Miscellany For February
tl;dr – We’re encrypting access to our admin dashboard, some more outdated plugins bit the dust this month, and PureNyx is happy about the FCC’s action on Net Neutrality.
For PureNyx, February has closed with a bit of a bang. We finished a 6 month project to build 4 sites for the largest company we’ve ever served, participated in a rebrand for one of our very first clients, and found a way to accomplish two of our most difficult security goals with a research project designed to merely investigate only one. Those were just the high points, so it was definitely a busy month!
We’re Expanding Our Use Of Encryption
We’ve had SSL/TLS security available in the admin for more than a year, but now encryption is automatically applied. This is the first in a series of changes we’ll be implementing over the next couple months. Now, you’ll always note your browser sporting a lock icon and an HTTPS URL when you’re in the PureNyx admin. You might encounter a forced page refresh the first time you revisit your site’s admin dashboard, and that’s the only discomfort the change should cause.
That sounds like no big deal, but it’s the beginning of a sea change in how we offer secure sites. You might remember where we promised to offer free SSL if it ever became available… this change is related. Oddly enough, it came from a project to keep foreign robots from wasting our bandwidth… but we’ll reveal a bit more about that next month.
I Killed Some More Plugins
It’s hard to be a plugin on the PureNyx network. They are required to provide the more unique, and powerful, functionality on our sites, but I’m constantly thinking about deleting them. In addition to all the good things they do, each plugin slows our network slightly, increases the size of our backups, and introduces a new area for our security to cover. Plugins are both an answer to various problems, and a problem in and of themselves.
If a plugin isn’t pulling it’s weight, I’ll eventually cut them from the team. Of course, I always make certain their functionality is available in some other form. We removed several, but clients will only notice a few:
- Coming Soon Pro – We used to leverage this plugin to protect projects under construction and sites undergoing maintenance. It never worked quite as well as we’d have liked, mostly because it conflicted a bit with our site caching setup, and we developed a new workflow to replace it. If you want to take your site down for a bit, please contact us and we’ll handle it.
- RT Social – We replaced this with Elegant Theme’s Monarch, because Monarch is much cooler. Monarch is available to all of our clients and preconfigured in most of our designs. Custom themes using RT Social were updated as part of this switch.
- Gravity Forms Picatcha – The Picatcha API is now obsolete, so we ditched the plugin. Most everybody seemed to be using ReCaptcha or just trusting our improved Akismet spam protection on their forms anyway.
The FCC Now Has A Plan To Defend Net Neutrality
While Jaime and I have been public about our personal support of Net Neutrality, we’ve not gone out of our way to make it the official PureNyx stance. A lot of internet-based businesses have declared challenges to Net Neutrality as threats to their existence, placed calls to action on their homepages, and sometimes gone as far as seeking to educate their clients on the subject. We’ve been a bit more low-key, because we don’t see our business as a platform for our political views. We choose to vote carefully and use established channels to make our personal support known to elected officials.
The most political PureNyx has ever gotten has been to decline business from people whose sites delivered information we felt was dangerous to the public. We reserve the right to refuse projects if we strongly disagree with the goals of the site we’d be hosting or, more likely, if we think that dangerous folks like hackers dislike the message so much that they’d attack our business to take it down. We’re sort of brave personally, but we don’t want to involve all our clients in controversial things they might not agree with anyway.
Of course, Net Neutrality is different because none of the businesses using the internet have a choice about getting involved in some way. The internet is largely neutral today but major players in the ISP industry have clearly stated their intention to change the status quo. They have the means and motive to do so, and there aren’t any businesses or people in the country who wouldn’t be affected. Also, the underlying issue isn’t really all that controversial.
The truth is, pretty much nobody thinks a non-neutral internet is a good idea… Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative. Even the staunchest Libertarian who might argue until they’re blue in the face that businesses have the right to charge whatever they want for any service will generally follow it up by saying that tolls and fast lanes are a boneheaded move, predicting that the free market will remove players who erect them. The political debate was really on how to stop Net Neutrality from breaking, not on whether the general practice should be preserved. The only folks who like the idea of an unequal internet are those hoping to make a quick buck on some toll scheme until the public wises up and quashes it. That would be the executives at companies like Comcast, who cement their places among the most hated businesses in American history with just this sort of behavior.
That’s why we’re happy to see the FCCs move to regulate the internet as a utility, whether or not it turns out to be the best method to preserve Net Neutrality. It shows that the American people are happy with the way things are going on the internet, and that’s good for both PureNyx and our clients.