Ledfrog.com is 11 Years Old Today

Today is the 11th anniversary of Ledfrog.com. This was the day back in 2000 that I submitted my first domain application to solidify my presence on the Internet which was still a growing force not nearly the size that it is today. Here’s a little back story on the domain and why I decided to register it.

AOL 3.0

Readers of my site and those that know me personally most likely already know this part of the story, but it fully explains how the name “ledfrog” came to be. When the Internet was first starting out, there was a plethora of random companies offering services to get you online and it was often a confusing and tedious process—usually ending in a frustrated user with no email. America Online came out of this mess with software for Windows 3.1 back in January of 1993. It was to be the start of an online empire and the most popular Internet software/service the world would ever see.

I didn’t jump into the AOL world until version 3.0 (June of 1996) when we got our Windows 95 computer, but when I did, I was hooked! The thought of having access to the entire world and to be able to communicate with thousands of users anywhere at any given time just excited me.

I can’t remember what my first screenname was, but I do remember it having some numbers in it. See, back in those days there were so many people on AOL, that it seemed like no matter what screenname you came up with, you had to put numbers on it just to make it unique. Well, I sat out to change that. I wanted a short, pronounceable name that had no numbers, didn’t incorporate my real name and wouldn’t be something I’d regret using after growing up.

On July 22, 1998 I was 16 years old and sitting in front of my parent’s computer thinking of that name. At the time, I was using a picture of a small tree frog for my desktop background and listening to Led Zeppelin. It was that simple. Ledfrog was born.

Domain Name

While in high school, a friend and I started building cheap little websites that were hosted on free webservers like FreeYellow.com and Xoom.com. These sites were nothing more than collections of pictures and links for things we were interested in at the time, but for me, they were the start of a new hobby. The problem was that when I do something, I like to do it “pro” so I got tired of having a weblink that looked like: http://www.freeyellow.com/members/pages/username/index.html and wanted something more like http://www.something.com.

At the time, there weren’t any companies like GoDaddy.com where you can register about any domain you want in a matter of seconds. Before, you actually had to print out a paper application, fill it out by hand and send it off with a check for 2 years of registration minimum. It was $35 per year back then!

So again, I sat there thinking—this time of what domain I wanted to get. On a sidenote, I really wish I had a lot of money at this time. Looking back at how many valuable domain names were still available just blows my mind. But like any investment, there are never any guarantees. Most of us never would have thought the domain business would get to where it is.

Anyway, wishing to spend my $70 wisely, I opted to stay with the ledfrog name and decided to create a brand out of it. From that point forward, this domain has served as a fan site for Metallica, an FTP server, a collection of links to popular “hacking” tools for AOL and other things, a personal page for me, an FTP server again, a blank page, a forwarded page to other domains and now finally (since 2008), a blog mostly about technology. I remember one of the greatest satisfactions I got while running the FTP server was when I asked a co-worker one day if he knew where I could download a particular freeware program and he said, “There’s a site I found called Ledfrog.com that has a lot of stuff…you could try there.” I was floored that someone actually knew my site without me telling them about it!

I’ve come a long way with this domain and through the years I’ve owned well over 80 different domains, sold a few and made some money, started websites and failed, had ideas that never materialized but had fun each and every day. For me, Ledfrog.com had withstood the time and is currently my oldest and most active domain. It is here to stay for quite a while!

New TLDs to come in the domain namespace

The votes are in…as of today, the heads of the Internet (as I like to call them), ICANN has voted to allow virtually an unlimited amount of new domain names to be made available for registration. To see what I mean, let’s break down a current domain name:

ledfrog.com is a 2nd-level domain registration within the .com namespace. With .com being a top-level domain (TLD) that allows unregulated registrations in the 2nd level, anyone can register a .com domain if it’s available.

Throughout the years, new TLDs or extensions were adding to the domain system to help alleviate demand for domain names. Among vanity extensions such as .travel, .info and .biz, each country in the world was assigned a 2-character country code to allow those countries to offer domains to its citizens. More recently, ICANN approved the use of .xxx specifically for adult-content sites.

This system has worked rather well consider how old DNS is! However, with the advent of new technology and masses of people jumping online each and every day, large companies have had to register handfuls of domains just to protect their brands and trademarks. With over 300 TLDs currently available, these costs can add up. Current registration costs can range from $7 to $600 per year for each domain. That’s even if they can get their brand as a domain. Dealing with cyber-squatters and other infringers have likely cost companies millions of dollars.

The future of domains appears to be the availability of new, custom registrations of top-level domains. Imagine Apple Inc. being able to own .apple or .iphone!

To be honest, when I first heard this news, I was worried. I feel like part of the domain system is the uniqueness of it—the rarity of it. Of course, this could just be me looking at it from a business standpoint, but I’m under the impression that offering these unlimited domains will essentially devalue domains as a whole.

That was until I found out about the registration costs! ICANN has announced that each application will carry a fee of $185,000 while annual renewal of the domain will cost $25,000. This should stop 99% of the spammers out there for sure!

It’s clear that these domains will be somewhat of a luxury for large coporations and/or the rich individual who might want to register some generic domain name like .car or .games which makes me feel better about not letting another million useless websites appear online overnight from people looking to make money off selling a domain name.

While this new plan seems like a good idea on the surface, another concern I have is how the public will accept this. Anyone who follows the domain industry knows how hard it has been to promote any domain other than .com, so how will this be any different? The Internet world is so used to typing in something and then following it with .com or another known extension, but this is just confusing. Typing in .apple just doesn’t make sense, but I guess that’s what people said 30 years ago when people were just learning about the Internet.

I’ve been on the Internet since 1997 and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the domain industry and this is by far the largest of them all. But one thing has remained true throughout all of it—nobody remembers a domain extension as well as a .com domain. In this case, only time will tell if this will change.

International Domain Speculation

As any domain owner will tell you, domain speculation is a rough game. In fact, it’s very similar to the stock market in some sense. No, the value of a domain doesn’t fluctuate with rising and falling markets, per se, but the risk of “guessing” which domains will have resell value now or later is just as high as it is on Wall Street.

When thinking about this topic, I was browsing around the Internet and came across a few articles about International domains and with the few new TLDs that have been launching auctions for previously reserved domains, it’s hard not to want to dive in head first and buy all the good domains available.

The problem? Nobody can accurately predict the value of such names and the reason for this is because there are so many factors that play into what they might actually be worth with the worst part being that these factors vary depending on who you talk to!

International Domains (ccTLD)

ccTLD is short for Country Code Top-Level Domain. These are the 2-character TLDs that were assigned to each country in the world. There were a few reasons to do this, one of which was to increase the amount of domains available for registration and also to provide each country with a domain that pertains specifically to them.

However, what this also did was allow domain speculators and other individuals who felt they missed out on the booming domain industry to start registering the same domain names that were selling for hundreds of thousands, but in a new TLD. While this sounds like a master plan, one must be reminded that every TLD is valued differently and in an industry where value is extremely subjective, this is troubling to hear.

So how does one value an International TLD?

Digital Gold Rush

The best domains aren’t always the obvious ones. For example, you might be tempted to register Business.de because Business.com sold for $7 million at one point, but you might be better off registering Geschäft.de (business in German).

Other valuable domains might be really short ones that can be used for URL shortening services like the one I got, xi.io for example. You might even be considering a “domain hack” like te.am, assu.me, ballga.me or fres.co. Whatever the case may be, you could be sitting on a gold mine or bust out like so many others who jumped on a bandwagon.

No matter the case, every time a new TLD is launched, a frenzy ensues and all over the Internet, you can see articles and postings about launch dates, sunrise periods, pre-registrations, trademark reservations, general registration, premium auctions and domain valuations. It seems that the latest trend is the premium auction feature. This is where the country or (registrar acting on behalf of the country) has decided to place a series of “premium” domains on reserved lists, generate some buzz and then release them in specialized blocks in hopes to squeeze the most value out of a domain.

No other TLD was more successful at this process than dotME.

dotME Domains

The dotME TLD comes from the country of Montenegro. Their site, Domain.me will have you believe (in short time) that dotME domains are the greatest thing since sliced bread! Their ability to promote and market their cause is unparalleled in the business.

The first thing they did was reserve thousands of domain names, marked them as premium and put them up for auction. Back in April, they auctioned off a ton of first names like Michael.me, Jack.me, Chris.me and so on. I was able to acquire Brandon.me and that’s all I needed.

On November 17th, Sedo auctioned off another large block that netted about $400,000. TheDomains.com posted a list of the top selling dotME domains if you want to check it out. While you’re at it, head on over to Domain.me and check out some of their upcoming premium auctions.

Here’s the top five from that list:

  1. Like.me: $26,500
  2. contacts.me: $15,600
  3. game.me: $13,100
  4. poker.me: $12,099
  5. friend.me: $10,099

What’s interesting about this list is that the domain Business.me was far down it having sold for $4010. This goes to show that not only is dotME simply not dotCOM and never will be. But another interesting point is that Business.me doesn’t seem to make sense in the dotME spectrum. The reason for this is because dotME forces the word “me” when you see it. This makes dotME perfectly suitable for personal blogs and other domains that use words that work with the word “me”.

My Two Cents

The point to this post was that International domains can be great additions to any portfolio and they might hold some value to someone somewhere, but generally speaking, the TLD will make a huge difference in the value of a domain. So when you’re out there speculating your next purchase, make note of how others might relate to your domain choices.

List Building – Validation

Email address validation is much more than simply checking your list for valid email addresses. It also checks for valid headers to ensure that email is being sent and received to the correct mailbox. The last thing you want is your emails being relayed all over the Internet and bounced from server to server without knowing where it’s going. Your users may end up doing their own validation and you might come off as a spammer.

This section groups all of these smaller sections together:

  • Domain Links
  • Whois
  • SPF
  • Privacy Policy

Domain Links

When you create your newsletter or send out emails to your users, the one major thing you want to check for is valid links. This consists mostly of actual page links, but in the least, you want to make sure your domain is pointed right. This will ensure that your users can match your email address to the domain you have listed in the message.

If your links are dead or full of typos, you’re not only reducing your click through rate to zero, but you’re also tampering with your reputation. It should be fairly obvious how to make sure your links are valid, but just to be sure, you should always copy and paste a link directly from the page you want to link to.

Another good thing about always placing domain links in your messages is because if that person forwards your email to other people they think might be interested, you’re going to get instant promotion. This is more true when it comes to producing ebooks that are loaded with backlinks to your site.


A whois service is one that provide important information regarding owners of domain names. These tools come in handy if you want to know who owns a domain name of one of your users. When you start seeing a particular domain name spamming up the Internet, this step becomes very useful in tracking down who’s behind operations. Here are some free whois checkers starting with my favorite on top:

  1. Who.is – The reason I like this service so much is because it will check every single domain extension in existence. It’s also super easy to remember. The only downside to this site is that it’s loaded with adverstisements, but once you get used to the navigation, you’ll be fine.
  2. FreeWho.com – I use this site half the time, but only because I used to use it all the time until I found the one above. The advantage here is no advertiseing, it’s usually very fast and it too is also easy to remember. But the downside is that it only supports 6 domain extensions (com, net, info, org, biz and us).
  3. GoDaddy Whois – Another great search tool especially for those domains that have special business contact info. GoDaddy formats this information much better than some of the other whois servers. Drawback: you must enter a captcha code unless you’re logged into your own GoDaddy account.

Of course there are thousands and thousands of other whois services out there. As long as you get the info you need, any one of them will work.


SPF (in email terms) stands for Sender Policy Framework. It is an anti-spam measure that allows domain owners to control the emails that pass through their servers based on domain name. Essentially a server admin can allow only certain hostnames to send email over the web server. This generally stops forged mail from coming through.

In case you didn’t know, most email servers are relatively open. This means that with the right settings, I can send an email off of some other webserver using my own email address. It’s called a relay and it’s like piggybacking. An example would be if I sent an email to your address from my address, but used Yahoo!’s servers to do it instead of yours or mine.

An SPF record created by Yahoo! would prevent me from doing this because my computer (host) is not on their network. It’s certainly not fullproof and it shouldn’t be considered the end-all for spam, but it’s a great start.

I wouldn’t be given SPF justice if I tried to explain everything here, so please check out the SPF group website called OpenSPF. To view more specifics on this technology, check out their FAQ page.

Privacy Policy

Your website should have a Privacy Policy. It should discuss everything you do and don’t do on your site regarding your user’s information. This is important for many reasons, but here are a few you should consider:

  • Covers – It keeps you covered. One example would be if you told your users up front that you would send them 20 emails a day and they still signed up, then they would be liable for the “spam” that they get from you if they wanted to complain.
  • Informs – It informs your users of an potential 3rd party emails that might be coming their way. Let them know if you work with other partners and wish to send them special offers.
  • Protection – It protects your users from themselves. As mentioned above, your users won’t have a leg to stand on if they don’t abide by or understand your policy.
<< Back to Can-spam Act Forward to Whitelisting >>

Site Creation – Domain Name System (DNS)

Understanding the Domain Name System, or DNS is an important part of understanding web hosting as well as the Internet in general. Without it, we wouldn’t have domains and the Internet would not be what it is today. You may not have known it, but underneath the entire infrastructure, lies DNS.

What does it do?

In short, DNS takes domain names such as Ledfrog.com and translates them into an IP address like: Imagine if you had to remember how to find websites based on their IP address? Even if you did, imagine what would happen if that website changed its physical location, thereby changing the IP address? DNS was created to bypass these problems and allow for the creation of what I call aliases that are understandable to humans.

How does it work?

When you register a domain name, you’re placing a record in the domain registry that tells the Internet how to find your website. If someone types in Ledfrog.com, this is what happens:

  1. Your computer asks your ISP (Verizon, Time Warner, AOL, etc.) if it knows what and where Ledfrog.com is.
  2. If your ISP doesn’t know, it asks the Top Level Domain server. In this case it’s .com and of course .com knows that there is an entry for “ledfrog”.
  3. It returns the IP address of the server that Ledfrog is located on and tells your computer where to connect.
  4. Your web browser then connects to the IP address and you now see the website on your screen.

Of course, that’s a very basic look at the process because there are thousands of DNS servers out on the Internet that do search queries to help with the processing of domain names.

How does this apply to me?

Once you register your domain name, you need to point it the name servers of the web host you’ve chosen to host your site. As an example, the name servers for my site are: NS1.MEDIATEMPLE.NET and NS2.MEDIATEMPLE.NET because MediaTemple.net hosts my site. Those nameservers are responsible for telling the world that my website is located there and to display it to everyone who asks for it.

Another main advantage to DNS is the ability to change your web host at any time. Since the web host isn’t going anywhere, their IP addresses will never change. If your site moves, your nameservers change and therefore get updated with the new IP addresses. Because you have a registered domain name, there’s nothing more you have to do once you update your nameservers.

<< Back to Webhosting Forward to FTP >>

Site Creation – Domain Registration

Today, domain names are everywhere and they aren’t always used for a company’s website such as HP.com or Apple.com. Domains are now registered to capitalize on all sorts of things like catch phrases, movie titles, personal names, marketing jargon and just about everything else. When it comes to registering your own domain, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What message will the domain convey to other people?
  • Does it make me sound professional?
  • Is it easy to remember?
  • Does it infringe on a registered trademark?
  • Does it have branding potential?

The most important question is: Is it available? There are millions and millions of domain names out there already, so finding one you like may be a larger process than you anticipated. However, there are plenty of after-market places to buy registered domain names for sale.

How do I decide what to get?

After answering the questions above, you should have a clearer path to finding the right domain. If this site is going to be your personal website, try using your name or nickname. If you’re using this domain as a business, obviously use your business name, or find something generic that relates to you business. As time goes on, more and more traffic will be coming to your site, so pick a domain that you won’t want to change a year from now. Your domain name is also part of building your brand name.

There are also lots of top level domains (TLDs) to choose from. You might know the top three: .com, .net and .org, but there are over 1600 TLDs worldwide! Each country has at least one like the United States (.US), Tuvalu (.TV), Montenegro (.ME), United Kingdom (.CO.UK) and Western Samoa (.WS). Picking your TLD can be a matter of geographical location, preference or necessity. Keep in mind that foreign domain extensions often cost more and might carry specific restrictions.

Where do I get a domain?

To search for an available domain name and register it, I recommend GoDaddy. I use them for all of my domain services and setting up an account is free. The best part is that, compared to others, they still offer the cheapest domains when you consider all the free services you get.

If the domain you want is already registered, you might be out of luck unless the owner is holding the domain for the “right price”. Yes, domains are sold as commodities these days and some can command millions of dollars. The best advice I can give in this situation is to contact the owner and see if they’re willing to sell. You can do this by finding out the registrant’s email address using Who.is.

Alternatively, you can search after-market domains on sites such as Sedo.com, Afternic.com, SnapNames.com, NameJet.com, BuyDomains.com, GoDaddy.com and Pool.com just to name a few!


Use your best judgement when registering or buying a domain. When buying, know that there are a lot of scammers out there that will try to steal your money or make a domain seem worth more than it really is. When registering, make sure you’re not treading on someone’s trademark. This can lead to you not only losing the domain name, but also paying huge lawyer’s fees and fines.

A complete list of domain extensions can be found on Wikipedia.

<< Back to Site Creation Forward to Web Hosting >>


I’ve dealt with my share of registrars in the past, but this one is by far the strangest. I’m writing this blog entry because I want to share my experience with the transferring of a domain I have registered with them while the process is going on to shed some light on any issues that occur for your future knowledge.

First off, I used SnapNames.com to acquire my full name as a domain so I can redirect it to this site. Since SnapNames is a domain backordering service, it needs to utilize many registrars in order to win the backorder race from other services like it. Because of this, any domain you ‘win’ from SnapNames will have been registered at a random registrar and then login details will be emailed to you in order to manage the domain.

The problems arise when you use one registrar for all your domains and you now have this new domain somewhere out there in a space that might not allow the same controls as your preferred registrar. The other problem is that you can’t transfer a domain until it’s been at the current registrar for 60 days.

Anyway, SnapNames registered my new domain over at DomainMonkeys.com and I must say that I’m surprised this company gets any business with the way it’s run and the lack of services and features that you can use on your domains. Regardless, I want my new domain in my GoDaddy account and on Sunday (1-10) I placed a transfer order there. In the past, all you needed to do was unlock the domain from the losing registrar and then retrieve the transfer codes to input into the site, but now, you have to wait for the “Transfer Concierge” to do things.

So I wait. And what happens? Well, because DomainMonkeys’ whois server is not using the standard port 80, no other whois servers can access it and therefore appears down. Now I have to wait for some type of human interaction on GoDaddy’s part to move this thing along.

As of this writing, I’m stuck of step 1 of 4 and the actual message I’m getting is:

Step 1: Initiate
Transfer is waiting for the Transfer Concierge to address a whois data problem. We were unable to get the whois data from the losing registrar. The Transfer Concierge will resolve this issue.
Recommended Action:
No customer action is required at this time.

I’ve already unlocked the domain and have even requested the authorization code, but since I can’t input it, I’m stuck waiting!

UPDATE – Jan 16, 2010

A couple days ago, I was moved up to step 3 which is the Accept or Decline step and normally when you receive an email from the losing registrar that someone is trying to transfer your domain away. At this point you can allow it or not. This is all contingent on two things: 1, the domain is not in “transfer lock” status and 2, you have the correct email address set for the admin contact. I have satisfied both of these requirements. I have the domain in “ok” status and is ready for transfer and I also have the right admin email address.

Easy enough, right? I should have been transferred by now. But no, I’m still waiting for that accept/reject email and there’s no way to force it through at DomainMonkeys.com! So, back at GoDaddy, it says that if the domain transfer is not accepted or rejected within 5 days, the transfer will proceed.

Well it looks like after about 7 days after everything was started, the domain is now resting comfortably in my GoDaddy account. I’m feel much better now.

Review of DomainMonkeys.com

If the first indicator of their professionalism didn’t come from the fact that their name contains the word “monkeys” in it, then maybe a quick look at their homepage did the trick. Here’s a screenshot as of today (Jan 18th, 2010):

DomainMonkeys.com homepage

The rule is and always has been, never judge a book by its cover, but this website is lacking everything but the cover. First off, my impression is that this company is simply one of the hundreds, if not thousands of ‘dummy’ registrars setup by sites like SnapNames.com, Pool.com and whoever else in an effort to add more outlets to snap up all the deleting domains coming out each day. I came to this conclusion because I discovered this site after a successful auction with SnapNames. They also don’t sell any other services or even try to offer you any type of support.

Down to the nitty gritty. There’s five links on the homepage. There’s one for the Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, WHOIS, Support and my favorite: Domain Updates. The first three require no explanation so we’ll start with the support page. It’s a very basic form that you have to manually fill out completely and this is also where you can apparently order new domains, although I wouldn’t recommend it because I can only guess as to where you’re supposed to type in your credit card number. And even after I guessed, I’d probably still be wrong. They do have a support number located at a 303 area code, but I get the feeling that I’d be dialing a rotary phone sitting on a tv tray in someone’s living room.

Updating your domain for those of you who use sites like GoDaddy, Register.com, Moniker, etc. is fairly an easy process and these days, you can probably add all sorts of free services to spice up your cool domain. The best part about DomainMonkeys’ domain update page is the login requirements!

As an example, say your domain is: LEDFROG.COM, your email is: nothing@nothing.com and your password is: passw0rd. This is how you login:

You click on the Update link from the homepage and you’re taken here:

DomainMonkeys.com Login page

In the account verification box, you are to type in this string: ledfrog.comnothing@nothing.compassw0rd

No joke. That’s the login. All three. All together. No spaces. Plain text.

Once you’re in, you’re golden until you want to transfer your domain to someone else. More on this later as the developments of my own transfer unfold!

Final decision: I will never use DomainMonkeys to register any new domains and I’m likely to never deal with them again unless I’m forced to by SnapNames.