Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA Blackout Day Of Protest

Along with thousands of other websites, not the least of which are WordPress, all icanhazcheezburger network sites (FailBlog, theDailyWhat,Know Your Meme, etc), Wikipedia, reddit, Tucows, Internet Archive, Wikipeadia, and Mozilla, our website will be joining the one day SOPA Blackout on January 18, 2012.

Our main website will be "dark", though Live Chat will still be available, as will the client management and support section of the site.

For any of our clients or other website owners who would like to become a part of this protest, there are numerous "Blackout" HTML templates, Wordpress plugins, Blogger templates and Javascript scripts in order to make it easier for you to blackout your website.
As always, please be careful when downloading and/or using scripts from unknown sources. Know what you're adding to your site!

Two Important Caveats Before Your Site Goes Dark

  1. Set your index page to return a 503 status code.

    A 503 HTTP code means "service temporarily not available." It tells Google and all other search engines that your site is temporarily down (Like for maintenance), and also doesn't get the text of your blackout page indexed as new content. More on the details of why you'd want to do this are in Pierre Fars' Google+ post Website outages and blackouts the right way.

    How to set a 503 code header?
    The easiest way is by using PHP. Your page can be plain HTML, all you need to do is change the page extension from .html to .php for this to work. Simple add the following code to the very top of your page, before the DOCTYPE or anything else, like this:

    header('HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Status: 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable');
    header('Retry-After: 84600'); // in seconds 84600 seconds in one day
    DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" (Proper DOCTYPE goes here)

    An important note: Don't forget the PHP tags! You'll need an opening PHP tag and closing PHP tag where indicated (the limitations of the blogging software used doesn't allow for displaying scripting tags).

    Check your page to make sure it's returns a 503 header.
    Upload your blackout page and test the headers using an online server headers checker such as this one. Here's what you should see (with the URL of your website):

    #1 Server Response: http://helloworldweb.com
    HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable
    Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 04:06:29 GMT
    Server: Apache
    Retry-After: 84600
    Connection: close
    Content-Type: text/html

  2. Turn OFF or pause any server/website uptime monitoring services, such as Pingdom, so you don't spend the 24 hours being alerted that your website is down.

~ Mara Alexander
Hello World Web Design and Hosting

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Verisign Increases Domain Name Prices, But We Don't

Since the revised contract was signed between Verisign and ICANN to maintain and manage the .COM registry in 2006, the price for the most popular TLD in the world has increased consistently over the past few years. And on January 14th, .COM prices will rise once again by a further $0.51, and .NET prices by $0.55.

With this contract, Verisign has the authority to increase .COM prices by 7% every year with a 6 month notice to its Registrars. Furthermore, a similar contract signed in June last year for .NET allows for a rise of 10%.

As a result of this everyone can expect to see domain name prices increase.

Everyone that is, except for our customers.

In the interest of goodwill, we've decided to absorb this latest price increase, and not pass it onto our customers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Domain Name Owners And Privacy

When you register a domain name, whether with us or with another registrar, it's required as part of your registration agreement by ICANN and InterNIC, the non-profit governing body of the International domain name registration system, that you include valid information in the registrant contact section, commonly known as the "WhoIs" section. The contact information requested is fairly basic: name, address, phone number and email address, with a fax number being optional.

Why the WhoIs Is Important

Per InterNIC, the reason for maintaining a WhoIs database:
Information about who is responsible for domain names is publicly available to allow rapid resolution of technical problems and to permit enforcement of consumer protection, trademark, and other laws. The registrar will make this information available to the public on a "WhoIs" site.

Providing false and/or inaccurate contact information on a domain name registration is grounds for cancellation of your domain name by ICANN. You will receive an annual notice reminding you to review your contact information and verify it's accuracy.

Typically this only becomes a problem if someone turns you in for having inaccurate WhoIs data, though this happens more than you might think. The Internet isn't lacking for people who are easy to piss off and have a lot of time on their hands.

At the same time you need to be aware that any information included in your WhoIs is made public where anyone can have access to it. This can and does open up domain name owners to spammers, scammers, telemarketers and other types of abuse, especially for those domain owners who either work from home or have domains that aren't associated with a business.

Protect Your Privacy The Smart Way

There are ways to protect your privacy and yet still be in compliance, it just requires a little "thinking outside the box."

Address: This can be any place that is authorized to accept postal mail on your behalf. That includes P.O. boxes, office addresses, friends' office addresses, or mail forwarding services. I would strongly urge any domain owner to NOT use their home address.

Please be aware that you WILL receive domain name transfers scam letters, mostly from the "Domain Registry of America", which has been going on for years, whenever its' owner isn't in prison for fraud. To circumvent US laws they have moved their operations across the border into Canada. Companies like DRoA are why the "registrar lock" option was created, so your domain name can't be transferred to another registrar without your knowledge and consent.

Phone Number: Just like your address this needs to be a valid one, but that doesn't mean it needs to be your home or cell phone number. There are several options available, such as using a free Google Voice number as your contact phone number. Once Google Voice is set up you can uncheck the options to have phone calls to that number forwarded to you, but just remember to check it every month or so for messages.

Email: This is probably the most abused contact method, as WhoIs records are routinely subject to email harvesters. Again, your listed contact email address needs to be a valid one, but it doesn't need to be your main email address. If you have email set up for your domain, you can use an email forward or a new email address created for the sole purpose of use on your WhoIs.

Make Your WhoIs Private With ID Protection

If none of the above options will work for you, then consider adding ID Protection. When you enable Privacy/ID Protection on a domain name, we replace all your publicly visible contact details with alternate contact information so that when a WHOIS query is performed on the domain, an alternate mailing address, email address and phone number are displayed.

  • You retain full ownership of the domain and have complete control of it.

  • Anyone that tries to contact you using the alternate email address or phone number provided in the public WHOIS database will be directed to an online contact form which will in turn email the message to you. All email sent to the alternate mailing address will be discarded. This method weeds out automated submissions while still allowing valid contact.

  • Privacy Protection can be disabled/enabled at any time.

Privacy protection is not available for the following domain names: .CA, .US, .EU, .CO.UK, .TEL

ID Protection can be added to any domain at the time of registration or renewal for only $1.00 per year. If you have an existing domain registered with us and would like to add Privacy/ID Protection, we'd be happy to add it for free for you (just submit a support ticket).

Though it is completely your choice, we don't recommend using a private domain for businesses. For the same reason a legitimate business wouldn't have their business phone number unlisted in the phone book, you shouldn't have your domain name "unlisted." As a legitimate business, you want people to be able to contact you, and it makes your business look questionable when your contact information is hidden. Sadly the private domain registration options are often abused by scammers looking to hide their identities, and that's not something any legitimate business should want to emulate.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Many of us got shiny new electronics for Christmas, often replacing outdated models or equipment that's broken and no longer working. By now you may be wondering "What do I do with the old stuff?" And even if you didn't get anything new, every electronic device has a lifespan. What do you do when your mobile phone stops working? Or your computer breaks down?

What Is eWaste?

eWaste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, cell phones, Internet devices and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream.

Every year, we throw away up to 50 million tons of unwanted electronic waste – eWaste. That's enough to fill one million trucks that would stretch half way around the entire globe if they were parked end to end.
In addition, some researchers estimate that nearly 75 percent of old electronics are in storage, in part because of the uncertainty of how to manage the materials. Combine this with increasing advances in technology and new products headed towards the market and it is no wonder that "eWaste" is a popular topic.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as three quarters of the computers sold in the US are stockpiled in garages and closets. When thrown away, they end up in landfills or incinerators or, more recently, are exported to Asia.

Why Can't I Just Throw It In The Trash?

Simply put, electronic devices contain many types of toxins and hazardous materials which are harmful to humans and wildlife.

PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout its lifecycle; during its production, use, and disposal it is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics, and can form dioxin, a known carcinogen, when burned. Some BFRs are highly resistant to degradation in the environment and are able to build up in animals and humans.

  • eWaste is the fastest growing waste stream in the US.

  • Only 11% is currently recycled.

  • The average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005.

  • Mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.

  • 183 million computers were sold worldwide in 2004 - 11.6 percent more than in 2003. In 2010 346.2 million computers were sold in the US alone.

  • 674 million mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2004 - 30 percent more than in 2003. In 2010 the number of cell phones in use worldwide hit 4.6 BILLION.

  • And the problem will only get worse...

According to GreenPeace much of the world's hazardous eWaste gets exported to countries like China, India and Africa where rather than being safely recycled eWaste is improperly dumped and exposing the local workers to severe health hazards.

With the growth of electronic waste, workers who deal with eWaste and the wider community are exposed to significant health risks. Burning of eWaste to recover valuable resources, as routinely takes place in the backyards of China, India and much of the global South, can form dioxins. Eliminating the substances will decrease exposure and increase the recyclability and reusability of electronic products.

eWaste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law. Inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found as much as 47 percent of waste destined for export, including eWaste, was illegal. In the UK alone, at least 23,000 metric tons of undeclared or 'grey' market electronic waste was illegally shipped in 2003 to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention.

Still not convinced it's a big deal? Take 20 minutes (yes, it's a long video and worth it, though there are shorter clips on YouTube if you don't have the time to watch it all now) and watch "The Story Of Stuff." I guarantee it will open your eyes. You can read more on their website, aptly named StoryOfStuff.com

Breaking The Cycle: What You Can Do

Repurpose your old but still working computer

8 Uses for an old smartphone

Buy from companies committed to green policies In 2006 more than one billion mobile phones were shipped worldwide. However, Nokia (the market leader) recycles just 2 percent of the phones it sells.

The major computer makers do little better, with currently an average recycling rate of just 9 percent. That means the major companies don't recycle over 90 percent of their old products.

Recycle responsibly. In most larger communities there are plenty of recycling companies who will pickup your eWaste, free of charge, and/or have convenient drop-off points. I can't voucher for it's accuracy, but I found a nifty eWaste Recycling Calculator, to calculate the amount of carbon emissions saved.

Will It Make A Difference?

In a word, yes. Japan has effective recycling legislation and Sony reports that it collects 53 percent of it's old products in Japan. That's five times better than the global average for major PC makers and shows that solutions are already available. If Japan - one of the major electronics manufacturing hubs of the world - can do it, so can the rest of us.