Victimized by Online Piracy

One downside of the convenience of working online is the multiple varieties of online piracy. This post reports on two I’ve recently experienced.

My email provider, the University of Toronto Scarborough, for some reason decided that messages from the Canadian Internet Registration Agency reminding me to renew the domain name www.digitalstate.ca were junk, and didn’t transmit them to me. The one message that did get through told me that the deadline had passed and I had lost the domain name. And indeed the website, which had been used to promote my book Digital State at the Leading Edge, went dead. As soon as it became available, the domain name was acquired by a gang of pirates at www.dompro.com, which traffics in domain names. If you go to the site now, a similar gang called Name Drive is offering it for sale. I refused to play that game and acquired a new domain name for the book, which is www.digitalstate.org. The moral of the story is to work with your email provider to make sure that messages from CIRA aren’t considered junk.

The second story concerns an online conference call provider that I’ve been using, primarily for conference calls among the six authors of Digital State. The service is automated, so that all you do to arrange a conference call is dial their number at the prearranged time and enter the access code. Somehow someone got the moderator’s access code, which I had divulged to no one. They ran up a bill of $ 400 US on conference calls, most made in the early hours of a Sunday morning. The bill was automatically charged to my credit card. When the conference call provider’s invoice arrived in my email, I protested, and after a number of calls with customer service and accounting, the provider agreed to refund the charges, though due to exchange rate fluctuations and credit card transactions fees for currency changes, I received $30 (Canadian) less than I paid. No longer working on a multi-author collaboration, I cancelled my account with the online provider. The moral of this story is that if I ever do need a conference call provider in the future, I’ll avoid online options, and choose one that goes through an actual person.

And the moral of both stories is that there are lots of pirates out there in cyberspace, and you can’t be too careful about either your intellectual property, like a clever domain name, or your private information, like access codes or passwords.

4 comments

  1. Firstly, note that you don’t have to rent your domain name from the same cmapony as your web space. Indeed I recommend not doing, as it makes moving to another server provider so much easier should you need to.You can buy domain names from many companies. For example 123-reg.co.uk in the UK or godaddy.com in the US. These people provide online control panels (in my experience, really badly designed ones!) to let you say where the domain name should go to get web pages and other services (this involves two things: nameservers and DNS records, see below), and also often provide forwarding or mailboxes to help with email management. Typically you’ll want variations on the domain names (e.g. example.com and example.co.uk or your name with and wothout hyphens in it and so on), and you’ll also be able to set up all of those to transfer to the main one using these control panels.Domain names are generally very cheap just a few dollars/pounds/euros a year.Then, depending on your demands, you can rent either a whole computer server, or a virtual server which behaves like a complete server in that you can install your own software (such as the database system of your choice) but is actually running on a machine shared with others, or you can rent web space and other services like database access on a shared server. You can even rent server farms for really busy sites so that requests to the same address can be serviced by different computers. But initially you’d probably start small and grow.There’s thousands of such providers out there. Typically they rent space wholesale in data centers which are filled with thousands of servers and have very high speed connectivity. They in turn rent their data comms from the big providers like BT, AT T and so on who own the long distance cables.Some providers will let you put your server machine in their data centre and provide you with just the bandwidth (internet connection) and power.In principle you could also rent a high-speed internet connection to your own premises and buy and run your own server on the premises. But that’s not a very attractive option for support reasons. (You can do this on your domestic internet too but upload speeds are generally so slow it isn’t viable as more than a toy).Returning to the matter of connecting your domain name to your server: if your site is on a shared server, the provider will typically, but not always, want you to use their nameservers. This means you fill in the names they give you into the nameserver boxes on the control panel. Then anyone who looks up your domain name will find out where the corresponding server is by asking the central registry of domain names (which your provider will maintain for you) for a nameserver and consulting that to find out were to look next. You’ll tell your server provider your domain name and they’ll manage the next step for you.But, especially with a dedicated server, you’ll use the domain name provider’s nameservers, and then set up the next stage, DNS records, which associate the domain name with an IP address (or possibly a second domain name and so on) of where the server is located. Your server provider will allocate you the IP address. Setting up DNS records is a bit fiddly and best left to someone who knows what they are doing, but in essence you are adding entries to the giant phone book of the internet.If you rent a dedicated server it isn’t restricted to hosting just one domain name. Apache (the most widely used web server software) can be set up to direct requests to different sets of files or scripts representing different sites according to what site the user asked for.Finally, if you want to set up an online shop, or some such, you’ll want to employ a designer (like me, david at frankieandshadow dot com) or web design cmapony, and they should understand all of this and know how to set it up for you.Man that was hella-long, lol.I know lots about computers and SSDs to say the least.

    • We’re heavily into the shooting sports here, so he could field strip an M-1 Garand and a 1911A1 before he left, as well as the FN-FAL, the SMLE, and a couple of other military orphans. Adding the M-16 wo;d7n&#821lut be much of a problem (though we’re not big believers in .223 Rem/5.56 NATO around here).But I never could get him to put the knife on the right and the fork on the left.Of course, I’m not either. Just as well.

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