HTTPS Redirects Must be Above Everything Else in .htaccess

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology on | No Comments

Recently I purchased and installed an SSL/TSL certificate for this website. Besides wanting to benefit from the security aspects of the installation, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Of course, CPanel, a common control panel on shared web hosts, makes it fairly simple.

So I bought the cert, got it installed successfully, set up the 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, enabled HSTS for so that all page loads are served by TLS, and even went through the tedious task of converting all image source attributes to be served securely. However, I noticed something odd. When I went to try out my redirect, I noticed that articles and second-level pages like the About the Author page would not redirect when I tried to access them from the HTTP protocol. The homepage redirected, but nothing else.

I was baffled because everything I read said it was done correctly. Then I read that HSTS doesn’t work on the initial page load unless you apply for the pre-load program offered by browsers. It takes months to get on the approved list, though, and who has that kind of time where major hacks are now a monthly event? Granted, TLS and HSTS won’t prevent the hack of an insecure piece of software, but I can at least ensure a secure connection for any visitors. In any case, it still didn’t make sense that it would be an HSTS issue, since a redirect should just forward the user to the specified URL format every time. My redirect from www to non-www worked, so why not this?

I finally figured it out tonight. The HTTP to HTTPS redirect must be above everything else in .htaccess. At the very least, it must be above anything not having to do with redirect. In my case, I’m employing a caching plugin to enable gzip and other features, which also modifies .htaccess. For whatever reason, redirect on second-level pages will not work unless the redirect directive is the first one.

I couldn’t find this solution anywhere else, so I hope it helps anyone who might be in the same boat.

 

SNL VP Debate

Posted by Mike Merritt in Humor, Technology, Videos on | No Comments

The crew at Saturday Night Live has, I think, outdone themselves again.  If the Palin/Clinton speech and Couric interview skits were comedy gold, their take on the VP debate went to a whole new level.  They parodied both Biden and Palin mercilessly.

 

Will Google Video Die?

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology, Websites on | No Comments

As an avid uploader to YouTube during the school year, Google Video was of little interest to me.  I’ve uploaded one video to there, but only because they accept videos that are longer.  Then ten-minute time limit was imposed after I first signed up for YouTube, and thus my first account is grandfathered.  However, when I went to go sign up for TV 22’s account, I found it imposed.  I was a little angry, but worked around it.

So, I was interested to see this article: Why Won’t Google Video Just Die? on Wired.com.

The basic premise is that YouTube might be bringing back longer video times, as its testing it out right now.  I hope they do, since 10 minutes if often not long enough.  And I can see why people don’t like Google Video: no way to collect videos under one user account, so people can see who owns what.

 

The AP vs. The Blogosphere

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology, Websites on | No Comments

Man oh man, there’s a bunch of things I want to talk about this week, but first one of the foremost issues in my mind as of this point.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and in this case you may have been), the Associated Press wants to charge people for using excerpts of their content.

The Associated Press, having already announced its intention to harass bloggers who publish snippets as short as 39 words from AP stories, has now published a web form through which intimidated parties can give the AP money in return for “permission” to publish as few as five words.

At the heart of the debate is the age old concept of fair use.  Copyright law in the U.S. protects fair use.  Basically it says that someone can’t go suing you just for using small portions of their works.  For example, you can claim all rights reserved on everything you write, but people still have the right quote small excerpts of that work.  Fair use law is really murky as there are not set concrete limits as to what exactly can be quoted or copied.

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Digital Television

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology, Television on | No Comments

As I’ve surfed the Internet these past months, I’ve noticed a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding being spread about the switch to DTV. It’s really a shame, since the switch is government-ordered, yet they have barely taken the time to inform the public until very recently. So, to hopefully clear a few things up, I’ve decided to explain a few things. I’ll present it in FAQ style:

  • What is DTV?
    • DTV stands for Digital Television. There are several kinds of digital television, such as digital cable, but the switchover next year concerns the type that will be broadcast over-the-air. Over-the-air digital television is sent using digital signals rather than the traditional analog signals.
  • How will the switchover affect me?
    • That’s just it…it may not. The people who should pay the most attention are those still getting their TV over-the-air. Many people this day in age get their TV via cable or satellite service. They don’t need to worry (well, probably not, see below). Those who need to worry most are the people who are using a big ‘ol antennae on top of their house or rabbit ears connected to their TV.
  • Ok, so I’m one of those people. What do I need to do?
    • Well, it depends on when you got your current TV. If it was in the past couple years, you should be set. All TVs in the past couple years were legally required to have digital tuners built in. Check your TV’s manual to see if this is the case. If it does, you’re all set, ready to join the digital revolution. If this is not the case, your manual should notify you. In some cases, you’ll probably know your TV is pretty old.If this is the case, you will need to buy either a new TV, or a digital tuner box. Now, you can probably find a decent TV with a digital tuner, but they are becoming more rare, with the industry focus on HDTVs. You could also buy an HDTV, if you have the money. Otherwise, or if you don’t want to buy a new TV, you will need a digital tuner box. Basically, the box converts the digital signal coming into your antennae into an analog signal before it reaches your television. It’s essentially the external equivalent of what all new TVs have.Need help buying a converter box? This past January, the federal government started offering a coupon program. Go to the government’s DTV website for information on how to sign-up for the program.
  • So, will I get HDTV quality with this converter box thing?
    • Not necessarily. If it so happens you have an HDTV and are using it with DTV, that’ll be the case. However, I do believe that most people who have an HDTV will already have HD service through their cable or satellite provider. However, you’ll also be able to pick up DTV signals (with an antennae), and see them in HD. Standard definition televisions will get a better picture, because the DTV signal if all or nothing, with no grey, snowy area in between. However, you will not get HD quality.
  • You said earlier if I was on cable, I may need to pay attention. Why?
    • This is a possibility. Cable services are not mandated to go digital like over-the-air broadcasts are. However, some cable companies may take it upon themselves to go digital, in which case you’d probably need a converter box from that company. However, this is something you will need to check with them about. My guess is that most will probably keep their analog services, meaning that you’ll only need your trusty coax cables. Digital cable services are definitely getting more popular, but I don’t think they’ve reached the mainstream yet where cable companies are going to entirely abandon the old basic cable plans. However, don’t take my word for it. They’re the final say on this.

There. I hope I was a little bit helpful on this whole transition thing. If anybody has further questions, feel free to post it, and I’ll find out what answer I can, or redirect you to a more proper channel (no pun intended), if I cannot.

For all the information above, the DTV converter box sign-up, and more, visit http://www.dtv2009.gov

 

The Returns

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology on | No Comments

Now that I’ve gotten to see the return of some shows, I’ll talk about them.  First Stewart and Colbert, then I’ll be brief on Stargate, since it is late.

I enjoyed both shows tonight, but I’ve gotta say, I think Colbert did better off the cuff than Stewart did.  Don’t get me wrong, Stewart had a great show, but the Report just seemed to flow a lot better tonight.  Maybe it’s because Colbert actually plays a character, whereas Stewart more or less plays himself.

Also, I was impressed that Colbert was able to extend the act longer than Stewart did, though I’m not going to count the three straight minutes or so of clapping.  Maybe it I don’t, then Colbert’s actual content time equals out Stewart’s.  I also noticed that Colbert’s show seemed to go into the next hour by a couple minutes, which I found strange.  Not sure why that happened.  But, assuming Colbert started right at 11:30, you can’t miss the fact he didn’t start his interview until 11:51, whereas Stewart’s started at about 11:15.  That gives him slightly more content time, if you don’t count the excessive clapping.

I really enjoyed the cross-over, where Colbert parodied David Letterman’s ridiculous beard (which I guess he shaved off tonight).  Overall, I think the even though they had no written content, Colbert beat our Stewart tonight by a small margin.  I think tomorrow and Wednesday will help then though.  It’ll be a day where no written content is really needed, because any video content of the candidates will surely help them out.

Alright, going to do Stargate on the flip, as to not anger the masses.  See you there, or if you don’t watch it, I’ll see you tomorrow for my New Hampshire primary report.

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Electronic Disappointment

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology on | No Comments

Though I didn’t exactly find it unexpected, I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of choice in DVD Recorders with Hard Drives. I think the main reason is that DVRs from the cable and satellite companies beat them out, but I still thought there might be more out there.

Phillips has a model out that’s decent, although it lacks an electronic programming guide or an IR Blaster (which changes the channel for you). So, you’re essentially stuck changing the cable box channel yourself.

Then, that’s it. There’s a couple others out there, but they’re either not available or extremely expensive. Panasonic was in the lead for a while with the systems, but then they withdrew from the market. I wasn’t too happy to see that, since they make a great product.

So, I guess the Philips will have to do. I had contemplated going the cable company DVR route, but then my DVD/VCR combo went on the blitz. The VCR went before the semester even began, and then the DVD started going about halfway through. So, I need something to play DVDs. Getting this system will also allow me to record to DVD shows I’d like to keep.

So, I’m off to bed, to wake up tomorrow to go shopping for the one I want.

 

I’m Lovin’ It

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Technology on | One Comment

That is, I’m loving my new computer.

NO audio issues, for one. I could deal with any of my other needs and/or wants if only my other computer wasn’t having such crappy ass audio. I mean, I guess I could live with it, but it wasn’t only the audio. Whatever the issue was was causing whatever video might be playing (if any) to freeze momentarily whenever the audio popped/scratched/whatever. It was just annoying.

There’s other benefits, too, though. No more do I have to worry about the whole Express Card issue, since this computer includes Firewire ports! As you can see from below, they’ve come in useful. And besides that, after unsuccessfully trying to to capture that video with USB, I now fully understand why USB isn’t used in the video production field.

Besides that, the new computer is faster, with more memory and faster processor, so that should help a bit. It’s certainly give me some more latitude over choosing which editing program I’ll eventually use. As for that option, I’m not going to go for a high-end solution, but keep with something that’s decent, but not Movie Maker craptastic. It’ll probably end up being Adobe Premiere Elements. I’d like to get Pro, but that’d require a sound and video card that are not built in.

Now off to the flip side (of my TV/computer monitor) to watch Stewart and Colbert.

 

The Essentials

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Technology on | No Comments

Any proper move requires the mover to pack the essentials – thing they require when going to a new home. You know, things like shampoo, soap, your bedding. Can’t forget about food either. Then there’s entertainment stuff like your TV, VCR, and computer. So, when moving back up to campus, I definitely had everything…or thought I did.

I had most of my stuff, including my computer. Then, as I was feeling around my suitcases, I realized something: I forgot an ethernet cable to connect to the Internet! Yes, in my rush to not need to pack anything else after getting home from a family function last night, I forgot an essential. How was I to do homework, check my email, forums, or dare I say it…blog on Dymersion? Well, I can do the latter three with mobile web on my enV, but it’s easier to do on a computer, see?

Well, when I went out with a friend, I made a pit stop to the building where the IT helpdesk is, but it wasn’t open today. Luckily, my roommate had to go home, because he forgot his as well, and had a spare. It’ll suffice until tomorrow when I can get up there. When I went to the bookstore, I noticed that the rack with ethernet cables was nearly empty. Fools! They can get one for free, and they skip off to the bookstore instead! Ack! Silly things…

On a side note, I’m getting angry because I keep putting my cursor in a different position, because I’m using my laptop’s trackpad. I forgot my mouse as well, so I’m forced to use this for four days. Four days of randomly moving cursor horror!

Anyway, time to eat.

P.S. Also just realized I forgot my box of Eastern Expedition tapes.  I really am an idiot!  Luckily I’m going home this weekend.

 

**** Dell, Part 2: The Save (?)

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Technology on | No Comments

We’ll see what happens with this, but I may have gotten all my problems solved. (Pre-Script: I knew I said I was going to talk more about corruption from both political parties today, but it’ll have to wait).

As you may remember, I recently ranted about Dell’s idiotic decision to put an Express Card slot in my laptop, rather than the older but more popular PCMCIA (PC Card) slot.  Ever since then, I’ve been considering my options.  I could:

A) Suck it up and get the vastly more expensive Express Card (Like $50 at cheapest for IEEE 1394a EC compared to like $13 retail for 1394a PC Card).  This is my least preferable choice.

B) Get a new laptop that has a PC Card slot or Firewire built in.  I’d been considering either buying my own (it’d be an Apple or a high end Dell in this case) or seeing what my dad could do for me.  It so turns out that my dad has a laptop in that has a PCMCIA slot, which would help me out a lot.  However, it’s not much better than my current computer.  Still, it’d fix both my problem of needing a PCMCIA slot and maybe have an actual properly working sound card.  This is my next preferable option, and the one I was going to pursue until tonight.

C) Leave the world of laptops behind and get a desktop.  I’d also been considering this, comparing Mac and high end Dell desktops.  They’re cheaper for one thing, and generally, desktops work a lot better for video editing.  Making it even better though, my dad just got traded a Sony Vaio desktop in lieu of his usual diagnostic fee.

Now, see how fate favors Lord Merritt (sorry fellow Harry Potter fans, couldn’t resist modifying that quote).  Not only does the computer have 1 gig of the best memory out there (Crucial), but it also is a 2.4ghz P4 (I’m using a 1.4 Celeron at the moment).  It also has a DVDRW/CDRW drive (which I’ve wanted for a while since I started getting too much music).  But, that’s not the best thing, and I think you know what’s coming.  It also has Firewire ports!  One 6 pin in the back, and a 4 pin in front.  That’s absolutely fantastic!  Interestingly, it also has an optical output, meaning I could hook this thing up to my living room’s receiver.

The only thing I’m a little worried about is that the guy says he has had to bring it in for repair 3 times this year.  And the fact that this last time (why it was in to us) was because of a failed Hard Drive.  But, my dad says he’ll put in a 160 or 250gb drive in it if I want it.  (Damnit, writing this makes me want it even more).

I already sort of have a monitor in the way of my 15-inch flatscreen TV.  So it’d perhaps be a bit of an unusual monitor, but it’d work.  No, it wouldn’t be a laptop, but who cares?  I’ve never actually brought my laptop to classes or anywhere else on campus, so an actual desktop would work fine for me.

Yea, think I’m going with this desktop.  I’ll need to get a 4 pin to a 4pin firewire cable now, but they’re cheap enough.  Thanks broken repair computers!

 

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