A better source of SSL certificates

I am no fan of Certificate Authorities (CA) but they seem necessary to work with in order to offer secure services. Certificate Authorities are the organisations that deal with certificates needed for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections – the connections in your browser that show a padlock.

Early morning view from Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
Early morning view from Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Thus, I was delighted to find StartSSL‘s offerings. The prices are good and the service has been great.

I had trouble getting the sign up process working with Safari 4 on Mac OS X, and needed help to rectify the resulting problems. Within an hour or two all was put right and DssW’s Reseller site now has a new SSL certificate.

I experienced problems when setting up the site’s authentication certificate and keys. Keychain appeared to get confused at some stage and I was left locked out of my original account.

If you decide to try StartSSL from Mac OS X, I recommend using FireFox. I found Safari’s tight integration with Keychain to be counter productive. FireFox avoided Keychain’s problems and gave me control over where the keys and certificates ended up.

Ultimately, I want DssW’s keys and certificates stored in separate keychains or files, and not lumped into my personal login keychain.

Try following Glenn Fleishman’s article “How to obtain and install an SSL/TLS certificate, for free” from ars technica for the smoothest experience.

Chinese New Year – 2010 Year of the Tiger

Today saw the Chinese New Year celebrated in Melbourne. Megan and I found ourselves in the crowds watching the performers and doing our best to keep out of the exploding fire cracker debris.

Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne
Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne

Below is a short film showing one of the performances. Watch the High Definition (HD) edition on YouTube.

Once again the film was shot with our point and shoot Canon and edited in iMovie. This film is longer than any of my previous films. I wanted to keep in as much of the performance as feasible to give an idea of the build up to the fire crackers.

Happy Australia Day

26th January is Australia Day; Australia’s national day. Megan and I spent the day out and about exploring various events around the city. We stumbled upon entertainers and entertainment in most of the city parks we visited.
Many dressed up and were decked with Australian flags and national pride.
All dressed up for Australia Day
All dressed up for Australia Day
Government House, Victoria, was open for part of the day. The queues to get in were long and slow moving. It is a shame this property is not open more often.
Queues waiting outside Government House, Victoria
Queues waiting outside Government House, Victoria

The Australia Day People’s Parade floats ranged from marching bands to exhibits of the surreal.

Australia Day parade float
Australia Day People's Parade float

New Year's Eve 2009/2010 Fireworks Over Melbourne

Megan and I ventured out to Docklands, Melbourne, Australia, for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

The day’s temperatures reached 37°C and moments before the family session of fireworks started, the predicted storm rolled in. The lightning, rain, and wind put on a show to complement the fireworks.

Storms clouds gathering over Melbourne
Storms clouds gathering over Melbourne

I managed another couple of film experiments over New Year’s Eve. Both films where taken on our little point and shoot Canon. My goal with these edits was to publish as quickly as possible. Both films took less than one hour from importing into iMovie to publishing on YouTube; a fun challenge that turned out well.

Melbourne’s fireworks are divided into two. The first session, at 9:15 pm, is for families.

Watch Melbourne’s family fireworks in High Definition (HD) on YouTube.

The second session, at midnight, is the bigger show.

Watch Melbourne’s midnight fireworks in High Definition (HD) on YouTube.

I hope you had a fun New Year’s Eve, and have a great 2010.

Happy New Year.

Gingerbread Snowflakes

We made gingerbread snowflakes this afternoon. Quick, easy, and fun. Making gingerbread biscuits in the shape of snowflakes is set to become a family Christmas tradition.

Gingerbread Dough
Gingerbread Dough
Snowflake Cookie Cutters
Snowflake Cookie Cutters
Homemade Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits
Homemade Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits

Charlie and Rebecca’s Wedding Celebration

Embedded below is a film showing a little of Charlie and Rebecca’s wedding celebration. Charlie’s family is Lebanese, and the celebrations followed Lebanese traditions.

See this film in High Definition (HD) on YouTube.

The music and dancing was loud, fun, and fast. Early in the evening it quickly became apparent that still photographs could not capture the moment.

During the celebrations and entertainment, I switched between filming and experimenting with various still settings on our point and shoot camera.

I came away with approximately 14 minutes of HD film footage, weighing in at 2.64 GB. The quality is acceptable given the lighting. The sound is terrible, but that should be expected; the camera’s microphone is mono.

Editing an HD film in iMovie on Mac OS X
Editing an HD film in iMovie on Mac OS X

The film was edited using iMovie. Films like this benefit from being short, closely cut, affairs. I had fun cutting and trimming footage. The process gave me a little insight into just how challenging a professional editor’s role can be.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

The camera is a Canon PowerShot SX200 IS. I can highly recommend this camera. It is small enough to carry around, not too expensive, and is capable of taking great shots.

Homemade bread makes me happy

I continue to miss the fresh bread from our time in Lyon. Rather than bemoan the quality of our local offerings, we decided to return to making our own bread.

Freshly baked homemade bread
Freshly baked homemade bread.

I bought a bread maker many moons ago. The machine is a traditional Russell Hobbs model. Nothing fancy but capable of more than I immediately need. Since then prices have dropped, and Aldi is now selling a bread maker for 79 AUD. I suspect you could find an even less expensive model.

A loaf of freshly baked homemade bread
A loaf of freshly baked homemade bread.

A single loaf tended to get me through a week’s worth of lunches. I was single then, but even with two of us a dense loaf is enough for our working day lunches.

We are currently experimenting with soy and linseed variations. So far so good.

Hello Snow Leopard, Good Bye Panther

DssW launched an update to Power Manager today. This update improves a couple of bits and pieces, but nothing too significant has changed.

DssW Power Manager 3 for Mac OS X
DssW Power Manager 3 for Mac OS X

The biggest change is our dropping of Mac OS X 10.3.9 support. With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.6, the time is right. We have supported Mac OS X 10.3, aka Panther, for four years.

Panther was the first generation of Mac OS X that could support Power Manager. Earlier generations of Mac OS X did not include the underlying functionality we needed.

It feels sad to say good bye to Panther. Going forward the decision makes sense; our efforts can be better directed, and new critical path technologies are calling that Panther can not emulate.

Supporting multiple generations of Mac OS X is not always easy. Each generation of Mac OS X introduces new technologies, methodologies, and quirks that demand a deep understanding of Mac OS X’s implementation.

That effort to support multiple generations of Mac OS X with one binary often results in a much more stable product.

I was pleased to note that Snow Leopard required no specific changes to Power Manager. Instead, we used the allocated time to improve the Login Window notification mechanism and port our process management to launchd.

Finding a Civil Celebrant in Australia

Earlier this year I married Megan. As part of our wedding planning we needed to find a celebrant outside of our home state. We knew the location of our wedding but finding a civil celebrant by location proved difficult.

To make our search easier, I cobbled together a map of civil celebrants in Australia, organised by state.

Maps showing Australian Civil Celebrants
Maps showing Australian Civil Celebrants

The link above leads through to a mash-up of celebrant listings from the Australian Government’s web site and Google Maps. The data is frozen as of April 2009, but that should be recent enough to get you started.