Quick thoughts about Let’s Encrypt

So I just switched over from StartSSL to Let’s Encrypt for all of Syn Fin dot Net’s SSL needs and wanted to give a few thoughts about the process:

It’s a very different experience getting up and started. I’ve used a variety of SSL CA’s for work and personal use and Let’s Encrypt is the first I’ve seen to so fully automate things. This has some pros and cons, but overall it’s much quicker and easier to get up and running with Let’s Encrypt then StartSSL (which honestly isn’t saying much) or most other CA’s. The downside of this is that the process is so different that you actually have to read the docs rather then just following the prompts, but having to RTFM is a small price to pay for a free SSL cert IMHO.

Let’s Encrypt (just LE for short) is also the first CA that limits their certs to 90 days. They claim that 90 day certs are becoming more common, but none of the CA’s I’ve ever used in the past even offer that as an option. Kinda annoying, but not a deal breaker considering how automated renewing certs are.

LE only offers domain validated certs (ie: no extended validation) which is fine for personal use, but it’s a little odd that there’s no requirement for any ownership information other then an email for contact purposes. For some use cases this makes a lot of sense, but I’d actually like people to know I own this domain (as long as they don’t spam/junk mail me).

LE’s automation makes it easy to get up and running quickly- if your needs adhere to their tool’s limitations. I ended up having to tell Nginx to serve up http://mail.synfin.net so I could get an SSL cert for Postfix. Lucky for me, my mail & web server are the same box so this was easy, but for most organizations this becomes a real pain.

My biggest feature request right now would allow the the letsencrypt-auto script listen on arbitrary ports and not just TCP/80 and TCP/443 to make it even easier to setup.


GPX Pro Review Part 2

This is an update for my original XT Racing GPX Pro Review.

First, let me say that the reliability problems I had in the past with the screen seem to have been solved. It’s been nearly three full years and the screen is still working just fine. That said, having some more time with the GPX Pro, I’ve got a few more thoughts:

First, XT Racing’s customer support has continued to be awesome. I’ve emailed them about a number of issues and they’ve been really good about providing me help and general advice.

That said, having spent more time with the software and continuing to learn about analyzing the data, there are some limitations with the GPX Pro if you want to get really serious about your data analysis. If you haven’t yet read up on the subject, I highly recommend Andrew Trevitt’s DataMC for a good introduction to data acquisition and analysis.

Simply put, I’ve come to learn that the XT Racing software is easy to use, but rather limited. Continue reading


XT Racing GPX Pro Review

Note, this is a review of the first generation GPX Pro, not the current GPX Pro4/8 units- however, much of this review should apply to both units.

Overall, I’m in love with the GPX Pro- it’s a great cost effective solution for capturing and analyzing data while you are driving or riding (all my tests were done on my SV650 race bike). The unit is easy to install, use and surprisingly easy to read, even in strong sunlight- probably due to it’s use of a grey-scale LCD display rather then a color display that is used on laptops and iPads. The software “GPX Studio”, is also easy to use and has tons of great information, but unfortunately Windows only (no plans on a OSX or Linux port, but it works great under VMWare/Parallels). I really learn a lot by looking at my brake markers and corner speed.
Continue reading


Great idea, bad example

So a buddy of mine at work (thanks Mike!) sent me this cool link about how to use real math to measure the complexity of user interfaces. I read the article (feel free to go read it now) and I loved the idea of quantitatively measuring the effort required to use a UI to determine how simple it is.

While I think Aza is on the right track, I’d like to point out how the devil is in the details and how hard it is to map theory to practice. Continue reading


Stopping wordpress spam bots

I was having a big problem for a few months with spam bots registering user accounts on my blog. Generally, the bots would register accounts assuming (incorrectly) my anti-spam software was more likely to let their comments if they came from a registered account. As you might imagine, this gets pretty annoying pretty quickly. Continue reading


Free your mind

So I’ve just got into this whole mind-mapping thing. Mind maps are basically a way to organize thoughts and take notes in a graphical form, where you break things up into simple and short comments and link them together in a graph. The same hierarchy can of course be represented in the same way using nested bullet points, but the visual representation of the mind map really is more intuitive and makes your thoughts much easier to digest mentally. Continue reading