Domain Registry of America Scam Report

About a year ago, I bought a small domain for personal use. I registered it through a small ISP, who did the domain registration for an additional $5 or something cheap.

About 2 weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from Domain Registry of America, saying that it was time to renew my domain. I want to keep it, so I filled in their web form for an additional 3 years. I knew it was more expensive than others, but I didn’t want to go through the headache of changing it.

About an hour later, I received a phone call from my credit card company stating that I had suspcious activity on my card – it was domain registry of america. I told them I authorized it and didn’t know quite what to make of the fact that this small transaction had been noticed by them.

But the next day, I received email from Domain Registry of America stating that I had to do more work to transfer my domain to them! ACK! Its at this point I realized I had been snookered. DROA was not my registrar at all! They were just some company that looked up my domain, noticed it would expire soon, and decided to try to steal my business. They flagrantly made their mail look like it was from my current provider rather than being up front about switching to them. Boy, did I feel dumb!

Searching on the net now, I realize there are many resources which also show them to be a fraudulent scam. They send out mail to everyone pretending to be your domain registry service, and try to just steal as much business as they can get:
From Domain Avenue

Pixagogo has pictures of the mail the send

And another one.

To their credit, I called up DROA and told them I felt duped and that I wanted my money back. Today, they refunded my credit card, and I’m back on my merry way. (I plan to renew through GoDaddy, who I’ve always liked quite a lot)

VS2005 Outlook Addin Support

With Lookout we spent a ton of time just figuring out what is the “right” way to extend Outlook with a .NET based addin. This was a time consuming process because there was a lot of misinformation out there, and documentation was sparse. So, it was a lot of trial-and-error and head-banging which finally got the product out.

This week, however, the MSDN/Visual Studio teams published a new product called the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System – Outlook (beta). Wow! That is quite a name!

Overall, this tool looks great! It makes a lot of things really easy, which Lookout had to stumble through. Here are some of them:

Creates the Shim For you
This is a great feature because your addin will no longer need to be loaded by .NET’s mscoree.dll. If you load via the “old way” (with mscoree), then your plugin inherently cannot be run in high-security systems, and mscoree is a generic loader and is not signed. By having a shim, you can sign the shim, and then be securely loaded into Outlook. A great whitepaper was published a while back on how to do this, but the new VSTO tools now do it for you for free.

Creates a Separate AppDomain for your Addin
This is a huge new feature. By creating your addin in a separate AppDomain, it is much less likely to have conflicts with other plugins loaded into Outlook. I can’t tell you how many times different plugins that didn’t properly implement the ReleaseComObject logic hosed Lookout and we had to take support calls. With AppDomains in place, these should be a thing of the past.

Handling of Outlook Shutdown Cases
Getting Outlook to shutdown when plugins are loaded can be tricky. Making it work in 3 versions of Outlook (2000, XP, and 2003) is a process of walking through a minefield of random bugs. Fortunately, Outlook 2003 works reasonably well, but there are still a few well-documented gotchas. The new VSTO IStartup interface completely unloads the AppDomain in the shutdown cases, which should make addins no longer need to hand-craft these solutions.

Overall, kudos and thank you to the VSTO team. They didn’t have to build these helpers and tools, but by doing so they will enable a fleet of new applications that can be much more robust and interoperable. This should be a great thing if you are interested in .NET-based Outlook development.

Political Correctness and the 49ers

When did our culture get so sensitive to every little remark, comment, or joke that might be interpreted as being offensive to anyone? Why can’t well all just recognize that not everyone likes everyone, and its actually okay?

The 49ers are getting blasted today for a PR-training video that leaked to the public. The video uses blatant politically incorrect humor and asks that the viewers embrace diversity. Its the contrast of the humor and the message which makes the video effective for its intended audience (mentally-underhorsepowered, arrogant, egotistical football players).

Groups they make fun of in the video:
– Chinese Americans/Immigrants
– Lesbians (including a rated-R scene)
– Homeless
– The SF Mayor (Gavin Newsom)

Want to see the video? Here is the link.

Oh well. Do we really need everyone to like everyone else? Can we no longer have the freedom to just get the say what we want? This video, while risque, aggressive in its approach, and definitely not a style I would ever use, does not encourage or condone hurting other people. So why do we care?

There are times when we’ll all be offended. Its okay. Its part of life. Lets move on.

By the way, the video was apparently made and used within the 49ers organization in August of last year. Until today, they never regretted the video or made any personnel changes. All of a sudden today, they are apologizing like they’d never seen it before or were shocked. So, clearly, they are only doing what they think we and the media want. Make sure they know its okay!