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Updated certificate authority
10 Jun

Updated certificate authority

Just a quick announcement. This week I released an updated certificate authority. All my services are now signed using this new authority.

The reason for this is purely maintenance. Since I released my last authority there have been concerns and then active attacks against certificates using a sha1 hash.

So as security changes over time I felt it was time to improve my own security and my new certificates all make use of the more robust sha256 hashing algorithm.

As before, if you are not using any of the secure services offered by NxFIFTEEN – email, chat etc – there is no need for you to install this updated authority.

Software Society Email problems – Resolved
27 Mar

Software Society Email problems – Resolved

Fan-bloody-tastic! I’ve been trying to work out why emails to the Software Society have been falling over the last few weeks and finally I’ve worked it out!

The lesson to take away from it is, never let someone on the other side of an IT support desk do anything for you that’s mission critical.

All my domains are hosted thru 123-Reg who act as my registrar, and have done for years. I’ve never had to use their support desk in the past and found the service perfect for my needs. Recently one of the servers I was using as an alternative DNS Nameserver was being shutdown so I duly made alternative arrangements and went to update my registrar only to be greeted with errors. Unfortunately I was, and still am, unable to update the registrar nameservers for any domain ending in .uk.

Not to concerned I contact support and ask them to update my nameservers to a.ns.nxfifteen.me.uk, b.ns…., c.ns…. and d.ns…. within a few hours I had a response saying it had all been taken care of.

Fast forward a few weeks and emails are starting to fail, a quick check of my ISP nameserver shows no problem but on a whim I check with Google’s and low and behold the domain no longer has any DNS records!

I will leave aside the long and tedious story of how I spent hours trying to find the problem and checking the DNS server configuration files and skip right on to checking my registrar was returning the right details, as you probably guest it wasn’t. My friendly request to the support desk had resulted in my new nameservers being listed as ns1.nxfifteen.me.uk, ns2., ns3. and ns4. which are not A records on my domain.

Rather than going back through support to fix this, I still cant change them using the admin panel, I’ve resorted to adding these new domain records to my DNS. This can take 24-48 hours to propagate across the net, and as of writing Google’s DNS hasn’t updated, so please be patient with me a little longer. The problem has been resolved, I’m just waiting on it to filter through.

My New Php Fitbit Library is Complete
20 Mar

My New Php Fitbit Library is Complete

ast month I announced I was working on a write of my Drupal/Fitbit module to allow it to run independently of the Drupal framework. What I wanted was a application that would allow me to do everything I was doing before even in a static HTML site – In just over a month and more than 180 commits that’s what I’ve achieved.

My new application is completely separate from the HTML site, meaning it can have its own database and run its own analysis on historical data held there (since Fitbit has an API limit making direct call every time you want to know many any steps you took last week is inefficient, and if the site got heavy load could lead to no getting anything out of the API for an hour or so).

Results from my API are all delivered thru JSON return block that can then be processed using Javascript on directly within the browser. Since the JSON is delivered thru my caching proxy there is very little load on the server, but as an added step each JSON block is cache within the file directory so where there have been no changes this can be sent back instead of rerunning any database queries.

You can see the full API in action on my health section but it supports seven main section

As before the source code will be released and an OpenSource project, but before I do I still have to write an install script and some form of admin UI because at present to get the code up and running you need to spent more time in the MySQL database than is healthy.

If you really can’t wait though drop me a line in the comments section bellow or over the feedback form and I can sort our some early access for you

Work started on a new PHP Fitbit library
16 Feb

Work started on a new PHP Fitbit library

Last year I spent a few months building my own Drupal module for Fitbit. All in the middle did everything I wanted from it, pulling all my stats into a database and producing the reports and stats I wanted most.

Problem is, I am not using Drupal anymore. As I’ve talked about before this site is pure HTML built using Node.js. So the site only needs rebuilt when I add or remove content but since information from Fitbit is as close to real time as makes no difference I’ve struggled to think of a way to reinstate the functionality I’d come to rely on – without rebuilding the site every couple of minutes.

I’m comes JavaScript. I’m in the process of rewriting the original Drupal module in a standalone PHP application. At present I’m goal is simply to reinstate the previous code. I already know there are new features available and Fitbit have improved some of their others APIs with more features and data sets, not to mention a host of coding bugs and better ways to do things but it’s best to work on one thing at a time.

Once the hard work has been done I’ll work on getting the information out of the database and to display it here again, then I’ll look at the arm long list of issues I’m sticking in GitLab.

As before I’m planning to realise the full source code on github.com, but I’d like to get the code at least functional first, if you cant wait of course drop me a note in the comments below and ill give you access to the code now.

From CMS To HTML
08 Dec

From CMS To HTML

As your can see for yourself I’ve rebuilt the site, again. I’ve code named this new iteration Alpe d’Huez, but it’s really version 8.

So NxFIFTEEN Alpe d’Huez, what’s the point? I’ve washed my hands of CMS installations. I started blogging almost from day one and used WordPress 1.0 then at some point switched to Drupal 5. The thing is, this site is so parse on content the over head of dynamically building pages for every visit isn’t required.

Over the years the requirements from my hosting provider has been steadily creeping up to get better and better performance from the site. At its worst, just part weekend, my Drupal home page took almost 80 seconds to load. That’s after implementing varnish and boost. For a site I update infrequently at best static HTML is perfect, so that’s what I went out to produce.

A long story short I’ve decided to use hexo.io which is a NodeJS static site generator. It works by combining markdown flavoured text file and a ejs tagged template file into static HTML that can then be distributed anyway that makes sense to you. The biggest advantage here for me, is since everything is now static it can all kept and managed with Git. Plus since I separated the source code and markdown files into two repositories I can also keep a copy of the content on my phone without without the rest of the JavaScript

Possibly the biggest reason for looking at a Node.js solution was that is not written in PHP. I’m not against PHP like some, it’s a language I’ve been using since 1998 and it’s always served me well, but it’s time I learnt something new and node.js is really not just now.

So that’s my introduction to NxFIFTEEN. As you can imagine the transition took time and there were a lot of obstacles to surmounted but I’ll save them for other posts.

Scheduled Server Downtime – June Fri 18th…
30 Nov

Scheduled Server Downtime – June Fri 18th…

Preamble

Regular users of NxFifteen will be aware I tend to give little or no warning about service downtime. In most cases this is because the setup I use is working the way it should and needs no messing with, but things go wrong and I scrabble to get everything back up and running. This time is different.

On Friday the 18th of July i am predicting an extended service outage. At the moment I can’t predict how long this will last, all I can do is assure you I will be working over the weekend to restore service and reduce the unavailability as much as I can.

Why is this happening

My upstream host, Bytemark, will be physically moving my server from Leeds to York. This is to allow them to continue providing the best service available.

That said, it was still my choice to allow them to do this and i set the date of my move.

What will be affected

Everything. The physical machine is being moved so it will be turned off and any service running on it will be unavailable.

This includes: emails, websites, jabber chat, nx15.at shortened links and the OpenPGP Key server.

How long will this last

I don’t know. Expect everything to be back online by the end of the weekend, but at this time i can offer no guarantee.

My priorities are email then websites and after that everything else.

I can’t keep you update from here, but i will post to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook as service returns of delays continue.