AUTHOR: Shannon

My Trip to Another Planet: An American Goes to Munich to Talk Domains

Smash and Shamazon do Munich

Smash and Shamazon do Munich

The Internet is freaking exploding with growth. Not only is it expanding by the creation of new namespace via new TLDs, but access to the internet across the globe is growing rapidly, supplemented by technologies like tablet devices and mobile smartphones making it even easier to plug in. Information is a commodity and as humans we are addicted. I’m pretty sure I already knew this, but I hadn’t synthesized what it means to you, to me … to all of us, until I had my mind = blown in Munich. Product Manager (and all around badass) Shannon Brown and I had the pleasure (and I use that word lightly because I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine after an 8+ hour flight) of traveling to Munich to learn about the New TLDs at the conference. Though the travel was long and exhausting, I walked away with a refreshed and energized perspective on the future of the Interwebs and the role our team is going to play in it. If you’re looking for a lowdown on who spoke at the conference READ THIS. The info nuggets and mini brain explosions about the intersection of “Life + The Internet” I walked away with are below:

tl;dr: The Internet is fundamentally changing, expanding, and growing rapidly. It will continue to alter how we live, interact, and do business. New TLDs provide an enormous opportunity for innovation, so start your brainstorming.

We got hacked

Many of you received our email or saw online that was hacked. The truth is that it’s one of the more painful admissions that can be made on the Internet. We want you to know that when we say that we “give a shit” we truly mean it. In an effort to maintain the open, honest, and transparent reputation we’ve built for ourselves, we’re going to give you the lowdown on what happened and what we did in response.

Our security team alerted us that unauthorized individuals had accessed our database. After doing some digging we found that the attack seemed to be geared toward a few specific accounts. The hackers had a target and was a means to that end.

The information that was accessed includes usernames, passwords, physical addresses, email, hashed passwords and encrypted credit card data. EPP codes (required for domain name transfers) are not stored in the same place so those were not compromised. For the techies who are wondering, the encryption on the credit card information is 4096 bit RSA. Since the password hashes were compromised we took proactive steps and initiated a site-wide password reset (hence the email, apologies for the inconvenience).

We are genuinely sorry for the annoyance and the scare. We’re taking this incredibly seriously and are doing everything possible to continue to improve the security of our systems. We greatly appreciate the support across the web and over the phones.


Why you should care about domain names.

Dan Gillmore of the Guardian recently wrote an article, “Why everyone should register a domain name.”  It struck a chord with me in several ways, so I’d like to add to his line of thought. If you’re reading this on our blog you likely already understand the importance of domain names, so I invite you to share this message with your younger sisters and older fathers – those who don’t know and more importantly don’t care what a “domain name” is.

A domain name is what you type into the URL bar. Without domain names, we’d be entering countless, meaningless numbers in order to navigate to our favorite dos equis domainssites. Domain names are a part of a larger Domain Name System (DNS) that make serving up content on different sites possible (if you want to know the full on technical explanation behind it, just ask.). All you really need to know is if you want a slice of the Internet pie, you can have one, it’s called a domain name.

So why might you want a slice of the pie? Well, the Internet is powerful. But you don’t need me to tell you that, this you already know. So how is it relevant to you? Well, what do you want? Let’s get existential, what are your life passions? What beats through your body and makes your heart sing? How do you want to be known? Who are you?

Whether you are looking for a job, want to start a movement or spread a message, connect & communicate with like minded people, share your artwork – or share yourself and your interests with the world – a blog is the perfect way to get started, and a domain name is the first piece to the puzzle.

As Gillmore notes, “tomorrow’s adults will need an online home they control.” Sure, we’re all on Linked in & the like, but the difference is that for Facebook and Twitter, etc you and me are the suppliers of content; they decide how to use and monetize the data. That doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. When it comes down to something as precious and personal as our online identities, control & ownership is increasingly important.

You don’t have to be a programmer and know code to get online and get your message out and your identity defined. There are countless tools that are making this increasingly easier. Recognizing the importance of simplicity, recently rolled out RapidPress, a 1 click WordPress install on hosting.  Just a few clicks and you’re off and blogging. Take advantage of services such as these and get yourself out there. Who do you want to be? What are you trying to do?

We love, respect, and build the Internet. Join us!

PS big ups to Gillmore for recognizing the importance of domain names and getting the word out to the public. Now if he’d just transfer his names from Hover to already! 😛

Why your company should sponsor a hackathon

hackingThough can be described as a constant hackathon, last week we participated in our first ever official hackathon sponsored by Demand Media.

It went down something like this: Anybody who wanted to participate was given the opportunity to pitch an idea to the team. Sky’s the limit, anything inside or outside of our current industry/business was fair game. Pitches began Wednesday morning and shortly there after teams formed. We had 9 pitches all & all.

Teams went off in different directions and began hacking. We worked for the remainder of Wednesday, all of Thursday, and presented our ideas at 1pm on Friday.

Not only did we get some super solid ideas (everything from customer facing products to tools for our customer support team) but what we learned through the process has proved invaluable.

The hackathon was the biggest disruption to my usual workflow todate, in one of the most positive and productive ways imaginable.

What was different?

  • No formal meetings
  • No time spent in inbox or chat
  • One single focus & goal for the day
  • ( + awesome f*cking attitude)

I feel like I should charge for that advice. Seriously, it’s a winning combination. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish when you give yourself the mental bandwidth to focus on one clear objective, with no distractions pulling you off that topic/project for the entire day. Once you’ve cleared yourself of interruptions and disturbances you’ll find that you can dig a lot deeper into topics/projects since you’re not constantly trying to bring yourself back up to speed on where you last left off. The thoughts start to flow naturally.

“Attitude is everything” as they say … and 3 days working with a team to bring an idea (that started out as a joke) to life, has proven to me that attitude really can be everything. The energy is contagious and gives the project a type of momentum you can’t pay for or make up. We all went home at night and couldn’t turn our brains off in terms of how to monetize our idea, what it should look like, V2 and V3 features etc. Attitude has to be organic and genuine for it to truly work, but you can literally watch it snow ball and take on a life of its own.

The Team dynamic:
Go-to marketing peeps sprinkled with a UI developer, 3x programmers and a systems guy. In one condensed discussion we covered what we hoped to achieve, how it should look, and how that works programmatically.  It was so brilliantly simple. We ( have talked a lot about pulling together collaborative teams (someone from each department) to push projects forward but this felt like one of the few times in recent history that we genuinely used that method, and it felt gooooood.

It was also interesting to see how different people work together, who jives really well, what talents and personalities compliment each other, what tools people use and what resources they pull from. Different perspectives all working through the same problem from many different angles is powerful to see in action. No formal barriers for approval existed; it was based on group consensus and gut. We were therefore able to move fast and iterate as necessary, the way it should be! No barriers and therefore no paralyzation. Social proof, a quote from our UI ninja on the last day, “I feel so humbled to be a part of this team that has pushed so much forward in just a few days. it’s remarkable to be on a team that put aside egos to get a stellar app idea developed. We are a well-oiled machine!”

not complete w/ out the Canadian ClubWe even got a late night email after a glass of vino from our lead software engineer,  “I’m glad we all are getting to experience what we are doing with and I quite honestly cannot think of a better group of individuals to put together and get something like this knocked out and accomplished. It’s what happens when a perfect storm of egoless ambition, know how, and quite possibly most important of all, a mutually shared excitement come together in the right place at the right moment. I’ve been there before and nothing feels better in terms of personal fulfillment and genuine tangible accomplishment.”

Lessons learned:

  • Empowerment: We are a super talented team that can do just about anything we set our minds to.
  • Attitude: It matters. A lot.
  • Shake it up! A diversely skilled group of people working on new and different ideas outside of their normal work flow is a recipe for innovation and awesomeness.

Part II:
The ideas!

New owners, same company

We are thrilled to announce that, as of the first of the year, is now part of the Demand Media Family! We’ve got new owners but rest assured we’re still the same team you know and love. A large part of what made so appealing to Demand was our free-spirited, off beat company culture (they totally had a crush on us but that’s awkward now since we’re family and all… moving on). They have emphasized that they want to keep our unique culture intact, which we’re very pleased to hear because that means we can keep having fun!

So what does this mean for you? Good things. We have great vibes about joining the Demand family (they have Beer Fridays too). Together we believe we’ll be able to build on our current success and totally kick @$$! We’re happy to have you along for the ride because at the end of the day, it always has been and always will be about you, the customer. Cheers from your favorite beer drinking nerds at!

Oh, and if you have any doubts about us changing, fear not – we’ve already implemented a fail safe to make sure that doesn’t happen. Check it out:

Thanks to Demand for having a good sense of humor. This may have been meant to be.