January 29, 2011

Super (Bowl) Salsa

This is my own recipe, which took years to perfect, so if you substitute ingredients don’t blame me if it comes out wonky (wink). We don’t like spicy salsa in my house; we’re wimps who prefer to taste our condiments rather than suffer through them. If your clan and/or guests, on the other hand, enjoy the sensation of burning tongue, just add some fresh diced jalapenos to the below recipe and/or get the hot version of the La Victoria chiles. If at all possible, buy fresh, organic ingredients. Also, some people find that cilantro tastes like soap (I used to—yuck!—but as the following article in the New York Times explains (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html), I got over it after being exposed multiple times to the herb and now adore it), so you may want to separate your batch into one with and one without.

Ingredients:

1 small can La Victoria mild diced green chiles
One bunch fresh cilantro (warning! Cilantro looks a lot like parsley and to further confound you, the grocer will often place them next to each other. Double-check to ensure you get the right one)
Six to eight vine-grown red tomatoes. (don’t be cheap and get the Roma!)
One bunch green onions
Two or three red, orange or yellow peppers (no green!)
A few peeled cloves of garlic
Two bags Tostitos Scoops

Thoroughly rinse and drain all fresh ingredients. In a super bowl, toss in the chiles, chop and add about a loosely-packed cup of the cilantro leaves, not stems (a tricky enough task; don’t worry if it’s not chopped fine), chop and add the onions, dice and add the tomatoes, remove and discard the top inedible portion and insides of the peppers before dicing and adding (I use the Chop Wizard from Bed, Bath and Beyond for all my dicing needs). Use a garlic press to crush the garlic, estimate about a teaspoon or two. Mix and refrigerate for a few hours before serving (unless you can’t help yourself and must consume immediately).

By far our favorite chips to serve with my salsa are Tostitos Scoops. This recipe makes around a quart of salsa. In our house, it doesn't last. Enjoy!

January 5, 2011

Cybersquatters: Legal Extortion on the Internet

Your name is Jane Doe and you’re ready to join the ranks of .com owners. Congrats! But then you find that someone else already owns your preferred domain name. That’s cool, you know you aren’t the only Jane Doe out there, but what if the owner of janedoe.com is a company that trolls the Internet for business and personal names to buy up and resell? A domain that would have cost you $14.95 a year is available to purchase, but it’s now $350. You’re just getting started and that’s a tad steep, plus, it doesn’t seem fair. It’s one thing if another Jane Doe beat you to the .com or even the .net or .org, but how can these companies or individuals get away with basically holding *your* name hostage until you or another Jane Doe ponies up?

On the face of it, it seems like slightly shady, but perfectly legal free enterprise, right? Ehrm, wrong. If you’re famous, that is.

A person whose name is widely recognized is protected under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which is designed, among other things, to prevent registrants from profiting in bad faith from a domain name that is identical or similar to theirs.

But we’ve already established that you’re not rich and you’re not famous.

So what can YOU do? Not much, as it happens.

You can try contacting the domain service provider (registrar) that sold your name to the reseller in the first place, but they will likely refer you to ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is the governing body behind UDRP, the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy. This is a policy that exists between the registrar and the domain-name holder (the reseller that owns your .com) that supposedly protects you. Well, it would if you were famous or trademarked, but you’d still have to pay a UDRP provider to handle your complaint, starting at around $1000, according to Wikipedia. Or you can really hemorrhage from the wallet by hiring an Internet lawyer.

The reseller that owns your domain name knows this! They count on the fact that it’s cheaper to pay them than it is to fight them, and have likely taken that into consideration when setting the price. Not only that, but they often have an exclusive deal with the registrar (like Tucows) to purchase domain names that have expired. Even if the original owner of janedoe.com defaulted on their registration, it never becomes available to the public to purchase. The instant the registration fully expires it’s sold to the extortionists. If you own a .net or other extension of the same domain name, you may even get unwanted emails attempting to sell the .com to you. (Beware, because this is usually a scam.)

In summation, there are no laws to protect the average Jane from these cybersquatters, and janedoe.com will sit unused in their domain inventory until someone pays the ransom, or, probably, hell freezes over.

Disclaimer: I'm not any sort of authority on this subject, merely a victim who educated herself to the best of her ability and wanted to pass on what (little) she learned. Nothing in the above should be constituted as advice in any way, shape or form.