April 20, 2015 Melanie Baker

Contacting the owner of a domain you want to buy

Passing domain

We published a fairly extensive series a while back to help you figure out what to do if there's a domain you want that's already been registered, or similar issues. Two of the most relevant posts for our purposes here are Part 5 and Part 6.

We didn't go into a lot of detail about exactly how to contact the current owner of a domain that you're interested in acquiring though. Or what to do if you do manage to get in touch and make an offer. We'll start with the easy way.

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April 16, 2015 Chris Hall

Using the iwantmyname Marketplace to find your next blog, personal site, portfolio, or e-commerce platform

Using the iwantmyname Marketplace to find your next blog, personal site, portfolio, or e-commerce platform

Is it useful? If so, how can we make it even more useful?

These are the questions we've been asking a lot of ourselves lately, and they represent what I think is the goal of this vast world we call the internet. Just think of the progression from the pre-internet world to now:

  • 1970's - You read an album review in a magazine, then drive to the store to buy a record to play at home.
  • 1990's - You read an album review in a magazine, then drive to the store to buy a CD to play in your car.
  • 2000's - You read an album review online (quite useful), then download the album to listen on any of your devices (still a chore).
  • The future - The album you want and all the content around it are integrated. There are no barriers. Listen, discover, and share, instantly. I can't think of anything more useful than that.

That's the goal of the internet. Reduce the noise, reduce the work—all so you can instantly get what you want, right when you want it.

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April 15, 2015 Chris Hall

The nearly foolproof three-step test for determining the quality of a website

Twitter Logos

  • Step 1: Go to a website
  • Step 2: Find the social icons
  • Step 3: If the Twitter icon isn't shaped like the birds above (angled slightly up), you've probably found a brand that either doesn't understand the internet or doesn't care about details (possibly worse?).

Note that there are levels of terribleness here.

Old Twitter Logo

Quality Score -100: Definitely the wrong logo, but I can see how someone could see this and not instantly think it's wrong. If you see something like this on a personal site, politely send an email to the site owner.

Older Twitter Logo

Quality Score -4000: You know that feeling when you walk into a restaurant with carpet clearly from the 1980's?

April 1, 2015 Chris Hall

Can non-devs be part of the open source community?

From thomk - Hacker News:

Ask HN: How do technical non-developers help with open source projects?

I used to code for a living but decided that I enjoy being a technical writer and PM much, much more. Things I enjoy:

  • Writing detailed functional specifications.
  • Creating wireframes & mockups.
  • Creating flowcharts, BPMN docs & graphs to explain a project.
  • Planning Poker, Creating sprints.
  • Discussing technical issues with developers.
  • Simplifying technical issues for customers.
  • Learning about new technologies.
  • Explaining new technology to customers.

My question is; Is there a need for someone like me in any open source projects and if so, how do I contribute?

As Lenz recently wrote, "At iwantmyname, we not only use open-source technologies at the heart of our business, but we also strive to support the cultivation of a community based on the ethics of open source." But as a non-developer, truly understanding what open source stands for is a hard thing to grasp. Writers, designers, and project managers can make educated guesses, but getting non-devs involved in the world of open source can only mean good things and more well-rounded ideas for the community.

In short, questions like the Hacker News thread above are definitely a step in the right direction.

March 31, 2015 Lenz Gschwendtner

Does open source contribute to a more open society?

Does open source contribute to a more open society?

Many companies say they love open source, but what does that actually mean? Does it mean they use a lot of software other people have written? Does it mean they like that they don't have to pay for things? Or do they understand that loving open source also means contributing back to the community the code came from?

Let's start again. We at iwantmyname love open source! And when I say we love open source, I mean that we're always trying to work and live up to its ethos—to continuously share the things we learn, and to approach challenges with facts instead of emotion. Open-source development is all about learning and developing in the open, with people we may never meet in real life—it doesn't matter to any of us what we look like, who we are, what our gender is, our race, religious beliefs, or sexual preference. It's all irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how we can work together to make projects awesome.

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March 27, 2015 Chris Hall

Last chance to get your short .NZ domain before anyone else

Time is running out, but you still have until 30 March 2015 to either register or reserve the shorter version of your .NZ domain name before anyone else. As you may know, all ‘second level’ domains like the .CO in ‘.CO.NZ’ and the .NET in ‘.NET.NZ’ are now optional, meaning you can register .NZ names with them, without them, or both (you can read more about it on anyname.nz).

Please note that registering or reserving your corresponding .NZ name is entirely optional and will not affect your existing domain. However, it is important to remember that anyone can register domains directly under .NZ after 30 March 2015. For example, if you own the domain myperfectwebsite.CO.NZ and you do not register or reserve myperfectwebsite.NZ, anybody can buy that domain after the pre period ends.

Aside from that little note, have a great weekend! And, as always, please let us know if you have any questions.

March 25, 2015 Chris Hall

.green is your new favorite color

As far as colors go, green is a loaded word. It stands for sustainability, political movements, and money. Kermit the Frog feels green. Sick people look a little green. Green is everywhere, and now your favorite color has an online home—.green.

But what should people do with it? Here are some suggestions.

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March 24, 2015 Chris Hall

Is Medium the billionaire’s typewriter?

Is Medium the billionaire’s typewriter?

From Matthew Butterick, in an article titled, "The billionaire’s typewriter"

But un­like the Times, Medium pays for only a small fraction of its stories. The rest are sub­mit­ted—for free—by writ­ers like you. After a long time being elusive about its business model, Medium revealed that it plans to make money by—sur­prise!—sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing. This means dis­play­ing ads, but also col­lect­ing and sell­ing data about read­ers and writ­ers. So Medium will extract rev­enue from every story, whether it paid for that story or not. (By the way, will that rev­enue be shared with writ­ers? Um, no.)

And com­ing full cir­cle—what’s the in­dis­pens­able tool for cre­at­ing this il­lu­sion of an ed­i­to­r­ial ecosystem? The ho­mo­ge­neous de­sign. The but­ter­fly bal­lot of 2000 (de­picted in why ty­pog­ra­phy matters) proved that er­rors of ty­pog­ra­phy can have his­toric con­se­quences. Medium proves that typog­ra­phy can be used as a tool of eco­nomic lever­age and control.

In truth, Medium’s main prod­uct is not a pub­lish­ing plat­form, but the pro­mo­tion of a pub­lish­ing platform. This pro­mo­tion brings read­ers and writ­ers onto the site. This, in turn, gen­er­ates the us­age data that’s valu­able to ad­ver­tis­ers. Boiled down, Medium is sim­ply mar­ket­ing in the ser­vice of more mar­ket­ing. It is not a “place for ideas.” It is a place for ad­ver­tis­ers. It is, there­fore, ut­terly superfluous.

As a writer, the state of writing on the web in 2015 is not good. That's not to say the tools for writing have dried up (there are more now than ever)—it's just that now, instead of simply writing, I have all sorts of internal issues. Who owns my content? If I don't own it, who does? Does it matter? Is "homogeneous design" something I even care about?

So here's where I'm coming from. I have a job that pays the bills, so when I want to get some thoughts into the cloud, I'm not doing it for money, I'm doing it to be a citizen in the communities I care about. As Austin Kleon says in Show Your Work!, "By generously sharing their ideas and their knowledge, they often gain an audience that they can leverage when they need it—for fellowship, feedback, or patronage." For that goal, Medium, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, are perfect. Sure, everything you see on the page looks exactly the same—same typography, same basic structure—but it's an instant way for a writer to connect to, and discover, the people they care about. It's not that I'm lazy, or that I'm unknowingly trading my freedom to be on some Big Brother marketing platform (the billionaire's typewriter), I'm just in a place in my life where I'm happy to share my thoughts on a platform someone else has created because they've removed all the barriers and invited all my friends. It's a party I didn't have to plan... I just had to show up.

Medium, for example, has a CMS that anyone on the planet can use, and a design that certainly doesn't insult my sensibilities. Call it minimalist, homogeneous, whatever—as a writer, I can get in, write something, and send it off to my friends without worrying if it looks good or not.

My only issue with Medium is that its users are fairly anonymous. If I want to find a writer, I have to figure out what their Medium username is, then toss it to the back of the standard Medium URL. Too often, I'm just cycling through articles without ever knowing who the author is—it's just a mad shuffle of big ideas and original thoughts from people I might not ever know.

What Medium needs is custom domains. I want to be able to tell a friend to check out chrishall.pizza, not medium.com/@hashtaghall. I'm far too Gen X to want to be a blatant "corporate stooge," but the Millennial in me just needs a little recognition to be appeased. Give me that level of individuality and I could care less if they leverage my writing to make some money. It wasn't written to be a profit center anyway.

In the piece linked above, Matthew Butterick paints a solid picture of why someone like himself shouldn't use Medium. He, like many, value things like site individuality and varied typography more than I do. And he may have a soapbox with Practical Typography that pays the bills and connects him to more people than I will probably ever know. But I don't think many people want to blog full-time (it's harder than many think), and they'd probably do anything to avoid having to make design decisions and worry about server costs. They just want to write somewhere their work will be read. And Medium lets them do that.

March 23, 2015 Paul Spence

A call to help Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam


For those of us who live in temperate climates, it's difficult to imagine the unfolding horror of a category 5 tropical cyclone bearing down on your home with winds exceeding 200 mph. But that was the scenario facing the inhabitants of the far flung islands of Vanuatu recently. The tiny Pacific Ocean island archipelago took a direct hit from Cyclone Pam, resulting in many villages being entirely flattened.

Incredibly and thankfully, the death toll as a result of the storm has been kept to a minimum, but a large section of the population has been left without food, water, and housing. Now a major relief operation is underway involving NGOs and neighbouring governments from the South Pacific region such as New Zealand and Australia. Technology is also playing a part in the recovery with power and communications providers rallying to get services running again quickly. We have seen encouraging reports suggesting that some progress is being made, against all odds.

It's not the first time a huge cyclone has ravaged communities in the Pacific. Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc across the islands of the Philippines in 2013. You may recall our efforts to contribute during the Haiyan relief operation. With your help, we will be financially supporting UNICEF's operation on the ground in Vanuatu today with an immediate donation of $6,500. We are thrilled to learn that our cash will pack twice the punch because New Zealand philanthropists Gareth and Jo Morgan have agreed to match the first $1 million in donations.

iwantmyname has a longstanding policy of setting aside 10 cents from every domain registration for charitable purposes, but with the crisis being so great, we've dug a bit deeper to help out our neighbours in their time of need. If you want to make your own donation to the Vanuatu relief fund, you can do so here.

(Photo by Dave Hunt-Pool/Getty Images)

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