Category Archives: Freelance Tools

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): Free SVN Hosting

It’s painful when you have multiple computers, multiple development environment and shitty synchronization softwares. I’ve used Mozy (backup and sync) for a while now and I have to say, I DON’T LIKE IT! I know a lot of people who do but it never worked for me. Anyways I am not writing this to slander Mozy but rather to talk about a very cool and free svn service out there that really rocks! Earlier I was hosting my own svn service and backing it up with Mozy and after Mozy started giving me nightmares, I decided to use a paid svn service and put all the code on a secure location. I researched a lot on available sub version hosts and turns out that most of them dont really care about your code but your money and stupid service.

Come in xp-dev.com. A free and premium subversion (svn) host from a true developer who is genuinely interested in helping other developers. xp-dev.com provides both free and premium accounts and both are exceptionally good. I tried its free account for few months before shifting to premium account and I couldnt wait but to write about it in the nitty bitty section.

If you are a freelancer or just a developer working on projects at home, go give a shot at xp-dev.com’s free version. They also provide Project management, issue tracking and role based security too.

I know Google alongside a lot other big companies provide free svn to developers with great tools. But they are all for open source and public projects. If you want use svn on private projects make sure to protect it from public access. And for that you need a private svn host and they are not cheap or at least interested in helping you.

Also, If you see any similar svn hosts like xp-dev, do let me know.

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): PortableApps.com

You’ve been carrying your photos, documents, project files on a removable portable drive for sometime now. But have you ever thought about carrying the whole development environment? Image if you could carry PHP, Apache, MySQL, Perl, Java, NetBeans and Python environment in your USB Thumb Drive. So that all you have to do is, plug your USB Drive to any computer and have all the environment ready to use, code, debug, deploy etc.

PortableApps.com give you open source and free tools to take your favorite applications and/or environments in a portable drive (USB thumb, iPod, External HDD). So that if you are stuck at your friends place without your work laptop, you can just stick in this USB and get all the files, environment you every wanted?

I currently carry PHP, Apache, MySql, NetBeans, FileZilla and Subversion in my pocket and find it really easy to just plug it to either my work laptop or my friends laptop if I have to work on something urgent. I am also trying to load Visual Studio Express and MS SQL Express on my USB drive.

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): browsershots.org

Well how many times dint it happen that we the designers and/or developers had to test our work on different browsers for cross browser compatibility issues. It could be difficult to do so since there are quite a lot of them in different forms and versions. People still use IE6 and some nut cases have already migrated to IE8. Firefox releases a new version every other day and some grand pas’ still want to use netscape 4. Not to forget Safari. Like I said it could be difficult to test out on all these 50+ browsers.

Come in browsershots.org. A neat online tool that shows you how exactly your site looks in more than 50 web browsers with or without flash, javascript, activx, etc. You can also set the resolution of the screen you’d like to view. The premium account at browsershots.org costs about $30 a month but there is free access to guest if they can wait for 30 mins for processing the shot. The guest access could get litre annoying as you are required to extend the timer every 30 mind if you have multiple shots to view.

All in all a nitty bitty pinky tinky tool to capture those boring shots and cry about fixing the never ending cross browser compatibility issues.

A tip for clients: Use browser shots to annoy your developers on cross browser issues. Designers and developers always loose their minds when it comes to cross browser compatibility.

Update: Screw browsershots.org. Use FireFox and get this addon. You can add a lot of browsers to it. Just follow these steps:

To add more than 50 user agents, download http://techpatterns.com/downloads/firefox/useragentswitcher.xml and select “import”! (without the override option!) by Hellman658

Google Docs – Word for Requirement Gathering

Use Google Docs to prepare requirements and tasks collaboratively with your clients. It was few weeks ago when I first tried to use Google Docs Word as a real collaboration tool. On my very first online interview with a client, instead of simple discussing the project, either on IM or Phone, I invited the client to a new Google Document and we (me and the client) collaboratively worked on creating a proposal. It was fun and very interesting experience. I added few points, the client add few points, we discussed and the end result was very satisfying for both of us. I didn’t realize how advantageous this approach was until I read the book “How I raised from failure to success in selling” by Frank Bettger. He spoke about involving the client while writting down all the features/benefits your service would provide for him/her. That’s when I realized how I was making my clients involve in proposal preparation and how it was turning into a definate sale. I am added Google Docs into the Freelance Tools list as a most important mean for proposal creation (collaboratively).
Try it at your next client interview, I am sure you will be supprised with the results.

Freelancers, do you work or sleep?

I have many friends that are into Freelancing and share the same experience. Many times freelancers have to do away with sleep and work 24 hours stretch, just like a resident in a Hospital. I came across a nice tool that will create a pie chart based on no. of hours you spent on daily routine. Have a look.

I have attached mine here.

sleephours.jpg

Learn to Sell

Freelancers, its high time. Learn the insights of sales and marketing!

Every wonder why something that you’ve been using to drive sales wont work anymore?  Or why you could never get enough clients/leads? Or why other freelancers get better and more than enough clients? Start your way into sales dude!

Today, in this freaking competitive market, forget about getting a new client, retaining the existing ones have become increasingly difficult. Especially with growing web developers market, keeping yourselves with technology and at the sametime focusing on new marketing trends have become darn too tough (at least for me). Unfortunately theres nothing much you and I can do about it but to keep looking for new ideas to drive sales. Last month, I spent quite a lot of time searching for best possible way to drive sales and to be honest, theres not one proven method. Today, sales knowledge has become a vital expertise for every freelancer. Without it you are just a pony. I know few freelancers are too good at it but I am talking about people who never knew what is sales. So, how do you go about learning this freaking important piece of life?

Buy Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer. I’ve been reading this book when ever I could find time and theres nothing better I’ve read so far that I could relate to my business and strategies. Jeffrey highlights many tools and strategies that every sales guy must practice and be aware of. As a freelancer, reading this book and implementing at least 2 principles is the least one can do. The book is small in size, easy to carry around and has nice little red bits filled with humor. I strongly encourage every freelancer (at least the ones new to sales) in the industry to go and read this book.

vaked.com rates Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer as the most important tool for freelance business!

Freelancers must save money!

Getting around in New York could be time taking and also expensive. For all my visits to client locations in NY, I usually used to either drive all the way from NJ (currently located) or hire a cab half way. As you may have already noticed, it was a bad idea, but for someone new in NY, it could be the only way out.

Thanks to the great service of hopstop.com, it saved me quite a lot of money today. Where it takes around $80 to $100 for the cab ride from La Guardia Airport to Northern NJ, I was able to save upto $90 using public transportation and was home in less than 2 hours (not bad at all). Hopstop.com is now my favorite freelance tool to get around NY. There are other sites like hopstop.com, Google is working on creating something similar for Chicago and would possibly include sates like CA, NY, WA very soon. Google’s service is in fact based on Google Maps. Watch the video to learn more about this new tool from Google:

Freelance Jobs you can’t miss!

I spent few hours in getting my hands on Drupal for a new idea I had with a site for Freelance Job Feeds. Before I talk about the site, let me tell you, Drupal is a lot different than any other CMSes (especially Joomla). Although I am new to Drupal, going around it was too time taking than I thought. But the modules I used for the purpose of this site were actually a great fit.

Coming back to the site I just made. You can look at it here: Freelance  Job Postings

The site is totally made in Drupal with major work involving with module Feed Aggregator. The site is built on a simple logic, all freelance job postings under one roof. I got RSS and Atom Feeds linked in to the site to provide real time job postings from sites like ifreelance.com, getafreelancer, elance.com, getacoder, rentacoder.com etc. Over the next few days I plan to spend some more time on design, layouts and better feed integration. Hopefully this site will benefit someone.

BlackBerry Curve vs ATT Tilt

BlackBerry Curve vs ATT TiltAfter getting a 1-800 number for my freelance business (btw, I do web development, if you haven’t noticed), I decided to invest on my business’s mobility. I am looking to upgrade my basic AT&T Wireless phone to a better performing PDA/SmartPhone. Since, I can’t change my phone number yet, I have to stick with AT&T and select one of their phone upgrades.

After researching a little on the available upgrades, I finally short listed 2 phones: BlackBerry Curve 8310 and AT&T Tilt. This article is produced as a summary of my research report. This comparison has many sources, and most of it is through various communities. Continue reading

Use Google Notebook to manage project notes

Google’s new tool (old, but new to me) Notebook, allows anyone to create notebooks, add sections and write notes. You can also share notes, sections and even notebooks with peers and contacts. Plus you can make it public and publish it as webpage.

Continue reading