Internet

Stunnel & Apache (Invalid method in request x80gx01x03)

Here’s a really quick post about an issue I’ve encountered recently when using stunnel to connect through to Apache via HTTPS.  I set up the connections and then tried to view the end-point using ‘links’ (https://localhost) and received an SSL error. The apache logs listed:

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Invalid method in request x80gx01x03

The stunnel config that I was using looked something like this

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[web]
accept=443
connect=someserver.com:1234 # Apache SSL listing on a non-standard port
cert=/path/to/my/cert.pem

It turned out to be a really simple fix. Because I was connecting to stunnel using SSL it was being encrypted by my browser then encrypted by stunnel. At the other end it was being decrypted by stunnel and then left with my original browser encrypted data which Apache couldn’t do anything with and couldn’t understand the request.

The fix was to simply change the config to:

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[web]
accept=80
connect=someserver.com:1234 # Apache SSL listing on a non-standard port
cert=/path/to/my/cert.pem

Then test the connection via ‘links http://localhost’ and let stunnel handle the encryption and certificate negotiation on its own.

An end to the importance of domain names?

Don’t worry about the title, I’m not proclaiming and end to domain names altogether, but I’m noticing a new trend in the way websites are advertised in the mainstream media. 

There have been a number of adverts on TV that publicise a search term rather than the URL of a site.  The most recent advert that I’ve seen is for the Madeleine Peyroux album Bare Bones, which asks viewers to search “who is she” for more details. There’s also the advert for the More 4 pub quiz where they say “search online for more4 pub quiz” at the end of the advert (the video is below).

There’s been a few other adverts too, including government adverts for services, and health care. 

I think this is an interesting trend, and shows that companies are starting to realise that having the perfect domain isn’t the most important factor in having a strong web presence. After all just because you have a great domain for your product or service doesn’t mean people are going to know about it. People use search engines every day to find things online, and that’s certainly nothing new, so companies are starting to realise how important search engine optimisation really is. 

The trend towards advertising a search term rather than a domain adds a new twist. In traditional SEO you would identify what search terms people use, and then adjust the content of your website accordingly, in effect you take your website to your potential visitor. But larger companies are now advertising the search term, and creating the popularity and driving traffic towards an already optimised site, for what would otherwise be a mediocre search term.

There’s also the factor of the human memory. Take for example the Madeleine Peyroux website, if I had seen the advert and they advertised, say, madeleinepeyroux.com then I wouldn’t have a clue how to spell it, and would probably  struggle to locate the site. But advertising with the term “who is she” is nice and simple and easy to remember, so chances are I’ll actually find the site I’m looking for.

This isn’t the first time where people have taken an ‘unpopular’ search term and created hype around it to drive traffic. A few years ago somone did just that with the term “miserable failure“, which gained a lot of popularity. That was mainly for a joke, but we’re starting to see commercial companies taking the same approach.

In principle it works, you take an unpopular search term, and create the popularity, but it has it’s down sides. For a start you have to be a fairly large company to have access to the kind of media coverage that’s required to create the popularity in the first place, although it won’t be long before we start to see some kind of guerrilla marketing campaign that achieves the same result. There’s also the issue of SEO itself, you always run the risk that someone else with have a better search engine rank than you. Which undoes all of your hard work in generating the popularity in the first place and could quite easily direct traffic to a competitors website (if it’s better optimised than yours), meaning you’ve spent hard earned money and someone else is reaping the rewards.

This could be the achelies heel in this kind of marketing, but it will be interesting to see if advertising in the mainstream press starts to move away from domain names in favour of search terms.

Twitter

twitter_logo_headerI’ve decided that it’s time to get back on to Twitter. I used to use it about a year ago, and had the username ‘jb’ but decided to give it up as I wasn’t using my account. I’ve just added my twitter posts to the sidebar of the site, but if you use twitter then feel free to follow me, and drop me a message every now and again…

Sony just don’t get it…

Music Pass CardsThis has to be one of the stupidest stories I’ve read for a while. Sony BMG have finally decided to catch up with their competition and start selling DRM free music. The downside is that you have to go into a store and buy a “Platinum Music Pass” that contains a download code, before you can download your album from MusicPass.com!

I would love to say that Sony are stupid and that they’ve messed up, but I think it’s more likely to be a calculated move. As TechCrunch say, when Sonly BMG fail to sell a large quantity of DRM free songs via this system, they can claim that there’s no demand for DRM free music, and go back to selling DRM protected ones.

It’s a shame that Sony are so short-sighted, most of the music I buy online is done on impulse; I decided to get a new album and within a few clicks the download has started, I’m sure the majority of others buy music on impulse too. If I have to go to a shop to buy a card with a code then I’ll just look for similar music from their competitors that’s sold without DRM.

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If you are looking for legal DRM free music then check out 7digital or Amazon MP3 (USA only for now).

Photo Matt

I know what you’re thinking… My fourth blog post this week ‘he must be bored’. We’ll that’s not true, kind of!

I just clicked a random link in my WordPress News dashboard and found Photo Matt, I haven’t really had chance to read any of the content but the design of the header really stood out as an excellent piece of design.

Photo Matt Homepage

 It makes me want to do some actual design work on this blog, I guess I’ll tag it under ‘inspiration’

I’ve finally caught up with the 21st century!

BT Openworld Router (Grey Background)Believe it or not, I’m finally writing the post from home, using a broadband connection! I’ve been waiting to get broadband installed for three years, but the local infrastructure couldn’t support ADSL on our line (for those interested, BT installed fiber cabling rather the copper, so they had to overlay copper).

It’s great to be online at the same time as the rest of my family, and not have to wait until the phone line is free before I can get online!

Maybe I’ll be able to get around to updating this blog a bit more often now.

Microsoft vs Adobe (the new ‘Expression’ suite)

Microsoft Expression Web LogoIt looks like Microsoft have officially settled on the name for their new suite of creative web applications, called ‘Expression‘, and they seem to have Adobe in their sights.

One of the products (Expression Web) went on sale on Amazon.com on 4th December, but at the moment it’s only available to pre-order for $269.10, or if you’re lucky enough to have Frontpage, then you can upgrade for $89.96 (the best $89.96 you’ll ever spend if you ask me!).

The suite contains four products:

Expression Web is already shipping, and according to the website “is a professional design tool to create modern, standards-based sites which deliver superior quality on the Webis a professional design tool to create modern, standards-based sites which deliver superior quality on the Web“. I’m not entirely sure if this is a direct replacement of Frontpage but it claims to have “A sophisticated CSS rendering engine” which would be a welcome step towards a standards based design application, it will be interesting to see how IE6 handles the standards based code.

Microsoft Expression Web Interface

Expression Blend, according to the website, “is the professional design tool to create engaging web-connected experiences“. Sound familiar? Although the site talks a lot about designing user interfaces, so it could be a prototyping application for designing web-interfaces before they’re implemented, rather than developing rich media applications, similar to how designers use Adobe Fireworks to layout a website.

Microsoft Expression Blend Interface

Expression Design is Microsoft’s new vector illustration tool. It’s a brave move considering the dominance of products like Adobe Illustrator (in the web market at least).

Microsoft Expression Design Interface

Expression Media is a digital asset management tool and an enhancement to their existing iView MediaPro package (which they acquired earlier this year). It promises to offer ‘effortless organization’, workflow integration, image and video editing, and presentation capabilities, from within a single application. It seems like a direct competitor to Adobe Bridge. According to the website (and the screenshots) this is/will be Mac compatible.

Microsoft Expression Media Interface

My initial thoughts on the Expression Suite are obvious, why compete against the likes of Adobe? After some thought I realised there are a lot of people developing ASP.NET applications using Visual Studio, and the Expression Suite will fill the obvious design void for those users.

A little spring clean

I’ve decided it’s time to do something about the design of this blog, so I’ve knocked together a new design, as you can see (unless you’re reading this post in an RSS reader, in which case head over to the site and take a look).

Don’t get too excited tho, it’s a very (very) simple design. I’ve decided to stick to the motto “content is king” and not get distracted with a site that looks stunning (besides most people read things in RSS readers anyway).

There’s still a few areas that need some work, but the main parts are up and running, like comments, archives, categories, pages etc. I’ll get around to fixing the rest over the next few days.

Feel free to post comments with your thoughts and suggestions.

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