Update coming for the WP Mobile Detector!

It’s been almost 4 years since the WP Mobile Detector was launched. Since then the product has gone through numerous fixes and improvements to get to the rock solid product it is today, version 2.6.

I am about to finish the final touches on the new version 3.0 of my popular WordPress Mobile Plugin, which incorporates everything people have been asking for in the last 4 years.

Here are just a couple things it will include:

  • New and improved interactive theme editor.
  • A new, fully featured mobile theme that is the fastest and most efficient on the market utilizing my very own jMobile JavaScript library (7.2kb compressed).
  • Extensive short code support, including desktop theme dependent ones, and the ability to disable them.
  • As expected, it detects the most mobile devices of anyone else.
  • All new icon sets.
  • Backup and restore settings.
  • Even more social integrations!
  • And much, much more.

The mobile web is a major passion of mine and the WP Mobile Detector is a great opportunity for me to spread my vision of a beautiful mobile Internet.

I have been working on this product update for well over a year now on and off. I am excited to finally finish and release it.

In celebration for the launch of this new version, I will be doing something crazy. Stay tuned. ETA within 60 days.

My latest project Unscrapable.com: Making it impossible to screen scrape a webpage.

In the last 4 years I have done a lot of screen scraping. There are many things I enjoy about it. For the most part it is the constant challenge. Each website, and in some cases, each web page, provides unique hurdles that I have never cleared before. Most of my time is spent in the present hacking instead of in the past remembering how I got past the same problem.

At a certain point, when you do it enough, you start sparring with the technical team who runs the website you are scraping. Similar to a chess match, they are trying to prevent me from scraping their website and I am hacking my way through their attempts.

So far to date, no website has been able to stop me. If you are wondering, Google is the most difficult. They do some sick things with JavaScript.

One day I thought, I wonder if I could stop myself. I didn’t just want to make it more difficult for myself, I wanted to make it impossible. I have a website called Furnished.com, and I wanted to see if it was possible to prevent myself from screen scraping the furnished rental listings on the website.

After many months of research, I found a way to make it impossible to screen scrape not just my Furnished.com website, but any website. I leveraged the hierarchal nature of HTML combined with the vast array of tags and attributes to obfuscate the HTML on the page such that the content shown on the page is identical, but you can never consistently grab the same thing programmatically.

I then challenged a few of my colleagues with extensive experience with screen scraping and they were unable to screen scrape a number of webpages protected by my latest creation.

It was at that point that I realized I had something that could probably help a lot of websites out there. For the next couple of months I refactored the code, tested for edge cases, played with a few different configurations, and then added a few more features. Taking a lesson from what anti-virus software taught us, I not only built in Internet Protocol Address blacklists but pattern matching, similar to virus definitions.

As of right now I have been mainly selling this product to small to medium-sized online retailers with a lot of SKU’s (or number of products sold online). They are the easiest customers to get in contact with and most have tried to find a product like mine that did not exist within the last year.

As for the future of this product, I will likely move into preventing more advanced bot activity such as programmatic posting of data.

To read more about it, check out the website Unscrapable.com!

Phoenix Startup Weekend – February 23, 2014

Last night I had the honor of being a judge for Phoenix Startup Weekend.

For those of you who are not familiar, Startup Weekend is an event that is held over a single weekend that brings together all sorts of entrepreneurs to come up with an idea, assemble a team, build a product demo, business model, and finally present what they built to a judges panel. The top 3 are awarded various prizes.

The beauty of Startup Weekend is that anyone can put one on. Startup Weekend provides the resources and contacts to help facilitate. If you are at all interested in Startup Weekend, I suggest checking out their website and getting in contact. It is well organized and is a global movement.

Last night’s event saw 7 would-be startups taking their first steps together. It was truly impressive to see what each of these teams was able to do in just 54 hours.

Here are the top 3 startups in order, and the rest in no particular order.

  1. Plato
    This idea was the winner of the night. They proposed to move recording university experiments from paper to online. Their product proposed increases in efficiency, sharing, and archiving.
  2. ThinkSync
    This idea came in 2nd place with its innovative approach to threading a conversation around an idea using audio instead of text. By utilizing the sexyness and ease-of-use of mobile apps, they allow an individual or a group of individuals to have a valuable conversation around a topic.
  3. How You See Me
    This idea came in 3rd place. This is one of those ideas that has an extremely high viral coefficient similar to Hot or Not back in the day. The concept here is to send anonymous surveys to your friends so that they can provide feedback on you anonymously. You see the results, but you cannot see who the ratings came from. The concept tested very well with young kids with their desire to know what others think about them. It also has small business and even possibly enterprise applications.
  • Now Boarding
    Now boarding is the Hotel Tonight for flights. They had a very interesting approach by giving you recommendations on last minute flights with the goal of giving you an experience you might not have otherwise thought of. Their app showed flights filtered by various things, ordered by cost, categorized around cities.
  • Forkr
    This idea standardizes health reports for businesses. If you are going to a burrito place and you’d like to know what their latest health inspection results were, Forkr can tell you.
  • relationSHIPPED
    This idea helps strengthen relationships by providing unique experiences on a monthly subscription basis. I really liked this idea because it was well thought out and they had a lot of great ideas implemented in their presentation. The box that you receive each month contains products and instructions for you and your significant other to perform. Painting, cooking, etc., you name it. A clever addition was providing a teaser for next month to help with retention.
  • Cindy’s Big Night
    This idea features advanced technology to bring shoes into the 21st century. Can 3d scanning and 3d printing create a shoe that fits your individual foot? Absolutely it can. This team actually had scans of a foot that they created this past weekend. Loved the idea, but taking down the incumbents is a difficult task.

Big thanks to all the sponsors for helping put together a great event: Coplex, GoDaddy, Blinkist, CoWorking, Co-Hoots, Open Me, Blue Media, and Blind Society.

Read more about this event from the official Phoenix Startup Weekend Blog Post. Click here for pictures from the event.

Phoenix Startup Weekend Details

The new Websitez.com is live!

It is with great pride that I bring you the new website for Websitez.com. This project started out as a simple WordPress plugin that instantly created a mobile website, and has turned into one of the most successful plugins on the WordPress.org plugin repository.

When I created it, I was just trying to solve a problem I had for myself and a few friends. When I released it to the public, I had no idea that so many other people were having the same problem I was having.

The plugin has done so well that I created a PRO version which includes an Interactive Theme Editor. It allows a non-technical user to create a phenomenal looking mobile website.

I am very proud of that product and it continues to help hundreds of people every single day.

Checkout the new website and let me know what you think.

Proxies, Proxies, Proxies!

When screen scraping on a large scale, there is one thing that you must have, and that is a proxy. Not just one proxy, hundreds of proxies. The number of proxies you need is directly correlated to the amount of pages you are going to screen scrape.

If you’ve worked with proxies at scale, you know how much of a management nightmare they become. Getting rid of banned IP’s, working new IP’s into the rotation, and making sure that the proxies are rotating intelligently. The more proxies you have the more difficult they become to manage.

I built a service called SingularProxy.com that keeps the same flexibility as if you owned the proxies yourself, but removed all of the pain points with proxies. Now you can simply buy proxy credits instead of having to spend time on proxy management.

Private proxies, public proxies, IP rotation, multiple invoices from multiple providers, error troubleshooting, testing, and more are all a thing of the past.

Save yourself some time and money and check out SingularProxy.com.

New Websitez.com Website Coming Soon

The WP Mobile Detector provides a lot of value to thousands of customers. With over 200,000 downloads from WordPress.org, it is one of the most popular WordPress mobile plugins available today.

The WP Mobile Detector is the best way to create a mobile website if you use WordPress. Once you activate the plugin,  you instantly have a full feature mobile website. The PRO upgrade for $49.95 includes additional features such as the interactive theme editor that allows you to quickly and easily modify the look and feel of your new mobile website. It is ridiculously easy too!

The website that was up at http://websitez.com was always simple and to the point. It grew slightly as the product started to grow. Well now, with the increasing popularity of the WP Mobile Detector, we’re finally creating a website that is worthy of the product.

By the end of the month we’ll have our new logo and website. In addition to that, we’ll be re-opening the affiliate program for Websitez.

The WP Mobile Detector is one of my favorite projects. It makes a decent amount of money, but more importantly, it helps thousands of people every single day by presenting their content in a more beneficial way.

If you use WordPress for anything, check out the WP Mobile Detector WordPress mobile plugin.