Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Small Business Saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday.

The theme of today's post is simply that ownership matters.

Personally, I believe that the most robust form of society involves a large number of small businesses owned by people who are active in the local community.

Mathematically, one can show that networks with a distributed framework and many independent yet interconnected nodes is more robust and more resilient than societies formed in a hierarchy or dominated by a few control centers.

History provides thousands of examples where communities depending on a single business or product fail when faced with adversity, while diverse communities are able to adjust to changes.

Societies that depend on big government, big business or big capital might thrive for a moment but are subject to systemic risks which can can cause untold hardships.

The driving theme of the different project that I engaged in on the Internet is that ownership matters.

So, rather than shopping at a small business on this small business Saturday; I would like to encourage readers to think about and research the ownership of the companies with which they do business?

Look at your credit card statement. How often do you spend at a big business and how often do you shop at small businesses.

One should look through their household. Where did the stuff come from? How much, if any, of things were made locally?

You can look up your web history? How often do you visit small locally owned web sites?

I believe that ownership matters. I want to frequent locally focused small business whenever possible.

One valuable tool for researching ownership is the whois lookup. lets you look up the current owner of a domain. maintains a database with the domain history, but you have to register to use the service. (more domain related tools)

The whois record shows who owns a domain-name. Some times the the domain name is owned by a different person or group from the business. Even worse,  domain registrars push "enhanced privacy services." These services mask the domain ownership.

If you have a business; you should never use domain privacy service. Instead you should maintain a good clean registry entry with your business address. If you are own a business and are using a domain privacy service, you should cancel that service and display accurate information about your business.

The one privacy caveat is that you should not use your primary email address in the domain record because unprincipled marketers harvest publicly displayed email addresses and spam them. Since you can control the email address on your registry record; you don't need to buy privacy services.

I use the email address spam (at) community color. com to inform the user that I treat every message received by that address with suspicion. To date, just about everything I've received on that email address is useless marketing garbage.

A useful shopping tip: If you are considering purchasing something online, you should check out the whois record first. I never buy from a web site that uses privacy services. If a business is not willing to display good contact information, then I assume they are hiding other things as well. Domain privacy should only be used by opinion sites.

The Internet makes it easy to trace down owner the ownership of a domain. It is more difficult to track down ownership of businesses.

Publicly traded firms are required to post quarterly filings with the SEC. I've been maintaining a list of stocks of local concern on this page .

Unfortunately, only the largest businesses in a community are traded publicly.

Wikiepedia often has good information on huge corporations. But almost no information on local firms.

Anyway, my goal for 2016 is to track down other sources to help people figure out who owns what in their local community. There are many good sources of info on the Internet. States require businesses to file incorporation records and DBA records. Counties often have good databases on land records.

My message for Small Business Saturday is that ownership matters and that responsible consumers should be attentive to who owns what and should consider ownership in purchasing decisions.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday and onto Small Business Saturday

It's Black Friday and I feel that I should do something commerce related like post coupons or sales.

The truth of the matter is that I really don't care too much for marketing.

My experience is marketers of the modern-mindset tend to do negative things in their efforts to control markets.

Marketing gimmicks like Black Friday tend to be dominated by big commerce and big media.

I like the idea of Small Business Saturday. This is a gimmick invented by American Express in which people are coaxed to support small local businesses after Black Friday.

The Community Color project fits this format better. This project lists web sites from select local communities in the Mountain West. The main page lists directories for Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

NOTE: I started this project by creating sites for towns in Idaho and Montana. That project was taken over by a different group. I kept the domain Missoula.WS because my partner didn't like the WS TLD.

Originally, I intended to make sites for towns. The ArizonaColor.US has a county focus.

The first design included numerous interactive features. I discovered that the people who make posts on general information sites tend to rude; So, I removed all the interactive features.

I wanted to include maps and other resources. Unfortunately, I ran out of diskspace. I will be switching web hosts with the release of PHP 7 and might start reading interactive features.

Basically, if you live in the Mountain West, you can go to the site and find directories with links to local businesses. I fund the project by listing affiliate programs for national web sites. My plan was to create a structure in which big business funded free listings for small business.

To be truthful, the sites barely make enough money to pay my web hosting fees, but, as I said at the beginning of this post. I am not very good at marketing. I want to find ways that give small business and individuals a voice to counter big media and big business. But this is really not something that people support.

BTW, the site is my attempt at affiliate marketing. Anything I make from that effort goes to pay the web hosting fees for the community sites.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Adding SSL

I've read several blog posts by people who say that they refuse to visit or link to web sites that do not SSL.

I would never enter a credit card number of buy from a web site that does not use SSL, but I have never been so paranoid as to refuse to visit unencrypted web sites.

SSL does not encrypt the meta data left by your computer browsing. A hacker who finds out that you visited this blog will see exactly what you see when you visited this blog ... just a bunch of opinionated posts by a computer hack.

SSL certificates do not prevent advertisers from tracking your every move. They only prevent people who are sniffing web traffic on a router from seeing the content that you see. 

I have not added SSL certificates to all my sites for a very simple reason. The certificates are expensive and require regular maintenance. A certificate for a single subdomain costs  about $70 per year. (The sale price of certificate at Godaddy was $62 on 11/26/2015) Wildcard subdomains cost several hundred dollars.

The cost of SSL is prohibitive for charities, small businesses, and information sites.

This particular blog is hosted by Google on blogspot. I decided to turn on the SSL option. You can see the SSL version the site at Google is a huge company at the center of the Internet world; So, I guess they are able to get wildcard SSL certificates at a sufficient discount that allows them to give the things away.

Turning on SSL is a simple matter of going into settings page on and clicking SSL.

They only have SSL options for sites ending in I cannot add SSL to my other blogspot blog

*It is possible to add a self-signed certificate to a web site. Internet browsers raise a warning when you enter a web site with a self signed certificate. I find the warnings silly because a site with a self signed certificate is more secure than a site with no certificate.