Saturday, March 31, 2018

Is legit or scam?

It is 5.5 years since I reviewed in my blog post "Is a scam?". The post remained my most viewed blog post with 200+ comments for quite a long time. Most of the comments are from the users who agree that is indeed a scam site. I can understand that they found my blog post by doing a quick Google search on " scam." However, what is more interesting, some readers actually defended Interestingly, some of them did not really look genuine (why would you search and land on a blog post discussing whether is a scam unless you were searching for it?) But that it is just a guess. I also noticed canned comments from employees (most likely bots), suggesting the concerned users to email their support team.

There have been alternatives popping up every once in a while. For example, the HubStaff. However, I am not really comfortable with recommending any of these. As in the past, the ones that many of us suggested as better alternatives to were later acquired by anyway. So the new ones can come to the same fate, or they themselves can turn into large evil corporations.

Apart from the issues of landing with a scam employer or a scam employee, itself is a heavily unethical platform. By searching around the Internet (for example, read is destroying my life), or reading the tens of comments in my previous blog post on, you can get a taste of it. Most of the blame on the platform comes from its unethical way of charging. One particular case even I encountered was, the employee is charged the 10% fees (which can be as high as 100$, if the project is 1000$) even if the employer turns out to be just a scammer. Since the employee did not get any benefit of the platform, any ethical organization would just refund the money. Other obvious issues are lower transaction rates, even lower than your banks, and the painfully long time they take to transfer your money! Transferwise does it at least 10 times faster! That is one ethical company. on the other hand, an unethical bullying company. The most inhumane characteristics of is when they randomly choose to block your account and ask for random verifications (as reported by commenters, sometimes driver's licenses are not accepted despite being listed as an accepted form of verification in the itself).

If you must use sites such as, try to work from a cheaper third-world country such as Bangladesh or Thailand. Not from Liechtenstein. Because you are not going to get paid higher just because you live in a more expensive or more developed country. 

Moreover, you real-world credentials do not really matter in the Internet world. It is hard to verify on the Internet whether you are who you claim to be. So even if you are an expert, you still have to build your online empire from ground-zero. Start this when you do not really need money, as a past-time. Working on Freelancing websites is not going to give you money quick unless you already have an account with justified success. The early days will be plainly painful as you put in work to a negligible payment (since your competitors are from cheaper countries anyway). 

There are of course many success stories. Many were just lucky or from the third-world countries with a competitive advantage on such global platforms. For example, 5$/hour is high in many South or South East Asian countries, while it is very little for most of the western countries. Others had the patience and time to build their profile slowly, till they can reach the 40 - 50$ hourly rate.

My verdict: Find a real job in the real world if possible. Want to be self-employed? Find local employers and build up a brand, so that you can find clients without greedy middlemen such as is not entirely a scam. But it operates in a gray area with shady business practice (non-existing customer service paired with questionable antics to extract more money from the clients/users), acquiring competitors aiming to operate in a near-monopoly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The horror of losing access to your email

Shenzhen Skyline
There are a few free and trialware VPN services (such as Psiphon and LanternPro) that come handy when you travel in countries with censorship. I had a hard time recently with Google locking my account due to suspicious activity (logging in from a random location via VPN). It was not letting me in since I could not remember the answer to my security questions and I did not have my phone working with me as I was traveling. Eventually, I restored the access to my account. However, it was quite a scary experience given how much I rely on my email account.

Inconsistencies at the Airports

Raspberry and Green Tea KitKat from Jeju
Airport security can be confusing. In the US airports, you should remove your shoes and belt, and also take out the laptop and big tablets from your bag, as you pass through the security scanner. Elsewhere, it is not necessary to remove your shoes as long as the shoes do not look bulky or big. In China, I found that removing belt is not necessary. However, in addition to the laptop, you should also take the camera, power bank, and umbrellas out. It is interesting to note these differences though I am not quite sure of the reasoning behind these choices.

Traveling is always fun, though preparing for it and its aftermath are not always fun. Due to deadlines and busy schedules, I usually have to work while on travels too. This time was no exception, with a deadline to submit my paper coming close by. However, it is all good memories.