The Internet and the FCC

On the eve of an important ruling vote at the FCC, Brad Feld has written a great piece on the subject. As he says:

There has been an enormous amount of bombastic rhetoric in the past few months about the issue that has recently become especially politicized in the same way the debate about SOPA/PIPA unfolded.


Indeed. And Feld continues on to debunk a few of the most ridiculous ideas and provides links to several other articles going into details. A worthy read.

New Servers Update

My new server at Digital Ocean is up and running. Ubuntu 14.04, with Nginx (LEMP stack).

Why Move?

It had been a while since I bothered much with my website. My interest in IndieWeb got me refocused on some interesting technical details and provided the extra push to get me moving.

A big decision came when I realized that my old web hosting company, which I had used for years, didn’t support SNI, and probably wasn’t going to anytime soon. This meant moving a few WordPress sites and a couple Rails and Flask projects, and that was going to be a bit of work. I’ve been doing *nix system administration for about 3 decades, so I wasn’t worried about getting stuck, but I also had a pretty good idea of the time and work involved.

Nerding Out

I looked quickly through the hosting recommendations at and did a little up-to-date checking of the particulars. It was a close decision, but I ended up going with Digital Ocean — partially because of their great documentation and active community.

I chose Ubuntu mostly because I had already set up a small home projects server on an old PC with Ubuntu 14.04, and it made sense to stick to the same until I had some compelling reason to do something different.

My knowledge of Apache is not up-to-date, so I was facing a learning-curve no matter what I did. And Nginx seemed to be popular for a lot of reasons that made sense for my situation. It’s light-weight, flexible and configurable, and the Digital Ocean docs seemed comprehensive on topics from basic LEMP stack setup to nitty-gritty topics like OCSP Stapling. So I dove in.

The basic setup to get the server configured, the LEMP stack in place, and my home site and main wordpress sites running took only a few hours, spread over a saturday afternoon and a few evenings. I flipped the DNS to the new server and was running.

The fancier stuff took a while longer. In calendar time, it’s been about a month, but I only worked on this a couple evenings a week.


The Results

I now have my own blog, my cooking blog, and our family site (which I created while learning a bit about BootStrap and HTML5/CSS3) all running and even getting an A+ rating on the Qualsys SSL test for all the domains.


Next Steps

I haven’t decided whether to setup my Rails and Flask experiments on this server, since I now have the little home server for that kind of thing. And I have a to finish moving the posts from an old business site into my personal site under a post category. But mostly, I’m just looking forward to getting back to this kind of writing and continuing my experiments with IndieWeb stuff.



Are your tools working for you?

Apple has released the Public Beta of Mac OS X Yosemite, and  I’m getting a lot of questions about whether one should jump in. My advice is to wait. Most of the non-developer user features I find really great in Yosemite are in the integration with iOS, all of which requires iOS 8, which you don’t have (or you wouldn’t be asking me whether to try Yosemite! Ha ha!)

But whether you’re taking my advice or not, now is a good time to think about the Apps that you use and how you work. Anytime you are considering making a major upgrade it’s a good idea to check everything that’s essential to your work (and play) and ensure that it’s going to work right. It’s also a reasonable trigger for doing some thinking about what you use and maybe trying something new.

Yosemite and iOS 8 will give you plenty of opportunity to improve your workflow and try something new. There are a lot of new capabilities in both, especially in how Apps on both platforms can work together. It will be fun to see what creative developers come up with.

But first you need to know where you are. What are your most important tools? How do you spend your time on your computer? What works well and what doesn’t? It’s a fun exercise just to make a quick list, decide what’s essential and then ask yourself what works and what doesn’t.

In my short list: 1Password works great; Dropbox works well, but there are some privacy concerns so I might look at alternatives; my combination of Scrivener, Byword, Sublime Text 3, and Pages are excellent for writing projects and other text; TextExpander, Omnifocus, Fantastical, and BusyCal all work great for me. My tools for working with Audio are great; My Python and Objective-C/Swift development environments work great.

But I’m going to have to ruminate on this a bit. I’m sure there is some blind-spot — something that’s broken, but I’m just used to it. So I’ll jot a few things down over the coming days and weeks and then consider making a few changes.

IndieWeb Update

Since joining the IndieWeb Camp a couple weeks ago, I’ve had a great time learning more and getting things setup and working on my own sites. It’s still not all where I want it, but I thought I’d do a little update.

The idea behind IndieWeb is that you own your own presence on the internet. This starts with owning your domain, and some kind of website at that domain, where you post your stuff. But you set things up so that it’s easy to post a version to whatever social site you wish, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn. This principle is called “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere” — POSSE, for short.

Then, when people post replies on those sites, those replies also show up on your own site, all pulled together in one place.

For me, this is like a kind of magic. All my stuff is on my site, and all my friends replies and comments and likes, as well. But I get that leverage and connection that today is only possible in the big social sites. Facebook has a near monopoly on “everyone”, but some people I want to reach are on Twitter, or, or LinkedIn, or Google+, so I want to be in those places, too. With IndieWeb, it’s possible, and even easy, to connect it all together.

At this point, the tools to do this seamlessly are not simple to setup — not yet something my non-techie friends are going to want to take on. But it’s getting there.


One of the best parts of the IndieWeb is the group of people creating it. My kind of nerds. It’s a high-powered group, and a friendly and helpful group, too. With a little help, I was able to get a lot of stuff setup in just a few hours.


I have the IndieWeb stuff integrated here at this WordPress blog, thanks to the nice SemPress theme and a couple plugins. While I was at it, I got https working with a real SSL certificate, and cleaned up a mess of disused and redundant Plugins. (This happens when you manage your own WordPress.)

If you’re interested in seeing this all in action, just check out the comments on my blog. Recent posts were done POSSE-style and you will see some comments coming in from other sites. To learn more of the technical details, check out

Tim Cook on Human Rights and Dignity

In November 2013, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences bestowed the IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award on Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Computer. His acceptance speech is stunning.

“Never allow the majority to limit the rights of the minority. Never allow people who fear anyone different from themselves to limit others’ human rights or deny others’ human dignity.”

He talks about gay rights, discrimination, human dignity and human rights in a beautiful and passionate way.

Not only does he use an example, close to our heart at Square Pegs, of an autistic boy finding his voice through technology, but he makes this important point about the purpose of great products:

“We design our products so they surprise and delight everyone who uses them. And we never, never ever analyze the return on investment. We do it because it is just and right, and that is what respect for human dignity requires, and it is a part of Apple that I am especially proud of.”

This is the kind of leadership technology companies need. This is why many of us got into technology in the first place — to change lives.

Bravo, Mr. Cook.

API Insanity!

I’m listening to the Google IO Keynote this morning, not really following closely, but I have it running in the background and occasionally pick up some interesting detail.

My impression so far is that it’s an wild array of capabilities, especially around improvements in APIs for developers to tie in to Maps, Google+ and other services. This is going to be fun to check out in detail.

Developers and Apple

It looks like Apple have been doing some thinking about the challenges of a growing developer community. In their fashion, they aren’t telling us much, but at least the change to WWDC ticket sales process and promised availability of session videos during the conference were good steps.

Now they have quietly announced a series of Tech Talks starting in the fall.

Enthusiasm for WWDC 2013 has been incredible, with tickets selling out in record time. For those who can’t join us in San Francisco, you can still take advantage of great WWDC content, as we’ll be posting videos of all our sessions during the conference. We’ll also be hitting the road this fall with Tech Talks in a city near you. Hope to see you there.

News and Announcements for Apple Developers

Still not much in the way of detail, but knowing Apple, there’s a whole planned out strategy behind this. I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot more about an expanded developer education and outreach program by the time WWDC is over.

Internet Identity Workshop #16

If you are interested in identity, privacy and technology, get your tickets now for the Internet Identity Conference, May 7th to 9th in Mountain View, California. Early bird tickets are available until March 18th.

IIW is one of my favorite conferences. The “unconference” format makes it an active, participatory event and many of the attendees are the people who are actually implementing this stuff. The conversations range from deep technical arguments on code and implementations to philosophical discussions about identity and pseudonymity.

Extra points if you spot me in the video:

Do people need a large, super-powerful computer anymore?

The Mac Pro is an aging platform, but it’s not clear what will replace it. It’s still a beautiful and powerful system (have you ever looked INSIDE one of those things?), but I agree that it’s sure to be replaced soon. But by what?

The clue is in Thunderbolt, the new ultra-fast connection standard Apple has adopted and that Intel is pushing on computer manufacturers. At NAMM, there were several companies showing powerful Thunderbolt peripherals, and many others quietly talking about future capabilities with this new interface.

But I think Thunderbolt will be more than just a replacement for Firewire and USB. It is a flexible and powerful interface, and very fast.

In personal computers and workstations, there are three main classes of connection between subsystems. The main processors have an extremely fast connection to memory. The graphics is connected by a slightly slower connection that is a multi-channel PCIe interface. Internal and external storage and other devices are then connected by the next class of interfaces, such as SATA, eSATA, Firewire, USB and Ethernet.

Without getting into too much detail, Thunderbolt can be described as a small external PCIe connection combined with a Display Port. A computer could have several of these, and the total I/O bandwidth available would be enough to feed most of the data transfer needs of the most demanding user. Audio and video folks are salivating over the possibilities!

Back to the Mac Pro. This is a large system. It’s huge! Multiple drive bays; multiple internal slots for video cards and other expansion. But I contend that with Thunderbolt, this kind of large monolithic system is no longer the right way to configure a top-performing computer.

When you have multiple external interfaces that are very fast, you can build a system that only contains those things that need to be inside, right next to the processor.

Think of a new class of Mac Mini — a small computer built to be a powerhouse of compute power and memory, with multiple external Thunderbolt connections for the expansion required by professionals.  If they can engineer the cooling, a very small computer, maybe only a little bigger than those external drives on my desk, could hold the processors, memory and graphics, and perhaps one system drive (likely an SSD). Everything else would be external, connected by multiple Thunderbolt ports.

What tradeoffs would they have to make to build this? Some pros would cry over the loss of internal slots. Could external slot expansion perform well enough?

Could this concept also be extended to a new Macbook Pro with multiple Thunderbolt ports? I love the idea of a light, fast laptop that transforms into a powerful workstation when connected into a desktop rig of external monitors, storage, and even specialized processing systems (maybe for audio and video).