Ask Gremlin…

I’ve received a couple of interesting emails recently from people asking for advice. I figured my answers might be of use to others so here are the (redacted) emails:

Android App

The email:

I am wanting a Android Application designed for me. I am wanting to know a little more about Android Applications and how to go about getting one designed for me. How do the laws work around making a app and around how much would someone have to pay to get one designed? If a Android developer was to make a app for me would the rights of that app be mine or the creator? Sorry for the inconvenience I’m really new to this. Any information would be appreciated.

My response:

Hi ****,

A few years ago there was a move in NZ to better clarify ownership of intellectual property and copyright for “commissioned works” which includes software developement. However this amendment did not pass see:

Although there are some existing laws that cover this area, what you want to ensure is that there is a clause in any contracts you sign (and you should ensure you have a contract with anyone who is written apps for you) that you own ALL the IP and copyrights on the work that is produced.

In terms of how much will it cost, the answer is it depends on how complicated the app is :)

Basically there are two general models followed for software development: “Time and Materials” (T&M)  or Fixed Price.

With T&M you generally pay the developer an hourly rate. For software development you can pay anything from $25/hr through to $150/hr. Typically the more senior or skilled the person, the higher their rates. Of course paying more doesn’t guarantee quality or success.

With Fixed price the price is determined ahead of time and that is the amount you will pay for the completed software. Whilst this seems a “safe” option, software development is often complicated and unexpected things turn up all the time, as such Fixed Priced contracts are often padded with a “contingency” to ensure that the developer makes money. If the project looks risky the contingency can be as high as 50% which means you would be paying far more for the work then it is worth. The other issue with fixed price contracts is that they often have a “change request” (CR) process which allows the developer to make additional charges for work (eg features of the app) that were not covered by the original specification (or “scope”) of the project. CR processes are often confusing & abused and you land up paying way more then you intended to in the end.

The best way to “protect” yourself against unforeseen costs is to be very, very, very clear on what you want to have built. In software development this is often called “scope” or the specifications of the project.

For an Android app I would suggest that you create what is called a wireframe or mockup of the app. You can use a tool such as or or even paper & pen and sketch out each of the screens of the app, add notes about what each screen should do and how you navigate from one screen to another.

Once you have your wireframe sorted you can then shop around and get different quotes from different developers to find a price and developer you like. If you think your idea is particularly unique, you might want people to sign a non-disclosure  aggreement (NDA) before you show them your wireframes or talk to them about the app.

Lastly you might want to try and write the software yourself ! Have a look at as a “gently” intro to Android development. It will let you create a working prototype that you can actually run on your phone :)

Hopefully the above has been helpful.


QR code generation

The email:

I saw your comment on the hack-a-day QRcode post.  You seem to have quite a bit of experience in QRcodes and other scanning apps.  One thing that I have been looking for (and maybe you might be able to help) is a program that creates unique QRcodes from list of URLs.  I’m helping out a non-profit **\* with their website and I was trying to find an easy solution to automatically create printable QRcodes for all of the ***\** at once.  This way each **** has their own QR code to an info page on a WordPress blog.  It could be done manually, but the ** change every two weeks! :)

A bonus would be automatically taking Bitly URLs and turning them into a bunch of printable QRcodes.

Just thinking

My response

Hi *****,

The Google Charts API can be used to quickly create QR codes. Check out: and

So the following #aliases:×150&cht=qr&chl=  would create a 150px by 150px .png QR code containing a URL to my blog (

You could probably use a tool such as Curl or WGET to script the fetching of the bar codes.