Dot BigBang

Dot BigBang

If you haven’t already heard about new generic Top-Level Domains (or gTLD) then you might be excused for thinking it’s of no interest to you.

Current top-level domain names (TLD) are restricted to the known extensions such as .com, .net and .org. Some additional extensions like .biz and .info were later introduced, but these have not gained widespread adoption for reasons I’ll go into a little later.

For the uninitiated, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the authority responsible for managing global Internet domain names. They have been under pressure to expand (or in my view deregulate) the domain name registry market and as a result are accepting applications for what they call ‘new’ generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD).

A new gTLD can be pretty much anything. For example, you might want to start up your own Internet registry for farmers, offering domain names with the .farm extension. To achieve this you pay a hefty $185,000 evaluation fee to ICANN, submit your application and eventually you might end up as the official owner of the .farm registry. ICANN estimates that they may issue up to 1,000 of these new gTLD extensions in a year.

The general concept is that since the amount of meaningful names in the popular .com namespace is finite, introducing new gTLDs will expand the pool of available names. The theory being that someone like Apple Farm Co then has a chance of registering a name like apple.farm for their business.

In practice however all that happens is that the owner of the existing .com variant uses their trademark ownership rights to secure ‘their’ name via a sunrise registration period and so most of the names are taken before the registry even opens its doors for public registrations.

The introduction of .biz and .info is a perfect example of this. The .com owner doesn’t want or need a new gTLD variant of their name, but they are compelled to purchase it as a defensive registration. The end result is more spend for no commercial benefit and no appreciable increase in the available name space.

So how will these new gTLDs improve the situation? I’m stumped. Ever since ICANN announced the new gTLD program, I have been trying to think of a compelling use case for them.

Faced with the myriad of confusing and unfamiliar new gTLDs and concerned at the risks of online fraud, end-users will seek refuge in the provenance of .com. All this will do is reinforce the value of the traditional domain name extensions.

.com remains the undisputed domain heavyweight and I don’t see that situation changing any time soon. The only obvious winners in the gTLD game will be ICANN, registrars and consultants out to persuade you to register even more domain names you don’t need.

Twitter journalism

I’ve ranted previously about shoddy BBC journalism, more recently I’ve seen more examples of what I term Twitter journalism. The worst protagonist for cultivating this drivel is Daily Mail Online, but that’s their raison d’être and absurd sensationalism is what you expect when you visit their site.

It’s sad to see the scourge of Twitter journalism now creeping insidiously into BBC News. There’s no better example than this article on BBC News: HD signal ‘lost’ during Wimbledon

That looks interesting I thought, surely as lead broadcaster the BBC would be the most dependable news organisation to go to for the low-down.

How wrong could I be! Never have I seen such a moronic and baseless article, totally devoid of facts or informative content.

It starts well enough:

Viewers watching Andy Murray and David Ferrer’s Wimbledon quarter final clash missed vital seconds of the match as BBC One HD went off the air.

So what was the cause?

“It was down on Sky [and] Freeview,” said one viewer on Twitter. “Sky had a very basic fault message on a black background. Freeview was just black.”

You’ve just told us that. We don’t need it reiterating by a random faceless quote.

But the match was still available on the BBC’s standard definition channel. Dozens of people complained about the loss of picture on social media sites.

Yes yes, I understand that people were rightly upset about the break in transmission. So what actually happened?

“Who’s stolen BBC HD?” asked Neil Sculley on Twitter.

“When will the HD return?” added Richard M. “It’s been about 20 mins and no announcement.”

No factual news content here, just a few questions scraped up from Twitter. I’m still none the wiser.

Some viewers reported that when the picture did return, it was a standard definition picture, not HD.

But, by 18:00, normal service appeared to have been restored.

“Appeared”? In case you hadn’t noticed, you work for the BBC. Wasn’t there someone in the internal directory you could ask?

“Panic over, HD resumed on BBC,” said Jamie Grace.

“Murray is now even uglier and angrier than normal.”

So the official confirmation of service being resumed was another comment on Twitter?

It’s no wonder the author of this ‘article’ hasn’t dared put their name to it.

Shame on you BBC.

Hapless Harry

In the ten game spell since Fabio Capello quit as England football manager, Spurs have won just 2 games, drawn 3 and lost 5. We were also thrashed in the North London derby and humiliated in a 5-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat at Wembley against Chelsea.

That current league form ranks Spurs in 16th place, a point behind Blackburn and Bolton who coincidentally are the next two teams we face.

Table courtesy of weekendfootball.co.uk

On that form it’s going to be a real challenge to make 5th place, let alone 4th.

What does England manager-elect Redknapp have to say in his defence?

After losing 2-1 to Norwich:

“Well all credit to them. I thought they deserved it, they worked very hard today and made it difficult for us. They played excellent. We were disappointing. I changed the system, I played 4-4-2 today, we played with four forwards and I really felt we were too open. We’ve got five big games to go, we’ve got to really look to win all five games.”

You might think that as manager he was actually responsible for the formation and tactics and could perhaps make changes if it wasn’t working?

After losing 1-0 to QPR:

“There’s four games left, we’ve got to win the last four games now. I think you’re gonna need 12 points now, you’re going to have to pick up 12 points from the last four games. It’s going to be tight, it’s all to play for. Four games to go, we need four wins.”

“We need to win x games”. That seems to be a recurring quote from Harry.

You don’t need to be a master tactician or even a mathematician to work that one out.

Fortunately The FA are all set to come to the rescue and pay to ‘release’ Harry before he suffers the ignominy of a sacking. So it’s ‘Harry for England’ and COME ON YOU SPURS!

Holidaylight Robbery

Center Parcs marketed itself as the original “British holiday the weather can’t spoil”, but they are doing a pretty good job of spoiling holidays without the weather.

Consider the pricing matrix above. What could possibly cause the astronomical price hike in that one specific week? It’s the half-term school holidays.

I do expect to have to pay a premium because of the school holidays. 50% would seem acceptable to me, but a 300% price hike? Even Michael O’Leary would find that hard to defend!

I have studied Economics, I know all about supply and demand and differential pricing. The prices above do not seem to be not reflecting a shortage of supply however. There is no “only x remaining” in the middle week, so I can only deduce that the huge cost spike is a deliberate and cynical manipulation of the pricing model to take account of school holidays.

While some families might bite the bullet and succumb to the exorbitant price tag, their stay must be tinged with bitterness at being financially exploited in this way. If you are being ripped-off so badly before you even arrive, what more do they have in store for you while you’re there? It’s not the kind of business that I would like to spend my money with.

Center Parcs certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on this exploitative behaviour. It’s an industry-wide phenomenon which has been allowed to run wild.

The blatant profiteering at the expense of parents and teachers is discrimination on a massive scale. Isn’t it time the UK Government acted on these unfair business practices?