Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What’s in a [Domain] Name?


Introduction

A workplace mentor advised me to develop my “personal brand.” There is a part of me that instinctively recoils at this phrase, and yet it’s foolish to pretend it doesn’t apply. We tend to make an overall impression on people, and they attach this to our identities, whether we like it or not.

If a person is also a blogger, does this branding thing extend to his blog? Yes and no. I think too much is made of automatic associations with made-up words like “Acura” and “Xfinity.” (It’s not like IBM gave a ton of thought to their name, and yet nobody would doubt the power of that brand.) But a blog, above all else, needs to have a memorable name—and mine, I have long feared, does not. I’ve now fixed that, as I’ll explain here. Just for fun, I’ve done so with a poem, replete with footnotes and commentary.

(If you want to skip the background and go straight to a list of new domain names that will take you to this blog, hit Ctrl-F and search this page for “The full list.”)

The Poem

What’s in a [Domain] Name?

I’ve done this almost eight and one half years—
This blog, that is, this thing called albertnet.                               2
Four hundred posts, on food and bikes and gears…
And yet I’m neither rich nor famous yet.
I’ve wondered if the problem is its name.
A brand is crucial, from the start I knew.                                     6
But all the best domain names had been claimed,
So “albertnet-dot-U-S” had to do.
The problem is, this name rolls off the tongue—
But backwards, down your throat so it gets lost,                      10
Caught up with sundry nonsense words among
Old slogans, songs, and other mental dross.
So even if you find you like my stuff,
You have to find, and find again, my site.                                 14
While “albertnet” itself is bad enough,
That “dot-U-S” is true mnemonic blight.
     So now I have, despite a bit of pain,
     Become the master of my own domain.                                18

Footnotes & Commentary

Title – what’s in a name

I hope it’s not necessary to point out that this is from Juliet’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. The full couplet from the Capulet (sorry, couldn’t resist) is, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” And so this blog would, were it not albertnet called, retain that [attempt at] [near] perfection which it owes without that title.

Line 1: almost

I say “almost,” but in fact as I type this my blog is exactly 8½ years old. But I started this post days ago, so by now, as you read it, it’s certainly more than 8½ years old, possibly (ideally) decades old. I’m thinking now of Paul Simon’s lines, “I was 21 years when I wrote this song/ I’m 22 now but I won’t be for long.” But I digress.

Line 2: this thing

The phrase “this thing” is of course an allusion to the song “Radar Love.” Remember that? “We’ve got a thing, that’s called radar love.”

But “thing” here also makes a point: albertnet isn’t actually a blog. “Blog” is short for “web log” and consists, according to Wikipedia, “of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (‘posts’).” I have no interest in keeping a public log of my life. Such a thing seems gratuitously, indulgently self-absorbed. And obviously I err on the side of formality with these fully-formed, heavily edited essays. So albertnet is more of a … thing. A thing that’s called reader love. (God, that’s just terrible. And it’s not even true: no offense, but I don’t love you, not most of you anyway, whoever you are. I love writing. Your attention, if any, is just collateral damage.)

Line 3: four hundred posts

In fact, this is my 409th post. Yes, I cut a corner there by rounding down in order to preserve the meter of my poem. So sue me.

By the way, if you do the math, you’ll see that with 409 posts across 8½ years I’ve averaged 4.009 posts per month, thus succeeding (though barely) at my main goal for this blog.

Line 3: food and bikes and gears

The popularity of men’s magazines like Gear and Stuff, along with the hundreds of similar magazines with less blatant titles, is clearly related to humankind’s love of physical objects that can be coveted, researched, shopped for, purchased, and enjoyed (and ultimately discarded, which reboots the whole process). I’ve often thought that I could attract more readers if I blogged more about gear. But screw that, I’d rather blog about gears, with an “s”—that is, arcane things like bike gearing. Why blog about something boring like a teakettle when you can lead the reader into the heart of darkness that is the intersection of gearing and ego?

Line 4: neither rich nor famous

This isn’t completely true. In reality I’m pretty flush, at least compared to your average journalist. Never mind that roughly $0.00 of my wealth comes from this blog. And though I’m not famous, albertnet does get lots of pageviews, especially from Russia and the Ukraine.

Line 5: its name

The friend who inspired me to start a blog had his own, called travelgadgets.com or some such thing. At least my blog’s name didn’t have to convey what the blog was about. I never intended to write on any particular topic and I never have. Further simplifying my task, I knew any name involving “Dana” was out, thanks to the good folks over at Dana Incorporated.


Line 7: best domain names

You know, the really catchy domain names like yahoo.com, google.com, newyorker.com … they’d all been snapped up.

Line 8: dot-U.S.

I actually can’t remember now whether albertnet.com, albertnet.org, etc. had been claimed when I named my blog. Presumably I’d have opted for .com or .net but I may have decided that would be redundant based on the “-net” in albertnet which, to old school nerds, indicates network. I just asked my teenager what “dot-net” means to her and she said “Absolutely nothing.” She can’t recall ever seeing a URL ending in .net. So, yeah, I probably overthought that.

Looking back, I do remember thinking .us was cool because it was shorter. I used to care about that stuff because people used to type instead of just tapping links.

Line 12: songs

I wonder how much more stuff we could remember if we hadn’t filled up our read-only memory with rock music lyrics. Why do I still have most of “Mr. Roboto” still memorized? I never even liked that song!

Line 14: find and find again

You might think I flatter myself by supposing anybody would stumble across an albertnet post and then try to find my blog again later. You’d be wrong on two counts. First, I don’t actually believe this happens. Second, I have evidence that it does, at least from time to time. Looking through the pageview log, I can see what phrases people googled that led them (back) to my blog. This can be very amusing.

My all-time favorite such search phrase is “sunburned toad peeking out of the snow.” Whoever googled that was clearly remembering one of the more graphic images from my vasectomy post. His logic in searching on the very most specific phrase possible is impeccable, but he could have just as easily googled “california vasectomy law,” which for many years featured my post as its first search result.

Perhaps you yourself have stumbled upon my blog and, though you might want to find it again, can’t be bothered to memorize my name (i.e., you can’t just google “dana albert blog”). Fair enough. Here’s a list of search phrases that, if you google them, will feature one of my posts within the first page of search results:
  • lance eminem (1st result listed)
  • inner tubes fascinating (also 1st)
  • sunburned toad vasectomy (1st)
  • vasectomy jackstones (1st)
  • vasectomy “god gave me grace” (1st)
  • how to write a sonnet kinkade (1st)
  • highbrow vs. lowbrow museum avatar (1st)
  • glutted by campaign signs (1st)
  • “campaign signs” metallica (1st)
  • tire chains seething (1st result is my East Bay Times story; my blog post is 5th)
  • vasectomy 25-cent bic (2nd result listed)
  • world record berkeley cycling (2nd)
  • corn cob sonnet (2nd)
  • corn cob pie plate bike (2nd)
  • missy giove acne (3rd)
  • highbrow vs. lowbrow museum (3rd)
  • how to write a sonnet right wrong (3rd)
  • dvorak hemorrhaging efficiency (3rd)
  • cowboy sam review (4th)
  • corn cob bike bling (4th)
  • simplex retrofriction (5th)
  • corn cob bicycle (5th)
  • cowboy sam (5th)
  • inner tubes roulette (5th)
  • everest challenge cycling gluttony (5th)
  • cycling shoes cat butt (6th)
  • velominati BS (6th)
  • simplex shifters (7th)
  • how to write a sonnet (7th)
  • vasectomy mojo (10th)
Any of those searches will get you back to my blog, whether or not they take you to the post you’re looking for and/or the latest stuff. From my home page you can search the blog by keyword, or choose from the pull-down lists of labels I’ve applied to posts:


(There are a lot more labels than shown above. The complete list of labels is alphabetized but you see the ones above due to the quotation marks.)

Line 15: “albertnet” itself

Actually, there’s a benefit that I hadn’t predicted with the made-up word “albertnet”: it makes a really effective search term if you’re looking for a specific albertnet post. If you ever want to see what I’ve had to say about [TOPIC X], you can Google “albertnet [TOPIC X]” and the first search hit is bound to be a link to my post on [TOPIX X]. (No, I haven’t blogged about an actual topic called “[TOPIC X].” You’re meant to substitute an actual topic. For example, if you want to see my blog post about giraffes, Google “albertnet giraffes.”)

This works for photos, too. If you want to see my photos of Death Valley, for example, Google “albertnet death valley” and click on the first search result, or click the “image search” link.

Line 16: dot-U-S … mnemonic blight

That isn’t an exaggeration. Even family members who remember the “albertnet” part have gotten hung up on the dot-U-S bit. I guess it’s just not intuitively obvious to your average joe that .us is a legit domain extension. So they’ll try albertnet.com and it won’t work, and then they’re like, “Oh, dot-U-S, I see. Wow, that is so weird!

But don’t worry, I’ve fixed this, and I’m about to tell you how.

Line 17: bit of pain

My fix has been years in the making, and involved a task I’ve long dreaded and procrastinated over, though in the end it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.

Line 18: master of my own domain

This would be a rather grandiose claim to make were it not completely true. To be precise, I’m now the webmaster of my domain, danaalbert. For many years somebody else owned it, but never actually pointed it at anything (see “bit of pain” above). And then he or she either decided to relinquish it or forgot to pay his or her registrar bill, because danaalbert became available and—having kept an eye on its status this whole time—I snapped it up. I also grabbed some other extensions for albertnet. After sitting on them for a couple years, I was nudged into action by the sudden availability of a new top-level domain, .blog, and after snapping up albertnet.blog I finally got down to business and put all my domains into use. So, effective immediately, you can now get to my blog through any of a number of intuitive URLs, given below.

The full list

All of the following domains now redirect automatically to www.albertnet.us (i.e., this blog):
Those will work with our without www and/or http:// at the beginning. And, of course, they will work from any computer, smartphone, or tablet on the Internet (barring firewall or WiFi network restrictions, of course).

Frequently asked questions 
  • Q. Right off the bat, I’m wondering if these questions are actually “frequently asked,” since you seem to have fielded them before even posting this…. A. Aha, you caught me! You’re right, in fact these questions have never been asked by anybody but me. (Now, not to burst your bubble or anything, but this fake question thing is standard operating procedure for advice columnists.)
  • Q. Can anybody else in the entire world use the danaalbert or albertnet domains for their own purposes? A. Nope, not unless they settle for a really lame top-level domain (e.g., danaalbert.xyz, albertnet.biz).
  • Q. You mean to tell me that not even The Donald could use these domains? A. Nope. He could hire a company to try to convince me to part with them, but he’d have to pay a pretty penny.
  • Q. Wait a second. There is an actual rock star named Dana Albert. Do you mean to tell me even he doesn’t get to use danaalbert.com, .net, .us, or .org? A. Yep, believe it!
  • Q. Will www.albertnet.us still work? A. You betcha!
  • Q. Will http://albertnet.us work (i.e., without the www part)? A. Nope, never did. Not sure why.
  • Q. Will, say, http://albertnet.blog work? A. Yep, like I said, all these new ones will work with our without the http:// and/or www.
  • Q. Will these all work until the end of time? A. Yes, so long as I remember to pay my bill with the registrar.
  • Q. Will you ever retire the albertnet domain in favor of danaalbert? A. No, based on the usefulness of albertnet as a search term (as described above), and because it’s possible some readers have bookmarked my original blog address, I’ll leave well enough alone.
  • Q. Does danaalbert.com work as this kind of search term? A. Not as well, though it does work somewhat. Your mileage may vary, so stick with albertnet as your search term—it’s easier to type anyway.
  • Q. Is there anything the albertnet search term won’t produce an essay about? Like, could I google “albertnet lotion sniper” and there would actually be a post about lotion snipers? A. Well, there are still some topics I haven’t yet blogged about (though “lotion snipers” isn’t one of them). If you should come up empty, just e-mail me and maybe I’ll do that topic next!
  • Q. I appreciate your effort here, but it still seems as though I couldn’t possibly remember any of these domains. Is there any other way for me to find your blog if I’ve forgotten its name? A. If you remember my name, you can Google “dana albert blog” and the first search result will be my blog. Otherwise, refer to the list above of easy search strings (e.g., “cowboy sam”) that will take you directly to my blog.
  • Q. It seems almost unbelievable that of all the Dana Alberts in the world, you’re the only one who managed to snap up all these groovy domains for himself. Do you have naked pictures of God or something? A. Nope. I’m just lucky. Real lucky.
  • Q. I heard a rumor that you’re going to revamp the Complete albertnet Index. Is that true? A. Well, recently I updated it after falling years behind. I’m also going to reorder the posts so that the newest ones are at the top. When I get some time I plan to improve the list of category names so that they’re each hyperlinked to the section headings. Keep an eye on the albertnet index post for details! 
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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

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