I’m Moving To The Jungle…

So it’s been a while since I updated my blog. Sorry for that. Let me update you on what I’ve been up to.

You see, I bought a piece of land in the remote jungles of Malaysia. I am in the process of building a small eco-friendly house and I am planning to move there with my family in the next 12 months. Its a big move and a fun and exciting process that’s been occupying a lot of my attention. I’m learning a lot about solar power, rain water harvesting, aquaponics, permaculture and many other subjects that are truly new to me.

Now you (like many of my friends), might think that’s a pretty radical thing to do. Its not something that I’ve planned on doing at all. I’ve never really been much of a “greenie”. Heck, I’ve been the total opposite! I’m currently living right in the heart of the city. But its just something that makes common sense to me based on what I see around me and what I see coming in the near future. So on this post, I wanted to explain a few of my thoughts that’s motivating me to move out of the city.

We Are Connected To Our Environment

I see a very clear and direct link between every human being and the environment we live in. The current rate of development is not sustainable and will be bad for us in many ways. Most people know this but choose to ignore it for one reason or another. Most people just don’t want to think about it and would rather defer that responsibility to someone else or maybe leave that to the governments to fix. That’s a dangerous way of thinking because what affects our environment, affects us all.

Here’s an analogy of what I mean – you can say that the majority of the people in developed countries behave very irrationally. They smoke, drink, eat processed foods laden with harmful chemicals…etc. They consume so much resources and produce so much waste that ultimately destroys the planet. Similarly, cancer cells are normal cells that also behave irrationally exactly like people in developed countries. They multiply and grow uncontrollably until all the normal cells (the environment) are overwhelmed and the host organism dies. Can you see how our outer world and inner world mirrors each other?

There was a recent viral video on Youtube showing satellite images of earth. Most viewer comments remarked how beautiful the images were. And they are. But those pretty lights actually represent unnatural man-made structures. At the rate of growth to date this looks alarmingly like a cancer spreading uncontrollably over the planet. That video clip scares me. I get that same feeling when flying into any major city at night. Just looking down from the plane as we get a view of the ground shows how extensive the destruction of our natural environment really is.

What this means is that if we continue living the “normal” lifestyle in developed countries today, we are going to get sicker and sicker. And the quality of life will become poorer and poorer. There will be very high levels of stress and less time leading to broken relationships and a generally unpleasant lifestyle to say the least.

I believe the cure for cancer and many of the chronic illnesses is not going to come from some drug or treatment. Its going to come from a radical shift in the general mindset leading to different choices and different habits. In the same way, the cure to our environmental problems is not going to come from some radical technological advancement or government initiative. Its going to come from each individual taking responsibility to live sustainably.

I  know I’m probably sounding like an idealist but I think its the truth. It may not happen in my lifetime, but  being a father of 2 young boys I’d like to at least get the ball rolling for their sake.

Be The Change You Want to See In The World

This is a philosophy that I believe in very much. It was Gandhi that said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This is a very profound statement and something that I have pondered upon a lot. There’s really no better way to change the world than to start by changing yourself.

So instead of joining environmental groups or lobby groups, I’m taking Gandhi’s advice. I’m going to change myself and my own immediate environment. I hope more people find value in consuming less and enjoying more instead of consuming more and enjoying less.

I hope to be able to show that a simpler way of living is not only possible but actually more pleasurable. As Cicero said “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

That’s All Very Nice But How???

So I know some people would be reading this and say “oh, that all sounds nice in theory but how do you balance work and family life? What about school education and so on?”.  It’s a long topic to tackle so I might leave that to future posts as we progress with our plans. What works for us may not work for you so all I can do is share our own approach for your own consideration.

In the meantime, I do encourage you to read a blog post I shared in 2010 about focussing on “congruence” to achieve a happy and fulfilled life – http://brianwong.com/blog/congruence-versus-balance/ .

In short, over the last 10 years, I’ve focussed on aligning my income, family life and health in a singular direction. I believe anyone with a similar intention can create enough passive income to allow them to live a very comfortable life. A life that is not excessive but allows them to focus on the things that really matter like their health, family and mental and spiritual growth. You just need to have a clear picture of what that ideal life is like and then work backwards to see what you need to do.

Embrace minimalism. Be very clear about what really matters in your life and don’t be influenced by the consumer trends. You will find that what you really truly need is so easy to fulfil.

Take some baby steps by getting rid of the TV, avoid processed foods and chemical and eat more whole foods. Having mental and physical health will be a major advantage for you to achieve your other life goals. Continue working working on passive income sources. Spend less than what you earn and invest the difference.

So that’s all I got for you for now. Stay tuned for more updates about our move in the near future.

Rise of the Electric Vehicles

Recently, I’ve become infatuated with electric skateboards and other “electric” vehicles. I’ve been riding for an hour each morning over the last 2 weeks and I’m now thoroughly convinced that the range and reliability of these electric powered vehicles is good enough to replace fossil fuel based vehicles for personal transportation.

Check out the video below of some fun I’ve been having each morning.

It costs about $950 to get an electric skateboard. It may sound a tad expensive for a skateboard but its more fun to me than say – snowboarding or wake boarding. So considering the cost of lift tickets, ski passes and boat rentals – this investment is a real steal since I can do it anytime and anywhere there’s a nice road or park!

My electric skateboard is made by a guy by the name of Ilan Sabar from Washington. He makes these boards in a basement workshop and he’s shipped more than 500 already.

You see, the electric motors and lithium batteries all come from factories in China where they are producing them at an affordable price. Guys like Ilan are just finding innovative ways to use them on skateboards, scooters, bicycles and many other types of wheel based vehicles. Heck, if you had a small workshop, you could probably hack some of these together yourself too!

The point is, that if the technology can be used by individuals to create such efficient (and fun) electric powered transportation, I think the only reason why larger transport vehicle manufacturers have not embraced electric motor vehicles is due to reasons other than technology. Most likely because they have HUGE amounts of sunk costs in the “traditional” way of manufacturing their vehicles.

But for me, I’m sold. I’m definitely excited about a greener and quieter future of transportation.

In the meantime – check out some of the other electric vehicles that I think are pretty amazing:

The Solo Wheel:

The Yike Bike:

Stealth Electric Bikes:


What do you think? Will you get one of these?


My First iPad App – BetterGoals HD

Today is a milestone for me, my first iPad app was approved by Apple and it is now available in the App Store! So, I’m officially an app developer – woot!

Check out my app over at www.BetterGoals.com. Below is a promo video I made showing how the app works:

So is a brief story of how a non-programmer like me got to build an app and the story behind the app.

Why Build an App?

Its been a long time goal of mine ever since I saw the first Steve Jobs keynote address about the iPhone and the App Store. I loved the idea of creating a solution that millions of iOS users can potentially get access to with a click of a button! Of course, amazing success stories like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump was very motivating!

In fact, being an app developer/ publisher totally fits my business checklist for businesses that are worth pursuing. If you’ve not downloaded this checklist, get it here.

But, as a non-programmer, the fear of the unknown kept me from getting started for quite a few years.

How to Build an App as a Non-Programmer?

It took me a while to overcome this limiting belief. A friend of mine had started making apps for kids a year ago and was doing exceedingly well. After a year, he was consistently earning over $300 in profit daily and had more than 20 apps in the store AND he was not a programmer. He got his apps made by a Russian development firm.

So, after realizing that my procrastination was due to an invalid fear – I started working on my own app ideas. I would find a freelance coder to build it after I came up with an app that would be useful to iPhone or iPad users.

Why BetterGoals HD?

Should I make a game? After all, I was told that is the most profitable category in the App Store.

No, I decided from the start that the process of creating my first app was to be a learning experience and so I decided to focus on making an app that I would use myself and something that would provide a ton of value to users of the app.

I decided to make an app for creating, managing and achieving life goals!

A few things appealed to me about this idea. First of all – I love working on my goals and vision boards. I attribute a big part of my life success to having a clear vision of what I want to achieve in life. But I realized – most of my goals were written on journals, bit of paper and I have vision boards that are so old that they are falling apart now.

I envisaged an app that would fix all that and allow people to curl on a couch somewhere and spend hours creating the goals, adding details and action items to their goals and best of all…see all their goals as pictures on their iPads!

Also – I liked the idea because it was evergreen. I would want my app to be as relevant to people today or 10 years from now. Further, I could not find any app in the store that was dedicated to helping users create and manage their life goals.

And so I started creating a prototype so that I could engage a coder to build it.

Designing the App

I wanted to be as detailed as possible so that when I engaged a coder, there would be very little room for miscomunication of misunderstanding. Believe it or not, I built an entire working model of the app using Apple Keynote. For non-Apple users – that the Mac version of MS Powerpoint.

It actually made a lot of sense. Keynote allows you to create hyperlinks and when the document is exported as a PDF and viewed on an iPad – it actually works almost exactly like a real app!

Here’s a link to my original prototype:

BetterGoals Original Design Document

App Development – Enter Elance

Now that I got a prototype – I posted a job on eLance to find freelance coders. Within a few days, I had over 20 bidders. The cheaper bids are from countries like India and Pakistan and the most expensive bids are obviously from the US. I’ve had a lot of problems with freelancers from countries like India and Pakistan and I decided to go with a firm from California and pay 3 times more than the lowest bid.

I’d love to tell you that it was that easy. It was not. There coders I hired spent way too long to come up with wireframes which they told me were absolutely necessary to their “process”. I learned later that a lot of the focus on the wireframes/ planning phase was because their lead programmer left them for personal reasons and they could not get started.

When coding began, the app was really buggy because their secondary coder was really not up to scratch. They ended up getting a third party coder to completely re-write the app from scratch months later. Despite my frustrations – this was all a good learning experience for me.

I learned that its not the most expensive bids that are the best. In future, I will only hire coders and not project managers.

I am grateful that although they delayed the project a great deal, they did stick the project till the end and offered a small discount as compensation.

What I Learned

After just over 6 months, and many many versions and refinement, I finally have the first version of my app which I am very pleased with. This entire process taught me a great deal:

  • I learned how to sign up for Apple’s developer program and make use of their resources there.
  • I am now better able to screen bids on freelance websites to find good coders
  • I learned how to design apps that coders can make easily and at lower cost
  • I learned how to use compile source code using xCode
  • I learned how to activate app certificates and submit them to the App Store

How is the App Doing?

Its too soon to tell cos its only been a day since the app has been in the app store. At the moment, I’m quite pleased with the progress. It already sold 20 units in 7 countries before I found out it was approved by Apple. I’m hopeful that news about the app would spread or even get featured (fingers crossed).

My learning journey is not complete yet. I’m still learning about how to promote and app and also working on future versions. But I am enjoying the process a great deal.

What’s Next?

I’m hooked, I want to keep making more apps.

I plan to create an iPhone and desktop version of the app. This will complete the process and allow users sync their goals across devices and alway have their important life goals at their finger tips. I really think this will help a lot of people towards achieving the life of their dreams.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you for now. I’ll post more updates in future. Stay tuned! :)





Super Easy Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1

Jailbreaking your iPhone allows you to add a lot of system improvements, customize your phone or iPad’s appearance and install third party applications to your devices.

Jailbreaking is relatively safe because if anything goes wrong you can always use the restore function in iTunes to reset your phone or iPad back to its original settings. Having said that, I’ve never had to do that and I’ve been jailbreaking my iOS devices  since the first generation iPod Touch.

Many people I know would love to jailbreak their device but have always been worried about the technical complexities of the process. I’m pleased to report that the latest jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 is one of the easiest I’ve experienced and is ideal for first timers to give it a go too.

The steps are so simple:

  1. Backup you device using iTunes
  2. Update your iOS to iOS 5.1.1. (if you have not already done so) and connect your device to your computer using the USB cable
  3. Download and run the Absinthe jailbreak app on your computer (download links below)
  4. The software will auto detect your device (iPhone, iPod or iPad). Just click on the Jailbreak button.
  5. After the process completes, click on the Cydia app on your iPhone/ iPad.
Once you device reboots – it will be jailbroken and you can now install apps from the newly installed Cydia app.
Here’s a video I made from start to finish:

Absinthe 2.0.2 Download Links:

Absinthe v2.0.2 MacOSX (10.5, 10.6, 10.7)

Absinthe v2.0.2 Windows (XP/Vista/Win7)

Absinthe v2.0.2 Linux (x86/x86_64)

My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

As an independent Internet marketer who works from home (without an army of helpers), I rely on a lot of essential tools, software and services to get what I need to do done. Over the years, I’ve tried and tested hundreds of web services, software and tools.

There were many that were just a waste of money or over-hyped. Some were good and over time just became redundant or have been replaced by better tools. To save you some time, I decided to make a list of what I still love and use for my online business.

I will be keeping this list updated and refreshed every time there’s material changes. So make sure you subscribe or check back regularly to get the latest updates.

Now allow me to present to you,  my top work-from-home online business tools for 2012.


1. Domain Name Registration

Namecheap Domain Registration

[Go to: Namecheap Domain Registration]

As far as domain registration goes, I like to keep them all in once place. Over time, you will end up with hundreds of domains and having them consolidated makes them easier to manage.

I like Namecheap because their domain registration prices are quite cheap to start with. If you do a search for “Nameheap Coupons March 2012” (replace the date with current month) – you will find coupons codes that will further reduce the price of new domains by another 2o%. Also, all their domains comes with a 1-year free “Whois” Guard service that will hide your admin email and address and protect you from a ton of spam.


2. Premium Domain Registration

Sadly, its getting harder and harder to find good domain names due to competition. Over the last 2 years, I found myself having to pay for premium domains that are already owned by someone else. If you search on Google for “premium domains” you’ll find a lot of sites that re-sell used domains.

The ones that I’ve used are as follows:


[Go to: GoDaddy Auctions]

GoDaddy Auctions is free to browse but when you find a domain you wish to bid on, there’s a nominal fee.  I use GoDaddy Auctions because there’s quite a large marketplace for the domains there. Also, the process of transferring from the buyer to you is secured via an escrow service so you’re not worried about getting ripped off.


[Go to: Flippa.com]

Flippa.com is a site for buying and selling domains or websites. This service is great because aside from domains, you may even find existing businesses. I also like using Flippa for market research to see if there are any websites in a market niche that I am exploring that is profitable. What I like about Flippa is that you get quite detailed information for each domain including verified traffic and/or income figures from the sellers.


3. Web Hosting


[Go to: Hostgator Webhosting]

Almost all my sites are hosted exclusively by Hostgator.com. Their plans are very reasonable and their customer service is perfect in my opinion. I’ve always gotten a 24 hour response or less whenever I have any issues with my account. My only gripe with them is that their payment system is still a little in the stone ages. The invoices are hard to trace back to the proper account (if you have many) but I’ve not had any major problems with it.


[Go to: Bluehost Webhosting]

Another highly rated hosting service is BlueHost. The prices are just a few cents higher than Hostgator  a month and their account management system is a little better than Hostgator.com. Again, I keep it simple to host all my sites on Hostgator.com but if you were starting from scratch, either of these two services would be acceptable.


4. Email List Management


[Go to: Aweber Email Software]

Aweber is the longest web service that I’ve been using since 2006. Its really the market leader for building an email list as well as sending email messages to the list.

What I like about Aweber? The number 1 reason is deliverability. Every email has over 98% deliverability rate.

They also have a great “blog broadcast” service that allows me to automatically send very nice newsletters to my subscribers once a week with a summary of all my latest blog posts. You will also find that many websites and software have built in compatibility to work well with the Aweber system.


5. Keyword Research

[Go to: Market Samurai Free Trial]

Almost any Internet marketing strategy I can think of should begin with keyword and market research. This is a mistake that a lot of marketers make. If the foundation of your online business is flawed, you will always be in an uphill battle to create a successful site.

I’ve tried a host of different keyword research software and some expensive hosted services in the past. In the end, the one that I still use over and over again is Market Samurai. I use it mostly to plan the structure of my niche blogs and to kind keywords for creating SEO targeted blog posts. I also use it to track my SEO ranking for keywords that I am targeting.

What do I like about it? First, its a one-time only payment. And the team at Market Samurai has updated the software constantly over the years. This is very important as Google is constantly updating their API and ranking data.

The software also has many modules that allow you to do much more than just keyword research. Aside from my main use above, I also use it to find affiliate products to monetize my pages. Its also handy for finding article ideas and research to find what type of content web users are interested in.

The other modules include finding domain names, publishing and syndicating content and getting backlinks to your site. Honestly, I don’t use a lot of these modules but its nice to know they are there when if I ever need to use it.


6. Analytics and Tracking


[Go to: Google Analytics]

Without measurement, you can’t improve. The best website analytics tool out there is the free Google Analytics service. Why is it the best? Well its easy to install, the reports are great and its fully integrated with other essential Google services like Adwords and the Google Webmaster tools.

What I like about it? I love the fact that you can create goals for your website and their funnel visualization report gives you a great view of how your site is performing to drive visitors to the intended outcome on your site.

It also has a ton of other features like tracking search behavior on your site and also ecommerce tracking to match revenue and cost data for your website traffic. To me, any website that expects to be successful needs to have Google Analytics installed and have at least 1 goal being tracked.


7. Social Media Marketing


[Go to: TweetAdder Automation Software]


Getting traffic from social media websites is an awesome way to accelerate the syndication of your content and website. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is also a great way to build a subscriber base.

However, one of the challenges with social media marketing is that its time consuming and repetitive. That’s why I love the TweetAdder software. It allows me to find relevant users to follow and hopefully add to my follower list. It can generate multiple auto-reply messages and allows you to reply in a way that does not seem automated. It allows you to schedule your tweets and posts and drive traffic to your site.

I wrote a case study on how I use this software to automate my Twitter marketing and how it makes me a very nice passive income on my niche blogs. You can read about it here: How to Automate Your Twitter Account and Earn Passive Income


8. Outsourcing

I am an accountant by training so when it comes to graphic design and coding, I leave it to the experts. I’ve outsourced quite a few projects to coders from “RentaCoder.com which has since changed its name to vworker.com. I’ve also outsourced some content writing jobs to freelancers at eLance.com. The rates here are a little more expensive than vWorker but the site is more user friendly an easier to work with.

Why I like these services? Well, its great to post a job and have a list of people bid for it. Through the selection process, you can fine tune your requirements and get the best deal out of all the proposals. The other important thing is that these services act as a clearing house to make sure you do not get cheated. I’ve had a few cases where the service provider does not deliver and the arbitration process is quite efficient especially when every email is documented via their system.

elance logo

[Go to: Elance Outsourcing]


[Go to: Vworker Outsourcing]

I just wanted to add one other place where you can get quick and cheap outsource help. Its called “Fiverr.com” and its a directly of people willing to do work for as little as $5. Some people here can write content, submit your site to directories or even create simple graphics or fix CSS problems on your site.


[Go to: Fiverr.com]


9. Working With Video

Video for the web is an essential requirement for online success. Whether its for your sales letter or your content pages, video helps to drive the message through better than just words alone.

One of the best tools to create great web video is Screenflow. This software is for Mac only and for Windows users, I would recommend using “Camtasia”.

What do I like about Screenflow? The software is dead easy to use. It allows you to capture your computer screen together with audio of your voice. Thus is great for tutorials and demos. But my favorite part about Screenflow is the editing tools. You can add titles, texts and effects to your videos very easily.


[Go to: Screenflow Product Page]


[Go to: Camtasia Product Page]

The other important thing about video is how to embed them to your website or blog. For the most part, I upload my videos to YouTube and use the embed code generated by YouTube to add the video to my pages. Another great free service is Vimeo who can host longer HD videos instead of the 15min limit on YouTube.


[Go to: YouTube]


[Go to: Vimeo]


10. Image Editing

If you can afford it, the Adobe Photoshop software will be the tool to handle all your graphic design work. However, the learning curve to use Photoshop effectively can be quite steep. For simple image editing (especially for blogs), I prefer to use a very light tool called Image Well 4. This tools allows me to resize, crop, add captions and text as well as upload directly to my webhost after I’m done editing.

I use this tool to create the images in a lot of my blog posts.


[Go to: ImageWell 4 Product Page]


10. Teleseminar/ Webinar

In my experience, one of methods to get the highest conversions to sales, is the telesminar. Whether its live or recorded. In the past, I used to use the webinar service by GotoMeeting.com. Don’t get me wrong – this tool is great but its also quite pricey. Also, users will need to download a special software before they can join your webinar.

I found a simple service called Instant Telesiminar which also gets the job done. Although you are not able to show your desktop live to your users using Instant Teleseminar, it has all the other features you need. You can answer questions, show slides and allow your visitors to call in to ask questions.

Why I like it? Well, I love the fact that you do not require your users to download any additional software. So all they have to do is turn up at a webpage you send them and they can listen in, see your slides and ask questions. Its also a lot more affordable compared to GotoMeeting and its very easy to embed the whole event into any of your websites so that you maintain branding as well as call to action buttons or links you may have on your webpage.


[Go to: InstantTeleseminar Trial]



Ok, I know I am missing quite a few other items on this list. It would be too long if I added them all here so I only listed the key items. If you wanted to know how I do certain things, just ask in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

Also, if you have recommendations of some awesome tools to checkout – please also add it in the comments below. Thanks!