Elance Blog

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A Look Into The iPad SDK

In the second week of February, Apple, in it’s usual stealthy fashion, released the beta 2 version of the iPhone 3.2 SDK specifically designed for the upcoming Apple iPad hardware. Although public information regarding the new iPhone 3.2 SDK is scarce (beta developers are only allowed to access after agreeing to an NDA), there are a few known tidbits regarding the SDK that you should know if you’re an Apple developer, enthusiast, or hardcore fan.

1. For those of you thinking that the iPad looks like an overgrown iPod Touch, you’re not too far off the mark. According to many reputable sources around the ‘net, the iPad is confirmed to be running the iPhone OS, version 3.2 to be specific. However, in it’s current state, the iPhone 3.2 OS and software development kit (SDK) are specifically designed for use only on the upcoming iPad, so don’t expect to be using it on your iPhones or iPod Touches.

2. The new iPhone 3.2 OS appears to have quite a few iPad-specific features that might not ever make it to the little brothers. Since the device will be carrying a much larger screen at a higher resolution (1024x768), there are several user interface elements that will be specifically designed for the iPad.

The first, called split view, allows you to view both your email list and the message in your inbox while in landscape mode, similarly to most software and web-based email clients out there today. The other, called popovers, allows you to see a context menu which operates very much like your standard right-click (or option click for you Apple fans) on your desktop computer.

Additionally, according to Gizmodo, there appears to be a few new gesture-based interactions in iPhone OS 3.2, like two- and three-finger swipes and new touches and drags (tap and hold, tap and drag, etc.) And also in the UI department is the addition of rich text support, which allows for different fonts, sizes, and more.

PayPal Update

For a brief time on Friday, February 5, 2010, all PayPal withdrawals to India were rejected by PayPal. Elance worked closely with PayPal until the issue was resolved by close of business Friday. Since that time, all withdrawals to India have been processing normally. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will keep you informed of any new developments.

Elance Help

Rocket To The Top Of Google!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to move up in Google. However, understanding how search engines rank websites in search results has reached a status of unsolvable enigma for a large percentage of the population. Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNation, and SEO expert Zeke Camusio of The Outsourcing Company share some search-engine tips and tricks in their just-released eBook series “Google Rocketship", which you can check out here.

When shopping for a product or service, 73% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses from which to buy. With more than 6 billion searches every month, who wouldn’t want their website to rank at the top of the search engines?

Gaining real estate at the top of Google and other engines is like lightening in a bottle. It can drive a boatload of traffic to your website and generate new customers for your business. Considering that 68% of searchers don’t go past the first page of search results and that nearly 40% of searchers automatically assume that high ranking businesses are leaders in their market, the business case for optimizing your website is a straightforward and convincing one.

One of the key points made in the series is that there is no magic or voodoo to search engine optimization. Instead, the best thing that you can do to juice your website’s rankings in Google is to create an amazing website that your audience loves. If you provide useful and compelling content, centered on keywords that your audience is already using when they conduct online searches, your site is bound to do better on the engines.

Let’s assume you run an appliance repair business in Seattle and you want your website to do better than its current page 15 listing in Google. What should you do?

Elance @ SXSW 2010, And We Want You!

You heard it right! Elance is heading southbound to Austin, Texas, home of longhorns, legendary bar-b-cue, live music, and the world renowned South By South West conference. We’ll be in full force hosting a booth at the main conference hall at the Austin Convention Center as well as participating in this year’s Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator program as judges and sponsors taking place at the Hilton Austin Downtown.

But this year, we won’t be able to make SXSW a success without you. Every year, new faces, cutting-edge technologies, and smarter applications surface to the world at a breakneck pace, and we need some help from some elancers to cover all of the fast-paced action. That’s why were offering two full-access SXSW Interactive badges (valued at $500 each) to two very talented blogger/social media/journalist-types to perform in-depth, hard-hitting coverage of the show as members of the Elance Team. We'll also be providing you with $300 stipend as well for your stay in Austin.

So, are you interested in attending SXSW Interactive this year? Do you have the writing and reporting chops to compete with the rest of the media? Do you eat, breathe, and live all things tech? Write a 500-750 word blog post anywhere you'd like on which technologies, companies, and influencers will be making big waves at this year’s show and send us the link at alex@elance.com. Don’t forget to submit your name, the dates you plan on being in Austin for the show, and a picture so we know who to look for if you win. Please only enter this contest if you have arrangements to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas during the duration of show, and remember that we'll be looking for 2-3 blog articles per day of coverage during the Interactive festival as well as several posts of preview and after-show coverage. 

We’ll be taking entries throughout the rest of February and will be announcing the two winners and highlighting their winning entries on the Elance Blog on March 1, 2010.

Good luck, and we hope to see you in Austin!

SXSW Conference 2010
Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW

How To Ditch Distractions And Stay Focused When Working Online

While the Internet is one of the most powerful tools to facilitate communication, distribute information, and most importantly, enable work, it’s also chock full of sports scores, viral videos, tweets and wall posts, email chain-letters, and a ton of other distractions that can negatively affect your productivity and work output. (Trust me, I know.)

Here are a few tips you can follow to help better manage your work time to stay productive while also keeping yourself happy.

1. Set The Time: Bucketing your time into various categories can really help you stay focused and become more efficient with your day. Typically, I set my work into three different groups.

First, there’s standard “work” time. While working on my general projects, I'm also available to be contacted through standard email (Outlook or your software or web client of choice), instant messenger, Skype, the Elance Workroom, work-related social media, telephone, web cam etc. This is when you get your primary communication done before getting started on your main projects.

Second, there’s “solo” time. This is where I close Outlook, close all Internet browsing windows, set my IM status to "busy", and get down to business. Some others suggest completely unplugging to get away from Internet distractions (oh YouTube, you always come calling), but I stay connected just in case there is any online reference material I need access to or if there is some emergency contact that needs to be made regarding a project. Use the combination that fits your work life best, but remember to make sure you designate some time alone to get to work.

iPad Strikes, And Elancers Are Ready

It’s been a busy week in the tech world. While some of the rumors turned out to be more fact than fiction, some other rumors failed to materialize at this week’s Apple announcement.

Yes, the iPad is real. Very real. The “magical and revolutionary device”, as Steve Jobs puts it, features a 9.7-inch LED-backlight Multi-Touch display, Wi-Fi, a custom 1GHZ processor, and a ton of other standard Apple amenities you have grown to expect.

The device, which some say is just a giant iPod Touch, is designed to present the web, email, news, apps, e-magazines, and books in a new, even more-touchable form factor. And another bonus – right out of the box, the iPad will support all 140,000 apps available at the Apple App Store.

Speaking of apps, when the newest technology, devices, and platforms strike, the Elance community is right behind it. With the Droid and an army other Android devices joining the party in 2009, there’s no doubt that mobiles have been making huge news. And it shows. The Mobile category on Elance has grown nearly 200% in payments made throughout the course of last year, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, especially with the announcement of the iPad.

Consequently, within mere moments of the announcement of the iPad, we began seeing iPad related jobs being posted, and that number is continuing to grow. Within 24 hours, we saw over 20 clients posting jobs looking for skilled iPad professionals, and as of right now, we have highest number of iPad-specific job posts out there on the web.

This just goes to show you – when cutting edge technology hits, Elance is where businesses, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals go to get work done.

The New Look And Feel Of Elance

At Elance, we’re always striving to provide you with a faster, more elegant, and more efficient platform to hire and manage over 100,000 talented online professionals. Keeping that in mind, the internal team here has been hard at work upgrading the site with new elements that will not only update the look and feel but also improve ease-of-use across Elance.

As some of you perceptive elancers may have already noticed, today, we’ve introduced a new, streamlined global navigation with a number of visual and functional improvements.

First, we’ve increased the font sized used in the main navigation as well as added several color elements to make it easier to read and quickly identify where you are currently on Elance.

Secondly, we’ve created a new “Community” drop down menu that can quickly take you to the Blog, Water Cooler, Groups, Elance University, Trust & Safety, and Trends pages. We've also added links to our Facebook and Twitter pages so you can interact with us via our favorite social media sites.

Lastly, we’ve streamlined the navigation by reducing the number of main tabs by moving the Inbox tab to the top right corner by your username, and we've replaced the Explore tab with How It Works to improve clarity. Please keep in mind that the Inbox link will only appear when you are signed in.

Give the new navigation a test drive and tell us what you think by dropping us a line in the comments below. And before we go, one more thing: As you continue working online on Elance, some of you may run across a newly designed homepage. Throughout the next couple of weeks, we'll be testing with a small portion of users several different variations of a new homepage we've been working on, so be sure to keep your eye out for it. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

AT&T iPhone Exclusivity To Expire?

Normally, any tech rumor story I find floating on the web comes bundled with a huge grain of salt, but today, the rumblings of the possible expiration of AT&T’s exclusivity contract (PCWorld) with the game-changing iPhone has myself and the entire tech world buzzing.

At Apple’s special event this Wednesday in San Francisco, analysts, reporters, shareholders, and gadget fans are all patiently awaiting the release of Apple’s new venture into the tablet market. However, the strong rumor stealing the limelight is that the Cupertino-based electronics manufacturer may be announcing the end of its exclusivity arrangement with AT&T and the potential release of the iPhone on Verizon later this year.

This is clearly the right move at the right time for Apple, if they choose to do so. With Android increasing its market share with the number of mobile handsets, carriers, and mobile applications developed, it’s clear that Apple is feeling the heat from their neighbors in Mountain View. Opening up to other carriers, specifically Verizon, would be the smartest move to not only thwart Google’s advances but also address criticisms of AT&T’s wireless network by allowing consumers to have a choice.

The Winners Of The Windows Azure Challenge

At the start of the year, Microsoft officially launched the Windows Azure platform, a cloud computing service that allows you to develop, host, and service your applications all in the cloud. To celebrate the launch of Azure, back in December, we here at Elance brought you the Windows Azure $10,000 Challenge. Here are the winners!

Grand Prize - $10,000: Cloudphoto by twoo

“Cloudphoto is an extension of the Facebook experience, leveraging the more advanced technologies of Windows Azure and Silverlight. These technologies allow Cloudphoto to easily accommodate a varied amount of web traffic, and to create a rich user experience.

Cloudphoto allows the user to view photos quicker and with more flexibility than the traditional method. Users can view large amounts of photos on a single page, and multiple albums at the same time. Albums and photos are dynamically loaded in to avoid long wait times and provide feedback for the user.

This product is innovative in the way that it fuses the strengths of many new web technologies together. Windows Azure provides the easy server scalability that is needed for a high volume social networking product. Silverlight provides the dynamic user experience. Also the API provided by Microsoft's Facebook toolkit gives the user a seamless link to Facebook resources.”

Will Apple Change The Way We Work?

With the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show behind us, the eyes of influencers, pundits, marketers, and other technology representatives have their eyes fixed westward towards Cupertino amidst strong rumors of new, touchable, game-changing devices.

Earlier today, Apple sent out private invitations to reporters to a special event on January 27 asking reporters to “come see our latest creation” – many speculating that this will be the unveiling of the highly anticipated Apple Tablet and Touchscreen computers.

Although specifications are merely speculation at this point, the long standing rumor is that Apple will be launching a touch-screen device with a screen in the range of 7-to-10 inches designed to present a variety of multimedia content and internet browsing in a form factor with incredible aesthetic design you’ve come to expect from Steve Jobs and Co.

Some liken it to being an “iPhone on steroids,” however, this isn’t the only touchable device scheduled to show. According to another report that hit the wire this morning, it appears that Apple will also be entering the touchscreen PC market with the introduction of the 22-inch, touch-enabled iMac desktop computer later this year. Specifications on this device are similarly scarce, but its existence has been all but confirmed as of today.

Several thought-provoking questions still remain. First: What will be the operating system driving these new devices? Secondly, will we see an expansion in the iPhone application development market with a whole new set of apps specifically designed for the new tablet? And thirdly, with an uncanny adoption rate expected, will we be seeing the early stages of extinction for the mouse?