Archive for the 'Greg's Posts on Fedorable' Category

Keeping Private Information Secure with SSL Certificates

posted on May 29th, 2009 by Greg in Greg's Posts on Fedorable

With more and more things going wireless, security can be an issue. In a wired network you would probably notice someone trying to plug into your cable modem, but with free public wifi becoming ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget that the information you are submitting might be in plain text. And with really private information it’s always better to have that extra layer of security even at home. Since we were about to set up upgrade plans on IvyLees, I got to work on encrypting data with SSL certificates.

Firefox Blue SSL

You can usually tell that a website is secure by looking for a lock image somewhere in the browser. If you use Firefox, the area behind the website icon in the address bar will turn blue or green. The image above is from Firefox 3.5beta. They’ve added the domain name to the blue backgrounds.

There are many places that you can get an SSL certificate these days and they will work with 99% of internet browsing devices. GoDaddy, Comodo, GEO Trust, VeriSign, and Thawte being the big providers that come to mind. I spent a day researching all of the different sources to find out what would be the best value for the price. I started by looking at sites that I use frequently to see what certificate they went with and I discovered that there isn’t a big winner that everyone goes with.

With a little more research I found WhichSSL. It has a chart comparison of many of the available certificates.

Later, I found that NameCheap was giving away free SSL certificates with a domain purchase or transfer. Since I had a domain that needed to be renewed, I transferred it over so that I could try it out. NameCheap is a reseller of a few different brands of certificates and the free one was a positive ssl from comodo.

You can now go to https://ivylees.com and know that all information being transferred is secure.

Optimized for Speed

posted on May 5th, 2009 by Greg in Greg's Posts on Fedorable

News travels fast. This has always been the rule, even when fast was “on horseback.”

Now, fast is measured in milliseconds.

To keep up with our recent traffic increase, I’ve been taking steps to make the site continue to load as fast as possible. Yahoo has developed a firefox extension called YSlow. It analyzes all of the traffic from a website and gives a score on a few categories where improvements can be made.

I decided to start with making the style sheets and javascript files load faster since they are an easy target for optimization. The framework that we use for IvyLees is django and a few people have created an application that we can plug in to help us compress some files.

After setting up django-compress, a website will have css and js files that are minified (excess white space and characters are removed to reduce file size). The application will also give the files version numbers so that they can be cached by the web browser and won’t need to be downloaded again until a change is made and a new version of the file is created.

For the site, this means faster general usage. For news releases, it means they’ll load even faster– but every one after the first will be even faster than that.

We’ve also upgraded and installed some things on the server to increase performance. I’ve written about the technical details of setting up nginx, memcached, and using gzip compression over at Code Spatter, so take a look over there more tech-heavy info.

Using Sitemaps to Help Google Index new Pages

posted on April 1st, 2009 by Greg in Greg's Posts on Fedorable

Google finds new pages by following links when it crawls a currently indexed page. To get new pages showing in Google search results faster, websites can provide a sitemap.xml file that provides a link to every page on the site that should be in google’s index. In addition to that, websites can ping Google whenever the sitemap file is updated so that Google will know to check back and update its index.

We use the framework Django for ivylees.com and it provides an easy way to create sitemap files. Since the framework knows about all of our pages already, we only need to add a little bit of code to tell it how to generate the sitemap.xml file for us automatically. Django also makes it simple to ping google when there are updates.

With django we were able to make it as simple as possible for google to index new news releases as soon as possible.