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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)
Works at UC Web Creations
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Awesome designer resource here - lots of freebies!
StackSocial is the marketplace for digital tastemakers. Get distinctive apps, gadgets, and digital resources at up to 90% off.
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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Wow - Google+ has had a facelift! Not sure if I like it yet, but change is always hard to adjust to. :)
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Well, SOPA/PIPA are over and shelved, but have you read about ACTA?
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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This was taken from the WarriorForum.com on January 18th, 2012. I am a member of this forum, and it's a place where internet marketers share information and products to help each other with each other's online and offline businesses, and I fully agree with the opinions expressed here:

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Stop SOPA

... or else you could find many of the sites you use on a regular basis permanently closed to you. And maybe find your sites closed to many of your regular visitors.

The Basics

SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill currently in the US Congress that would allow the US Government to add sites to a blacklist, preventing anyone in the United States from accessing them. The stated goal is to limit access to pirate ("warez") sites, and sites that sell counterfeit physical products. Fake Rolexes, designer clothes, prescription drugs, etc.

The intent of the bill is something we strongly support. Piracy affects those of us in the Warrior group more than most, as a lot of us make our livings selling our own intellectual property. Our membership includes tens of thousands of authors, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, programmers, copywriters, videographers, public speakers and others, from nearly every creative field.

We feel the impact of digital thievery first hand.

This bill is not the way to handle the problem. It is a disaster in the making.

It would damage the Internet's basic security infrastructure, possibly require ISPs to monitor every site you visit, and make the operation of any website that contains user-generated content (blogs, forums, digital marketplaces, and social media sites) too risky for investors and new developers.

Wikipedia has posted a good basic summary of the potential problems. Read it. It is frightening. And you need to be scared.

How It Would Work

Here's the simple version: If the Justice Department or any copyright holder accused a site of "encouraging or facilitating" piracy, the government could order that site removed from US-based search engines and ad networks, forbid payment processors from handling transactions for them, and require ISPs to block access to those sites by their customers.

Let's consider how that might apply to this forum... There are currently over 335,000 pages on this site. If just one of those pages contained a single post promoting an illegal download, or one WSO seller has used graphics or code from a copyrighted product without permission, or we miss just one Chinese spam for counterfeit goods, we could be blocked.

Would it matter that we actively look for and delete those posts? Maybe, but only after the process had begun. And we'd probably never know about it until the block was in place.

The amount of time that it would take to correct such an unjustified blocking would cause permanent damage to any interactive site. Shifting the membership away from a destination for that long nearly guarantees the site would never recover.

Along with that, there is no requirement that payment processors re-accept a site that has been blocked this way. You know how these guys work: They don't care if the site is eventually found innocent. They'd label it as "high risk," and never deal with it again. And they'd probably start creating whole new categories to lock out, just to avoid the headaches.

"You let visitors post on your site? Sorry. We don't accept interactive services in our network."

And, unless the ISPs are working from a centralized and regularly updated database, it's unlikely most of them would ever remove the blocks once they were in place.

Mistakes would almost certainly be fatal to the target sites. We're talking about legitimate sites that provide real value for their visitors and real incomes for their operators and their families.

It is unclear at this point whether the legislation would affect sites based in the US, or if it applies only to "foreign" sites. Even if it doesn't start out applying to sites hosted in the United States, do you really think it will stay limited to "offshore sites" for long?

And how do we justify sitting by while our friends around the world are subjected to this potential for arbitrary blocking within the US?

Don't Think This Will Affect You?

Maybe you aren't involved in a market where this would seem to matter, and you're not interested in the principle of the thing. Consider a few possible examples that might make the reach of this Congressional folly clearer.

Any blogs you like? Keep in mind how many of them are hacked every day. One of the main activities for those hackers is pointing the victim sites to online shops selling illegal drugs.

POOF

Gone.

Hang out at any scrapbooking sites? A lot of them let the members share their original page themes and other digital scrapbooking elements. If one clueless designer uses graphics from a catalog or other copyrighted source, your fun little hobby community could be taken away from you. And the site owner could lose their income.

Use shareware or freeware? Legitimate software libraries, like CNet's, would be prime targets. After all, it only takes one mistake.

Do you surf using proxies to protect your privacy? Forget that. It's only a matter of time before that's marked as a refuge for pirates and they're blocked.

Have you ever tried to keep track of which sites are pirating your products? If you live in the US, you can forget that, too. Once they hit the blocklist, you can't see them. Which means you can't take any action to reduce the damage.

That's just the tip of the virtual iceberg.

The real damage will begin when the pirates implement new systems for distributing their warez. Evading a domain-based list is child's play for experienced people, and pirates really don't care if it's illegal. If they did, they wouldn't be pirates.

And it won't just be the traditional pirates who join in. Anyone who's studied history knows that prohibition just romanticizes the suppliers and users, and creates networks dedicated to serving that "heroic" image.

And, of course, there's the problem of retribution. If the US starts arbitrarily blocking access to foreign sites from within our country, how long do you think it will be before other countries develop similar approaches to advancing their political goals, and block their citizens from accessing sites they don't deem suitable?

At that point, it isn't even nominally about piracy any more. It's about politics, pure and simple. If you doubt the temptation, consider how quickly nations in the Middle East tried to block their citizens from accessing western social networks at the first sign of unrest over the past few years.

Think about how this would look to the world after all our comments about the Chinese "Great Firewall."

If you believe our bureaucrats would be careful enough to only list sites that existed for the sole purpose of piracy, remember: These are the same bureaucrats who listed a then-sitting US Senator (the late Edward Kennedy, of MA) on our anti-terrorist "no fly" list.

What's your recourse if someone accuses you of "encouraging or facilitating" piracy and you're found to be innocent? Good luck with that. The only way you could get any satisfaction there would be if you could prove they wilfully and knowingly made false allegations.

Ask your lawyer what the chances are of proving that. Be prepared from them to laugh and say "Zero."

This is the single most dangerous piece of legislation to regulate the Internet that has ever had any real chance of becoming law in the US.

What Can You Do?

If you live in the US, contact your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to vote against SOPA (H.R. 3621) and PIPA, the Senate version (S. 968).

When you contact them, be calm, clear, and concise. Tell them that you support the goal but oppose the legislation, because of the damage it will do to small businesses and the security of the Internet in general.

If you feel the need to cite a source for them, point them to the Wikipedia article, which lists a number of US government studies and reports that show just how much damage the legislation could do.

And be clear that you don't want to see an edited version of the bill passed. This thing is not just poorly implemented. The concept itself is flawed and dangerous.

Emails count a little. Phone calls and faxes count more. A short, clear printed letter mailed to them counts the most.

If you're contacting your representative, mention H.R. 3621 (SOPA). If it's your Senators, the bill number to mention is S. 968 (PIPA).

You can find the contact information for both Senators and Representatives at Contacting the Congress. Just select your state, type in your zip code, and click the "Submit It" button.

When contacting them, be sure to either mention your name and address to the person you speak with on the phone or include it in your correspondence. They want to know you're actually one of their constituents.

Remember to be polite, clear, and brief. These folks are trying to protect your interests. Most of them simply don't understand the potential problems the bill would create.

Calling them, or typing a brief letter and putting a stamp on it, will probably take less time than you were about to spend in this forum today. And it could make a huge difference.

If every US citizen who reads this takes that few minutes' worth of action, we can generate a ton of pressure against the bill. If we all just leave it to everyone else, we're likely to be stuck with this as law, along with all the problems it brings.

It's up to you. Choose wisely.
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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Wow - very awesome to be aware of this - thanks for sharing, Mari!
Mari Smith originally shared:
 
Woa - Facebook has introduced a simple and easy way for users to confidentially report any comments/activity that could be from someone contemplating suicide. Turns out that Facebook and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have been partners since 2006, but this new service is surely an amazing new way to bring the potential support right to where people spend huge amounts of time... Facebook.com, and where they may post messages crying out for help.

You may recall the tragic loss of our social media friend Trey Pennington a few months back. It's so sad to think of "what if's" ... and suicide is such a heavy topic that not too many folks care to talk about. Likely most of us think it'll never happen to people we know... but it does.

I think this move by Facebook and Lifeline is very positive. And it shows just how much Facebook is becoming an integral part of our ecosystem and communications evolution. How about you?
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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I've selected a custom URL for my business page, and I've gone to the links and changed the capitalization from what was originally offered, however, it doesn't seem to be taking the change. You'll see here that I've changed it to: https://www.google.com/+UCWebCreations (look at the About page), but when you look at the address bar, the address changes back to https://www.google.com/+Ucwebcreations - how do I update the capitalization of my custom URL?
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Please wait a few minutes and it will update on the address bar as well
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Hmm - this looks interesting! Will have to experiment with it!
 
Just released! Exchange, a simple ecommerce solution for WordPress http://ithemes.com/exchange/

Start selling downloadable digital goods now.

by iThemes of course.
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My hubby and I love playing this game together, and have played it for the past 7 years! We, along with other loyal players, are hoping to save the game after an announcement was made last week that the holding company is shutting this game down. There are some incredible stories from people who play this game, ranging from people meeting their spouses via the game, to people finding a support system through friends made in the game that helped them through their depression and thoughts of suicide. This game isn't just a game, but a community of people from around the world who helped each other and enjoyed each other's company. We hope that these efforts are successful!
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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Totally agree with +David Risley - I haven't ever used GoDaddy because I don't agree with their marketing strategy (what do well-endowed women have to do with registering and hosting domains, please tell me?), their upsells, their complicated interface, the fact that they charge extra for email addresses, their hidden charges and fees... need I go on?
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I've had other issues with boob-daddy. I once had a client who's web site became popular. Instead of working out a deal for more hosting, they just closed the site. Very annoying.
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)

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I think many people don't understand the implications of SOPA and PIPA, unfortunately. Here's a good easy-to-understand article.
Pete Cashmore originally shared:
 
+Christina Warren weighs in on why SOPA and PIPA won't actually stop piracy.
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Have her in circles
154 people
John Duff's profile photo
Mes ES's profile photo
Nishant kumar's profile photo
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Work
Occupation
Technical Trainer & Designer / and / Web & Blog Consultant & Designer
Employment
  • UC Web Creations
    Owner, Creative Director, Web Designer, & Digital Marketing Consultant, 2008 - present
  • MItel Networks
    Technical Instructor, 2013 - present
  • March Networks
    Technical Trainer & Designer / and / Web & Blog Consultant & Designer, 2009 - 2012
  • March Networks
    Technical Support Specialist, 2005 - 2009
  • Rogers Communications
    Customer Service Consultant, 2002 - 2005
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WP Gal -- WordPress Blog/Site Designer, Technical Trainer, Blogger, Photographer, Composer & Musician, Gamer and Christian geek at your services!
Introduction
WordPress Blog/Site Designer, Technical Trainer, Social Media Consultant & Strategist, Writer, Photographer, Composer & Musician, Gamer and basically self-proclaimed Christian Geek at your services!
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Ursula Comeau (WP Gal)'s +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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