Happy New Year

What are your resolutions in 2011?

Me, I really need to flex my writing muscles again. The demands of kids and work have cut in to my time, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.

So, since I publish on five separate sites, I’m looking to generate at least 365 new posts in 2011 with Clicks&Bits serving as the repository and pointer list. I need to check, but in 2010, I’m guessing I was more along the lines of about one post every couple weeks over the five sites. I suppose Twitter was the biggest reason I stopped posting, much easier to through a thought out in 140 characters. If you want to follow me: @shartley for my personal stuff & @shawnhartley for my AdPulp-related audience.

How about other resolutions? I’ve never been big using the New Year to make resolutions, instead striving to improve throughout the year, but in the spirit of generating content and putting out some things to keep me focused:

  • Lose weight. Doesn’t everyone list this? I’ve put on about 40lbs the last 3 years. I’d like to lose that to get me back to something I’m comfortable with, but could stand to double that loss (and get me back to my before-the-turn-of-the-century days.
  • Get back on the mountain bike again. Before kids, and back-in-the-day I used to ride over 150 miles a week.
  • Spend more time outdoors. Used to hike and camp, haven’t done that since I got married. I really need to get back in touch with nature.
  • Disconnect from the machines (laptop, smartphone, email). Not sure if this is a symptom of the above or a cause of it. I don’t seem to have any issues unplugging for a few days here and there, but I do have a problem turning to the machines out of boredom.
  • Get back to doing some design work. I’ve slacked quite a bit on both design and CSS development. Managing, business development and focusing on strategy have sucked away my design time. Need to get back to that, if at least to keep my knowledge level in check.
  • Domain Names. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve slimmed my holdings. I’m not *planning* on growing this out again, but I do need to keep my eyes open for opportunities.

One down, 365 to go, eh.

25 Tourism .ORG Domains

I like tourism sites. Often times, a quick development process with a small bit of research can result in site that has a relatively low-effort revenue stream or site that is easily flippable on the developed site market. .Org sites are often lucrative in this market as many states and tourist destinations have based “official” sites off of the .org extension.

Here are 25 sites currently available for registration including 15 State sites. Go get ’em:

travelkentucky.org
travelmissouri.org
travelsouthdakota.org
travelpennsylvania.org
travelnewhampshire.org
travelvermont.org
travelgeorgia.org
travelarkansas.org
travelkansas.org
travelmississippi.org
traveloklahoma.org
travelmaryland.org
travelnorthdakota.org
travellouisiana.org
traveldelaware.org
visitchesapeake.org
visitmesa.org
visitwinston.org
visitwinstonsalem.org
visitsantaana.org
visitgreensboro.org
visitgarland.org
visitarlington.org
visityonkers.org
visitstpaul.org

Hooked on Audible

I’ve had an Audible.com membership for a couple of years, plus the additional promo credits my mom dumps in to my account periodically (she’s on the board of her local library).

Recent purchases in the last couple of months:

Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain
If you have EVER enjoyed anything with Anthony Bourdain, from Kitchen Confidential to No Reservations on TLC, stop reading this and go get it. Bonus, Anthony Bourdain narrates.

Shop Class as Soulcraft – Matthew B. Crawford
Had a difficult time getting in to it originally, but wasn’t the book’s fault – too many work interruptions. Giving it another go soon.

When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead – Jerry Weintraub, Rich Cohen
On a recommendation, in my listen queue.

Linchpin – Seth Godin
I go back and forth on Godin. The Dip has been a mainstay in my decision making. Linchpin has often been a description of me in my work responsibilities. Worth a read listen.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – Michael Lewis
Wasn’t overly impressed. Lewis is an entertaining read, but get The Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman instead. I’m assuming the narration of Zuckerman’s book is acceptable, I read the print version.

Rework – Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
I hate to say “The New Era of Business” but I appreciate the moxy of Jason Fried and the rest of the 37 Signals gang. Focus on your product and make it the best it can be. Don’t listen to your users for feature request as you’ll weaken your core (nutshell summary). The bigger message is eat your own dog food and keep yourself nimble.

Emergency – Neil Strauss
I can’t recommend this one enough. The author (and narrator) originally set out to get a second passport and went down the rabbit hole of survivalism. The way the story turns out will surprise you. I purchased the print version on release and just had to get the audio version.

I’m always open to recommendations as I’m typically sitting on a few credits every month. Fire away in the comments.

All links are non-affililate links.

What happened to my domaining?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything meaningful on any subject, let alone domaining. So where am I?

At one time, I would have categorized myself as a semi-pro domainer. At my peak, I owned around 2300 domains and was earning a healthy multiple in revenue – primarily from parking. The bulk of my holdings were one and two word dictionary terms, short and brandable names, and quite a few that centered around my areas of expertise.

I was in a classic 80-20 situation with 80% of my revenues coming from about 20% of my domains (actually closer to 12%).

In 2008, I started getting the sense that the shit was going to hit the fan with the economy. No real knowledge other than a gut feeling; inquiries to buy domains were down dramatically, I had relatives who thought they’d hit the lottery with real estate valuations – including a couple who succumbed to refinancing and taking out some profits on the valuation increases (yeah, they got burned). Things just didn’t add up.

Having a career I enjoy on most days, running the web development side of a small ad agency, I started thinking that stock piling some liquidity might be a pretty solid investment for in the near term. And seriously, trying to manage that many domains on evenings and weekends with two toddlers running around is not an easy task without serious automation. A chance conversation on a golf course led to an offer to acquire roughly 90% of my domains in a deal that closed in October 2008. If I had a crystal ball, I couldn’t have picked a better time to unload.

I now hold about 165 domains and plan on whittling down the list to around 100 by the end of the year. In the transaction, I held back about 30 of my top performing names and have started to enjoy the profits rather than continuous reinvestment. I’ve also spent time on some of my sentimental domains, developing the sites around them I envisioned when I purchased them in the first place.

I still think domaining is a solid investment, but you’ve got to hustle.

p.s. I promise to blog more, including publishing my available-to-register domain lists which were fairly popular.

The New Las Vegas

I just returned from my second trip to Las Vegas in 2010. This Vegas isn’t the Vegas I used to love.

The sandwich, a $20 or $50 sandwiched between your credit card and drivers license depending on length of stay, used to secure a decent upgrade from your friendly front-desk clerk. A hundy would put you in a near-rockstar suite. Now tips are banned for “Guest Service Agent” (GSA) and in place is a carefully metered up-sell chart, which garners the GSA a spiff, valued nowhere near what they could take in tips before.

Thankfully the practice can still gain upgrades in the luxury hotel market around the country – A $50 sandwich in Kansas City gained me a penthouse suite for Friday-Sunday stay this past fall – but I digress.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada signThe city of sin has become the city of hand sanitizer as the transformation from a city of vice and debauchery has given way to a city of luxury – and faux luxury. Recent ratings from the Foodies has Las Vegas seated squarely in third place in the USA as a top culinary destination. Ranked behind New York and San Francisco.

Don’t get me wrong, I like food, I enjoy food, and I will go to great lengths to seek out culinary enjoyment. I think someone should do a ranking of celebrity and figure out where Chef ranks in the international pecking order of cool.

A celebrity chef has the power to flavor the food with psychology and desire, carefully measured with focus groups, marketing messages and repetition to serve a plate one thinks is above all others. Make no mistake, in order to be a top successful restauranteur, one must master the ability to improve margins; e.g. separate the diner from their cash. In the new Las Vegas, this jives well with the gambling mantra.

I will argue with those who tell me Las Vegas is a culinary destination. As far as food goes, it is simply a celebrity chef ego stroking affair, Bringing accessibility to the folks who eat up food television and its ever increasing ratings and spinoffs. Las Vegas’ third place ranking should emphasize that Las Vegas is ranked 3rd among those who use rankings to determine the value of their culinary intake.

My favorite menu item I saw: 10 oz Prime Filet Mignon (Nebraska) $56 (with a close second place to Proudly serving Omaha Steaks). Guess what, you won’t see a Nebraska cattleman paying $56 for a 10oz filet. In fact, if you see a Nebraska cattleman eating a steak other than one raised, butchered, and grilled locally, you won’t see him opening up his wallet for much more than about $15 and it damned well better come with sides. I live in Nebraska and can tell you that most local folks don’t bother with Omaha Steaks either.

And while the price of food has increased astronomically, the trend hasn’t been lost on the beverage side of the house. Wine is a whole different ball game and worthy of a different post. Where on God’s green earth is a pour of Absolut with a measure of Red Bull worth $14.50 and a 12 oz. Corona worth $7.50? Ding, ding. Las Vegas.

Good luck getting a cocktail waitress when you are gambling. Where free drinks used to rule the day, cocktail waitresses are few and far between these days. Why? Two things, Psychology and The EconomyTM.

Remember the anecdote about the brilliant employee that determined if they reduced the number of olives in a jar by one they’d save gazillions of dollars? That happens in Las Vegas every single day and with The EconomyTM hurting the way it is, Corporate Las Vegas is tweaking every parameter in the Separate-You-From-Your-Cash algorithm. From 1995 to 2009, the time between free cocktail runs in the slot areas has increased from 14 minutes to 27 minutes. Why? discretionary income is down and visitor counts are down. Increasing time between cocktail runs serves several fronts, including reduced wait staff and increased play by those gambling in order to offset the reduction in gambling dollars.

I’m interested in seeing what happens when the economy recovers. New Las Vegas is already worried about visitor counts. A friend in the hotel business, who would find a hole in the desert to drop me in quicker than you can yell “blackjack” if I revealed which hotel, tells me the average non-convention stay has dropped from 3.1 nights to 1.6 nights over the last five years.

Short of sharing details in the manner of cliched What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, My Las Vegas included weekend trips with my buddies that consisted of a gambling stash, a plane flight out, and a the only concrete agenda item was to make it back to the airport before our return flight left. We didn’t book hotel rooms, we didn’t take luggage other than a carry-on bag. We either earned the comp room or obtaining a place to crash through luck, skill, womanizing and/or bribery.

I have my fingers crossed that Manufactured Las Vegas loses their grip on sanitized artificial reality and returns to its roots. Gambling, booze, and debauchery. Until then, my trips include a detour to the local grocery establishment – or ABC Stores! – to stock my own private hotel-room bar. Vegas, you are going to have to work harder to get my money than by relying on your focus groups.

*I don’t have public-attributable sources for my stats other conversations with people I know in the business. Take ’em with salt (and a lime wedge with tequila) if you want to quote them as fact.

13 Wine-related Domains

13 Wine-related domains you can register today, fresh off the drop:

naparidgewine.com
sonomawineguys.com
freewineclub.com
newlinewines.com
montagewines.com
americanwineco.com
bigbearwine.com
buckheadwinery.com
cimarronwines.com
classicrockwine.com
dancingbearwine.com
featuredwinery.com
winedorknyc.com

Auctioning Domains at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley

I was just notified that I have 8 domains that made the cut at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley domain auction taking place April 27-30.

My domains up for bid in the extended auction:
beatwriter.com
brandingtips.com
cheapskills.com
companyseminar.com
greekseasonings.com
lowerincome.com
minutetrainer.com
theconvergency.com

If there is any interested parties who may be interested in bidding on these, please drop me a note. If I can confirm 2 or more potential bidders, I can possibly get these promoted to the live auction.

Oregon Beer, Coffee, Wine, Spirits and more…

Friend of Clicks and Bits, and partner in numerous other ventures, David Burn, recently launched Liquid Oregon, a blog/resource for all kinds of tasty beverages flowing out of the craft drink mecca of Oregon.

Subtitled, “It’s in the water,” is an apt description of what appears to be an over-abundance of the craft trade. Numerous craft breweries, premier coffee roasters, and a valley producing some of the finest wines in the country. Something is clearly happening in the water.

Liquid Oregon - beer, coffee, wine, spirits and more at liquidoregon.com

David’s description of the site is “Liquid Oregon is dedicated to the promotion of locally-produced coffee, wine, beer, micro-distilled spirits, drinking vinegars and artisan sodas.” I think he is underselling, you are also getting a master narrative from a fine wordsmith.

Give him a visit and spread the love: http://www.liquidoregon.com/

Forward iPhone voicemail to Google Voice


For all the cool kids with both iPhones (or any GSM-based phone) and a Google Voice (previously GrandCentral) account, forward your unanswered calls to Google Voice to receive the voicemail and a transcript in your email account.

Step 1:
On you iPhone (or any GSM-based phone), pull up the keypad and type the following, substituting 1234567890 with your 10-digit Google Voice/GrandCentral account:
*61*1234567890#

Step 2:
Log in to your Google Voice account and turn on Do Not Disturb mode.

That’s it. All unanswered calls to your iPhone will instantly be dropped in to your Google Voice voicemail.

To restore your iPhone to the original visual voicemail settings, pull up the keypad and enter:
##61#

Your settings will be restored.

Cross-posted from http://www.sh2.com/blog/iphone-to-google-voice/


MMA Fans: 2 Domains You Can Register Today

Recently dropped and available for registration:
MMASTOPS.COM
FIGHTRUMORS.COM

Both domains appear to have clean registration histories and could give you a valuable/logical two word combo domain name in the hot MMA (mixed martial arts) space. MMAStops.com see a valuable future either as a calendar displaying future events or a video library of submission moves. FightRumors.com could see a nice life speculating about upcoming match-ups.

Go get ’em fight fans.