Choosing a Domain Registrar Actually Makes a Difference

Choosing a Domain Registrar Actually Makes a Difference

When you run a website, regardless if it’s for pleasure and enjoyment or as a business, you rely on other people to help make it work.  When they fail you, it’s not just a bummer, it’s costing you money.  When the electric, cable or your home Internet goes out, a cell phone call gets dropped or your GPS can’t give you directions, it wastes time and money.  In all the time I’ve been hosting websites, never before has choosing a domain registrar made such a difference to me.

For the best of my memories I started hosting my own website back around 2000, and the Internet did not make it entirely simply, but by 2001, with the dot com bubble growing, websites became easier to use and the mystery of how to build and host a website become much easier for a younger me to figure out.  There are essentially three parts to having your own website on the Internet;

  • A domain name
  • Web hosting
  • Website content

The first two can and are often done by one company, although many people use separate companies for each.  Without making this article overly complicated and because there are more than enough ehow.com articles on how to register a domain name, where to get hosting and how to build a site, I’m going to focus on the actual choosing of these companies you wish to partner with, specifically a domain registrar.

A domain registrar serves one function, they are meant to help you acquire the lease for the domain name you want, such as Randomn3ss.com for example.  Within their ability to renew this domain for you, you should be quickly and easily able to edit the DNS servers (to point the domain to your web host of choice), renew the domain name and transfer the domain to someone else or another web host.  Those are essentially their core functions.  For over a decade now I’ve been doing this, and most of the time it’s been with GoDaddy.

At first it was because they were cheap, and it was the early 2000’s and buying and selling domains was popular and one could actually make good money at it, so I used them for this.  Everything was straight forward.  Sometime around 5 years ago GoDaddy’s business model started to transition and they began putting more money into advertising, including fun commercials online, sponsoring Indy cars and basically saying to the world hey world, we are the best! What changed, for the worse, was customer service, website usability and the core functions of what their website should do for a user.  In the technical world, this is called the User Experience, or UX for short, and User Interface Designers, or UI Designers, get paid a lot of money to increase the rate at which we buy products on website.

I stayed with GoDaddy, through all their design changes and constant push to up-sell me services, web hosting and email that I didn’t need.

As the years went on, the up-sells continued, but so did the amount of time and energy they put into getting me to renew my domain names.  I started getting email notices 3 months before they were set to expire.  2 months before they expire a post card would show up in my mail with a coupon code and if it was a month before they’d expire I knew a phone call was coming from a sales associate, offering to help me renew, offer me a discount then try to up-sell me on some more services.  At the time GoDaddy domain renewals ran about $7.49, I remember asking the sales associate at what point they made profit.  After postal mail charges and paying his / her salary, how was there any meat on the bone?  They were dumbfounded with the question.

By 2011, even with a nifty iPhone app, my allegiance to GoDaddy was wearing thin.  Just doing something as simple as changing the DNS servers on a domain name, or even renewing it became a huge headache.  In March a story broke about president Bob Parsons elephant hunting expedition in Africa, complete with video.  I’m not anti-gun, anti-hunting and I’m not vegan, although I do support everything anyone I care about chooses to do, from religion to their stand on gun control, but this video is vile.  This now left a bad taste in my mouth, as I don’t want to line the pockets of that man anymore so he can do such cruel and unnecessary things with my money.

November was about the last straw for me, Godaddy publicly came out supporting SOPA. In a nutshell, SOPA is bad, really bad.  So bad that people like Ben Huh sent out tweets saying they’d transfer 1,000 of their domain names if GoDaddy didn’t change their stance, Kevin Rose was equally outspoken on the subject. No one wanted SOPA to pass as law, it did nothing good for the Internet.  The day after this virtually every domain registrar on the web was offering discounts to those who wanted off of GoDaddy, these were put together in one of the most popular Reddit posts ever, complete with transfer instructions for virtually every company.

How bad was this impact on GoDaddy?  Within two days at least 37,000 domain names were transferred away from the company, or roughly one quarter of a million dollars.  I did my homework this time, I looked at more than price, I looked at support time, customer reviews, how active the social media aspects of each business were, I wanted to know that my new registrar was going to be with me for another decade of my business.  I ended up choosing Name.com when it was all said and done.  Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but for me, the best.

Their website is clean, easy to use and actually makes sense.  Support is top notch and get this, I actually enjoy following them on Twitter.  In the one case I had specific questions and needed to reach out and submit a trouble ticket, it was answered within a few hours and was not auto-generated.  Someone actually wrote it.  I also didn’t have to shift through 500 words of sales copy to find what they were actually trying to tell me.

Now, I didn’t move all of my domains at once, in fact, as of this writing I have 2 left with GoDaddy and have been moving them as they expire.  My options on why they need to be moved today is all that much more apparent.  Yesterday GoDaddy was the victim of an Internet attack, not only did their site go down, and unknown number, presumed to be in the millions of websites, also went down.  Full disclaimer, every web hosting company on earth offers 99.9% up time, what that really means is that 0.1% will equal out to about 2 hours of down time per year.  No lawyer alive will make a 100% up-time guarantee, it’s not possible.  But, because of GoDaddy’s wishy washy stance on SOPA and other matters, it’s opened them up to become targets for hackers.

Today I’m making the move, and they are offering the first 500 transfers from GoDaddy to them for free, limited to 1 per person.  The older I get (now in my early 30’s) the more things like customer service and usability carry weight.  I have roughly a dozen domain names registered a year, spending an extra 50 cents to $1 per domain to host with a company I believe in, who believes in me by providing a service I want to use, that’s easy to use, is worth it.  That company is Name.com.

In closing, I recently watched this wonderful video with Seth Godin titled This is Broken, and I think a lot of what he talks about in here, GoDaddy needs to listen to, specifically the first few minutes.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/4246943[/vimeo]

Make Money with Twitter

Going back to the early 90’s when I first started to heavily use the Internet I wanted to make money doing it.  Back then I used it to get mailing addresses for a small business I had going in High School and wanted to mail out a sales flyer to generate sales via phone, it worked.  In the late 90’s I remember All Advantage, a pay to surf the web tiered affiliate program.  Shortly thereafter I started to build websites and the rest has kind of been a blur.  It seems everything on the web can be monetized, Twitter is just another means to make some money for those who use it.

Back in the summer of 2007 I joined Twitter and while four and a half years isn’t very long, it’s forever ago in technology times.  The micro blogging service was quirky and no one really had any full understanding as what they were supposed to do with it.  It wasn’t long before I asked WTF was I thinking using Twitter? and vowed never to update it again.  Well, I have, and a lot.  By 2008 I was finding useful reasons to use it and for all intensive purposes, it’s a staple in my tech life and virtually everyone I know.  Twitter is so large now that I see TV commercials who no longer advertise their website or even Facebook page anymore, they are simply promoting the use of a #hashtag, this goes for major networks too.

Make Money with SponsoredTweetsJust over three months ago I joined SponsoredTweets, a site that links advertisers and tweeters together.  The company has some very high profile celebrities and some quick searching on Google made everything here seem pretty legit.  You fill out a short profile, including tags of things that both interest you and that you talk about on a regular basis.  Based on the date you joined Twitter, the number of followers you have in relation to the number you follow and a few other specifications, SponsoredTweets suggests a price for you per tweet.  When I initially signed up I had about 920 followers and it’s suggest price per tweet for me was $1.27 based on the tags I chose. When an offer comes in, you can accept or deny it, then use the given guidelines to write a tweet which will both include a link to what the advertiser wants and a disclaimer of your choosing, such as #ad, Ad:, #sponsored and a few others to indicate this is indeed an affiliate link.  When you accept and write your tweet it’s then sent for review by the advertiser, if they approve it SponsoredTweets will automatically tweet for you within a given time frame that the sponsor chooses.  Provided a few people click the links, you’ll get paid.  Continue reading »

The Morning Call Newspaper Charges for Online Content, Will Fail Fast

The Morning CalMy local newspaper, The Morning Call which is owned by the Tribune Company, publishers of The Chicago Times and the LA Times, among other has announced it will be changing it’s online terms to paid content. It’s been nearly two months since the move was announced, but with the end of the free versions of online content readers are starting to become outraged. I’m going to make an attempt to point out why this is not only a bad idea but one that will ultimately bring an end to my local newspaper.

Full disclaimer, I get paid to write articles for other sites, I understand nothing in life can be free and those who create work, tangible or not, should be compensated. Randomn3ss has been a passion of mine for years as a way to explore my own writing and more specifically in this case, there is no option on The Morning Call’s website to leave comments for the article, which I find odd, so I’ll rebut it all here, piece by piece.

The Morning Call’s publisher is quoted as saying,

the decision to begin charging for digital content is based on readers’ strong demand for local news, features and sports on the Internet and mobile devices

Continue reading »

Social Networking is the New Customer Service

Up until a few years ago if you had a problem, concern, question or wanted to give feedback to a company there were three primary ways of contacting them: in person, on the phone and email.  Sure you could write a letter and slap a stamp on it, but why waste the trees.  Live chat is sometimes available for online companies but it’s often staffed by people who aren’t familiar enough to help you or they are offline.  All of these events are hidden, that is, only you and the company can see the correspondences and the likelihood a company simply ignores you is even higher.  The last two years or so have given consumers a new way to publicly convey their gripes (and praises) with companies: social networking.  The two biggest and most powerful ways are of coarse Facebook and Twitter.

Recently, I had my socks blown off with just how good and on-top of their customer base two companies are when I had some issues. First was a concern with LendingTree.com:

Continue reading »

Netflix Admits Mistake, Offers 1-time Credit

For nearly two years now I’ve been a Netflix member, during that time I’ve only had one really bad experience with an otherwise flawless company.   My problem was a DVD that arrived in two pieces, mailed it back and got another one in two pieces, mailed that one back and the third one showed up in 5 pieces.  Ready to give up, I marked it as damaged and returned it to finally get an in tact disc, sadly the movie was terrible.  In any event, their system just works.

Several months ago I showed you how to stream movies from your Mac to your TV and that’s how I’ve been enjoying the vast majority of movies from Netflix as of late, even reducing my plan down to the 1 disc at a time deal as I can fill the void between sending and receiving movies by streaming them.  Streaming works great on my FiOS broadband connection and I rarely have any issues, except for the night before last.

Not thinking anything of it, I passed it off as a glitch in the Netflix servers and went on with my evening.  I was pretty happy when I opened my email last night to see this:

Netflix

How nice of them.  A company admits they had a problem and offers a discount without me even contacting them.  This may be a reason why Netflix stock trades at about $37 a share right now and other companies, like GM for example are hovering closer to $1.

Cable is dead to me!

This is a guest post by Keith Lemery, a professional chef, network administrator, husband and father.  It was written to compliment and follow up the complete list of of websites to stream full tv shows and movies from.

Several months ago my wife and I decided to cancel our Time Warner cable television service.  We had the digital cable package with DVR, remote, and HD Tier.  All together this package cost us just around $100 per month.  We then added a Netflix subscription for $8.99 per month, which includes mailed DVDs, as well as unlimited streaming.  This reduced our overall television bill by at least $80 per month, or almost $1000 per year!

I had been dabbling with internet television for a while.  Hulu, Justin.tv, TV.com and NBC.com on my iPhone.  When we made the switch, it was a little awkward, but after some tweaks, we don’t miss cable at all, and if anything, wonder why we hadn’t made the switch sooner!

Here is our setup:

A four year old Toshiba A55-S106 laptop, hooked up to our 32″ Westinghouse HDTV, via the SVGA out port.  This cable I had bought on eBay a couple years ago for less than $5.  To do this on a Mac, check out Mike’s article utilizing Understudy and Front Row.

My iPhone serves as a remote control.  I am using Air Mouse Pro by RPA Tech, Inc. which is available on the iPhone App Store for $5.99.  It controls the laptop by using the iPhone as a touchpad and also has a soft keyboard.

When opening FireFox, three tabs open up.  Yahoo.com, Hulu.com, and NetFlix.com.  I could add any number of channels we watch, NBC, CBS, Disney, but these suffice on startup.

Hulu is amazing.  We have several subscriptions to programs we watched regularly on television.  We usually DVR’d the programs to watch at a later time, so the fact that the programs are posted to Hulu a day or two after showing doesn’t bother us in the least.

As for NetFlix, we keep our DVD queue active, and use the unlimited streaming feature to it’s fullest.  I subscribe to the NetFlix new release RSS, so I get updates of new releases on my iPhone through Google Reader.  When I see a program or movie I like, I open the Phone Flix iPhone application, and add it to my queue.  It’s a seamless process.  Something I never imagined I would be doing a year ago.

Local channels and programming is somewhat hit or miss, but most new televisions can pick up local HD channels.  There are some great YouTube videos on building your own HD antenna from coat hangers if you are out of range as we are, but the only thing we ever watched locally was the news.

I don’t miss the …coming up after the break cliffhangers and three minute commercial segments at all.  I can easily check the web for local news if I have the desire.

My wife and I have no intention of ever going back to paid cable service, ever.  It seems that soon enough all television networks will have an internet presence, if they don’t already, and will put most if not all of their programming online as ad revenue for online programming increases.

And the best part of all, we can watch an hour long program in around 41 minutes, and a half hour program in 21.  So roughly 30% of the time a program is on is given to advertising.  Sure, Hulu has commercials, but they are usually 15 to 25 seconds.

We are really enjoying having all of this control over what we watch, as well as the savings.  For us it was a simple decision, one that we should have made a long time ago.

How about you?  Are you still paying for cable television?  Could you use the extra $1000 a year savings?

My internet is faster than yours

OK maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but two weeks ago I had really fast internet installed.  The background is, when I bought my home, the only negative aspect besides not having a garage was the lack of true high-speed internet.  I’ve been suffering for more than two years with one-way cable.  For those who don’t know, that means I had about a 2 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds (download rates of about 200 kb/s) and a dial-up modem for my uploads.  Yes, a dial-up modem to send emails, attachments, upload content to FTP servers, etc.  Not only was it archaically slow, it was hardly reliable.  There was no other option because the cable run through the house was 35 years old and wouldn’t handle cable internet and I live about one half mile too far out to get DSL service, which would require a phone line anyway.

For the last 2 years or so my community has been trying to rally Verizon to bring in DSL, gaining over 50 signatures and sending them in, they seemed to have cared less.  A few of us even talked with a local interent service provider about bringing in one really fast commercial connection and sharing it but the cost to build the infrastructure was insane, as were the monthly costs.  All of this changed at the end of April.

I came home from a typical day of work and noticed spray painted lines in my front yard, my neighbors had them too, and some had white and blue as well.  While walking my dog I asked my one retired neighbor what was up, he said we were getting new internet and pointed to a small trailer with what appeared to be orange stuff wrapped around it down the street.  I walked down; sure as shit it was fiber!  Over the next nearly 3 months, workers came and went, running fiber optic cable underground and then up to each of our houses.  A notice on my door from Verizon said they were installing FiOS, and they would follow up when service was available.  I naively thought it would take 4-6 weeks to do; it was closer to three and a half months till the service was available.

About three weeks ago while walking Bella before work I ran into a neighbor who said Fios internet was finally available and they were coming to install it at his house in 30 minutes.  By the time I got home from work, he was hooked up with one of the fastest packages they offered and loving life.  I called to subscribe to one of the lower cost packages offering 10/2, that is 10Mbps down and 2Mbps up and had them come the following Saturday morning.  Install was about four hours long and everything is neatly tucked away in my utility closet.  When installation was done, they setup the wireless router that comes with the service for free, this took less than 5 minutes and I was online.

Real world speed tests indicate that I have blazingly fast internet.  How fast?  This week I’ve been watching 480p HD TV shows on Hulu.com while downloading music and shows via bittorrent and have yet to see a single show skip or buffer.  I also downloaded a 1.7gb file in just less than 25 minutes.  But what about numbers?  Check out the speed test I did last night to confirm just how fast my internet is.

I checked several servers and all showed speeds faster than 10Mbps and about the same upload, so I’m getting everything I’m paying for.  Now that I finally have a real internet connection, I’m looking into the Netflix Roku and / or building a computer / buying a Mac mini to hook up to my Plasma to stream TV, act as a DVR and be a multimedia center.  I’m also kicking around the idea of putting a network video camera in my home so I can watch my dog while I’m at work or away.

Dollar for dollar I’m actually saving about $10 / month with FiOS as I don’t need or use my home telephone line anymore and the craptastic one-way cable has also been canceled.  If and when Verizon installs FiOS in your area, I’d hop on it.  For those who do serious downloading, they offer a 50/20 connection [at least in my area] that can be had for around $150 / month.  That’s 34 times faster than a commercial grade T1!

Web Fun That’s Oh So Green

Yippee yay, it’s earth day!

Earth day was created in 1970 as a global environmental awareness initiative. It is now observed in 175 countries and supported by progressive action organizations such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Earth Day Network. (Thank you Wikipedia.)

Some great, green + fun websites for earth day and beyond:

  1. Buy local foods, support local farms. Visit Local Harvest to find local farms and farmers markets. Go pet a goat and feed some ducks.
  2. Carpool. Check out eRideShare to find local peeps that are looking to share rides. You can even search for someone to carpool across the country with.
  3. Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Check out GreenDimes, sign up to be removed from junk mailings and in turn they’ll send you a dollar, plant a tree on your behalf, or send you a free green ‘zine. Everybody wins! (FYI: When you sign up for this they will ask for credit card information to verify your identity. Sort of like what paypal does. It’s been a few months since I signed up and so far no funny business.)
  4. Once you go black, you never go back… take a walk on the dark side: Blackle is Google powered and eco-friendly.
  5. Recycle your goods and get new ones at freecycle. This site will hook you up with a local group that supports the reuse of anything and everything. Although the site seems a little difficult to navigate, once you’re in there seems to be a lot of activity going on in each of the different areas. There’s a slightly loved television stand in York, PA with your name on it.
  6. Go zero! The Conservation Fund will help you measure your very own carbon emissions and tell you how many trees you need to plant to offset your consumption. I’ve got 16 trees to plant this year to outweigh my emission consumptions. I had better get started. You can do it yourself or they allow you to make a donation for whatever the cost comes out to be to plant your trees.
  7. Get free stuff (by paying for it) at the Sierra Club. Right now, $15 will get you a membership (usually around $35), and a handy backpack for a thank you gift.
  8. Be a green person/dog/baby. I bought my dog these organic treats in the shape of little cupcakes that he refuses to eat from a store I found on Green People. They also have eco friendly and holistic business listings for people too. And their travel section has some really neat stuff.
  9. Save on gas. With gas prices expected to hit $4 this summer, be sure to get your daily feul economy tips for some serious advice on saving money at the gas tank and saving the environment.
  10. Read up. Eco Chick’s blog is as sassy as it is green. And I don’t use the word *sassy* often. Starre Vartan’s website is funny, smart and earth friendly. And how could a girl named Starre not be cool? Be sure to read her list of what not to do for Earth Day. As she says, because mother earth is a woman. Yeah!

It is true, we all need to be a little greener. Without the earth we won’t be here.

April 22 also happens to be the democratic primary in PA, so get out and vote all you registered Pennsylvanians. Polls are open 7am – 8pm, your local polling place is usually within walking distance to your house. Brody and I will be on our way to our designated voting center bright and early wearing our Obama buttons. See you there.

Starbucks is NOT offering free Wi-Fi

All over the internet today and even my the front page of the business section of my local paper are articles about Starbucks ditching long-time internet supplier T-Mobile and joining with AT&T to offer free Wi-Fi.

Starbucks plans to offer the new AT&T service initially at 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. It’s available to Starbucks debit card users and Starbucks partners only.

Non-cardholding customers can pay $3.99 for two hours — which, of course, will incent customers to get the debit card. Monthly membership will cost $19.99 per month, and will enable access to AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots in 89 countries.

That quote came from an article titled, Starbucks announces free Wi-Fi. I’m sorry, maybe I’m missing something here, but $19.99 per month for two hours of internet allowance a day or $3.99 for two hours for those of us not in the cool club is not free. As a consumer, I feel that I was misled.

I really wish writers would stick to the facts. There is not a whole lot of difference to the wallet of those who sit in Starbucks and want access to the internet. The only thing changing is who provides it.

I’ve really started to dislike how most drinks from Starbucks taste, but I do like their atmosphere and on occasion have sat there with my laptop and written articles for Randomn3ss or edited photos. I’m lucky though, the Starbucks a few miles from my house is in small strip mall, two doors down is a Panera Bread that offers free Wi-Fi to all customers, just agree to their TOS and deal with them blocking a few sites.

A note to Starbucks:

I, your customers agree to order coffee in those stupid names you give cups instead of small, medium and large. I also agree to pay three and four times the amount for your brown, burned tasting water that you call espresso. I will not agree to pay your bloated price to gain access to the internet when your competition less than 50 feet from you gives it away. Take notes.

MySpace now showing Amber Alerts for your local area

I just logged into MySpace today to, well to check MySpace out and saw something kind of unusual an Amber Alert. Back in January I told you that MySpace was going to add Amber Alerts, Right above where it says Hello, Mike Panic (once you are logged in, above your default photo on the left) was a link that said,

ATTENTION: There is an Amber Alert in your area.
Please CLICK HERE to find out more information.

Now I’m very aware that MySpace is far from secure and peoples accounts get hacked or taken over on a daily basis, usually due to password phishing, but I know I didn’t login anywhere unusual. Intrigued, I clicked the link and the screenshot to the right came into view. Please note that the screenshot I took is real, those kids are missing, it is not false information.

This is a great thing for MySpace to offer to utilize this system, there are millions of people online daily and hopefully this will bring more attention to child kidnappings. It is sad to see it actually in effect now though.
Offical Amber Alert website: http://www.amberalert.gov/