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Drunk domain blogger gets mugged in Cartagena

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2010, It's Friday

ICANN people love defining things, and a few people at the meeting here in Cartagena have disputed whether this anecdote meets the strict definition of “mugging”.

Okay, I didn’t wind up with a knife in my ribs, they weren’t carrying firearms, and they didn’t get my wallet.

But they were going to beat me up (at the very least) if I didn’t give them what they wanted and it’s really just blind luck that I managed to blag my way out of it.

I often find that these kinds of stories are better related in first-person present tense.

So it’s 4am, and I’m blatantly flouting ICANN’s security advice by walking, rather than getting a taxi, back from .CO Internet’s rather nice afterparty to my considerably less-nice hotel.

But it’s only two or three short blocks, and I’m inside the walled city, so I reckon I’m safe.

Wrong.

Two thuggish-looking blokes quickly appear beside me and one of them starts mouthing off in unusually good English about how I owe him money for a coke deal I’m apparently somehow implicated in.

I’m not kidding.

I forget the details, but the gist of it is that I need to give them both an unspecified large amount of money for some drugs that I stole or something and that Bad Things will happen to my face if I refuse.

Unfortunately for the Escobar brothers, it turns out that at 4am, with half a bottle of Colombian fire-water in my belly, I’m invincible.

Or believe myself to be, anyway.

So I decide to play dumb, and just carry on walking. I figure I’ll pretend for as long as possible that I’m simple, or don’t speak English. My hotel is in sight by this point.

“Okay,” I say, confused look on my face, after he finishes his story.

“So you give us money?” he says.

“Okay,” I say, not giving him money.

“You give us money now.” he’s not asking this time.

“Okay,” I say. Walking a bit faster.

This goes on for two blocks. As dumb luck would have it, by the time he starts to loses his patience we’ve already reached my hotel.

Of course, at 4am, my two-star dive has its doors locked, and I have to ring the buzzer to get in.

Normally, the young girl on the desk buzzes me through two seconds later. Of course, normally I don’t show up in the dead of night accompanied by two burly Colombian guys yelling about drug money.

So she understandably doesn’t want to let me in.

Trying to buy time, and unsure whether this is a violent scam or a genuine case of mistaken identity, I tell the guy he can have his money in the morning. Just drop by, pick it up, no worries.

I buzz again, but she still doesn’t want to let me in.

“You give me money now.”

I usually carry a bunch of small-denomination bills in my pocket when I’m on unfamiliar turf, for precisely this kind of scenario, so I grab a wad of notes and stuff them into his hand.

“Okay, here’s your money.”

Buzz again. Still no response.

I’m trying not to notice that the money I’ve just given him amounts to about two US dollars, but he clearly has noticed and is quite angry.

I’m told I now owe him 57,000 pesos, which strikes me as unusually specific.

Fortunately, I never get to find out why he settled on that amount. The girl buzzes me through and, after a brief struggle, Scarface eats door.

End of anecdote.

To me, it sounds like a mugging. Drug guys threatened to beat me up and I gave them $2 – that fits the definition, right? It may be the lamest mugging in Colombian history, but it’s still a mugging.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Next time, I’ll try to get stabbed or something.

“Beware of Hookers”, ICANN attendees told

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN has published a security guide for delegates planning to attend its meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, this December, which makes quite entertaining reading.

A highlight of the report (pdf), prepared by outside consultants Control Risks, warns attendees to steer clear of bar prostitutes who plan to take advantage of them.

All travelers should avoid bars which have public touts (or “spruikers”) standing outside encouraging them to enter. Many of these bars attract high levels of local prostitutes, some who intend to rob tourists by drugging them in the bar or in their hotel rooms.

Sage advice.

The report also recommends staying off the streets after 11pm, using official taxis, keeping your wallets clean of identifying information, and not resisting muggers/abductors.

Fight for your life, but not your possessions.

I’m cherry-picking the scary stuff here, obviously. In general, the report says Cartagena is fairly safe. Last year, there were only two kidnappings in the city.

Cartagena enjoys a mostly deserved reputation as one of the safe destinations for foreign travelers in Colombia. Certainly, violent crime rarely affects foreign visitors to the city.

ICANN has said that it will commission such reports when there is a concern that security at its chosen meeting locations may not be up to scratch.

I believe the new meetings security plan was introduced in response to the vague terrorism threats that clouded the Nairobi meeting earlier this year, keeping many flighty Americans at home.

.SO Registry copies .co launch policies

Kevin Murphy, September 20, 2010, Domain Registries

Somalia’s .SO Registry, which hopes to mimic a little of the success of .co when it starts accepting registrations in November, has adopted virtually identical launch policies.

The registry’s policy document (pdf), which appeared on its web site last week, does in fact appear to copy large chunks of text wholesale from .CO Internet’s equivalent paper (pdf).

(UPDATE: I’ve reason to believe this is because both documents share an author/editor)

For this reason, you can pretty much expect the same policies regarding the sunrise, landrush and general availability phases of the launch, which kicks off November 1.

It also means that .so domain names will be subject to the UDRP. The registry has evidently partnered with WIPO to administer these proceedings.

There are some differences between .co and .so, however.

Notably, .SO Registry has added a policy of allowing sunrise registrations for trademark typos, provided that the typo under another TLD has been won at UDRP or in court.

This basically appears to open the doors for any company that has won a .com domain in a UDRP case to register the equivalent .so, no matter how lunatic the UDRP decision was.

This is how the document describes the exception to the trademarks-only rule:

the Domain Name must be identical to a domain name which has been recovered by the Applicant or its authorized licensee in the context of a court, UDRP or other alternative dispute resolution procedure relating to that domain name in another top-level domain.

It’s followed by a comment, one of several apparently made by one of the document’s editors, that probably shouldn’t have been published on a public web site:

Comment Bart: we need to look at the allocation model here (rather hypothetical, but you never know): will they also go into auction if there are two applicants for the same domain name: one having the identical mark, and the other having the variant?)

Other differences include the fact that, unlike their Columbian counterparts, Somalians do not appear to get any special privileges, such as grandfathering or a priority sunrise phase.

There also does not to be a provision for a Specially Protected Marks list like the one .CO Internet used.

The registry’s policies will be governed by the laws of Japan, rather than Somalia (which, let’s face it, doesn’t have much in the way of a functional legal infrastructure).

.SO’s back-end is being handled by GMO Registry, the Japanese company that plans to apply for .shop and is working with Canon on its proposed .canon application.

I’ve previously reported on the roll-out time-line and pricing for the .so domain, here.

Yes, .co domains are subject to the UDRP

I’ve been getting a fair bit of search traffic over the last few days from people evidently wondering whether .co domain names are subject to the same UDRP rules as .com, so I thought I’d answer the question directly.

Yes, they are.

For avoidance of doubt, I’ve just talked to .CO Internet’s director of marketing, Lori Anne Wardi, who had just talked to the registry’s policy people.

She told me that .co domains are subject to the exact same ICANN UDRP as .com.

If you’re a .co registrant, you’re bound to the policy the same as you are in .com. If you’re a trademark holder, you file a complaint in the same way.

The only difference at the moment is that .CO Internet has contracted with only one UDRP provider, WIPO, but Wardi said that more providers may be signed up in future.

The .CO launch, by the numbers

The .co top-level domain is now live and open for general registrations, following a well-planned and self-evidently successful launch period.

The TLD is the country-code for Colombia, but it’s being sold as a generic alternative to .com by .CO Internet.

Here’s the story of the launch, explained with numbers:

27,000 – approximate number of active .com.co registrations made before the start of 2010, under the previous, much more restrictive regime (source).

5,000 – roughly how many of these .com.co registrants chose to participate in sunrise grandfathering, which would allow them to grab the equivalent .co domain before anybody else (source).

100 – number of brands on .CO Internet’s Specially Protected Marks List. These 100 companies, selected by Deloitte, had their brands placed on a registry-reserved list during the launch period.

83 – brands on the SPML who had chosen to register their .co names by the time the sunrise closed (source). Companies on the SPML who continue to decline their domain will see their brand released back into the pool.

10 – registrars initially approved to take .co registrations. Many more companies are selling the domains, but they’re all acting as resellers for these 10. More registrars will be approved in future.

225 to 335 – price in US dollars of a sunrise registration for trademark holders (source).

11,000 – approximate number of sunrise registrations

1,500 – approximate number of rejected sunrise applications (source)

27,905 – applications made during the landrush (source)

451 – landrush applicants applying for 10 or more domains

2,523 – domains receiving more than one landrush application. These domains will now be offered at auction. (source)

133 – number of countries where landrush applicants resided

350– Fortune 500 companies that have registered their trademarks under .co as of today

81,000 – the price in US dollars of the first .co domain to be auctioned, the single-letter e.co. The domain sold on Sedo to Bookmarks.com on June 10 (source)

350,000 – price in US dollars of the biggest seller to date, the single-letter o.co. The domain was sold to Overstock.com, directly by the registry, earlier this week. (source)

91,613 – registrations in the first 12 minutes of general availability, which started at 6pm UTC yesterday. (source)

216,159 – currently active registrations as of 10am UTC today, 16 hours into general availability (source)

? – number of .co domains still active July 22, 2011.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add your data to the list.

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