What Does This Have to

by francine Hardaway on April 23, 2003

What Does This Have to Do With Stealthmode?

You may have noticed that this blog has very little to do with Stealthmode Partners, the business I am in on a daily basis. It was started to help my friends understand what place technology would play in all of our futures, and which technologies seemed interesting. Currently, it addresses humanistic issues that are at least partly connected to technology, as well as common problems (or problems I think are common).

It’s hard to believe that four years ago most of my friends weren’t on the Internet, but it’s true. Although I rarely write about the Internet per se anymore, I often attack related subjects. This week it is the difficulty I had trying to transfer a few domain names.

If you are interested in entrepreneurial issues alone, we also publish a monthly e-zine called “The Outside World,” which tells entrepreneurs useful (we hope) things. This month’s issue is about federal funding coming to Arizona and how ASU will be a catalyst in the process. It costs $99/yr, and is available by subscription at http://www.acteva.com/go/outsideworld.

About the Domain Names

Years ago, all domain names were controlled by Network Solutions. They cost about $65.00 for two years to register, and people were snapping them up like hotcakes during the dot-com hey-days. They were thought of as real estate and Network Solutions was the Multiple Listing Service.

When a new group of “top level” (.biz, .ws, etc) domain names came into being, Network Solutions found its business model in jeopardy. Other companies sprung up to register new domains, and they charged less. Domaindo.com, for instance, charges $7.75. You can see why Network Solutions might find this distressing. Especially since they had been bought by Verisign, a much larger company. Verisign, I’m sure, thought they were buying this virtual monopoly.

Domain names expire every day. Network Solutions sends you a little envelope reminding you that your name is expiring and you might lose it (never mind that many of us are just waiting to lose some of the stupid names we thought we important two years ago).

That bill usually triggers a desire to find a cheaper way to hold on to these names, so you go to another registrar and ask him to get the site for you from Network Solutions.

Unfortunately, this is well-nigh impossible, because Network Solutions, while complying with the letter of the laws of competition, violates their spirit in every possible way.

For example: Your would-be registrar sends NetSol an email asking for the domain to be transferred. NetSol sends *you* an email asking for your permission. This email must be answered within a certain short window of time, in a certain format.

NetSol has studied the art of spamming, and the emails it sends you will almost certainly hit your junk file and be automatically deleted. Then your time to respond will expire, and they will deny the transfer. THey do this repeatedly.

And this is only one of their little tricks to keep you as a customer. Another is to require that the email address of the administrative contact in their records be the same as the email address of the person who requests the transfer. Well, where is *your* network administrator from two years ago?

Naturally, Network Solutions’ Tech Support by phone is almost impossible to find and not very helpful. It just tells you the same stuff about the email addresses.

Frustrated (this is the understatement of the year), I posted my issue to a techies list in the Bay Area, and found out that of course I’m not alone, and that others have bravely walked here before me. I’m including Eric Wolfram’s instructions on how to deal with these issues at the bottom of this email, but if you want to laugh, go to Eric’s rant about Verisign at http://wolfram.org/scam/verisign.html.

If you’ve gotten this far, you deserve to know that I’m off to Africa on a Leadership Safari sponsored by the Foundation for Global Leadership (I’m on the Board, and no, they are not paying my way. Don’t expect to hear much about entrepreneurship next week, but if I find an Internet cafe in the bush I might upload some digital pictures :-) Back on May 5.

for Eric Wolfram’s instructions on how to change domain registrars

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