Tag Archives: ssl

SSL for hosted Micro.blog sites

Micro.blog’s business model is pretty simple. If you want Micro.blog to host a new microblog for you, or use the Twitter cross-posting with an existing site, there’s a small monthly subscription. We want Micro.blog to be the easiest way to start a blog.

Included in all Micro.blog-hosted microblogs is support for custom domain names, so that you can map yourname.com to your blog. While we’ve always supported SSL for the default yourname.micro.blog hostnames, custom domains need their own SSL certificate. Managing SSL certificates is a hassle, and until recently, also expensive.

I’m happy to announce that we are now rolling out free SSL hosting for custom domains, powered by Let’s Encrypt. While it’s not fully automated yet, we’ve already started enabling these for customers as requested. If you have a Micro.blog-hosted blog with a custom domain, email help@micro.blog and we’ll enable SSL on your site.

There are more features coming for hosted blogs leading up to the public launch of Micro.blog. Don’t forget to sign up on the launch announce list.

DNS consolidation

Feels like years in the making, but I’ve finally moved all my domain names to a single provider: DNSimple. The last 3 domains went through toward the end of 2015. They were .io domains, and required calling Network Solutions to unlock. (I own 13 domains, and don’t plan to add any more for a very long time.)

I’ve found that the simplicity of having these kind of things consolidated in one place really improves keeping up with hosting and renewals. It’s the same reason I moved all my private projects to GitHub, even though it would cost more per month. It means less to worry about, so more time for coding.

Since I’ve often been thinking about the lack of permanence on the web, I also want to be more proactive about extending my domain registrations. I renewed manton.org until 2021.

If you’re interested in using DNSimple, use this referral link for a month free. All my SSL certificates are there too, although I’m keeping an eye on Let’s Encrypt.

Tweet Marker SSL mistake

It usually takes a couple problems hitting at once to cause a major server outage. This happened last week when Tweet Marker’s SSL certificate expired. I have the SSL set to auto-renew, but it still requires manually installing the new certificate, and other problems happened along the way.

First mistake: I didn’t realize it was expiring. Those emails go to an account I don’t check very often, littered with spam. And the email to confirm the renewal went to yet another email address that no longer worked. When I had moved the DNS hosting to Amazon’s Route 53, I had neglected to move over the MX records.

After fixing all of that, I tried updating the app on Heroku to use the new cert, only to get stalled as Heroku’s new SSL add-on rejected it. Certain I had done something wrong, I fumbled through a dozen Heroku SSL how-to posts before finally reverting to their old SSL add-on. It’s no longer documented and is in fact actively discouraged by Heroku, but it also has the lucky trait of actually working with my certificate. Updating DNS caused another hour-long delay because of the high TTL.

I sent two support requests during this process, so I thought I’d rate how each company did:

  • DreamHost: Before I figured out the bad email address, I sent DreamHost a question about why the SSL certificate hadn’t showed up yet. They responded very quickly, and even included a “P.S.” that they were fans of Tweet Marker. Basically they provided excellent support, the best you could ask for.

  • Heroku: When the new SSL add-on wasn’t accepting my certificate, I filed a support request with Heroku as well. The response was an automated reply that they don’t do support past 6pm. For a hosting company that charges a premium, this was a disappointing response. (They responded first thing the next morning, though.)

This SSL glitch was the only significant outage Tweet Marker has had in its first year. I learned a few lessons, took the opportunity to check backups and EC2 servers, and now I’m ready to move on. Hoping for an even better year 2.