Tag Archives: Internet

How to Get Internet to Cuba

Amid deepening poverty, escalating COVID cases and a lack of vaccines, Cubans are doing something very brave: protesting against the Communist dictatorship in the largest demonstrations in six decades.

I can’t even imagine how afraid they must be, but they’re out there. And activists need to be able to coordinate with each other. The Cuban government knows this, so they’ve taken a cue from dictatorships in Iran, Myanmar and elsewhere: restricting the internet.

Cuba’s government has disrupted access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and YouTube, per London-based watchdog NetBlocks. These disruptions have gone on for over a week so far and show no signs of ending.

As an American with a love of freedom and a background in tech, I thought I’d research some options for our Cuban friends:

  • Alternative social platforms: Twitter is not yet blocked, although it could be at any time. Less used video platforms like Vimeo or Dailymotion are also available.
  • Privacy tools: VPN’s continue to work, as does Signal, the encrypted messaging app used by Edward Snowden. This could be a superb WhatsApp alternative. Tor is a great option for browsing. It’s available for desktop or mobile in a convenient browser form. It routes data through many servers, making your traffic untraceable. Unlike most VPN’s, Signal and Tor are free. I use them myself.
  • Satellites: Not viable. These need ground infrastructure that Cuba doesn’t have and their government won’t allow.
  • Balloons: Much discussed and a great potential solution, but I fear the implementation will take too long to be of use to Cubans. These balloons exist today, cost in the tens of thousands (chump change to the US government), and float in international airspace. They could be positioned over international waters as well.

    Cuba would be taking an extreme step to shoot them down, if they could even accomplish it. And in any case, we could always launch many, many more.

If anyone knows of any good charities working on these issues, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. I’d be happy to contribute to any good effort in this area.

Patria y vida, amigos!

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Photo: “Project Loon balloon” by douglas_coldwell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Why I Just Invested in Gauge, the Best Way to Sell Your Car

If you have a car to sell, you generally have 3 options:

1) Craigslist. You can get a good price, but buyers are flaky and the process takes forever. If you can sell it at all.

2) Dealer trade-in. Easy but the price is terrible.

3) Sell to a used car lot. See # 2

Now, there’s a much better option: sell your car with Gauge. Gauge is a Salt Lake City-based startup that gets you the highest price for your car, easily. When you list your car with Gauge, you get competing bids from multiple dealers. You pick the offer you’re happiest with, and that’s it!

Selling with Gauge avoids the hassles of shady Craigslist buyers, and the competitive process gets you a better price than taking the car to a dealer.

But what about Carvana?

What about them? Carvana buys your car itself, which means their incentive is to give you the lowest price possible. While Gauge does buy your car directly from you, it does so on behalf of dealers and buyers who want to bid on it. Gauge only makes money if you decide to sell your car on their platform. If you’re not happy with the bids you get, you’re free to sell your car elsewhere. So Gauge has every incentive to get you the best price possible.

This model is working so well they’ve earned a stellar 4.7 star average on Google. Sellers love the great customer service with no fees. Dealers love Gauge too, because they can get better quality cars than at most auctions. And not having to show up at an auction in person is a huge time savings, not to mention being safer.

Gauge is growing very fast, and I’m super excited to be an investor! They only list cars in the Salt Lake City area at the moment, but they’re expanding rapidly, with several new markets already in the works.

If you’re in the area with a car to sell, I don’t think you can do better!

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INSIDE A STARTUP ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY

Photo: “Corvette Stingray” by pyntofmyld is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

This 21 Year Old Makes Millions Selling Products He’s Never Seen

As a teenager, Kamil Sattar knew he wanted to work in business. But he dropped out of his college’s business program during his second year when he said he realized, “I wasn’t actually learning how to do business. I was learning how to work for someone else’s business and make them money.”

His online store has pulled in $1.7 million in revenue this year alone. Sattar sells products online that he sources from manufacturers. Another company holds and ships the actual items. This is called drop shipping.

Offshoring separated manufacturing from distribution and marketing. What drop shipping is doing is separating distribution and marketing. Sattar excels in promoting products and running the online store. With drop shipping, he can do just those functions and leave the manufacturing and distribution to specialists:

Drop shippers use wholesale marketplaces like AliExpress, which is owned by Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce site. AliExpress sells every category of goods, from apparel to luggage and yoga mats, for shockingly cheap prices. Drop shippers then identify products they think will be of interest to consumers. Once they find a product, they advertise it on platforms like Facebook and Instagram with high-quality photos and video, and if a customer bites, they handle getting the product from the supplier to the customer.

This market is growing like a weed. Drop shippers clocked $102 billion in sales in 2018 and the growth rate through 2025 is projected at 29% a year, leaving physical retail in the dust.

This makes me wonder what other aspects of the retailing experience will be unbundled and done by specialists in the future. Perhaps one company does the online promotion while another focuses on maintaining a usable, scalable website?

For more on markets and the economy, check out these posts:

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Check out the Stuff I Use page for some great deals on products and services I use to improve my health and productivity. They just might help you too! 

Behind Clubhouse’s Meteoric Rise: User Obsession and Timing

Everyone at once seems to be talking about Clubhouse, the 11 month old social media app that has attracted the likes of Elon Musk, along with a $1 billion valuation. I found myself wondering, why is this app so popular?

The basic architecture seems pretty simple: Zoom without the video, plus the ability to see which discussions are happening now. But this seemingly simple product has grown from zero to 10 million users at warp speed.

The timing of the launch, along with the user obsession of Clubhouse’s founders, seems to have driven this incredible growth.

Clubhouse launched in April 2020, just weeks after the lockdowns began. What better time to debut an app that connects people? And Clubhouse connected us in a live, personal, and serendipitous way. Unlike Twitter or Instagram, you never knew who would show up. These chance interactions were precisely what we were missing while stuck in our houses.

…Hoover said he believed the ephemerality makes the app special. “It better reflects how we communicate in the real world and encourages a more authentic conversation,” he said.

More from Wired:

Clubhouse arrived at a perfect moment. It delivered spontaneous conversations and chance meetings to people stuck at home.

Clubhouse’s founders have also eagerly sought feedback from day one:

Every Sunday, thousands of Clubhousers attend a town hall with the app’s two cofounders, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth.

This strikes me as brilliant and perhaps comes from their history of having built social products before, some of which didn’t make it.

Since I use Android rather than iOS, I actually haven’t tried Clubhouse yet, but I look forward to checking out their forthcoming Android app.

What do you like or dislike about Clubhouse? Let us know in the comments below!

For more on technology, check out these posts:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/LinkedIn/email using the buttons below. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave a comment at the bottom of the page letting me know what you think and what other information you’re interested in!

Check out the Stuff I Use page for some great deals on products and services I use to improve my health and productivity. They just might help you too! 

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