Auctioning/Selling Some Domain Names… To Sell or Not To Sell?

I have owned a number of good domain names for quite some time now. I think some were even registered before you actually had to pay… It was done one a first come, first served, way and people just took what they needed. It was a good time back then :-).

I got a couple of good domains… I forgot to get my own name, or my last name, or something like that — what an idiot I am :-)!!!! But I got a couple good names….

and one of my favorites…. and attracts a lot of traffic from Mexico (for obvious reasons, but I wouldn’t have “gotten” it myself if i didn’t see it…)

Well recently I have been made aware of the value of domains lately. There have been a number of past domain auctions, with several lately doing very well, selling domains at a high price. Which makes the idea of selling my domains very enticing. I think I should, but it’s a bit intimidating, especially putting them up for auction.

I have an understanding of the value of these domains. One has some sentimental value, which I know is worth crap :-)… and I’d be happy to sell them. But I don’t want to let them go at a bargain price, although I would consider “fair” prices :-)! So do I put them up for auction, or do I sell them in a direct/private sale, and then to who…?

Breakfast with Christopher Cox, Chairman of the SEC

Wow, he’s really smart!!!!

I had an opportunity to attend a breakfast at which Christopher Cox, Chairman of the SEC, spoke this morning. While many will say, “So what, you and 200 other people!” it does matter because he came to speak at a function (the breakfast) held by the organization that my mother runs, Town Hall Los Angeles. So connections are important, I get to meet and be introduced, etc. It’s a very cool thing :-)! And the event was spectacular. Of course I’m biased, but having attended a lot of these types of events, this one was fabulous. Everything went well and if there was a problem (I didn’t notice any) it was handled and not seen. Even the food was edible, which is a rarity at these types of gatherings!

What can I say about Chairman Cox… again, he’s a really smart guy! Have you ever been to a meeting where you sit around hear people talk and then the person that’s been quiet opens their mouth and speaks… and says what others have been trying to say but does it in such an eloquent and direct way that everyone not only understands it, but takes it to heart? That is how Chairman Cox spoke.

He came to speak, and was a bit late because he decided to give a speech that actually had market implications, not just to give a canned speech (in my family, many of us have had to give a lot of speeches, so when asked, “What did you talk about this time?” and it’s a canned speech we’ve given before we say something like “Oh, I gave speech 112-B.”) So why was he late? He had to release the speech publicly prior to giving it and had trouble doing so. It was explained that he had some problem with his Clipper Chip and the computer. In the end, he had to go and use another computer and was on his hands and knees under the desk fixing it so he could release the speech and then give it. Very funny to imagine the Chairman of the SEC under a desk fixing a computer, but it happened :-)!

What did he speak about… Municipal Securities. I’m sure you will hear a lot about it in the news later today/tomorrow. As I said, it had market implications (according to him and his “handlers”). He started by explaining a bit about what municipal securities are, even though it was a room filled with lawyers and accountants from all the big firms, etc., but it was good for us lay people. He explained that they aren’t just bonds and securities offered by governments for roads and the like, but also those bonds issued by said municipalities for funding things like stadiums, convention centers, etc. He also threw out some statistics on how large the municipal securities market was. Let’s just say it’s huge, larger than the GDP of China, about $2.4 trillion. Wow, that’s a really big number!

Net, net he talked about how the rules for municipal securities were different from corporate offerings. While that was all well and good when Securities Laws were enacted over 70 years ago and the municipal securities market was in a nascent state, these days it’s huge and has serious implications for investors (he gave figures here too, something that something like 25% of all muni-securities are held by individuals at small dollar values and another huge chunk held indirectly by individual through mutual funds, etc.). Chairman Cox said that he was fighting for the small guy, the individual investor, and even showed his humor by referencing local baseball by saying, the SEC goes after the Dodgers, but cheers for the Angels ;-)! Basically, Chairman Cox eluded to the need for reform in securities law to be able to act before there is a “meltdown” such as with New York City’s bankruptcy in the 70’s, Orange County California’s debacle of the 90’s and what San Diego went through recently. His other funny analogy was CalTrans (California Transportation) and that they put up signs that say “Bridge Out Ahead” instead of just having an ambulance at the bottom of the ravine, waiting.

So again, I say a very smart man that I really enjoyed hearing speak. He really appears to have the individual investor at heart, not just the large or institutional investors. He understands that the aggregate of small investors is a large sum and they need to be protected and be able to understand the documents. Hence the desire to make changes in such a huge securities market that has opened up to smaller/individual investors these days. So look for changes to come in the laws regarding filings and disclosures in the municipal securities market!

Joystiq Meet-Up at Mahalo

I went to a meet-up at Mahalo’s offices yesterday evening. I wanted to see what the offices were like, see who was there, and possibly get free food and drink.

I’ll start with the free food and drink…. Pizza and wings with beer and drinks. Pizza was good, didn’t have the wings. Beer out of a keg, haven’t don’t that in a long, long time — especially out of the beer distributor “free” plastic cups! But the pizza was good…. 🙂

The folks that were there were the “gamer” gang, as E3 had just finished up in Santa Monica that day. So to put it politely, it was a sausage fest! Not that I expected any females, but I think there were less than a dozen. I did bump into a couple friends, one from Yahoo! and we had a good conversation, eating and drinking for free. Who doesn’t enjoy eating and drinking for free :-)?

Ok, now for the “fun” part, but I should be cautious and politically correct… I really went to see Mahalo’s offices, etc. First let me say that I have been acquainted with Jason Calacanis for quite some time, since his days of running seminars and publishing magazines (Silicon Alley Reporter). I am constantly amazed at his marketing and PR ability and admire him for that… I don’t admire him for the work that he has produced. Let’s not even talk about Mahalo, his latest venture which I think is best explained in this blog posting. What got me was when we reacquainted ourselves and talked about someone we mutually knew, he commented that this person deserved the great gig they currently have. Personally, I differ a lot with that school of thought. This person is not ethically/morally sound in my opinion, and it threw what little respect I had left for Jason out the window! What made it even funnier is when a friend came up to me, we chatted and had the same opinion about Jason and his accomplishments/work product. It’s kind of like seeking professional help and asking, “am I nuts?”, and being reassured that it’s others that are out of whack :-)!!! But again, Jason can put lipstick on a pig and dress it up nice, and he’s great at doing so. I just wonder when someone else (those that “fund”) will notice that it’s still just a pig!?!

Mahalo’s office space is nice and open, in a small industrial/stip mall type of thing, and larger than I thought they would be. Not to mention, literally right around the corner from my house, less than a block away. So if they have another opportunity for free food/drinks, I’m there :-)! Happy to mooch of just about anyone, even if I don’t respect ’em, free food/drink is just that, free, and free is good :-)!

I did take some pictures, but they’re not worth posting. Imagine a bunch of guys playing a Wii projected on a wall. Kind of like a bunch of 13 year olds hanging out at the house, but this had free beer! The best part of the evening (other than the free pizza and beer) would definitely have to be Jason’s dog, Toro. He’s this fat Bulldog that would just hang out. I wonder how much pizza he was fed? Bummer to take him on a walk today….

2 Days and Counting With My iPhone

I was one of those that had to have the new iPhone, so I waited in line, got sun burnt (I feel like a french fry and look like a lobster), but it was worth it. There have been a lot of things said about it, even on a cool mailing list I’m on (called the Pho List… pho being Vietnamese soup with “stuff” in it) with some really cool people, including the likes of Michael Robertson of MP3.com fame (he also has other sites/businesses that deal with VoIP and digital delivery/storage of music) and other digital luminaries…. We all have opinions about it, but here’s what I think after actually having one and using it for a couple of days….

First, let me preface this by saying that I am a gadget junkie and have had or used pretty much every decent phone out there!

Right off the bat, I have to say that the big deal everyone is making about price, and price over time is blown way out of proportion!!!! I have been a Cingular/AT&T customer forever, so signing up for a new 2 year contract isn’t a big deal for me. And the costs the everyone is talking about over time are virtually the same as they were with my old contract. My minute plan didn’t change, the unlimited data plan that is attached with the iPhone is actually cheaper than it was on my old rate plan, although the unlimited SMS text plan for the iPhone is more expensive than on the old rate plan…. So in the end, my service fees are about the same as they were before my iPhone. People are making a big deal about the thousands of dollars that you are going to spend on the service plan over the 2 year contract… but I was going to have to pay that anyway with a piece of crap phone too :-)!!!

Now, as for the iPhone experience. My first thought was that the GSM SIM card was hard coded into the phone. That was because it comes with one built in and it must be there for activation through the iTunes software. I was corrected about this point by the Pho List very quickly :-). With that resolved/corrected, one of the major reservations I had about it is gone :-)!

The screen is amazing! The touch interface is a thing of beauty!! The syncing is seamless and since it is, my home machine and phone/handheld are more up to date than they have been in years :-)!

Another thing that I have found to be great is the iPod features! I normally don’t use my iPod except when at the gym. It’s a pain to carry so many devices, and this integrates so many…. And since the screen is so large, I am finally using the video features of the iPod. For instance, instead of buying the newspaper this morning at breakfast, I had downloaded and sync’d (automatically remember, ’cause I’m subscribed to it via iTunes) “Meet the Press” and watched it at breakfast. Very cool!!!! I also find my self listening to music as I walk about town. Again, something I didn’t do ’cause of the multiple device issue….

I have become very used to the virtual keyboard and find that I can type faster with one finger than I could on my Treo via thumbing. And now I am practicing thumbing on the virtual keyboard and it’s going well. You have to “learn” to trust the auto spelling, kind of like “using the force”. the auto spelling is far easier to use than T9 or any other such thing on phones for SMS’ing. The dictionary is huge (word wise, not size wise) and it works well. One thing that you can’t do is type while driving, no tactile feel, but that could be considered a good thing I guess as it’s making me safer on the streets :-)!

Email is also a thing of beauty, showing the full thing in it’s original format. The fonts are really legible and not only in mail, but in all the apps. And browsing… GREAT! Look, it’s not your desktop computer, but it’s actually usable, either via wifi (where it really cooks) or via the EDGE network on AT&T (which has been improved I understand… it’s faster than my treo was by far!). It has the horsepower to do what it claims.

Another nice thing about the iPhone is that it’s OS X underneath, so it’s a form of UNIX…. and you know what that means, multi-tasking! So when you open up a web page and it is taking a minute, you can go to mail or SMS and then come back and the page has loaded. You can switch between applications without a worry, and it brings you back to where you were before when you switch back. Again, can I say a thing of beauty!

Other folks have complained about the iPhone being a “closed” system with no third party application development for it. But I would have to disagree. What they are whining about isn’t really that important in my mind. People want instant messaging (IM), they want a VoIP client, they want GPS….

IM can be replaced with SMS, and while it does cost where IM’ing doesn’t… if you get the proper plan, it’s really not noticeable (hey companies gotta make money somewhere, this is a capitalistic society after all), so I don’t think that it’s a deal breaker.

VoIP is also a hot topic since this phone has wifi built in. Folks want to use something like Skype to save on minute charges…. While it doesn’t exist now, it may in the future, but then again, is it really needed? I use Skype, but only for international calls to my developers in India, etc. Here in the US, all calls are covered under my rate plan with no long distance or roaming charges. When I travel, I don’t use the phone that much and know that there is a potential for charges so I’m careful not to rack up a gazillion dollar bill. I don’t see how VoIP could be so important for such a small usage of my time spent talking on the phone, but that’s just me….

GPS is something that would be nice, but it’s not going to happen in this model of iPhone :-(! I could also use an expansion slot for a memory card, but in reality, I haven’t filled up the one that was in my Treo (1Gb), so I don’t think i’ll really worry about filling up the 7+Gb that’s left in the iPhone after the OS.

The thing that I would really like is a “Search” function. I have a lot of contacts and sometimes Forget a name, but know that the company is in there or something like that, and I’d like to be able to search for contacts and events. This is probably the most important feature request I would have.

I’d also like MMS (multimedia messaging service… basically SMS’ing pictures), but again, with a great email client I can live without by just emailing an attachment. It would also be cool if the camera did video, but seeing as if I never used that feature on any of my other phones, it would be cool but I don’t think it’s important.

So in the end, if this is Apple’s form of DRM and a closed/locked system, then call me a convert, I drank the cool-aid. This is definitely the best phone that I have ever used and it’s great things make it’s foibles acceptable if not irrelevant!

I love my iPhone and just wish everyone would stop being “grabby” and want to pick it up and play with it… it’s mine, go get your own :-)!