New Markets To Tap

As a licensed real estate agent in Peachtree City, GA. and soon to be Miami, FL. I’m always trying to stay on top of the latest trends. I ran across a great article written by Richard Westlund, a freelance writer in Miami for
Florida Realtor Magazine. I think he really nailed this one. Needless to say, I think we have been seeing this trend coming. I know I’m really excited to soon be hitting the Miami market wide open, specializing in the affluent and international clientele.

New Markets to Tap

We scoured the latest studies to find the demographics that will mean the most to your business. While retooling your marketing program, consider these groups of prospective buyers and sellers.

For decades, Florida buyers could typically be sorted into well-defined categories: families, retirees from “up North” and affluent second-home buyers from around the world, to name a few. While those buying patterns are still in place, the Florida market has changed significantly in recent years, creating new opportunities for real estate professionals seeking to enhance an overall marketing program.

Here is a closer look at three fast-evolving demographic groups that are already reshaping Florida’s buyer landscape.

Michael Pappas, president of The Keyes Co./Realtors® in Miami, remembers when it was difficult for an unmarried woman to get a mortgage loan. “Nowadays, things are much better, and there’s no question that single women—and men—are an increasingly important part of Florida’s market,” he says.

According to the 2006 National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 22 percent of homes sold in the United States during 2006 were to single females and 9 percent were to single males. In the same study, NAR reported that the average female first-time homebuyer was 34 with an annual household income of $43,300.

“Clearly, single women help drive real estate sales in this country,” says Charlie Young, senior vice president for marketing of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. in Parsippany, N.J. “This group has demonstrated its clout in the real estate market and has the economic capability to gain the American dream of homeownership.”

In a recent study, “Buying For Themselves: An Analysis of Unmarried Female Home Buyers,” the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that about 45 percent of single women who bought homes (in all age groups from divorcees to single moms to seniors) live alone and 30 percent are single parents without another adult in the home. In contrast, 55 percent of single male buyers live alone and 20 percent with an unrelated adult. In the study, only 15 percent of men who own homes are single parents.

Why are there so many single buyers—especially women? Lewis Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting in Miami, says that nationwide, higher salaries, delayed marriages, relationship breakups and longer lifespans are all contributing to the growth in single female buyers.

“A lot of singles
—both women and men—are making good money and find that real estate is very appealing to them because of the tax savings,” he says. “Single buyers are an important factor in Florida’s second-home and investment markets, as well as in primary housing.”

And it’s important to note that single men are also buying homes in Florida, says Pam Picard, career counselor for Watson Realty in Orlando. “We’re seeing a growing trend where the single head of household is a male,” she says. “Finally, these single guys are realizing the advantages of homeownership. Rather than waiting until marriage to buy that first home, they’re buying now.”

As for selecting a home to meet their lifestyle, the singles market is highly diverse. A newly divorced mother with two young children might want an inexpensive single-family house, while a 25-year-old single man might be content with a one-bedroom condo.

In general, singles of both sexes usually prefer a smaller home that requires less maintenance, says Pappas. That could be a condominium in an urban setting, a suburban town home or a luxurious second home on the beach. “There’s no question that convenience and security are big factors,” he adds, “making a low-maintenance lifestyle in a condominium residence very appealing to many buyers.”

For decades, many retirement-age buyers came to Florida seeking a quiet lifestyle: walking on the beach, a round of golf and shopping at the mall. Today, buyers are looking for a more active lifestyle—especially the baby boomers in their late 50s and early 60s.

“We’re seeing a larger percentage of baby boomer second-home buyers versus the standard retiree,” says Phil Wood, president and CEO of John R. Wood, Realtors in Naples. “These new buyers often have a fair amount of wealth from their own careers or significant inheritances. They’re buying upscale homes for eventual retirement, but they’ve definitely not retired yet.”

Instead, many retirees age 55 and up are launching new careers as consultants, volunteering in the community, traveling frequently and cultivating new recreational activities, from rock climbing to sky diving. Ideally, their Florida home would have the latest technology, space for a personal fitness center and lots of choices in daily activities.

“Buyers want fitness centers and seminars that provide intellectual stimulation,” says Arlene Stiepleman, a sales associate with The Keys Co./Realtors in Coral Springs. “And it’s a plus if shopping centers are close to home, so there’s less need for a car,” she says.

While some older buyers will choose communities where most residents are 55 or over, others want to live in neighborhoods filled with families and young children. “Many buyers with a dog or cat will rule out communities that have restrictions on pets,” she says.

And as with all age segments, price and value are key components of the buying decision. “Florida will continue to be the No. 1 state in the second-home/preretirement market,” says Goodkin. “But with higher land prices [and property insurance costs], especially in the coastal areas, the real depth of this market will be in Central and Northern Florida.”

Goodkin points out that baby boom buyers fall into three distinct categories, based on their income and savings patterns. About 20 percent are affluent buyers who can afford luxury homes in prime locations. Another 20 percent are financially comfortable, but aren’t looking to upgrade their current lifestyle. “Some buyers in this category will actually be ‘down-buying,’ purchasing a smaller home than they can afford, with the expectation that they will be living longer and need to stretch their savings.”

The largest group of boomers, though, will face financial challenges in their retirement years, Goodkin says. In general, they have limited savings and their current home is usually their largest asset. “Cost factors are the most important consideration to this segment,” he says. “Some will be moving from high-cost to lower-cost areas in Florida; others will be downsizing from their current home. For the most part, these boomers will be looking to get the most bang for the buck.”

Young Adults
Tired of living with parents or sharing an apartment with roommates, more Floridians in their late 20s and early 30s are buying their first homes. These “Generation Y,” or “Millennial,” adults make up a fast-growing segment of the Florida market.

“We’re seeing a new wave of young adult buyers,” says Pappas. “In many ways, they’re better equipped than any other generation. They use technology to research homes and neighborhoods and understand the value of ownership.”

Across the country, recent college graduates and young professionals are buying houses and condominiums. Data from the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 42 percent of people ages 25–29 are already homeowners. And buyers in their 20s and 30s account for more than 50 percent of new-home purchases, according to the American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department.

However, Goodkin cautions that many of those buyers were able to take advantage of flexible mortgage loans as well as parental financial support when making their purchases—two factors that have changed in the past year.

“Many graduates were able to take advantage of what I call ‘GI’ financing from ‘generous in-laws,’” says Goodkin. “Many parents took out loans on their own homes to help their kids get into a condo. That source of funding will be more limited because of today’s more restrictive credit climate.”

As for lifestyle, the Gen Y buyers often want to be in an urban setting that offers camaraderie and opportunities for socializing with other young adults. “They don’t mind the hubbub of a downtown, beachfront or college community,” Goodkin says.

Pam Picard, a career counselor for Watson Realty in Orlando, says Gen Y buyers are usually interested in smaller homes or condos, compared with their baby boomer parents. “They tend not to be homebodies,” she says. “They would rather be sitting on a sofa in the local coffee bar working on their laptop, where it’s easy for friends to stop by. And, generally, they’re more interested in condos and town homes, because they don’t want the maintenance responsibilities, like mowing the lawn, that come with a single-family home.”

By knowing the demographic trends, you can gear your marketing to reach a wide variety of prospective home buyers and sellers.

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/strong>The Man Behind The Webs Most Controversial Video Site.

Have you ever wondered who writes all the crazy stuff on the most controversial website out there? I don’t care for it, not my cup a tea. But a lot of others, meaning millions view it everyday, and that’s how he became so famous and wealthy doing it, and I have say, anytime a company or someone becomes an overnight success, its spikes my interest. Jason Parham with Gawker had the opportunity to sit across from him and chat. Let’s hear his side of the story.

We’re 35 floors high above midtown Manhattan and Lee O’Denat occupies the seat across from me. His is a physically-commanding presence—a bull of a man—and I begin to think everything I have read about him up until this point is true. The designer shades. The diamond-encrusted chain. The deceptively knowing smile that spreads across his round face from time to time. He knows something that you don’t.

And here he is, the Hollis, Queens-raised kid turned internet entrepreneur who built a media empire off shock and awe, the man who understands that maybe, deep down, all people really want is to be entertained, and whether that pleasure comes by watching two kids fight or some girl shake her ass—well, that’s your choice, not his. Because it is your choice. Right?

His speech is deliberate and gentle, and not at all what you might expect from a man his size. “I believed in it so much,” he says. “And we’ve grown so organically based on the trueness of the site.” O’Denat is talking about WorldStarHipHop, the video site he created in 2005 as a means to provide for his family. He’ll later tell me of the time he pawned his son’s video games so he could buy food at Wal-mart, struggled to pay rent, but kept at it because he knew he was on to something (he admits WSHH did not turn a profit until 2009). But all of that was almost 10 years ago, and he goes by Q now.

As it stands today, WorldStar has become a household name among a generation of kids raised on Facebook and Lil’ Wayne lyrics. The site, though, is not without controversy. Aside from featuring music videos, both regional and mainstream, it regularly posts videos depicting unimaginable violence (the killing of 16-year-old Chicago student Derrion Albert in 2009, for example) and bare-ass nudity. The easy argument: It’s all just click bait, and isn’t every website doing that these days? But to Q, it’s more than that. WorldStar’s mission, so he believes, is to provide coverage of communities that larger news organizations like CNN or MSNBC might ignore. It can be ugly at times, but so is reality.

Really, it’s all part of Q’s larger plan to provide the masses with the “realness” that made hip-hop such an unstoppable force. “Hip-hop is profanity, it’s violence, it’s all of the above. Watching NWA, 2Live Crew, and Eminem being themselves, being real, and getting criticized—and Tupac with Delores Tucker—this is who we are,” he says of WorldStar. A slight grin gives way before he continues. “If you don’t like it, go fuck yourself.”

Before WorldStar you were in the mixtape game, right?

In 1999 I reached out to a longtime friend of mine, DJ Whoo Kid, who I’ve known for over 25 years. He had a little buzz circling in the streets with his mixtapes. At the same time he met 50 Cent, and I told them, ‘Hey, I can help you guys. I’m learning the internet, I need to make some money, so let me help you get these mixtapes out.’ Back then, no one wanted to buy. It was hard, because I was living in Baltimore for a few years at the time, and a lot of stores didn’t really know who Whoo Kid was. Long story short, I just kept hustling; I got a couple on consignment based on what they sold. Then I noticed, in the internet space, there weren’t many mixtapes being sold online. So I spent eight months reading and studying and learned how to build a mixtape website. It officially launched on September 11, 2001. I got the email at around eight o’clock in the morning that the site was officially open, and then a couple hours later the planes hit. At the time, there were maybe two or three other sites doing it. It was slow in the beginning, because I made it 100 percent Whoo Kid mixtapes. It was; that was my first website. It just took off, and kept growing and growing.

Did you have a background in tech? Or did the hustler in you feel like it was just something you needed to pick up?

It’s the mentality. I grew up fast. My brother left for the Marines when I was 13 and I had to learn on my own. No father in the house. My mom worked a lot so we really didn’t spend much time together. I didn’t know anything about “family day” or “family time.” It was a Haitian home—you learn early that you’re on your own, and that this is life. I learned that I had to work hard for myself, because no one gave me shit. Family, aunts and uncles, nobody gave me anything. I just thought that that’s what life is about. I had to go out, work, hustle, find ways to make my money. I used to shovel snow all over Queens, in the hood. I found my own ways to make money and understood that I was in control of my own life. And that’s what people need to realize, no one owes you anything.

So what eventually led you into video aggregation?

I was booking a lot of after parties for Whoo Kid and G-Unit, and I found myself on the road a lot. So the site blew up based on that, and me hustling on the web side to put a nice site together for the artist, because the label wasn’t. Being on the road all the time, I wasn’t home to ship the CDs and people kept complaining. I was doing everything by myself, and it was hard. I was like, I gotta find a way to make people download this shit, so I don’t have to be home to ship it. Then 2005 came around, and I figured why not just create a site where people can download. So WorldStarHipHop was a download mixtape site in the beginning. But it also had other things: you could watch crazy stuff, read crazy stuff; it had sex tapes. I knew I wanted to be different. Most of these sites were boring, not really showing that realness of hip-hop. You know, hip-hop is profanity, it’s girls, it’s fights. That’s why the culture is loved worldwide—it’s real. And I wanted a site to be real like that.

Do you remember the very first video posted to WorldStar?

It was a lot of that DVD stuff. People didn’t have ways to go into the hood and buy these DVDs. So we would buy it, chop up the best part of the interview with an artist, usually two to three minutes, and people started loving it. Here we are showing these real interviews, not the ones on BET or MTV, not the PG-13 interview; we’re showing them being real, back of the tour bus, with chicks, fights, cursing—it was all crazyiness. We decided to move forward in that direction. I relaunched to make it an official video website in 2008, because in 2007 we got hacked and the site was down for seven months. When we relaunched in January 08 we never looked back.

When did you realize WorldStar had truly made a name for itself?

I guess when news started wrenching us. I remember Bill O’Reilly shouted us out twice. He said the government should pay us a visit. And I’m like, ‘Whoa I’m just the video guy, why aren’t you going after YouTube’s CEO. That’s where I got it from?’ People kept talking about us, telling me we were on Fox News. The media outside of the internet space, when people talk about us, freaks me out. Now it’s part of the norm. I remember the first official music video premiere we had exclusive to the site—Ace Hood’s “Cash Flow” featuring Rick Ross—that DJ Khaled gave us. That was five, six years ago. We had buzz, but we weren’t the top yet. I think did better numbers than us., too. Khaled saw we were growing fast, and we got that first exclusive video, and that kinda made people realize we just didn’t have crazy videos, but we premiered music videos too. Then more people started premiering videos with us, and that started the price charts, the banner sales. I was one of the first guys to come up with the price plan. Labels usually do net 60, net 90, and I was the first to be like, ‘I want my money now, or you get no banner space.’ So I changed the game. I made labels pay the check first, then I’d put the banner up. And I was doing everything myself, handling all the business and advertisers. Being organic, and the way we do business—we’re pretty much flat rate—it made people feel like, ‘Whoa this site is growing and keeping it 100.’

WorldStar has become known as a shock site, and is famous for the fight videos it posts. Was that your intention going in—to sell spectacle?

I wanted the site to have a hip-hop influence. I wanted it to be like the games that I liked growing up, and like Grand Theft Auto—video games where it just shows everything, where it shows what’s going on in the streets, where I’m from. These kinds of videos were popping on YouTube, and they were entertaining. It was something we couldn’t deny. People love to see that stuff. I didn’t think the site would move so much in that one direction, but WorldStar shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if it’s going to show something that’s ugly, we’re just providing the medium. We’re just providing the news.

What do you mean by the good, the bad, and the ugly?

We show things that are inspirational, but that are bad, too. But that’s just the way news is. CNN and Fox News do the same thing. This is part of our history, our culture. Culture as a whole. People. Not just black people, but whites, and everybody—every culture has its bad side. People want to watch an ugly side of someone then blame us for showing it, but what about the people actually doing it? Why click on it? It’s like why watch porno on HBO at midnight? You have the choice to watch what you want. The remote control is in your hand. People will click it, watch it, then hate on me for watching the video. Then why did you watch the video? It’s a choice we all have. You can’t point fingers. It’s your guilty pleasure. Point at yourself.

You once referred to WorldStar as the “CNN of the Ghetto.” Do you see the site giving voice to unheard communities?

Yeah, definitely. We do a lot of community work for people that gets unnoticed. I’m not looking for a lot of exposure on that. If it comes, great. But I know, deep down, we give back to charities.

No, I’m talking about the site specifically, the videos that you put up. Do you see them giving voice to communities and people that go unheard?

Yeah, they get heard. These communities—for example, when the WIC in LA was shut down, we were the first to go talk to those people who were in line waiting. CNN didn’t do that. FOX News; they’re not out there. It’s not gonna be a big headline. So we like to give voice to the communities that are hurting, and let people know even though some of these videos may look ugly to people, it’s still our voice, and they need help. But fighting is a part of life. You gotta get over it. People complain to me about the fighting, but people have been fighting before camera phones, before I was born, and this is the way life is. As long as they are not shooting each other, I have no problem with people wanting to squab it out. That’s how this country was built, on fighting. We fight all the time, every election day there’s fights. People need to stop thinking that everyone is going to walk around and sing Kumbaya.

But don’t your good intentions get lost in all the fight videos, sex clips, and twerking montages? Is the message lost in all that noise?

Yeah, I mean—the site’s mission is to just capture what we find real in the world, you know? As a leader of the internet entertainment world we understand that we’re going to be critiqued for everything that we post. You still see shock TV on cable. Ridiculousness, the MTV show, mocks people all the time with their videos, Tosh.0—but no one ever talks about them.

So why do you get all the criticism?

Because I’m black, and from the hood. [Laughs] Tosh does it and he’s great, Rob Dyrdek and all the white people on Ridiculousness hurting their balls, falling down, cracking their heads open—it’s funny. But someone fighting in the back of a Waffle House? Oh, Q’s the devil! I accept that. That’s just being a black man in America. If you make it doing something someone else can easily do, they’re going to blame you. Black people look at me because I’m black and think I’m doing harm to black communities. But I look at this as a positive. It’s all about how you look at things in life. I bring awareness to those that don’t want to be on WorldStar in that way. Somebody might say, ‘I don’t want to get drunk and then start a fight.’ They can, but they’re going to end up on the site looking foolish. People are now thinking two or three times before they want to fight someone, or act ratchet and crazy. People have camera phones, so whatever you do—if you’re acting silly, stupid, belligerent—they’re gonna record it and send it to us. People have to realize and look at it as a positive.

But if somebody non-black comes to the site they are being sold a very specific brand of blackness. Do you see WorldStar as fueling negative stereotypes within the black community?

Stereotypes? I don’t think so. If a white person comes to the site and sees black people fighting or twerking, he likes the culture. We just like to have fun, man. Black people are admired by different cultures because we’re free. We like to be free. Some people live trapped. They don’t want to get wild because they feel like they’re being judged for this. With black people, we’re just ourselves. If we fight, we fight. And we’ve always been shaking our asses. Since the slave ship we’ve been shaking our asses. [Laughs] We love to do these things. And now, people are attached to it. We’re a very influential race all over the world because we keep it 100. We have negative stereotypes, sure—we like chicken, we like to drink, we go the the strip club—but every race has negative stereotypes. We just have to love ourselves, admire ourselves. Know that only God can judge you. Don’t worry about the critics.

Hip Hop Weekly just had the exclusive with Q, CEO Of as well about why he thinks he receives so much hate?

On the recent hate he’s receiving:

“A lotta folks hate on me because of the way the site blew up, and since you’re number one, that’s what happens. Like Obama, he’s got hatin’. That’s the way it is. I’ve accepted it.”

On helping launching careers like Kat Stacks:

“People that have the talent and skill, it speaks for itself now because the video don’t lie, as far as the image, and people like to see video more and more. For the new artists comin’ up, like the Kat Stacks, the 50 Tysons, you can get instant fans real quick because people are drawn to anything that’s interesting to them.”

On the image of World Star:

“I try to portray the good, the bad and the ugly – that’s what I try to portray. It’s not just good, good, good. Hip Hop is a culture – a lifestyle. It’s not just a Black thing or an inner-city thing. It’s for anyone that can feel it in’em. It’s Hip Hop. It’s just swag.”

[Image by Sam Woolley]


Be vigilant about protecting sensitive client data with these tools

I wrote an article not long ago about protecting our personal and sensitive important information. As some of you are well, aware once your data is out there, it’s out there. From the first click of the “check out now” button, you are being traced, watched and analyzed. From how much you spend, where you shop, to your favorite product, even your prime time to shop. But that’s just one aspect of it. Are you concerned that Big Brother (including the National Security Agency) is not only watching but also listening to, recording and even transcribing your confidential client conversations?

What about when not only your information is being subject to attack, but now your clients confidential information is at risk. As a risk and security director of a multi-million dollar company, it is is one of the toughest questions and concerns I have. I’m in constant contact with high profile clients and sensitive data.

The good news for lawyers, corporations and medical professions, worried about maintaining their duty of confidentiality is that there are tools and safeguards to help them.

Lawyers and professionals, like myself, need to be very cognizant of their communications being intercepted by NSA. Even worse for lawyers is that they can’t even be certain what the law is, since the status of the NSA’s various programs and the data they collect seems to change every day. Plus, given the secretive nature of the NSA, as well as the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees its surveillance warrants, lawyers can’t even be sure of what is and is not legal.

Lawyers and anyone for that matter, should assume all of their conversations are subject to NSA surveillance and take steps to protect confidential information.

I can’t stress enough how all emails, electronic messages and communications should be encrypted. There’s no shortage of available encryption hardware and software, and I highly recommend using an encryption service such as ZixCorp or the open-sourced TrueCrypt. Platform-specific devices are also available, such as, Apple’s FileVault.

You can also purchase self-encrypting hard drives such as the Seagate Secure, encrypted flash drives such as the IronKey from Imation Corp., and encryption software such as PGP Whole Disk Encryption and Sophos Ltd.’s Safeguard, says, “Lina Maini with Beacon Network Investigations, LLC.

As for passwords, I would recommended a more secure method of authentication, such as security tokens or USB tokens.

So I’m a big fan of firewalls, and highly encrypting everything, from, email, phone service and anything else. I’ve also became a huge fan of the company Silent Circle. One of the things that I enjoy best about the service, is I’m able to set the burn settings at whatever time I feel deemed necessary. Meaning once I sent any type of message, video, photo or voice message, it is encrypted and will burn itself at the time I choose.

I think a lot of people forget, that even sending a voice message or note via text or message, that your message has to go back to the server, say Apple, then is transferred back to the end user, therefore leaving footprints of your data to be copied.

For lawyers and corporations worried about talking on the phone, their prayers will be answered this month: Spanish smartphone company GeeksPhone and software company Silent Circle launch Blackphone, an encrypted smartphone that protects phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet browsing. Using VPN technology, Blackphone promises to be an NSA-resistant phone. I know I’m looking forward to ours arriving soon.


Feet on the ground in Bagdad

Authors name is kept anonymous. This came from a very reliable source.

Gents, thought you might want to hear from the front. Just returned from Baghdad day before yesterday checking on my folks. This is as current and objective as I have seen to date.

The current situation in Baghdad is best described as tense. Mass media coverage over the last few days of unfolding events has seen a run on supplies/fuel/at banks by civilians who are preparing in the event the worst does happen. It is not yet to the point of a panic but locals are nervous. The airport is extremely busy and flights elsewhere (especially to the Kurdish Region) are far overbooked. The overall situation in the country can only be described as very serious and with yesterday’s ‘call to arms’ by Ayatollah Sistani, the prospect of a sectarian civil war is the highest it has ever been – and has the potential to even be worse than the 2006/2007 era.

But – before going any further – it is worth putting the overall situation into context, and describing the ISIS ‘advance to Baghdad’ thus far. The portrayal in the media since this situation broke five days ago has been one of a relentless advance by ISIS. According to CNN etc, ISIS began by capturing Mosul, then advanced in a Blitzkrieg movement south, routing the Iraqi Army and capturing vast swathes of terrain as they went. This continuous sensationalization by the mainstream western media is the number one driving factor for the tension in Baghdad rather than a true appreciation of fact.

While the reporting of the folding of the Iraqi Army in Mosul and areas north of Baghdad is accurate (and is the reason why this situation has developed as it has), the rest of it is far less simple than is widely portrayed in the western media, and the true facts need putting into context. Most of this has already been covered in the GW Daily Reports from Jun 10-14 inclusive, and summarized in the GW weekly released last night. It is recommended these documents are reviewed for a balanced understanding of what has transpired so far. But to put some key points down on paper:

The last week in May/first week in June saw a substantial increase in insurgent activity across the country. Bombings and spectacular attacks ranged across the country, from VBIEDs near Karbala and Najaf, an assassination of a senior Sahwa commander in Anbar, an assault on Sammara and finally the attack on Mosul which caused the rout of the Iraqi Army and everything that then subsequently unfolded over the course of the last five days. The key takeaways, however are:

The ‘advance’ from Mosul to the outskirts of Baghdad has been blown out of proportion. What in actuality happened was ISIS were masterful in capitalizing on their success in Mosul and then gaining and achieving momentum. But rather than a straightforward advance to Baghdad, it is more realistic to consider that news of the Mosul success and fleeing Iraqi Army traveled fast throughout the Sunni dominated areas north of Baghdad. ISIS units already in situ in their traditional locations rallied behind their flag and mobilized in their local areas all at once. Similar news spread amongst the Iraqi Army, whose commanders were the first to flee, which caused the mass pullout/desertion/withdrawal. ISIS then moved into the Iraqi Army positions, taking the majority of them without a fight or meeting only mediocre resistance. What is extremely import to note is: ISIS have yet to move outside of areas where they have always been traditionally strong. In addition, ISIS have met no resistance from the predominantly Sunni population in these areas – who have been downtrodden and marginalized to the point where they are at least passively supporting ISIS, maintaining a laissez faire outlook. Some of this support though is no doubt through fear – ISIS will have presented them with a ‘You are either with us or against us’ ultimatum. In the total absence of official law and order, most Sunni locals will have little choice but to along with it – for now. It should also at this point be noted that ‘ISIS’ is not just ISIS. Other militant organizations and local Sunni tribes who are ‘going along with it for now’ are involved. These ultimately are not interested in the level of radicalism that true ISIS demands – so this is a fragile alliance at best, which will no doubt come to the fore once true resistance appears, or when ISIS start summarily executing peop0le for crimes and issuing strict laws on how to live etc (and we are already seeing evidence of this in Mosul and Tikrit).

Back to the ‘Advance on Baghdad’. Understanding the above – it should now be clear that ISIS have not yet set one foot outside areas where they have traditionally been strong. Which is why the ‘advance’ has stalled in the area of Samarra/Balad. In Diyala with its more mixed populace, they have not even ‘advanced’ that far south in parallel – Shia militia groups such as AAH are openly fighting them and the Iraqi Army is maintaining a presence there also. Not to mention in Northern Diyala, the ‘limits of control’ are tested between ISIS/Peshmerga – testing the Peshmerga are currently winning as they consolidate positions and expand their region (they will likely be the ultimate winners in all of this). The minute they step off their traditional turf into areas where they have no popular support (i.e. Shia parts of the country – northern Baghdad for instance….) we will see how well they do trying to fight conventionally….

The massive Shia mobilization that is currently occurring in Baghdad and the south means that the ‘advance’ in a conventional sense, is likely to remain stalled where it is if not beaten back some in the coming days.

So what’s the realistic prognosis of the situation for Taji and Baghdad?

Taji has become the main reception point for falling back troops and the point from where counter offensives will be planned and organized. On current available information, the massing troops there and the size of the facility means that ISIS as yet will have very little chance of attacking it in a conventional sense, so will get back to what they do best – car bombs, suicide attacks etc, along with IDF. The fact that the group has consolidated ground now with a ‘frontline’ behind which they have almost unrestrained freedom of movement means that supply lines will be extended so possibly we will see the frequency of these kind of attacks increasing. Not to mention the masses of military equipment (and cash) they have captured (although it appears much of it has gone to Syria – which is indicative that the campaign there may be of greater or least equal importance to the movement). Same goes for Balad airbase to the north of Taji – as yet the facility has not been directly attacked despite ISIS proximity, and both will be extremely well defended but no denying the facilities will be ISIS priority targets.

It also goes for Baghdad itself. In addition to the northern ‘axis’, we need to consider what is happening Anbar to the west (and the linked Jurf al-Sakhr district of Babil province to the southwest of Baghdad). There has been a noticeable drawing back of Iraqi Army units from Fallujah (presumably so properly battle hardened veterans can redeploy elsewhere). The has led to more freedom of movement for ISIS/anti govt elements – again with the implication of being able to stage closer to Baghdad. But again even from this axis – at this juncture we are talking increased unconventional guerilla attacks in the capital rather than the media ‘Lets all drive right into town’ sketch. I do see increased suicide attacks, car bombings – possibly even IDF on the BIAP and IZ (and maybe even increased conventional clashes in Abu Ghraib and therefore encroaching on the outer BIAP perimeter), but based on current info, not a conventional type assault as the press is talking. Baghdad is absolutely teeming with Iraqi Army troops and now, Shia milita of all kinds, including the now gloves-off Jaish al Mahdi (JAM) and Asaib Ahl al Haq (AAH), and I don’t doubt (as with some other parts of the country) Iranian Quds force too. Iranian involvement is set to increase as this progresses.

So to conclude – for ISIS to just go strolling into Baghdad as they have in a similar fashion in the areas where they’ve always been strong is currently completely unrealistic (again, media to blame for it). However what is likely is an increase in car bombings, suicide bombings, IDF threat to BIAP and IZ. Short notice lockdowns throughout the city are also possible, as is the potential for short notice vehicle movement restrictions and curfews (already one in place from 10pm till 6am). The other major burning issue right now – is the mass Shia mobilization and the fighting that is to follow north of the capital: Once this begins, we are going to hear many reports of atrocities committed against both Sunni and Shia communities as such a mass, fast mobilization means that training will be poor as will discipline. And we already know what the other side is capable of. This has the very real potential to spark bitterness and a renewed civil war period. In Baghdad, this may well translate as mass sectarian killings on either side on the streets in capital in conjunction with attacks on Mosques etc (as happened in 2006/2007) depending as to what transpires over the coming days .

I hope that helps clarify the current situation.


The Internet Is Full. Who has all of the IP Addresses

With the Americas running out of IPv4, it’s official: The Internet is full
Where did all those IP addresses go?

Originally posted by Iljitsch van Beijnum – NETWORKING THE WEB

In April, ARIN, the (North) American Registry for Internet Numbers, announced that it had reached “phase 4” of its IPv4 countdown plan, with fewer than 17 million IPv4 addresses remaining. There is no phase 5. APNIC, the Asia-Pacific registry, reached the 17 million (one “/8” or 2^24 IPv4 addresses) threshold three years ago, and the RIPE NCC in Europe less than two years ago. LACNIC, the Latin American and Caribbean registry, reached a similar threshold of a little more than four million remaining IPv4 addresses earlier this week. APNIC and the RIPE NCC will give ISPs and other network operators one last block of 1024 addresses, the rules for LACNIC are similar, and ARIN is tightening the address supply but still allows ISPs to come back for more. Only AfriNIC in Africa is continuing to supply IPv4 addresses as needed to network operators in its service region.

How did we get here?

It could have been worse. In the 1980s, there were several widely used networking protocols, such as DECNET, AppleTalk, IPX, and CLNP. DECNET had 16-bit addresses, AppleTalk used 24 bits, IPX 80, and CLNP a maximum of 160. The newly invented TCP/IP held the middle ground at 32 bits. However, unlike most of the other protocols, which were never intended to underpin global networks, IP is the Internet Protocol, designed to interconnect all kinds of smaller networks into a unified, global one. As such, making the addresses a meager 32 bits was a big failure of imagination. That’s only ten digits when written down as a regular decimal number.

The result was that it took only a decade before IP address numbering ran into trouble. Originally, IP addresses came in three classes: A, B, and C. Class A consisted of 128 networks with room for 16,777,216 connected systems (hosts) each. Class B was 16,384 networks with 65,536 hosts, and class C 2,097,152 networks with 256 hosts each. In the early 1990s, more and more universities connected to the Internet. Universities typically had more than 256 computers—or at least the potential to grow beyond that number—so they tended to get class B networks, which quickly started to run out. Giving them a dozen or so class C networks was much more efficient, but now routers had to keep track of ten times as much information, and routing tables started to explode. The Internet Engineering Task Force was barely able to avoid disaster by abolishing the class system so an organization that needed, say, 3,000 addresses could get a “/20”: a range of IP addresses sharing the same 20 bits (the prefix) with 32 – 20 = 12 bits left to number hosts within the network.

Enlarge / Approximate use of the IPv4 address space by year.
Under the new classless regime, the deployment of new IP address space slowed down to a much more sustainable pace as the Internet boomed and then busted (a little). Around the turn of the millennium, more and more people got broadband always-on connections, and a few years later the mobile era dawned, where untold millions of smartphones were continuously connected to the network, too. Surprisingly, these developments only produced a small uptick in the IPv4 address usage rate. The reason for this is probably that by now, NAT was seeing broad adoption.

Network Address Translation

Before there was Voice over IP, there was IP over the voice network; i.e., in the 1990s we used modems to encode digital data such that it could be transmitted as screeching noise over the analog phone network. (Actually, the core of the phone network was already almost exclusively digital by then.) Apart from cute noises, tied up phone lines, and mind-numbing slowness, dial-up connections had the property that a user only required an address as long as she was connected. So an ISP with 10,000 users may have had a modem bank with 1,000 modems and thus needed 1,000 IP addresses.

As dedicated ADSL or cable broadband connections became available, the notion of making a connection, doing your online business, and then disconnecting, quickly went away, and we became always-on. So now 10,000 users required 10,000 IP addresses. However, in the early days, a cable or ADSL modem was still connected to a single PC. That PC thus held the IP address provided by the broadband ISP.

It didn’t take long before people wanted to use more than just one PC with their broadband connection. ISPs were, of course, happy to provide more IP addresses—for a small extra fee. However, a cheaper solution is to share a single address among multiple computers. This is what Network Address Translation accomplishes. With NAT, computers and other IP-capable devices get an address from one of the IP address ranges set aside for private use:,, or A home router that implements NAT then translates between the internal address and the regular, public address given out by the ISP. By modifying the TCP port numbers where necessary, the NAT device can avoid conflicts between the TCP sessions from different internal systems when they’re active at the same time. (And much the same for UDP.)

The Stanford vs. China story

In articles from a decade ago that forewarned the looming predicament we find ourselves in today, it was frequently noted that Stanford University (or MIT) holds more IPv4 addresses than the entirety of China. However, by 2006, organizations in China held a total of 98 million IP addresses, nearly six times as much as MIT’s class A block. Stanford also used to have a class A block, but had returned this in 2000. Before that, the story was actually true, as China held fewer than eight million IP addresses by the end of 2000. However, China (and some other Asian countries) used up a lot of IPv4 addresses while the getting was good: about 50 million addresses a year between 2008 and 2011, for a total of 330 million today. This makes China the second largest holder of IPv4 addresses, behind the US with 1.591 billion.

Regional Internet Registries
If the numbers were reversed, both countries would have about one address per resident. But in the current situation, it’s about a quarter of an address per person in China and more than five per person in the US. In Africa, the number of addresses often dips below less than one address per ten people. Only in the US, Canada, parts of Europe, and a few selected countries, such as Korea and Australia, is the number of addresses per person larger than one. And with just over 3.7 billion usable addresses, the average for the entire planet isn’t going to be better than 1:2. Out of a possible 4.295 billion IPv4 addresses, 268 million are set aside for multicast. Another 268 million are marked as “reserved for future use,” and many operating systems don’t allow them to be used, unaware of the fact that the future has now arrived.

So what now?

In a statement to Ars, John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN, stressed the need to adopt IPv6: “This issuance of IPv4 space in accordance with global policy has been expected for some time (and will occur several more times in smaller amounts) but doesn’t change the need for ISPs and websites to move to IPv6.” LACNIC echoed that tone in its announcement: “Today, the need to deploy IPv6 is now more pressing than ever. It cannot be delayed any longer if connectivity providers still wish to meet the demands of their customers and those of new users.”

It’s true. There is no plan B. During the past 10 years, 1.6 billion IPv4 addresses have been given out. It’s inconceivable that the Internet as we know it today can continue to grow at a meaningful rate over the next decades with pretty much no new addresses being added, even as addresses are now traded. Even if no additional addresses were required, when one ISP grows and another loses business, the contracting ISP is left with a Swiss cheese-like address space full of holes while the growing one needs to find new addresses in the form of reasonably sized blocks to avoid exploding routing tables.

IPv6 is a new version of the IP protocol that increases the address length to a mind-boggling 128 bits, solving the problem, if not forever, then at least for many, many decades. Unfortunately, IPv6 is not compatible with IPv4—it only helps once everyone has upgraded. However, as Geoff Huston, chief scientist at APNIC, observes:

Yes there are some countries and some ISPs that are doing amazing things with IPv6 over the past 12 months: The United States at 7.5% continues to move quickly, as does Germany with 10%, but many many other countries appear to be sitting on their hands. LACNIC has now run out, but the level of IPv6 penetration in Brazil is 0.04%, which is better than Argentina (0.01%), or Mexico (0.02%) but not by much. 13 countries are above the average of 2.2%, while the other 190 or aren’t. Given that networking is a matter of everyone working roughly at the same thing at the same time, things are still not looking good.
These are, of course, numbers of individual Internet users that have IPv6, (almost always) in addition to IPv4; see Google’s measurements. It’s also important to get websites and other services on IPv6, but those only use a tiny number of IPv4 addresses—it’s the consumer ISPs that get the bulk of new IP addresses, which means that they’re also the first ones to run into trouble when that’s no longer possible.

And it gets worse: deploying IPv6 doesn’t solve the short-term problem, as IPv6 users can’t talk to IPv4-only services or other users who still only have IPv4 connectivity. Current operating systems can all use IPv6, but they don’t always work as expected in an IPv6-only environment. And some applications and, especially, networked devices simply don’t work with IPv6. The most notable example is Skype. All of this means that ISPs really have no other choice than to keep IPv4 running in some way for now.

NAT to the rescue—again

When broadband users couldn’t get extra IPv4 addresses from their ISPs at a price they liked, they adopted NAT. So now that ISPs can no longer get IPv4 addresses at a price they like, they’re also turning toward NAT. Of course there is a difference between a $50 home router that can handle the NATting for a single home and a NAT that can handle an entire neighborhood. These are called a Carrier Grade NAT (CGN), but they basically do the same thing. To avoid problems with the private addresses in the,, and ranges, there’s a separate semi-private address block that ISPs can use between the CGN and their subscribers: If you get an address in the range –, that means you’re behind a CGN. According to Geoff Huston, at least 3 percent of Internet users are already in that situation:

“A lot of CGNs are being deployed. Some recent work I have been doing shows that upward of 3% of IPv4 users present on a different source IPv4 address within 10 seconds—i.e. a minimum of 3% of users lie behind CGNs with relatively aggressive address lease timeouts. Secondly, a lot of shared Web hosting is being deployed. It is evidently commonplace to see upward of 10,000 Web host environments co-existing on a single host IP server address.”
ISPs are playing their cards close to the vest, but it looks like many of the ones that are planning to start rolling out IPv6 soon will be deploying IPv6 along with CGN-based IPv4 for new users. They’re reluctant to change anything for existing users, because the first rule of being an ISP is “don’t generate support calls.” Providing broadband Internet access is a very profitable business, but the profit generated by a customer evaporates faster than you can say “have you tried rebooting your router?” when said customer calls for support. ISPs that started deploying IPv6 in past years had access to enough IPv4 addresses to give users their own along with a range of IPv6 addresses. That is no longer true, or will no longer be true as soon as ISPs use up their own stashes of IPv4 addresses.

The downside of NAT is that it only works well in one direction: from the inside to the outside. When connections must be set up from the outside to the inside, such as in the case of peer-to-peer audio or video conferencing, additional logic is necessary to find a way to the right internal system through the NAT. This is bad enough when two users are both behind their own home NATs so that two NATs must be bypassed, but it gets much worse as ISPs deploy CGNs, so now four NATs can be in the path. CGNs also can’t open up ports as easily as home NATs. As long as it’s not firewalled too severely, IPv6 has none of these issues; with 2^128 addresses there is no need for NAT. So it makes sense for ISPs to deploy IPv6 along with CGN-based IPv4. However, there are still ISPs that pooh-pooh IPv6. Huston again: “The pessimistic view is that so far nothing much has broken in IPv4-land, so there is still some more time left to do nothing!”

Unless the ISPs that have been ignoring IPv6 plan to just keep their existing customers and not sign up any new ones, those ISPs are still going to be bitten by the IPv4 address exhaustion and will almost certainly be forced to deploy CGN at some point. With no pressure relief valve in the form of IPv6, all user traffic will have to flow through the CGN, which can then easily become a bottleneck and a single point of failure. As a result, the quality of service delivered by different ISPs will diverge more and more, with the ones providing unshared public IPv4 addresses as well as IPv6 doing the best and the ones using CGNs with relatively many users per public IPv4 address and no IPv6 doing the worst.

The good news is that so far, the Internet has always managed to adapt just before collapse was imminent. In the late 1980s, TCP congestion control saved the Internet from massive congestion. In the 1990s, classless interdomain routing and route flap damping kept the routers going. This time we only have to turn on a feature that’s been in our operating systems for a decade and maybe replace an aging modem or two. Call me an optimist, but I think it can be done. But only at the very last moment, of course.


Modular BladeHave you ever done something in your life for a very long time, but still have that nagging feeling that’s there’s more or you’re missing something. Then one day you do or hear something that just clicks in the brain, and suddenly, it all comes together in harmony. Then, you look back and say, how simple? How could I have not seen it from that perspective?

Last week was the world’s largest blade show, an annual event, in which Bram Frank and I do together every year. He always stays at our home, we talk and we train! We talk and we train some more. This year was different. It was as if, a different energy had entered the room. It wasn’t on the training floor that it finally happened; it was during a talk late, the night before he left. We were talking about entry points, and how Sinawali and Redondo came together. What really brought it all together was a discussion on perspective and space. Maybe he explained it differently, maybe I finally heard it, or maybe it took that much time to perceive it. I don’t know. What I do know, is suddenly, everything clicked. It was an epic achievement for me. I just really wanted to say, thank you to Bram. He has been actively studying martial arts, for over 49 years. His talent and passion for the art and his knowledge and persistence in development of his modular system and knives has saved many lives. It is used through-out the world, in law enforcement, federal agencies and military, as well as, civilians. It would take more than a small book, to list all of his accomplishments and credits.

One would think that, after so long of studying and training in the same subject/art, you would know it all. All I know is that, I don’t know. I do know for certain that continuous training and teaching is a must. It has been Bram, always telling me to teach is to learn. The knowledge is always there for the taking. I asked him, “Bram, how do you know what to teach?” You have no curriculum, etc.? He smiled, and softly said, “Teach what you feel like teaching. Teach what you know.”

Self defense, whether for yourself or your family, needs to be a priority in your life, as much as, golf, working out or any other hobby in our lives. After all, isn’t taken care of our family, our children and ourselves our top priority?

It seems as though every time, I post something about self defense and edged tool training, I will always get the occasional email or post about, why do I train so much? Or, why would I train in weapons? Best one, is why do I train at all, because I live in a fairy tale world? 🙂 That’s pretty easy for me to answer. It has happened to me, I’ve been there, done that. What I can tell you is and I’ve said it before, is that, if you train intensively, like your life depends on it, whether shooting, edged tools, self defense, etc., “If you learn intensively, how to be the bad guy, you will understand, how to defeat and defend yourself against the bad guy.”

The best part of Bram Frank’s modular training system is, it is one of the best self defense training classes you can possible receive. Its common sense self defense with a tool. It trains you to survive a close attack by using edged or blunt tools. If you think of the body as a pulley system, like a machine with cables, it will help here. CSSD teaches you to use biomechanical cutting to shut down that pulley system, not maim it: Thus keeping you out of jail. Bram has told me many times, “people say, I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6, but I don’t won’t to be tried in court. I want to come home…to my family.” When you cut and maim a person, a jury is likely not going to see it, as self defense even though it could be. That’s where perspective comes in. How do I train bad guy, good guy drills. Whenever a strike comes at you at any part of your body that is considered a kill zone, that’s a bad guy strike, you counter that with a good guy strike, at the limbs; shutting down the limb that holds the tool. It’s disarming in a literal sense. Once that is done, there are options. There is so much to learn about the human body and how it reacts. This is just a minute, but important part of modular training. Understanding perspective is a critical part of modular. Thank you again Bram and all the CSSD instructors worldwide, for believing in Bram, CSSD and the system, for taking time out of your lives to teach others and sharing the knowledge. Thank you.