Why you should always (ALWAYS) keep your own domain name registration

Years ago, it seems, web hosting providers and web developers offered a nice service to folks who wanted to establish a web site. As most people know today, one of the first steps is to register a domain name. Doing that isn’t very difficult, but it can be a bit tricky to take your registered domain and point it to the right place. If you don’t do it correctly, when someone types in “www.yourcooldomain.com” the Internet doesn’t know how to make your web site show up in the user’s browser.

To help clients avoid these hassles, web developers and hosting providers began to include domain registration as a part of their service. This service made life much easier for web site owners (although it probably caused the sale of Tylenol to tank since there were fewer headaches).

As convenient as this additional service is (or was), it poses one potential problem: what happens if your developer who registered your domain for you goes out of business? Or sells its business to someone else? What happens if the developer doesn’t transfer registration of your domain name to the company buying his business? Or forgets to transfer it? Or retires and moves to Jamaica?

I’m dealing with a problem like this right now. I manage a web site for a local organization that set up its site 15 or more years ago. The organization’s domain name was maintained by the web hosting provider, a small one-man operation it seemed. He sold his business to someone else, but the web domain didn’t get transferred to the new owner. We’re moving hosting platforms, but we can’t seem to contact the chap who has our domain registration. The domain has an anti-transfer lock turned on, so it’s not like we can easily transfer the domain to our own registrar.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is that you are better off keeping your own domain name registration rather than letting someone else maintain it for you. If that someone else disappears, you could face even bigger headaches than the ones you avoided.

OK, now that I’ve found the courtroom door…

It’s been several months since I posted here. While the transition from private practice to the bench went pretty smoothly, it has taken some time for me to get a good grasp of falls inside the realm of permissible (i.e. “safe”) commentary and what doesn’t. (For those who care, in a nutshell I need to avoid the appearance of endorsing things.)

Now I need to take a little time to figure out what I want to write about that falls within the safe zone. Stay tuned…

A funny thing happened on the way to the office…

Starting on July 13, 2015 I will serve as a magistrate judge in the St. Joseph Circuit Court in South Bend. Because of my new duties, I will need to very carefully figure out what the limits are for members of the judiciary who want to blog.

This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I hope to be able to keep this blog up in one form or another to occasionally (okay, okay, infrequently) comment on things that pique my interest.

Stay tuned!

Review: Tile—a tool for finding lost stuff

Like most homes, our house has a back door. The back door has a deadbolt lock that is keyed separately from our other doors. We use this door several times a day to let our two golden retrievers outside.

For convenience, we used to keep the key to the back door on the countertop next to it. Sometimes that key would end up on the kitchen table near the back door if we had to clean off muddy paws or something like that. Having the key on the table would create a minor delay while one or both dogs were anxiously awaiting the chance to go outside. On some occasions, however, the key would end up somewhere else entirely. In another room. Across the kitchen. In a drawer. Oddly enough, this began happening right around the time that our child was tall enough to reach things on the counter. He denied all liability, however, so I have to assume this was merely a case of correlation rather than cause-and-effect.

Last year, my wife decided to pledge to a Kickstarter project called Tile. This project developed a small square tile with an RFID chip inside that could be detected by an app running on a smart phone. If you attach the Tile to an object, you can find that object using your phone. After the Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded, we received our Tiles. My wife immediately put the key to our back door on a key ring with a Tile. She also noted that our Apple TV remote often disappears (it’s small enough to slip between cushions on a couch), so she affixed a Tile to that as well.

Several months later, I am prepared to say that Tile works perfectly. Neither the key to the back door nor the Apple TV remote have gone missing since being Tiled. This may not have been what the folks at Tile had in mind, but it is certainly working well regardless.

In all seriousness, we have tested the devices and iPhone app, and Tile works very well. It’s impressive that the app lets you home in on the RFID signal with accuracy.

At $20 per Tile, it is money well spent keeping track of those things in your home that seem to wander off.

To my friends at the ACLU, stay out of Hollywood

The Internet is awash in repeated (and retweeted) reports that the ACLU wants an inquiry into gender discrimination in Hollywood. Some readers know I was active in the Indiana affiliate of the ACLU (even served a couple of years as its president). I often support much of what the ACLU works on, but on this instance I have to part ways with them.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of evidence of gender discrimination in Hollywood. And something ought to be done about it. But this is not an issue the ACLU should be pushing.

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded with a core purpose of protecting civil liberties—the rights found in the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution. The ACLU’s purpose is to keep government from overstepping its bounds—even when that overstepping is wildly popular.

Hollywood, for all of its power, is not a governmental actor. It cannot infringe on First Amendment or even Equal Protection rights. Only a government can do that. Like it or not, there’s not a single thing in the Constitution that requires private industry to treat women fairly.

Again, I’m not saying Hollywood should be able to discriminate. I’m only saying that this issue is not something within the ACLU’s purpose. There are plenty of things the government is up to (NSA spying, police abuses, etc.) that needs the ACLU’s limited resources. Spending its time and money on something that involves private industry engaging in bad behavior is unwise.