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November 7, 2005

Domain Extortion

This website and my email have been down for the last week as my domain name came up for renewal and I didn't receive an email from DirectNic, the registrars I use, that it was about to expire. Legally they're supposed to send two. Overnight the site went down and my domain name was placed on hold. I contacted DirectNic, and eventually received the following reply...

In order to process the Redemption Period claim, please send a check or money order for $185 (credit card payment is not accepted for Redemption Period domains) made payable to Intercosmos Media Group, Inc.

Please note that all checks have a 10 day hold. If you want to have the claim processed ASAP, you should use money order.

It looked more like something from a Nigerian spammer than a reputable company, requesting that a cheque or money order be sent to an unknown address. Apart from the fact that they were charging over $100 more than competing registrars, they were refusing to accept payment by Visa, so my site and email looked as if they would be down for weeks whilst the cheque made it through the post to the USA.

It felt as though my identity had been stolen and they were holding my domain hostage, knowing they could charge whatever they liked. Apart from losing my blogging rights, I was unable to get any email, and people were beginning to wonder what had happened to me.

I continued to argue with DirectNic for three days until finally they agreed to give me a 10% discount and allow me to pay by Visa, and other than changing to another domain name, I had no choice but to pay them. A Google search pulls up numerous other unhappy DirectNic clients which the same thing has happened to, such as Goodbye Directnic, many of whom seem to have never received notifications from DirectNic either.

Worse still is just how temporary things are on the internet, especially when you're trying to build something permanent and you watch it disappear overnight. Although it's possible to file a complaint to ICANN, the governing body for domain names, their website points out that they do not deal with complaints regarding registrars, but only 'monitor such complaints to discern trends'. As this article explains, the domain industry is suffering from a plague of unsupervised ICANN accredited registrars. Surely if we're to accept the internet as part of the future of media and communication, it's time for it to be internationally controlled, and for a better policy of policing to be introduced for companies involved in it's infrastructure.

November 9, 2005

Morocco Photos

DSC03996_1-t.jpgFinally, after what seems like an eternity, I've got all the photos from my trip to Morocco with Colin up on the site...

Morocco photos

November 11, 2005

Morocco Trip Map

Google satellite map of the Morocco trip including my massive detour around Spain to get a new passport. Clicking on a pointer zooms in on that area.

November 15, 2005

DirectNIC Domain Problems

Due to further problems, the website and my email have again been down for the last few days. The domain was once more taken away from me and placed in redemption by DirectNic shortly after I wrote here complaining about them, but I'm sure that was just a coincidence! Hopefully I'm back to stay this time.

November 16, 2005

Sony Bravia Advert

bravia_gallery_03.jpgHere's a site about the making of the Sony Bravia ad by Danish director Nicolai Fuglsi, in which 250,000 bouncy balls really were dropped down a San Francisco street. I heard about the making of the advert in the summer but it wasn't until I first saw it some weeks ago that I was so impressed. The natural flowing movement of the balls, their colours, and the chilled soundtrack, make the ad deeply hypnotic for me to watch.

November 17, 2005

Superyacht on eBay

superyachtA 405 foot (123m) superyacht has just been up for sale on eBay for $168 million. The sale's ended now and it doesn't seem to have sold although it does sound quite nice.

Helicopter garage in the bow with retractable elevator provides the ultimate in protection and functionality for your helicopter, to better reach those remote area's.

Delivery not included and payment methods accepted include...
Cash (in person)

November 19, 2005


One of the things I've been working on recently is trying to geo-tag some of the content on the site so that rather than just being a list of blog entries or photographs they can be viewed geographically on a map, giving a better idea of where they are.

The new map image on the right of this page opens a map with pointers marking the locations of blog entries. Clicking on a pointer pulls up the blog title, and clicking on that opens the blog entry itself. A basic intro to using Google Maps, which the page is built on, is here - you can drag to move around the map and click on the scale to zoom in or out.

One problem is that not all of the entries I've written can be linked to a location and many would link to the same location or one very close to others, causing a lot of clutter, so not every entry is linked from the map at the moment.

November 21, 2005

Off to Britain

I'm just on my way off to the airport to spend the next couple of weeks in Britain. I'm spending tonight in Hotel Stansted, then jumping on a flight up to Glasgow in the morning to catch up with everyone and spend a week or so there.

November 27, 2005

Goatfell, Arran

Goatfell, ArranOn Saturday, Colin and I caught the train out of Glasgow and headed to Ardrossan for the ferry across to the peacefulness of the Isle of Arran. The forecast had been pretty bad for the weekend but, apart from it being windy, the sun was shining and it was turning out to be a lovely day. The ferry crossing was only an hour, and disembarking at the town of Brodick, we rented a couple of bikes and cycled southwards down the coast with the wind behind us. It felt good to be out of Glasgow and in the fresh air, but Arran isn't the flattest place in the world and some of the hills were fairly tough going.

At the south of the island we left the bikes and walked through the woods to 'Giants Grave', an ancient site that looks like large, stone-lined burial places, in a clearing surrounded by a dark, eerie forest. The sun was going down by now, and after a few Blair Witch jokes we realised we didn't have enough time to make it to the nearby waterfalls, so returned to the bikes and cycled to the town of Lamlash. There, we grabbed a pub meal that was so bad that my stomach ignored me for the rest of the weekend and we ended up back at the hostel for an early night.

This morning we were out cycling at 09:00, stopping on the way for a sausage sandwich before heading on towards the island's highest mountain, Goatfell, which we intended to climb. Leaving the bikes at the beginning of the path, we climbed higher and higher through the forest until the route opened out into a wide expanse of heather and a beautiful view out across Brodick and the Firth of Clyde. We pushed on as the path became steeper and ascended onto a high ridge running up towards the summit. It was getting colder and as we climbed higher the path was becoming frozen and snow-covered as we crossed over to the north face of the mountain and icy wind howled in from the sea.

It was a tough climb, but finally we reached the summit at 874m and stepped into Arctic conditions. The peak was covered in ice, shaped by the bitterly cold wind that was strong enough to blow you off. We pulled our hoods up, put on gloves, and after a brief look around, ducked down behind some rocks for shelter to eat lunch. The view, however, was absolutely stunning. The air was clear, and apart from clouds that would occasionally blow through, shrouding the peak and us completely, we had an incredible panoramic view of the west coast of Scotland. To the south-west we looked across the Mull of Kintyre to the Irish coastline fifty miles away, to the north, the snow-covered mountains of the Highlands, whilst in east we could see Glasgow and the hills of Fife in the distance.

In the end, the cold drove us back down. We climbed a short way below the summit, and sat in shelter from the wind, enjoying the view for a while longer before slowly making our way back down to sea level and returning to Brodick. The evening ferry was just docking as we arrived and by this time we were both quite exhausted. Standing on deck we watched as Arran slipped away in the evening twilight, and we returned, once again, to the mainland and city life.