Incredible events at Browserling continue. While I was building a service for India, people of Cameroon in Africa found a new and unexpected use-case for Browserling. They started using Browserling to bypass government censorship and get back on social media.
Long story short, there are ten regions in Cameroon. Eight of them speak French but two speak English. English speaking regions decided to separate from French regions and have their own separate government. French speaking government didn't want this to happen and sent armed forces to English regions. People filmed the events and coordinated events over social media. Government didn't like it so they blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and other websites.
One of my blog readers, and a local technology leader in Cameroon, Godwill Tetah, reached out to me and asked if I could build something similar to what I built for India. I said sure, and built a custom Browserling version that enables Cameroonians to bypass blocked websites and get back on social media. This website is called go237.com. If you're wondering what 237 means, it's the country code of Cameroon. Easy to remember and share. I put it on a separate domain so that in case the government of Cameroon blocks this website I can quickly move to some other address, such as free237.com or open237.com.
The website has only two buttons. Launch Facebook and Launch Twitter.
Here's what happens when someone clicks Launch Facebook. I spawn a Chrome on my Linux server stream the browser the user's browser. What they get is a Chrome inside their own browser. A browser in a browser. And it doesn't require any installations. People love the simplicity of it and there is no learning curve. Here's how it looks:
Godwill also wanted that I tell my blog readers about him and post some photos that he sent me from his country. Godwill is Cameroonian and lives in Buea. He's an IT specialist and learned everything on his own. He's always been helping his friends with computer and phone problems and he's learned everything by doing. Currently Godwill is learning web development and does video editing, and has started his own company called TB Production which provides special effects to movies. Godwill says I'm his role model in programming and he wants to learn from me. He also adds that if anyone wants to be friends with him, he can be reached at email@example.com.
And here is his city, Buea.
Browserling is now becoming the go-to tool for people in Cameroon to access social media. People from more countries have reached out to me and asked to build a similar tool for them. My blog fans from Ukraine also reached out to me and asked to build a similar service for Ukraine. The government of Ukraine has blocked Russian internet and Ukrainians are not able to easily access their favorite Russian websites. I'm going to build a service for them next and for other countries. Find out what happens in the next installment of incredible events at Browserling. See you next time!
We're huge open-source fans at Browserling. We've open sourced hundreds of node.js modules and many other inventions that everyone in the world uses, including browserify that gets millions of monthly downloads.
We don't profit from our open-source work and we know how difficult it is to make money being an open-source developer. IT'S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT. The only real options are to work for an open-source company, but there aren't that many and your open-source work may not be aligned with the company's goals. The other way is to support your own work by consulting, which is less than ideal. And the third way is to create a company around your own open-source work, which is what we did.
We used our node.js modules, combined them with other open-source modules written by other people, and we built a profitable business. And now we have extra money to spend on good things. One of the first good things we're doing is we're setting aside a portion of our revenue to support other great open-source developers. We just created a Browserling's Pateron supporter account and we've setup monthly donations for two great developers.
The first two people we're supporting are Feross Aboukhadijeh (Patreon profile | Github | Twitter) and Mathias Buus (Patreon profile | Github | Twitter). They're mad scientists and also have open-sourced hundreds of node.js modules that the entire web uses. This is our thank you to them for their great work.
With this blog post I'd also like to make a call to all companies that depend on open-source work of others. Open-source developers need your support! There is a huge amount of mutual benefit that comes from creating direct relationships with these developers. They matter more than you realize. And if you don't know who they are, ask your engineering team, because they do.
We'll be supporting more developers and doing other great things throughout 2018 and beyond. Keep hacking and see you next time!
The most random and amazing things happened at my company Browserling in the last few weeks. Someone in India discovered that they can use WhatsApp on very cheap $20 phones (Jio Phones) via Browserling. These cheap phones can't run WhatsApp but if you go to Browserling, you can use it via web.whatsapp.com. He made a video (first video below), the video went viral, got reposted everywhere, and more people started making videos about it (some more links below). I started getting crazy traffic, thousands, then tens of thousands of visitors and it just kept increasing from India, all trying to use Browserling as a WhatsApp proxy tool. Indian blogs picked it up, started reposting it, too. Traffic was going insane.
I couldn't handle tens of thousands of free sessions and it just kept increasing. I couldn't understand what was happening. Why was everyone trying to go to WhatsApp inside Browserling? I didn't know there was a viral video. I thought it was a DDOS attack. I noticed everyone had this weird user agent that said it was a JIO phone. I throught these attackers were fools. A classic newbie mistake not to randomize the user agent. So I quickly banned this JIO user agent with "fatal error" message. But instead of a victory, my web servers started getting DDOSed even more, these users were hitting refresh like crazy. I spent half a day identifying the attackers, found that it was all Indian IPs and blocked half of country at firewall level. All was well. I could go to sleep. But then suddenly someone messaged me and said why don't I let him use WhatsApp. Then 100 users started messaging me. Then 1000s. My Facebook was blowing up.
I was now thinking I was under the most sophisticated attack ever on a personal level. I had no clue what was going on. I started blocking all these people but I was getting messages faster than I could block them one by one. I was freaking out. I decided to delete my Facebook for my own safety. While I was looking for the delete link, I accidentally noticed a link to YouTube in one of the messages. I opened it and I instantly got it. This was no attack! I was going viral! But I still didn't know what to do and kept "fatal error" message.
Days went by and users started making videos about how to get around the "fatal error", like this one:
They started linking to my competitors as an alternative solution. I was thinking, hah, great, let them crash competitor websites. A few more days went by and and then it suddenly struck me! Why am I blocking these users?! This is the biggest opportunity ever! I can capture tens of millions of users. Everyone in India who uses this phone.
I had no idea how much these phones cost or how much money Indian users spent on online services. I quickly put a $1/day link for 1 day of Browserling to see if I could easily monetize it, but no one bought this subscription. Then I decreased the price to $0.50 and still no one was buying. I put a $0.10 cents sessions and still no buyers. I couldn't provide a free service to all of India, so I decided at least to do something with this traffic.
So instead of banning the entire country via firewall or a "fatal error" message I created this message and asked users to follow @browserling and tweet messages about it:
And they did! All these users started following Browserling and tweeting about it. But they still couldn't use Browserling or Whatsapp, it was just a new message in place of "fatal error". I started getting thousands of new followers and tens of thousands of tweets about Browserling:
It looked like this:
Then I got curious. Would these users tweet anything that I asked them? So I decided to troll my competitors a little bit, and asked users to tweet a popular meme Taiwan number one to them. And it worked! Suddenly Twitter was full with my troll tweets:
That was super hilarious. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing. TAIWAN NUMBER ONE! COMPETITORS NUMBER NINE!
Then something weird happened with these tweets. Some kind of weird spam protection triggered at Twitter and they started blocking tweets about Browserling. No one could tweet with a @browserling mention anymore. So I changed message to one with just a shout out to browserling and without at-handle:
Then instead of just tweeting and trolling, I asked users to start following Browserling on Facebook so I could reconnect with them and let them know when the software was up and running again. I started getting thousands of new followers:
Turns out Jio Phone users would tweet, follow, like, and do anything I tell them to get access to Browserling. Very interesting.
After having had fun with this I remembered I had many loyal blog readers from India. I messaged some of my blog followers from India and we talked about this. It turns out users in India can't easily make online USD purchases with credit or debit cards as it requires a special bank permission. That's why no one was signing up for a subscription for a $1 or 50c or 10c. I kept chatting with my friends and it turns out in India they have their own localized payment system that they use. It's hard to access from the outside.
So I teamed up with my friends Sunit and Wrishiraj from Assam, India. They've built a Linux distribution for India called SuperX and have a company called Libresoft also based in Assam that can easily accept Indian payments such as UPI, prepaid wallets, and local debit and credit cards that work only inside India.
I got to work and over last two weeks I built a "WhatsApp over Browserling for India in an old browser on a $20 Jio Phone".
First I launched a simple user registration page. I just threw together quickest possible signup page. Simple HTML+CSS+jQuery. Does the job, works well and gets things done, just the way I like it. Here's how it looks on Jio Phones that have 240x320 resolution:
As soon as I launched it, I started getting thousands of new signups:
The software wasn't ready yet so I just left a message that asked users to keep tweeting to keep the momentum going:
I worked around the clock for over a week, 20 hours a day to create a new version of Browserling that can handle hundreds of thousands of users and can run thousands of Chromes in kiosk mode on servers with terabytes of ram. I put it to the test and it worked flawlessly:
But now I was no longer getting any tweets, likes or shares, and I was losing momentum. Everyone was just using it for free. I had to do something to keep it up. So after chatting with my friends I learned people in India love lotteries. So I created a Browserling Lottery:
The lottery had a countdown timer and gave a 50% chance of winning. To speed up the lottery countdown timer and increase chances of winning, users had to tweet about Browserling and follow Browserling:
Everyone loved it and wrote me hundreds of messages that they are winning the lottery and thanked me for making Browserling. The momentum was back up! I worked for a couple more days and just launched payments yesterday:
Currently I'm running a multivariate test on various plans and prices to find which ones are the most popular. I randomly display an option to buy a daily plan, a weekly plan, or a monthly plan with a different price. Here are all the possibilities. (Only one plan is displayed to one user, so for example, someone will see 19/week, someone else 29/week, someone else 12/week, etc.)
The price is in rupees. 9 rupees is 14 cents, 19 rupees is 30 cents, 29 rupees is 45 cents, 39 rupees is 60 cents. I'm using the local Indian payment processor called Instamojo, which is Stripe for India and integrates together all possible Indian payment methods.
While I was working on Indian version, the word spread to Cameroon and Nigeria where people also use cheap phones that can't run Whatsapp or other software. I'm now setting up a few servers for Africa and targeting African countries next. If anyone wants to help spread the word in those countries, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Update: Browserling for Cameroon is up!)
This is well aligned with Browserling's vision, which is "run any application on any platform in any browser." In this case I've a web version of Whatsapp running in a Chrome on Linux, used in a cheap $20 phone's browser.
I will keep you posted about what happens. Do I take over India?! Does this go further and it's a success in Africa, too?! Or does this go nowhere? Find out in the next episode of incredible events at Browserling! See you next time!
As the hacker-in-residence at Hackers/Founders (H/F), I'm super excited to announce that H/F has launched its own cryptocurrency called Hacker Token or HACK for short!
HACK is issued by HACK Fund – a liquid venture fund created by H/F that runs on the blockchain. HACK provides an easy and liquid way to invest in top startups in Silicon Valley and around the world that are part of H/F's Co-op startup incubator. HACK will also power the H/F community and open source ecosystem, as well as support emerging technology hubs, nonprofits and startups around the globe.
You can buy HACK right now at a 40% pre-sale discount at buy.hf.cx. 1 HACK = $1 USD. Full information at hack.hf.cx. Use the special promo code
CATONMAT that we created for my blog readers for an additional 10% bonus!
We're also organizing a HACK webinar next week for my blog readers and everyone else who's interested. RSVP for HACK Fund webinar on Dec 6 at 11:00AM PST to learn more about HACK.
What is Hackers/Founders (H/F)?
Hackers/Founders is world's largest startup network, uniting 300,000+ members in 47 countries and 128 cities. The H/F Co-op startup accelerator is a tight-knit cooperative, where concierge services are provided in exchange for equity, and where founders help each other and elect each other to the program. H/F Co-op has a portfolio of 55 tech companies.
What is HACK?
HACK is a new Ethereum-based token issued by HACK Fund. It can be bought, sold and traded through online exchanges as a liquid transaction. HACK is based on the ERC223 protocol. ERC223 solves issues with the ERC20 standard while remaining backwards compatible with ERC20-compliant wallets. HACK is a tradeable digital token that can be used for participation, representation, proof of membership in H/F or any other suitable purpose.
What is HACK Fund?
HACK Fund is a liquid venture fund on the blockchain. H/F created HACK Fund to bring its successful approach to the blockchain, increasing accessibility and liquidity for investors. HACK Fund uses blockchain technology to make startup investing available to people around the world and who are at all levels of investing.
Why Liquidity Matters?
Traditional startup investors can only realize gains when a company is purchased or goes public. Liquidity events, such as acquisitions or IPOs, rarely happen in Silicon Valley, and even less so elsewhere. As a result, investors seldom profit, and have to wait approximately a decade to find out if they made a good investment decision. However, HACK Fund is liquid. Investors in HACK Fund can buy, sell and trade tokens at any time in a fund that derives value from H/F's pool of well-performing startups.
Investors can profit from startups that, up to now, would have been neglected because they are located in areas of the globe that are harder to reach due to regulations, markets, and other factors. Because blockchain technology is decentralized, capital which might have been left on the table can now be used to increase value for investors.
HACK's value is based on the performance of H/F Co-op startups. Valuations of startups will be completed using eShares or similar platform, and audited by an independent third-party CPA at regular intervals.
HACK Fund also offers risk diversification. Up to now, it has been nearly impossible to get exposure to a diversified portfolio of startup equity without having a great deal of wealth.
100% of returns from portfolio exits are funnelled back into HACK Fund, increasing its value for investors.
Most importantly, HACK Fund is liquid, and offers investors the ability to realize gains without having to wait a decade.
How to invest in HACK Fund?
Those who want to get involved in investing into tech startups don't need to be Silicon Valley venture capitalists. The cost of 1 HACK token is $1 USD. Non-US investors can buy into the fund directly through buy.hf.cx. Because of regulatory laws, US investors can contact HACK Fund at
email@example.com for more details on how to invest.
Currently HACK is on pre-sale at 40% discount to early investors (and 10% additional discount with
CATONMAT promo code). To invest you will need a ERC20-compliant ETH wallet. You can create one at www.MyEtherWallet.com. If you don't know how to do it, watch this video MyEtherWallet Walkthrough. Once you have your wallet, you'll need to fund it using Ethereum or Bitcoin. If you don't know how to do it, watch this video How To Buy Tokens and Coins. Now you're ready to buy HACK! Watch this video How to buy HACK and go to buy.hf.cx to buy some!
To buy HACK using USD, you'll need to wire transfer funds to HACK Fund's bank account. Please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to do that.
Note: Coinbase ETH wallets won't work as they are not ERC20-compliant.
Whitepaper and Executive Summary
HACK THE PLANET!!
See you next time!
You know you're doing SEO correctly when EVERY SINGLE BACKLINK contains the keywords you're targeting. No garbage anchor texts, no "click here" links, just links that will make you rank #1.
This is what SEO that I constructed and executed for my new online tools network looks like after 30 days of launching.
69 links (external and internal) to onlineSTRINGtools.com, all 69 contain keyword "string":
33 backlinks to onlineCSVtools.com, all 33 contain keyword "csv":
All other sites in the network have the same SEO.
Get your SEO right, outrank your competitors, and succeed. See you next time!