OpenSRS: Reseller Friendly since 1999
 

Posts in: Inside OpenSRS

New ICANN Working Group Could Have Big Impact on WHOIS Privacy Services

As we have detailed in previous posts, the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), which is the formal contract between ICANN and registrars, contains a number of new provisions around selling and managing domain names. One important component which has not garnered much attention thus far, however, has to do with WHOIS privacy and proxy services.

There is a provision in the new RAA which requires registrars to comply with “any ICANN-adopted Specification or Policy that establishes a Proxy Accredited Program.” In practical terms, this means that by signing the 2013 RAA, registrars agree to follow any accreditation program ICANN should subsequently introduce. Note any such program wouldn’t be developed overnight; a group of volunteers would work together to develop recommendations that would either be accepted or rejected by the ICANN Board.

So what could possibly be in the program? While it’s a bit early to tell, this Working Group Charter outlines a number of important discussion topics:

- Whether registrars should abide by and publish standard service practices;

- The possibility of introducing base guidelines/rules around the relaying and revealing of contact information;

- Performing regular checks to ensure the accuracy of customer contact information;

- Labelling WHOIS entries to indicate when a registration is made through a privacy or proxy service;

- Maintaining dedicated points of contact for abuse;

- Discussing whether standardized processes can be introduced to provide law enforcement with access and data;

- Restricting WHOIS privacy/proxy services for commercial or personal purposes; specifically, the Working Group Charter states, “is the use of privacy/proxy services appropriate when a domain name is registered for commercial purposes?” It also asks, “Should the use of privacy/proxy services be restricted only to registrants who are private individuals using the domain name for non-commercial purposes?”

It’s important to note that while the Working Group Charter has established these topics (and others) as discussion points, there is no guarantee any of the points will be made into policy. It does, however, illustrate some of the concerns the community has with the current state of WHOIS privacy and proxy services, and some of the ideas which have been floated to solve them.

Forming a working group is an early step in the policy making process. It will be many months before we’ll know whether some (or all) of these topics will be formed into policy. Our plan is to participate in the group and provide input; be sure to keep an eye on this blog as the group begins its work.

Getting Ready for New TLDs and New Rules

If you buy or sell domain names, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming launch of new TLDs. By the middle of next year, we will likely be awash in new extensions ranging from .abudhabi to .webcam. It will be the biggest, most exciting change to the Internet in over a decade.

At Tucows HQ, we are working hard to make sure you’re able to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that new TLDs will bring. But we also want to make sure you’re aware of the important changes that will accompany new TLDs on a policy level.

In June, ICANN’s Board of Directors approved the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). The RAA is the formal contract between ICANN and registrars, and sets out the obligations of both parties. The approval of the 2013 RAA concluded several years of discussion and negotiation, much of which focused on the concerns of law enforcement agencies and governments.

The 2013 sets out a number of new regulations and procedures that are important to take note of, as they will have a (hopefully small) impact on your business:

  • The email address of a registrant will need to be validated upon the purchase, transfer or modification of a domain name (unless that email address has already been validated). Should any of these three things occur, registrars are required to send an email or SMS requiring an affirmative response. Failing to receive a response within 15 days requires the registrar to either manually contact the registrant, or suspend the name. At OpenSRS, we will be sending an email (which, like our other products, will have white label capabilities). We’ll have more details shortly, but the important thing to note here is this applies to both new and existing domain names.
  • The same validation process will also need to take place if a WHOIS Data Reminder Policy (WDRP) email bounces. It will therefore be of paramount importance to ensure the WHOIS data your customer provides is correct.
  • Related to the point above, registrars will need to ensure the proper formatting and data for each address supplied within a contact. Registrars will need to validate, for example, that a street exists in a city, that the city exists in a state/province, and that the city specified matches the proper postal/zip code. This work and validation will take place on the registrar end. However, it will likely result in stricter validation rules on a platform level.

As you hopefully know, we believe in a free and open Internet, and feel current laws can resolve most issues without legislating the Internet. We voiced our disagreement with these provisions, as we do not feel the benefits will outweigh the effort and business impact, but the RAA was nonetheless ratified. We have since turned our attention to making sure we minimize the impact to your business.

We will keep you updated as we continue to develop the systems and features required to accommodate these new rules.

A Review of 2012 at OpenSRS

It has been a busy year at OpenSRS, so I thought I’d take the time to look back at some of the highlights.

ccTLDs

We bought epag in 2011, helping us add over 100 new second and third-level extensions to our portfolio. But doing so took plenty of development and time incorporating them into OpenSRS, making it easier for you to do business around the globe all from a single platform. And we’re not done yet!

Working Better with Third-Party Systems

We joined the Parallels Domain Name Network early in the year so resellers can signup to sell OpenSRS directly within Parallels products. Plus we’ve been testing updated and more robust plugins for WHMCS.

goMobi Updates

We’ve had goMobi available for a couple years now, but I think you’d agree some great new features were rolled out this year to make it worth a mention. Some of the new features included: custom icons, live previews, more sharing options, more site templates, custom background images, plus many more. We’ve seen incredible interest in this product, and can’t wait to see the new sites you build with it.

Ting Offers

We rolled out a revenue sharing Offer for Ting, the Tucows mobile phone MVNO in the US. While still new and relatively small, we’re very excited about the growth in Ting and working with our resellers to expand its reach. And for resellers who’d like to try before recommending Ting, we launched trial program called Taste of Ting.

Webmail 5.6 

Our hosted email product got a nice facelift on the front-end and some much needed upgrades in the backend. Although email suffered some unfortunate outages this year, we’ve removed the main source of the problem from our infrastructure. 2013 should be much smoother…

Super Low EV Pricing and UC/SAN Certs

In September we cut pricing on Extended Validation certificates across the board to be industry leading; and boy have you seized the opportunity. Making the jump from OV to EV certs for the better features is now a much smaller price gap; which is a great value proposition you can make to your customers. Perhaps 2013 will be the year DV certs go away…

Help & Support Upgrades

Part of being “Reseller Friendly” is providing a great customer support experience. To help us achieve this for you each we’ve begun rolling out a few ‘upgrades.’ First, the new support site which brings together in one place our announcements, knowledge bases and forums; plus a robust ticketing system. We’ve also begun asking for feedback after each ticket is resolved and closed; not only telling us how we’re doing but giving insights into how we can improve going forward.

We’re delighted to have you as part of the OpenSRS ecosystem; and we’re looking forward to surprising and delighting you in 2013.

Making Reseller Support Better

We’re working on making Reseller Support better.

That’s pretty easy to say, right? I know I’ve said it to resellers myself when I’ve talked to some of you at trade shows, or on the phone.

It’s also pretty easy for you to respond with, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” or something similar. That’s probably a fair response. I know where you are coming from. We know where you are coming from.

What “Better” Means

“Better” is a neat little word. As a writer, I love to think about words and “better” is one that has a lot of nuance.

Better doesn’t necessarily mean awesome. It can mean awesome – as in, “Remember that great dinner we had last week? This one was better.” But “better” can also mean terrible – as in, “An expired can of tuna on stale crackers for dinner is better than nothing.”

One thing that “better” implies is that there’s a comparison going on. In the case of Reseller Support, it’s this – “That interaction I just had with Reseller Support was better than the last one I had.’

We’re working right now so that when you mark an issue as solved, you’ll say to yourself, “Yup, that was better again!” In other words, we’re improving things with a recognition that our work will never be done, and that we can always “do better”.

You are the best judge of what “better” means right now. Maybe for you right now it’s “okay” or “alright” (or even “terrible”). Eventually “better” will mean great and then a little bit later on, “better” will mean awesome. We’ll get there in time.

Measuring Our Progress

In order to know whether we are getting better, we need to be able to measure ourselves against some standard. We implemented Transactional Net Promoter Score surveys last week as one way to measure whether we’re getting better over time. Read more about that here.

We’re also quantifying some standards for Support so that we are able to easily measure our progress.

You deserve to know what those standards are so that you know what to expect, and so you can hold us responsible if we fail to meet them. Here are the objectives we’ve set for Reseller Support:

  • Phone support: Call 1-888-511-7284 (U.S. and Canada) or +800 371 69922 (International) between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC) and a live person who is able to help you will pick up the phone within 20 seconds. Outside of those hours, you can call and leave a voicemail message, or you can email help@opensrs.com. Incoming voicemail and email is monitored 24/7 and critical issues will be addressed as required.
  • Email support: We will answer your email support request within 24 hours of receiving it (often much more quickly). You can email help@opensrs.com anytime and the 24 hour clock starts when we get it, no matter the time of day. Support staff will respond to incoming support requests between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC). Outside of those hours, incoming email is monitored 24/7 and critical issues will be addressed as required.
  • Chat support: Live, online chat is available between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC) at http://opensrs.com/manage. A live person will respond to your chat request within 20 seconds.

Those objectives are measurable and clear. We either meet or exceed those standards, or we don’t. If we don’t, we’ll address the reasons why so that we can again consistently meet and improve on them. More importantly, we think that making this commitment is just our starting point. Our intention is to provide you with the best service in the industry. Not just better support. The best. And every time we make it “better”, it is just a next step to best.

We want to share more with you

That’s a lot to digest in a blog post. We want to tell you more, and get into some of the details and thinking around what’s happening with Reseller Support.

We’re inviting you to attend the webinar we’re hosting on Tuesday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC) to get some more in-depth information about what we’re doing to make Reseller Support better.

It will be an open and honest discussion about Reseller Support with a view to the future described above.

We hope you can attend and even if you can’t view it live, register for the event anyways and you’ll automatically get the reminders and a follow-up email with the details on where the recorded version can be viewed.

You can register here.

A Movember that would make Magnum P.I. proud

November is Movember month, an annual fundraising event where participants grow moustaches to raise awareness and funds that will help to eventually bring an end to prostate cancer, the #1 cancer affecting men around the globe.

For the youngsters not familiar with Magnum P.I., the actor known as Tom Selleck has played a more recent role as Dr. Richard Burke aka Monica’s boyfriend on the TV show, Friends.

Before Movember provided the necessary cover, Tom Selleck was often to blame whenever a man fooled himself into believing he’d look good with a moustache… a credit formerly given to Burt Reynolds.

Dave Woroch, EVP Sales

This Movember, our very own Dave Woroch is putting his best whiskers forward for the cause and with some coaxing he even let us snap a few photos for this post. We think he bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Tom Skerritt aka “Viper”, in the 1986 hit, Top Gun. But don’t tell him that.

If you have no plans to grow an upper lip follicle forest of your own, why not take a moment and support Viper in his efforts? Visit his Movember fundraising page and make a pledge and learn more: http://mobro.co/ViperDave

Are you participating in Movember?

We want to know! Just leave a comment below with a link to your Movember profile, or send us a tweet to @OpenSRS. As the end of November approaches, we’ll pledge $50 to a few of our favourite ‘staches.

From the Movember website:

Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne Australia, Movember has grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate, with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland. In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health cause across the globe, from Russia to Dubai, Hong Kong to Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, and everywhere in between.

No matter the country or city, Movember will continue to work to change established habits and attitudes men have about their health, to educate men about the health risks they face, getting them to act on that knowledge thereby increasing the chances of early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment.

In 2010, nearly 119,000 Canadian Mo Bros and Mo Sistas got on board, raising $22.3 million CAD.

Via the moustache, Movember aims to fulfill its vision of having an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health by continuing to spark conversation and spread awareness of men’s health each year.

Tucows’ Employee Lucas Cochran and His Discovery Channel Debut

If you’re a fan of the Discovery Channel, you may have seen our very own Lucas Cochran during Daily Planet’s, “Future Tech” a new segment that covers Tech, Gaming and Social Media.

Lucas is no stranger to the camera. In 2009, he had his own show called “Pimp My PC” on Butterscotch TV, where he helped viewers creatively customize, personalize and trick out their boring beige box PCs.

During business hours at Tucows, Lucas is our go-to guy for all things related to IT and can be counted on to handle everything from the deployment of an authentication cluster, to troubleshooting audio/video issues on Skype.

But labeling Lucas the Tucows IT guy and leaving it at that just wouldn’t be fair…

This man has the geek cred of ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ lead character Lewis Skolnick, combined with the stage presence and comedic timing of Jerry Lewis, and the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Ron Popeil. When George Clooney needs help with the ladies AND programming his VCR, Lucas is #1 in his speed dial. At least, he will be as soon as George sees this episode of FutureTech.

A word of caution however: never (ever) agree to play Star Wars trivia with this man (you will lose), and never, ever bet Lucas that he’ll be unable to get an old Logitech webcam working on a MacBook Pro (I lost $5 bucks to him this way just last week).

But seriously, Lucas is a great example of the super talented people we get to spend out days with at Tucows/OpenSRS. His intrinsic desire to teach himself new things, combined with his super friendly nature and ability to teach others will undoubtedly make him a great addition to the Daily Planet team and we’re all extremely proud of him here at Tucows.

Congrats Lucas!

To see what Lucas has to say, check out the segment of FutureTech on this week’s episode of Daily Planet.

Further Strengthening Our Commitment to Europe

OpenSRS has been focusing heavily on Europe for the past few years. We’re quite confident that we’re the best choice for European companies looking for a partner they can count on that understands their business, culture and specific needs.

200 TLDs by the End of the Year

Alexander Schwertner, Managing Director, ePAG

The recent acquisition of ePAG by OpenSRS further illustrates this commitment to Europe. With ePAG, we’ll be able to dramatically extend our ccTLD coverage to include most, if not all, of Europe. We expect to be able to offer the ability to register 200 different TLDs by the end of the year.

Welcome ePAG to the OpenSRS Team

Joining the OpenSRS team as part of the ePAG acquisition is Alexander Schwertner, who is the Managing Director for ePAG. Alex has extensive experience working with European resellers at ePAG. He’ll continue to work at ePAG, with a specific focus on ccTLDs.

In addition to Alex, Jan Leendertse and Evelina Joschko will also be joining the OpenSRS European Team, continuing in their roles in sales and account management.

Welcome to Alessandro Baruffi

I’m also very happy to introduce yet another new member to our European team – Alessandro Baruffi. He is responsible for account management and business development throughout Europe and is based out of our office in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Alessandro Baruffi

Alessandro Baruffi, Account Manager

Alessandro speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. I’m happy to say that we’re almost at the point where you’ll be able to talk to OpenSRS in whatever language you are most comfortable with.

Come Meet Us in Person at WHD.local

If you would like to learn more about OpenSRS and meet Alessandro, Alex or myself, various members of our team will be touring Europe in the coming weeks for the WHD.local events.

The first stop is Cologne, Germany, on September 14th and from there it’s a nearly two month trip around Europe including stops in Poland, Turkey, Netherlands, Russia, Romania, UK, France, Spain and finally Switzerland.

Get more information on WHD.local, including free registration codes (value €199) by clicking here. We look forward to meeting you at an event in your city!

OpenSRS Reseller Advisory Council. We’re Listening.

How often have you spoken with somebody and you can just tell that they’re not paying attention to what you’re saying? Their eyes look away for only a second, but that’s all it takes for you to know they’re just waiting for you to stop talking so they can blurt out whatever it is they want to say.

It can be frustrating for those with something to say because conversations are as much about listening as they are about talking.

Listening is silent. It doesn’t surprise and it will never shock. Perhaps that’s why talking has been so popular; It’s easy to keep a person’s attention while we’re making noise, isn’t it?

By listening, we can hear all about the challenges, the pains, frustrations, joys and successes of those we care about. We can empathize by listening and show that we care about all the little (and big) things going on with the people in our lives and the customers we talk to.

Recognizing that we wanted to become better listeners at OpenSRS, a few months ago, we launched a plan that would see the formation of the OpenSRS Reseller Advisory Council. It’s an initiative that begins tomorrow and it’s aimed at getting some of our smartest, creative, engaged Resellers to talk, while we listen.

What is the goal of the Council?

We created the Advisory Council with a specific purpose; to equip an underserved segment of our Reseller base with a voice that we can listen to. We plan to solicit their thoughts and benefit from their experience. We think we all have a lot to gain by doing this.

We’re going to listen to what the founding members have to say and do our best to tie what we hear to real business outcomes. The current plan is a conference call each quarter, with access to a private forum to continue the conversation after the calls. We may, depending on the needs of the group, create smaller committees to discuss, debate and come to the larger group with recommendations.

In the end, we’re going to move forward. It might be an inch forward, and not a mile to start with, but it will be a step forward.

The topics for the agenda were created from comments and answers given in the Advisory Council application form and we’re also crowd-sourcing additional topics and voting on the ones most important to the members. You can see the most popular agenda items at the right.

We don’t get to choose what to talk about, the members do.

How were the Council members chosen?

It started with an email to a couple thousand already engaged Resellers, inviting them to complete the application form. We had over 100 Resellers apply.

From there, we identified a group of 40 individuals, the majority of them senior executives, or company founders working at companies that have  100 to 1,000 domain names under management with OpenSRS.

If you completed an application form and did not hear from us, we’re sorry about that… you will soon. It’s not that we haven’t approved you, it’s just that we’re taking things a bit slow as we get started and another Reseller may have been a better fit this time around.

If you’re a reseller outside of North America, we’re running a separate Council (at least in the beginning), so we’ll be touching base with you to get the ball rolling. We’ll also be sharing what we learned from the first Council meeting.

Do you want to get involved?

Super! Let us know in the comments and we’ll follow-up as we run additional recruitment efforts. Be warned though, membership in the Council is not a free ride. There’s work involved and we’ll have high expectations of you if you’re accepted.

Here we go!

We’re really exciting about this initiative and it is our hope that the founding members of the Advisory Council will play a critically important role in helping us become better listeners as we continue our efforts to build the world’s most reseller friendly, super-focused provider of Domain Names, SSL and Email services!

The Untold History of the RWI

A few weeks back we rolled out the long-awaited OpenSRS Control Panel in a preview for all Resellers. This was the first chance for most of you to dig in and see what the Control Panel could do, and the response has been overwhelming positive. Thanks for that – we really do listen and you’ve already come back with some great ideas.

With the preview underway, we wanted to tell the story of how the Control Panel came to be. It turns out that it owes a lot to the Reseller Web Interface and its history.

I sat down with a couple of the key people behind the Control Panel to chat about it. This first post will delve into some on the thinking and philosophy behind the Control Panel – Ken Schafer, our EVP Products is responsible for a lot of that.

Those looking for a tech slant should stay tuned – in a couple of weeks, we’ll focus on the dev side with Paul Tichonczuk, Senior Web Application Developer. He’s the perfect person to fill in all the geeky details about some of the neat stuff that’s hiding under that fancy new interface.

Back to the Beginning

One of the key objectives in developing the Control Panel was to provide a simple-to-use interface that was still able to handle the complex tasks associated with registering domain names and other services with consistent metaphors and a unified look and feel.

In talking about how the Control Panel ended up this way, it only seemed natural to start by talking about how the Reseller Web Interface came to be.

It turns out that the idea of a web-based control panel wasn’t thought of as core to OpenSRS back in the early days. Ken explained that when OpenSRS was first launched, it was primarily an API, offering a way for resellers to connect to us, and in turn, to connect to the various registries we had an accreditation with.

“When we started out back in 1999, if you wanted to sell domains, you would have to go to a Registry and they would give you an API to integrate with as an accredited registrar.

“But OpenSRS came along and invented the wholesale model where rather than having you go out and become a registrar at a whole bunch of different registries, and do separate API into all of them, we said, ‘why don’t we do that work for you?’

“We would have one API and one agreement and that would give you access to all those Registries.

Just to be clear: it’s not that the RWI was an after thought. Rather, as Ken explained, it was merely thought that a reseller would integrate with the API and make their own interfaces (both customer-facing, and also for their own internal support staff and processes). In Ken’s words:

“In the early days we pretty much said, ‘Here’s the API…away you go.’ Except early resellers quickly started saying things like ‘Do I really have to build my own control panel for my own support staff? That seems like overkill’”

Our assumptions about what our Resellers wanted and needed turned out to be a bit off the mark and the RWI was born.

Restoring Simplicity

Over the years, OpenSRS grew in complexity, and the RWI came along for the ride, often kicking and screaming. We added bunches of gTLDs and ccTLDs, products like SSL Certificates, DNS, blogging tools, a site builder and more. The RWI started to look like a house with a bunch of additions bolted on rather than a single cohesive control panel. Ken explained:

“The RWI that we’ve lived with for the past ten years has grown organically from ‘you don’t need one’, to ‘there’s a few things you might want to do’, to ‘you might want to be able to do quite a bit.’

“In the early days it was a few domains. But we added SSL, and expanded into Trust, we added email, and publishing tools. The service evolved to let you sell multiple things. And a lot of those services ended up having their own control panels and ended up presented to the world as separate services.

“In short, we made it too complicated. And over the years, it became harder and harder for new resellers to come into it. We found a whole class of resellers like IT consultants, web developers, web designers who didn’t need an API integration at all. What they really needed and wanted was a good control panel to manage domains and other services for their customers.”

Where the RWI often made things complicated – like registering ccTLDs with specific residency requirements – the Control Panel should make it simple. Even though it’s a complex task with sophisticated logic and rules, the Reseller shouldn’t have to care and the Control Panel should handle it all behind the scenes.

Next up: The Techie Stuff

A lot of thinking went into the Control Panel in an effort to take what are very complex tasks and requirements and make them seem simple. We’ll dig deeper into some of the advanced web technology that’s at the heart of the Control Panel in the next post in this series. Stay tuned!

Control Panel: In-Depth Webinar

For those wanting even more information on the Control Panel, including some power tips and an advance look at some of the web technology, we’ll hosting a webinar on Thursday, May 19, 2011.

Register here for either the 9:00 A.M. or 2:00 P.M. EDT (GMT/UTC -4) sessions.

Tooting the Horn of an Internet Legend: Peter Tattam

Before Microsoft had the good sense to build Internet support into its Windows operating system, there was Peter Tattam and his software, Trumpet Winsock.

Personally, I don’t think of myself as being old enough to talk about how tough we had it during the “old days”, but man, the Internet sure was a different place 17 years ago.

At the risk of offending the technical veterans with some elementary details, Winsock (a mashup of the words Windows + socket) equipped the Microsoft Windows operating system with the ability to ‘speak’ the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Back in the “olden” days of 1995, Windows computers were often not even connected to the local office network, never mind the globally-connected Internet.

The Trumpet Winsock software was distributed under a shareware, “try before you buy” license, which means you could use it on a trial basis, but after the period expired, you were legally required to pay for it. The problem was that people rarely paid for the software after the trial period ended.

Trumpet Winsock was hugely popular in the days of Windows 3.1, mostly due to the inclusion of the software in many popular computer magazines and distribution by Internet Service Providers. The wide distribution channel these magazines offered should have been a good thing for Tattam Software; Internet users signed up by the hundreds, and then thousands, and then hundreds of thousands. But ultimately, although they used the software, many Internet users didn’t care or didn’t bother to register (and pay) for it.

In the end, Peter and his company received very little financial compensation for what many would agree was software that enabled a connection to a global network that has positively impacted the lives of millions.

At Tucows / OpenSRS, at our very core, we believe the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen. Trumpet Winsock accelerated Internet adoption during a time when Microsoft failed to offer Internet connectivity in the OS. So, earlier this week, we wanted to thank Mr. Tattam by recognizing his efforts with Trumpet Winsock by way of a small corporate donation.

If you’re a former Trumpet Winsock user, we’d love it if you would also take a moment to thank Mr. Tattam for his hard work and dedication in building one of the most popular on-ramps to the greatest resource the world has ever seen. Donations are accepted via Paypal at the thanksfortrumpetwinsock.com website.

 

 

 

Passion outside of the workplace

James' early morning start line at the BMO Vancouver Marathon, May 1.

It’s the weekend of your 40th birthday, how do you spend it? If you’re James Koole, communications lead for Tucows, you fly yourself to Vancouver, BC to participate in the BMO Vancouver Marathon!

The passion that James has for running reminds me that we should take more opportunities to share some stories about the kind of people we spend the majority of our waking hours with.

James is our communications lead at Tucows / OpenSRS. This means that he writes the majority of the things our resellers read on the website, and the e-mails you receive in your inbox. When he gets back from Vancouver, he’ll probably even correct some grammar and spelling mistakes on this very post.

He’ll also ask me why I wrote this post. He’s a modest fellow and doesn’t like to brag. He hates the spotlight. I have an answered prepared for him though: “James, if you don’t want the spotlight on you, then you should ease up a bit on your level of awesome, mkay?”

At Tucows, we have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry. But for a company to think about its human capital purely from a professional skillset, would surely be a mistake. After all, experts say that having passion for things out side of work is critical for a happy work / life balance. They did say that, right?

Hammering out code, programming routers, and configuring servers are a big part of what we do. But the downtime is just as important. I haven’t taken a formal count, but if I held out my arms in a group of Tucowsers and quickly spun myself around, I will be not only dizzy, but I will have smacked a couple of marathoners, a lot of cyclists, some rock climbers, kickboxers, soccer players, and even snowboarders; I’m also sure that by Monday, I’ll have colleagues reminding me of other sports active within the company.

So while James competes against himself in a grueling 42 kilometer race, fighting against the blisters, the shin splints and the fatigue, I’m going to gush a little bit about his commitment to his passion, as I sip coffee from the comfort of my front porch, and try to convince myself that I should go for a bike ride after I finish this post.

Happy Birthday James, and good luck on your run! We’re all cheering for you, and some of us are even a little envious of your commitment to your passion.

 

Canadian Small and Medium Business get a leg up from Google

Yesterday, small and medium size businesses (SMBs) in Canada got a gift from Google to jump start their business presence online. Hosted by Kevin O’Leary of Dragon’s Den at the historical Fermenting Cellar, in the Distillery district in Toronto, Canada, SMBs can now get a website & .CA domain for free as part of the “Canada Get your Business online” (GYBO) initiative.

Partnering with Yola inc., CIRA, The Globe and Mail, Rogers, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and Silver Lining Ltd, Google wants to shrink the gap between SMBs lack of online presence and their customers who are using the internet to find them. “Over the next year, we hope to help 100,000 Canadian businesses build websites and reach customers online” says Chris O’Neill, Managing Director Google Canada.

According to Google, there are over 2 million SMBs in Canada, and close to half have no presence online. These rock stars of the Canadian economy need the help to be where their customers are looking for them and this initiative gets them one step closer.

As someone who has been in online marketing for over 11 years, I am extremely excited to see the GYBO.ca program launched. SMBs struggle with lack of time, resources, amongst other challenges of starting a business and this initiative helps them conquer one important challenge, and that is an online web presence, with a price tag of FREE. We work with many SMBs, as our resellers do, and can relate to the challenges, so having a program that is focused on helping SMBs is fantastic.

Congratulations to Google, Yola, CIRA and the other partners who are giving small and medium businesses in Canada a leg up! Also, a special Thank you to Rogers for drawing my name to win a Blackberry Torch!

If you’d like more information, go to www.gybo.ca

Join Random Hacks of Kindness Global Hackathon

Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a global collective between Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, NASA and the World Bank. They are hosting a global hackathon on Saturday, June 4 – Sunday, June 5, 2010. Events take place in cities around the world including Nairobi, Jakarta, Sydney, Washington DC and San Paolo.

If you are in one of these cities, we encourage you to join the hackathon. There are great discussions about hosting and how to collaborate on a global scale. The sign up for each city is on the RHoK website. The global event will also be streamed live–watch the official RHOK twitter account for these details.

Software developers, usability experts, emergency planners, technologists, social media knowledge workers, project managers, NGOs and university professors will meet in each of the cities to crowdsource open source solutions to very real humanitarian problems. There are seven main projects ranging building SMS applications to report amputee needs, near real-time UAV imagery processing to creating a people finder application. We also expect some awesome incubator discussions. When you get such diverse, innovative minds in a room, great things are bound to happen.

RHOK invited Crisis Commons to provide problem definitions for the global hackathon. I’ve blogged about CrisisCommons in the past–they are a global network of volunteers who use creative problem solving and open technologies to help people and communities in times and places of crisis.

I’m on my way to Sydney as we speak to participate as a core Crisis Commons volunteer and project liaison.

Our Celebration Cookie Went to eBay Auction and Won for Charity

A couple weeks back we reached a significant milestone: our ten millionth domain name under management. One of the ways we celebrated was by commissioning the Designer Cookie to create something special for us: the OpenSRS 10,000,000 domain sugar cookie!

Each member of the Tucows’ team were given one of these celebratory sugar cookies and they were an immediate hit. Many staff (even the hungry ones), preferred to display their trophy on their desks, despite tauntings from their fellow colleagues about the deliciousness of the pastry.

We learned shortly after distributing the cookies that one of the staff had put his cookie up for auction on eBay, offering to match the winning bid with the proceeds going to the Coast to Coast Against Cancer children’s charity.

We had a fun time posting eBay questions about the cookie and having our colleague answer them, but I don’t think any of us here at OpenSRS would have guessed the final selling price for one sugar cookie would have reached $127.50!

After the auction was over, the losing bidder offered to purchase HALF the cookie for the auction price, bringing the total amount to $510 (after matching). We just couldn’t bear to have the cookie split in two, so another staff member has agreed to donate their cookie to the cause.

The winner of this limited edition trophy, was Andrew Allemann from domainnamewire.com who has a thorough recap, along with the humorous questions (and answers) asked during the auction.

Special thanks to Andrew, and the rest of the auction bidders for surprising us with your generosity!

Tucows Inc Expands OpenSRS Auction Program to Include Cookies
First Transaction Nets USD$127.50 for Coast to Coast Against Cancer
Toronto – April 14 – Tucows Inc. today announced that it has embarked on an expansion of its successful domain auction program to include cookies. The first such cookie auction transaction was completed on April 14th, 2010, with the successful auction of a commemorative OpenSRS cookie. the final selling price was USD$127.50.
Tucows further announced that net proceeds from cookie auctions will be donated to The Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, a Canadian charitable organization which Tucows has been a supporter of for many years.
Coast to Coast is Canada’s only national charity devoted to fighting childhood cancer. Coast To Coast Against Cancer ensures 100% of receiptable funds raised go toward improving the survival rate and quality of life of children (and their families) impacted by cancer. Learn more at http://www.coasttocoastagainstcancer.org
“We’re thrilled to have our first cookie sale completed,” said Ross Rader, General Manager at Hover, Tucows’ retail division. “And we’re especially pleased that Coast to Coast, and the kids they help, will be the real benefactor of this new auction expansion.”
The winning bidder was identified as Andrew Allemann, who runs DomainNameWire.com, the leading blog for the domain name industry. “I had to win this auction. This isn’t some reg fee name. This is a premium, category-killer for sure,” Allemann said in a blog posting revealing himself as the auction winner.
The charity auction continues a tradition at Tucows to give back to the community. “It’s really a win-win-win setup for everyone involved. Coast to Coast gets the cash, we get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, and Andrew can enjoy a yummy cookie knowing he’s helping out kids battling cancer,” said Rader.
The company plans a charity stationary bike competition later in the coming months to raise further funds for Coast to Coast Against Cancer.
About Tucows
Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over ten million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 10,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.
This news release may contain forward looking statements. The cookies may contain nuts, or other allergens.

OpenSRS Bakes Cookies Into Its Product Lineup
First Transaction Benefits Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation

Toronto – April 16 – Tucows Inc. today announced that it has embarked on an expansion of its OpenSRS service offering to include cookies. The company’s first such cookie transaction was completed on April 15th, 2010, with the successful sale of an OpenSRS cookie by eBay auction. The final selling price of the limited edition, commemorative cookie was $127.50. Prior to the closing of that transaction, a second buyer came forward and thanks to some fast work in the Tucows kitchen, a second cookie sale was brokered. A matching fund pushed the total money raised to over $500.

Net proceeds from the sale of the cookies will be donated to The Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, a Canadian charitable organization which Tucows has been a supporter of for many years.

Coast to Coast is Canada’s only national charity devoted to fighting childhood cancer. Coast To Coast Against Cancer ensures 100% of receiptable funds raised go toward improving the survival rate and quality of life of children (and their families) impacted by cancer. Learn more at http://www.coasttocoastagainstcancer.org.

Elliot Noss, President and CEO, Tucows Inc, noted that the company is always looking to tap into new growth areas that take advantage of the depth and breadth of talents within the company.

“It’s so important for a company to understand and revisit its core competencies,” said Noss. “What do we do well? What are our assets? We have 10 million domain names under management. We have 10,000 resellers. Fine. Good. But we also have a kitchen full of mixing bowls and spoons. We have a 24-hour convenience store a half a block away that sells flour and eggs. Cookies were a natural product extension for us.”

Ross Rader, General Manager at Hover, Tucows’ retail division, spearheaded the cookie sale initiative within Tucows.

“We’re thrilled to have our first cookie sale completed,” said Rader. “And we’re especially pleased that Coast to Coast, and the kids they help, will be the real benefactor of this new auction expansion.”

The charity auction continues a tradition at Tucows to give back to the community. “It’s really a win-win-win setup for everyone involved. Coast to Coast gets the cash, we get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, and the buyer can enjoy a yummy cookie knowing they’ve helped some special kids who are battling cancer,” said Rader.

The winning bidder was identified as Andrew Allemann, who runs DomainNameWire.com, the leading blog for the domain name industry. “I had to win this auction. This isn’t some reg fee name. This is a premium, category-killer for sure,” Allemann said in a blog posting revealing himself as the auction winner.

The cookie sale is just one of a number of fundraising inititives planned for 2010. Along with the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, Tucows supports other worthy causes including Creative Commons, Little Geeks Foundation, One Web Day, Parkdale Community Health Centre and others.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over ten million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 10,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

This news release may contain forward looking statements. The cookies may contain nuts, or other allergens.

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Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day at OpenSRS

We’re celebrating Ada Lovelace at OpenSRS. Women in technology make a difference every day. Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. This is a worldwide map of over 1900 pledged blog posts:

At OpenSRS, we have a talented array of women who are developers, programmers, implementation specialists, professional service experts, technical support, reporting specialists, account managers, customer service, sales representatives, video technology consultants, accounting, NOC analysts, technical writers, managers, directors, quality assurance specialists, marketers, communicators, ITIL-certified technologists, web designers, compliance officers, usability experts, human resources, internet savvy and more. Each of these talented folks makes our corner of the Internet run smoothly. We are in awe of their sheer force of knowledge. Here’s a picture of some of our talented folks:

We hope to inspire you to talk about the great work women contribute in your workplaces. And, we hope we can inspire young women to join our profession.

By the way, OpenSRS is looking for Application Developers, NOC Analysts, and QA/Developers . We welcome all skilled talent. And, men too!

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