I refreshed my blog theme (+ some news)

Posted on June 22, 2014
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It was about time I refresh the good old theme of my blog! Old, not even responsive. I earned experience with Twitter Bootstrap and responsive web design since then, so I couldn’t leave my blog like this. This is what it used to look like until today:

old-cyril-mazur

Ah, it feels better now, right!

I haven’t written on this blog for months, and I miss it. But you know, too busy with the startup life. Talking about it, here are the news about what I’m up to. I write because I need to release it from my heart.

I am not working on Forexagone.com anymore. The ambience was becoming really bad, with conflicts of interest coming from my 2 co-founders, and a workload that was too much unbalanced whereas the profits were still divided into 3 equal shares. The situation was totally locked. I couldn’t develop Forexagone to its full potential without being the sucker in the team, that was so frustrating. I can’t work in these conditions, so better to just let go. I don’t regret this decision. Actually I feel relieved.

Nomad work in Ho Chi Minh City

Posted on August 9, 2012
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If you follow me, you know that I am a nomad worker. Co-founder at Forexagone.com, my business is 100% online after all, so I made the decision in 2011 to keep on travelling and working from different places, different countries… In most of the places where I went, I was experiencing work at coffee shops. Some places have good Internet connection, comfy chairs and all. Some other don’t. In Manila (Philippines) I discovered the practicality of coworking, and experienced it for nearly 6 months at Co.Lab Makati. I am now in Ho Chi Minh City (economic capital city of Vietnam) where I found no coworking space so far, but after some days I found this pretty cool coffee shop in the heart of District 1.

Phuong Nam Corp. is a library, they sell books, DVDs, video games and some office accessories. And they have a café on the side of the store (called Book Café) where people can usually read their books while drinking a refreshing smoothie or a coffee. The chairs and tables are all in good condition and comfortable, most of the tables have a power outlet nearby. It’s never crowded and there are no kids around so it’s pretty quiet. The staff is friendly, drinks are not so expensive so I always give a tip between 5 000 and 10 000 dongs (up to 50 cents), because after all I’m using the wifi and power and I stay long. I like and follow this “coffee shop working etiquette” when I order a drink every two hours as a mean to pay for my rent.

Book Café is located in the Vincom Centre mall (which is the most recent and modern mall in the city, and also the most expensive, located in District 1) at basement 1. Check it out if you’re travelling over Ho Chi Minh City and need a space to work for a day or two, this place will do.

Also, if you have any tip on a coworking space in here, thanks for dropping a comment 🙂

Good practices for sending emails from your web server

Posted on April 16, 2012
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On Forexagone.com, we like to do everything ourselves, meaning we don’t like to use many third-party services to handle our work, so we are sure that everything is tailored to our needs, well integrated and working all together. For sending our emails, we decided to do it ourselves as well and not use a service like mailchimp or such. I learned much throughout my research and work on implementing the necessary technical stuff, so I thought it’s a good idea to write my learning on my blog, so it will be like a reminder for me, and it could help others who want to do the same.

Nota Bene: this post is not about the email marketing strategy itself, it is only about the technical setup for sending emails from your server and doing it right.

Like me, you have your own reasons for sending emails from your own server and not using a third-party service. If you decide to do so and go on reading this article, you would like to know the benefits of implementing the things I describe. There are many benefits.

  • it lowers the chances that your emails land in the spambox of your subscribers (heck it is important!)
  • it makes you comply with the legislation (can vary from the country but better too much than not enough)
  • it makes your subscribers happy
  • it shows a professional attitude

My list of good practices might not be complete and I excuse in advance, but they are already pretty important to carry out.

The nomad worker outfit

Posted on March 13, 2012
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There are many aspects of my life that have changed since I decided to be a full time traveller, and I had to make many adjustments to the way I work in order to fit with my new lifestyle. The two new constraints I have to deal with are:

  • I can’t carry much (one suitcase less than 20 kilos + one backpack)
  • I must be able to manage my business with the same efficiency, like when I used to be sedentary

Therefore, there are a few items I had to buy, some others I had to throw away, and I started to make bigger use of the Cloud. I carry all of my office in my one backpack, which includes the following:

  • 1 macbook pro 15″
  • 1 huawei e5 (see my post: Nomad Internet with Huawei e5)
  • 1 notebook + pen
  • all the necessary accessories such as: power cable, iPhone cable, earphones, USB cables, USB sticks…

Co.lab Manila, my new office

Posted on March 4, 2012
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Whether you are a freelance worker, a young startup entrepreneur or simply belong to the category of people who don’t need to go to an office for working, then you should definitely give a try to coworking.

I experienced coworking for the first time as recently as last week, when moving in my first coworking space here in Manila, Philippines. It’s called Co.Lab, and they have two locations here in Legaspi Village (Makati) and in Barangay Kapitolyo (Pasig). Coworking is a style of work in which you share your working environment with other work-at-home professionals. Unlike incubators or standard offices, they include a social dimension that makes the whole thing almost non-formal and encourages collaboration, meetings and exchanges. It’s warm, it’s young and it’s full of creative energy!

People I could meet at Co.Lab so far have the following profiles: freelance web-developers/graphics designers, professional bloggers, subcontractors for foreign companies, web show directors, startups, internet entrepreneurs. I can see many advantages working near this kind of people: I meet people who have the same interests and maybe lifestyle, I meet potential business partners, I can share and exchange ideas of projects, I can listen and learn from a wide variety of profiles (which happen to be international profiles also), I can help and/or ask for help with high skilled people who work in the same field, and I can also possibly make friends!

I think I found something cool there, and wherever my life brings me in this world, I will definitely always look for a coworking space around me to spend my days in from now on. By the way, I happily heard that the first coworking space in Strasbourg, France (the city where I used to live, study and work for a couple of years) is going to open its doors soon in March 2012 at Rivétoile. Check it out if you’re an independent professional from Strasbourg, I know you’re many and it’s worth giving it a try.

My new life as a nomad web entrepreneur

Posted on February 17, 2012
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I just arrived in Manila (Philippines) one week ago, with absolutely everything I own in my life which is: a 20kg suitcase and a backpack. I spent the last two months selling everything else I used to own: furnitures, PCs, car, clothes, and any other material thing that was just taking space in my flat and that I was never using. I actually realised that I didn’t need more for living than what I could make fit in my suitcase (well, I am compromising a little actually, as I can’t have an as diversified wardrobe as I would like to, but it’s a compromise I can accept).

So here I am, with only the strict needed belongings for my living, that give me the flexibility and freedom to move from a location to another if I like with just one flick of a finger. That’s my choice, I believe that owning nothing but being free to move everywhere is what’s good for me. As long as it doesn’t affect my work. Like I was doing last year during my trips in Asia and the USA, I can adjust my working habits to be sitting in a Starbucks with a 3G dongle and be as efficient and productive as if I was staying in my home town in France.

So here I am, in Manila, capital city of the Philippines, where I will stay for an undefined period of time during which I will take care of discovering and learning everything possible here. I spend my days in a coworking space called Co.Lab Manila, which gathers a couple of startups, internet workers, entrepreneurs and freelancers sharing the same working space and commodities for a small fee compared to renting a real big office. For lunch I try to go out and discover new local restaurants as much as possible (Filipinos are fond of fast food restaurants and street stalls, I am still looking for vegan or organic places here ahah). For dinner I also try to go out as much as possible and get around my neighbourhood. And of course last weekend I was hanging out in a nightlife district with my Filipino girlfriend and her friends. I had lots of fun there!

Weird 302 redirect at GoDaddy

Posted on January 5, 2012
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It took me some time to realise what was going on, but I finally found out a weird bug (or feature?) on my GoDaddy web hosting this afternoon. Which made me switch to Namecheap later on.

This is what happens, totally randomly when a client is accessing a file. Let’s say you try to access the following URL: mysite.com/blog. These are the consecutive HTTP requests that will occur:

  1. GET mysite.com/blog
    302 redirect mysite.com/AbCdE/blog
  2. GET mysite.com/AbCdE/blog
    302 redirect mysite.com/blog
  3. GET mysite.com/blog
    200 OK

Where AbCdE is always a random string made of 5 characters. That’s right, randomly, requests happen to be redirected twice through a random directory that doesn’t exist before the server finally delivers the resource. What’s the matter, you will say? Well, this has absolutely no reason to happen, and even if a visitor wouldn’t notice it by loading the URL in his browser, this can have an impact in other fields.

First, Google tends to index the temporary URLs that doesn’t exist, and this leads to undesired pages to be indexed. Secondly, as this is an unexpected behaviour, this can fuck your scripts in some situations. It especially happened to me, when apps that are connected to my website couldn’t manage redirections that don’t output more than 255 characters for example. Because of this unwanted random 302 redirect, I couldn’t guarantee the availability of my app anymore.

I am sorry, but I am not responsible, as a developer, for this, and I don’t have to adjust my code to my web hosting in this situation. It seems to be a recurring problem at GoDaddy’s, you can check it out on Google, many people are talking about it, and GoDaddy doesn’t seem to be fixing the issue…

But I really wonder where this bug (or feature) comes from. I bet maybe for a feature, where by differing the actual delivery of the resource, it’s freeing some load on the server when too many connections are coming in at the same time.

Anyways, I am now hosting my site on Namecheap.

What is social trading

Posted on December 12, 2011
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Ever since the beginning of Forex trading, traders have been basing their decisions mainly on two types of analysis which are technical analysis (the use of historical charts to guess the future direction of the market) and fundamental analysis (the use of economical news in the world affecting the market). In the early ages, trading was taking place physically in the bourses and trade centres, where the information was coming from the telephone and the TV, often with a lagging time due to the technology in that time.

Nowadays, most of the traders have left those places and are now trading from anywhere in the world, because the Internet has replaced the traditional bourses. There is no need to be in a physical location anymore. The information is coming faster than ever (think of Twitter and the Web 2.0!). And it’s what social trading wants to take advantage of. Traders and investors now are more transparent and share information about their activity, and that’s considerably improving the social experience of Forex trading.

OpenBook and CopyTrader

It’s a very new approach to Forex. eToro first democratised it in 2010 when it released the OpenBook, a Twitter-like activity feed giving a history of every trader’s positions, and the ability to copy their positions. It’s so far the best opportunity for beginners to learn and improve their returns on the Forex market, because they can now learn by example, follow experimented traders and stand on their shoulders. The OpenBook, for instance, gives you a real time activity feed about the traders who agree to share it (but most of them do) and let you follow them in two ways: either you can choose to copy manually each of their positions that you judge are worth, or you can automatically choose to copy all of their positions, and in that case it’s much more like investing your money in an investment fund. For each choice, you can of course define the amount of your positions, so that you can limit the risk.

eToro shows good figures as of the first six months after they released the automated system to follow traders’ positions, with an average 3 to 4 percents gain per month for the overall traders who have adopted the system. Compared to the 3 to 4 percents you can get every YEAR by placing your money in a savings account in your bank, this makes quite a difference). Social trading is still at its early months, but sounds promising and worth keeping an eye on it (which I will do, of course). More information can be found (in French language) on this site: Qu’est ce que le trading social?

What a 15 euros phone has that an iPhone doesn’t

Posted on November 12, 2011
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Since I needed a Filipino number in addition to my French number, I ended up buying the cheapest phone I could find here. It’s a Samsung GT-E1080F that costed me around 15 euros in a Samsung store. I kept my iPhone for my French number and so I am using both of them. I intend to use my Filipino phone only for calls and text messaging, but I surprisingly found out 4 cool native features that my iPhone is missing. Two of them are unforgivable though and should really be implemented in the iPhone, the other one is just funny 🙂

Auto-reject calls

Very handy when you don’t want to hear about some people. Enter her number to the block list, and all the calls from that number will be automatically rejected. I remember a friend of mine needed that feature last year, and we could never find something that works on his iPhone, neither in the native features nor in installable apps (even from the Cydia store).

Text messages: Block number

This is the same feature as the previous one, but for text messages. Again, you can edit a block list of numbers that you don’t want to receive SMSs from.

Fake call

That feature is funny. Actually, I haven’t checked if there is an app for it, there is probably one on the Cydia store. Well, this is a native feature on my Samsung phone. While in an annoying meeting that you want to escape, put your hand in your pocket and press four times the DOWN key of your phone. Then, after a variable amount of seconds (that you can change in the settings of the phone) a fake call from an unknown callee will make your phone to ring.

Privacy lock

This is quite redundant with the passcode lock of the iPhone, but still useful. Instead of locking the whole device with a passcode, the Samsung GT-E1080F will instead add locks to the key applications you wish, such as the calls logs, the address book or the SMS. So someone can still use your phone, like playing games or using the calculator, and the privacy of your SMS is still good. I think that could be a good feature for iPhone, as it often happens that I give my iPhone to friends who want to play, but not necessarily feel comfortable that they read my texts or calls logs.

There it is, I find the comparison between that little Samsung phone and a 50-times-more-expensive iPhone funny, regarding this foor little features. If you have a solution/workaround for the foor of them on iPhone, thanks to comment on that post, I am personally interested in knowing them!

Mobile Internet in France versus the Philippines

Posted on October 30, 2011
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Like I already did one year ago comparing mobile plans in France and in the UK, I am now writing a little review of my experience of mobile internet plans in the Philippines compared to France. Once again, you will see that France fails, and French people have good reasons to feel like cash cows sometimes…

For my comparison, I will consider “SIM only” prepaid plans, which means you just pay for your actual internet connection and not include the price of the device (phone, 3G stick or personal hotspot).

Let’s say it from the beginning, the comparison is — oh — painful for French consumers… This is what Orange (France) and Smart (Philippines) offer for unlimited surf, for prepaid plans and excluding the price of any device:

Orange (France) Smart (Philippines)
Offer name: Mobicarte (prepaid) Smart Bro (prepaid)
Unlimited internet 1 day: 6 euros 50 pesos (0.83 euros)
Unlimited internet 2 days: 10 euros 100 pesos (1.66 euros)*
Unlimited internet 5 days: 26 euros* 200 pesos (3.32 euros)
Source: www.orange.fr

www.smart.com.ph

*prices are in proportion of the actual offers. To be accurate, Orange offers two unlimited options: 1 day for 6 euros, or 2 days for 10 euros. On the other hand, Smart offers two unlimited options: 1 day for 50 pesos (0.83 euros), or 5 days for 200 pesos (3.32 euros).

Let’s take the most advantageous case for Orange, which is the price for 2 days of unlimited internet, and let’s see that France is just 6 times more expensive than the Philippines.

I understand that the cost of living is no comparison between France and the Philippines. For knowing both countries, I know that the biggest difference comes from the labour cost. For the physical goods, you can find everything. Computer hardware and european cars are almost same price in the two countries, whereas food is about 2 or 3 times cheaper. Nevertheless, I will never believe that Orange is not taking advantage of the lack of competition in France to not maximise their profits excessively, at the expense of consumers.