[Warning: what follows is a shameless plug for a great new web service, and how I stumbled across it]
Since we recently added the first new Bleyleben to the world for some time, my digital SLR is finally getting a proper breaking-in. I gave up the old analog Nikon reluctantly (and still wonder what to do with the body), but am totally sold on the Nikon D70, especially with the incredibly easy integration between the camera and the Mac's iPhoto software.
But iPhoto's editing capabilities are pathetic. You can adjust colour and tone and add filters, etc, but there are virtually no cropping or other simple manipulation tools.
So we shopped around for an alternative, and finally settled on Adobe's dumbed-down version of Photoshop for consumers: Photoshop Elements. At £50 or so it's not cheap, but certainly better than shelling out £600+ for the professional version...
But even the consumer version comes with a fairly steep learning curve. We may want to edit a photo a few times a year, so is it really worth learning how to use the software?? (I know, I should have thought of it before buying, but let's just call the £50 a sunk cost).
I should have checked out Photochop. Here you just upload your photos, describe the modifications you want (remove tourists, pimples, out-of-favour relatives; add tan, curves or a Santa hat), and professional editors will make the changes and send the photo back to you (for a fee of course). You only pay if you like the result. Photochop in fact doesn't edit the pictured themselves - they simply act as an intermediary between consumers and free-lance editors. Great idea - I wish I'd had it myself.
So, what similar tasks -- infrequent enough to be not worth learning -- could be automated over the web in this way? Video editing is an obvious one -- our raw honeymoon footage has been sitting in iMovie, untouched, for a year now...
In the techie world, we already have pleny of rent-a-coder services. And sites like Elance offer generic trading of free-lance services, but starting a project has considerable overhead associated with it, negotiation, etc. How about renting an investment banking analyst occasionally for those heavy modelling jobs, or at least to help make the balance sheet balance?
Graphic design? Powerpoint formatting? Any other ideas?