Abandoning GoDaddy for Hover.com, A Partner I Can Support

Like many of my peers, I buy a lot of domain names. As I’ve launched products and sites over the years, finding an available domain is a challenge, and becomes more challenging every year. So when I am thinking about a new project, I’ll usually invest in a few domain names early on, ready and waiting in case I decide to bring the idea to life.

In other words, I’m a domain junkie. I’ve purchased hundreds of domains, and for years GoDaddy has been my go-to dealer for my domain habit. I’d heard the stories about their sexy ads, their founder’s questionable lifestyle and political beliefs, and most recently, their support of SOPA and PIPA, two bills that I believe will contribute to the demise of innovation and the remix culture I value so highly.

So, in keeping with my desire to match my spending with my beliefs, I have been using Hover.com to register domains. Tucows, the owner of the Hover service, actively opposes restrictions on the Internet such as SOPA and PIPA. Plus, it’s SO much easier to use than GoDaddy and doesn’t annoy me with ads, emails, and phone calls.

The link above is a referral, but Hover has not asked me to write this post or compensated me in any way.

Does Your Spending Match Your Values?

Over a lovely Christmas dinner, our family had a long discussion yesterday about the lack of products made in the USA, and how impossible it feels to shop for gifts that help American workers. And indeed, when I look at my Christmas gifts (thanks, family!) I see nearly everything made somewhere else while millions of US workers are unemployed.

It confirmed to me something that has been percolating in my mind for 2-3 years now – that it’s extremely hard to ensure that your spending matches your values.

Did that coffee grinder I bought cause a Sri Lankan to lose a finger in a factory accident? Did my shirt help fund attacks on gay men and women in unfriendly countries? Was toxic waste dumped into the ocean because I bought a lamp?  Continue reading “Does Your Spending Match Your Values?”

Anonymously Paying Off Kmart Layaway Accounts

People are walking into their local Kmart and anonymously paying off the layaway accounts of people trying to get gifts for Christmas. Many times they are asking about accounts with toys in them to ensure that some kids have gifts under the tree.

I heard this story on NPR and am in love with the generosity of my fellow human beings.

Mystery Elves. At Kmart stores around the country, anonymous donors are walking in and paying off the layaway accounts of complete strangers. It seems to have started in Michigan, but the holiday spirit spread. Kmart says the stealth benefactors usually ask for accounts that include toys.

At one store in Omaha, Nebraska, a dozen accounts were paid off in the last 10 days. At another Kmart in Tennessee, a young father was in line waiting to pay down a bit of his account when a woman stepped up and paid it for him.

This sort of uncoordinated generosity renews my faith in humanity, which is exactly the feeling I like to have around this time of year.

Libraries Become Hacker-spaces

I’m fascinated by this, and love it. Libraries have taken their public mission of bringing people together to learn and extended it to helping people create, which is just plain awesome.

As information becomes more digital, public libraries are striving to redefine their roles. A small number are working to create “hackerspaces,” where do-it-yourselfers share sophisticated tools and their expertise.

The Allen County Public Library, which serves the city of Fort Wayne, Ind., has a modest hackerspace inside a trailer in its parking lot. Library director Jeff Krull says hosting it is consistent with the library’s mission.

“We see the library as not being in the book business, but being in the learning business and the exploration business and the expand-your-mind business,” he says. “We feel this is really in that spirit, that we provide a resource to the community that individuals would not be able to have access to on their own.”

Foursquare and American Express

I was out for a few drinks on Friday evening and unlocked my first Foursquare/American Express special. The connection between your location, the merchant, and American Express, all facilitated by Foursquare, is incredibly powerful.

It reminded me of an idea I pitched to American Express during a long series of job interviews back in 2007, while Foursquare’s founders were still working at Google. This was four months after the first iPhone hit the market, and well before the App Store was introduced.

Amex was keen to know what I thought the next market trend would be, and I immediately said “mobile” and pointed them to Dennis Crowley, now the founder of Foursquare, and said “just watch whatever he’s doing.” At the time, Dennis’ last company, Dodgeball, had been bought by Google, so I fully assumed that we’d see Google+Dodgeball rather than Foursquare. They wanted more, so I pitched them this: Continue reading “Foursquare and American Express”