Adding SSL/TLS with CertBot

Published 17 October, 2018

Security is essential for the modern internet. In order to ensure connections stay secure across the information superhighway, it’s a good idea to implement SSL/TLS on your web servers—even when they’re only serving mundane musings like this blog.

Secured connections require a certificate, which needs to be issued by a trusted third-party certificate authority (CA). This used to be costly and slow and required a great deal of manual jiggery-pokery. However, thanks to Let’s Encrypt, a free automated CA, obtaining certificates for SSL/TLS is now very easy indeed.

With that in mind, let me walk you through activating SSL/TLS for your web server using CertBot, an automated tool that will implement SSL and regularly update the required certificates via Let’s Encrypt.

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Writing again

Published 13 October, 2018

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on? Wow. Is it really six and a half years since my last post on here? I really need to get back on the horse.

In a recent conversation with a bunch of old web development and design friends, discussion got around to lamenting that a bunch of us seem to have stopped writing posts and articles on our personal blogs. With that in mind, I’ve decided to resurrect this old thing and start writing again.

In many ways, Matthew Pennell’s “Slight Return” post (potentially an artefact of the same conversation mentioned before) really resonated with me. I believe one reason for my being AWOL is the fact that each of my articles took a great deal of commitment. I would spend a lot of time double checking my sources, and crafting my tutorials, deeply aware of the intelligent scrutiny of my peers. Five years later, and I realise that there is just as much value in the simple personal gratification of documenting stuff I’ve been playing with, so that is probably mostly what I am going to do.

First things first, though, I need to enable some HTTPS on this baby.

Which gives me a great idea for the next post…

Eliminating Web Development Waste

Published 28 May, 2012

The concept of waste within web development might seem reasonably clear to most managers and developers, however in my experience it is something that most teams need help to identify. I’ve recently worked with a team who became exceptionally good at identifying waste and, as a result of this alongside a whole swathe of other techniques, were by far the most efficient agile team I’ve ever worked with.

Eliminating waste is the first—and most fundamental—principle of Lean Software Development; something that was introduced to me by an exceptionally talented Project Manager whom it was my pleasure to work with. Lean Software Development is a set of seven fundamental principles that really work hand in hand with agile development to improve software delivery. Those principles are: eliminate waste, amplify learning, decide as late as possible, deliver as fast as possible, empower the team, build integrity in, and see the whole. In this article I’m going to look at how we can improve our ability to identify waste and iteratively remove it from our development chain.

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Flexible Responsive CSS Grids

Published 28 March, 2012

There are many ways to build CSS column grids; all of which have their pros and cons. In fact CSS3 has begun to implement a built-in model for columns which will be most useful in the future. However, until all the browsers our users surf the interwebs with are capable of this, we’ll have to rely on the good old CSS2 tricks to do it.

For a good while I used defined width floats for my grids. This means you have to calculate the width of each column and fix it (either with pixels or something more flexible like ems or percentages). That method is flawed due to rounding errors and general problems with flow when resizing. A better method is to use a mix of floats and negative margins for positioning. When I need to create a CSS column grid, I use this method.

However, when I was recently asked to share my method—which was outlined to me by a good friend and CSS guru—I had to remind myself how to do it. These are the perils of becoming a manager and developing less. In the interests of remembering next time (and also sharing the knowledge), I’ve decided to document the method in this article.

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