Joey deVilla is Tucows' Technical Evangelist. He's been very busy getting this weblog up and running, which means that he's been too busy to write a clever bio. Patience, dear reader, patience!
The Blogware Mechanic is a series of articles that covers how to get the most out of your Blogware blog through customization. In this series, we'll look at all sorts of ways to take advantage of the flexibility of the Blogware blogging platform and make your blog better-looking, easier to use, funkier, more highly-ranked by search engines and even help make you a little money! If you have a Blogware blog and want to soup it up like those fancy "A-lister" blogs, then this series is for you.
Every series has to start at the beginning, and that's what I'll do here. I'll begin with a couple of articles on basic customization. If you've been using Blogware for a while, there's a good chance that none of this will be new to you; in fact, you'll find the same information in the Blogware Publisher Guide. However, in the interest of being thorough and for the benefit of new Blogware users, I'm going to go over the basics before diving into the fancy stuff.
This article is the first of two that cover the basics of changing your blog's appearance. I'll cover two things:
- Changing Your Blog's Color Scheme
- Changing Your Blog's Column Layout
The rest of the article is after the jump.
Actually, I know a number of developers who have some sense of what a user interface should be like. But I also know some other developers, who when charged with creating a UI create monstrosities like the one below:
For more on this dialog box, see this entry in the blog Coding Horror.
If you're short on user interface designers, you might do well to follow the advice in this blog entry: Never design what you can steal.
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.
In the age of MoveOn.org and Michelle Malkin, getting good domain name for your political campaign is more important than ever. The Indianapolis Star covers this in an article that looks at how domain name speculators are jumping on campaign-related domain names like "hillary2008.com" (bought back in 1999, when she was only starting her bid to become a senator for the state of New York) and "obama2008.com".
"Nearly every conceivable presidential ticket has been registered," says the article, "including mccaingiuliani2008.com and clintongore2008.com. Even the name hillandbill2008.com is taken."
The article reports that the intentions of the domain buyers vary; some want to make sure that their favorite candidate gets the appropriate domain names, while others are hoping to sell them to candidates for as much as "$30,000-plus".
In case you want to get in on the action, you might want to try out our Duke of URL app to come up with variations on candidates' names...
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!
We at Tucows would like to wish our American friends a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
(I'm in Boston myself, helping my mother-in-law with the Turkey. See you folks on Monday!)
- How did you end up going to India?
- How much do jobs pay in India?
- How can you live with yourself for helping to move American jobs to India?
- What’s the cost of living? / How can people there live on so little?
- Can someone from the US get a job working in India at US wages?
- What’s the visa/tax situation like?
- What’s it like raising your kids in India?
- Aren’t Indian programmers better/worse than US ones?
- Don’t you hate ... in India/Bangalore?
- How long will you stay in India?
If you're look for a job in a place with a long history and a good work environment, may I suggest Tucows? We've got some openings right now, including:
Here's the job description:
Build and maintain company websites and online web applications focusing primarily on the presentation layer using current Internet and scripting languages and Web authoring tools. Develops code using industry best practices for structure, usability and design. Responsible for ensuring code is compatible across current popular browsers. Keeps informed of the latest browser and plug-in technologies. Operates under minimal supervision.
For details, see the page for the web developer position.
Customer Service Manager
Here's the job description:
Manage a team of 9-10 Customer Service personnel responsible for dealing with a variety of Internet related end-customer issues. Support staff work 8am – 8pm seven days a week. The Customer Service Manager develops standards for Tucows technical and customer support; provides technical guidance to the staff; liaises with internal technical and business management personnel to resolve customer issues and escalates to Senior Management accordingly. Able to act as an escalation point for support staff when appropriate. This includes not only resolving issues, but also acting as the end-customer’s advocate, ensuring that the customer has the right product / service to meet their needs and requirements. Accountable for providing leadership and direction in the planning, implementation and administration of quality measurement and evaluation of vendor performance for contracted services to ensure the optimization of resource use and the continual improvement of services from a client perspective. Responsible for alerting appropriate personnel of recurring problems and / or quality deficiencies.
For details, see the page for the customer service manager position.
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|
Those of you trying to determine whether to write your next web application using the Django framework or Ruby on Rails might find this article interesting: it's a comparative case study of the development of a web application using Django and Rails.
In the case study, two developers work from the same specification to implement the same application, with one using Django and the other using Rails. The application, Habitual Readers is a book club's public website. It lets viewers see the books that each book club member has read, as well as their comments for each book. Books are categorized using tags, and additional book information is retrieved from Amazon.
The conclusion that the authors of the article reached was that while each framework has its strengths, there is no clear technical benefit for an experienced Rails development team to switch to Django or vice versa and that Ruby developers should use Rails while people more comfortable with Python should use Django. Here's a table that summarizes the aspects of both frameworks that were investigated:
|Support for model and schema evolution||Integrated framework for schema evolution.||Minimal.|
|Internationalization||No support.||Some support.|
|Designer Friendly Templates?||Possible, with disciplined practices or use of third-party library.||Yes.|
|Third Party Plugin Support||Mature plugin architecture, well used by the community.||Some support via the applications mechanism.|
I found this interesting: rather than post it as a web page or a blog entry, the authors of the article are sharing a Google Docs and Spreadsheets document. We'll have to see if more people start sharing documents on the Web this way.
I've finally returned to the office, so expect the return of all sorts of blog posts, including ones from ISPCON as well as my usual postings for web developers.
The trip and conference were pretty good, and I have to say that it's pretty good having the gentlemen pictured below as travelling companions:
That's VP Marketing Ken Schafer on the left and
Iron Chef Product Marketing Adam Eisner on the right.
This afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2:00 p.m. Pacific / 2200 hours UTC), Tucows will be holding its quarterly investment community conference call Q3 2006, in which management will discuss the third-quarter financial results after market close.
If you'd like to listen to this conference call, click here to access the webcast site. You'll need Windows Media Player to listen in.
We'll also record the conference call and post it here later as a podacast.
For most of this week, we'll be in Santa Clara, California, where we'll be making our presence known at ISPCON, the premier conference for internet service providers, hosting companies and VOIP providers. We'll be milling about the conferences, manning our booth on the exhibit floor and presenting at three different sessions, one on each day of the conference (which runs from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th).
We'll be blogging from the conference floor, so watch this space for updates!
Where the Conference Is, and How to Get In for Free
As a sponsor of the conference, we've got an unlimited number of free passes to ISPCON for you to download. These passes will admit you to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers and our sales team 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, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
If you want a guest pass, click here for the PDF file [816K PDF file]. Print it out and bring it to the conference, where you'll be admitted for free.
In the Exhibit Hall - The Tucows Booth
We've got a booth on the exhibit hall (booth 501), where you can see demonstrations of Tucows' services, talk with us in person, and if you're very lucky, perhaps get your paws on some valuable Tucows swag. Come on down and say hi!
Here's a map of the exhibit hall, showing the location of the Tucows booth:
Tuesday, November 7th, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
Tucows CEO Elliot Noss will be one of the speakers at ISPCON's opening keynote, titled Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?. He'll be presenting with Cluetrain Manifesto co-author, Linux Journal editor and popular blogger Doc Searls. Here's the description of the keynote from the conference schedule:
The telco/cableco duopoly continues to see the Net as gravy on their basic services (and are more motivated to get into each other's business than do anything new with the Internet). Meanwhile, communities, competitors and customers are creating their own bypass while treating the Net as a "fifth utility" alongside water, waste treatment, roads and electric services. To make matters even more interesting, giants like Google and Microsoft are building massive computing clouds to support a shift toward on-demand services.
How is this all going to play out? Will the incumbents succeed in efforts to thwart muni networks? Does access even make sense as a utility? Are there benefits to incumbency other than creating scarcities everywhere they have a choke-hold? Who has the advantage or stands to thrive and survive in a this new utility-based infrastructure model? Where will ISPs, Hosts and WISPs fit in all this? Can you line up behind, alongside or in front of the citizens and elected officials or are you on a collision course? Once the service is deployed, what will it be like, who will use it and how?
Doc and Elliot will discuss the range of issues surrounding how this kind of accessibility to the net changes everything and why it matters to you. From changing patterns of use, new applications, shifting adoption and behavioral habits to altering the landscape of competition while favoring different services, unique models for varied applications and insight on how one should build a business around this redefined service relationship.
Wednesday, November 8th, 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. - What the Web 2.0?
Here's my session: I'll be moderating a panel What the Web 2.0? discussion about Web 2.0 from an ISP and hosting service point of view. Although it's at the end of the day, I think the audience will be awake for this one, as we've got a group of interesting panelists in addition to a scintillating moderator. Here's the description of the event:
You can talk all day long about blogs, tags, MySpace and YouTube without putting a single dollar in your pocket. We're going to spend this hour together doing the exact opposite. First we'll cover the "what and why" of the subject through an overview of the direct and indirect value these big trends represent for ISPs, Hosts and customers. Then, we'll address the "how" of providers and customers alike who are leveraging these technologies out in the wild with some best practices. Finally, the "wow" being the business impact it is having, it's potential, overall customer behavior/usage habits, effects on bandwidth, churn, ARPU, adoption and of course how this all translates into real dollars in your pocket, better customer relationships and unique value in the marketplace.
Here's the roster of people on the panel:
- Javier Hall, CCO, Userplane
- Kevin Henrikson, Director of Engineering, Zimbra
- Josh Jones, CJO and Co-Founder, DreamHost
- Ivaylo Lenkov, CTO and Founder, SiteKreator
- Dallas Bethune, Co-Founder / CTO, DreamHost
Thursday, November 9th, 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. - 30 Rapid-fire Website Wins, Guaranteed
Many ISPs and Hosts fail to realize the full potential of their own websites and spend little time updating, let alone optimizing them to achieve key business objectives. What's the desired outcome for your site? Serve as a local community portal, a customer extranet for support or webmail, a place to showcase solutions, convert new leads to customers or just tired brochureware for that snazzy $19.95 dial-up? During this fast-paced "no holds barred" session, Internet best practice expert Ken Schafer will guide you through 30 ways to make your site dramatically better and meet key business objectives. Using dozens of examples, we'll provide eye-opening insights into how these Quick Wins and Big Ideas can shape your site and provide an unfair advantage over your competitors. GUARANTEE: If at the end of the session you don't feel you have at least five techniques that will improve YOUR site, Ken will personally assess your site and give you five ways to improve it!
In addition to the job openings for Sales Engineer and Integration Engineer, we've got a job opening for the position of Business Development Manager - Americas. I've included the copy from our HR department below. If you're interested, email your resume in Word .doc format to email@example.com with the subject line BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - AMERICAS.
Tucows currently has a challenging opportunity available in our Sales Department. As a Business Development Manager – Americas, you will identify, prospect and close new business opportunities within assigned territory or industry vertical(s). You will create action plans and drive solutions forward to implementation. The successful incumbent will identify and prospect new sales opportunities; sell Tucows services and solutions to new prospects and existing customers; manage and maintain existing account base; as well as manage the administration, including the maintenance, of effective, accurate and complete CRM records.
We’re looking for a self-motivated, driven professional, with a minimum of 5 years proven experience, preferably in a channel or B2B services environment; this includes experience selling to broad audiences, from technical staff to C level executives. You have knowledge of IT-related business operations and solutions sales processes, including experience selling software solutions in an ASP environment; along with the ability to effectively prospect new sales and close new sales opportunities through. Your skills are well rounded by strong analytical, technical and organizational abilities and superior communications including excellent presentation and business writing; as well as the ability to work in a collaborative team environment. An undergraduate degree is desirable, along with previous sales training; in addition. Travel as required (approx 30%). Experience using Salesforce.com or similar CRM applications.
If you're interested in this position, please send a resume in Microsoft Word .doc format to firstname.lastname@example.org with BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - AMERICAS as the subject line.
Here's another job opening -- this one's for the position of Sales Engineer. I've included the copy from our HR department below. If you're interested, email your resume in Word .doc format to email@example.com with the subject line SALES ENGINEER.
We are currently seeking a Sales Engineer to function as our technical lead in developing new accounts and maintaining existing customers of Tucows services; including web hosting companies, internet service providers, web design firms, domain name resellers, telecommunications service providers and large enterprise customers.
As our Sales Engineer you will work directly with the Sales Team providing technical credibility and support for implementation initiatives including training and consultation; as well as participate in the implementation and support of new products and services.
In addition, you will resolve technical pre-sales issues; communicate technical capabilities, features and benefits of Tucows e-commerce solution; provide consultation and product expertise, resolve technical issues and support resellers through major design initiatives; assist the Training Department in the development, coordination, and delivery of technical training; maintain a high level of technical competency and knowledge across the entire range of our products and services; all while working with our Sales, Product Management, Project Management, Professional Services, Operations and Customer Support business units.
To be considered for this exciting opportunity, applicants must possess:
- A minimum of five years pre-sales, technical support and related e-business experience
- Bachelor's Degree in computer science or related discipline, or equivalent experience
- Fluency in one or more languages in addition to English is preferred
- Demonstrated ability to articulate technical information to both technical and non-technical customer audiences
- Proven experience and capability in the technical sale of complex high technology products and services, including email services
- A sound understanding of operational metrics pertaining to performance, reliability, availability, scalability, and manageability of key business systems from the reseller and end-user perspectives
- Knowledge of Perl scripting and Unix system administration
- Experience creating technical and functional documentation
- The ability to quickly understand, learn and work with new technologies
- Strong self-motivation
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Excellent project management and personal time management skills
- Strong teamwork and interpersonal skills
We've got a job opening for an Integration Engineer here at Tucows. Here's a quick summary of the job position:
The successful candidate will have the challenging opportunity to work on Tucows’ vast and complex high availability system spread across multiple data centers, servers and operating systems. You’ll work with a dynamic team of Integration Engineers to develop, deploy and maintain components of a large scale hosted messaging platform. In addition, you will develop software components for our hosted messaging platform; liaise with third party suppliers in customizing applications for deployment on our high availability production environment; as well as contribute to ongoing process improvement of the SDLC.
If this sounds like the kind of work you can do, there are more details after the jump.
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.