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Thoughts & Articles

Check your Domain Name! Don't let it expire!

Jim Infantino
domain name system
Your domain name is the key to being found on the web. Slabmedia hosts the files for your web site itself, but we do not control your domain name. To keep your site accessible on the web, it is important to maintain your domain name account registration records.

A little about domain registrations:

Your domain name is simply the text in the url between the http://www. and the end of the .com or .org or .net or whatever ends it. You register the domain name at a registrar like or wherever you want. We recommend Pair Domains for it’s security, simplicity and because they do not push confusing bundled packages on you. Once registered, your registrar reserves your name so that it cannot be used by anyone else in the world, and points it to your webserver where your site is hosted.

If you can't remember which company you used to purchase your domain name, go to and look up your registrar there. It's kind of like how you can look up someone's phone number using different kinds of yellow-pages: they all have the same information listed even though they are different companies.

Once you know your who your domain registrar is, it's very important to make sure you have your login information. This will be different from your Slab site's login name and password. If you've forgotten the username or password, it's worth calling your registrar's customer service department to get this information.

Without your domain registration account information, your domain name may expire without your knowing it until you check your website or email and find its not up. There is generally a 30 day grace period before someone else can purchase your domain name from your registrar, so it is important to act immediately.

Lastly, make sure that your spam filter is not blocking email from your domain provider. Your provider is required to provide you with notice that your domain is due to expire. You can avoid tons of trouble by renewing your domain name before it expires. Usually, companies will give discounts based on the length of your renewal period. Paying attention to emails from your domain hosting provider is an important part of the care and feeding of your valuable domain name!

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (the perfect is the enemy of the good)

Jim Infantino
Le mieux est l039ennemi du bien the perfect is the enemy of the good

Voltaire said he heard it from "a wise italian man"

In webdesign as in many things, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Just like trying to throw a shot put perfectly or not at all, or not playing golf until you can hit a hole in one on the first try is almost certainly not going to yield positive results, waiting until your website is "perfect" to go live can be a mistake.

First of all, "perfect" is irrelevant on the web. The key to existence on the web is impermanence. That which does not change, dies. Static sites are always so over, and they were over as soon as Jeffrey Zeldman became the first blogger in 1996. They were even more over when Google first launched in 1998. Websites are a place for current information, not the perfect jewel to be dusted off as if in a museum for the next 2000 years.

It took Axel Rose 10 years to release his latest album "Chinese Democracy." He spent 10 years in the studio recording it. It cost well over $13 million to make, and was still received luke warm reviews. Other musicians have stayed in the studio, year after year trying to create something perfect in a medium that is impermanent as styles of music come and go out of fashion, and the timely window for the release of their work passes them by.

This is not to say that you should not try to get the design right. You absolutely should. However, if what you currently have up there is sub-par or non-existant, get the header with your identity right, and launch a simple version of your site so long as you have the latest information entered. You don't need to have everything finished to launch. Here's why:

Many creatives and professionals have wildly outdated sites with little or no or even worse, old information. Some do not have a site at all. As soon as you have built a new site that is better than what you currently have up, go live.

slab 1742

If you have a site up currently that has accurate information but has an out of date design or one that cannot be seen properly on mobile devices, you are not in as much of a hurry to flip the switch as someone who has no site or even worse, outdated information. If you fit in one of the latter two categories, you are advertising to the world that you may not be in business anymore, or you do not care enough to make your presence known. It doesn't help to have a sign on your site that says "NEW WEBSITE COMING SOON," because once that sign is seen, the likelyhood that the visitor will come back later is minimal.

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The launch of a website is exactly nothing like the opening of a movie. People are not sitting in the dark, making their popcorn last, waiting patiently for the curtains to part and your perfect new website to be revealed. The launch of your new website is not even like a new cafe opening on main street, with a line of people waiting to try the new cherry mocha chai latte special. On the web, main street is 8 million miles long.

So go live now. Don't delay. Get some information up there and build on it. Make changes, & make them often. Don't go for perfect. Perfect is static. Keep it fluid and keep it running and people will find you.

And of course, let us help you do it.

We are all indie bands now.

Jim Infantino
We are all indie bands now
Back in 1999 when the digital millennium copyright act was being drafted, I was a encouraged by the service "napster" and how it was growing our fan base by allowing people to freely exchange, and more importantly share opinions about our music on line. At the same time, I was helping to code the real player skin for RadioBoston - an internet radio station (a new idea at the time) that played my band and other locals online. The record industry in the form of the RIAA - the organization that hands out gold and platinum records shut napster down with the help of congress and the DMCA (above). They claimed that a download of an mp3 was a mechanical rather than broadcast deliverable, and as such, each copy downloaded was due the $1 (approx) royalty to the record company, rather than the fraction of a penny due by radio stations to artist performance orgs such as ASCAP and BMI. This effectively shut down napster as it was for good and internet radio for years to come. I tried calling napster, to tell them that I was an independent musician, and didn't want those royalties, we wanted to give permission to share our music. Their service was helping us, not hurting us. They were understandably otherwise occupied. The law protected the dinosaurs and hurt the rodents. The question applies to all of us now, not just movie and music and software creators. Who owns your stuff when you put it on line? Is it mechanical, or broadcast? Is it something new? Computers are copy machines. It's 90% of what they do. When you use something like a computer to communicate, you are making copies of it. When you copy it to another computer, like when you use email, or twitter or send a voicemail, you are doing something like broadcast, while making a copy. And what about when you make a phone call? You do literally broadcast it from a cell phone, and it travels over lines and networks owned by some telecom or other leased by the US govt. What rights to you have regarding your stuff when it leaves your abode, and heads out into the wide world? Listening to On the Media on PRI this weekend, I found myself cheering because someone finally said clearly and directly what I have been trying to express to our clients and my friends in the light of the NSA "wiretapping scandal" / political news cycle pavlovian outrage chime. Let me know your thoughts on line.

Crowdsourcing & Design, not NEW, not HIP, not ETHICAL, not SMART.

Jim Infantino
Crowdsourcing amp Design not NEW not HIP not ETHICAL not SMART
Recently, I've been made aware of some designs coming from sites set up to crowdsource tasks that would otherwise be done by a professional.

Crowdsourcing is essentially outsourcing to distributed groups of people, tasks that would have been done by a single person or shop. The motivation in the past for these multiple talented people was to volunteer their time to be part of something cool, such as finding life on other planets, or writing a group novel, or improving some open source code ... however, recently some very enterprising entrepreneurs have discovered that by holding contests, you can get lots of people to do lots of work on Spec. (speculation of remuneration) and set the reward price incredibly low.

That's the idea behind sites like, and Frankly, I hesitate to type in their urls. I certainly do not want to link to them. Check them out to educate yourselves, but have no illusions as to what you are looking at. These sites profit by convincing talented people to do work on spec, with no guarantee of pay.

Spec work is as old as the hills. Most creatives have experienced the proposition.

It doesn't pay anything, but if you do this work, it will help get your name out there.
I would like to see a few designs first to determine if we want to hire you for this job.

As a musician, I can't tell you how many gigs were sent my way with the promise of exposure as the only compensation. Often, the only exposure we experienced was the exposure to the elements on a low stage out in someone's back yard party. As a designer, the temptation is to build up your portfolio. Sometimes, the projects lead to other work, mostly they just cheapen what you do, as well as the design profession in general.

Logo design is hard, but when done well, it looks deceptively easy. A client may think they've bought a block of gold for a buck when they get an adapted version of the FedEx logo through one of these design pit fights, but, in the end, you get what you pay for. Any professional designer worth their salt provides so much more than someone trying to win the equivalent of a fancy dinner for 2 from a contest.

Professional logo designers know the larger picture. It's not just a thumbnail, it's your total business identity. It's not just your business cards, but your billboards, your walls, your trucks, your website design, your signage, your storefront, the way the world sees and reacts to your company. And it's not just aesthetics. When FedEx comes to sue you for infringement, the money you didn't spend on the professional designer will seem like pocket change.

And if that weren't enough to give you pause, there is also the ethical element. These sites offer a way for you to personally participate in exploitation of talented hard working people. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

As our friend and client, Boston electrician Andy Bruno says:
It only takes .5 milliwatts to stop a beating heart. Hire a professional.

Another word about email and security.

Jim Infantino
Another word about email and security
Does your password consist of any word found in any dictionary? Does it contain important dates or numbers in your life such as the birth of your child or parts of your social security number? How about a famous quote or song lyric? Did you set your password by running your finger down a row of the keyboard, or by picking numbers in a sequence? Do you use the same password for more than one account or do you have it written down in a ‘hidden’ location? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are either an adrenaline junkie who loves to walk a dangerous line, or you simply need more information about how to protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves.

You may think that you are not a target for an attack; after all, what can someone do with access to your most recent email to your mom and those spam offers from your local gym? The ugly truth is that hackers who break in to personal email accounts gain access to a lot more information than you might think. Once in your account, they can request new passwords from any other online account you might have such as bank accounts, vendor accounts where you store your credit card information, medical records, social security information... the list goes on and on. All they have to do is click on the “lost password” button for the other account and wait a fraction of a second to pick up the incoming email with the key to all your data and information.

Pretty scary, right? So now you have two choices: you can sit on your hands and hope for the best, or you can get yourself a new, safer password and stop worrying about your online safety. We vote you take the second option.

Still with us? Good choice! Here are the keys to a stronger and better password that won’t be impossible to remember but will keep your information and data safe:

Use a phrase instead of a single word. If your old password was “smurf” try “smurfsareblue”. A step above even that is to use a mnemonic device to remember your phrase. So if your original password was “bicycle”, and your new phrase is ‘In my dreams I’m faster than Lance on my bike’, your new password would be “imdIftLomb!”. Notice that we added complexity with a mixture of lowercase, capital letters, and special characters. You can throw some numbers in there as well to up the ante, but don’t fall in to the common trap of adding the number “1” to the end of your password, switching the number "0" for the letter "o" or the current year! Those little numbers are about as effective as a butter knife in a shoot-out.

Now that you have the information that you need, hurry up and change your password already! If you have any further questions about password strength, email security, or anything else we could answer for you, please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email here at SlabMedia! Happy interneting!

- Freddie

My thank you to Steve Jobs

Jim Infantino
steve Jobs 1955  2011
Our company runs on Apple. Our servers don't, but all of the machines in our office are Macs. There is just no way that I could have created this web system without Apple, not because of specs, or programs. All the programs I work in could just as easily been run on a PC. But I never would have used them if they were.

I came out of university with a philosophy degree and a strong desire to write a better song, and maybe do something good in the world. I had not used a computer in school - though some classmates had apple IIs, and one or two had a mac.

Once out of school, I took temp jobs while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do, and one of them was in a company that used macs for creating org charts, presentations and other printed materials. They also had a Xerox computer - a big screened monster on which Steve Jobs modeled the mac's mouse and windows architecture. It was a bear. I had no problem working with the macs, and gained a reputation as a 'computer guy' - even though I had no real computer experience. The mac was just so easy to get that I fibbed about my previous experience, showed up and was a sudden expert.

Going forward, I never really figured out what I wanted to do, though I spent some time in an early information technology company, and they were all over Steve Job's second project - the NeXT computer and Silicon Graphics machines. The company kept talking about ideas like TCPIP, UNIX and Lynx. I thought it was so much mumbo-jumbo and I was only interested in the next mac. I was in the design department, and in my spare time, I was creating album covers for local musicians. I could do this, not because I went to design school, but because I had a mac se30, and a good sense of design. This is how I got by for a period while I went out and played my music.

The mac was my computer because it was a perfect fit for a creative person. I went on to start using it to create animations in Flash, write HTML, work in Photoshop, create icons and images for the web, and begin writing the SLAB web system. I never would have done any of this if Steve Jobs had not created a computer environment was intuitive and well designed. It never would have spoken to me.

I will never cease be to amazed and inspired by what Mr. Jobs accomplished with his vision of a creativity machine. In our very small way, we want to follow his example in the way we write our software.

With the rest of the modern world, I express my gratitude.

- Jim