This morning, I attended a Technology Innovators Breakfast session at the Toronto Board of Trade as a guest of Alicia Bulwyk, Project Manager of ICT Toronto. It's a suit-y affair, held at the Toronto Board of Trade's dining room, deep in the heart of suitland: First Canadian Place at the corner of Bay and King Streets, the centre of the Canadian financial universe.
This breakfast gathering is one of a new series in which interested parties can "hear Toronto's industry leaders expound on their own personal success stories - why Toronto is their company's chosen location to expand their business, and what their forecast is for the next wave of technology." Today's speakers were:
- Alizabeth Calder, Executive Vice President, National Accounts for Brainhunter, doing a short preliminary presentation
- Dan Fortin, President and CEO of IBM Canada doing the main presentation.
By my count, the event was attended by about 100 people, with a good number of IBMers in attendance, and the major banks well-represented. I sat at the ICT Toronto table, joined by a number of the ICT Toronto regulars, including my TorCamp brain trust compatriot Jay Goldman.
I found the event useful -- it's good to break out of the nerd world every now and again and see what the suits -- particularly the big players like IBM, Accenture and the major financial institutions -- are up to. After all, tech centres thrive when nerds meet rich people. I'd be more than happy to attend another one of these breakfast sessions and learn more.
I took notes of the presentations; they appear after the jump.
iMedia Connection gives us brief looks at how General Motors, Sun Microsystems and Wells Fargo are reaching out to their customers using blogs in the article titled 3 Big Brands Reinvent Themselves with Blogs. In addition to showing how these companies are making use of their blogs, the article also provides some useful advice for companies who are thinking of starting their own customer-facing blogs.
We've just activated the latest addition to the OpenSRS API (the API that out partners can use to provision and manage domain names), the
Name Suggest API call. Given a word or phrase, the
Name Suggest API call will generate up to 100 available .com/.net/.org/.info/.biz domain names that are variations on that word or phrase. It's a useful tool if you're brainstorming domain names or if the domain name you want is already taken.
In order to demonstrate the
Name Suggest API call in action, we've created an example application called...
Duke of URL takes a word or phrase that you enter, lets you choose a domain name type (.com, .net, .org, .info or .biz) and provides you with a list of 100 available domain names based on the word or phrase that you provided. The Duke of URL lives at:
Remember that the Duke of URL is demonstrates just one possible app that you can build using the
Name Suggest API call and the OpenSRS API. As such, the Good Duke gives his results in one particular way. Next week, we'll show what else is possible.
We'll also reveal the code behind the Duke of URL and explain how it works next week.
In the meantime, go give the Good Duke a visit!
It's always good to see Doc Searls, and I'm glad I had the chance to hang out with him at the recent ISPCON Fall 2006 conference. He's been a friend of Tucows since he first met us as ISPCON years ago, and he's been up to Toronto for a number of visits since then, the most recent one being last year's Christmas holiday party. In fact, it was a blogger get-together that he had during his visit in early 2003 that led to my getting a job here.
Doc's long time friendship with Tucows and Elliot is probably why their ISPCON opening keynote, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility? was more like a listening in on a casual conversation than attending a panel discussion. In their hour-long chat, Doc and Elliot talked about the internet not as a bonus service offered by telcos, but as a utility on par with things like roads, water, waste treatment and electricity. I attended this keynote and made a recording of their chat, which you can hear by downloading the podcast below.
We'd like to express our thanks to Jon Price, Denise Miller and the rest of the people behind ISPCON Fall 2006 for putting on a great conference, and to Doc for driving up to San Jose to take part in the keynote.
The Internet: The Fifth Utility
|File||Tucows Podcasts - Internet Service -- The Fifth Utility.mp3|
|Length||57 minutes, 54 seconds|
|File size||28.9 MB|
If you've been checking out Global Nerdy, a tech blog I share with my buddy George, I've gotten my hands on a copy of Release Candidate 1 of Microsoft's next version of Windows, Windows Vista. So far, I've made two attempts to install it, both without success.
Here's the short version: yes, I finally got it installed. As with software from Microsoft, the third time's the charm. My trick was the tried-and-true fix that all IT workers know: turn the damned machine off and on again. This trick is so useful that it's been immortalized on t-shirts and in at least one television show, The IT Crowd:
For more, go check out the full story.
There were just 18,000 Web sites when Netcraft, based in Bath, England, began keeping track in August of 1995. It took until May of 2004 to reach the 50 million milestone; then only 30 more months to hit 100 million, late in the month of October 2006.
This calls for a graph! Here's one from Netcraft, which shows both hostnames and "active" sites, from August 1995 to the present day:
That's a lot of pictures of kittens and porn.
Netcraft lists these previous milestones:
- April 1997: 1 million sites
- February 2000: 10 million sites
- September 2000: 20 million sites
- July 2001: 30 million sites
- April 2003: 40 million sites
- May 2004: 50 million sites
- March 2005: 60 million sites
- August 2005: 70 million sites
- April 2006: 80 million sites
- August 2006: 90 million sites
This all means that there’s more and more noise online and it’s only getting “worse.” I’ve been talking about that in the limited context of local. But the general cacophony of new and me-too sites and services only means that brands and habitual behavior become more powerful; people will fall back on what they like, know and trust rather than try new things.
The idea that “our competition is only a click away” only really means something if you’re a no-name site. It’s very different if you’re Google or Yahoo (or even MySpace now).
People talk about “the Internet” in the same way they discuss “the small business market.” There is no “small business market,” there are only 10 or 14 or 17 or 20 million small businesses, with some shared characteristics. Similarly, “the Internet” is not a monolith, but 100 million websites.
Thus those would would “aggregate the tail” (whether eyeballs, publishers/site or marketers) are thus increasingly important to the online ecosystem.
"Island hopping" is the name of the current trend in spamming. Now that anti-spam filters and blacklists are wise to the spam domains in the typical .com, .biz and .info namespaces, they're switching to domains of small island nations such as Sao Tome and Principe (.st) and Tokelau (.tk) to bypass them.
The malware reasearches at McAfee first caught onto this trick after noticing an unusual number of .st domain name registrations. This raised a red flag for them, and further research showed a migration of spammers to domains for small island nations, particularly:
|.cc||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||14||628|
|.im||Isle of Man||572||75,550|
|.st||Sao Tome and Principe||1,001||193,413|
Spam from these domains has been increasing -- here's what an article in EFYTimes has to say:
"This new trend is another example of spammers' relentless quest to spread their abuse of Internet domains far and wide," said Guy Roberts, senior development manager, McAfee anti-spam R&D team. "Some of these islands have dozens of spammed domains per square mile."
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, reports that the 750,000th registration of a .ca domain name was recorded this week, marking a 50% rise in the number of such registrations in under two years. A snippet from their news release:
"The phenomenal growth of dot-ca registrations is the result of increased awareness of the value of dot-ca and the trust Canadians place in it," says Bernard Turcotte, President and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority. "Dot-ca still offers the best opportunity to get the domain name you want when compared with the larger dot-com registry."
"Dot-ca is reserved for Canadians and defines an organization or individual who meets Canadian presence requirements," explains Mr. Turcotte.
According to the press release, when CIRA took over the .ca registry, there were 60,000 names registered there. By 2003, there were 250,000 .ca names registered and in March 2005, that number had doubled to 500,000.
Over at Global Nerdy, I've posted my second attempt at installing Windows Vista onto my Wintel desktop machine at work.
The short version: still no luck.
I do most of my work on a 1.33 gig PowerBook G4, but I'm not going to say no to a company-issued computer with decent specs. Hence the other computer on my desk, a 3.0 gig P4 IBM ThinkCentre with half a gig of RAM, one of the standard issue machines here at Tucows. I use it mostly as a machine for testing sites and web applications in Windows, and occasionally, I'll do a tiny bit of Windows development on it. There aren't any important files on the machine, which made it a suitable subject for today's scary Hallowe'en experiment: installing Windows Vista RC1 (that's Release Candidate 1).
I got a copy of Windows Vista RC1 last night at a gathering held by Microsoft here in Toronto, where they invited a number of Toronto tech bloggers to see Vista in action and hear presentations on deployment and security. I took notes and will post them here later.
Earlier today, I attempted to install Windows Vista on my work machine and my notes from that experience appear in Global Nerdy, a tech blog I write with my friend George Scriban. The experience wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped.
A sizable contingent from Tucows will be making an appearance at ISPCON Fall 2006, the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. It'll take place from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th, 2006 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. If you're in the neighbourhood, we'd like to see you, which is why we're handing out these free guest passes!
These guest passes get you free admittance to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers here, who'll be more than happy to demonstrate our internet services.
- Keynotes, including the opening one featuring our very own CEO Elliot Noss and Doc Searls, In the Hotseat with Doc: A Fireside Chat
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
The guest passes also entitle you to register for the conference at a great discount.
There's no limit to the number of guest passes we can hand out. If you'd like one (or several) -- simply click here or the image below to download a PDF of the pass [816K PDF file], print it out and bring it to ISPCON. See you there!
Bruce Schneier has an essay in Forbes titled Casual Conversation, R.I.P., in which he talks about how ephemeral conversation is disappearing:
Fewer conversations are ephemeral, and we’re losing control over the data. We trust our ISPs, employers and cellphone companies with our privacy, but again and again they’ve proven they can’t be trusted. Identity thieves routinely gain access to these repositories of our information. Paris Hilton and other celebrities have been the victims of hackers breaking into their cellphone providers’ networks. Google reads our Gmail and inserts context-dependent ads.
If you're feeling particularly bold, you can venture over to the Internet Explorer page and download the final release version of Internet Explorer 7, which became available to the general public yesterday afternoon.
Although the Windows machine I have at work is a pretty nice one (developers are assigned machines with the same specs), it's largely relegated to Windows compatibility testing and a teensy bit of .NET development. Since I don't store any crucial files on that machine, I thought it would be the perfect guinea pig on which to test IE7. Over the next few days, I'll report my experiences, complete with screenshots.
Here's a screenshot of IE7 showing the Tucows Blog main page:
- Use descriptive headlines.
- Write in "inverted-pyramid" style (get to the point at the beginning, elaborate in later paragraphs)
- The first link is the one people click on, so make it the main link of your article.
- Reintroduce core ideas in longer posts.
- Use lists, images, tables and anything else that will make your artiles easier to scan.
- Use simple language if you're writing for a global audience.
- Credit your sources.
- Mark updates and changes.
- Spellcheck your posts and re-read them for clarity.
- Note that all these rules have exceptions; know when they apply!
The next month is going to be a busy one for many of us here at Tucows. In additional to the usual work stuff, some of us will be making appearances at the following conferences:
CASCON 2006 (Toronto)
I got a last-minute invitation to IBM's CASCON 2006 conference, which runs from October 16th through 19th, where I'll participate in the Social Computing: Best Practices panel. I'm thinking of catching the "Introduction to AJAX Technologies" workshop on Monday and the "Rails/DB2" workshop on Tuesday afternoon. Note that admission to this conference is free, including the food!
The Ajax Experience (Boston)
Here's a good one -- Brent Ashley, who will lead the Ajax Transport Layer Alternatives session, gave me a complimentary pass to The Ajax Experience, which runs from October 23rd through 25th. This looks to be a very meaty conference for techies and I plan to take copious notes and share them with the developers here at Tucows as well as you, the readers.
ISPCON Fall 2006 (Santa Clara)
ISPCON Fall 2006 is the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. Tucows people will be all over this one -- on the exhibit floor, doing the opening keynote and leading a couple of sessions! For the full details, check out this entry; to get a free pass to the exhibit floor and the keynote, see this entry.
We're in the last hours of the "landrush period" for .mobi domain names, a period when .mobi domains are available to the general public for a higher-than-normal price; in exchange for paying mor eper domain, you get a better chance of getting the domains you want. Starting tomorrow, October 11th at 10:00 a.m. Eastern (7:00 a.m. Pacific / 1400 hours UTC), the .mobi Registry will drop the price of .mobi names to their standard price.
For more on /mobi, see MidwestBusiness.com's article, Thursday Begins General Ongoing Registration For .mobi Domains and ComputerWorld's article, Why you need to buy a .mobi domain name soon.
This should come handy for those of you hoping to make it big in the mobile applications department: FierceDeveloper have put together their list of the five most-anticipated smartphones (pictured to the right). They are:
They've thrown in a bonus list of the 5 silliest phones. My favourites are the Motorola Feng Shui phone (which uses sensors to calculate the amount of Qi -- "energy flow" -- in the current location) and the LG "Sobriety Phone", which has a built-in breathalyzer to stop you from "drunk dialing" certain numbers.
Platypus is Tucows' billing system for web hosting and internet access providers, offering invoicing and billing, customer management and service provisioning. Version 6 is coming out soon, and on this Tucows Blog podcast, I chat about it with Bill Ford, Tucows' Director of Billing Services, who came from the Starkville office last week to visit us up here in Toronto.
The podcast is an MP3 file 10.7 MB in size and is 17 minutes, 16 seconds in length. Click here to play it (or right-click and choose "Save as") to save it to your hard drive.
Update: We've had the interview transcibed; you can find the transcript here.
There are more details about Platypus and how to download a free 30-day evaluation copy after the jump.
The .mobi Registry reports in a press release that people from more than 100 countries have registered over 100,000 .mobi domains in the first four days of the domain's general availability. They state that this demonstrates the great demand for these domains and offered this comparison:
In contrast, it took ten years for the general public to register 100,000 PC-based domain names in the early days of the Internet.
I think that's an apples-and-oranges comparison, but it's an interesting one nonetheless.
WebProNews has an article titled Business Blogs and Customer Connectivity, which looks at the characteristics of sucessful business blogs. It says that many of the best "b-blogs" (business blogs) provide their readers with a look at the:
- Company represented.
- Individual heading that company.
- News that affects the company and its customers.
- Links that may be beneficial to the customers.
- Personality behind the logo.
Following up from yesterday's article on .mobi domains, here's a roundup of .mobi articles from various news sources:
- Buy your piece of the .mobi internet today -- The Register
- 'Dot-Mobi' Domain Name Opens To Public for Wireless Web Sites (Subscription required) -- The Wall Street Journal
- Registration for .mobi now open to the public -- Mobile Magazine
- Mobile Domains Debut for Public -- Red Herring
- Mobi Domain Landrush Begins -- Web Host Industry Review
- What's so hot about the .mobi top-level domain -- Tech Digest
- The .mobi land rush: a mobile web revolution? -- Bigmouthmedia News
- Dotmobi Top-Level Domain Now Ready For The Masses -- Gizmodo
Over at John Battelle's Searchblog, there's an interview with Google's Matt Cutts (whose SEO tips we profiled in this article). In the interview, Cutts -- "the human voice between Google and webmasters/SEOs" -- talks about his role at Google, humans and algorithms at Google and what is considered webspam.
If you resell domain names (or are thinking of getting into the business), you should consider .mobi domains, the domain for mobile devices. We'll explain they whys and hows of .mobi after the jump.
Google's results are country-specific: that is, the result set you get is "tuned" to the country from which you're Googling, and that country is based on the IP address of the machine on which you're accessing Google. For instance, I'm based in Canada, and my results, whether I go to google.com or google.ca, are always from google.ca. But what if I wanted to see the results that people in America would see? Or the U.K.? Or anywhere else?
Enter oy-oy.eu's Google World Wide Search, which lets you enter Google search terms and a country, so you can see the Google results that people in other countries see.
According to this Reuters story, phishing -- the use of email to pose as someone's bank or other trusted institution in order to trick people into divulging their passwords or other sensitive information -- is on the rise, with the first six months of 2006 seeing 81% more unique phishing messages than the last six months of 2005. A researcher quoted in the article states that organized crime has become very interested in phishing.
Rolf Anweiler of Brand Republic says that newsletters are the most widely distributed and most established form of email marketing and an indispensable part of the communications strategy for many companies. He says that the six important factors for implementing a successful email newsletter are:
- PLACE How the newsletter is integrated into a website
- PROCESS How easy is it to subscribe
- PERMISSION Are data protection regulations being adhered to and how is permission gained from the subscriber?
- PERIODICITY Is the timing and frequency of the newsletter right?
- PERSONALISATION Is it tailored to the interests of the reader?
- PRESENTATION How good is the newsletter design and layout?
In a study of British businesses conducted by the enterprise content management association AIIM Europe, more than a third of the respondents said that their email systems were in "complete chaos" and had no policy or procedures for compliance issues and archiving. A mere 27% of the respondents archived their mail outside of Outlook in some kind of searchable repositiory, 16% kept printouts of important emails in files and 60% had "no widespread understanding of exactly what electronic records are and how they should be retained".
The New York Times has published an article about how the travel industry is being affected by the persistent and globally-amplified word-of-mouth provided by blogs. Given that business travellers are knowledge workers who often travel with their laptops, and constantly try to maximize their travel dollar and deal with the stress of being on the road, it's not surprising that they would turn to the internet -- and especially blogs -- to find and share travel information and tips.