"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 5 No. 2:  February 11, 2004
_______________________________________________________________

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. MEL GIBSON'S THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST:  VIEWS AND REVIEWS
2. "CONNECT"ING WITH HARRY POTTER AT A GROUP BIBLE STUDY?
3. STARTING A WEB SITE? THOUGHTS ON DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION
4. BARNEY, GOOGLE'S GOOD STUFF IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!?
5. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER
_______________________________________________________________

The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
on-line at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati91.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."
_______________________________________________________________

1. MEL GIBSON'S THE PASSION OF CHRIST:  VIEWS AND REVIEWS

Though Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ will not be
officially released until Ash Wednesday, February 25, 2004, it
has already caused a furor.  Strong opinions have been stated,
both for and against the film.

Our purpose here is to bring some light rather than heat into
the discussion.  The goal is to help "CATI" readers be more
informed about the issues, and not necessarily to argue in
behalf of a certain position.  It will probably be evident
that I do have some opinions on the matters under debate,
but my primary intent is to point you to some significant
discussions on the Web where specific points are being
argued.

Here are some Web addresses for comments you may find to be
helpful, whether or not you agree with them:

PCANews.com (The Web Magazine of the Presbyterian Church in
    America): The 2nd Commandment and "The Passion of the
    Christ" by Ron Gleason
  http://snipurl.com/4fwz

Gleason, a PCA pastor, argues from Scripture, from the
Westminster Standards, and from Calvin's Institutes that the
Second Commandment (which prohibits the making of images)
prohibits the portrayal of Christ in films.

Here's the conclusion of that article:

"What has been reinforced to me in this article are the
following truths:  First, the Law of God is still relevant
and applicable for the New Testament Church....  Second, New
Testament Christians are still prohibited from making any
image of the deity — even in a movie or in art....  Third,
just as the Word, Circumcision, and Passover were sufficient
in the Old Testament, so also are the Word, Baptism, and the
Lord's Supper sufficient for the New Testament Church....
Will I go see the movie? No. Will I recommend it for others?
No. Do I think it's necessary?....  Again, the answer is No.
Why not? Simply because the older I get the more the Lord
God Almighty impresses upon me his all-sufficient nature....
There may be times when, in my old nature, I might desire
for an image — physical or in my imagination — but I pray
that by the grace of God I will put myself and my desires
aside and worship him in spirit and truth and in thankful
obedience."
  http://snipurl.com/4fwz

Gleason's argument is detailed and should not be too easily
dismissed, but rather should be read in its entirety.  It
is also true, however, that he makes some concessions that
somewhat weaken his argument:

"The 2nd commandment is a sort of 'labyrinth,' which, once
entered, can lead you in various directions. As I conclude,
I realize that I have barely scratched the surface of the
spiritual and literal meaning of the 2nd commandment...."
  http://snipurl.com/4fwz

Ron Gleason is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba
Linda, California, so he has had theological training.  His
discussion may not be entirely adequate, but the question
is an important one, ignored entirely for some reason by many
evangelical Christians.

Reformed Christians agree that it is an important question,
but they may disagree, however, on the exact interpretation
of this commandment.  Some argue that what it forbids is the
use of images for worship, but not for teaching.  In fact,
this position would argue, to forbid pictorial representation
of Jesus is to encourage a "Docetic" view of Christ, whereas
we need to insist on the reality of the Incarnation, of the
Word's becoming flesh.  If a photograph were taken in the
time of Jesus, would it show Jesus and the disciples or would
it just show the disciples?  What, then, are we teaching if
we allow dramatic representation of Jesus's disciples but not
of Jesus Himself?

For another presentation of the opposite view (the view held
by Ron Gleason), see the following article by a professor at
Westminster Theological Seminary:

"Pictures of Christ" by the late John Murray
  http://www.reformed.org/misc/murray_picture.html

Different Reformed Sunday School materials have thus made
different decisions on whether or not pictures of Christ are
appropriate.  The Bible Way Curriculum of the Christian
Reformed Church has for a long time included pictures of
Christ, while Great Commission Publications (used by many
Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church in
America churches) has a policy against such portrayals.
Which one is correct?  That is your own responsibility to
determine, but what you decide will have implications for
whether or not you see the attempt to portray Christ in a
film like Mel Gibson's The Passion as forbidden or not.

The same Web magazine published another movie review of
Mel Gibson's film:

PCANews.com (The Web Magazine of the Presbyterian Church in
    America): The Passion of the Christ by Brian Godawa
  http://snipurl.com/4fy6

Another site where this movie review can be found describes
his background:

Messiah's: Living the Reformed Faith in the Real World:
    The Passion of the Christ by Brian Godawa
"Brian Godawa is a Hollywood screenwriter who wrote the
award-winning feature film, To End All Wars
(www.toendallwarsmovie.com), starring Kiefer Sutherland
and Robert Carlyle. He is currently adapting two novels to
film by best-selling author Frank Peretti. He has traveled
around the United States teaching on movies and culture to
colleges, churches and community groups. His book, Hollywood
Worldviews:  Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment
(InterVarsity Press) is in its fifth printing. His website,
www.godawa.com, contains more of his cinematic, theological
and philosophical musings."
  http://messiahnyc.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=321

Brian Gotawa is an enthusiastic supporter of the film, which
he declares was "the most moving and memorable portrayal of
Jesus Christ that [he has] ever  witnessed."  In fact, he
claims that "this masterpiece has clearly been providentially
ordained by God for such a time as this."  Even so, Gotawa
recognizes some concerns that must be addressed:

"There are several concerns that media-wise Protestants may
have with The Passion of the Christ. These are 1) the second
commandment’s prohibition of images, 2) the shortage of
doctrinal teaching in the film, [and] 3) the potential Roman
Catholic viewpoints of its filmmakers.  Being a Reformed
Protestant, I take these concerns seriously and want to
address each of them...briefly...."
  http://snipurl.com/4fy6

Regrettably, his treatment of the second commandment is too
brief:

"Some Protestants insist that any visual representation of
Christ, be it pictorial or dramatic, is a violation of the
second commandment prohibiting graven images. I fully realize
that there is considerable difference of opinion (fervently
held) among people who are committed to the abiding validity
of the Law of God regarding this issue, and I cannot enter
extensively into that discussion here.  For my purposes it
is sufficient to note that any understanding of the second
commandment must do justice to the fact of the incarnation of
God in the Person of  Jesus of Nazareth....  The Passion of
the Christ is a narrative depiction of Christ’s humanity
and His fulfillment of His mission as 'the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29), not an iconic
representation of His divinity to worship."

Gotawa does not see the lack of extensive "doctrine" to be a
significant objection.  "In The Passion of the Christ Gibson
has chosen to dramatize a portion of Scripture where our Lord
has comparatively little to say ... and very much to do.  Thus
it is not surprising that there is relatively little overt
doctrine portrayed in the film.  The doctrinal perspective
that is set forth, however, ... is consistent with the biblical
narratives from which Gibson is working."  And so he moves on
to discussion of a third objection:

"A third concern of some Protestants regards the Roman
Catholic theology of Mel Gibson....  [A]s a Protestant
Christian, I can say that if there is any Roman [Catholic]
influence on the film, it is negligible to the point of
irrelevance....  The short of it all is that the filmmaker’s
Roman Catholicism brings mere accent and flavor to the film’s
orthodox presentation...."
  http://snipurl.com/4fy6

Thus there is a certain reverence for Mary in the film, but
not one which would necessarily offend Protestants.  On the
basis of the cultural mandate, Gotawa urges Christians to
support the film when it is officially released:

"[I]t is just as fallacious for Christians to think that
critiquing the imperfect attempts at bringing God into
Hollywood movies as somehow participating in the cultural
mandate. The cultural mandate is not to merely criticize but
to create. You must interact redemptively with culture if you
want to reform it....  As Christians we are called upon by our
Lord not only to promote His Kingdom and righteousness (Matt.
6:33) -- the work of cultural renewal and reconstruction --
but also to 'strengthen the things that remain' (Rev. 3:2)."
  http://snipurl.com/4fy6

Another area of controversy related to the film - especially
in the popular press - has been the charge of "anti-Semitism."
I personally regard this as a "red herring" or non-issue.  One
person who raised such an objection was Donald Akenson, who
was more than adequately answered by Bruce Waltke, Professor
at Reformed Theological Seminary and a member of the film's
advisory panel, in this op-ed piece:

The Globe and Mail:  The Gospel of John: Let he who is without
    sin ... by Bruce Waltke
  http://snipurl.com/4g1h

Here are some of the points made by Bruce Waltke:

"Mr. Akenson labels ... the film's producer, as 'evangelical.'
This is preposterous. The advisory committee the producers
appointed consisted of Jews, Catholics and Protestants....
Mr. Akenson's real beef [is that h]e rejects Jesus Christ's
claim in the Gospel of John to be the Son of God and the only
way to God. The Gospel of John forces one to make a decision
about Jesus Christ. Is he trustworthy or a fraud?...  Our
bitter pundit alleges that 'of the Four Gospels, the Gospel
of John is the closest to being hate literature.' But a
gospel announcing that Jesus the Son of God died for sinners
and commands his disciples to walk in love is not the stuff
of 'hate literature.'...

Waltke concludes his comments in this way:

"In sum, Prof. Akenson's scholarship is poor, his tone is
grating and his arguments bogus. Ironically, he piously asks
us to redeem the text 'by informed, discriminating and gentle
scholarship,' when his own diatribe amounts to hate literature
against ... Christians. I say 'hate literature,' because among
many other charges, he maligns true believers as 'lunatics'
for believing 'that Jesus's blood be shed to complete God's
plan for the[ir] salvation.'  Donald Akenson's effort to
discredit the greatest story ever told has, in fact,
discredited the author...."
  http://snipurl.com/4g1h

Gene Edward Veith in his "Passion Play" article in Focus on
the Family's Citizen magazine extends the discussion of this
issue:

"The loudest objections to The Passion of the Christ have
come from Jewish activists, like Abraham Foxman of the
Anti-Defamation League, who claim that compassion for the
suffering of Jesus will translate into anger against the
people who called for His death, resulting in a new wave of
anti-Semitism.  It seems odd that, at a time when Jews are
hated and killed by Islamic rebels, Jewish activists would
pick this fight. It’s especially odd because a number of
other Jews who’ve seen the film, such as film critic Michael
Medved and online journalist Matt Drudge, have defended it."
  http://snipurl.com/4g27

(See also Veith's review article dealing with the same topic
in World magazine at http://snipurl.com/4g29. )

To me, it has always seemed ironic that the charge of
"anti-Semitism" is lodged against evangelical Christians
when that group is in fact the most sizable and dependable
pro-Israel voting bloc in the U.S.!

Bottom line:  If you believe that the second commandment
forbids an actor's portraying Christ, then you should not
see the film.  If you do not see the second commandment as
teaching that (or even if you do), then you should be aware
that the other criticisms of the film are often loud in
sound, but lacking in substance, sometimes reflecting a
hostility not just to the film, but to the Christian faith
itself.

Following are some additional resources, some Christian,
some not, that you may also find filled with helpful and
interesting information and comments (plus resources I've
already mentioned in this article):

BreakPoint: Who Killed Jesus?: Setting the Record Straight
    by Charles Colson
  http://snipurl.com/4glm

Center for Cultural Leadership:  The Passion of the Christ by
    Brian Godawa
  http://snipurl.com/4g4r

Chalcedon:  Jesus Makes Headlines by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
  http://snipurl.com/4g66

Chalcedon:  The Passion of the Christ, the Jews, and God by
    Brian Godawa
  http://snipurl.com/4g53

Chalcedon: The Passion Stirs Passion by Steve Hays
(Steve Hays is a seminarian at Reformed Theological Seminary
and a regular contributor to the Reformed online magazine at
ThirdMill.org.)
  http://snipurl.com/4g3u

Chronicles Magazine:  Gibson and His Enemies by Tom Piatak
(An interesting article by "a Catholic layman.")
  http://snipurl.com/4g55

Citizen (Focus on the Family):  Passion Play by Gene Edward
    Veith)
  http://snipurl.com/4g27

CitizenLink (Focus on the Family): "My Prayer Life Has Grown"
    by Pete Winn
  http://snipurl.com/4g4d

Family News in Focus (Focus on the Family): Churches Have a
   "Passion" for Evangelism by Stuart Shepard
  http://snipurl.com/4g4c

Focus on the Family:  The Passion of the Christ by Tom Neven
  http://snipurl.com/4g4e

The Globe and Mail:  The Gospel of John: Let he who is without
    sin ... by Bruce Waltke
  http://snipurl.com/4g1h

Hollywood Jesus
  http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/
Hollywood Jesus: The Passion of the Christ
  http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/passion.htm

JesusJournal.com: Southern Baptists Applaud Mel Gibson
    "Passion" by Tammi Reed Ledbetter
  http://snipurl.com/4g5q

JesusJournal.com: Mel Gibson's New Film "Theologically
    Accurate"
  http://snipurl.com/4g5u

Messiah's Congregation: Living the Reformed Faith in the Real
    World:  The Passion of the Christ by Brian Godawa
  http://messiahnyc.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=321

Passion Book:  The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper
  http://www.passion-book.com/passion/

PCANews.com (The Web Magazine of the Presbyterian Church in
    America): The Passion of the Christ by Brian Godawa
  http://snipurl.com/4fy6

PCANews.com (The Web Magazine of the Presbyterian Church in
    America): The 2nd Commandment and "The Passion of the
    Christ" by Ron Gleason
  http://snipurl.com/4fwz

"Pictures of Christ" by the late John Murray
  http://www.reformed.org/misc/murray_picture.html

The Right Books (The Discerning Reader):  The Passion
    by Rob Schlapfer
  http://www.therightbooks.com/

World Magazine:  Mel Gibson's Movie The Passion by
    Gene Edward Veith
  http://snipurl.com/4g29
_______________________________________________________________

2. "CONNECT"ING WITH HARRY POTTER AT A GROUP BIBLE STUDY?

Connect Bible Studies, a British endeavor (or should I say
"endeavour"?) associated with Scripture Union, has a rather
interesting approach:  How about having a Bible study on
Harry Potter?  If there is widespread interest right now in
Harry Potter, why not take advantage of it?

Let me let them describe their approach:

"The first issue of [this set of four] Connect Bible Studies
is based around the fourth of J K Rowling's incredibly popular
Harry Potter books - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(Bloomsbury, 2000).  As with all Connect Bible Study material,
the emphasis is firmly on understanding what the Bible has to
say about the issues raised in the book, rather than on the
content of the book itself....  [W]hether you're for Harry
Potter or against him, the phenomenon is so huge that we can't
simply ignore him. Christians should be aware of some of the
issues raised and understand what the Bible has to say about
them....  The set of four Connect Bible Studies explores a
Biblical perspective on four issues that are central to Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Magic, Adolescence, Ambition
and Good and Evil.  Some extracts of the studies are available
to read on this website."
  http://www.damaris.org/connect/uk/catalogue/0001/

They see this as one of two appropriate approaches to Bible
study:

"To be effective in communicating the gospel we must do two
types of Bible study. One starts with the Bible and works
through it systematically, discovering what God says and then
applying it to the issues of the day. The other starts with
the issues of the day and then goes to the Bible to see what
God says about them. There are plenty of good resources to
help with the first approach. Connect is an innovative new
resource to help with the second.  --Nick Pollard, founder of
the Damaris Trust..."
  http://www.damaris.org/connect/uk/about/index.htm

Here's how it is set up:

"Connect Bible studies bring an exciting and innovative
approach to studying the Bible together.  Produced by Damaris
Trust, Scripture Union and CPO [Christian Publicity
Organisation], the studies link a passion for the Bible to a
desire to be relevant to today's society....  Each month a
new set of four Bible studies [is] available for download
from this website.  Connect Now - a free monthly email will
supply a taster and reminder for the upcoming study."
  http://www.damaris.org/connect/uk/about/index.htm

Although the studies can be downloaded, there is a cost
involved:

"Connect Bible Studies can be downloaded as Adobe Acrobat
files at a cost of [£3.99] per issue (+ VAT) from the Damaris
Online Store....  NOTE: The copyright for this material
allows you to print out the studies for use in a single group
(home group, cell group, Bible study group, etc.)."
  http://www.damaris.org/connect/uk/catalogue/index.htm

The price is given in British Pounds.  To convert it to
another currency (such as U.S. Dollars), you can use the
currency converter here:

Currency Converter
  http://www.moneycorp.co.uk/ttt_v2/pages/converter.html

If you live in the European Commonwealth, you'll have to pay
a "VAT" or "Value Added Tax," but that is not true if you live
elsewhere (such as in the United States).

Here's where you can get a free sample from the Harry Potter
study:

Connect: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Part One:
    Magic (extract):
  http://www.damaris.org/connect/uk/catalogue/0001/magic.htm

In addition to Harry Potter, here are the other Connect Bible
Studies currently available:  The Matrix Trilogy, Madonna,
John Grisham's Novels, Friends (the TV series), James Bond,
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, Superheroes, Sven-Goran
Eriksson: On Football, Dido No Angel, Iris, The Simpsons, The
Lord of the Rings, AI (the movie), Survivor by Destiny's
Child, Nick Hornby's How to be Good, Game Shows (Who Wants
to be a Millionaire? Survivor, The Weakest Link, and Big
Brother), Chocolat (the book), Billy Elliot (the film), All
That You Can't Leave Behind by U2, and The Matrix (see also
The Matrix Trilogy mentioned earlier).

Incidentally, Damaris Trust has some related sites where you
can also find materials relating the Bible to contemporary
culture:

CultureWatch
"CultureWatch contains hundreds of articles and study
guides on films, books, music, television and some of the
developments within culture as a whole. As part of Damaris,
there is a distinctively Christian angle on all this material,
but CultureWatch is for people of all faiths and people of no
faith who want to explore the message behind the media."
  http://www.damaris.org/cw/

CultureWatch topics include the computer game Waiting for Half
Life and the films Lost in Translation, Identity, Pirates of
the Caribbean, and Pleasantville.

TalksToGo
"TalksToGo enables speakers to teach the message of the Bible
in the language of contemporary popular culture."
  http://www.damaris.org/talkstogo/index.html

TalksToGo topics include "Bruce Almighty: God's
Character" and "K-PAX: Who Is Jesus?"

Incidentally, if you sign up for the Damaris mailing list,
you may receive discount coupons for possible use on their
products.

Enjoy!
_______________________________________________________________

3. STARTING A WEB SITE? THOUGHTS ON DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION

If you have a Web site, it is often good to have your own
domain name.  The Orthodox Presbyterian Church has the domain
name opc.org, the North American Presbyterian and Reformed
Council (NAPARC) has its own domain name naparc.org, Skilton
House Ministries has its own domain name skiltonhouse.org,
"CATI" has its own domain name cati.org, and I have my own
domain name traver.org.  Domain names are usually easy to
remember, and they make it easier for someone to find his
or her way to your Web site.

An article in an earlier issue of "CATI" provides a basic
introduction to domain names:

What's in a Name (an Internet Domain Name, That Is)?
  http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati41.htm#2

The information is essentially valid in the article, but
some of the Web addresses have changed since that article
was first published.  Here are the current addresses:

InterNIC:  Accredited Registrar Directory
  http://www.internic.net/regist.html

For a "WHOIS" I now recommend this one:

TRUEWHOIS
  http://www.truewhois.com/

That is in place of the WHOIS at Network Solutions, about whom
I will have much more to say in a moment.

The discussion relating to A Christian Parent's Guide to
Making the Internet Family Friendly (by Brian Lang and Bill
Wilson is essentially accurate, other than to note that Bill
Wilson has apparently regained rights to his domain name.

Now on to the new stuff....

First, I strongly urge you NOT to register your domain
name through Network Solutions!

In the past I registered a domain name through Network
Solutions (as have many people), but I've come to believe
that they are not a good choice in spite of their past
reputation.  (I'm trying to express myself in a gentle way
before I get more brutal.)

This is an area in which I have done considerable research.
(I now have five domain names registered in my name, and I
expect to be registering more, so checking out the matter of
the best resource is important to me.)  I believe that - in
spite of their previous better reputation (compared with
their more recent reputation) and their previous monopoly on
domain registration - for you to use Network Solutions would
be a very bad choice.

Here's some of the evidence:

NetworkSolutions.com was reviewed by 37 Epinions users, and
their overall rating for the company was a dismal one star
out of five!  (No one gave Network Solutions more than two
stars out of five.)  You can read all 37 reviews here:

Epinions:  Reviews of NetSolutions.com
  http://snipurl.com/4gh8

Caution:  Some of the comments are rather forcefully
expressed.  My guess is that ePinions may have toned
down some of the language, but there are still references
to God, Satan, and Hell (as you'll see in a moment, so be
prepared).

Here are a few of the many comments from the 37 reviewers
(but you should read the entire reviews, written by people
with sometimes extensive experience with Network Solutions):

"Thank goodness they're not a monopoly any more...."

"God please destroy NSI....  Pros: None. Cons: Expensive.
Difficult as hell to make changes. They're under [FTC]
investigation."  [More on that in a moment!  --BAT]

"Network Solutions (NSOL) is a company with a 14.132B Market
Cap, and a $1 customer service philosophy."

"Pros: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!! Cons: Not enough space
here. See my review."

"'You are important to us...' Liars!...  Pros: No pros. They
are backed by Satan.  Cons: Horrendous, horrendous customer
service.  Confusing processes.  Where do I start?  The
problem is this company was at one time a monopoly. They have
a monopoly mentality. That is, Customer Be Damned.
Fortunately, there is now competition."

"They charge too much, customer service has been very bad,
don't offer enough extras like the cheaper registrars do."

"Network Solutions is not my solution....  Pros: can't think
of one.  Cons: lack of customer support."

"Don't pay the price!...  $35 a year is too much for domain
registration.  Network Solutions used to be one of the few
entities that was able to monopolize a significant part of
the world of the web. No more.  Network Solutions now has to
compete."

"Network Solutions, a.k.a. Satan's Minions....  Pros: None.
Cons: Price, No customer service. Hideous horrible interface."

"I've been working with different companies on internet and
network design, architecture, and support for about ten years
now. During that time, I've found that there are two companies
that you'll always regret having to deal with.... [One is
Network Solutions.]  To borrow from Obi-Wan Kenobi, 'You will
never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.'"

"Welcome to Hell Week.... Pros: I can't say anything nice at
this point .  Cons: Customer Service is a joke."

"Avoid this registration "service" at all costs!...  Pros:
Absolutely none.  Cons: The company....  Their practices
border on fraudulent, and their incompetence defies
description....  If possible, a 0-star rating would have
been given."  [Their practices don't "border on" fraudulent.
The FTC declared them to be fraudulent, but, again, I'll get
to that shortly.  --BAT]

"Nightmare on Web Street!...  Pros: Free Headaches and
customer support heartburn.  Cons: Passive aggressive support
representatives, bureaucratic stupidity."

"Network Solutions, The Microsoft of the Internet?...  Pros: none.
Cons: Everything."

"Another YECHHHH!...  Pros: None.  Cons: Lots."

"God help you if you need changes to your info....  Pros:
None that I can think of.  Cons: Terrible tech support, even
worse when you really need some basic information changed."

And so on and so on.

One reason I really do not like Network Solutions is their
deceptive marketing practices.  To be specific, they sent me
a "renewal notice" for a domain name that I had registered
through a different company.  If I hadn't taken time to read
it carefully but had just paid the invoice, the result would
have been that in doing so it would have transferred my
account from the other company to Network Solutions!  Want
evidence?  How about this news article which I found at
ConsumerAffairs.com?:
 ____________________________________________________________
/
Network Solutions Settles FTC Charges

September 24, 2003

Network Solutions, Inc. has settled Federal Trade Commission
charges that its deceptive marketing practices unlawfully
tricked consumers into transferring their Internet domain
name registrations to the company.

The terms of the settlement permanently bar Network Solutions
from misrepresenting that a consumer’s domain name is about
to expire or that the transfer of a domain name is actually a
renewal. The order also requires the defendant to pay consumer
redress pursuant to the terms of a previously settled class
action lawsuit....

The FTC’s complaint alleges that, as part of its marketing
campaign, Network Solutions mailed solicitation notices to
consumers that appeared to be expiration notices from the
consumers’ current registrars. The notices allegedly stated
that consumers’ domain names were about to expire, and that
Network Solutions was offering to “renew” their domain names
for a fee.

The FTC alleges that these notices were deceptive for two
reasons.  First, the notices claimed that the consumers’
domain names would soon expire, but failed to disclose the
actual expiration dates of the consumers’ domain names –
which were, in some cases, months or years in the future.

Second, the notices offered to “renew” the consumers’ domain
names without disclosing either the identity of the consumers’
then-current registrars or that accepting the offer would
cause the domain name to be transferred to Network Solutions.

The FTC charges that the notices tricked some consumers into
transferring their domain name registrations to Network
Solutions – often at a significantly higher price....

At the time that the solicitations that are the subject of
the FTC's charges were mailed, the company was doing business
under the name "VeriSign."

  http://consumeraffairs.com/news03/ftc_nsi.html
\____________________________________________________________

Thus I strongly urge that you NOT use Network Solutions
(VeriSign) if you register a domain name.  There are a
number of possibilities of better domain name registrars
to use than Net Solutions.  I'll just mention one here, but
there are others.  I just feel strongly about urging you NOT
to use Network Solutions, which I consider to be a dishonest
company which doesn't deserve your business even if they had
competitive prices (which they do not).  (Nor should you use
Network Solutions for Web hosting.)

If your primary purpose is to register a domain name, the best value
in my own experience can be found at this site, where I myself have
registered four domain names:

RegistryDomains.com
  http://www.registrydomains.com/

If you use them, make sure you type in the name exactly, because
there are other registrars with similar names.

$9.85 (or less) is the cost per year, and that price includes the
following:

     10 Page Free Web Site
     DNS Management
     Web Site URL Pointing
     100 Email Forwardings
     Automatic Renewal Option
     Registrar Lock Security
     Phone & Map Settings
     MX File Management
     100 Sub Domains

The owners of the company seem to be genuine Christians.  I
would guess them, however, to be dispensational rather than
Reformed, if that is important to you.  My comment is based
on what I have read on the following pages, which give some
information about the owners:

WriterInfo: Dan and Dave Davidson
  http://www.thinkwow.com/writerinfo/bookbio.htm

Dave Davidson
  http://www.thinkwow.com/dave/

Dan Davidson
  http://www.thinkwow.com/dan/

I doubt that you will find a better value on the Internet for
domain registration, and my own experience with them has been
very positive (including one or two enjoyable telephone
conversations with one of the owners).

I would presume that the "10 Page Free Web Site" is rather
minimal (although I myself have not tried it).  If you're
serious about your Web site, then once you have it a domain
name registered, you will want to find a decent Web host to
host your site (which may cost you perhaps $15 to $25 a
month, but choosing a Web host is a topic for another
newsletter).
_______________________________________________________________

4. BARNEY, GOOGLE'S GOOD STUFF IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!?

I almost always use Google as my search engine of choice for
the Web, and many people are like me in that respect.  Google
deservedly has a very high reputation and respect as the best
general-purpose search engine around.  But you're about to
learn how you can get even more out of Google.

First, here is something that some "CATI" readers already
know.  Go to the following address:

Google
  http://www.google.com/

If you take time to look at the entire screen I think you
may see some new things that you didn't realize Google also
offered.  But that's not my point right now.

Click on "Preferences" on the right-hand side.  Then on the
next page if you take time to look at the entire page I
think you may see some new choices that you didn't realize
Google also offered.  But that's not my point right now.

Here's the important thing that some "CATI" readers already
know.  Scroll down to "SafeSearch Filtering."  Note that you
have three choices:

  Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and
    explicit images)
  Use moderate filtering (Filter explicit images only -
    default behavior)
  Do not filter my search results

For maximum protection of the family, Click on the circle
in front of the first choice and then (this part is very
important) scroll down and Click on "Save Preferences" at
the bottom right of the page.

Second, here are some things that most "CATI" readers do
NOT know.  Google has some tremendously powerful features
that can be useful to you (but only if you know them) and
there are at least three recent resources that will teach
you how to use Google better.

One of these is entirely free, and it's available right
on the Internet:

GoogleGuide
  http://www.googleguide.com/

I think it's a great site, accessible to the layperson.  You
do not have to be a computer nerd to benefit from this site!
Although other people will also learn from it, it is
especially suited to the beginner, newbie, novice, or tyro!

This "interactive tutorial on searching with Google" was
done by Nancy Blachman, who is a Google insider.  If you like
it (and I think you will), you may want to consider possibly
investing in the book How to Do Everything with Google by
Fritz Schneider, Nancy Blachman (yes, that Nancy!), and Eric
Fredrickson, all of whom are Google insiders.

Like the on-line tutorial, the book is also well-written and
suitable for beginners.  It's an expensive book (retail price
$24.99), but I got my copy at Barnes and Noble for "50% Off -
members save an extra 10%") and you may be able to get it for
a good price as well.

Checking a few minuvtes ago (using Google, naturally) I found
that you can get it at a fairly decent price at a number of
locations (but this is now, and things may change by the
time you read this):

Abebooks.com:  How to Do Everything with Google
(price:  $13.99 plus shipping, used?) (You will have to
re-enter the title to get the information.)
  http://snipurl.com/4i3p

Alibris.com.  How to do Everything with Google
($14.03 plus shipping, used)
  http://snipurl.com/4i3m

Overstock.com:  How to Do Everything with Google
(price $14.39 plus shipping, new?)
  http://snipurl.com/4i3f

Amazon.com:  How to Do Everything with Google
(price $14.65 plus shipping, used but "like new"?)
  http://snipurl.com/4i40

A1books.com:  How to Do Everything with Google
(price $14.99 plus shipping, new?)  (You will have to 
re-enter the title to get the information.)
  http://snipurl.com/4i5s

What query did I put in the Google box?  Simply this:

  "How to Do Everything with Google" compare prices

Now, finally it's time for those who DO consider themselves
to be computer nerds.  The book for you is Google Hacks:  100
Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools by Tara Calishain and Rael
Dornfest.  It also has a suggested retail price of $24.95,
and I've learned some things from this book as well, but I
have to admit that half of it seems over my head.  If you
are interested, however - and it is a tremendously rich
resource - here also you can probably find it for a more
reasonable price if you look around.

(There is also another book at the same price - Learn Google
by Michael Busby, but I haven't yet seen that book, so I can't
comment on it.)
_______________________________________________________________

5. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER

Like to know what this is?  This is the ninetieth issue of
a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet"
("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I"
for "Christians" and the "Internet").

Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter?  Just send an
email to subscribe@traver.org (but be sure to include your name
in the note).

Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search
CATI for a particular subject)?  Go to http://cati.org and
you'll find an archive of past issues (arranged in reverse
chronological order), a partial (but rather dated) index of
articles (arranged alphabetically by topic), and a search
engine specifically for use with CATI.

Like to pass along this issue to others?  You may.  Permission
is hereby granted to pass along any issue of CATI to someone
else, provided that it is passed along in its entirety with no
changes made.  (For now, I prefer that you send the complete
issue, although I may in the near future provide guidelines
for passing along individual articles.)

Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page
or in a publication)?  For permission to do that, send a note
to cati@traver.org (explaining what you'd like to use and for
what purpose).  Reasonable requests are usually granted.

Like to unsubscribe?  That's also easy.  Just send an email to
unsubscribe@traver.org (but if you decide to unsubscribe, you'll
be missed, so any thoughts about the newsletter that you would
be willing to share at that time would be much appreciated).

Like to tell your friends about CATI?  That is not only much
encouraged, but also an encouragement to the editor!  CATI is
a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free
newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial
income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is
knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive,
and enjoyable.  (Comments from readers are always welcome, so
let me hear from you!)

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2004 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.
_______________________________________________________________