I Turned On SSL Encryption and It Took Me 5 Minutes

Yesterday, after much procrastination, I decided to look into getting a SSL certificate for this website, and for the website I manage, envirofloorcare.com. I heard of Let’s Encrypt, a project by started by 2 Mozilla developers to make the whole web more secure, and gave it a shot.

I googled up how to enable SSL on DreamHost, and then stumbled on this article. DreamHost, realizing that their customers were going to just use the free Let’s Encrypt over their paid solution, integrated it right into their backend!

Literally all of 3 clicks!

Sure enough, there was a section to generate a certificate right from inside the backend.

After clicking “Add now!”, and waiting an hour or so, I could load my sites on https successfully, and they had the lovely green lock in Chrome!

It’s so pretty!

I really have to give props where it is due. DreamHost, by building this, has allowed to process of making your website SSL complaint even easier than Let’s Encrypt could have imagined.

However, I still had an issue. When you loaded trentduffy.me, it would default to http, and not the https that I had worked so hard to acquire.

I then set up a 301 redirect in my .htaccess file to direct all traffic from http://trentduffy.me to https://trentduffy.me. Good article here. I initially had a 302 redirect, but changed the 301 for SEO purposes.

As you can now observe, this website is now SSL-complaint, and loads using https! I would recommend to anyone on DreamHost to set up SSL. It’s worth it. I hope more hosting services also embrace Let’s Encrypt and make our time online more secure.

My only complaint was that there are two buttons in the backend of DreamHost, labeled “Add Secure Hosting” and “Add Let’s Encrypt Certificate” that took you to the same place. Was a little confusing at first.

Update to Facebook’s Freebooting Problem

On April 12th, Facebook announced their way to help Content Creators protect against the reuploading of their work through their new Rights Manager. After applying, Facebook allows you to gain access to the “tool”.

Here’s the good part: after you upload your content to your personal “reference library”, Facebook will “Identify and surface new matches against your protected content so you can review them and file a report if needed.” In addition, it allows the user to whitelist specific pages with permission to use your personal content. When the tool finds a match against your content, you can file a report right through the tool. This way, the matches are coming to the content producers, rather than them having to go scour Facebook for the illegal reuploads. The tool also allows for cracking down on live streams of stolen content as well.

A screenshot of the tool from https://media.fb.com/2016/04/12/introducing-rights-manager/

Here’s the bad thing: it requires that content producers upload all of their old and future content to this service, which is time consuming for the often very small teams.

Also, what’s stopping one of the nefarious pages from taking someone else’s content and uploading it to their reference library first? Then the content creator won’t be able to upload it to theirs, because the other person has already claimed it.

We won’t know the true effectiveness of the tool until it rolled out to more and more content producers. For now, it is a small step in the right direction.

But as Facebook pushes out this tool to more and more people, it still hasn’t addressed pages such as Micko Newell, who I talked about at length in the last blog post on the subject. Since that blog post, Micko Newell has been verified by Facebook. So Facebook continues to reward this page for stealing content by other creators. When will Facebook stand up to pages like this and SoFlo?

Stop Closing Out of All of Your iPhone Apps

Hey you. iPhone user. Please stop closing out of all your apps.

iOS is designed so that even though the app may be seen in the multitasking carousel, it is often kept in a low memory state. In fact, it takes more energy to close out of the apps and launch them cold than to just let iOS handle what stays in memory and what doesn’t.

9to5Mac cites an email here where the Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, Craig Federighi, answers a customers question: “Do you quit your iOS multitasking apps frequently and is this necessary for battery life?” His response? “No and no.”

So start doing yourself a favor for the sake of your phones battery life and performance. Stop closing out of every app you open, unless you need to restart it because the app crashes. Your iPhone will thank you!

Why I’m on My 4th Pebble–And I Need To Get it Replaced

Oh boy. I was hoping that it would take a little longer before I wrote a ranting blog post. However, this past week, my jet black classic Pebble started displaying “screen tearing”. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. In fact, it’s the 4th! But let’s back up. What’s actually going on?

Screen tearing has been around as long as the first Pebbles were received by Kickstarter backers in 2013. Here is a post in the /r/pebble subreddit 3 years ago, with the user complaining of screen tearing.

Screen tearing is described by Wikipedia as “a visual artifact in a video display device shows information from multiple frames in a single screen draw.” On Pebbles, it causes various horizontal lines to appear on the screen, often times covering and distorting important information. This will pop up randomly once the problem starts. At first, it’ll only happen once a week or so. As the problem get worse, it occurs more and more regularly.

I first experienced screen tearing in December 2014, after receiving the Pebble in September of the same year. They replaced it. The next one lasted until May 2015 before it needed to be replaced. Then, I had it replaced in October due to, you guessed it, screen tearing. This brings us up to today…where my current Pebble is experiencing screen tearing.

Many forums posters have pinpointed the issue to the connection from the motherboard to the screen, which over time becomes loose. The best DIY way to fix it is to open the back, and place in a material that will push on the connection, such as part of a credit card, and this gets rid of the issue. Unfortunately, doing this will void your warranty.

So this puts a classic Pebble owner in a funny spot. Should they void their warranty and risk breaking their Pebble, or be stuck in the cycle of having to RMA their smartwatch every few months? And why hasn’t this been addressed by Pebble? They’ve been producing this model for over 3 years, and choose to still sell it today to entice smartwatch buyers on a budget (it retails for $99), knowing of this defect. If they want to be taken seriously in the space, they should just remove the watch from sale until the issue is fixed, and stop the endless cycle of sending Pebbles with a high chance of failure to their users!

Here is an album of all of the screen tearing on each watch I had.

Screen Tearing

Here’s Why Spotify’s Discover Weekly Is the Best Way to Find New Music

Lots of companies today are trying to help you find new music. But the one I’ve found the best success rate is Spotify’s Discover Weekly. Introduced in July of 2015, every Monday, each Spotify User gets a 2 hour mix of music generated based on the music they listen to. The benefit to this, as unlike an Apple Music playlist, they are always fresh, as no other user will have that same playlist.

According to a report done by The Verge, the curation is done through finding users who have built playlists with music that you’ve listened to. Then, it takes the ones you haven’t heard, and builds this playlist based on those tracks. It’s awesome, because every week is something different, and the playlists have a huge variety of music. Instead of just listening to a hip hop playlist, or an electronic one, everything is thrown together. This may seem jarring at first, but I think it is a strength of the service.

Here is a flowchart that depicts the process from Quartz.

Spotify’s Weekly playlist isn’t scared to just give you popular music either. The music that it finds through the service is often obscure—to the point where some of the songs have less than 50,000 plays on the platform! It would have been very hard to find these types of songs using any other type of discovery. The algorithm doesn’t care about who the artist is. All it computes is songs that you might find it interesting to listen to.

The playlist and its algorithm isn’t perfect yet. Every week, there are a few duds that you can’t help but to skip every time they come up. But through these duds, you get really awesome tracks. In fact, I have a playlist that I keep all of my songs that I find on my weekly playlists. I wish Spotify had a way to go listen to old weeks, as a time capsule. For now, I’ll just enjoy this weeks playlist until Sunday night.

Facebook Is Stealing Original Content from Around the Web, and It’s Unacceptable (UPDATED)

Facebook and nefarious pages on the platform are stealing hundreds of millions of views from other video services such as Youtube and Vine, and Facebook is knowingly not doing anything about it in order to boost their bottom line.

Since it’s IPO in 2012, Facebook has been trying to show investors more and more that they are an engaging platform that has users that stick around. Their current strategy to increase the time people spend on the site is all about videos. In December 2013, Facebook introduced autoplaying videos in order to increase their view count, and also to encourage users to watch more videos. Investors are very interested in Facebook’s videos, because it is believed that videos are easy to monetize by sticking ads in front of them, (and to the left and right of them, which they are now). Video preroll ads would be another revenue avenue for the company. To push their video content, Facebook want their users to upload videos directly to the site, vs embedding them from Youtube. This way, the ads aren’t being served from Youtube, and it gives Facebook to power to run ads in the future on content it owns. Facebook is also incentivizing users to upload videos to their page by showing these videos to more users. According to a study done by Sonja Foust of Duke University, when two video posts of identical content are posted, but one is uploaded to Facebook, and the other embedded through Youtube, the one directly uploaded to Facebook is shown to more people. Page managers of course want their content to been seen by as many people as possible, so they will upload the videos directly to Facebook. But where are they getting their content from?

A study done by Ogilvy and Tubular Labs says that 72 million views, or 72.5% of the top Facebook video content in the last 30 days were video rips. This is a huge problem for Facebook, because they are essential just “Freebooting” videos. “Freebooting” refers to taking online media and reposting it on your website. How bad is it for content creators? Really bad, even being taken from other Facebook Pages. A casual scroll through the infamous Timeline. finds several freebooted videos. The ViralNova Facebook Page uploaded a video about a Fennec Fox’s Nap being interrupted. The video has no credits at all, but has racked up 15 million views. After some search, it was found that the same exact video was posted to another page, Rare Earth Ranch, 2 months ago, where it was watched just over 1 thousand times. This is not uncommon, and it’s not fair to original creators. It’s even worse when the content is stolen from Youtube. Many Youtube videos are monetized, and when those views are stolen by Facebook pages, the Youtube page loses ad revenue. For example, Youtube channel Enchanted Retrievers posted a video entitled “5 week old retriever puppies swim for the first time” on November 4, where it has 162,000 views. 4 days later, it was posted on Facebook page Break. There it received over 40 million views! This benefited Break, as this post helped them promote their website, which is dedicated to different viral videos. By stealing this video, they were able to push more traffic to their site from their Facebook page, giving them additional ad revenue for intellectual property that isn’t theirs.

On June 7th, radio show Sway’s Universe interviewed rapper Lil Dicky and uploaded a freestyle to Youtube. It has garnered 5 million views. There is a staff dedicated to making content at that radio station that was totally ripped off by  On September 30, Micko Newell, a self proclaimed “Rapper” uploaded a cut of the interview where Lil Dicky is freestyling, and it received almost 6 million views on Facebook. A further look at Micko’s Facebook reveals only a minuscule percentage of his posts are original content. This is especially when you consider that this is a Facebook verified account. Why is Facebook rewarding this type of behavior by verifying the account? Well, at least it is a musical artist. Then why does the twitter account linked to the verified Facebook page have a patly 400 followers to the over 1 million likes? Maybe the artist doesn’t like Twitter. Ok. Let’s check out their music…but there is no mention of Micko Newell on iTunes or Spotify. On the Vevo Youtube profile, he has 60 subscribers. A search for tours reveals none, in the past or the future. Something is going on here. When you navigate back to the Facebook page, you notice something interesting. The pinned post on the page says “Need Promo? Brand Your Business”, along with listing an email address. When emailed, you are automatically receive an email, where Micko sells posts and shares on his page. It even goes as far to give the Paypal email to send money to.

This is the email I received after emailing "Micko Newell".
This is the email I received after emailing “Micko Newell”.

What did we learn? This artist’s Facebook page is simply a front to host pirated content. After building an audience, the page is now charging people for publicity on the page—even though none of Micko’s content on the page was his own in the first place. Entire pages are just dedicated to stealing other content—and being rewarded by Facebook by being officially verified. On Youtube, if an account has 3 copyright strikes, it gets shut down. There is no precedence for this on Facebook, which encourages repeat offenders.

If a content creator does see their content posted on Facebook without their permission, which is difficult to spot in the first place due to the weaknesses of Facebook Search, then they are first recommended to message the page directly to talk to them. The other option is go through a form and submit it to Facebook saying that it is your intellectual property. However, this often takes several days to process, which are the days where a Facebook post flourishes. Of the 3 biggest video platforms, Vine, Facebook, and Youtube, videos hit 1 million views the fastest on Facebook. However, “Youtube drives continued views and engagement” according to Ogilvy and Tubular Labs.

So what is Facebook doing to combat this? Simply put, not much. In August 27, 2015, they posted a blog post in response to the heavy anti-freebooting campaign of Hank Green, a Youtuber with over 2.5 million subscribers. In the post, they mentioned that “We want creators to get credit for the videos they own.” The blog goes on to say that Facebook is working on a way to flag videos automatically. It’s now been 4 months since the publishing of that post. It’s unacceptable for a $290 billion public company to not have an effective way to protect content creators, especially when their main competitor for video, Youtube, does.

This is Facebook saying, “We don’t care about original content”. At this point, it is so blatantly obvious what content is stolen and what is not. There are some pretty obvious giveaways. When a video has a background around it, that’s a freebooter trying to steal content. When Vines aren’t posted by their creator, it’s most likely being freebooted. And freebooters are succeeding with no repercussions from Facebook. This is not ok. The content creators are at the very heart of the modern internet experience. Every time their content is stolen, it takes money, credit, and time away from the people who work incredible hard to be original.

Facebook did not respond for comment.

UPDATE: See here for information about Facebook’s new “Rights Manager”.