Unfortunately I’m not in Montreal now as is my pal Rob and Alicia, possibly pals Tom and Diane, and recently there were pals Keith and Anne, all on totally unrelated adventures.   Hey Dad – check out the Montreal Web Cam

I grew up in a small NY city of Plattsburgh, about 60 miles south of the thriving metropolitain, French Speaking, Expo Baseball playing Montreal, Quebec.   It remains one of my favorite cities because the French/English/Canadian cultural crossroads is so cool.    I think it’s the closest thing to Europe you are going to get in North America.  I used to go there often as a kid but now that the folks have moved here to Oregon it’s a bit too long of a drive.

World Cup Standings

The World Cup has been fun to watch and here is a great little chart at the FIFA website with tournament standings and upcoming game times.    I think I’ll root for England because it’s time we all get over those tax problems of the 1770s.

The Globalist points out that international sports events are now signficant at a macroeconomic level, and that World Cup 2006 should add about 5 billion euros to the German GDP this year.    Their 2002 article was more interesting in terms of itemizing both the benefits to co-hosts Japan and Korea and the potential costs which included the *drag* on the UK economy if England made it to the final and people slacked off at work to watch their team.   Clearly, soccer sports quite an economic kick.

Markus is one insightful Canadian Web Guy

One of the great things about the internet business space is how one person can build an empire with the same revenues / impact / influence as a very large company.

Markus is such a fellow and I’m glad to see he’s blogging about his ongoing adventures creating and running one of the top dating sites in the world –    Markus provides a lot of detail and insight into how he created the site almost as a lark and now effectively competes with major corporations in the social network/dating space.

With 200 Million page views monthly and climbing, Markus really knows his stuff.  One observation he makes I’m still trying to digest suggests that eventually *only* small companies will rule the internet due to their much greater flexibility and effeciency.     Yahoo, Google, MSN are betting billions that they’ll maintain the huge stakes in the online world rather than small niche companies.   Frankly, I’m guessing there is room for everybody in the expanding online business space.

Ringtone scams using

Beware Blinko and all other ringtone providers. I recently discovered a 7.99 charge on my son’s part of our many paged cell phone bill. He’s a clever guy and insisted he’d been very careful about avoiding sign ups for paid services, so it appears he was either scammed by a ringtones provider or we were slammed with a ringtones subscription. Sprint actually confirmed that we had not downloaded anything with the service and – incredibly – could not tell me the company that had signed us up.

After getting Sprint to remove last month’s charge another appeared this month. Texting 42222 appears to have “unsubscribed” us from the service we never subscribed to in the first place and Sprint removed the current new charge but refuses to remove older charges I’d not noticed. I think I now got them to block the possibility of this happening again, but I’m very pissed that Sprints “default” position seems to be to assist these scamming Ringtone S.O.Bs.

I’ve learned that ringtones and downloadable phone content is a 4 BILLION dollar global industry (yes – four billion). Incredible, especially since so much of this industry is driven by teens who are either scammed into subscriptions or foolishly spending their parent’s money.
The industry is plagued by scams, the most common of which gets teens to sign up their phone for a ‘free’ ringtone but then have the account trapped in the fine print to pay a monthly charge. If this isn’t bad enough the phone companies, who are making huge profits themselves off this garbage, are not at all helpful in tracking down the scammers or applying appropriate credits.

UPDATE: Class Action Suit against Blinko:
Myles McGuire
Blim & Edelson, LLC
53 West Jackson Blvd.
Suite 1642
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel.: 312-913-9400
Fax: 312-913-9401

UPDATE: Based on all the comment I recommend anybody affected by these Ringtone Scams contact the FCC commissioners as follows. Be sure to indicate your phone company and detail how they failed to address your complaints. In my opinion it should be illegal to bill these services without a written, signed authorization from the account holder.

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Chairman Kevin J. Martin:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps:
Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein:
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate:
Commissioner Robert McDowell:

To Obtain Information via E-mail

General information, inquiries & complaints:
Freedom of Information Act requests:
Comments on FCC Internet services:
Elections & political candidate matters:

To Obtain Information via Telephone

1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL FCC) Voice: toll-free
1-888-835-5322 (1-888-TELL FCC) TTY: toll-free
1-866-418-0232 FAX: toll-free
(202) 418-2830 FAX on Demand
(202) 418-1440 Elections & political candidate matters
FCC Phone Directory

Dear AOL, please don’t sue me!

Maybe I’m just stupid but I’ve become experienced enough with domain issues that yesterday’s mildly threatening letter from America Online’s legal firm “Arent Fox” was more interesting than scary. The last time it was the New York Times’ firm which had one of those really fancy long names with something like ten lawyers in the firm. They told me I needed to turn over “” which I’d registered in conjunction with an expensive Golf Digest magazine advertising buy for the tourism group I worked with. In that case they actually withdrew the request and let us keep using the name when I pointed out that Golf Digest had approved our ad using the URL which was in a huge font in Golf Digest magazine. They could hardly claim we were trying to pull one over on them.

However, with a name like Arent Fox you’ve GOT to be good, so I have replied to them as follows:
Yesterday I recieved your letter dated June 19 asking me to turn over WINAMP.INFO to AOL because you feel it violates their service mark and I’m competing with them by placing some search information at that domain.

I think I agree that I should turn this over to AOL – I was unaware they owned a mark for the WINAMP name. But I do want to clarify a few things first:

* This was registered to me by the .info registry only AFTER all copyright holders had been given ample notice and time to register domains they felt they were entitled to – why didn’t AOL do this?

* Since AOL appears to think they should have registered this domain at the time but did not, it only seems fair that I’d be compensated in modest fashion for the time and expenses of registration and renewal. Are you empowered to offer any reimbursement. It does not seem reasonable that I’ve been paying AOL’s domain bills for several years.

Buffet and Gates News Conference

It's great to see CNN and FOX covering this story live at the press conference though unfortunate that commentators are more interested in the cash and personalities than what this means to global health.

37 Billion to Charity  = Thirty Seven Thousand … Million dollar donations.  This appears to be history's greatest act of philanthropy. CNN suggests this is true even if you look at Carnagie and Rockerfeller's huge giving and adjust for inflation. Also important is that those early foundations did not focus on third world problems where the money can be far more effective.

Buffett and the Gates' may prove to be the most powerful global welfare partnerships in history as Buffett, with his remarkable ability to evaluate companies, joins the Gates on the board. For the many who see corporate America as a threat to the welfare of humanity this should also be a wake up call. Gates and Buffett are redistributing wealth from the richest to the poorest far more effectively than any Government progressive tax scheme could ever dream to do, and they are applying their substantial abilities to solving the world's most significant problems.

I'd suggest that Governments and taxation plans tend to redistribute from wealthy and moderatly weathly to the middle and lower middle classes – ie it shifts wealth a few notches down, rather than the far more desirable type of redistribution which moves money from the richest to the poorest as this type of philanthropy tends to do.

Melinda Gates explains that the gift is "unprecedented" and that the new funding will allow the foundation to expand their priority list of diseases so they can fight more than just the "big three diseases" Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV / AIDS.

Buffett said he's always expected his billions to go to charity but originally thought it would be his wife who would distribute his wealth after he died. However his wife died first, and his friendship with and respect for Bill and Melinda Gates has inspired him to start giving away his money during his lifetime, feeling that they, and a few other foundations his money will support, have created great mechanisms for distributing his wealth where it will do huge social good.

Bravo Warren Buffett, Bravo!

USA Travel from the eyes of Wikipedians

Wikipedia is great.  I use it a lot to research items of interest or newsiness and find it to be a super way to quickly introduce myself to complex topics like Global Warming, wars, etc.

I just stumbled on the "USA" article for the first time and find it really interesting how Wiki (currently) is carving up the country into travel regions.   I'm still deciding if I think this is a reasonable approach to explaining the USA travel scene.   I think I'm inclined to think these regions may be far too large to convey, for example, the huge difference between New York and DC or San Diego and No. California. 

New England — Home to gabled churches, rustic antiques, and steeped in American history, New England offers rocky beaches, spectacular seafood, rugged mountains, frequent winter snows, and historic cities. These states are small, so you could visit all of them reasonably within a week.

The Mid-Atlantic — Ranging from New York in the north to Washington DC, the Mid-Atlantic is densely populated and home to a number of the nation's largest cities, but also rolling mountains and traditional seaside resorts like Long Island and the Jersey Shore.

The South — With its own culture and traditions, the slow-going, friendly South is celebrated for its down-home cookin' and its blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, and country music traditions. This lush, largely subtropical region ranges from the verdant (and refreshingly cool) mountains to stately agricultural plantations to vast cypress swamps.

Florida — Northern Florida is similar to the rest of the South, but head further south into the megaresorts of Orlando, retirement communities, and tropical Latin Miami. Don't forget to visit the Everglades, although you certainly wouldn't want to live there.

Texas — The second biggest state in the nation, it's like a whole other country (and in fact, once was). Terrain ranges from Southern swamplands to the cattle-ranching South Plains to the Mountains and desert of west Texas. And, it's even got its own distinctive cuisine.

The Midwest — More diverse than its reputation would suggest, the Midwest is home to rolling farmland, large forests, and picturesque towns as well as many bustling industrial cities. Many of these states border the Great Lakes, the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world, forming the North Coast of the U.S.

The Great Plains — Travel westward through these seemingly flat states, from the edge of the eastern forests through the praries and onto the High Plains, an enormous expanse of steppes (shortgrass prairies) as desolate as it was in the frontier heyday.

The Rocky Mountains — The spectacular snow-covered Rockies offer outdoor pursuits such as hiking, rafting, and skiing on some of the greatest snow on Earth. There are also other significant mountain ranges, deserts, and a couple of large cities.

The Southwest — Heavily influenced by Hispanic culture, the arid Southwest is home to some of the nation's most spectacular natural attractions, and a flourishing artistic culture. Although mostly empty, the region's deserts have some of the nation's largest cities.

California — California offers world-class cities, incredible vistas, national parks, mountains, deserts, rain forests, snow (and great skiing), and a famous beach lifestyle.

The Pacific Northwest — The pleasantly cool Pacific Northwest offers outdoor pursuits as well as cosmopolitan cities. The terrain ranges from spectacular rain forests to scenic mountains and volcanoes to sage-covered steppes and interior deserts.

Alaska — One fifth as large as the rest of the United States, Alaska reaches well into the Arctic, and features expansive mountainous wilderness.

Hawaii — A volcanic archipelago in the tropical Pacific, 2,300 miles from California (the nearest state), laid-back Hawaii has long been a vacation paradise.

Warren Buffett gives away almost all he has to charity. Bravo!

Warren Buffett will give almost all of his fortune – one of the greatest in history – to charity.  Most most will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to accelerate its fantastic efforts towards global health and education.   Buffett, the Sage of Omaha and arguably one of the world's sharpest businessmen, will join the Gates' on the board of a foundation already credited with saving over a *million* lives.

I'd guess that this amazing convergence of wealth and entrepreneurial style development will go down as a pivotal moment in history, and it is wonderful and inspiring to see the mega rich turn to mega philanthropy.

My Job

People, including my wife, often ask what I do for a living.   Somehow "Internet Entrepreneur", "web guy" fall short and today I realized that my job is to "Get it".   If I succeed, and I "get it" I can position myself in the path of internet money and do swell.  If I don't get it I can be lucky and still pocket some internet bucks OR maybe I'll have to go back to regular work.

Ouch, that's an incentive to get going and get it.

Google Sitemaps. My good news and my bad news.

Elite SEO Dave Naylor was complaining a bit about Google Sitemaps and I've also been unconvinced that sitemaps really does help straighten out ranking confusion.   According to Google Sitemaps my old-and-in-need-of-great-repair Airport Directory has some incredibly impressive sitemaps stats  (e.g.  Sitemaps says I'm number ONE for term "hotels")

Term   |   Rank 

  1. hotels in new york   1
  2. airport codes   1
  3. ord   1
  4. washington dc   1
  5. international airports   1
  6. hotels   1
  7. ord ohare   1
  8. chicago   1
  9. houston airport   1
10. airport city codes   1
11. airport maps   1
12. charlotte nc airport   1
13. john wayne airport   1
14. orlando   1
15. las   1
16. airline codes   1
17. city codes   1
18. major airports   1
19. salt lake city airport parking   1

Unfortunately does not  rank for any of these terms.  In fact I'm under some form of downranking that means I get little Google traffic at all despite the fact I'm one of the most linked to Airport sites on the web. 

I've seen this type of bizarre sitemaps stat for some time so I'm not sure what's going on, though I do have some framed content and this could reflect the rank of sites appearing in the frames.

The good news is that my experiment has been languishing but it may be because I failed to load the sitemap when I moved to new server over a month ago.   I just loaded it now so hopefully my new pages at will get indexed soon rather than Google showing the old supplemental pages, using old cache dates of June 2005 and similar.