Feb 142014
 

Sometimes things launch big with a loud splash; sometimes things launch slowly and build momentum over time. The Internet namespace is experiencing its largest expansion in history, as an estimated 1000+ new generic top-level domains (gTLD) are launching in the next 2 years. Right now this expansion program is looking like a slower launch (even though 50k+ domains with new gTLDs have been registered so far) and would build momentum over time, and accelerate exponentially when something disruptive happens

So, what does this Internet expansion actually look like? Let’s look at some real active websites running on the new gTLDs. Here are the first websites using a .BIKE domain name (that I could find) (and don’t you think the new domain names are better than the old ones?) ::

Generated by WebThumbnail.org Generated by WebThumbnail.org
Generated by WebThumbnail.org Generated by WebThumbnail.org
Found a report that researched how the top 20 American bicycle brands were responding to the .BIKE gTLD. As of 2/10/14, all 20 brands were registered as .BIKE domain names but only 4 of the 20 brands have clearly been registered by the actual brand owner. And when I checked during the writing of this blog post, none of those 4 are live yet (as either websites or redirects.)

In subsequent posts of this blog series (tagged gTLD), I’ll be working off the list below, to find real websites up-and-running on these new domain extensions. Last week on 2/5/14, this Internet expansion went mainstream with 7 new gTLDs becoming available for registration by the general public:
Namecheap.com - Cheap domain name registration, renewal and transfers - Free SSL Certificates - Web Hosting

  • .bike
  • .clothing
  • .guru
  • .holdings
  • .plumbing
  • .singles
  • .ventures

And 7 more gTLDs became available to all on 2/12/14:

  • .camera
  • .equipment
  • .estate
  • .gallery
  • .graphics
  • .lighting
  • .photography

On 2/19/2014, these 7 gTLDs will become available to all:

  • .construction
  • .contractors
  • .directory
  • .kitchen
  • .land
  • .technology
  • .today

And there’s more, much more, to come. Here’s 3 of the best ways I’ve found to keep track of the newest gTLDs launched:

This Internet expansion program is much more complicated and multi-layered than I’ve presented here, with lots of moving parts and multiple phases of launching a new gTLD, like testing, delegation, sunrise phase for trademark holders, landrush and early access phases, prior to a gTLD becoming available to the general public. I won’t be getting into all of that technical detail and the precision that would necessitate using verbose words to explain more accurately that would be more legally acceptable.

Sunrise___Launch_Dates-2

[disclosure: my interest in this topic is informally related to my work as a member of the .BIBLE Registry launch team] 

Jun 152013
 

freeThere are a few options for churches to get a basic church website built via self-serve without having to installing software or use a credit card. Here is a list of online website builder platforms that specifically serve churches and ministries:

  • Churchuna - “a WordPress-powered web publishing platform, created especially for the church” - free level has 50 MB storage space; paid level starts at £8.33/month *invitation only*
  • City Gates  “beautiful website that’s simple to manage. City Gates combines powerful web tools, ease of use, and great design” - free plan for 1 admin, 2 ministries and 1 GB storage; paid plans start at $39.99/month
  • FreeChurchOnline.net - “FreeChurchOnline.net was started in March of 2008 as a ministry arm of ChurchOnline.net. After realizing that some churches were very small and sometimes in debt where they could not pay for any web site, we decided to use our profits to sponsor a free version of the product.”
  • OurChurch.com‘s NE1™ Web Builder has a free plan with 12 pages, 2 MB space; paid plans start at $5.95/month
  • SteepleSites.com - free plan has 3 Pages, 10 MB storage, 1 User; paid plans start at $29/month
  • ChurchPres – a free WordPress-powered website with 3 GB space, or paid upgrades starting at $25/month
  • WorthyofPraise.org – free website hosting for Christian churches

Note, however, that time is more valuable than money. While you could earn more money, you can never earn more time. Having a free web presence is a  way to get started, but I’d encourage you to diligently make room in your church budget to get a professional website built that better represents your church and the God that we worship.

Dec 192011
 

What is the number of church websites in the United States? Yes it’s quite a herculean effort to count the exact number and I’m not sure there’s research money to pull off such a census. Plus the wide range of differing theological definitions for what is a church exacerbates any attempts to quantify them.

First, the big number, that is, how many churches in America. Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. Of those, about 300,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 22,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. And: According to the book Beyond Megachurch Myths, there were 320,000 Christian U.S. churches in 2007.

 Two surveys have an answer for how many churches have websites: 69% and 78%. Doing the math on the conservative side (because just having a website doesn’t mean the information is current), 69% of 300,000 is 207,000.

Here’s the numbers behind the numbers –

The FACT 2010 Report: A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000 – 2010 cited “… By 2010 over 90% of congregations used email; seven in ten had websites, and four in ten had Facebook pages…” // … the FACT 2010 national aggregated data set includes responses from 11,077 congregations, and over 120 denominations. … Sampling error for a survey such as FACT2010 can only be roughly estimated. We believe a conservative estimate is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level. … with responses from 14,301 congregations it remains the largest national survey of congregations ever conducted in the U.S.

LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media cited “… survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78 percent have a website …” // Their methodology: LifeWay Research conducted a phone survey among a stratified, random sample of Protestant churches Sept. 8-20, 2010, interviewing 1,003 staff members most responsible for making decisions about the technology used in their church. Responses were weighted to reflect the natural size distribution of churches. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed ±3.2 percent.

Sep 212011
 

When a service declares a 99.9% uptime guarantee might sounds kinda impressive. But do the math, and it turns out that 99.9% allows for 43 minutes of downtime per month or over 8 hours in a year, while 99.99% uptime is up to 4 minutes of downtime per month.

With web hosting becoming more and more essential to our lives – work, play, personal, and e-commerce — finding a reliable web hosting service can be elusive. Even with thorough research, past performance is no guarantee of future reliability and tech support responsiveness.

So you do what you can with the time and effort you’ve got. Think about it, what can a company do to make good on a guarantee anyways? Pro-rated credit? Tech support response time? Battery backup? Network redundancy? Multiple data centers?

And when it comes to an “uptime guarantee,” read the fine print. There’s the marketing-speak and then the legal-speak. Don’t be mesmerized by the number itself. Look at what these different companies mean by their service level agreement (SLA) ::

Network will be available 100% of the time in a given month, excluding scheduled maintenance. … A credit of 5% of the monthly fee for each 30 minutes of downtime. A credit of up to 100% of the monthly fee for the affected server. [Rackspace]

For each hour after you notified support of your downtime, your account will be credited for 10% of you monthly billing total, up to 100% your total bill. [VPS.net]

If your web site, databases, email, FTP, SSH or webmail is unusable as a result of a failure in our systems and for reasons other than previously announced scheduled maintenance, coding or configuration errors on your part, we’ll credit your next invoice with 1 day hosting free for each 1 hour (or fraction thereof) of service interruption; up to 10% of your next pre-paid hosting renewal fee. [Dreamhost]

Site5 has a unique take on its 99.9% uptime guarantee for shared hosting, “… offering you a pro-rated credit for any downtime outside of our guaranteed window.” Site5 has a page with the real time status of all their servers and they publicly list the uptime records of all their servers. [ed.note: transparency does make for more data-informed decisions]

If your shared / reseller server has a physical downtime that is not within the 99.9% uptime you may receive one month of credit on your account. Approval of the credit is at the discretion of HostGator dependent upon justification provided. Third party monitoring service reports may not be used for justification due to a variety of factors including the monitor’s network capacity/transit availability. The uptime of the server is defined as the reported uptime from the operating system and the Apache Web Server which may differ from the uptime reported by other individual services. To request a credit, please contact [email protected] with justification. All requests must be made in writing via email. Uptime guarantees only apply to shared / reseller solutions. … [HostGator]

We Guarantee! that our network will stay up 99.9% of the time. … will not charge you for leaving your hosting agreement early due to server downtime. Furthermore, we allow you to cancel your account at anytime without any penalties and with a pro-rated refund of the unused portion of your hosting agreement. [bluehost]

Jul 012011
 

Found this set of 5 questions in my inbox from a new visitor to my website / blog.
via http://dimland.blogspot.com/2011/04/dimland-radio-4-16-11-show-notes.html

I have few questions that I would like to ask:
1. Who is your primary audience for the website?
2. What is the vision of the website?
3. What is the mission of the website?
4. Where do you want to take your audience to?
5. What would be the primary reason why your audience member should log on to this website at least once per week?

Good questions. Essential questions for an organization. Good questions for people who want to have a personal mission statement or life plan.

I honestly do not think in those categories for myself. So I don’t readily have answers to offer along those lines. Nothing to hide. No secret agenda.

What I can describe is why I put time and energy into a website and blog, when a majority of other people choose to not. I know there are other people who won’t start a website or blog without answers for these 5 questions, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Why do I blog? Because I can. This website and blog is an overflow of my being and a part of expressing who I am and what I think about.

I’m an ideas guy. I have lots of ideas, and they don’t do me much good if I just keep them to myself. So I share them freely. Bringing things to light. That’s what’s wonderful about the internet, people can share freely, and it can benefit 100s and 1000s.

I started blogging 12 years ago by sharing about my life. Back then it wasn’t called blogging, it was an online journal, a digital diary. My intent is to live my life as an open book with no pretense, and in so doing, my hope is that people can see how Christ has made a difference in and through my life, warts and all. I pace myself at 2 to 3 blog posts per week, and I don’t force it. If it doesn’t come, or if I don’t have the muse’s inspiration, I’ll miss a blog post or 2. (And that’s okay. Life is about grace, not performance, not a competition, not coercion.)

I share stuff on my website, lots of information and links. I post information that I’m interested in — things that don’t get enough attention and yet are important to me. There are plenty of websites and blogs for topics like news, tech, celebrity gossip, politics, business… and some of them make good money doing that, because lots of people are interested in those things. (So if you happen to be interested in a topic that lots of other people are interested in, you can make good money. If not, then, not so much.)

I’ll let you in on the back stories to why I built these destination web pages (in a barren land) and/or recurring themes of my blog:

multiethnic church – too many churches in America are unintentionally segregated. They’re stuck and they need help. Lots of help. This page has links that can help. There are other goodies out there now, good.

Asian American ministry – faith has to be contextualized and we’ve got too many issues in our next gen Asian American context that go unpublished, when the internet could be giving voice to our generation, empowering us, breaking stereotypes, giving grace and healing, connecting us for collaboration..

Tim Keller – before he became a popular author and conference speaker, he had pastored for years, and his sermons were a master mix of intelligence (not dumbed-down), culturally astute (not demonizing), and graciously kind (not belligerent).. I was introduced to him by a friend back in the early 2000s, and now that there are others pointing to his resources, I can move on to other topics..

Yogurtland – their website is built-in Flash. That makes them invisible to most search engines and to iPads and iPhones. I love their self-serve FroYo. They deserve to be visible and findable. People find my Yogurtland fan page, and I even get calls from people who want to open a franchise. I have not gotten any calls from headquarters, yet. (I could def kick up their social media strategy.)

These are some of those back stories. Any other ones you’d like to know?

So people find my website or my blog when they’re looking for an important topic that isn’t getting enough airplay on the web. Oh, and I should mention that I also love to experiment + discover new web apps that the average person could be using one day, and new ideas that can impact society and church. Could this be called thought leadership? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’d like to think people come back because they want to see what I’m thinking, what I’ve discovered, or what’s going on in my life. I know my Mom has my website as her home page. But other than that, I leave it up to the reader to choose their own reasons. I won’t impose or prescribe what people should do with all this info. I think my readers are smart enough to figure it out for their context.

Mar 302011
 

What happens when someone does a web search on your name? Are you telling your own story or is someone else? Don’t let others hijack your name as a top result on search engines and taint your reputation by presenting you in a less than flattering light.

You have to have a web presence. Tell your own story. Having a personal website (or blog) is being called personal branding. There are books and many articles written about why it’s important. Finding examples is sorta scattered all over the web. Here’s 5 basic types of personal websites to help visualize what your web presence could look like:

eventcaptureonline.com

1. single web page – A basic web presence; a landing page; a digital business card:

2. website + blog combo – the home page has a plethora of features along with most recent blog entries:

3. personal blog – blog-centric, the most recent blog entry is prominently displayed, maybe with extra pages to describe services and/or podcasts and/or whatever:

4. brochure with a blog – a splash/landing page with basic info and a blog (some updated more often than others); the blog is on separate web page(s) than the home page:

5. business web site – website uses a company name rather than a personal name; typical of a freelancer with (usually) single person or a few people:

Since the home page of (practically) any website gets the most web traffic, so you’d want to emphasize what you think is most important to your website visitors. Any other comments you’d add?

Quick start tip: have something! If Google doesn’t see you, do you exist? If you’re able to keep a blog updated at least once a week, put that more prominently (#2 or #3); if you’d prefer to feature your services and updates are infrequent, #4 or #5 would fit you better.

Contact me for personal coaching about establishing your personal web presence, personal branding, and strategies for extending your online engagement.

Oct 212010
 

Having an online presence and making your personal brand searchable in the online world is increasingly more essential than ever. It’s being called a digital business card, personal brand site, online presence, personal landing page, interactive contact card, or whatever. And when you don’t have the time & energy to maintain the content flow required of a website and blog, a static web page makes a better impression than a 4-page brochure website methinks.

The current trend to have a one-page website that gives a snapshot of who you are and how to connect with you, without being just another generic profile in the midst of a social network forest. I’ve said it this way: if people can’t find you on Google, do you exist? Well, of course you exist, but you’re missing a lot of (digital) street cred. (or, how about your company? your organization?)

As web apps become easier and easier to use by non-techies, a good number of web apps are coming online that create well-designed personal web pages that look great. So easy a caveman could do it. I’ve tried out about half of the ones I’ve found (mostly free or freemium) so far:

ht: 6 Online Business Card Tools To Spread Your Personal Brand @ thenextweb.com + Five Best Personal Landing Pages @ lifehacker.com.au

Or, you could setup a self-hosted WordPress and use a theme designed specifically for a digital business card. There’s a free WordPress theme called Digital Business Card by @human3rror – see it in action at http://www.cynthiaware.me (cf. blog post by Cynthia Ware on how easy it is) or another personal branding web site – kennyjahng.com – uses Ipseity theme, also by @human3rror

Any others out there? Please add a comment.

Do you have a personal web page? Add your link in a comment >>

Sep 182010
 

There are still a handful or so companies that provide free website hosting with FTP, even in the aftermath of very popular early-’90s personal website hosts like Geocities / Fortunecity / Angelfire / Tripod.

It is harder to find a web host that has FTP (file transfer protocol) functionality that allows file uploading so you can develop and build your own custom web pages. Most of these web hosts also provide some kind of a web-based template fill-in-the-blank dashboard too. That’s to say, there are many more free website services that don’t support FTP and have a web-based content editor. By the way, why would you want a free website hosting with FTP? They’re great for learning how to develop a website in a working environment that’s not your local hard drive.

Not sure how they afford it, whether having FTP or not. Probably they’re hoping for an upsell, and getting a little ad space on all the rest. You could call it freemium.

There are more listed at http://www.free-webhosts.com.

Jun 292010
 

Kenny Jahng launched Godvertiser.com a couple years ago, with a heart to serve the typical small to medium-sized church to be more effective online. He’s become a virtual friend over the past year as we’ve connected over Twitter and Tokbox; (one of these days we’ll meet offline and in person.) Here’s the video interview with Kenny talking about what @Godvertiser is doing:

One of the first basic things is to have a church website that people can easily find on a search engine like Google. You can get a FREE church website audit and check out Tweepback.com for a custom mosaic of your Twitter followers or followings.

[update: unfortunately, wetoku.com went dark and offline in Q1 2011, so this video interview is gone too]