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.

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