What value does a URL have

If you’ve been in the web and website business for as long as I have, or if you’ve ever come up with a great product idea, or company name, only to find out your .com domain name is taken, you are not alone. It is down right depressing in many instances because more often than not it is not a real website, not a legit company, not a great product, but a cyber squatter.

A val;uable URL

A Valuable URL?

Many companies have been built on cyber squatting, and many businesses operate right now buying and selling URLs. They grab then when they expire, or they registered a bunch a long time ago because they thought someone in the future might want them and might pay a premium for them.

I have been party to a purchase of a domain name that was 4 figures (over $3000 – it was and is a great domain) and I have owned a few domains where people were looking to purchase from me (I did not sell).

A great find…

What is the true value of a great URL?

Well the top URLs that sold (which is a great indicator of value) starts with Sex.com for $13M and Hotels.com for $11M. Porn.com was number 4 at $9.5M from a listing of the ‘all time biggest URL sales’.

A notable one (non-smut related) is fb.com which was actually number 5 at $8.5M. I bet someone right now probably feels like they could have got a bit more out of facebook for the url?  But hey, not bad for a $15.00 investment.

Sometimes the value is in the name, like google or yahoo, which meant nothing before the company started but now a re mega-valued properties toed to the company’s value. Others are generic terms like the above hotels.com – great name for sure. But what about the rest of us?

What happened to us, is typical. When we re-branded our training company and found that training.com (owned by NIIT Ltd.) was already taken. We had to go back to the whois drawing board.

We actually tried to do one a little better, because the company name is Think Training, well guess what – ThinkTraining.com is also taken. Doh!

We ended up changing our name to Think Business Training. The URL was available www.thinkbusinesstraining.com and our Canadian version www.thinktraining.ca of a website is doing us proud, but was not our first choice, not our second choice, alas. But what about a really great URL?  Why cant we all have a great one?

Maybe we can…you just have to look a little farther afield. Please drop us a line and tell us your opinion on this topic. I would love to hear your story.

Forms Authentication

asp-net-logoAs a self taught programmer (MS VB for me pls.) every once in a while I come across a technology late that would simplify my application development immensely.  While the MS site (MSDN, etc.) always makes things way too complicated for my simple programming skills, there is usually a blog, or post that simplifies things so someone like me can implement it simply and successfully.

For me the post here on forms authentication got me started in the right direction. While you still need to know what it does, and how it works, with a few simple code pieces you can have your whole application secured by the .net infrastructure.

Entity Framework 5.0 for VB.Net – Good enough for me

Our soon to be open source CRM versino 5 is using the Entity Framework 5.0 for data connection. It is FAST, easy to wire up and has some amazing time saving features.  I have yet to find a data/webUI need yet that I cannot do with EF5 and MSSQL.  I am using more stored procs than ever, but the elegance of calling them with EF5 makes them a treat to use.  I used to not appreciate them, as I could do a lot in code, and never really ran out of or needed more resources.

Here  is a Step-By-Step of how I start my projects with VS2012/13 and EF5.

Part I

In VS >>File >> New Website -VB Template and an ASP.Net Empty Website

Choose and appropriate location to start (filesystem) – I like to have my sites start at D:\clients\<Client or Project Name>\wwwRoot\

start hereThis is a blank site so add an Images folder and a Data folder, and a default.aspx file to get started. In between the Div tags add “Hello World!” then hit F5 to see if the app compiles and runs.

You should see a localhost website run in your default browser with the words Hello World! in the top left.

If all is OK, proceed.

Part II

In VS >>Tools >> Library Package Manager >> Package Manager Console
Run >> install-package entityframework -version

If ok proceed.

Part III

This part makes the assumption you have a database ready to do some work in. If not please refer to my other tutorials to create the basic CRM application repository (MS SQL for me).

Right Click on the DATA folder >> Add >> Add New Item (CTRL-Shift-A) data

Choose ADO.Net Entity Data Model >> give it a useful name (CRM.edmx)

>> Generate From Database, then next

crmEntityCreate a new connection to your local (or web hosted) server, save the Connection String to the Database, and give the the entity connection a useful name such as crmEntites.


Choose the tables you wish to connect to.  Give the model name a useful name: crmModel is what I use.

Simple Yet Elegant CRM

I started a new version of our own in-house CRM for Think Business Training and ITO Hosting using Visual Studio 2012/2013 and MS Azure cloud services, MS SQL 2012 and Visual Basic ASP.Net 4.5 focusing and using the Entity Framework 5.0.

We choose EF 5.0 because of it’s ability to use the visual tools when designing webpages with data connections, Saving us countless hours by easily dragging and dropping an EntityDataSource on a new webpage and choosing the connection, and wiring up a Details view or a GridView.

We purchased a skin to make it look pretty and it included some great functional design elements that make it look more professional than most of the commercial CRMs on the market.

We are now poised, after 3 or 4 implementations to take it to the world. I am going to chronicle our endeavor and the adventures we are on here in both business terms and technical terms.

An open letter to a report from NowOrNeverNS.ca

An open letter:

I just read the report, noworneverns.ca  while it is thorough and comprehensive, it is sometimes way off the mark. Innovation and job growth, expansion of our exports is all great, but one point makes me upset:

“universities and the Nova Scotia Community College as foundations for future economic growth in the province. The Commission believes there is even greater potential for these vitally important institutions to bring their immense institutional capacities to bear on the economic, social and cultural development needs of the province. In doing so, we believe the post-secondary” p59

Now or Never - the report

Now or Never – the report, my take on it

This is truly BS. They are not innovating (well, maybe very slowly?). They cannot be the drivers of growth. They are not the foundation either. From a basic Econ Courses we teach in first year business we know that high taxes, high gov’t involvement – does the exact opposite of growth and innovation. It is not the way. WTF?

If you talk to any of the private training and education companies around Halifax including mine: Think Business Training? you will find that we compete directly with the Provincial Goverment – giving away free skills training to businesses – because these skills were not taught in our schools. What a waste.

The local universities as well as the NS Community College all are attempting to get a bigger piece of the after Post Secondary market too. If you did not do a good enough job while you had the students paying for their education why do you think you can do a better job after they graduate and are at a workplace?

You (universities and NSCC) should take a look at the skills being taught, the curriculum of you programs, and provide the skills while they are in school. The waste is atrocious!

Most recently we found ourselves competing with the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Through WIPSI  the Chamber has come up with the idea that they are providing a great service to their members by funneling these grants into the pockets of the very few service providers who are “friends” of the Chamber. I say friends, they really are “founding members” of the All Ships Rise program invented to take advantage of the WIPSI program funds.

Think Business Training

Think Business Training

What is actually happening is more of the same. Many people are being put into inappropriate programs, with no regard to their true needs for training, via these grants. The program is promoted as free training and the companies are taking advantage of it. Or are they being taken advantage of? While I agree that some free training is better than no training, I am not sure the money is being well spent.

When asked if the training is making a difference, the answer is “we do not know”. So another waste of time and money…hmmm…all the while they are taking the grant money off the table, and taking the training time away from companies who might be able to innovate, and grow and deliver an ROI for the training dollars.

Training can be an export business, it can create jobs, but not if the small business growth opportunities have to compete with the province and the provincially funded institutions. It’s just more of the same, lining the pockets of the few, and providing no ROI for the people it was designed to help. Nice try….

I see absolutely no innovation coming from these organizations. They are are using their resources (big budgets compared to most companies) to supply basic training to the people working in companies who were already “let down” with inadequate training and education while they were going through the very education system that the province supplied them with our tax payers money in the first place.

High school did not prepare them, a lot of the university and trade programs did not adequately prepare them. Why do you (Gov’t?, universities?, NSCC?, Chamber?) think you can do better? By taking the money out of the marketplace and continue to deliver the same training the same way we have been delivering education for the last 100 years.

As an active member of the business community I appreciate you getting all of our young people ready for a world that exists no longer.

I really appreciate competing with you in an industry that needs to change to be better, and compete globally.

Thank you for taking 80% of the market and put it back into the very system that sucks!