Category Archives: morelight

DreamHost is making my life way more complicated

Argh – normally I like everything DreamHost does. They had a history of just making my life easier over time. Their plan was simple: unlimited email and storage for your website, a reasonable price.

But now, for the second time, they are taking away a feature that I use heavily! DreamHost is killing catch-all emails! This is terrible for me.

The short version: I own this domain and I get or send email from from anything@morelightmorelight – so honeybooboo@morelightmorelight gets to me and I could send you a mail from DarkCrushingVoid@morelight… This is fun, but where it is really useful is in dealing with all the damn signups online.

Everyone online wants you to sign in or sign up! The reason why isn’t always that they love you and want you to be a member, it is sometimes that they want to track you and sell your details to other businesses. Imagine that! Sometimes they are nice but they just don’t have great security and someone steals your email address from them. That’s how you get all that spam!

Stop for a minute and give Have I Been Pwned a check for your email address. Yeah.

The emails I use for talking to people I love and care about don’t show up here. For example:
Image showing that my primary email hasn't been in a data breach
But when I am forced to register with a service, I just make up an email address with their name in it and I make up a password just for them. When they get breached by hackers, they hackers can’t use that email or password on other services to get into more stuff. For example:
Image showing that an email and password associated with adobe was stolen from the adobe servers

The password with adobe and the the email address are disposable to me.
I filter out emails from places that have been breached by hackers.

And all is good! I have unique emails per place to log in, I have unique passwords per place to log in, and I have a way to respond to data breaches. But now, DreamHost is turning off this feature for me.

They will delete my email account in October if it isn’t converted over to a different email account. I have to figure out a way to create email accounts for all the logins I’ve had over the years or go change them on every site. It is going to be an incredible pain in the ass. So now, I have to start figuring out how to respond.

My likely plan:

  1. learn how to download all of my emails and get a way to analyze them.
  2. Figure out all the unique email addresses I get email at and mark them as keepers and personal. This will take coding.
  3. Create a main personal account
  4. Upload all my history back to this account and figure out how to sync that back with Thunderbird
  5. Create all the other personal accounts and forwards from all the other personal accounts to the main personal account. This will take coding.
  6. Create business accounts and forwards for each of them. This will take coding.
  7. Create a general new throwaway scheme for login emails
  8. Investigate whether it’s time to move to hosting that gives me more control or adapt to this and concentrate on other things in my life.

That last one is also important. When I was younger I did a lot of flexing in tech to do things myself so I could be super independent. This taught me TONS of things and is great! However, I can’t do everything, so I now make compromises so I can spend time on what matters most.

That’s the part that irks me. I am fine with adapting to the new business reality at DreamHost – but they don’t have a plan for me. I’m going to have to build my own tools and figure out my own way. I can do this, but I don’t want to! I’d rather spend this time building a website or helping people or being with my family.

Project Idea: Context Free or Processing Header Plugin for WordPress

An iteration or so of the website ago I hacked in a random art generator into the background of the title of my website using ContextFree.js by Aza Raskin.  It was a cool little hack, but what would be really nice is to make it shareable.

I’d like a WordPress Plugin that finds the heading of your website and inserts a little Canvas element, includes either processing.js or contextfree.js and picks a sketch, then plops it in the background of your website’s title.  How cool would that be?

LibraryThing, Books, and Planning

I’ve been using the excellent librarything to keep track of my books. I’ll be building a self-hosted version of it Real Soon Now, but until then, I’m putting what I read in there. I’d gotten a bit of feedback from my vast hordes of readers that they are interested in what I read, so you can see reviews as they happen over there on the sidebar of mah blurg. Why librarything instead of GoodReads or Visual Bookshelf or the like?  Because they will export your library back out for you.

If I decide to change over to a new system, I’ll want an easy way to get MY data back out.   Always consider your exit strategy.

How to get around a proxy system

This sounds complicated but it is really simple.  That it is so simple is why the internet is amazing and awesome.

from flickr user Bright Tal with a CC licenseProxies are used by people in positions of authority who want to control what you view on the internet.  Such groups include the governments of Turkey and China.  Also, the internet security team of most major corporations.  Some of these motives are good:

  • Blocking you from visiting websites that will infect your computer with spyware.
  • Blocking you from looking at naked people at work and totally creeping your coworkers out.
  • Blocking you from using webmail or instant messaging to communicate with customers in insecure ways or in ways that can’t be audited for a lawsuit.

Some of these motives are bad:

  • Blocking you from learning about problems at the group.
  • Blocking you from “wasting” company time or resources.

Generally you will eventually find a situation where you want to look at a website that has been blocked improperly.  I’ve often seen sites that discuss internet security vulnerabilities classified as “hacking” – but I need to know if those sites affect my work.

kindly sourced from flickr user Dazzie DWhether your intentions are pure or not, here is a simple way to give yourself internet freedom.

Download CGIproxy and install it on something that faces the unfiltered internet.  This might be your web host if you have one.  If not, you can install a web server on your home computer.  It is easier than you might think, and with DynDns, you can have your own domain name for your home computer.

You are done.  Now you can navigate in your browser to where you installed CGIproxy.  It will surf the sites you are blocked from.   Doing that is a hassle, though.  You have to go to CGIproxy when you want to go to a different site.  Lame.

Let’s make it easier through the magical power of bookmarklets.  We will put two little buttons in your browser that let you proxy blocked sites and unproxy them when you are somewhere safe again.

I wrote up a little page for you that generates proxy and unproxy bookmarklets for CGIProxy.  Go there, put in the URL of your CGIproxy, and choose your options.  I’ll automagically generate the bookmarklets for you.  You just drag them up to your browser quick links and now you have the keys to the kingdom.

Let me know if anything isn’t clear – I did the extra work so that it could be useful for you.

Making Context Free Art

If you are reading this post in your feed reader, you’ll want to click through to my actual website. Trust me on this one.

I was really impressed with Aza Raskin’s ContextFree.js experiment. I like how the simple rules of a context free art piece generate complex forms. See below, that text will turn into something I can’t exactly predict.
I’ve added a few comments to help you understand what’s going on there.

//all context free art starts with a single rule.  Ours will start with a rule named face.
startshape FACE
//and here is the rule FACE
rule FACE{
//a FACE rule means that we should draw the rules EYE MOUTH and HEAD.
 EYE{}
 // flip an eye over to the other side of the face.
 EYE{flip 90}
 MOUTH{}
 HEAD{}
}

//OH NO! We have two rules named HEAD.  Context free will randomly pick one
rule HEAD{ CIRCLE{}}
rule HEAD{  SQUARE{}}

rule EYE{CIRCLE { s .1 b .5 y .12 x .3}}
rule EYE {SQUARE { s .1 b .5 y .12 x .3}}
rule EYE {SQUARE { s .1 b .5 y .12 x .3 r 45}}
rule EYE {TRIANGLE { s .1 b .5 y .12 x .3}}
rule EYE {TRIANGLE { s .1 b .5 y .12 x .3 r 60}}

rule MOUTH {SQUARE{ s .8 .1 y -.12  b .5}}

And here is a randomly generated face, all made up of squares, circles, and triangles:

Want more faces? Go mess about with my face generator on Aza’s demo site.

update: in the comments Chris came up with a bunch of great mouths for an even better face generator!
The art is context free because any rule can be executed without knowing the context of the other rules – they are side-effect free. (these are the kind of problems that work well on lots of processors)
It gets much better. If you are using a modern browser, you’ll see that the heading of my website now is using this to generate random art up there in that previously wasted space.
Reload the website, you’ll see different art generated according to a handful of tiny algorithms. If you can see this, you might want to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox or Safari. They both support the cool stuff that I’m doing, but you can’t see right now.