Feb 262001

eHammer’s a newcomer to the online auction world, which makes it a wonderful resource for bargain hunters, but a poor place for sellers. At the time of this writing there were a total of 1178 items listed amongst the 56 general categories offered, with the most being offered in the American Antiques section (414) and the majority of the categories having zero items listed.

For Buyers

The average auction at eHammer closes with fewer than a half dozen bids. This makes it a wonderful resource for bargain hunters as there is not much competition.

Registration takes only a couple of minutes as they only require standard contact info (name, email, address, phone). No credit card is required to register which is a plus in my book.

Bidding is handled by a proxy bidder as it is most everywhere else. Proxy bidding means that you enter the highest price you are willing to pay, but only the next necessary bid increment is shown as the high bid. If others bid after you (but remain below your high offer) your bid will be raised just high enough to beat them.

There is an auto-auction alert, though I have yet to have this kick in as my first bid has always been enough to garner the item I was seeking (at well below my high price to boot :).

Their feedback option varies from eBay’s in that instead of just giving the feedback total for each user it actually lists the number of positive, negative, and neutral feedback entries separately. I find this to be a much better way to get a feel for someone’s reputation as you immediately know if they have any negative feedback.

For Sellers

I have not offered anything for sale at eHammer and can not recommend that you do either. With the low number of bidders this is very much a buyers market.

Listing fees are comparable to eBay, as are final sales commissions (most slightly lower, others slightly higher). You are also permitted to relist an item once for free if it does not sell the first time.

All of the now standard upgrades are also available: listing on the homepage, category page, or in bold; longer auction times of either 15 or 30 days; the ability to cross-list an item in up to three categories. Fees for these upgrades are also comparable to other auction sites.

eHammer also offers the opportunity to have your own online auction hall hosted at their site. Fees for this are not listed directly on the site and it’s not something of interest to me, so I did not inquire. I can see how this would be beneficial to people who regularly sell via online auction, however, so would recommend checking out eHammer if you do this sort of thing.


Bargain hunters should keep an eye on eHammer as should people interested in quick turnover of antiques/collectibles for a small profit. You could easily move several items purchased at eHammer on eBay for a higher fee.

Sellers are better off at one of the better known sites, unless they wish to take advantage of the personalized Auction Halls.



This review has also been posted to epinions.com

Feb 252001
Part of the Deciphering Domains Series - Previous in series         Next in series

The Bottom Line Despite what you may have heard all two character top level domains are country code TLDs. This installment will discuss their benefits and drawbacks.

Non-standard (country code) Top Level Domains are becoming far more common as the number of attractive domains with gTLDs diminishes, which is something to consider when you register your domain name. With .com becoming “too-darn-dot-hard-to-get” (to quote a recent client) more and more people are turning to ccTLDs for their sites.

General Background

Despite all of the hype and advertising to the contrary, all two-character TLDs are country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) and they are not new! Of the 237 currently active ccTLDs, only three new ccTLDs have been added since 1997: .nr-Naru (03/30/98), .bd-Bangladesh (05/20/99) and .ps-Palestinian Territories (03/22/00). Not surprisingly, the first ccTLD was .us-United States (02/15/85) followed several months later by .uk-United Kingdom (07/24/85) which is still probably the most used ccTLD on the internet.

In the last several years many small countries have begun to realize that their unique ccTLD is a national resource and have sought ways to profit from them. Countries such as Western Samoa (.ws), the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (.cc), Tuvalu (.tv) and The Federal State of Micronesia (.fm) have contracted with private companies to market their domains to the rest of the world. Hence, the growing awareness of these domains in the public consciousness.

For a complete list of ccTLDs and their associated countries visit http://www.iana.org/cctld/cctld-whois.htm

Rules and Regulations

Each ccTLD is administered by a group, organization or company selected by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and the country the code represents. Thus requirements vary by domain.

Many ccTLDs are limited to residents of the represented country, or others having a ‘presence’ there of some sort. Others offer domains to residents at a reduced price, or even for free.

Additionally, not all ccTLDs permit direct registration of second level domains, but rather use assigned second level domains (usually based off gTLDs) and permit registration of only third level domains. For example, epinions.uk would not be permitted, but epinions.co.uk would be acceptable.

You also need to be aware that such things as propriety are culturally based. In other words, what seems an innocuous word or phrase in your country may be taboo in other countries and not permitted to be registered with certain gTLDs.

Although gTLDs may now be up to 63 characters long (including the TLD), not all countries have upgraded their DNS servers to permit long domain names. Thus, names may be limited to as few as 23 characters total.

Be sure to read all the regulations related to the ccTLD you are interested in before finalizing your decision.

Pros and Cons

The primary reason that most people turn to ccTLDs is because the domain name they want has already been registered with all three gTLDs. While this does make some sense, unless the ccTLD is somehow tied in to your site’s purpose, people are unlikely to remember your TLD and end up at yourchosenname.com rather then your actual site. A better move may be to choose a different second level name that is still available.

The largest problem with ccTLDs is that they are difficult for people to remember. As discussed extensively in part 3 of this series, most people tend to assume your domain ends in .com. The majority of these can adapt fairly easily to a .net domain, but I’ve had numerous people inform me that web addresses such as .tw (Taiwan) and .lv (Latvia) simply don’t exist.

Obviously if you reside outside the US or your site deals primarily with issues related to another country then choosing the associated ccTLD would be a good choice. Or if you actually have operations and/or customers in more than one country, then registering your domain with each unique ccTLD may be appropriate. Ditto, if your trademark is registered in multiple countries.


This is part four of a series of articles on domain registration also posted on epinions.com.

Part of the Deciphering Domains Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Feb 242001
Part of the Domain Registrars Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Upon discovering 1stdomain.net I was excited at all they offered. The 1stDomain.net homepage attacks the viewer with a multitude of offerings and special deals: Secure Your Online Identity, Multi-Lingual Domain Names, Buy 2 Get 1 Free!, New TLDs, Special Packages and more. With so many offers, where does one start?

Primary Features

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll follow the menu that remains on the left of the screen throughout the site.

New Accounts

Since this was my first time here, I followed this link thinking I would be taken to a registration form to fill out my contact info, etcetera. Unfortunately, it only takes you to a page with a brief bit of company hype and a “click here to register your domain name” link that simply returns you to the homepage.

So, assuming they’d get the necessary data I continued on to the next link in line…

Register Your Domain

Unfortunately, this link again points only to the homepage. I only want to register a single name, so the next two links: “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” and “Bulk Registration” aren’t too promising, but I click the first one anyway.

Finally, below more marketing hype, a box appears for me to submit what name I want. I enter it and click “Search”. My result:

“Sorry, all domain names you listed are already taken.

A search has revealed that all domain names you gave are in use by other companies or individuals. You cannot register these domains. Please click here to choose other domains.”

Okay, I want to try another spelling, so I click ‘here‘ only to find myself at…

Bulk Registration

Strange, I came only wanting one domain, and now I’m suddenly registering in bulk! Anyway, I type several different ideas into the offered box to see what’s available. Great, thirteen of my choices are available for registration and it shows I’ll be getting a 30% Bulk Discount, so my total price is only $455.00. Wait a second, $455?!? I can’t afford that much, so I back out to the home page and click on…


A quick page-flip and…

“At 1stDomain.net the registrar fee for a Domain Name starts at $8.95/year for bulk registrations, and at $17.90 Dollars/year for single registrations (with savings). This fee INCLUDES all InterNic fees and FREE PARKING.”

Wow, $8.95? $17.95? Now we’re talking! Alas, I can’t really figure out how much I’m going to be charged. There are three charts on this page trying to explain how much I can save with various numbers of years and bulk registrations, not to mention their famous two for one offer. Unfortunately, the tables don’t seem to make much sense. So, I head back to the home page once again, seeking…

Other Features

Multi-lingual Domain Names

1stDomain.net also allows multi-lingual domains in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean for the same prices as English domain names. A simple translation program is available on the site, though it’s full of disclaimers, so I’d recommend you find a more reliable source before investing money in a possibly incorrect name.

As with many companies that have begun to offer multi-lingual or ‘native language’ domain registration it is not yet clear when these domains will be accessible, though the site gives the impression it will be immediate.


Unlike, most companies offering to “pre-register” people for the proposed new TLDs (.info, .biz, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero, and .coop), 1stdomain.net is only accepting email addresses for notification purposes on the latter five proposed TLDs. They are permitting people to “pre-list” for the .info and .biz domains, but they are not requiring a fee at this time.

Name Wizard

The Name Wizard utility is a very simplistic tool to help select your domain name. Essentially you put a number of words into the Name Wizard and it places them in the various possible positions and compares them to a current WHOIS database to see if they’re available. This is one of the worst versions of this utility I’ve seen as it only uses the literal words you enter, failing to suggest anything remotely unique other then hyphens.

However, if you do us the Name Wizard, be aware that when you click the “Register Domain” button after selecting your domain, be aware that you will no longer be at 1stDomain.net The Name Wizard is hosted and operated by #1DomainDot.com. Why does this matter? Well, it’s good for you in the sense that #1DomainDot.com charges much less for domains then 1stDomain.net (only $34.00 for two years), but it’s bad because one of the basic tenets of ecommerce security is to be wary of sites that change to other companies without notice.

Although both 1stDomain.net and FirstDomain.net are owned by the same company, #1DomainDot.com seems to actually be a reseller for 1stDomain.com. Why they would set things up this way is beyond me, but they are.


I would avoid 1stDomain.net, FirstDomain.net, #1DomainDot.com and any other site having to do with G+D International LLC as a rule. All of their sites are intertwined and are seldom straightforward. Their prices and services are not very impressive and their customer service is sub-standard as well. I believe something strange is going on with this company, but I’m not giving them enough of my cash to find out the hard way what it is.

Better safe then sorry: stick with Dotster and/or DotRegistrar.com for your domain registration needs.

Part of the Domain Registrars Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Feb 242001
Part of the Domain Registrars Series - Previous in series         Next in series

First Domain bills itself as “an internationally recognized non-profit registrar organization, accredited by ICANN as an official registrar for domains in .COM .NET .ORG”. Unfortunately, only the first three words hold true.


FirstDomain.net is, indeed, “internationally recognized”. Of course, pretty much everything on the internet is “internationally recognized”, that’s why they call it the World Wide Web and not the Country Wide Web.


FirstDomain.net is, in fact, not accredited by ICANN to register generic TLDs. Their parent company 1stDomain.net is, but FirstDomain.net is not. (For a complete list of ICANN accredited registrars visit http://www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html)

Truth of Fiction?

I have been unable to ascertain whether or not FirstDomain.net is registered as a non-profit company in Germany (which is where their Registrar information points). However, they most certainly are not one in the United States and both their immediate parent company, 1stDomain.net, and G+D International, 1stDomain.net’s parent company are for-profit companies. In fact, G+D International is based in Hawaii and is listed as the Admin Contact for both domain registrars as well as cchawaii.net, 0 charge Domain Name Registration, and at least three different wedding planning companies in Hawaii. All of which makes it seem even less likely that FirstDomain.net is a non-profit organization, despite the opening line of its website.

I find it quite interesting that, despite the assertion that FirstDomain.net is a “non-profit” registrar they charge the exact same prices as their for-profit parent company. There are differences though.

FirstDomain.net v. 1stDomain.net

Despite the remarkably similar names and pricing structures, these two domain registrars are set-up as different subsidiaries of G&D International. This is not the only difference, however:

While 1stDomain.net is registered to G&D in Kihei, Hawaii and is an ICANN accredited registrar, FirstDomain.net is registered to G&D in Dusseldorf, Germany and is a member of CORE.

FirstDomain.net claims to be a “non-profit registrar” 1stDomain.net makes no such claim.

Additionally, FirstDomain.net has far fewer offerings then 1stDomain.net. This is pretty much your barebones registrar with little to offer for the premium price you’ll be paying. The only options available from the FirstDomain site are which of the three TLDs you prefer. There is no information on transfering domains into or out of FirstDomain.net, neither multi-lingual or proposed gTLDs are available, the name wizard is mediocre at best and there’s not even a WHOIS search available.

Of course, their customer service is just as unresponsive as G&D’s other registrars, but perhaps that’s because they all head to the same account.


There’s nothing here that’s worth your time, much less your money. With several hundred domain registrars to choose from these days there is no reason to waste resources with shoddy misleading sites such as this one.

Part of the Domain Registrars Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Feb 202001

In the last few years, non-profit organizations have discovered the internet and web-preneurs have discovered the draw of charity. As charity sites have exploded on the ‘net they have fallen into five basic categories: Charity Homepages, Click-to-Donate, Donation Consolidators, Shop-To-Donate, and Surf-To-Donate sites. This article is intended as an overview of these types of charity sites.

Charity Homepages

These are sites owned and operated by the charities themselves. Their primary purpose is to disseminate information about the organization itself and its activities. Most provide donation information as well as online donation options.

If your charity/cause of choice has its own site, then I highly recommend you donate directly through the charity’s homepage as this will provide the greatest benefit to the organization.


Definetly the easiest and quickest charity sites to use, click-to-donate sites advertise that you can support worthy causes with just a click at no cost to yourself.

They work by taking you to a Thank You page after you click the donate button that displays several advertisements from the site’s sponsors. The revenue from these sponsors is split between the site itself and the charity or charities supported.

Donation Consolidators

These sites allow you to donate to multiple charities all from one location. The concept here is that you only have to write one check (or have one charge on your credit card) and can still support multiple causes. Think of donation consolidators as the department stores of charity sites (all your giving needs met in one location).

Shop To Donate

Shop To Donate sites are essentially webmalls or collections of affiliate links that donate a portion of their income to charity. These require a bit more effort if your main purpose is donation, but can add ‘wram fuzzies’ to your online shopping experience, or at least hel pa little with the redistribution of wealth. The best shop to donate sites allow you to bookmark the webstores directly so that you don’t need to access the shop-to-donate site each time.


Many Pay-To-Surf sites (if you’re not sure what these are see my article at http://www.philaahzophy.com/2001/03/26/pay-to-surfpay-to-be-advertised-to/ ) will allow you to donate your profits rather than receive a check yourself. These work exactly like other ‘Pay-To’ sites of their type except that once you’ve reached the payment threshold a check is sent to the chosen charity (and the ‘Pay-To’ company gets the tax deduction) rather then you.

I hope you find this overview of the various types of charity web sites useful. For my advice on how to pick a charity site to use/support see my ‘Researching Charity Sites” article.

 Posted by at 11:51 pm