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World Unfurled… An entrepreneur travels the world. » Technology

Registerfly in the ointment

May 8, 2007

Piss on registerflyMore than one loyal reader has asked me, “What the hell happened to the site?”

Register Fly happened! Register Fly was the Registrar I used to register my domain. There is a whole big scandal about the Register Fly exec who was alleged to have spent registration fees on hookers and a $6000 dog, but I cared more about the domains I had (and lost) with them. Their list of woes is long, but in short-I paid to renew names, but they didn’t renew them, I tried to transfer names, but they made it impossible. Such was the fate of worldunfurled.com. I could not transfer the site, I could not renew the site, the site expired and served up crappy ads. Of course no one at Register Fly answers support requests or even picks up the phone.

When my site went down, in desperation, I hired some guy I found on a message board. I knew nothing about him, but I happily gave him my Register Fly account and paid him nearly $250. He transferred 16 domains that I had been unable to get from Register Fly, and after a week managed to save this site, which had expired! It was ridiculous to have to pay to get my own domains back, but I was glad to do it. I had spent weeks and had only been able to transfer 60% of my domains.

I am still stuck over $350 more dollars of useless “Register Fly credit” that I can neither get back nor buy anything with. I still have one domain in process, but I am almost done with the bums.

Here is more information on Register Fly and the class action suit.

Blog spam!

May 19, 2006

For the last few days, I have been getting hundreds of comments of spam advertising everything from mortages to drugs. Fortunately Andy turned me on to Akismet the new free plug in from Word Press to stop comment spam. So far it seems to be working well, so I have stopped requiring accounts for comments again. If you have a Word Press blog, check it out and save the Spam for the eggs.

Gmail finally adds a delete button.

January 20, 2006

gmail delete Deviating from travel for a second… Gmail has finally added a delete button. I know it is a minor change, but it makes me really happy. There is now a one click delete so I don’t have to use the pull down menu. Before this I had to use the somewhat flaky grease monkey script. Thanks Google.

Yahoo! A del.icio.us snack.

December 10, 2005

deliciousYahoo has acquired del.icio.us. This is great for Joshua who started del.icio.us an for me even though Joshua never took me up on my offer to work with him. It is great for me (and you) because del.icio.us is a terrific service for both keeping track of interesting sites when you are away from your computer (perhaps on a round the world trip), but also because it is a great way to find interesting sites.

Essentially del.icio.us is a way to store your bookmarks online. You can organize them by assigning “tags” essentially keywords. Del.icio.us will tell you how many other people have bookmarked the same thing (or anything else you search for) which gives you a good idea of how relevant something is. It is not dissimilar to the way Google uses page rank. It sort of reminds me of the early days of yahoo when it was really a directory edited by humans.

The other reason that this is particularly exciting is because del.icio.us does a much nicer job of implementing tags than flickr. It offers all sorts of slick features that I hope to see make there way in to flickr.

The case for camera cases.

September 21, 2005

I have always thought that the goofy case that came with my camera was just to make me feel like I got something for my money, that it made the camera bulky and a pain to get out. It turns out, that it in fact serves a useful purpose! I have owned several Sony cybershots but all have at some point or another developed the same problem that when I zoomed all the way in “junk” came in to focus on the lens. This was so frequent a problem that I even added a flickr keyword dirtylens to sort out the problem photos.

I could stand it no more, so I got to know Panama city a little bit by visiting 6 different camera shops til I could find somebody to diagnose and fix the problem. Upon opening my camera he reported that it was “totally full of dust”. $68.00 later, my camera seems much improved and they even gave me a random case so I can prevent the problem in the future. I’ll be a loyal case user from now on.

In the states this would have been a tedious errand, but in Panama it was kind of fun to have a purpose, a reason to go places and a mission to accomplish. Also I can feel my Spanish returning as I use it more, which is nice.

World Unfurled Scoops WSJ

September 13, 2005

On August 23 I wrote about Coinstar and Amazon gift cards. No doubt following my lead, the Wall Street Journal has picked up the story. One interesting note from the article, it seems Amazon that sees this as a way to reach people with out credit cards. Not only can you feed the machine coins, you can feed it paper bills. Take that paypal!

If you haven’t seen it in your city yet it should arrive soon. I looked at the Coin Star machine at a Kroger’s in Houston on Sunday and the option was not yet present.

Backpack turns man into Energizer bunny

September 11, 2005

I saw this last week on Science Blog, but before I could get this message up, my father pointed out its presence on CNN.

We have all seen the bike lights powered by the motion of the tire, well if researches at the Marine Biological Laboratory are successful, backpackers may one day get the same kind of toys. It seems that “Suspended-load Backpack testers were able to generate up to 7.4 Watts–more than enough electricity to simultaneously power an MP3 player, a PDA, night vision goggles (or 3 LED headlamp), a handheld GPS, a CMOS image decoder, a GSM terminal in talk mode, and Bluetooth.”

Researchers describe a backpacker as an inverted pendulum saying that “The Suspended-load Backpack frame sits still on the wearer’s back, and the load is mounted on a load plate that is suspended from the frame by springs. The springs allow the load to slide up and down on bushings constrained to vertical rods, thus allowing the load to move with the same vertical motion as the hip, but lagging it by a fraction of a second, producing differential movement between the frame and load. The pogo-stick-like movement of the load generates mechanical energy that drives a rack-and-pinion device that powers a geared DC motor that acts as a generator mounted on the frame.”

That sounds great, but it can’t be lighter than my batteries.

Photo credit: Timothy K. Hamilton

High Altitude Meets Low Tech

September 7, 2005

Portable HypoxicatorI have been spending lots of time thinking about how I’ll get some more altitude to be better prepared for Kilimanjaro. When we get to Panama (just one week away!) we are going to hike the Baru Volcano (3,478 meters / 11,410 feet). But if you can’t take Mohammed to the mountain, you can get Mohammed a portable hypoxicator. A hypoxicator is a fancy machine that simulates high altitude (low oxygen) conditions. This is a fine solution for anybody wishing to spend $1,299 and carry around 15.5 lbs. I am willing to do neither, but what if there was a way to do the same thing with a tool found for free at many restaurants, which weighs less than a gram?

Sean Burch, an adventure racer, ran from the base of Mt Kilimanjaro to the summit, a climb that will if I am lucky take me six days, in less than 5 and a half hours. What was the high tech equipment that he used to train? A straw! From the Ithaca Journal:

He trained for the North Pole Marathon solely on a treadmill, and he must have looked downright peculiar during his training sessions for Kilimanjaro: 30-minute stints on a Stairmaster with his nose pinched while breathing through a straw in his mouth.

Thanks to MtKilimanjaro.org for the story.

Brazil’s Bikini Girls

May 25, 2005

Flickr? More like a roaring bonfire of hot, sexy photo love!

I have started playing with Flickr to store my photos. My challenge is that I plan to produce a lot of photos on my trip around the world. I estimate 200-400 photos per week. A 7 mega pixel jpeg is about 3 megs, so I expect to be producing 2 to 4 gigs a month of new photos. I’d like to store these somewhere other than with me on the road. This way I won’t lose them if I lose a bag. Additionally, I’d like to share at least some of them online with people as I travel.

I had originally planned to host the photos myself on my website, but ultimately I am not likely to do this because…

Hosting them myself is work.
I’d have to pick a software package to use. It would probably be an open source package called gallery, but I’d need to research it some more to be sure. Using an open source package would give me maximum flexibility and control. But, whatever I picked, I’d need to install, manage and customize it. That would take time and effort.

Hosted disk space is expensive.
My web hosting company, Dream Host offers great deals for hosting (use promo code 777 and pay $9.24 for the entire year, not per month, but for the entire year of hosting). However, it is quite expensive if I want to add 40 gigs of additional storage (to the 2.5 gigs I have) for high res photos.

Not hosting the photos makes back up hard and means additional work.
If I don’t upload all of my high res versions to the web then I have to burn them to CD / DVD and mail them back from my year long trip around the world. I may do this anyway as backups between uploads when I am in remote places with little or no Internet access, but having to do so all the time is a burden, it also doesn’t facilitate sharing them.

Since I am still comfortable ensconced in my home office with a cable modem and a large supply of unhosted photos from previous trips, I thought I’d give Flickr a try. I have a little time before I head out on my trip around the world in September, so if it doesn’t work out it is not too late to change.

I decided to try Flickr after being caught in the Yahoo buys Flickr media storm. My interest in Flickr was in large part based on the fact that I have a lot of respect for Jeremy Zawodny and he seems to think about many of the same issues of data storage that I have been thinking about. He is also coming to many of the same conclusions.

As I began uploading my photos to Flickr I found that it was a pretty powerful application and that there was an active community there. It was still not quite as quick as managing my photos form the desktop, but it was pretty good and it offers nice features for tagging, sharing and searching. If anybody from Flickr is reading this I have a pro account and I’d really like to pay double to be able to upload twice as much.

I got a nice note about some of my Brazil photos from Lorenzo and a few people marked some photos of kids or street scenes as among their favorites. This was nice and made me feel good about my photos, but as I uploaded more photos and played with Flickr it seemed that pretty girls in bathing suits (or less) got all the attention.

As an experiment I grabbed a handful of photos form the streets and beaches of Rio De Janeiro and cropped out some women in bikinis. I added some descriptive tags and POOF. Within 15 minutes of uploading the photos in my Brazil’s Bikini Girls set each of the photos had more views than any of my other photos that had been uploaded for days. Now that the swimsuit clad ladies of Copacabana and Ipanema have been up for 24 hours they have more views than my other 600+ photos combined. In fact the only photo that can even compete a little bit with girls in bikinis is Kentucky Fried Santa

I must confess this post itself is a little experiment to see if it too will increase the exposure (no pun intended) of my site in the same way that my flickr photo set has.

For all my friends and colleagues and those of you not looking for sexy Latin ladies, here are some other photos from Brazil: