end of part 1… to be continued in part 2; Finding work and benefits

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn

The Freelance Series: Taking the “Home” out of “Home Office”

I recently asked on Twitter if anyone had any opinions on my next blog entry concerning freelance life and Joel Stransky wrote “I’d be interested to hear about disturbance agreements you have with your family.”. Therefore, Joel, this post’s for you.

Make a space
My situation is one where I staked out one room in my home for my office.

If you are able to remove yourself from the regular hustle and bustle of your home, much better for you.

I leave my door open because I want to accessible but in the end my space is my own*. In every sense of the phrase I have a “home office”. So what do I mean when I say “Take the home out of home office”? Think of it like this;

When you work at a company you get, at the very least, a desk. When you don’t see your family for the duration of a work day, most people have photos of said family. You know, to remind them of “better times.” Sorry.

When you work from home and you have a 4 month-old baby girl, a 5 and a 1/2 year-old boy and a wife on maternity leave, all you have are reminders of your family’s presence. Keep family photos out of your workspace. Keep all mementos of non-work out of your work space. That’s the function of the rest of your home.

So that’s Home Office. Let’s get into interruptions. You know when you’re sitting at your desk, diligently working away and a coworker comes up to you and asks a question, completely throwing off your flow/chi/balance/progress? Now imagine these are your coworkers:

That’s right, cuteness overload. However, when your wife is taking care of a fussy baby and your son yells upstairs “Daddy! I need help!” and he’s referring to some video game (which you know you’d rather be playing anyway) you have to restrain yourself from jumping up. Instead yell back, “Sorry buddy, Daddy’s working.” To be fair, that’s super hard to do. (See above picture). I have listened to my wife explain to my son that “You need to pretend that Daddy isn’t home.” This is not an easy concept for a 5 year-old to grasp. He is starting to come ’round, though. Slowly but surely.

The other thing my wife mentioned that would make the separation of home and office easier would be to close my door. I am considering it, but I do like being available in some instances.

So, I don’t know, Joel, if that answered your comment, but that’s the best I have at the moment.

* I need to point out that we are currently in the middle of moving rooms so my lovely little office is completely overrun. Such is life and I do my best to ignore it.

The Freelance Series: Work For the Job You Want

Up ’til now, I’ve written about practical matters; cost, taxes and time off.

I did a lot of Flash work in 2011 as I have done, historically, since I started in this industry. So I got to thinking of the kind of work I want for 2012 and beyond. Last year I collaborated with Displacer and made some live visualizations written in Processing. While my coder buddies look at it and think “I could do that.” when I run the app in front of a crowd itching to hear Displacer play, typically the reaction is less disaffected and more boisterous. And honestly, when doesn’t a coder look at code running and say “I could do that.”?

As 2012 hits its second month, I start charting my path and it got me thinking about the old adage Dress for the job you want. As a developer, that’s just not particularly applicable. And so I paraphrase to Work for the job you want. If it isn’t obvious what I mean, let’s take a quick look at how this might work.

End of last year, Adobe announced a bunch of crap that, frankly, freaked out some, made others go “woot, I was right! in your face!” and made people spending money go “oh wow, the holy grail?! you found it?!” *btw. no. they didn’t. Anyway, at that time, I was too busy working to spend any time worrying about it. Then I took December off. As January rolled on by without work, I started thinking “Shoot. Maybe I need to pay attention.” And that’s when I realized how woefully behind I was. Still, I need applicability and interest to learn something new. Most of the stuff I’m seeing is eye-candy. Eye-candy is fine, but I’m a practical guy for the most part. With that in mind, I started rejigging Moviesinhaiku. It’s a personal project and anything I want to do with it, I can. I figure I’ll mess with the base concept and information of it in whatever native format I choose. So look forward to some new developments on the Moviesinhaiku front. *and some new watches! If you want to take part in the new Moviesinhaiku, write a haiku. I have a beta version going.

To further my goals, I started seeking out new collaborations. The people at Meta-Tema caught my eye with all their super cool work and I contacted them about coming to their space for a visit. Drasko and Goran are top-notch guys and I hope we get something going together. I have a feeling I have a lot to learn from them. I met with my good friend, Ron Gervais, out of Township & Co. and spoke briefly about wanting to make a short film with him. We’ll see about that as well. I also have a buddy in animation and I really want to have a go at voice acting. “Why not?” I say. Then there’s this documentary I’ve been chipping away at.

One of the things Ron said to me this week, as I kvetched over the fact that I never think of things of which I am capable of executing on my own “Thinking outside your abilities is a good thing. Some people don’t have any ideas.” I gave that a lot of thought and agree. However, I think it’s important to execute ideas, too. Who knows?

With all that said, 2012 has the potential for a very cool year. Mind you, I have said I wanted to do things in the past that never came to fruition (anyone remember a certain tattoo site?) So if I set my sites on four collaborative and/or personal projects and I accomplish one, I will feel successful.

How does this apply to Work for the job you want? Every person I know doing cool work started out banging away on their keyboard working on stuff they were curious about and/or interested in. As they succeeded in their distractions, so too did offers to apply their research to paying gigs come. Another way to put it is to quote Field of Dreams If you build it, they will come.

The Freelance Series: Praycation

Today I begin a month-long Praycation. What’s that? You’ve never heard of a Praycation? Maybe in some religious circles, a Praycation refers to something else entirely, but in freelance terms, a Praycation is what happens when you intentionally take time off. You spend that entire time worrying no work will follow it.

I have been freelance for just over two years now. I take pretty much anything that crosses my desk. The first year was tough as I had extended periods of no work. As a freelancer, the term feast or famine is bandied about a lot. It refers to being extremely busy with a lot of work and then not being busy at all with no work whatsoever. My first year of freelancing was a lot like that. This year, however, I took a slightly different tack and prepared for famine better by saving more and budgeting more efficiently.

I digress. I have been pummelled by work since May and have reached a breaking point psychologically. In that time, I also renovated my kitchen (with much help) and my wife had a baby! I took one day off (the birth of my daughter) and went right back to work. Needless to say, I am ready for time off. I even took my laptop to the cottage so I could work for the second year in a row.

So I began not accepting any new work that extended into December. “I’m not available.” became my mantra. Lingering in the back of my head, every time I turned down a project is “Was that the last offer I get?”

Now I am off, intentionally clearing my horizon. I can recharge, I can invest in my skills by learning some new stuff. I can work on a personal project or two and I can spend time with my family.

Now I pray. I pray that after the countdown on New Year’s and I start extending the feelers for work that work can be found.

Wish me luck.

The Freelance Series: Do Your Work. Pay Your Taxes.

Whenever I speak to someone with a full-time job and they get that wistful look on their face and say “I might try working from home”, I kind of smile.

If they notice, I’m generally asked “What’s so funny?” I’ll respond with “Do your work. Pay your taxes.” Mostly they’ll wave their hand and give me a “pfffft.”

Here are the two big problems* with working from home as opposed to being employed full-time:

1. No-one tells you to go to work. Sure you get emails or phone calls from your client and their team, but you can successfully ignore them for days on end. I know this for a fact. When you’re in a crap mood and just want to play video games, watch movies, eat ice cream out of the container, there is literally no way anybody can cause you to do otherwise. However, this doesn’t get your job done and is remarkably harmful to your career. You become the unreliable guy.

What’s the answer? Freelancing is your job. You find a location where you will work and that’s your office. Your work day needs to be just like when you go to an office. Wake up, make coffee, eat breakfast, wash up, go to work. Sit down at your desk and get your work day started. That’s what you do in an office. That’s what you do in your office. Do that all day. Stop for however many breaks you would take in an office environment. Smoker? Take your smoke break. Take a lunch break. Stand up, walk away, have lunch. But spend your work day as you would spend your work day in the presence of your coworkers. Do your job.

2. Pay your taxes. When you work for a company full-time, they do your deductions for you. You get paid and that money is yours. You never have to think “Hmmm, I need to take one third of this money and set it aside for income tax. I need to take the HST off this and set it aside for my quarterly payout.”

When you’re freelance, you look at a cheque and start immediately doing mental deductions. If you don’t, I’ll tell you what happens; You’ll do your taxes at the end of the year with your accountant, he’ll raise an eyebrow when you say, “Yeah, I didn’t pay any taxes yet.” Then he’ll (or she’ll) say “Ok, so you owe *insert amount anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000*” Now when that happened to me the first time, it was the last time. I had to work with the government and took a long time paying it off. In one of the conversations I had with a Revenue Canada employee, I asked “Can’t I set you up as a payee in online banking?” And he got quiet and said “Yes, possibly.” I was looking at my account online at the time and found Revenue Canada, added them and said “Can I just pay my income tax as it comes in?” and he replied, “I wish all self-employed individuals would.”

Now, when I get paid, I deposit the cheque and immediately transfer my income tax payment. Maybe at the end of the year, I’ll owe a little money, possibly even get some back, but I know for a fact I have been paying my taxes.

*There are plenty of problems and advantages to working from home, but these two? HUGE.

The Freelance Series: Yeah, I know. I’m expensive.

That does sound like a great project, for sure I’m interested. What’s the timeline? I can work with that. What your budget? What’s that? My hourly rate? It’s $90 an hour. Yeah, I know. I’m expensive. You can find developers in, like, 10 minutes that cost 30 or 40 bucks an hour? Hey, that’s awesome. I’ll talk with you later. What? No, sorry, I don’t negotiate my hourly rate. Why not? It’s complicated.

No, you know what? It’s not complicated. I’ve been honing my craft for 11 years. I sat through the judgements of real developers who called me a flash weasel and flash in the pan because I used software to make objects dance around. Those same developers found their own skills slowly sliding into the background as more and more Flash was used. I clawed my way up the ranks on my own merits. I started as an animator in Flash. Exporting Flash 2 animations for streaming within a framework in Director. Flash couldn’t handle audio well enough at the time, you see.

My last full time job was as Director of New Media. Sure it’s a trite title, but what’s yours? My title before that was Manager of Integrated Media. I was involved in new business pitches and helped win them for my employers. I managed teams of Flash developers. Making sure that they were treated fairly and that the expectations of my employers were met. The projects I worked on won awards. I liked my coworkers and they liked me. I’ve been successfully freelancing for over two years. That must mean something, no?

I come up with ideas your current employees may not have on their own. Those ideas are free, by the way, they come with the developer, aka me. However, thanks to my extensive experience, those ideas are also well-vetted through looking and working in this medium. Seeing what works and what doesn’t.

I have a sense for motion and code that, while they may not fit the norm for a top-notch coder, are pretty damn awesome. Again, 11 years. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

I don’t ask questions if your creative comes back again and again with pixel-pushing minutiae. You know why? I’ve been in Creative. I know their pain. I don’t ask questions when the tech team wants me to recode to add their framework call into my piece. You know why? I’ve been in Technology, too.

I don’t haggle for money on extra time after we’ve agreed to a deadline. I don’t add to my estimate even after you’ve extended your own deadline by a week. I work weekends, I work late, I work when your entire team doesn’t. I am committed to your project.

I don’t point fingers arbitrarily. I will defend myself if someone tells me I’m at fault on something I’m not. But I am the first to acknowledge my mistakes. Again, 11 years.

I am an award-winning developer with an extensive network of colleagues in the advertising world in Toronto. I have worked for nearly every major agency repeatedly. I have made errors in judgements with some and will never work for them again. However, I continue to get work and get requests for work. I have burned very few bridges for all my plain speech in 11 years. As far as I can tell, I’m well-liked.

I’ve taught coworkers to open their eyes to new concepts. I’ve taught students how to code more efficiently. I’ve spoken at conferences on networking, coding, procrastination, video implementation and sound. Crowds don’t frighten me. I’ve spoken at schools on the very same things. On how to be a freelancer or how to be an employee.

I don’t share my hourly rate because it’s a hindrance. It’s how I estimate my time and costs. What you think is an acceptable estimate from me is based on my hourly rate and how much time you want from me, by the way. I just didn’t say that I used my hourly rate and gave you a flat fee. Don’t get hung up on one number. It’s not important. What is important? I get your job done, I don’t generally get confused and I’m smart as hell.

Yeah, I know. I’m expensive.

Invivo FlickApp

Although I haven’t posted in a couple of months, it’s not because I haven’t been busy. I’ve actually been overwhelmed by work, thankfully. It has a negative effect on personal work but it does pay the bills. One project last month was unfortunately for a proof of concept and I am not allowed to blog about it. That’s a shame, as I was quite proud of the final product.

On the other hand, I simultaneously worked on something I’d never done before; an AIR app running on a touchscreen. An AIR app that would be controlled by an HTML5 app running on an iPad! That’s right. Somewhere, Steve Jobs had a pleasure shiver run up his back. This was to be a slide presentation sales aid. The salesperson would be able to flick the slide from their iPad to the big screen, all nonchalantly, and continue their pitch on the touchscreen. Seeing this work for the first time was super cool.

This was an incredible learning experience. It was no surprise to my client that I had never written an AIR app before. Partly because I didn’t tell them I’d never written an AIR app before. Koff. Sorry, guys.

I’d love to get into the nitty gritty of this project, but I’m sort of under the gun time-wise on another project. I want to speak to a couple of things:

1. We used a socket server to do the cross-app communication. Until I was able to get into the actual environment, I used a XML socket server in the form of Oscar and controlled it from my iPhone using TouchOSC. This was thanks to Dr. Woohoo who had used something similar for a project. These two things gave me a leg up in building my app. I am very thankful to have so many knowledgable friends.

2. There are minor, but distinct, differences between XML socket servers and socket servers. Christian Cantrell has some really informative posts on how to implement a socket server. I highly recommend checking them out.

3. Be completely aware of what your client wants and try to write your app so it does more than it should, not less. It’s easy to scale back on functionality by simply not using it. It’s far more difficult to add functionality to a nearly-finished app.

4. Version your app when you create it. It makes it easier when you overwrite it on install.

5. Educate your client on aspect ratios. The iPad version is 4×3, while the touchscreen version is 16×9. That means two differently-similar designs.

Onsite, at the conference, the tech took a short video. I would have liked something a little more expansive and better framed, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I’m currently working on another AIR app. Well, technically, two AIR apps using iPod touches and the Oscar socket server. Very exciting! If there are questions, please feel free to ask them, I’m not unavailable.