Working From Home For The First Time in 3 Years – Expect Some Writing/Open Source From Me

Like many of you I’m working from home for a while. As a mental health strategy, I’m going to do some writing and coding in the hour or so I get back each day from not having to commute.

The first post, which will follow today, will be my thoughts on working from home. I worked for home for many years and did really well at it, so I’d like to offer some thoughts about what I thought helped me.

Thankfully I never changed my office set-up so I’ve been able to slide right back into the flow of working from home. I have a better mic and a really good headset, but overall it’s the same setup I used for five years as an independent consultant.

It’s interesting, but I’d actually rather be at the office. I grew to like being downtown and since my commute is usually by bicycle, I didn’t even had the drag of traffic or crummy train service to drag me down. I’m looking forward to returning to the office as soon as we’re able. For now? I’ll be writing to connect with my fellow humans.

Filling the Void Part 1: Random Projects and SSL via Let’s Encrypt

As I mentioned last month, my last long-term project ended in December. Between the holidays and then two separate instances of thinking I had something lined up and it falling through, I’ve only been working part-time over the past few weeks. While I’d prefer to be working full time (please reach out if you’re looking for help with anything) I have made myself useful over the past few weeks with side-projects and tinkering with new technology. I figured it might be fun to go through some of what I’ve been up to. This is the first of two posts detailing what I’ve done on my “winter break.”

SSL with Let’s Encrypt

One of my favorite projects has been switching several of my domains over to HTTPS using the free certs from Let’s Encrypt. I was really excited when my long-time host, FutureQuest announced support for Let’s Encrypt, including automatic updates. I love that this free path to secure communication exists and was excited to take advantage of it when my host offered it. Paying a one-time $25 setup fee is a lot better than the cost of an SSL certificate.

I was worried about what the drive to encryption by Google and others would do to smaller web publishers and businesses. I understand the need for and heartily support encrypted communication across all channels, I just hated the idea that small-fry publishers would get punished (in search ranking, etc.) for being insecure when the cost would be prohibitive for many publishers. Let’s Encrypt removes that monetary hurdle. Great stuff.

Futurequest’s implementation was pretty easy so the only difficulty was in getting WordPress working well with SSL (all three sites so far have been WordPress.) Generally, that was okay. A clean WordPress install is fine, but once you get into a real-world installation things get icky. Every migration included at least one instance where the site in question completely blew up because of one plugin or another. The good news is I was able to work around all those issues pretty easily (deleting plugins is especially easy) and am now running up and running on HTTPS on three of my sites.

Pretty sweet.

Time for a Refresh

One of the earliest projects I worked on was a refresh of the $100,000 Club and the All Time Record Comic Book Sales SVG visualization (a scatter plot.) Both of those projects are on Angular 1 and going back and updating them several years later was a lot of fun. I’d had a few things I wanted to do with the visualization for a few years and I jumped at the chance to implement them. It’s much nicer under the hood now.

All that code is on github.

Random Projects

As the above indicates, I do a lot of comic book related research and code. I have continued to document the Edgar Church Collection and have also started to document other named comic book collections. Free data for comic book people.

I’d like to do something interesting with the Edgar Church data this year. We’ll see what I come up with.

That’s round one. Round two, with Angular 2, React and Auerlia, will drop sometime next week.

You Probably Didn’t Notice – This Site is Now HTML5

I did the conversion last week. As I’ve talked about blogs and HTML5 are so natural the whole conversion probably took no more than 8 hours. Of course, that 8 hours was spread out over a few days. Which is one of the big reasons I didn’t post anything last week. I was busy getting this site moved into the future.

I’ve now got 3 sites running on the shiny new futurespec and I can now say I officially like the new semantic elements. I also feel like I’m getting a good handle on them.
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What This is All About

Hi, my name is Rob Larsen and this is a new blog for me. I’ve decided to move all of my web technology and business of the internet writing over to one place so that people focused on that stuff can be spared the sketchbook images, movie writing and sports rambling I do over at my personal site. It’ll also allow me to go a little bit more off the rails there from time to time as people who know me from my day job will have this place to focus on.

I know what you’re wondering? Who am I? What’s this site about?

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