Paper by FiftyThree

Lauren Goode at Wired: FiftyThree, Maker of Popular Paper and Paste Apps, Gets Acquired:

BACK IN 2012, a Seattle-based startup named FiftyThree launched a drawing app designed exclusively for iPad, with a name that sounded like it was designed specifically for an Apple crowd: Paper. Despite its simplicity and also because of it, Apple crowned it the iPad App of the Year. Tech writers described it as “the next great iPad app”, “a superbly designed sketching app,” and “a fresh canvas ready and waiting for your ideas, inspiration, and art.” FiftyThree later expanded to include an iPhone app, an optional subscription called Paper Pro, and Paste, a collaboration app.

Today FiftyThree announced its apps and team have been acquired by WeTransfer, a cloud-based file transfer company with headquarters in Amsterdam and Los Angeles.

I’ve been a Paper user off and on ever since they launched in 2012. It’s been my go-to app for a lot of drawing projects, is one of our son’s favorite apps on his iPad, and is popular with my wife, who uses it for a lot of wonderful sketches. Like with any acquisition, there’s a little hesitation as to whether or not it will be a good thing for an existing company and its products. But I’m hoping we’ll see Paper stick around for years to come.

More ‘DRoA’ Fun

I suppose there is one downside to owning several domain names: People like the Domain Registry of America spam you!  And, this isn’t the first time. At least this time, they had their actual name on the envelope.

As a courtesy to everyone that may read this, here are a few things to note about these renewals.

Don’t be fooled by them! It’s simply a practice known as domain slamming. They send you a notice, reminding you that your domain name should be renewed soon, but by signing up with them, you’ll likely pay more than you did for your domain name! If you’re not cautious, you may think it is a legitimate bill and pay it. Do not do that!

The best thing to do when you get a notice like this is to contact your web host or domain registrar personally. Anything regarding your domain name will be coming from them, NOT from the Domain Registrar of America!

Hopefully, these simple reminders will help you to avoid possible problems in the future!

In Memoriam: Geocities (1995-2009)

Remember when the biggest question on the internet was “Frames or No Frames“?

Well, years ago, when one wanted to run a website, there were few places you could go. Geocities, though, was one of them. They were like the friendly neighbor that was willing to let you use their lawn for free parking in exchange for advertisements on your car to their own garage sale.

Well, as many different sites and blogs have mentioned, Geocities is shutting down today. If you haven’t done so, try to back up your data immediately. Otherwise, it will all be gone!

Ever since the notice that Geocities would be shut down back in April, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful times I had with them. Ok, I didn’t have that many memories. Actually, I had very few. But still, Geocities was important back in the day.

For anyone that may not be familiar with Geocities, here’s a little history for you. If you wanted to host a website, say, ten years ago, you either had the few free services, like Geocities, or you had to pay quite a bit for your hosting. Today, we see a plethora of web hosts, which undoubtedly had a hand in killing Geocities.

I know, for my part, I had just one site on Geocities: The New Jedi Order. It was an attempt at running a clan back in 2001. My friend and I were big fans of the game Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, and so we thought we’d make a cool site to try and organize games with others. Well, that cool site only had two colors: black and neon green. Trust me, it does hurt the eyes.

While I’ve done much better with web design since then, I still will miss seeing my site on Geocities.  It’s so hard to believe that they’ll be gone so soon…

Geocities is survived by Angelfire, Tripod, and many web hosting companies.

Did you have a site on Geocities? Have any Geocities memories? Did you actually understand what the first question of this post was about? Please comment!

Google Announce Google Chrome OS

In what seems like another big announcement today, Google has announced that they are working on a new operating system.  The Google Chrome OS is said to be different from Android and targeted towards netbooks.

It is little wonder that this new OS is targeted towards people that want to get online fast.  In fact, their blog post mentions the intention of the OS itself:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

For someone that has seemed to do a good job at providing both a great internet search engine and a simple, straight-forward browser, it is no surprise that they are pointing towards the web as the platform for their applications.  And, what applications would one use on a netbook?  Documents? Spreadsheets? Google Docs covers that.  Email? Gmail has that down, too. What about talking with your friends online? Google Talk handles that.

“Alright,” some of you may be saying. “So you’re suggesting that Google does it all?”  Not necessarily.  There are times where you might find a need to chat with friends on Yahoo or MSN quickly, which is where a service such as Meebo can come in.  Or if you need to pop on IRC to get some Ubuntu support, you can use a variety of web-based solutions, including Mibbit.

Overall, this may lead to a very versatile application environment:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

With the web as your platform, that gives you quite a few options.  And, if we can assume that Google Chrome will be the standard browser in Google Chrome OS, then you’re looking at a fairly stable, smooth operating environment for your applications.  Plus, there’s the added benefit:

And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If some app happens to stand out on Google Chrome OS, it is possible it either already exists on the web or would be easily available for the rest of us to use (should we not be using Google Chrome OS).

As people use the Internet more and more for work, communcation, and the overall sharing of ideas, simpler and smaller internet solutions may be required.  Netbooks cater to that audience.  And, given how Google Chrome itself has jumped into the browser pool, Google Chrome OS may make a similar splash with netbooks when it is released.

Share your views on this!  Leave a comment or send me a tweet about this post.

Don’t let ‘Domain Renewal Group’ fool you!

To be quite honest, I am not too fond of paper.  I take all notes in digital format, either on my cell phone, or via plain ol’ notepad on my laptop.  I don’t even own a printer anymore.  That said, I typically don’t get much in the mail, either.  Except for a Guitar Center advertisement, which I’m fine with.

Today, I got something much more interesting.  Looking at the letterhead in the corner of the envelope, I already had an idea of what I’d be looking at.  I had received a letter from the Domain Registry of America a few years back that looked very similar to this.  So, my first thought? “Here we go again!”

Domain Renewal Group

Opening up the letter, I saw exactly what I had intended to see: a letter telling me that my domain is expiring soon and that I should transfer it to them.  For a nice fee, of course!


Domain Renewal Group letter

Now, why do I title this about mail like this fooling you?  It’s simple: this is not from your domain name registrar!  The appearance of their letter, though, makes it look like a bill requiring payment or else you will lose your domain (though they say that it isn’t a bill in the letter).  But, the appearance could fool you, right?  That’s the intention.  That is an example of something called domain slamming.

All I ask is that you read the contents of the letter before making a decision!  You can typically find cheaper domain name providers, which may include the current one you are using.

I actually did check out the Domain Renewal Group’s website.  While they do seem to include web hosting, there are a pair of things on their site that would make me not use them:

  1. Their site copyright is through 2007.  Have they not touched their site in over a year, possibly even two?
  2. Their FAQ (under the Support tab).  Why does it talk about the Domain Registry of America?  Oh, they must be connected.  Or they ripped off DROA’s content for themselves, though given DROA’s track record, that wouldn’t be very smart

This is only the second time I’ve received such a letter in the mail.  However, what kind of people are they targeting?  If you’re knowledgeable about your hosting provider and domain registrar, then you would probably not want to just change all that based on a letter in the mail telling you that your domain name is expiring.

So, really, like with anything, the best defense you have is to be well informed.  In this case, so long as you know who you host your site with and who manages your domain name, then you should be safe.

Side note: While I felt that this post should be used to inform people and give a ‘warning’, I decided not to use the words scam or fraud.  Given that such letters have been able to continue for years, it must still still qualify as legal.  However, given the ethical concerns of such a process of domain slamming, I felt I’d just give some information that can, hopefully, make the reader more informed about what a letter like this involves.