OpenSRS: Reseller Friendly since 1999
 

Webinar: Control Panel In-Depth

It’s been a week or so since we introduced the Domain Manager tab in the OpenSRS Control Panel. We hope you’ve had a chance to dive in a play around and let us know what you think. We’ve already received some encouraging and constructive feedback – keep it coming!

We’re pretty excited about the Control Panel and what it can do, but a lot of the really neat stuff is behind the scenes. We know there’s a bunch of you who are keen on hearing about some of the neat kit that powers things like the search and filtering features. So we’re offering a webinar to bring some of that information to you.

Webinar: Control Panel In-Depth

With: Paul Tichonczuk, Senior Web Application Developer and James Koole, Communications Lead
When: Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM EDT [GMT/UTC -4]
Register now

The webinar will be hosted by yours truly and Paul Tichonczuk who is a Senior Web Application Developer here at OpenSRS. Paul T. is going to talk about some of this new tech and geek out a bit on how things fit together to provide the fast, intuitive interface that you now have in the Control Panel. I’ll take you through some of the neat things you can do with Control Panel – like filtering your domains lists, and how to setup DNS templates. Think of it as a bit of a power-users demo.

Do plan to check it out if you want to get some pro-tips and learn about some neat developer stuff. We promise to keep it understandable whether you are a developer or not!

Meet our Reseller: Webstarts

I just posted the latest in our Meet our Resellers series of articles about the various people and companies that work with OpenSRS.

This latest article takes a look at Webstarts.com, which provides a powerful, yet simple to use site builder and hosting solution for small business. The Tampa, Florida based company has been an OpenSRS Reseller since 2009.

Read the full article

Internet Explorer 6 Users. Help Us Help You

With the preview launch of our Control Panel, if you’re an Internet Explorer 6 user, it’s probably time we had a chat. And if you don’t want to talk to us, then please do us a favour and seek professional help before it’s too late. Because we care about you a lot, and it’s tough watching you put yourself through this.

The Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 web browser was unleashed released to the world more than ten years ago.

As we were designing the OpenSRS Control Panel, we made a decision, after ten long years, to drop support of Internet Explorer 6. Despite the very small reseller base this would affect, we still struggled with the idea that we were finally leaving some of them behind if they continue to use Microsoft’s infamous version of this browser.

Before we get too far into it, let’s put things in perspective with a quick overview of visitors to the opensrs.com website:

In the last 30 days, the OpenSRS website welcomed 40,887 visitors. Of these visitors, 20.91% were using the Internet Explorer web browser. Of those visits, 3.23% were using infamous version 6.

Using these numbers, it means that we’re no longer going to support 0.68% of visitors to our website (276 people) if they report a browser-related problem.

No customer-focused company wants to ignore concerns of its users, but at some point, this day of tough love had to come. On the plus side, there’s no downside to upgrading.

In fact, here are just some of the pros associated with taking the time to upgrade:

  • It’s free and doesn’t cost anything to upgrade.
  • There are multiple browsers available to choose from.
  • Better security and protection
  • Faster web browsing, Faster browser startup
  • Your computer will not crash as often
  • Support for the latest web standards

Depending on your connection speed to your ISP, you could be enjoying a shiny new web browser in less than five minutes!

Moving the world off Internet Explorer 6

If you still don’t believe us, look at the efforts Microsoft, the developer of the browser. Even they don’t want you to use it! They’ve been putting lots of effort into migrating IE6 users to a safer, faster, more secure browser:

The Internet can be a dangerous place. It’s important to protect yourself by using the latest version of your web browser. Anything less would be outright crazy. If you’re one of those people frustrated by choices and would rather be told what to do, then go download Mozilla Firefox and install it right now (and remember to keep it upgraded!)

Update

Perhaps the continued use of Microsoft IE6 can be attributed to the idea that not many people know what a browser is?

After writing this post, a friend directed me to this YouTube video, shot in Times Square, New York, by Google in 2009.

It’s a bit dated today in 2011, but it makes a good point that lots of average Janes and Joes simply don’t know what a web browser is. At the time of filming, only 8% of people knew that a browser was an application used to view webpages, with the majority of those surveyed believing the browser was the search engine itself.

The image used in this post was licensed from iStockPhoto.

Try Out the New OpenSRS Control Panel

It’s a pretty big day at OpenSRS – we’re ready to take the wraps off our Control Panel and let Resellers give it a try starting today. You’ll probably agree that it’s been a bit of a long time in coming, but we’re pretty sure that once you see it and try it out, you’ll agree that it was well worth the wait.

The Control Panel is far more than just a new skin for the current Reseller Web Interface (RWI). It’s a beautiful and modern web interface paired with a powerful new backend, both of which utilize the latest in web technologies. The result is a fast, intuitive place for you to quickly and easily manage your OpenSRS Services in ways that weren’t possible until now.


For example, using the Domain Manager in the Control Panel, you’ll be able to nearly instantly see a full list of domains in your account, including the status of each of those domains – like whether it’s set to auto-renew, when it expires, and if Contact Privacy is enabled. You’ll also be able to apply extensive filters to the list and see things like all the .com domains in your Reseller account that are expiring in the next 30 days – all in a matter of seconds.

And thanks to some of the great new technology that has been implemented, you can do all of this stuff whether you are managing three, 300 or even 300,000 domains.

It’s a Preview, not a beta

Keep in mind that the Control Panel is a work-in-progress. We’re very confident that you’ll find it stable and feature-complete enough to use as the primary way you interact with OpenSRS. That said, there are still some features and elements still to come. As a result, you will need to head back to the RWI to do certain tasks – things like funding your account, or using bulk tools.

More to Come…Soon!

We’re iterating quickly these days thanks to our agile development method and you can expect to see new features being added to the Control Panel fairly regularly until we’ve filled the gaps and brought over everything that exists in the RWI (and more). The addition of the Domain Manager tab to the Control Panel brings us one step closer to our goal of having a single, unified control panel that allows Resellers to manage domains, trust, email and publishing in one place.

We’ll be going into more detail about the thinking and also the technology behind the Control Panel in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Of course we’d also love to hear what you think. Learn more, then log in and take a look around. We’d love to hear what you think – drop us a line in the comments.

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.

 

Lessons Learned from Online Shopping Cart Usability Testing

Is your checkout process working for you, or working against you? We came across a great article on Smashing Magazine this week that we thought was worth sharing. It talks about the good, the bad and the ugly of e-commerce checkout design.

Almost all of the findings of the study apply to the hosting/domains industry, although the testing looks like it was done primarily on sites that sold physical goods. There’s a ton of overlap regardless of whether you are selling and shipping a widget to someone’s house, or taking them through a checkout for a domain name and hosting package.

Assume Nothing About Your Customers

Reading through the article, I found myself surprised by what I perceived to be a lack of general knowledge about “how things work” on the part of the test subjects. On more than a few occasions, I thought, “Seriously? They didn’t know how that works?” I also realized that it’s very easy to make assumptions about how users will interact with websites when those building them are used to the process.

This article is definitely worth a read if you are looking for ways to improve your overall customer experience and minimize your rate of cart abandonment.

Click here to read the article

Thanks to Flickr user Wiedmaier for the shopping cart image and for releasing it under a Creative Commons license.

Holiday Hours: Good Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter holidays from the OpenSRS team!

We’ll be closed this Friday April 22nd for the Easter holiday.

Our Technical Support team continues to be available 24/7 to assist you.

Please note that during this closure, there will be:

  • No orders or requests processed for the following TLD’s: .at, .fr, .ch, .li, .dk, .com.mx
  • No special processing for .ca (registrant transfers, conflicting and municipal registrations) or .eu/.be (redemptions).

Here are the hours by department:

Department Dates and Hours
Technical Support Regular hours
Payments Email support: payments@opensrs.org
Compliance Closed April 22nd (Friday)
Service Bureau Closed April 22nd (Friday)

Special thanks for Flickr user Alanna George for licensing their colourful Easter egg shot under a creative commons license.

New End-User Mobile Email Configuration Guides Available

Did you know that OpenSRS Email Service works great with the latest smartphones and other mobile Internet devices? Thanks to the fact that we offer IMAP support standard with all mailboxes, end-users with iPhones, iPads, Android devices and BlackBerries can access their OpenSRS Email Service mailboxes natively on their chosen device.

Mobile Email Configuration Guides

To help your customers get email configured on their device, we’ve put together a collection of mobile email configuration guides for the most popular mobile devices. These are white-label docs with text and screenshots that will walk your customers through the process of getting email setup.

Feel free to download and use them as is, or grab the content and adapt it to your specific domain name with your branding. As with all the documentation and marketing materials we provide, it’s free to use and adapt if you are an OpenSRS Reseller.

Download them here

What do you think?

We’d love to hear your feedback on these guides as well. Is there anything you’d change? Have we missed a popular device? Do you want them in a different format? Drop us a line in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.

Happy 5th Birthday .eu!

April 7th, 2011, marks the fifth birthday of the .eu domain extension. Since the launch back in 2006, over 3.4 million .eu domains have been registered. EURid, the operator of .eu, says registrations have doubled in the past 5 years, and that .eu now sits ninth overall amongst all TLDs.

The launch of .eu was particularly strong – about 1.7 million domains were registered that first month back in 2006. According to EURid, since then, “Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia have had the strongest .eu growth rates and Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Poland have emerged as .eu’s largest markets.”

.eu Growth Outpaces ccTLDs in Some Countries

They also point to growth rates higher than the local ccTLD in five EU member countries, including Germany, which has a very strong ccTLD in .de:

Country .eu growth ccTLD growth
Lithuania (.lt) 382% 249%
Czech Republic (.cz) 264% 207%
Austria (.at) 108% 92%
Belgium (.be) 79% 7%
Germany (.de) 65% 43%

.EU Promotion!

To celebrate the fifth birthday, we’re rolling out a .eu promotion starting April 7th, and continuing through the end of May, 2011. Two-year .eu registrations will be just $9.99 (USD) instead of the usual $14. You’ll have to sign up for this promo – complete terms are listed on the .eu promotion signup page.

Changes to how .eu Registrations Work

EURid is also making some changes to the way .eu registrations work to bring them more in line with other TLDs. Effective April 7th, 2011, you’ll be able to register .eu domains for terms of 1-10 years. Previously, .eu domains were only available in one-year terms. We’ve updated our documentation to reflect this change and you should also take note of a couple of other changes to how .eu domains work, specifically around transfers and expiry dates.

More information on .eu

You might want to check out .eu Identity Magazine, which is published by EURid and contains some great information about .eu and the people and companies who are using a .eu domain effectively. It’s available for download in PDF format.

We also provide some marketing assets for your use in promoting .eu. Those can be found in our .eu Marketing Resources section.

OpenSRS Domain Promotions

Are you taking advantage of our domain price promotions? These limited time offers are a great way to drive sales either within your existing customer base, or as a way to attract new customers to the fold.

Right now we have three price promotions going on, including great promos on .TV, .MOBI and .CO domains.

Our .TV promotion has been running since late last year, while the .MOBI promo was just recently extended through to the end of June! We’re just rolling out the .CO promo; it’s similar to the very successful Superbowl-related promotion we ran with .CO back in February. Check it out and signup to get a big discount on .CO domains this month.

How Our Domain Promos Work

Our promotions are usually done in conjunction with the registry operator for the domain extension in question. They extend special pricing to us, and we pass the savings along to you. Generally the registries are looking to lift sales of the extension and as a result, they usually require that you do some active promotion of their extension to your customer base.

That promotion can take the form of an email campaign, banner ads on your homepage, or even something like a Google Adwords campaign to drive traffic to your site, and to the specific domain extension that is on sale.

We try to make this as easy as possible for you by providing marketing materials like logos and banner ads when we can. For example, for the .TV promotion, we’ve provided a pretty complete package of marketing assets for you to use, including some videos that explain the unique value of .TV domains.

Signup Now

If you haven’t yet signed up for any of the ongoing promotions, head over to our promos page. As mentioned we have a trio of promos on right now:

Thanks to Flickr user “The Justified Sinner” for the pic.

The Elephant In The Room

You work in an intense competitive environment. Customers are always comparing your services and your prices to others’. When you mess up, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get defectors. When a competitor messes up, there’s a good chance you’re going to benefit.

So what do you do when a competitor messes up big? Maybe they have a huge outage. Maybe they get caught up in a legal battle. Maybe a senior employee ends up strangling a giraffe to death. Or just smacking around a monkey.

It is really tempting to call attention to the situation and position yourself as the antidote.

Just a few warnings:

  • Remember that you had your own mess ups in the past and will likely have them in the future. You will have outages. Maybe you once kicked a pigeon. Avoid inviting scrutiny and retaliation that will ultimately hurt you.
  • Be careful not to appear too opportunistic. If you suddenly start donating 10% of your revenues to save porcupines, it might seem more exploitative than generous. Maybe not. Sometimes the outrage is so great and the opportunity is so right. Also, honesty, creativity and humor can go a long way. Just be aware of the risk.
  • Stay on message. You work hard to stand for something. Great service. Innovation. Reliability. If you leap to a very different message because it’s trending on Twitter, you could sacrifice clarity and you might not be playing to your own strengths.

Having said all that, a competitor’s stumble is certainly an opportunity to step up your game. Their customers are going to come looking for alternatives. Make it simple for people to switch. Pound home the benefits of your service. Do all the things you likely do anyway. Just think about using this as an excuse to do them a bit better.

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

Announcing Comodo and Trustwave SSL products, plus Lower Pricing on GeoTrust and thawte

Today we’re announcing a number of changes to the OpenSRS Trust Service to make it easier for you to sell SSL and trust products to your customers.

Here’s a portion of the official news release:

TORONTO, Mar. 16 – Tucows Inc. (NYSE AMEX:TCX) (TSX:TC), a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, announced today that its wholesale Internet services division, OpenSRS, has added Comodo® and Trustwave® Internet security products to the OpenSRS Trust Service. The addition of these two brands further extends and enhances the choice in trust and security products available to its over 11,000 resellers worldwide.

Along with adding new providers, OpenSRS also announced lower wholesale pricing on a number of GeoTrust® and thawte® brand SSL Digital Certificates. This cost decrease allows OpenSRS Resellers to better compete on price in an evolving market for online security and trust. Read the full release…

In short, here’s what we’re doing today:

New Vendors – Comodo and Trustwave!



Starting today, we now offer SSL products from two new vendors – Comodo and Trustwave – bringing you and your customers much more choice in SSL products. Adding these two vendors alongside our existing products from VeriSign, GeoTrust and thawte means there are now well over 20 different SSL products available across five vendors and at different feature and price points– all available to you through your single OpenSRS account.

Lower Pricing on some GeoTrust and thawte SSL Products


We’re also announcing new lower pricing on some SSL products from GeoTrust and thawte. This better pricing will help you out in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market for trust and SSL. Price charts on OpenSRS.com have been updated with the new, lower pricing, where indicated.

More Information

We’ve updated our Trust Service webpages with all the new information including updated product grids for all five brands. You’ll also find marketing materials including logos and other information for our new vendors, Comodo and Trustwave, along with existing materials for VeriSign, GeoTrust and thawte.

As mentioned, everything is already live in your OpenSRS Reseller account. Just log in to the Reseller Web Interface, then look for the Trust Manager link. Documentation has also been updated to reflect the addition of the new vendors and products.

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