Posted by admin on June 18, 2012
An unprecedented land grab for new Web addresses began in earnest on Wednesday with fierce competition for new internet real estate including .app, .blog and .web from applicants hoping to break the near-monopoly of the .com top-level domain.
The ambitious plan to liberalise internet addresses attracted 1,930 applications, almost half of them from north America, with Web giants Amazon and Google applying for dozens of domains including .cloud, .buy and .book.
The liberalisation of top-level domains beyond the fewer than two dozen in existence – dominated by .com, .org and .net – is intended to stimulate competition and innovation by giving organisations more control over their Web presence.
Critics say the new suffixes are unlikely to catch on, and some trademark owners have complained that the move is causing them unnecessary expense – at $185,000 per application plus running costs – to defend their online turf.
Previous small-scale experiments in liberalising domains led to low take-up of suffixes such as .museum, .jobs and .travel.
“At the highest level, this is all about creating competition to .com,” said Jonathan Robinson, non-executive director of internet registry services company Afilias, which has applied for more than 100 new domains on behalf of clients.
“That’s where short, memorable, distinctive three-letter type terms become very interesting,” said Robinson, whose organisation already provides key infrastructure for .org, .info and .mobi.
Competing applications were received for 231 domain names. The most popular were .app with 13 bids, .home with 11, and .inc with 12. High bids are also reportedly expected for domains such as .pets, .porn and .pizza, according to reports.
Technology giant Apple’s claim to .apple was uncontested by the Apple music label or anyone else.
“The big names of the Internet have either invested massively or not at all,” said Stuart Durham, European sales director for Melbourne IT, which has handled 150 applications on behalf of clients.
“There appear to be no applications from Facebook or Twitter. There are different strategies in play here and some big gambles.”
Just 17 applications were received from Africa, and 116 for names in non-Latin alphabets. Expanding the Internet beyond the Latin alphabet was one of the original reasons behind the liberalisation drive, which began seven years ago.
ICANN will now spend the rest of the year assessing the applications, with contested domains going to auction where more than one party has a legitimate claim. The first new domains are likely to come online in the first half of 2013.
Some critics, including senior figures at Google, have warned that the liberalisation risks effectively privatising the Internet by giving already powerful Web players more scope to control portions of it.
“Our concern is that this could lead to more Facebook-style walled gardens as big brands seek to keep you in their own areas of the Internet,” said Stephen Ewart, marketing manager for Names.co.uk, a British domain-name registrar.
“Make no mistake, this change to the domain name world will lead to more competition and consumer choice, but it could also be viewed as a silent privatisation of the Web – for better or worse,” he said.
The project is a key test for U.S. non-profit organisation the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), whose authority to administer the Web’s naming systems is being challenged by emerging nations who say it is too U.S.-centric.
“The plan we have delivered is solid and fair,” ICANN Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom told journalists at a news conference in London. “It is our fundamental obligation to increase innovation and consumer choice.”
Nations including China, Russia and Brazil are pushing for ICANN’s functions to be transferred to a body such as the United Nations, in which governments would have more control.
ICANN is set to net some $350 million from the liberalisation project – about five times its annual budget.
Beckstrom said the organisation had priced the applications to cover its costs and that the use of any surplus would be decided by its community – which includes Internet companies, governments and ordinary citizens.
By: Georgina Prodhan
Posted by admin on June 14, 2012
You might not be the only one looking forward to your summer vacation.
July and August are the most popular months for home burglaries, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade organization.
And being away from home for an extended period can also lead to problems of the noncriminal variety — water leaks and storm damage, for example.
Jim Gustin, a senior property specialist with Travelers Risk Control, said that many of the precautions people need to take are pretty obvious. “But in the rush of trying to get out of town people are so anxious, they forget about what are fairly common-sense things,” he said.
One of those common-sense safeguards is adjusting the thermostat.
“We wouldn’t encourage people to shut off their air conditioner, because your home will increase in humidity, and that’s not good for furniture and other things,” he said. “But raise the temperature setting so you’re not paying for cooling when you’re not home.”
Keeping the air conditioner running can also be a deterrent to crime. A silent air conditioner on a hot day is an indication no one is home.
Gustin also suggested turning off your water while you’re gone — or at least check the water connections to appliances.
“We have a lot of losses from flex hoses to washers, ice makers. Obviously it’d be best to turn the water off, but if you can’t, check for damaged hoses.”
He cited several areas that should be checked outdoors.
Put away the patio furniture. That keeps it from being blown around during a storm and causing damage, or being swiped.
Swimming pools and trampolines are “attractive nuisances,” Gustin said. “You can’t put the pool away, but you can make sure the fence is in good shape and the gate is locked. A trampoline, put it away. You don’t want someone using it while you’re not home. Certainly it’s an attraction for kids when you’re not there.”
Check the roof to make sure there are no damaged or missing shingles that could lead to roof leaks while you’re gone.
Gustin had a few other suggestions, as did State Farm Insurance and the Florida attorney general’s office:
Set timers for interior and exterior lights, as well as TVs and radios. Vary the off-on settings.
Prevent power surges: Disconnect computers, TVs, stereos and other electronic devices, or make sure they’re plugged into surge protectors.
Don’t broadcast your vacation plans via Facebook or Twitter. And don’t leave a “we are on vacation” message on your answering machine.
Let immediate neighbors know you won’t be home, and ask them to keep an eye on your place. Give them your contact information, maybe even that of your insurance agent, in case something happens. You might even have a neighbor park his or her car in your driveway on occasion to make it appear somebody is home. If they’re really good neighbors, they might cut your grass and take in the mail (if they’re not, stop newspaper and mail delivery and hire a landscaper). “Have them … possibly even put out trash cans or collecting trash cans,” Gustin said. “Nothing says I’m away from home like a trash can sitting out at the curb four or five days after the trash has been collected.”
Give a set of spare keys to a trusted neighbor in case of emergency. Don’t leave keys in obvious hiding places — under the mat, beneath a flower pot, over a doorway. If they’re obvious to you, they’re obvious to a burglar.
Lock the garage. A burglar with easy access to an attached garage can work on getting into the house without fear of being seen. And even if the unlocked garage is detached, it’s probably full of items that can be stolen.
Make sure all windows and doors are locked. Sounds simple, but in the rush to start your vacation, it’s something that can be overlooked. According to a 2010 Department of Justice/FBI report, 32.6 percent of burglaries involved entries without force.
Invest in a safe-deposit box for jewelry and other valuables. Doing so also ensures that you don’t leave anything of value out in the open, where a burglar could spot it through a window.
Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you’re home.
By William Hageman
Posted by admin on June 4, 2012
When it comes to the little things that sellers do to make their homes stand out from the competition, a new splash of paint is usually at the top of the list. Sprucing up the front yard and removing the clutter you have learned to live with over the years also rank high.
But the No. 1 step you can take, according to a recent survey of realestate agents, is cleaning the place from top to bottom. Spending a few hundred bucks for cleaning supplies, rolling up your sleeves and getting to work will pay huge dividends, dollar for dollar, according to nearly all the 500 agents who participated in the HomeGain poll.
Actually, cleaning has ranked as the top home improvement suggested by realty professionals ever since HomeGain began asking the question in 2003. In the latest survey, the agents said spending $400 on cleaning is likely to gain sellers $2,000 more at closing. That’s a 400 percent return on investment.
Of course, there is clean and then there is really clean. Here are some tips gleaned mainly from the folks at The Maids, a residential cleaning service with about 150 franchises in 40 states, with suggestions from professional house cleaner Mary Findley (also known as Mary Moppins) thrown in for good measure:
You may not look up when you walk around your house, but would-be buyers do. They look everywhere, so knock down any cobwebs, clean the blades on the ceiling fans and remove the dust that has built up on the top of window and door frames, as well as other places it tends to accumulate.
Now look down and clean your baseboards.
You’ll want to shower your place with light to show it off, especially at night, so remove the bugs that have accumulated in your light fixtures and clean the glass. Replace the bulbs with new ones. That way, Findley says, you won’t have a burnout during a showing.
Walls and ceilings should be dusted. For textured surfaces and rough wood, slip three lint roller tubes over a paint roller and roll.
Wipe down front and back doors, including screens. Remove oil spots from garage floor and driveway. Polish doorknobs, hinges and drawer handles, and clean your trash cans.
Wash the windows, inside and out. Findley cleans windows with a 32-ounce spray bottle filled with 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and the rest distilled water.
For best results, wash on a cloudy day. Sunlight dries the glass quickly, causing streaks.
Window treatments tend to trap dust and odors. Dry-clean or at least vacuum drapes. Roll up blinds to remove them. Then loosen and wash in a tub of warm, soapy water with a cup of white vinegar. Rinse and lay flat on a towel outside to dry.
Alternatively, hang the blinds outside with the slats facing down. Spray from bottom to top with foaming tub and tile cleaner, a Findley favorite. Sponge off with water, then flip them over, turn the slats in the other direction and repeat. “Sparkling blinds in 15 minutes,” Findley says.
Clean the stove and oven. If you have burner drip trays, replace them. The cost is minimal, and they will make the range sparkle. As an alternative, Findley suggests placing dirty drip pans in a plastic bag with a 50/50 mixture of water and ammonia. Let sit for a day, then scour and rinse.
Don’t overlook the range hood — not just the top, but also underneath where grease tends to accumulate. Spray foaming tile and tub cleaner, wait a few minutes and wipe.
Eliminate lingering odors in the dishwasher by running it with a couple tablespoons of Tang, the powdered breakfast drink.
Decluttering goes along with cleaning. Since lookers will peer in your kitchen cabinets and drawers, take everything out, pack away what you’re not using and neatly restack what’s left — but not before wiping the shelves and drawers clean.
Cabinet doors don’t need to be replaced or resurfaced, just cleaned, Findley says. Start with a wood cleaner to deep-clean the doors, then apply a wood restorer to replenish the finish.
Shampoo carpets and then vacuum daily. “Nothing screams clean like visible carpet pile lines,” according to The Maids.
Wood and tile floors should be mopped. Clean the grout too. If your linoleum floor no longer holds a shine, strip it with a janitorial-grade wax remover and redo with janitorial non-yellowing wax, which Findley says holds up longer than most store waxes. That way, if it takes longer than expected to sell, at least you won’t have to rewax.
In the bathroom, clean showers, sinks and tubs. Remove hard-water spots and soap scum by spraying them with undiluted, heated white vinegar. Let soak 15 minutes before scrubbing.
Alternatively, Findley suggests applying a concentrated orange-based cleaner full-strength. Give it at least an hour to dissolve soap residue. Then use a white scrub pad — only white; any other color will scratch the surface — to remove the buildup.
To get rid of water rings in the toilet bowl, drain the bowl and saturate several heavy-duty shop paper towels with orange cleaner or white vinegar. Plaster the sides of the bowl with the towels and let sit for several hours. For a quicker solution, try the stuff you use to clean tile grout.
Wash shower curtains and liners. Wash glass doors as you would showers and tubs above.
Hit mildew with straight hydrogen peroxide as opposed to bleach, the fumes of which can be overpowering in small spaces.
By Lew Sichelman