Athenian Mouse

The Clout Project, what is it, and how do I use it?

The Clout Project is the email project of the non-profit organization UniForum® Chicago. Until recently, it sponsored a distributed multi-node virtual machine that not only provided name and routing services, but actually spooled and delivered mail for client machines.

The reason we provided this service, gratis, was that there was no affordable alternative for small organizations or individuals; services providers charged fees for services that were beyond the means of most such candidates.

The Clout Project filled that gap. A few years later, however, multiple Internet providers started offering service in the Chicago metropolitan area. Providing good physical coverage and rates for mail delivery and other Internet-related services that would have been impossible only a year or two earlier, these providers have effectively made the necessity for the Clout project to deliver Email obsolete. This is good; it is the kind of evolution for which we strove, and we're very glad to see that our interim service was able to carry us through until such alternatives were available.

We still have work to do, however. The Clout Project has a strong mandate to support and encourage the use of Internet-style domainist addressing (RFC 822), and does this through participation in the .us domain project. The .us domain is a fully official Internet domain specifically intended to provide a place for people whose machines might not quite fit in one of the other top level Internet domains. RFC 1480 describes some the rules governing use of the .us domain.

Clout machines are the primary domain name servers for the chicago.il.us and chi.il.us sub-domains of the .us domain. There are currently other DNS servers on other Networks and at other locations that are updated regularly from the primaries.

What this means is, you can contact us and we will register your machine in the chicago.il.us domain so that the rest of the Internet-aware world can find it.

Please note that new registrations in the chi.il.us domain were closed 1/1/97 in favor of the chicago.il.us domain. Existing chi.il.us domain will be maintained, all existing names in the chi.il.us domain are reserved in the chicago.il.us domain and users wishing to convert from chi.il.us to chicago.il.us should contact us.

Some of the advantages of being in one of the chicago.il.us and chi.il.us domains instead of the .com or .org are:

  • The Clout Project administrators will take care of the details of creating and maintaining the existence of your registry in the domain.
  • You can own an address, either personal or for an organization, that is independent of your employment, etc.
  • Ability to keep the same Email address despite switching service providers.
  • More distributed DNS servers than some providers maintain.
  • Possibility of redundant connections with different service providers. Each could spool up your mail such that if one of them failed, your mail would still get through, (except for those messages already spooled up on the failed machine).
  • No Fees are currently charged for this service or the name registry.
  • The Clout Project is currently investigating other Email and Internet related services that will be supported in the future.

    While we are a project of UniForum Chicago which is in turn the Chicago area chapter of UniForum, you don't have to be a member of either to make use of The Clout Project. However, we encourage membership in UniForum Chicago. It's inexpensive, and provides the funds we need to continue to offer such services to the community. Some other services and benefits of Uniforum Chicago do require membership, and are well worthwhile.

    For more details on Uniforum Chicago, please contact info@uniforum.chi.il.us.

    More about the .us domain:

    The .us domain is a formal Internet domain, recognized throughout the world. The release of RFC 1480 "The US Domain" has revised the members of the .us domain to include primary schools, secondary schools, City governments and State governments.

    A requirement of RFC 1480 is that your mail software have valid Internet-style addresses in the "From:" or "Return-Path" fields of the header of the messages that you send out. This may mean that you will have to modify your sendmail configuration file, if that is what you are using under UNIX, or configure your mail software to do the above.

    Administrators of The Clout Project are able to advise you concerning software acquisition, configuration, etc.

    The .us domain was intended primarily as a catch-all for the people who might not quite fit into one of the other domains. This usually means people's personal machines. However with the June 1993 revision of RFC 1480 there is no longer a restriction of how many machines can be registered in the .us domain. This opens the door for small businesses and organizations with multiple machines.

    The Clout Project is the primary authority for the chicago.il.us and chi.il.us , (though we do provide DNS name service to sites in other domains), and is responsible for administration of these sub-domains of the .us domain.

    May 12, 2013 update Several years ago, the US Commerce department gave the .US domain to Neustar to administer. They have added several requirements to the original ones in RFC1480. We have resolved the problem with Neustar, Inc, but are requiring all current domain holders to re-register so that we can verify that they are registering from a US postal address.

    Another reason, in this post 9/11/2001 world, is that they want to ensure that all .us domain registrants actually reside in the US. Requiring notarized re-registration would be a means of verifying this.

    We currently have 49 domains registered on our nameserver. We also had some domain squatters or domains registered by lawyers to prevent that, but none of those have re-registered.

    How to contact us and get the ball rolling:

    If you currently have e-mail access you can drop a note to: registration@clout.chicago.il.us

    The contact person monitoring that address will then put you in touch with one of the clout administrators who can answer your questions and set you up. If you don't have e-mail access (and that's why you want to get in touch with us), you have a few options: First, you can call one of the administrators (or the current postmaster of clout.chicago.il.us); some phone numbers are listed at the end of this document. Shortly, you will be able to submit your registration online using your Web browser.

    If you are planning on using a forwarding site not in the .chicago.il.us domain please include the Email address of the technical contact of that site so that we can verify that it is ok for your mail to flow through that site. Some of the Internet forwarding providers will then contact us for you in order to set up the name service records.

    Mike Beirne

    Steve Piette

    Jay Shachter (1-773)7613784

    The Clout Project wishes to thank Xnet Communications for providing network access to our primary nameservers.

    For questions or comments on this Web Page, please send mail to: webmaster@www.clout.chicago.il.us

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