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The Lowdown
August 2009 Archive
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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

eNom Helps Industry Pioneer Warren Weitzman Regain All of the Domain Names Stolen From His Account Last Month

Last month we told you about a major domain hijacking incident  in which more than a dozen names were stolen from industry pioneer Warren Weitzman's account at eNom. At the time Weitzman said he thought there might have been a security breach as high as the registry level at Verisign - but the cause turned out to be the same one that is the culprit in most such 

incidents. "Using a weak password and user name appear to be the blame," Weitzman told us after eNom succeeded in recovering all of the names the thief had transferred out to other registrars after gaining access to Weitzman's account.

Weitzman said, "eNom security is as stable as it always was and I will continue to use their services. There was no evidence of an insider hack at eNom or leak. All in all, the hijacking was more a matter of a weak password and some clever work by a thief with lots of time on his 
hands.  Once DN Journal’s article was published executives at eNom jumped in, support was there and it appeared that as word got out, all of the receiving registrars cooperated with eNom towards the domain’s safe return."

Weitzman added, "The domain community came directly 

Warren Weitzman

to me in support and offered assistance from around the world. I never realized how connected we all were and am extremely grateful for all the aid and advice from everyone. To all my domainer friends out there and my attorney Stevan Lieberman, THANK YOU for your help and support."

Based on his harrowing experience Lieberman also wanted to pass on one critically important piece of advice. "Don’t forget to change your passwords frequently and avoid using the same password at more than one registrar or website,” Weitzman said.

Michael Blend
Demand Media President of Platforms

Indeed, Demand Media's (parent company of eNom) President of Platforms Michael Blend told us thieves typically steal user names and passwords from sites with weaker security in place than a registrar like eNom employs. So, if you use the same user name and password at, for example, a free email service that you do on your critical accounts, a hijacker could steal the log in data from the unprotected site and use it to get into your high value accounts. "The weak link is often someone else's security," Blend said. He also advises devising names and passwords that are not easily "guessable." 

Blend added that eNom would be releasing a slew of 

free domainer-specific security products in upcoming weeks to give their customers added layers of protection against would be hijackers. Blend said Demand Media registrars eNom and BulkRegister will be offering large portfolio owners inbound transfers at cost if they like what they see once the new services are introduced.

(Posted August 31, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090831.htm

Big Week for DevHub as They Celebrate a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Award Nomination, New Partnerships With Meebo & Priceline and Passing 1 Million Visitors on Their Network

DevHub, who is one of only two companies that were nominated this week for a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Award for "Best New Monetizing Solution," tells us they reached a couple of special milestones this month (the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Award winners will be announced at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C New York conference coming up October 26-29. Trellian's Above.com was also nominated in this category). DevHub was also one of the five companies we profiled in our March 2009 Cover Story called "The Next Big Thing in Domain Monetization?: New Companies Are  Making the Dream of Affordable Mass Development a Reality". 

Company co-founder Mark Michael told us the company reached profitability August 8 and hit a new high water mark for traffic with over 1.1 million visitors across their network. "Within six months of launching, we have struck a number of exclusive partnerships and integrated a slew of monetization tools including: job listings, local business listings, property listings, all 8 of the major affiliate product networks and premium text ads," Michael said. 

On Wednesday the company launched their most recent partnership with Meebo which enables site creators on the DevHub platform to 

Mark Michael
DevHub Co-Founder and Senior VP

instantly drag-and-drop chat functionality on their sites. The same day they also launched a partnership with Priceline enabling travel-related sites created on DevHub to easily incorporate hotel, airline and car rental offers.  

Michael said more new features will be coming in the next few weeks including their DevHub Community. "It will enable ‘DevHeads,’ to communicate and share tips with one another," Michael said. "We designed DevHub to be a dynamic platform so that as our publishers demand more we have a platform they can scale with."

After launching in February, DevHub has grown to an active base of over 25,000.  Michael said "This community of publishers use DevHub's site creation tools and monetization modules (of which DevHub has exclusive partners and

premium revenue streams) to easily create niche-focused topical sites, which publishers receive a majority share of all revenues generated from their sites."

Michael added, "As opposed to site building tools for a community, a small business, or vanity-personal website (already addressed by the likes of a Weebly or Yola), the DevHub platform is optimized for publishers who want to create sites that attract commercial intent-based users.  These type of users are much more valuable than the casual Internet surfer as they are looking for information on or are ready to purchase a service or product, resulting in a higher likelihood of revenue-generation activity (think revenue per user difference between Facebook versus Google)."

(Posted August 28, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090828.htm

The First Domain Name Ever Registered (In 1985) Changes Hands For the First Time With XF.com Investments Acquiring the Historic Domain

Symbolics.com, the first domain name ever registered, has changed hands for the first time since its original registration on March 15, 1985Missouri-based XF.com Investments purchased the historic Internet address from the Symbolics company for an undisclosed price.  Symbolics sold the domain even though the company is still in operation nearly 25 years after they made history by registering the name. Since that initial .com registration a quarter of a century ago 180 million domains names have been registered. 

Aron Meystedt, the 29-year-old CEO of XF.com Investments, said "We are extremely excited to own the Symbolics.com domain name. Since our core business is Internet investments, we really pursued the purchase of the original domain name, Symbolics.com.  For us to own the first domain is very special to our company, and we feel blessed for having the ability to obtain this unique property.”

Meystedt said XF.com has plans for the domain name, and are creating something special for the 25th anniversary of this URL.  “On March 15, 2010, Symbolics.com will celebrate its 25th year,” Meystedt noted.  “This is a special milestone for all of us. The Internet has changed the face of business and entertainment, and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the domain that started it all is very special.”

Aron Meystedt
CEO, XF.com Investments


Original Symbolic Logo


XF's new Symbolics.com logo

 

The original Symbolics company pioneered computer development.  Symbolics designed and manufactured a line of Lisp machines, single-user computers optimized to run the Lisp  programming language. The Lisp Machine was the first commercially available "workstation" (although that word had not yet been coined).  Symbolics also made significant advances in software technology, and offered one of the premier software development environments of the 1980s and 1990s.

XF.com is a real estate and domain investment company that owns many premium web properties including iBlog.com, HY.com, March.com, Copies.com, TrafficEstimate.com and ImageSharing.com

As a historical note - the first domain name ever created (as opposed to registered) was Nordu.net, a name that was created by the registry on opening day (Jan. 1, 1985) for use as the first ever root server (nic.nordu.net). While it was was technically the first domain name in the current domain name system it was created for a special purpose before domains were allowed to be registered. Once that process was put in place, Symbolics.com was the first name taken. 

(Posted August 27, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090826.htm

Rumble in the Domain Jungle - 2010 Conference Schedule To Kick Off With Three Major Shows In a Span of Less Than Four Weeks

Hot on the heels of Parked.com's announcement  yesterday that their Domainer Mardi Gras conference will return to New Orleans February 11-13, 2010 came word today that 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is going back to Las Vegas (after a one year absence) for a big show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 21-23. Last month Oversee became the first to declare their 2010 intentions when they announced their popular DOMAINfest Global event in Los Angeles would move across town from Hollywood to the Santa Monica waterfront for a conference running January 26-28

Math has never been my strong suit, but I'm pretty sure that adds up to 3 big shows packed into a stretch of just 23 days! When the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. news came out today, assuring a conference battle royale to start the New Year, one our readers (referring to all of the show promoters) dropped us a note listing the three sets of adjacent dates and asked "are these guys nuts!?

No, they are not nuts but they are all pretty darn competitive and you know who wins when companies compete for your business - you do. You are going to have more options than ever in 2010, so check out what these events have to offer and pick one (or more) that look the most attractive to you and attend (I'll be at all three). Each of these shows will pull out all of the stops to make you happy and create the word of mouth buzz that keeps people coming back to their events.

Having their dates fall so close together will almost certainly cost each show some attendees as people, especially in the current economic times, have to make choices. For the promoters of the two west coast shows in parfticular, it is obviously not the best situation to be so close together in both time and locale, however most registrants who want to be at both will 

appreciate having them back to back on the calendar. That is especially true for those of us in the Eastern U.S. Rather than make two coast to coast trips, I can now fly to Las Vegas for T.R.A.F.F.I.C., then take the short hop to L.A. for DOMAINfest before returning home to Florida. That will save me time and money and still let me attend two shows whose programs differ enough and offer enough value to make them both musts for me.

Likewise, my experience at the first Domainer Mardi Gras conference this past February makes going back next year a no-brainer, especially since it is such a short hop across the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa to New Orleans. If you haven't been to a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference or DOMAINfest Global event before, our reviews of their last shows (T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs in Amsterdam in June and DOMAINfest Global in Hollywood in January) will give you a good look at what they are all about.

Registration for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas will open soon. Early bird registration is already open for DOMAINfest Global and Domainer Mardi Gras. Signing up early for any of these shows will save you a lot of money. DOMAINfest also just posted the preliminary agenda for their conference.

This week's news has all focused on the start of the 2010 show season, but there is still plenty of activity left to go on the 2009 conference circuit. The second annual MeetDomainers show will be held in Poland at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel, September 25-27. English-Polish & Polish-English simultaneous translation will be provided at the Meeting

MeetDomainers organizer Daniel Dryzek said, "This meeting will be a great networking opportunity and a chance to learn from the best authorities in the field of domain name law, domain name monetization, advertising, affiliation, web development, SEO and more! You

will be able to meet lots of Polish domainers and company owners as well as specialists and entrepreneurs from other European countries." You can check out our coverage of the debut edition of MeetDomainers last year here

Sedo will be holding their always special SedoPro Partner Forum (a private event for clients) in Key West, Florida October 7-9 (I will be speaking there). The last SedoPro Forum held in the U.S. at New York's Mohonk Mountain Resort two years ago was one of the most enjoyable events I've ever attended. A scheduling conflict kept me from going to the 2008 forum on the French Riviera last October but the photos we ran from that event will show you Sedo's penchant for doing everything in style.

The grand conference finale for 2009 will be T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York, coming up October 26-29 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott (also the location for last year's New York show). With a break of several months since the last major conference I am expecting a very strong turnout in New York. A few weeks before that event, we will be running a detailed preview to let you know what is in store there this year.

(Posted August 25, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090825.htm

Top Level Domain Holdings Merges With Minds + Machines: Combined Entity Plans to Acquire and Operate New ICANN Top-Level Domains

Top Level Domain Holdings, Ltd. (AIM: TLDH.L) today announced that it has completed a merger with Minds + Machines, a leading registry services provider for top-level domains. TLDH previously owned a significant minority share in Minds + Machines. The merger follows TLDH’s announcement that it has raised 2.5M pounds (approximately $4.1 million) in a private placement. 


TLDH is the only public company focused exclusively on acquiring and operating the new top-level domains authorized by ICANN which has announced its intention to allow any qualified organization or business to create its own web address - though at a very stiff price (well into six figures per domain). ICANN plans to start rolling out the new TLDs early next year.

TLDH said it now has roughly $7 million on hand to invest in new top-level domains, and as a reserve fund for eventual auctions at ICANN in the event of competing applications. 

Fred Krueger, Chairman of TLDH, said “Bringing Minds + Machines and TLDH under the same ownership makes total sense for our companies and  

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for our shareholders. We were extremely pleased with our previous investment in Minds + Machines and we are delighted now to take the next step. With Minds + Machines backing our portfolio investments in new top-level domains with world-class registry services, we are extremely cost-efficient and scalable.”

Antony Van Couvering, CEO of Minds + Machines, said, “This merger is a natural evolution. Minds + Machines and TLDH have grown up together, and joining up fully was the logical next step. With TLDH as our investment arm, and Minds + Machines providing the operational capabilities, we are extremely well positioned to participate in the new top-level domains.”

TLDH is already a major investor in several high-profile new applications for web addresses, all of which will be contracting with Minds + Machines for registry services. They include:

  • .ECO backed by former Vice President Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection, which if approved will devote a majority of profits to fighting climate change. 

  • .NYC backed by former Mayor Ed Koch, which if approved will return a substantial portion of profits to New York City. www.dotnyc.net.

Antony Van Couvering
Minds + Machines CEO 

The registry platform of Minds + Machines, Espresso, is in use by more than a dozen country-based top-level domains. In addition to new web addresses backed by TLDH, Minds + Machines is providing registry services to other applicants, including .ROMA and .RADIO

The Minds + Machines management team previously launched or helped launch more than 20 top-level domains, with business models ranging from small communities to large commercial enterprises. In addition, they have owned and operated ICANN-accredited registrars, managed reseller channels, developed systems software for domain names and overseen global top-level domain roll-outs. In addition to its for-profit work, Minds + Machines provides funding for emerging countries to use the Internet more effectively through its Capacity Building + Grants program.

Full details of the merger and the private placement can be found on TLDH’s web site at http://www.tldh.org.

(Posted August 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090824-2.htm

Domainer Mardi Gras Announces Dates and New Location for Their 2010 Conference in New Orleans and Castello Brothers Give Domain Convergence High Marks

After a successful debut this past February,  organizers of the Domainer Mardi Gras conference announced today that they will be back in the Big Easy for round two in 2010. Next 

year's show will run February 11-13, 2010 at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel on Canal Street in the French Quarter, just steps from Bourbon Street. The Marriott is a new venue, replacing the Westin Canal Place. The conference secured an exceptionally low room rate for Mardi Gras season at the Marriott - just $179 a night.

The show will conclude three days before Fat Tuesday (February 16), which is the 

final day of Mardi Gras festivities that run for approximately two weeks with dozens of nightly parades highlighting the celebration.

The Executive Director of Domainer Mardi Gras, Michael Ward, said “Domainers stated that the inaugural show was a hit and wanted to see it happen again in 2010. We listened and are moving forward with putting together a larger than life domainer extravaganza.  In addition to quality industry panel sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities, Domainer Mardi Gras will also provide over the top entertainment, all during Mardi Gras, that combined will make for an unbelievable experience.”

Domainers, publishers, registries, registrars, investors, domain parking companies, members from the ICANN community and others are all invited to attend the event. The theme and agenda for Domainer Mardi Gras 2010 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Michael Ward, Executive Director
Domainer Mardi Gras

Early bird conference passes are available now through October 15th, 2009 at a reduced rate of $795. In an especially attractive offer, attendees who also stay at the Marriott can get another $300 discount off the registration fee.  A conference pass gives attendees access to all conference sessions, meals, entertainment, including new activities that will be revealed in the coming weeks, and the popular demand Bourbon Street balcony party that is back by popular demand (the photo at the top of this column was taken from the Parked.com balcony party at this year's conference).  

Domainer Mardi Gras 2010 is also planning to have specials and other prizes during the registration process.  You can sign up to receive email alerts and special notifications at www.DomainerMardiGras.com.  Ward said sponsorship opportunities are also available. You can email info@domainermardigras.com for more information on the show.

In another conference note, I was away on vacation when the 2nd annual Domain Convergence conference was held in Toronto August 13-14, however the keynote speakers for the event, Michael Castello and David Castello, say they were very impressed by the people they met there.

The Castello Brothers have developed some of the world's top geodomains, including PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com and Acapulco.com, so they were especially pleased to see the show's focus on development and selling ads directly to advertisers, a model they have thrived with.

Michael Castello (left) and David Castello of Castello Cities Internet Network (CCIN.com)
delivering their keynote talk at the Domain Convergence conference in Toronto.

David said the show gave he and Michael, who are building their many prime generic .com domains (including Whisky.com, DayCare.com and Bullion.com) into global brands, some great insight into the opportunities in the ccTLD market. Many of the registrants have achieved excellent results from developing prime generic .ca (Canada's country code) domains. Among the examples David cited was Rick Silver of N49.com who has attracted a sizeable stable of advertisers to a network that includes developed sites on such gems as Kitchens.ca, Flights.ca, Printing.ca and dozens of others.  

(Posted August 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090824.htm

Click Here

Richard Gabriel Sells DropShippers.com for $1.5 Million - His Second 7-Figure Sale in Five Months

Richard Gabriel has just closed the $1.5 million sale  of DropShippers.com to Tom Hashem of Scranton, Pennyslvania. You may recall that Gabriel is the man who sold Auction.com to

REDC for $1.7 million in March, so he has now racked up $3.2 million in just two transactions over the past five months. 

Gabriel said that Hashem was originally planning 

to buy a different name but the seller backed out before that deal was closed so he decided to go after the category killing name that Gabriel held. Gabriel has been running his own ecommerce software on the domain in recent years. He said Hashem bought the name only but Gabriel also gave Hashem the software because Gabriel will have no use for it after signing a 10-year non-compete agreement as part of the deal.

(Update Sept. 2, 2009) - For those wondering why this sale does not appear on our 2009 Year-To-Date Top 100 Sales Chart, the inclusion of a software platform in this transaction made it more than a domain only sale (a requirement to be charted). Also, $500,000 of the $1.5 million purchase price was financed and will be paid off over 10 years. Until the full amount has been received it can't be ranked on a chart as a completed sale at $1.5 million (according to the sales contract, $1 million was paid upfront). More details on this transaction are in the weekly sales report we published Sept. 2, 2009.

(Posted August 21, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090821.htm

ICANN Gives .Pro Green Light to Offer 1, 2 and 3-Character Domains and .Mobi Launches a New "Resource Center" Website

RegistryPro, the operator of the .pro TLD,  says it has reached an agreement with ICANN that will allow them to release and allocate of one, two and three-character domain names

starting in the fourth quarter of this year. The registry said availability of names like i.pro, pr.pro and 777.pro is expected to generate significant interest from registrants. The extension could certainly use a boost as it has struggled to find an audience since it was introduced in 2005. 

Catherine Sigmar, the general manager of RegistryPro, said “We’re excited to make these unique .PRO domains available to business and service professionals worldwide. We’ve received over 4,000 emails about 1, 2 and 3-character .PRO names. This contract amendment allows RegistryPro to answer this tremendous demand in the coming months.”

Domains with fewer than four characters have been available in other gTLDs for several years. No information has been released yet on how the new one to three character domains will be allocated. The registry said details will be made public soon. A complete list of .pro registrars is available at http://registry.pro/professionals/find.shtml

.Mobi has also announced a new initiative - the creation of a special "Resource Center" at mobiDomain.com. .Mobi Director of PR and Communications Vance Hedderel said a .com address was used because the resource center is a site intended to be used on PCs (the address re-directs to a folder at mtld.mobi which should keep purists happy too).

With the third anniversary of general .mobi availability approaching Hedderel said "we created this special “Resource Center” so that investors in, and followers of, the .mobi domain can get a fuller picture of:

  • who’s using the domain

  • how it’s being used

  • how the domain remains relevant in a world of iPhones & Palm Pres, and

  • how to monetize .mobi domains.

Hedderel said they would be continually adding to the site and if you have suggestions for other features you would like to see, there is a contact page so you can pass them along to the registry.

(Posted August 20, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090820.htm

The AfternicDLS Expands Its Global Aftermarket Network & RickLatona.com Releases the Initial Catalog for an Online Domain Auction That Starts Friday

The AfternicDLS continues to expand  its global distribution network. Today parent company NameMedia announced it has formed a strategic partnership with www.freshdrop.net to 

provide premium domains for purchase through FreshDrop’s Domain Marketplace. Domains owned by sellers who choose the Expanded or Premium Promotion levels at the AfternicDLS will now be available for sale at FreshDrop (along with the many other sites the AfternicDLS has partnered with). Domains from NameMedia's BuyDomains platform are also accessible from FreshDrop.net now.

Visitors to the FreshDrop homepage can search NameMedia’s inventory of more than two million domains by clicking dedicated tabs for NameMedia's BuyDomains and the AfternicDLS. Pete Lamson, senior 


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vice-president and general manager of NameMedia’s domain marketplace, said "NameMedia is pleased to partner with FreshDrop. FreshDrop’s innovative approach to domain sales further benefits AfternicDLS members looking to sell names, as well as benefiting FreshDrop’s customer base through expanded quality inventory.” 

Also today, Rick Latona Auctions released the initial list of domains that will be offered in a Themed CPA - Lead Gen - Affiliate Marketing Online Auction that will get underway Friday morning (August 21) at 8am (U.S. Eastern time). The event will run seven days, closing at the same time on Friday, August 28. 

The auction catalog is posted at www.proxibid.com/ricklatona and registration and bidding will take place at the same address. Any technical questions 

you may have regarding Proxibid registration and bidding can be answered by calling 877.505.7770 ( toll free from inside the US) or +1.402.505.7770 from outside the US.

(Posted August 19, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090819.htm

Marriages Made in Heaven? Industry Exec Craig Snyder Exchanges Vows With Oversee.net While Real Wedding Bells Ring for IDN Investor Dave Wrixon

While I was away on vacation last week  the domain business, as it always does, marched on with a variety of news items and events. In the next couple of Lowdown posts I'll put that information on the record. I always try to put people first, so I'll start with those items, then tomorrow we'll recap some events and company news from the past week.  

In a key addition to the management team at Oversee.net® (the parent company of DomainSponsor.com, Moniker.com and SnapNames.com), Craig Snyder came on board as the General Manager of Oversee's Registrar and Aftermarket division. Snyder is now responsible for management and growth of the SnapNames and Moniker businesses. He will work closely with Monte Cahn whose duties remain unchanged (Monte also has responsibilities at DomainSponsor).  

Snyder comes to Oversee after three years as CEO of Internet REIT, where he successfully rebuilt the company's senior management ranks and closed a $30 million round of equity financing.  Prior to Internet REIT, he was Executive Vice President of Marchex, where he led its Enhance Interactive, goClick and TrafficLeader business units.  

Craig Snyder
General Manager
Registrar & Aftermarket Divisions
Oversee.net

Snyder will report to Peter Celeste, Oversee’s Senior Vice President for Domain Services, who said "Craig has the right blend of experience and knowledge to assume leadership of SnapNames and Moniker. Not only does he understand the industry deeply, he has extensive experience in managing multiple lines of business.  Craig is a very strong fit for this role."

Snyder is excited about his new assignment. He said, "SnapNames and Moniker are two of the most trusted names in the industry. The division's technology, sales, marketing and operations teams are outstanding, and I'm looking forward to helping the businesses grow and extend the ir client bases." 

Newlyweds Lenka and Dave Wrixon

While Craig Snyder was anticipating a long and happy business relationship with Oversee.net, veteran domain investor Dave Wrixon was making an even bigger commitment near Opava in the Czech Republic. That's where he and new bride Lenka Spacilova were married after a three-year engagement.

Dave is the CEO of Chinese Domains Ltd., a company that controls about 3800 generic IDN domains, mostly dot coms in Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Hindi with registration dates going back to 2004 when most others were over-looking the international market.

Wrixon is also Co-Founder of IDNForums.com, although he said he leaves the day to day administration of the forum to others these days. With the lovely Lenka at his side, I can certainly understand that. Wrixon has also been an active advocate of IDNs on general interest forums. If you frequent

the major forums you may know him best as Rubber Duck. Our congratulations to the happy couple and best wishes for a wonderful lifetime together!

(Posted August 18, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090818.htm

My Supernatural Vacation: A Remote Beach, A Victorian Mansion & A Ghostly Encounter

Diana and I are back from a vacation trip  to St. George Island, a pristine barrier island that sits between the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay in the Florida Panhandle. As you can see in the photos below, the first morning we hit the secluded 9-mile long beach (that has been permanently  preserved as a state park), there wasn't another person within sight. This remote stretch of the Florida coastline is known as the Forgotten Coast because it is far removed from the state's population centers and the major highway systems. 

St. George Island, Florida. Above and below: Diana catches some sun while I snap photos.

We have some very nice beaches where we live in the Tampa Bay area but almost all of those have condominium towers as a backdrop rather than the unspoiled sand dunes you see at St. George Island. Though we have lived in Florida since 1972, this was our first visit to the isolated area. We had to be in the state capital, Tallahassee, on Friday for our daughter Brittany's "white coat" ceremony at the Florida State University College of Medicine where she just finished her first semester. So, we decided to turn the trip into a summer break by visiting the island and historic Apalachicola for a few days before moving on to Tallahassee which sits about 80 miles inland from St. George Island.

We stayed in Apalachicola (about a 15 minute drive from the island) at the beautiful Coombs House Inn (named one of America's 30 Best Inns by Travel & Leisure Magazine). We found the Inn while researching the area on the Internet and were sold by their website which is one of the best I have ever seen. 

The Victorian mansion was built by local lumber baron James N. Coombs in 1905. Coombs and his wife both died within 30 days of a tragic fire that swept through the town and severely damaged their home in 1911. Over the years the house fell into severe disrepair 

The Coombs House Inn
Apalachicola, Florida

and was finally boarded up and abandoned. In the early 1990's, one of the world's top interior designers, Lynn Wilson, came across the property and decided she had to save it.  Two years and countless dollars later she opened the doors of the meticulously restored property that has been winning awards ever since. 

Wilson bought two more adjacent homes (one that Coombs had also owned) and restored those as well, giving the Inn a total of 23 suites spread across the three structures. We stayed in the Coombs Suite in the main house, which was the ill-fated owner's original master bedroom. 

Diana catches up on some reading in the Coombs Suite at the Coombs House Inn.

The final night of our stay in the Coombs suite yielded an unexpected "ghost story." For Diana and I, this trip was also part of a 25th wedding anniversary tour of Florida bed and breakfasts (I wrote about one of our other stops in Mount Dora last month). Thursday evening we picked up a bottle of champagne and enjoyed it while sitting on the rear porch at the Coombs Inn. While we were talking, I picked up an article about the Coombs family and read that James and his wife were buried in the centuries old Chestnut Street Cemetery, located immediately across the street from the house.

It was about an hour before dark so we decided to walk over and pay our respects to the couple who had built this magnificent home and whose bedroom we had spent the week in. The history-rich cemetery is the final resting place for many of Apalachicola's early residents, including several Confederate veterans of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg. The cemetery dates back even further than the town's official founding in 1831. Unfortunately it has not been tended well with many headstones cracked and some in danger of falling over. That presents a bit of a spooky atmosphere when you are there just before dark and that imagery was still in the back of my mind when we went to bed later that night.

In the middle of the night I immediately woke up when I heard the sound of a water bottle hitting the floor next to the bed. I knew I had left a plastic bottle of spring water sitting on a compact refrigerator that sat on the floor about three feet from my side of the bed. At first I thought Diana must have gotten up and accidentally knocked it over but I glanced across the bed and saw she was still sound asleep. Then, with faint moonlight through the window barely illuminating the room, I looked back toward the refrigerator where I could make out the outline of the bottle still in the place I had left it sitting at room temperature when I went to bed. I slipped out of bed and picked up the bottle. The hair on my arms immediately stood straight up because, not only was the bottle that I heard hit the floor still standing where I left it, the bottle and water was now ice cold!  

With no ready explanation I didn't see any point in waking Diana and scaring her too, so I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes (okay, maybe just one eye while warily keeping the other open and on the lookout for apparitions). After an uneasy hour or so, I dozed back off and slept until the sun peaked through the blinds the next morning. With the room fully lit, I now saw that there was a bottle of water laying on the floor (so I hadn't imagined hearing that fall after all), but there was also one sitting on the refrigerator - the one I had picked up that was ice cold. 

When Diana woke up at least half of the riddle was solved. She had gotten up while I was still asleep and taken a cold bottle of water out of 

the refrigerator for a drink. Rather than put it back, she left it sitting on the refrigerator. The other bottle must have fallen off the refrigerator (though we still don't know how) not long after she went back to bed, leaving her still cold bottle there for me to pick up and mistake for the one I had left out the night before.  I was relieved to learn there was a logical explanation for what happened. But next time we have a glass of champagne, just to be on the safe side, I'm going to skip the twilight trip to an old cemetery! 

 

On Friday morning we made the 90-minute drive north to Tallahassee where the first year med school students who had just completed their first terms were welcomed to the medical profession in a white coat ceremony that night. This is a ritual that I understand is now performed at 90% of U.S. medical schools.

On Saturday we all headed back home to Tampa. Brittany has just a one-week break before going back for the fall term, but it beats the one day she had between graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in May and arriving in Tallahassee to start med school. This week is her first real respite from studying since spring break last March. She has been using it to go the beach, the movies (District 9) and to get in a little tennis.

After a refreshing break, I'm ready to dive back into the domain business. Now that I've brought you up to speed on where I disappeared to over the past week, I'll begin assembling some comments and photos from industry news and events that occurred while I was away. That information will be posted in this column over the next couple of days. 

To bring everyone up to date on recently reported domain sales I will also be producing a double length report for publication on our Domain Sales page Wednesday afternoon. That will cover every sale reported to us since our last sales column August 5th.

Above: An FSU College of Medicine faculty member helps Brittany Jackson (far left) put on her white coat for the first time while other students wait for their turn. 

Below: Brittany (a semester closer to her M.D. degree and fulfilling her dream of becoming a pediatrician), after the white coat ceremony Friday night.

(Posted August 17, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090817.htm

Editor's Note: We are on vacation this week - daily Lowdown posts resume Monday (August 17). Our last post before leaving (immediately below this note) has a photo of our summer break destination plus highlights from an interesting new report on 2Q-2009 domain sales at Sedo. The aftermarket powerhouse provided numbers showing demand for premium generic domain names remains strong.

Sedo Says Despite Recession Demand for Premium Generic Domain Names Remained Strong in the Second Quarter of 2009   

Sedo has issued a detailed report breaking down domain sales at the popular aftermarket site for the recently completed 2nd quarter of 2009. The company said they booked $15.6 million in sales from 9,403 transactions over that 90-day period. 

.Coms accounted for 76% of all sales at Sedo, but the report said the average sales price for .com domains dipped a bit, while average prices for .nets and ccTLDS rose. The average sales price regardless of extension was $1,467

The average price for .com sales dropped $759 from 

Q1-2009, falling from $2,527 to $1,768. In an unusual anomaly, the .nets, at $1,775, wound up with a higher average sales price than the .coms. That is up from a $1,307 average in 1Q-2009 and .nets' share of all sales at Sedo also rose from 7% to 11% in the latest quarter. 

Germany's popular .de continued to dominate the country code action at Sedo (who is based in Germany), accounting for 60% of all ccTLD sales there. Great Britain's .co.uk was a distant second at 13%. However, the co.uk extension saw its average sale price soar from $1,444 to $2,556, far above the average price for all ccTLDs which was $1,503. .de on the other hand saw its average sales price slip from $1,175 to $897.

Part of the 9-mile long stretch of undeveloped beach 
at Florida's St. George Island State Park

This will be an uncharacteristically short work week for me - one day to be exact. Tomorrow Diana and will take off for a rare vacation. Much of it will be spent on the beach at St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle (one of the few places in the Sunshine State we haven't previously visited in the 37 years we have lived here). 

Even though mid-August is typically a slow time of year in the domain business I will have a lot of things to talk about when I return next Monday. 

This week's schedule includes the 2009 HostingCon convention that started today in Washington, D.C. where it will run through Wednesday. A lot of people from our industry are there including Richard Meyer who is checking the show out for us so we can bring you some photos and highlights once I'm back. Another conference event, DomainConvergence, runs Thursday and Friday (August 13-14) in Toronto where the Castello Brothers, Michael and David will deliver what I am sure will be an interesting and illuminating keynote address.

There will be a lot of stuff going on online as well. The monthly Moniker/SnapNames Showcase Auction runs tomorrow through Thursday (August 11-13) with several dozen no and low reserve domains highlighting the catalog

On Wednesday (August 12), BuyDomains is running another free webinar from 2-2:30pm (U.S. Eastern Time) devoted to "How You Can Earn Money as a BuyDomains Referral Program 

Member." The company said they will be covering some fresh ground in this webinar. The synopsis says "This program was met with such a popular response that we recently launched a whole new line of widgets. We’ll give you a sneak peek at our new designs and sizes. Plus, at the end of the seminar, we’ll have a Q&A session. We hope you’ll join us!"

The preceding activities are just the week's scheduled events. A week in this business never goes by without a few surprises so I'm sure we'll have some of those to talk about next week too. In the meantime I'm going to do my best to try and concentrate on sun, sand and seafood at St. George Island. Of course I'm only human and the new surroundings could prompt a few ideas for domain registrations, but Diana has already warned me that had better be it as far as business goes!

(Posted August 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090810.htm

Companies Owned By One of World's Richest Men Found Guilty of Reverse Domain Hijacking

This was not a good week for Hong Kong based billionaire Li Ka Shing  who Forbes Magazine listed as the world's 11th richest man last year. A World Intellectual Property 

Organization (WIPO) domain name dispute adjudication panel ruled that two of Shing's companies (Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited and Cheung Kong Property Development Limited) were guilty of reverse domain name hijacking when they tried to wrest an IDN domain name, 長江.com (YangtzeRiver.com) away from its rightful owner, Canada's Netego DotCom.

The Muscovitch Law Firm, experts in Intellectual Property and Internet Law represented Netego in the dispute. Firm Principal Zak Muscovitch said, "This judgment is a great victory for our client, Netego, and sends a 

strong message to any large company that thinks that they can abuse the legal system to wrestle a domain name away from the rightful owner. The fact is that the Yangtze River was around long before Li Ka Shing’s corporate name. Accordingly, anyone in the world, including my client, has a right to register this domain name."

Cruise boat on the Yangtze River

Li Ka Shing’s companies had alleged that Netego registered the domain name eight years ago in order to capitalize off of the complainant’s trademark rights in "Cheung Kong" (meaning Yangtze River). Netego however defended the legal proceeding on the basis that it had an inherent legitimate interest to register the name of one of the most famous rivers in the world, the Yangtze River, as a domain name, and was using it in connection with a web site about Yangtze river cruises.

Muscovitch said this was not the first time Li Ka Shing’s companies had tried to grab this domain name. Only months before, they had tried and lost a nearly identical arbitration against Netego. The Panel of three intellectual property adjudicators stated in their decision that "what is particularly troubling here is that Complainants never even notified the Panel that this was a re-filed Complaint. The fact that the submitted Complaint nowhere refers to the previous proceeding suggests to the Panel that Complainants may have deliberately attempted to hide that fact from the Panel." Accordingly, the WIPO Panel found that Li Ka Shing’s companies’ actions constituted an "abuse of process" and therefore entered a finding of "Reverse Domain Name Hijacking".

(Posted August 7, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090807.htm

Wikipedia Yields to Protests and Stops Redirecting Searches on "Domainers" and "Domaining" to a Cybersquatting Page

We are happy to be able to report  that online encyclopedia Wikipedia had yielded to protests from the domain community and stopped redirecting people to a page on cybersquatting 

when they enter "domaining",  "domainer" or "domainers" in the site's Search box. Now those searches lead to a revamped page on the legitimate business of domaining that is largely the world of veteran domain investor Max Menius of North Carolina. We reported on this issue in our current monthly newsletter in whch we also printed the original document that Menius submitted to Wikpedia. What appears on their site in a heavily edited version of what he wrote, but it is still an enormous step in the right direction and one that gives their visitors a fair capsule summary of what domaining is.

We wrote more about this incident with Wikipedia in a Lowdown post on Tuesday when we also had to take Los Angeles Times 

blogger David Sarno to task for unfairly disparaging this industry. No correction or apology has come from him or the Times which tells you all you need to know about how much regard they have for accurate and unbiased reporting.

Everyone who took the time to file responses and complaints with Wikipedia and in the commentary section of the L.A. Times article is to be commended. This industry has its bad actors just as all industries do but it is important that media outlets be reminded that it is grossly unfair to demonize any industry or group for the actions of a few. 

Elsewhere, .US fans got some more good news this week when TechCrunch reported that the social recruitment service at Koda.us has gotten another $1 million from private investors to complete a $3 million round of angel 

funding. For newer non .com domains like .US (which wasn't opened to public registration until 2002), increased usage by viable businesses and high profile organizations or individuals is the key to future growth and higher aftermarket sales. 

(Posted August 6, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090806.htm

ICANN's Plans To Break Ties With the U.S. Hit a Roadblock as Key U.S. Congressmen Try to Bar the Exit Door - Planned New gTLDs Could Be Delayed

In a major and unexpected development several key members of the U.S. Congress today called for  the relationship between ICANN and the U.S. to be made permanent and strengthened This comes less than two months before ICANN's current Joint Project Agreement with the U.S. expires on Sept. 30. Internet Commerce Association Legal Counsel Phil Corwin put this breaking news into a perspective in a letter that will be posted to the ICA website shortly. In the meantime here is a copy of that letter:

In a stunning rebuke of ICANN’s assertion that it had achieved sufficient accountability and professional stature to justify termination of its unique relationship with the U.S. government, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Chairman of its Internet Subcommittee, along with eight other Committee members, dispatched a joint letter on August 4th to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urging that the relationship between ICANN and the U.S. be made permanent and strengthened. (Editor's Note: Here is a link to a .pdf copy of the letter sent by the Congressmen).

While the letter is signed only by Democratic members of the Committee, it follows on the heels of a June 4th ICANN oversight hearing (see http://www.internetcommerce.org/node/190 ) at which ICANN encountered strong bipartisan criticism. The letter apparently stems from a feeling that it is time to move beyond repeated renewals of temporary MOUs and JPAs – and that the best way to achieve this is to enter into a strengthened arrangement under a “permanent instrument”.

The letter calls for the U.S to take steps to:

  • Ensure that the Department of Commerce continues in its present relationship with ICANN.

  • Provide for periodic review of ICANN’s performance in a number of key areas – including management of existing gTLDs and the implementation of any new ones.

  • Outline steps to improve ICANN accountability.

  • Create a mechanism for implementing new gTLDs and IDNs that assures appropriate consultation with stakeholders (which we note, by implication, seems to assert that such consultation on new gTLDs does not yet exist).

  • Ensure that ICANN assure timely public access to accurate and complete WHOIS information critical to tracking malicious websites and domain names.

  • Include commitments that ICANN will remain a U.S.-based not-for-profit corporation.

ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin

While Congress cannot bind the Obama Administration, it would be typical for members of the President’s party to engage in discussions prior to sending such a letter to assure that it is generally well-received. The current Joint Project Agreement between the U.S. and ICANN expires on September 30th, so the Administration must show its policy hand within the next few weeks. Should the Obama Administration decide to request an extension of the JPA, much less a strengthened permanent relationship, there is a possibility that ICANN could refuse to enter into such an arrangement and that a confrontation could be ignited. However, as the letter notes in passing, the U.S trump card is the separate contract for the IANA functions of running the root zone servers.  

An Obama Administration call for a permanent relationship will undoubtedly set off strong protests from other nations and organizations that have called for termination of ICANN’s special relationship with the U.S. In addition to these international repercussions, the mechanisms called for by these Congressional Members could well delay the introduction of new gTLDs.  

While the full implications of this unexpected communication cannot yet be envisioned, expectations that the U.S. would request a short extension of the JPA in contemplation of full ICANN independence in the next year or two may well need revision. All we can advise is to stay tuned as September 30 approaches.

(Posted August 5, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090805.htm

Open Season on Domainers and Domaining - Overtly Biased L.A. Times Article Leads Latest Assault on Objectivity and Accuracy

Is there a full moon this week or something? In the wake of Wikipedia's indefensible bonehead decision to redirect searches for "domaining" to a page on cybersquatting comes a 

remarkably slanted article at the Los Angeles Times website today. In a piece by David Sarno about the arrest of the New Jersey man who stole P2P.com, the "reporter" begins his article by writing these words: "In a strange series of events befitting the shady world of domain name speculation..."  What!?

I hate to sound like an old fogy but not many years ago any so-called journalist that wrote 

anything like that in a "news" article would have been given the bum's rush to the nearest exit. Whatever happened to objectivity and accuracy in reporting?  These seem to lost arts in mainstream media today.   

The Times writer obviously knows NOTHING about the domain business yet he writes something like that, smearing an entire industry and everyone in it? I’ve watched this ongoing deterioration in journalistic standards at major papers for years now but never would have dreamed it would reach the dismal state it has today. The professionals have apparently all left the buildingJoe Isuzu had more credibility than a lot of the inexperienced and under skilled writers that are all that's left in many newspaper offices (the modern day equivalent of ghost towns) - offices that once housed media giants and real reporters who actually did silly things like fact-checking and delivering unbiased accounts of the news. And newspapers wonder why new media is cleaning their clocks? This isn't the only reason but it is certainly one of them.

Today you will get more accurate and reliable news about specialized topics (like domains) from experts who write blogs about the business than you will ever get from the typical reporter in mainstream media. Michael Berkens wrote about the L.A. Times article on his blog today and one of his commentators, Johnny, summed up the current state of traditional journalism very well. He wrote, "I always knew news stories were incomplete and biased quite often, but having been a domainer for 15 years and reading all these stories has jaded me into thinking almost nothing reported is as it seems. Only experts, most often, can write a good report on the subject matter in which they are experts. The rest are amateurs writing poor articles on subjects they know nothing about." That's a bingo Johnny, take the stuffed animal of your choice.

So what is Wikipedia's excuse? Well for one, they are not even pretend journalists so objectivity and fairness are apparently not part of their lexicon. The way they are grossly mishandling subject matter related to domaining is just the latest of many examples of serious missteps that are destroying the credibility of the once high flying user edited online encyclopedia. In fact New Scientist Magazine just wrote an article about their travails called After the boom, is Wikipedia heading for bust? 

Veteran domainer Max Menius from North Carolina has been spending endless hours 

trying to get Wikipedia to stop allowing heavily biased admins to paint all domainers as cybersquatters. In a post at the NamePros forum Max summed up the unwarranted damage Wikipedia is doing to the reputation of the many good people and companies in this industry. 

In a letter to administrators at Wikipedia Menius wrote, "Due to the despicable decision to redirect domaining and domainers to the Wiki page on "cybersquatting", it is now indexed very highly in all the major search engines. This is extremely unfortunate and will be very difficult to reverse. This alone should illustrate the unnecessary damage which can occur when someone is allowed to commandeer an entire industry and trash its community on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is often considered an authoritative resource so in this instance Wikipedia was being exploited and used to defame thousands of people in the domain community by labeling them as cybersquatters.

Never again should something like this be allowed. And in the future, there should be a much more expedient process in place for undoing improper redirects. Someone one can call in urgent situations. This wasn't an innocuous or laughable situation. Very, very serious. Thank you Wiki admins for your time."

Today the redirect and the grossly inaccurate impression it gives Wikipedia readers remains in place. Those who read our new monthly newsletter about his issue wanted to know how to reach someone at Wikipedia to complain. Wikipedia apparently has no email service for users to contact them, however Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is on Twitter (http://twitter.com/jimmy_wales) where you may be able to send  him a direct message (he does not have messaging turned on but the following procedure should work). 

Go to his Twitter page and highlight any one of his posts. You will see a gray arrow appear in the lower right corner. Click on that arrow and it will open a reply screen on your home page filled in with @jimmy_wales. Change the @ sign to a d (for direct message) and hit the space bar once to separate the d from jimmy_wales. You can then write your message (140 character limit) and hit the Send button (if the button says Update instead of Send you did not put a space after the d). Let's hope Jimmy will stop letting a few bad inmates run (and ruin) the asylum.

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

(Posted August 4, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090804.htm

Domain Thief Lands in Jail After Picking the Wrong People to Steal From 

If you have spent any time in this business you know that domain hijacking is a serious, ongoing problem, one exacerbated by the fact that the criminals who perpetrate the thefts have little fear of prosecution. In the past victims have found that most law enforcement agencies 

have little interest in helping recover assets they don't understand, much less trying to run down crooks who execute these crimes with a keyboard rather than a gun. Many agencies consider domain theft a civil issue rather than a criminal offense (Gary Kremen eventually recovered Sex.com from career criminal Stephen Michael Cohen through a civil suit rather than a criminal prosecution). 

With little chance that he would ever have to answer for his crime, a thief stole P2P.com from co-owners Marc Ostrofsky, Albert Angel and his wife Lesli Angel in 2006 and sold it on Ebay four months later for $111,000 (the victims had purchased the domain for $160,000 in 2005). 

However, the thief overlooked one thing. Marc Ostrosky is an industry pioneer (who sold 

Business.com in a deal valued at $7.5 million) and Albert Angel is a noted attorney and former Justice Department prosecutor who wasn't going to rest until justice was served. 

Last Thursday it was when 24-year-old Daniel Goncalves was arrested at his Union City, New Jersey home and charged with the theft. The Angels' persistence got the New Jersey Cyber Crimes unit involved in the case and they are now credited with a landmark bust, believed to be the first ever criminal prosecution for domain theft in the U.S. 

The Angels and Ostrosfky sent us details of the fascinating case which we have been going through today. Adam Strong at DomainNameNews.com also received the information and he posted an excellent article this morning that runs down how this particular theft occurred and what it took to put Goncalves behind bars - at least temporarily. He is currently out on bail but he will have to answer the felony charges against him in court. 

In the meantime the victims have filed a pending federal civil lawsuit that aims to recover the domain from NBA player Mark Madsen who, not knowing it was stolen, purchased it on Ebay. The Angels and Ostrofsky are also trying to recover damages from the hacker and co-conspirators by applying common law theft, conversion, breach of contract claims, RICO claims, and to apply federal Computer Fraud and Abuse and Anti-Cyber Piracy statutes. Registrar Godaddy.com is also named in the suit for negligence and contributory trademark infringement under the Anti-Cyber Piracy statute.

We are hopeful that this arrest will be just 

the first of many that will bring some security and peace of mind to domain owners who have been victimized without repercussions in the past. The entire community owes a debt of gratitude to the Angels and Ostrofsky for putting domain theft in a spotlight that could keep similar crimes from being swept under the rug in the future.

Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said “The domain name industry is in some respects still like the wild west.  Many of the rules are not yet codified into state laws, let alone federal or international laws. There is no deed for ownership of a domain name.  In most cases they are protected solely by a login and password for the site through which they are registered.  Nevertheless, theft is theft, and that law that can be applied whenever possession of an own-able thing is improperly transferred for gain.” 

(Posted August 3, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2009/dailyposts/20090803.htm


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