Posts tagged ‘hosting’

Passwords

I am registered at a LOT of sites - blogs, hosting accounts, stores, message boards, etc.  A few years ago I started using the Lastpass Chrome add-in to track and remember all these passwords.

One problem though: like most people I was using the same few passwords over and over.  I had fixed, mostly, the most egregious mistakes, such as using the same password for low-trust sites like bulletin boards as for critical sites like banks.  But Lastpass showed me was that I still had a lot of password duplication.

The Adobe security breach finally got me off my butt.  My user name and password were among those that Adobe lost (which was particularly irritating because Adobe was one of those software companies that demanded a registration even when one should not have been necessary).  There was nothing at Adobe of mine they could screw up -- the registration was obviously to try to sell me more stuff but I never bought anything.  But there were possibly other sites using the same password they could screw up.

So I began a mission to change my passwords to 12-digit randomly generated strings of letters and numbers.  Having Fastpass helped a ton, as I would never have remembered all the sites with which I had registrations.  There were hundreds.

This was a real slog, a task so boring it was equaled only by the month when I ripped all my CD's to my hard drive and surpassed only by the 3 months when I ripped all my DVD's to hard drives.  The problem was that every web site was essentially a little portal-like adventure puzzle, trying to figure out where the hell the options for password change could be found.  I challenge those of you who have registered at WhiteHouse.gov to sign a survey to find the place to change your password.  At JetBlue, there is no such option in the user accounts -- you have to log off and click "forgot my password" at the logon screen and then click on the option to reset the password, but the reset email never shows up.  At two or three sites I had to email the site web manager to send me a link to the password change page.

Anyway, it's finally done now.  There are a couple of sites I use from my iPad for which I had to create unique memorable passwords because iOS does not have very good support mechanisms for such services as Lastpass, though as Chrome for iOS gets better, I expect that to make the problem easier to manage.  I had forgotten how many of these passwords (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) were plugged into things like my Roku.  It was irritating with the crappy remote to enter these random strings of characters as new passwords.

Of course security of the Lastpass account becomes a problem.  I guess I have to trust them.  My password for them is unique and never has been used anywhere else and contains no real English words.  I use 2-step verification at all times to log into it, so hopefully I am moderately well-protected.

Why We May Be Bailing Out Chrysler Again

I work in a small, four-story suburban office building.  I have seen our fire drills and can look out at our parking lot, and I would be surprised if there are 200 people in the building.    A few months ago some division of Chrysler moved in and took a bunch of the space.   A lot still remains empty (which is why I am here -- cheap!)

The Chrysler folks put a sign downstairs a few days ago saying that they would be hosting a luncheon for the building.  Great, I thought, a free hot dog and some fruit salad.  Imagine my shock when I saw this when I arrived today:

Chrysler sent three full semi-trailers, one of cars and two of convention-type booths and displays, plus a whole crew of people to set this up, all for a lunch in our building with less than 200 people.  I thought maybe that we were just getting a preview of a larger public event, but I am looking out my window now and they are tearing down again.  Crazy.

One thing that even many libertarians get wrong:  Wasting money is not unique to government entities.  Private and public entities can become senescent, and grow bureaucracies that lose focus on what they are supposed to be doing.  The difference between the private and the pubic sphere, though, is that for private companies, markets eventually enforce discipline (either forcing change or killing off the bloated entity).   There is no similar mechanism for state agencies short of perhaps absolute bankruptcy, and Greece is proving even that is not enough to force change.

Of course, when the government gives large private entities with political pull special protections and bailouts, then no such accountability is enforced.  The same people are operating the company with the same false assumptions and unlearned lessons.

2011 Conference on Private Management of Public Parks

On November 2, 2011, I am hosting a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on how public agencies can keep parks open through private recreation management partnerships.

For thirty years, the US Forest Service has seen radically declining recreation budgets, with far greater reductions than places like California is facing, but has not had to close parks and has kept most of their recreation areas well-maintained.

Their innovation was to take advantage of the substantially lower costs of private operators to run their campgrounds and picnic areas.

For the last couple of years, it has frustrated me to no end to watch states like California and Arizona -- really almost every state in the country -- let some parks accumulate deferred maintenance while other are closed when it simply is not necessary.

The event flyer is here, which hopefully you can also forward as an email from the link at the bottom.  If you know anyone in public recreation or in the your state's legislature who is interested in recreation issues, please point them to this site where they can learn about and register for this conference.  We have gotten some sponsorships such that government employees can attend for free, and the rooms in the hotel, a fabulous resort in Scottsdale, can be had for just $105 per night.

Glendale Keeps Throwing Money After Sports

I have no idea why this town of 250,000 people is so fired up to hand money over to sports enterprises.  This time, its a Superbowl bid:

Glendale is throwing its support behind a regional bid to bring Super Bowl XLIX to the city in 2015.

In return for the prestige of hosting the National Football League game at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale must guarantee services such as public safety and sanitation for free and exempt game-day tickets from sales tax for the NFL.

When Glendale hosted its first Super Bowl in 2008, it saw $1.2 million boost in sales-tax revenue. But a city-commissioned study showed it cost the city $2.6 million in services.

The City Council on a 5-2 vote Tuesday approved the resolution. Councilwomen Joyce Clark and Norma Alvarez dissented.

Councilman Phil Lieberman asked for Glendale's cost to host the Super Bowl in 2015, but Deputy City Manager Cathy Gorham said she didn't want to speculate because "things change on a regular basis." The needs in 2015 may be much different from 2008, she said.

These guys are beyond parody. We lost money last time so lets do it again, and by the way lets be sure not to estimate our costs before we make this decision.  Here is a bit more:

Clark said the NFL's demands grow more "invasive" every year.

Clark ticked off requirements such as use of the stadium for nearly two months, final cleaning of the stadium and equipment as needed for free. The NFL doesn't pay state or local levies such as payroll, sales, use and occupancy taxes.

Clark cited two former host cities, Arlington, Texas and Miami Gardens, Fla., which did not shoulder the costs of a Super Bowl. In both those cities, the states stepped in and reimbursed them, Clark said. She said that communities that hosted the NFL game didn't see "big spikes" in their tax revenues.

"The city of Glendale should not be expected to pay the Super Bowl's costs without recompense when it benefits the entire region," she said. "We are at a disadvantage because the NFL is hosting in our city."

Alvarez, an ardent opponent of using taxpayer money for professional sports, said the city was in no position to be spending money for the Super Bowl with the economic crisis. She said she couldn't face her constituents if she supported the resolution when there are unmet community needs and employees are still taking unpaid days off.

Note the only alternative suggested - the alternative is not "let's not do this, it makes no sense" but "let's make sure we stick the costs on a larger group of taxpayers.

More articles on Glendale and sports subsidies here.

Peak IP

Human ingenuity keeps finding more oil and gas but we are close to running out of IP addresses, at least in the old IPv4 system, which all of your are probably using right now.  This does not mean the world will shut down - already, for example, all the computers in your home probably share a single IP address to the outside world, and for many of you that IP address is dynamically assigned by your Internet provider to further save addresses.  Many web sites on the same server will share an IP address (which is actually a good reason not to used shared hosting, because if one of the other accounts on your server is a bad actor, your IP address can effectively get banned from sites and networks trying to ban that other person on your server).

However, a new system is in place, but as with many standards transitions the details are tricky.  It will be interesting to see how this mostly free-market transition goes in comparison to government enforced transitions (e.g. television broadcast standards).

The following will probably just demonstrate my total ignorance of networking protocols, but I am not sure why IPv6 couldn't be written in a way that the extra bytes would just be ignored by IPv4 systems.  It could be assumed that all IPv4 addresses of the form www.xxx.yyy.zzz map to www.xxx.yyy.zzz.000.000 in IPv6, but this may be wildly simplifying what is going on.

The reason I bring this us is because I have always thought the way black and white TV was transitioned to color was particularly clever.  They could have broadcast color with three signals of Red, Green, and Blue levels, and then black and white TVs would have to be thrown out - they wouldn't show anything meaningful with that signal.  Instead, though, they mapped color with a three part system of an absolute brightness signal for each pixel, plus two color signals.  If you are familiar with Photoshop, when you choose a color, you can enter the color as three numbers R-G-B for the intensity of each color or as Hue-Saturation-Brightness.  While not the same as the TV system, it is similar in that it has a pixel brightness component, plus to color components.  (my memory is that in the TV system, it is brightness plus two colors and the third color -- blue, I think -- is arrived at by subtraction from the total brightness minus the two other colors.)

Here is the trick - the signal which was just the pixel brightness component is essentially identical to the old black and white TV signal -- after all, a black and white signal is just the relative brightness of each pixel.  So they took a black and white signal and then added bandwidth so that there was more information if one had a color set.  Both technologies, old and new, worked from the same signal.

I suppose the problem with this is that I am thinking of routers like telephones.   Most folks know that if we dial more than 10 digits, the extras are just ignored.  My guess is that routers are more finicky and precise than this, and they can't just ignore the fact the IP address they are getting are too long.  But I still would imagine there could be a simple hardware hack to cheaply strip off the last part of a longer IP address so that older IPv4 infrastructure could still work in an IPv6 world.  Or is this hopelessly misinformed and naive?

Congresswoman Shot

Our Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords has been shot, and perhaps killed (stories vary at this point) at a public meeting this morning

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.

The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.

Giffords, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

Beyond the base level tragedy here, this is really a terrible incentive for a Congress that already shows incredible reluctance to actually meets its constituents face to face.

Yes, the Site is Slow

I have a horrible, awful, embarrassing confession.   All my sites, including this blog, are run off of super-cheap shared hosting accounts at Godaddy (yes, the guys with the juvenile commercials).  For years I think they did a decent job and my sites were not that busy, so it was no problem.  But as with most large, cheap hosting companies, they seem to be cramming more and more domains on each shared server.  Someone on this server is chewing up a lot of CPU cycles and it's time to move on.

I have switched to a virtual private server account at a new hosting company, as a sort of stepping stone potentially to a dedicated server  (my business and I have over 30 web sites so it probably can be justified).  The VPS account is cheaper and lets me start learning some new things about managing hosting (e.g. I have access to the root for the first time) but still shields me from some of the server management (e.g. OS updates).  And it's cheaper than a dedicated server, so we will see how it goes.

At some point, not quite yet, the site will have some down time when I do the migration.   Not sure yet when that will be -- the wordpress database for this site is over 50mb which exceeds the import file size allowed in my data base tools (phpmyadmin for mysql).  I have read there is another way to do it, I just have to do some research and tests first.  I probably will have to learn to work the data base from the command line.

Hail Porkulus

Via the AZ Republic

10 of the 25 most lucrative stimulus-funded contracts for work inside the state were awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to one Alaskan company.

Bristol Environmental Remediation Services LLC, based in Anchorage, was not required to bid for the work, which is valued at more than $140 million and involves ground-pollution monitoring and cleanup at 10 Arizona sites, including San Carlos, Parker, Tuba City and Window Rock

Who wants to bet this company has had friends named Stevens and Murkowski?  What is it about Alaska?

As an added bonus, to my frequent point that regulation in general and our new emerging corporate state in general tend to favor large companies over small:

Tom Mertz is Tempe-based Sundt Construction Inc.'s federal division vice president, a position that has few counterparts among Sundt's smaller competitors.

Contracts funded by the federal government tend to favor larger companies such as Sundt, Mertz said, because there are additional steps involved in completing such a project, many of them involving protocol and paperwork.

"Federal-government work certainly is not for everyone," he said.

Sundt has landed both state and federal economic-stimulus projects, including one of Arizona's biggest, a $24.6 million contract to build federal-courthouse facilities in Yuma....

Mark Stapp, director of ASU's Master of Real Estate Development program and a longtime developer in the Valley, said that the problems smaller contractors encounter most often on public projects have little to do with the work itself.

"It's the administration of the work that kills them," he said.

As a result, many small and midsize contractors have avoided government-sponsored work, which adds to their current disadvantage now that the public sector is hosting the only game in town.

Is Greece the New Montreal?

Hosting the Olympics practically bankrupted Montreal.  Via Megan McArdle, Victor Matheson argues that the current Greek financial problems may have stemmed from hosting the Olympics.

Greece's federal government had historically been a profligate spender, but in order to join the euro currency zone, the government was forced to adopt austerity measures that reduced deficits from just over 9% of GDP in 1994 to just 3.1% of GDP in 1999, the year before Greece joined the euro.

But the Olympics broke the bank. Government deficits rose every year after 1999, peaking at 7.5% of GDP in 2004, the year of the Olympics, thanks in large part to the 9 billion euro price tag for the Games. For a relatively small country like Greece, the cost of hosting the Games equaled roughly 5% of the annual GDP of the country.

Of course, the Olympics didn't usher in an economic boom. Indeed, in 2005 Greece suffered an Olympic-sized hangover with GDP growth falling to its lowest level in a decade.

Hosting Olymics is just a super-sized version of the fallacy that causes governments to fund billion dollar sports stadiums.

Support The Intrusive State. Buy an Audi

Am I the only one who is wildly less likely to buy an Audi after Sunday?   Advertising is often about image.  Frankly, almost none of the ads yesterday addressed their product's or service's value propositions in any real way.  They are trying to connect their product with images and emotions - Coke has always been great at that.  Beer commercials always try to connect their product with, well, sex with hot women.  This is pretty traditional for beer, though less so for ISP hosting until GoDaddy came along.

So now "Audi" has been permanently tied up in my mind with intrusive state control and loss of individual liberty.   Perhaps they were trying to be funny, but I really got the impression they were more than half serious, maybe because several of the examples (composting, light bulbs) are real issues subject to state control even in parts of this country.

Update: Obama appointee expresses need for SWAT teams in neighborhoods to enforce energy efficiency.

Site Migration is Done (I Hope)

As of this evening, the site migration from the Typepad service to self-hosted WordPress is mostly complete.  I have gotten a few emails about broken links and such, but I am fairly certain most are chased down now (though you are welcome to email me if you have problems).  The RSS feed is the last thing I need to test -- which I will do with this post.  For those of you who have been accessing this site via the feeds.feedburner.com/CoyoteBlog feed, I am hoping nothing has changed -- that should still be the primary feed in the future  (though you may experience about 10 duplicate posts from this weekend).  Folks who have been using other feed locations will have to migrate -- all those other feeds are now off (well, almost, I will put a few more messages on the old feeds to remind people to switch).  If you are seeing this post in your feed reader, you are good to go.

I have really tried to make the site more attractive, and I rejoiced in the much greater flexibility I had on WordPress.   Since several people have asked, I did all the design myself, though I paid a whopping $7 each for two stock images I used in creating the banner image.  Most folks read this blog via text feeds, but do me one favor and check out the new design just to make me feel better for all the work that went into it.

Actually, the vast majority of work went into migrating the site from Typepad without breaking hundreds of inbound links.  It is not impossible to maintain the permalink structure of the old Typepad blog, just hard, and I will post on how I did it soon.  On thing I will say now, though -- the new Typepad platform implemented for my site in October made it MUCH harder to migrate.  The last 50 days of posts took more time to migrate than the previous 4+ years.  That is one reason I have dropped a lot of my posting and really pushed up the priority of moving the site -- Every day I waited created a lot more work.

I have posted on my dissatisfaction with the new Typepad platform several times.  Suffice it to say that while the WordPress platform is a much better one, I would not have moved had it not been for three issues:

  • Typepad eliminated the blockquote option from the editor.  Yeah, I know, this seems a trivial concern.  But it is telling that a blog software provider could be so clueless about their customers as to think blockquotes to be unnecessary to bloggers
  • Typepad really screwed up the image functionality.  I have been on and off to customer service for weeks on images that simply would not post or would not post correctly.  Further, perhaps in an effort to make it impossible in the future for anyone to leave, Typepad implemented a new image storage system where it is impossible to actually access your image file.  What this meant for me was that, in blogging, the same images had to be uploaded over and over again, for every post in which they were used.  Further, it meant that my program that I used to scrape the old blog site and put all the images on my new site could not copy these images.  I had to painstakingly go into every post, right click and download the image, and then re-post it.  And I use a lot of images.
  • OK, so Typepad would have been fine if I did not ever quote any other sites and used no images (lol).  But it had one more problem-- when switching to the new platform, they built a new spell check program which is awful.  Folks who read my blog a lot know I DESPERATELY need a good spell checker.  But the new Typepad spell checker did not have an "add to dictionary" or even a "slip all occurrences" option, and somehow it disabled the built-in Firefox checker.   Image spell-checking a 3000 word piece on global warming and having to hit skip 150 times for each occurrence of "CO2" in the piece.

So, one blog down and one to go.    The second should be a lot easier with what I have learned.  My one screw-up on this one is I imported some old posts with Carriage Returns on each line so they don't wrap right, but I will just have to live with that -- I know how to avoid it with the next migration.  Expect blogging to be light, as I need to get my other site off Typepad before I post too many more items that I have to port manually.  I also still need to get the caching system up and tuned, so the site may be a tad slow for a few days.

Thanks to all those who complained about my site being the visual equivilent of nails on a chalkboard -- you gave me the final push to get this done.  In retrospect, an intervention was clearly necesary and I appreciate those who were forthright enough to provide it.

Why You Seldom See Me In My Own Comment Threads

A reader asks:

I enjoy reading your Coyote and Climate Skeptic blogs, thanks for hosting
them! I am curious why you don't take part in the comments that rage
over many of your postings.

There are several reasons.  First, I usually feel that I have said what I have to say in a particular post.  I enjoy reading the comments, but don't have a strong need to correct or combat those who misinterpret or disagree with me.  I learn from comments and try to make my arguments more bullet-proof in the future.  Second, I find it infinitely more powerful if my reader base makes the rebuttals for me.

Third, and most importantly, I just don't have the time.  Way back when, I used to get sucked into all kinds of chat-room flame wars.  It is just way to time-consuming.  Even blogging itself takes more time than I really should commit to an activity that does nothing to advance the well-being of my family or my business.  There is a person I consider an online friend (I have never met him in person) who writes a climate blog and gets sucked into the flame wars on his blog, and it seems to cause him all kinds of stress. 

This cartoon from XKCD seems appropriate as a summation:

Duty_calls

So, if I do not respond to your critiques in the comment thread, do not assume that your wit and eloquence have silenced me.  I am probably waiting to re-post on the subject in the future.  Just because you don't yet feel anything nibbling on your legs does not mean that the fin swimming around you in the water is going to go away peacefully.

Save XP!

InfoWorld is hosting a petition to Microsoft to save XP and continue to sell it past the middle of this year.  You can sign their petition here.  I signed the petition, but the real petition for MS may be the numbers coming in for XP sales, which are still strong.  On this Amazon bestsellers page, as of 2/1/08, places #1,2,3,5 where XP and only #4 was Vista. IT News builds on my Amazon analysis:

Gates, in
Las Vegas Sunday, boasted that Microsoft has sold more than 100 million
copies of Windows Vista since the OS launched last January.

While
the number at first sounds impressive, it in fact indicates that the
company's once dominant grip on the OS market is loosening. Based on
Gates' statement, Windows Vista was aboard just 39% of the PC's that
shipped in 2007.

And Vista, in terms of units shipped, only
marginally outperformed first year sales of Windows XP according to
Gates' numbers -- despite the fact that the PC market has almost
doubled in size since XP launched in the post 9-11 gloom of late 2001.

Speaking
five years ago at CES 2003, Gates said that Windows XP in its first
full year on the market sold more than 89 million copies, according to a Microsoft record of the event....

A survey published by InformationWeek last year revealed that 30% of corporate desktop managers have no plans to upgrade their company's PC's to Vista -- ever.

As de facto IT manager for my company, you can include me in that 30%.  My other posts on Vista here.

Update:  Face-saving suggestion for Microsoft:  Rename XP as Vista Lite or some such.  Then they can keep it and claim 100% acceptance of Vista.

Let's Not Start a Jihad against ISPs

McQ at QandO posts a number of examples of jihadi websites hosted on American ISPs, and goes on to urge:

If you're doing business with any of these ISPs, you may want to advise
them of your displeasure that your fees are helping support a company
that is hosting websites of avowed enemies of your nation and culture.
Granted, because these are in arabic, the ISPs may not even know what
the sites are, but now you do. Point the ISPs to the MEMRI post. Tell
them that websites which call for the killing of Americans, waging war
against us and teaching radicals how to make bombs are unacceptable.
This is not something which you must wait on government to do. These
sites need to come down and they need to come down because of
grassroots and market pressure to do so. Shut them down.

I have a number of problems with this.  Of course, in a free society, one can choose an ISP any way one likes.  However, given the nature of the Internet, this is one of those suggestions that may sort of feel good but have no chance of having any kind of impact.  Even if wildly successful, all you are going to do is drive these sites to offshore hosts, and I sure hope no one is talking about setting up Chinese-type filters and firewalls at our borders.

Further, there is nothing I like more than having my ISP blissfully ignorant of, and apathetic to, whatever it is they are hosting for me.  I DO NOT want to gear up ISP's to start reviewing and disallowing content.  That is a horribly slippery slope that will only end badly, as we have started to see with video banning at Google and YouTube.  In fact, given the precedents we have seen at YouTube, I would be willing to guess that if ISP's did start** putting a filter on sites and start** banning them based on public complaints, that McQ is not going to be happy be my sense is that their political filters are different than his.  Just look at campuses today -- many universities have defined a new right not to be offended that trumps free speech.  Do we really want to bring this horrible "innovation" to the Internet?

Finally, I think its awesome and what makes America great that we are so tolerant of speech from even the nuttiest of our worst enemies.  I had kind of hoped that GoDaddy would be on his list, just to experience the cultural irony of GoDaddy girl meets fundamentalist Islam.

** Actually, "start" is not the right word, since some undoubtedly kill certain sites when people complain.  Usually but not always today this is based more on irritating Internet behavior (e.g. spamming) rather than content of speech.  It would be more accurate to have said "substantially increase the banning of sites based on content."

NFL Tightens the Screws

As most people know, the NFL doesn't want you to use the word "Superbowl" when hosting a party, sale, event, etc, and they aggressively enforce their trademark on this term.  In response, since all the country does in fact have parties, sales, events, etc. associated with the Superbowl, folks have adopted the euphemism 'the big game" in their communications. 

I observed that this not only pointed out some of the silliness in our intellectual property laws, but also was counter-productive for the NFL -- shouldn't they want people talking about and holding events for the Superbowl?  I suggested a simple licensing program that would raise a little money and probably work better for everyone:

The NFL needs to offer a one time use license each year for a bar or
other establishment to hold a Superbowl party and actually use
Superbowl in the promotion.  The license would of course be
non-exclusive, and would carry a myriad of restrictions on how you use
the name, etc.   The license could be purchased for a price that would
be cheap for a business, maybe $200, and could be purchased right over
the web.  It would actually be easier, I think, to go after violators
because the NFL could point to the existence of a legal licensing
program the violator could easily have participated in.  I would think
they could easily bring in a couple of million dollars, not to mention
saving them enforcement money and PR headaches.

The NFL has decided to go in a different direction.  It is trying to trademark the term "the big game" so that term can't be used either (HT Overlawyered).  I particularly liked this from the application:

Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "GAME" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN

Jeez, why not?  Who at the NFL is sleeping on the job here?

Well, that's what I get as a libertarian for trying to work within the system to make things incrementally better rather than going on one of my usual idealistic rants.  So I officially withdraw my previous suggestion in favor of a new one:  Trademarks should, at most, only give one the protection from someone else labeling a similar product with the trademarked name.  By trademarking Jif, P&G gets protection from another company selling peanut butter under the same name in the US.  However, any other use of Jif in communication should be entirely legal.  If I communicate to people that I am having Jif party, that communication is protected under the first amendment and P&G can't shut down my party.  If I want to put out a poster and sell it with Jif peanut butter labels and how they have changed over the past 100 years, I should have the right to do so.   Ditto if I want to print bumper stickers that say "Jif sucks."

Similarly, the NFL can be legally protected from having another group host a football game (and if I am in a generous mood, maybe any type of sporting event) and calling it the Superbowl.  And that is it.  They should not be granted an exclusive government monopoly to use the word Superbowl, or more ludicrously, "the big game":

posters, calendars, trading cards, series
of non-fiction books relating to football; magazines relating to
football, newsletters relating to football,notepads, stickers, bumper
stickers, paper pennants; greeting cards; printed tickets to sports
games and events; pens and pencils, note paper, wrapping paper, paper
table cloths, paper napkins, printed paper party invitations, paper
gift cards; paper party decorations, collectible cards; collectible
card and memorabilia holders, souvenir programs for sports events,...toys and sporting goods, namely, plush toys, stuffed toy
animals, play figures, golf balls, footballs, sport balls, toy banks,
playing cards, Christmas tree ornaments...Men's, women's and children's apparel, namely T-shirts, fleece tops, caps, headwear

And don't even get me started on Pat Riley's "Threepeat."

Negotiating When Seller's Marginal Cost = Zero

It is an interesting experience negotiating as a buyer when you know two things:

  • Seller has marginal cost approaching zero
  • Seller has lots of competitors who, for my purposes, provide equivalent service

In this case, I was calling Network Solutions to transfer my domain name registrations to GoDaddy, because GoDaddy is substantially cheaper.  Network Solutions sent me a renewal letter to renew at $34.99 a domain.  Yuk!  I began the process of transferring these domains to GoDaddy, who charges in the $8 range.  (By the way, I have been very happy with GoDaddy for my registrations and hosting of simple sites).

Unfortunately, I had a problem with the transfer -- I needed an authorization code for each domain from NetSol and was not sure how to get it, so I had to call their customer service.  Like a good rep, the person asked me why I was leaving, and I said it was because NetSol was too expensive. 

This is where it got interesting.  First, he said that I could stay at Network Solutions and pay just $16 a domain.  I told him forget it, it was still too high.  After some back and forth, and his getting the information I had called for, he finally offered $8 a domain.  That is nearly an 80% discount from the rate they first offered me, and is lower even than the 100 year renewal (LOL) they offer for $9.99 a year.  I turned it down, because it was too late and I was already consolidating my accounts at GoDaddy.

However, if there are those of you out there who are with Network Solutions and want to stay, but want a discount, call their customer service (not tech support) number, click the options for "transfer domains away from Network Solutions".  When you get a guy, tell him you need the authorization number on the domain to transfer it to GoDaddy (this is true).  When he asks you why you are transferring, tell him NetSol is way more expensive than GoDaddy.  And then let him run.  I didn't even ask for a discount.  He just kept throwing them out at lower and lower price levels after I turned each one down.

Carnival of the Capitalists 12/19/2005

Welcome to the Carnival of the Capitalists and my second time hosting the COTC.  Note that several people tried to submit multiple posts - when that happened, I picked just one to include this week.

Many thanks to Silflay Hraka for starting the Carnival of the Vanities, of which this is a spin-off, to showcase smaller blogs to a wider readership.  Look for future Carnivals of the Capitalists at these sites (you can submit articles here):

December 26, 2005      Multiple Mentality   

January 2, 2006      Chocolate and Gold Coins   

January 9, 2006      The Social Customer Manifesto   

January 16, 2006      Wordlab   

January 23, 2006      Patent Baristas   

January 30, 2006      PHOSITA   

While you're here, feel free to look around -- this post will tell you more about what I do at Coyote Blog.

In what has now become a tradition of my hosting the COTC, and, in true capitalist fashion, I have taken on a sponsor for this week's Carnival:

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
Maker of fine anvils for over 50 years

Government Spending and Regulation

Here at Coyote Blog, I have been warning for years that government-funded health care is a Trojan horse for more regulation of your personal life.  I hate it when I am right.

Porkopolis,
a blog highlighting the insanities of pork barrel spending, offers an
out-of-the-box alternative to rebuilding New Orleans at government
expense.

BardsEyeView takes a look at the Federal Budget through the lens of Shakespeare.  Really.

Joshua Sharf at A View from a Height looks at government price and supply regulation of taxis, and wonders what's the point.

Taxes

Jeff Cornwall at the Entrepreneurial Mind gives us the happy news that 2006 will bring us more IRS audits and more people paying the AMT.

Property Rights

Multiple Mentality asks why a man in Atlanta was handcuffed and arrested for selling his own property.

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
Escalating crises since 1952

Blogging and the Internet

Kicking over My Traces observes that robot blogs are clogging up Technorati, and that Google blog search does a better job of weeding these out

Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World is, not surprisingly given his blog's name, bullish on professional blogging and business blogs.

Similarly, ProHipHop is bullish on the business of podcasting.

Barry Welford
brings us a fable to illustrate that InternetLand or cyberspace can be
as complex and confusing to executives as Wonderland was to Alice

The China Stock Blog has the 12 hottest search term keywords in China.   Not sure the Coyote is doing well on any of these...

Gaurav Agarwal's Blog
observes that while computers have penetrated the developed world,
mobile phones have been much more popular in the develop ping world.

Marketing and Growth

Elisa Camahort in Worker Bees Blog reinforces the idea, via two customer service tales, that a bad customer experience can last a lifetime.

Fire Someone Today goes after the difference between "small business owner" and "entrepreneur", and posits that every self-described small business owner who is not focused on growth is probably a hobbyist, a slave, or an impending failure

Jim Logan advises aiming customer communications at the customers, not at grammatical nitpickers.

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
The secret to Glenn Reynolds success

Business Opportunities

Jane's Fit by Five enjoys getting her first "press" credential and reviews the Fortune Innovation Forum

Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends is doing her annual trends series, and spoke by phone with noted futurist Watts Wacker who gave his forecast
of trends we can expect to see in 2006, along with a bit of advice
about how to interpret and use trends.

Starling David Hunter investigates the success of the $15 apple in Japan, and draws some broader conclusions about the nature of business opportunity.

Barry Ritholtz observes in the Big Picture that the film industry has been much savvier in responding to market and technology changes than has the music industry.

Personal Finance

My Money Blog deconstructs Ameriprise Financial and finds their hiring criteria and training seem to support his concerns about the company (Lots of interesting comments to the post as well with further information)

All Things Financial has a positive review of Lee Eisenburg's book "The Number", which discusses the dollar figure you need to have set aside to retire the way you want to retire.

Free Money Finance lists 10 questions you should be asking about your retirement

Why Homeschool discusses the importance of early economics training for your kids, and some approaches for teaching them outside of the classroom.

Searchlight Crusade responds to privacy concerns over real estate and mortgage forms, and explains why you have few alternatives to providing your information if you want to close the deal.

Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity describes how he saved $200 on a car repair by ordering parts himself, but still letting the mechanic do the work.

David Porter advises you to make sure you understand your ARM in the light of recent interest rate increases.

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
Leader in dehydration technologies

Wall Street & Investing

Retired at 30 announces the brand-new Carnival of Investing, which seems like a pretty good idea given how many investing and personal finance posts the CotC is attracting.

George at Fat Pitch Financials discusses the phases associated with
publicly traded corporations going private to avoid Sarbanes-Oxley
regulations
.

The Internet Stock Blog analyzes what impact the new Google music search function may have on other search and music sales-related stocks.

Mike Price discusses his value-investing strategy

The Japan Stock Blog brings news that the XBOX 360 is not selling well in Japan, for reasons that may be bad news for Microsoft.

Triple Pundit reports that institutional investors are beginning to press insurance companies over their risks/exposure to global warming.

Michael Cale of Financial Methods argues that based on current inflation and interest rates, investors should
allocate more assets to bonds and gold and fewer assets to equities.

Triple Witching Friday has camera-phone pictures of the floor melee that ensued from MIzuho's $335 million trading error, potentially one of the most expensive typos in history.

Patri Friedman of Catallarchy argues that index funds using the S&P 500 are not true index funds as the composition of the index is actively managed by humans

Having just exercised some employee stock options, Early Riser explores potential investments for his money.

Economic Forecasts

Financial Options has a summary of economic indicators for release next week, with commentary.

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
Never be without a date on Friday night

Economic & Business Theory

James Hamilton in Econbrowser takes another stab at bringing sanity to the gas price "gouging" meme.

The Prudent Investor discusses a seismic shift in power in global financial markets from west to east.  "When a conflict-torn dwarf nation like Serbia can sell debt maturing in
20 years with a coupon of 3.75% while the USA has to pay 4.50% for the
same maturity it is high time to throw the old dogmas of investing
overboard."

Sophistpundit looks at the effect of tradition on journalism and the evolution of successful media companies.

The Common Room draws from a book written in the 1870s where 'Aunt Sophronia' advices her nieces on economic principles.

Thinking about Peter Drucker leads David Foster of Photon Courier to some conclusions about what is wrong with today's business schools.

Health Care and Malpractice

Good News!  InsureBlog reports that it may be getting easier for cancer survivors to get life and health insurance.

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
California Dreamin' with Earthquake Pills

Business Practices

David Daniels in Business and Technology Reinvention argues that companies' use of forced stack ranking of employees is out of date.

Ed at Daily Dose of Optimism observes that when a Japanese business struggles, its execs often get a pay cut.  He wonders why this logical practice is much rarer in the US.

Jack Yoest writes that corporations don't seem to be showing their traditional hesitation at firing employees before Christmas.

Joe Kristan tells us a tax fraud story and draws the moral:  Don't cheat on your taxes and then piss off the CFO who is helping you do it.

200Motels engages the Three Stooges to explain why Enron is pushing up daisies.

The Coyote Within (hmmm, coyotes and business blogs) provides us a business fable about finding out your true character.

Humor and Other

Wordlab looks at politically correct alternatives to "Christmas"

Noah Kagan advises the occasional reversal of holiday gift-giving.

Gill Blog has a picture of the portable inflatable meeting room

Closing Notes

Thanks to the Original Illustrated Catalog of Acme Products for the advertising copy.  You can find more ACME promotional material here.

Thanks, its been fun.  Gotta go...

This Carnival of the Capitalists is Proudly Sponsored by"¦
ACME
Escape from it all with the Smoke Screen Bomb

Carnival Hosting

There are several things I want to write on, but I am hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists on Monday and so am a bit stretched keeping up with those submissions.  If you would like to submit a post to the Carnival, you can do so here (though why I volunteered for the Capitalists instead of the Carnival of the Sexy Lingerie is a mystery to me).

And, by the way, thanks for your support of Coyote Blog in the 2005 Weblog Awards.

Thank Goodness

The US has refused to turn control of the Internet over to the UN.  Thank Goodness. (via Instapundit)

A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a
U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct
traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its
historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the
Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for
international communications and information policy at the State
Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Beyond the potential fortunes UN officials could make in bribes and kickbacks with such control,

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly
concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country's role
in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its
early development.

Too bad.  If you don't like it, band together and create your own.  This is classic socialist thinking - don't bother to invest or try to compete, just confiscate the assets of whoever is already successful.

Meryl Yourish, by the way, brings us this delicious irony:  Tunisia, whose government actively censors the web and restricts its people's access to the web, will be hosting the next UN Internet summit:

Facing heated protest, the United Nations on Wednesday defended
Tunisia's hosting of a U.N. summit about Internet access in the
developing world, even though the north African nation has been
repeatedly accused of rights abuses that include blocking Web sites it
dislikes....

the government has blocked access to Web sites belonging
to Reporters Without Borders, other human rights watchdogs, and the
independent press, while police monitor e-mails and Internet cafes.

"It
does question to some extent the U.N.'s credibility that a world summit
on the information society is taking place in a society where access to
some Web sites is restricted," said Alexis Krikorian, of the
International Publishers' Association. "It's amazing that such a summit
would take place in a country like this."

No kidding.  When you think of turning tasks over to the UN, remember that over half the membership and the bureaucracy is dominated by officials from dictatorships.  Turning the Internet over to the UN means turning it over to Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and Kim Il Sung.  And to Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iran.  And don't forget China, currently in the middle of the largest and most aggressive government Internet censorship project in the world.

New Chinese regulations governing Internet
news content tighten the noose on freewheeling bloggers and aim to rein
in the medium that is a growing source of information for the
mainland's more than 100 million users.

The day we hand the Internet over to the UN is the day we should start building a new one.

Store Wars

The Organic Foods Trade Association has this terrific spoof on Star Wars, aimed at warning consumers about the "dark side of the farm", which for them of course are non-organic foods.  Meet Obi Wan Cannoli and Chew-broccoli. 

I am kindof neutral on the whole organic foods thing - while happy about the range of new choices available to consumers, organic proponents tend to have statist tendencies and seem all too quick to welcome government intervention to aid their cause and regulate away consumer choices they don't agree with.  I have never really been terrified by genetic manipulation of foods and I tend to group those who oppose irradiation of foods to reduce diseases as roughly equivalent to Luddites who oppose vaccinations.

Storewars

UPDATE:  You can tell that many bloggers are geeks like me, by the number of Star Wars previews I have read.  There is a good one here at the Knowlege Problem, and predictably from Will Collier at Vodka Pundit.  A Small Victory is hosting the Carnival of the Force, a roundup of Star Wars posts.

REVIEW: I say the movie last night, and my review is here.

Thought on Hosting the Carnivals

I have had a lot of questions about my experience hosting both the Carnival of the Vanities (COTV) and the Carnival of the Capitalists (COTC) in February.  For aspiring hosts, here is an FAQ:

What are these Carnival things?

In 2002 Silfray Hraka was looking for a way for smaller blogs to get more attention - kindof like rural electrification for the Blogosphere.  He came up with the idea of the Carnival of the Vanities, a weekly roundup of posts from smaller bloggers, hosted each week at a different site.  Today, the COTV is in its 128th week and dozens of other spin-offs have been created.

How much of a traffic spike did you see?

This seems to be the number one question.  As a submitter each week to both the COTC and COTV, I usually see between 100-300 new visitors for the post I submitted, depending on how compelling the post's description looks.

For hosting the Carnival, of course, the traffic spike is more dramatic:

My normal mon-tue-wed traffic (unique visits): 300

Day of COTC: 1680

Day after: 500

2 days after: 325

Note that I actually got a bit more traffic from the Carnival of the Vanities:

Day of COTV: 2400

Day after: 600

2 day after: 325

The key of course is Glenn Reynolds linking.  Glenn can't read every small blogger that would like him to link to them, but he does a good job of publicizing various Carnivals that highlight smaller bloggers.   Glenn deserves all of our thanks for this.  By the way, I am pretty sure I got more non-Instapundit traffic for the COTC than the COTV.

I think that I leave my Sitemeter stats un-password protected and that you can view them here (link is to the monthly page but you can navigate around).  Here are the hourly stats for the COTV.  Below you can see my daily visits and page views for February.  I will leave it as an exercises for the reader to figure out when I hosted the Carnivals (COTV was first):

Febt

I do not really know how to track RSS feed traffic, but I think that the above numbers do not include RSS traffic. I do know that in the month I hosted these two carnivals my Bloglines subscribers have gone from 2 to 25.

The only other traffic related observation I can add is that my page views went up even higher on these days.  I generally run at 1.6 page views per visit but on these two days I went well over 2.  Hopefully that means that new visitors were looking around.

Is it hard to host a Carnival?

No, not really, it just takes some time.  I probably spent about 6 hours each to host the carnivals.  The COTC is very easy - submissions end up in a Gmail account in relatively standard format.  About 6 days before the publish date, the COTC folks will send the host an email telling them how to get into the Gmail account.  The COTV doesn't have this submission system, and relies more on the host providing an email contact in advance that people can send submissions to.  Make sure at least a week in advance of COTV that you post on your web site, preferably sticky at the top or with a link high in the margin, instructions for bloggers who want to submit to the Carnival you are hosting.  (Here is my post - I fiddled with the date in Typepad so that it would stay on top of the page for the whole week).

When hosting, do you need a theme?  How about Categories?

Both are optional.  I did a theme for my COTC just for fun, but did not have time, or any good ideas, for my COTV.  I highly recommend categorizing the entries because it makes the reading experience so much easier.  It is not hard to do as long as you put them in categories as you are building the post.

When Hosting, how do you keep up with all of the submissions?

I had 50 submissions for the COTC and 47 for the COTV.  I took everything, by the way, even if the post was a little out of bounds of the rules.  It is not too hard to keep up with the submissions as long as you:

  1. Create a draft template a week in advance and
  2. Add submissions every day rather than waiting to the last minute. The COTC submissions were easier to handle than COTV - COTC submissions came spread out through the week whereas COTV all came in the last 2 days.

A lot of my time was spent reading all the posts.  Not only was this fun, but I preferred to create my own summary of the post rather than just using the submitter's summary (which was often waaaaaay too long).  I tried to be fair as possible to everyone, particularly those I disagreed with.  I will say there were a couple of submissions I just did not understand or get what they were saying in their post -- in these cases, I used their description.  By the way - after you publish your post, check the links!  No matter how careful you were, you will have made some mistakes.

When Hosting, what did you do to publicize the Carnival?

First, I was careful to collect as many trackbacks as I could.  Some submitters included these in their email, but some did not.  Since I read every post, I always skimmed down to the bottom to see if there was a trackback.

Second, I sent every submitter a reply email saying that their post was included and giving them the link and trackback where they would find it on my site.  This did not take as long as you would imagine, since I copied the first one I wrote and just hit reply-paste-send on all the others.  This also let submitters check their links to make sure everything worked.  By the way, you may have a different policy, but I claimed editorial privilege and did not accept an requests to change my summary of their post.

All the submitters will generally send you traffic, as well as a number of regular readers.  As mentioned before, Glenn will generally link as well, and you can send him a brief reminder with the link, though both times I hosted he had the post linked before I thought to email him.

How do I sign up?

Instructions for hosting the COTV are here.  To submit to the COTV, go to Silfray Hraka's main page, scroll down for the list of hosts, and visit the host site for instructions.  Instructions for hosting the COTC are here.  You can submit to the COTC by filling in this form.  A list of other Carnival spin-offs is here.

Good luck

Anatomy of An Insta-lanche

Had a record day today hosting the Carnival of the Vanities.  Guess what time in the traffic chart below that Glenn Reynolds linked to me?

Instalanche

Email Black Hole Solved

My apologies to folks who have emailed me over the last few weeks.  Every day I check the box and each day it is empty.  I figured I must not be provocative enough in my writing - no hate mail or anything. 

The long and the short of it is that it turns out that the account was forwarding to a moderately random email address.  I will work to recover the lost emails, but things are working now (just in time for my hosting the Carnival of the Vanities next week).  Sorry to anyone who thought I was ignoring their mail.

Carnival of the Capitalists

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up this week at Management Craft.  I haven't had time to read through everything, so I have no recommendations this week.  The site does note that future article submissions need to go to this site, as the old email system will no longer be used.  My hosting date in February is coming up soon, and I am definitely looking forward to it.

Welcome New Readers!

Welcome to readers of Professor Bainbridge, Club for Growth, and the Carnival of the Capitalists. If my hosting company was Citicorp, they would be calling me right now to ask me about the unusual activity on my account.

In particular, I want to wish a happy second anniversary to the Carnival of the Capitalists