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AdDetector (http://www.ianww.com/ad-detector/) - Browser extension that flags news articles with corporate sponsors. My best Show HN with 200+ upvotes. About 16,000 installs. Asked by my company to discontinue it a few days later, so I stopped working on it.

Crowdsourced asteroid discovery (http://www.asterank.com/discover) - only 5 upvotes on HN, but nearly half a million survey images reviewed, with 17,000 potential asteroids marked. Not really working on it anymore.

Free outgoing SMS API (http://textbelt.com/) - not much interest on HN, but about 3M texts sent over the past few years, almost 1000 stars on Github. Requires an hour or two a month for maintenance, responding to issues, etc.

Call Congress (1-884-USA-0234) - single phone number that dials all your representatives one after another. 8 upvotes on HN, but did very well on Reddit and sent over 300 hours of phone calls to Congress in a few days after the Orlando shooting.

Conspiracy theory generator (http://www.verifiedfacts.org/) - Did well on HN with 181 points. About 1M conspiracies generated. On autopilot but still gets organic traffic for ridiculous queries like "snooki illuminati".

Dream logs (http://keepdream.me) - posted 4 years ago but it's a niche tool. 62 subscribers, 2.5k dreams recorded, on autopilot.

Asterank (http://www.asterank.com/) - I submitted parts of this site to Show HN as I added new features. Sold it to Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company for a small amount.

Meteor showers visualization (http://www.ianww.com/meteor-showers/) - did well on HN, finalist in some Popular Science viz contest.

Dinosaur Pictures database (http://dinosaurpictures.org/) - a few upvotes on HN, about 8k uniques/mo a year later mostly from SEO. This is one of my favorite projects to spend time on.

Curious about the first one -- was there some kind of conflict of interest? As far as I can tell all you were doing was taking public information already available on the page and disclosing it with a much more visible banner. Was your employer heavily involved in Native Advertising campaigns or something?

OP is an engineer at Google: http://www.ianww.com/

Talk about biting the hand that feeds ;-)

Imo it'd actually help google if anything. As far as I know, they're not in the sponsored content game. If hypothetically, OPs thingo blew up and sponsored content articles became useless, that's more advertising budget freed up to go in to Googles pocket.

That could cut both ways -

The sponsors whose content articles get blown up might get pissed with Google and take their ad spend elsewhere...

I consider advertising evil, as the primary goal is to replace useful thoughts with thoughts of buying and consuming things.

In case it wasn't clear, I meant the OP is biting the hand that feeds.

Thank you for textbelt! Not long after your Show HN post, I used it to set up cron scripts that send me a text message if server load climbs above a certain number. It was a simple free way to monitor and deal with some performance issues at the time. To this day those scripts are running, although they haven't been triggered for a long time.

Would you mind sharing how you manage to operate Textbelt for free?

Many carriers allow you to send emails to {phone_number}@carrier.com which become text messages for free.

See here: https://github.com/typpo/textbelt/blob/master/lib/carriers.j...

OK. But I am curious how it maps a phone number to a carrier. My understanding is that carriers do not publish the list of their customer phone numbers.

It seems like textbelt does not know this information (or at least when you sign up or send a text message). Does it try in sequence to send the text to all carriers one by one until one succeeds? If so, I'd imagine textbelt would get blacklisted pretty quickly.

It would be interesting to see how the mapping is done.

That's an interesting question, but I think that Textbelt is intended to be used in a scenario where you ask the user to select their carrier in addition to their phone number.

Thanks for posting this. I asked the question when I was on my phone but it made more sense when I got back to my desk :) I wrongly assumed Textbelt was using a GSM modem to deliver messages as opposed to the email-SMS gateway approach.

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