👾Browse the web with SMS, Bootleg Ecom, and Compostable Forks
from table to soil
Hey friends! Welcome to this week’s edition of The Land of Random.
How was your week? We’ve been working on planting some fruits and vegetables in our backyard. The garden is slowly, but surely coming along . . .
We bought a small olive tree at Tractor Supply - I’m looking forward to eating its olives in a few years. Apparently, they can get pretty big too! (Hopefully, that means lots and lots of olives to eat).
I’m writing this week’s issue on a used Macbook Pro - I went and ordered that used Macbook off Backmarket (2017, 16 gigs ram, 13.3 inch) and I love it!
There are a few dents, and scratches - but it’s been working great so far.
Battery life remains TBD - but that’s not a huge deal for me per se. I always look for the table at a coffee shop that’s near an outlet.
I’m never gonna order a new computer ever again . . . seriously.
I went and watched John Wick with a friend last week - some really great action scenes, and a few twists I didn’t see coming.
You may have heard about the Imgur apocalypse that will wreck the internet - Imgur plans to remove all anonymous photo uploads and NSFW content in May.
That tutorial from 2010 on Reddit about creating a DIY chicken coop? The photos won’t be loading soon enough . . .
59% of you voted yes for mini interviews - so I’ll be reaching out to people soon to do interviews for the newsletter.
It’ll be fun to mix things up with some audio content.
If you’re interested in doing an interview - let me know! feel free to send me an email at email@example.com or message me on Twitter.
Let’s hop on in, shall we?
Browse the Web with SMS
is a phrase I haven’t uttered since 2011, at the least.
Google used to have this phone number you could text to get web results, Google Maps, and more.
It actually worked until 2013 and it took me about 10 minutes to even find an article mentioning the product at all.
Even back then - it was useful in a pinch when data was running low.
Send an SMS, and Google would spit back an answer in a few hundred characters or so.
Browsing the web with SMS may be making a bit of an indie comeback - but with actual web browsing.
I ran across a Github for a project called the “TxtNet-Browser”
Unfortunately, I was unable to test it - so this article will purely be based off the Github.
TextNet Browser is an Android app that allows anyone around the world to browse the web without a mobile data connection! It uses SMS as a medium of transmitting HTTP requests to a server where a pre-parsed HTML response is compressed using Google's Brotli compression algorithm and encoded using a custom Base-114 encoding format (based on Basest). (source)
That - in and of itself - made me say WHAT out loud.
How does this work??
This app uses a permission that allows a broadcast reciever to recieve and parse incoming SMS messages without the need for the app to be registered as the user's default messaging app. . . .The app communicates with a "server phone number", which is a phone number controlled by a "server host" that communicates directly over SMS using Android's SMS APIs. . . When the server receives a request, the server uses an Android WebView component to programatically request the website in a manner that simulates a regular request . . . The HTML is stripped of unnecessary tags and attributes, compressed into raw bytes, and then encoded. Once encoded, the messages are split into 160 character numbered segments (maximizing the GSM-7 standard SMS size) and sent to the client app for parsing and displaying. (source)
Very technical - so I’ll attempt to poorly translate if I can.
The app receives 160 character SMS’s of the website’s code you’re trying to load, and renders it in the apps browser.
Surely this means a lot of text messages . . . right? flowing back and forth in the background?
That’s what I assume. Here’s a few screenshots that were provided in the Github.
On the left we have Hacker News - on the right we have the Text message insanity making this all work.
It’s a really cool project that could be a boon to people who don’t purchase much data - or don’t have access to data at all.
Go check it out at the link!
🏴☠️ Bootleg Ecom
Yarhar! Have you . . . heard of PandaBuy?
It’s a Chinese ecom website for buying products from the REAL Chinese websites.
The ones that are actually cheap.
I mean . . . Aliexpress and Alibaba are cool and all, but those don’t always have the real prices.
Yeah - they’re still cheaper than Amazon, but they’ve often been marked up for overseas shoppers.
The real prices are on TaoBao and other Chinese websites.
but - since they’re aimed primarily at Chinese shoppers, shipping/payment options aren’t always available for overseas buyers.
THAT’S where PandaBuy comes in.
PandaBuy is a “middleman” to help you buy goods from TaoBao or other Chinese sites.
Option 1: Find the product - either on PandaBuy or on TaoBao / other site, load it on PandaBuy, and go through a complicated purchasing process.
Option 2: Work directly with a PandaBuy agent to find your product, order it, and get it shipped to the USA.
Watch the explainer video here for a deeper dive
FOR EXAMPLE - these bootleg clone shoes (link provided purely for educational purposes) are $97 on Aliexpress, but when you screenshot em and put them in - they get a lot cheaper.
That’s only about $56.
What I don’t know is how much shipping and fees from PandaBuy are.
PandaBuy is typically used for bootleg products like the one above. In fact, “PandaBuy hauls” are pretty popular on TikTok.
People buy a bunch of the products - then get them shipped as a bulk order to save money.
For example - this haul or this haul
or a short exploration of the Pandabuy subreddit
That’s not to say everything is bootleg - that’s just what i’ve seen a lot of people use PandaBuy for.
Go explore PandaBuy at the link!
🍝 Compostable Forks
Remember those clay cups and bowls I mentioned the other week?
I discovered another startup that has a similar goal - but with composting in mind.
Little Green Panda sells sugarcane straws, compostable coffee cups, and cutlery made out of coffee grounds.
The CEO, Manon Beauchamp-Tardieu, created the company with the “belief that single use products shouldn't be "made to last".“ (source)
An admirable goal - especially as “trash island” grows ever larger in the ocean. Let all this “single use” stuff go BACK to the Earth in a few months, rather than wait thousands of years to naturally decay.
Beauchamp-Tardieu said her favourite moment building Little Green Panda was when their home compostable sugarcane straws come received positive feedback from early customers. “It was a true validation of all the hard work, dedication, and long hours we put into bringing our idea to life,” she said. “Seeing people enjoy and appreciate our product is a truly satisfying experience, and it motivates us to keep pushing forward with our mission to create better sustainable and innovative solutions for the packaging industry.” (source)
Unlike other startups I often see in this space - you can actually BUY any of the products today.
Everything is in wholesale quantities - but all ya gotta do is buy this stuff once and use it over the next few years.
How long will it take you to go through 1000 16 oz coffee cups or 500 forks you can literally stick in your garden, forget about, and not feel an ounce of guilt over?
Probably at least a year or two I bet.
Go check out Little Green Panda at the link!
🐙 The Land of Random
How random can you get?
The Koi Pond
Feed the fish, watch them swim.
The Stripe Buy Button
Leave it to Stripe to take something as simple as a buy button, and make it able to VIBE. That’s pretty darn cool. Including a NYAN CAT buy button.
Stop the Information Black Hole
2033 isn’t going to be as much fun thanks to Discord and Slack. They are . . . information black holes. This fantastic article dives into just how many issues that’s gonna cause in a decade.
Search Via Your Network
Thanks to SEO, the internet has become more and more of a maze. Grep is a new search engine that functions like a LinkedIn network - you pick the sites you often use, and the browser creates a network that you search through.
David.com is a weird website
Why does this website exist.
Quantum Break has Lance Reddick
I’ve never heard of this game, but I will now play it because it has Lance Reddick in it.
McDonalds made a bag table
This Milan exclusive carryout box turns into a table! Brilliant!
🤖 AI AHHHHHHHHHHH
Call your AI friend Annie now. It’s definitely unsettling, but important to check out as a lot of this kind of stuff will be rolling out soon.
Haha! Someone added ChatGPT to Skyrim. SO IT BEGINS. Now someone needs to add it to Cyberpunk so it feels more realistic . . .
The squat at Stable Diffusion put out an open-source ChatGPT competitor. I expect that this will become pretty powerful . . .
🎵 TikToks You Can’t Miss
A Bacon and Egg sandwich . . . but you haven’t seen this.
Jurassic Park Analog Horror
And THIS is why Forums matter
ahahahahahahah now that’s an obscure reference.
Ok - some marketer should revamp a minor league team like this
That’s all for this week! See you next time. :)