Adding SSL to my OSX server

I decided it was time to make a little statement and add “always on” encryption to this completely innocuous site.  The online equivalent of moving a lemonade stand inside a bank vault.  Now when you read about refurbishing my car, or fixing a seed drill, you’ll be doing it over an encrypted connection.

This is another scratchpad post for folks who run an OXS Server and want to use a multi-domain UC (unified communications) SSL certificate.  The rest of you can stop here — this is probably the most boring post of all time. Continue reading “Adding SSL to my OSX server”

Grinnell Reunion 2012 — a life of happy accidents

I gave a talk at my Grinnell College reunion last weekend and decided to build this post to share a bunch of links to things that I talked about.  This ain’t a’gonna make any sense to the rest of you.  But the stuff is interesting.  🙂

This is a story of rivers of geeks.  I described the rivers that I swam in during my career, but these are by no means all of the species of geeks that ultimately built the Internet.  I was lucky to be a part of a gang of 10’s maybe 100’s of thousands of geeks that came together in the giant happy accident that resulted in this cool thing that we all use today.  But don’t be confused — it was a complete accident, at least for me and probably for all of us.  Here’s a diagram…

Continue reading “Grinnell Reunion 2012 — a life of happy accidents”

Domain-names — Develop? Park? Sit tight?

Photographer: Gregory Szarkiewicz

I have a gaggle of terrific domain names (bar.com, pub.com, grill.com, etc.) that I’ve had Since The Beginning.  Over the years I’ve pondered what to do with them and always come back to “sit tight” as my strategy.  I saw a great article today that lays out the reasons why.  Here’s the link:

http://www.domainnamenews.com/domain-development/mass-development-flawed-model/8058#more-8058

Whit Diffie is the new VP of info-security and cryptography at ICANN! Kewl!

Very neat news today out of ICANN.  Whit Diffie is this monster figure in the crypto world — he’s one of the founding folks in that circle.  He worked at Sun for ages and now he’s joining ICANN.

Click HERE for the ICANN press-release.

Click HERE for a starter-page at Wikipedia.

Click HERE to watch him on an episode of Cranky Geeks (with John Dvorak) to get a feel for what’s he’s like in person.

I’m really glad to hear that he’s joining the ICANN gang.  It’ll give us some depth that we badly need in this area.

New volunteer job — 37-word long title

I’m thinking another fold-out business card may be required;

Volunteer
Vice Chair of Finance and Operations (of the)
Commercial and Business Users Constituency (which is part of the)
Generic Name Supporting Organization (which is in turn part of the)
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Can you see why ICANN has a bafflegab problem?

I’m quite excited about this one — it’s got lots of tasty issues and it’s the ops and finance stuff that I love to do. 

I had another fold-out business card job back in the early ’90’s.  That fold-out business card read;

Temporary Interim Acting Assistant Associate
Vice President (supervising)
Administrative Information Systems
Business Operations
Quality Management
Operations Improvement (for the)
University of Minnesota

or…  Vice President of Stuff that is Busted.  This new gig is a lot less complicated than that one was.

Domain selling points

I just got back from the latest Traffic conference. ‘Seems time for another article in the “Domain names” category.

I’ve been pecking away on the problem of selling one (or a few) of my remaining domain names to an end user for the last year or so. Last year I decided to issue an RFP for domain brokerage that went precisely nowhere. I have various theories about that, ranging from me being a dope, to me being ahead of the market, but the upshot was that I decided to make a background hobby out of figuring out how to sell domains to end-users rather than domain investors. I’m not exactly cut of the right cloth to do that kind of thing, but it’s a great hobby.

To that end, I decided to collect all the good reasons that an end-customer might want to buy a domain for their business. I’m a pretty good listener and some of the bestest domainers are now out there with blogs, so I had some awful smart people to listen to while I was building the first-draft of my case.

As my little draft came together, it seemed like a good list to share with the folks at TRAFFIC and Rick Schwartz was kind enough to give me a slot as a member of the Madison Avenue panel. I sure wish I’d been healthy when I was standing in front of the gang, although enough people asked for the slides to make me think it went ok.

Here’s a link to the presentation in PowerPoint format and here’s the same thing in outline format;

Sales

  • Beat competitors to prospects
  • Obtain more qualified leads
  • Increase closing ratio

Marketing

  • Expand into a new market
  • Enhance position in current market
  • Consolidate a fragmented market
  • Reinforce brand (or “reverse brand”)
  • Capture mind-share

Finance

  • Improve revenue and profit
  • Reduce or avoid recurring costs
    • Customer acquisition
    • Branding
    • Advertising
  • Own an asset that will continue to appreciate

Operations

  • Provide a memorable, unchanging address
  • Reach a world-wide audience
  • Improve web traffic, search ranking and ad-placement
  • Leverage online advertising expenditures

Trends

  • Web audience – up
  • Online advertising – up
  • Importance of web identity – up
  • Domain valuations – up
  • One-word name availability – nil

Opportunities

  • Capture a category – broadly or narrowly
  • Stand shoulder to shoulder with much larger companies
  • Use social media to selectively enhance brand
  • “Own a word” in the mind of the prospect – and prime your site

As you can see, I’m trying to clump the “solutions to problems” by the type of person in the company. My notion is to write a little something about each of these and use the resulting paragraphs in a book that I would build for each domain. Then, figure out who the 200 best prospects are for the domain, mail them a copy of the book, follow up with phone calls and try to trigger a bidding war between 3-5 interested prospects. I don’t know where the spare time to do all this is going to come from, but that’s the plan.

Domain-brokerage RFP

I have a gaggle of premium domain names I got a really long time ago. I keep coming up with ideas for them that are either late/lame or too hard for me to do. I’ve decided that the time is right to sell one and, being a structured RFP type guy, I decided to build an RFP to select the broker.

Here’s a list of the domains — I only want to sell one of them, but I’m going to let the brokers choose which one they want to sell so they can sell it into their strongest market segment.

bar.com — social networking, beverage industry, legal services

pub.com — social networking, beverage industry, publishing

grill.com — social networking, consumer products, humor

cafes.com — social networking, food and dining

place.com — travel industry, entertainment, social networking, Internet-destination

shelter.com — social services, social networking, consumer products, industrial products

I’ve prepared a couple of documents. Here’s an introductory letter (in Word format) that describes the process and timing in detail. If you’re thinking about bidding, you fersure want to read that.

There’s also a detailed vendor response document that I will cheerfully email to anybody who’s interested. The reason I’m not posting the response document to the web is to keep track of who’s inquiring so’s to make sure that vendors gets invited to the various events along the way. But if you’re just interested in a copy for any reason, feel free to ping me (everybody: put “RFP response” in the subject to get through the spam filter).

[12 years later: Here’s a link to that response document — it’s still pretty good, although it will make most brokers think you’re crazy for expecting ansers to questions like that.  But hey, they’re still important questions to have answers to.]

Here’s a timeline (see? I am into structure);

1/8/2007 Issue and publicize RFP
1/22/2007 Vendor conference call (at noon, CST)
2/12/2007 Deadline for proposal submission
2/19/2007 Interviews with finalists completed
2/26/2007 Negotiations with finalists completed
3/5/2007 Announce selection

Update:

Well dang. Looks like I threw a party and nobody came. Lots to reflect on in that, but the bottom line is that no brokers proposed. This isn’t the first time this has happened to one of my goofy ideas. It usually means I’m a little ahead of the market. So I’ll go figure out some other approach to this problem… I’ve got some good friends in a related field who bring a lot of marketing and sales savvy to the table — maybe it’s time to roll my own.

Further Update:

Ah! Frank Michlick wrote a piece about this little RFP over at his great DomainEditorial site. Here’s a link to his article about the RFP. Thanks Frank!

Corp.com registry

The latest project to keep me away from this blog is bringing up the registry for CORP.COM domain names.

This is a project that Edmon Chung and I started back in 2002 when Edmon was the hotrod young entepreneur in charge of Neteka. He did such a great job that they got acquired by Afilias not long after we started our project.

What with Edmon distracted by the acquisition, and me distracted with a series of really interesting InstantCxO engagements, the Corp.com Registry sorta went on the back burner for a few years. But the time seemed right to both of us last year and the project is galloping toward an April launch.

2nd level domains like CORP.COM have been steadily gaining favor over the last few years, which is another reason why it seems like the time might be right to kick things off. Afilias is game, Edmon is game, I’m game, we have our first registrar in NamesBeyond. So off we go.

Free corporation name searches

I’m working with Affilias to roll out a registry for corp.com domain names (“did you miss acme.com? you might be interested in acme.corp.com”). We’re shooting for early April to have things up and running.

Along those lines, I’m working on a little gizmo to help people look up name-possibilities for free. There are lots of darn good resources, but they’re really hard to find so I thought it would be useful to find as many as I can, and perhaps put some automation in front of them to make the searching easier.

This is a scratchpad for me as I locate the free-lookup sites.

Free trademark searches — US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — (note; follow the “Search trademarks” link in the middle of the page)

Free national business yellow-pages searchSearchbug

Free state entity name search locations (not complete, I’m still hunting them down on the incredibly variable state pages — you’d think there’d be some kinda convention they’d follow…)

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia (DC)
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indianna
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Wisconsin