Making a Website Just Got Easier

On the morning of March 29, 2008, I purchased paleolithicfilms.com and launched my first website with Apple’s iWeb. I followed the instructions to connect my MobileMe hosted website, with Yahoo, my registrar; entering the appropriate information into the A Record field.

With no guidance, at age 16, I had a website. I remember frantically pacing around the kitchen waiting for the DNS records to refresh while trying to convey this monumental achievement to my parents. I was ecstatic! Months of guessing, Googling and waiting for the dots to connect lead to what I believed, at the time, to be a breakthrough.

I’ve come a long way since then. So has the Internet. I can now complete the same process in under 2 minutes. It’s so easy for me now that until I wrote this post, I forgot what it was like to not know where to start.

There was no one who could help me, or rather I didn’t know who to ask, or even what to search for. All I knew was I wanted a website. I wanted to be like the big shots, you know Google, Yahoo, and Apple. I wanted my very own .com.

Maybe there are others like me? Maybe you want one too, but don’t know where to start? If so, you don’t have to spend months in search of where to begin, like I did. I’ll point you to shortcuts that will make this process seem really easy.

It took Christopher Columbus seven years to convince royals to grant the five-week journey to the new world—today it takes a few seconds to book a six-hour flight on Expedia. The distance hasn’t changed, but how we get to our destination has.

While it was challenging to learn how to build my first website unguided, today I can hand this skill over to you on a platter. I love helping people. I will admit it’s hard to see what took me years to learn, taught in just a few minutes—but that’s progress. It’s about leaving the world a better place than we found it. And if it wasn’t for all those who came before me, who developed the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, we wouldn’t have the wonderful experience we call the Internet today.

I encourage you that when you’re tempted to withhold information because you feel that a person hasn’t earned or worked for it, remember that most of our knowledge is unearned. Many of the mathematical concepts we use today were developed by those literally jeopardizing their health and even losing their lives trying to discover them.

That being said, click here to discover the easiest way to build your website. If you have any questions or want to accomplish something specific, click here to get in touch with me. I accept payment via PayPal which will enable me to perform these services full time.

Are the New TLDs Worth Getting?

There’s no dispute .com is king. For many people .com is the internet. But tech savvy people know that there’s a lot more Top-Level Domains (TLDs) out there.

Besides .com there’s .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .biz, .us and so on. There are even country TLDs like .ru for Russia and .it for Italy. There are over 200 countries in the world, so you can imagine that list would be fairly long.

Then ICANN opened up topic and industry specific TLDs like .blog, .church, .school, .tech and so on. Which brings us to the question of this post: Are these new TLDs worth getting?

Yes and no. This is an opinion. Google has stated that all TLDs will be treated fairly. So in theory, there’s no problem in getting one. People do not look at the domains that closely in a Google search anyway.

The Cons of the New TLDs

But, when sharing a link such as aaronjosephgarcia.blog you may run into a short term problem with auto-hyperlinking. Your messaging app may not recognize aaronjosephgarcia.blog as a URL and therefore it won’t be clickable like aaronjosephgarcia.com would be. And that can be a real bummer, if you’re trying to share a link.

Also, most people won’t remember .blog and will most likely substitute for .com. And that won’t be good either. About the only thing the new TLDs are good for is looking clean on a business card.

The Pros of the New TLDs

All that being said, eventually all messaging apps will recognize .blog and .com equally. And at which point things might change. Google might start to recognize these new TLDs based on the category they’re in. And if you’re one of the early adopters to select a short TLD, it might be worthwhile in the future. Example last.fm.

The Firefox Experiment

Recently, I tried to switch my primary browser from Chrome to Firefox. I noticed that Chrome was slowing down and thought now was the perfect time to switch.

Several years ago, I switched from Safari to Chrome for the same reason. I was a loyal Safari user, but when Safari slowed to a crawl—I knew it was time to move on.

The switch from Safari to Chrome went smoothly. I thought I would never be able to give up Safari reader or the neat share buttons, but I did. In exchange, Chrome offered user accounts that could be used to separate my browsing identities. This proved useful not only for separating home and work accounts, but also for all the organizational accounts I administer.

The problem with switching from Chrome to Firefox is that I have become dependent on these separate profiles. Firefox offers close integration with Pocket, a sophisticated reading list and “Firefox Hello,” an easy to use video chat feature, but these features are not enough to forgive the inability to separate browsing identities. Within three days of switching, I switched back to Chrome.

I hope to switch to Firefox on all devices in the future, but for now it looks like I’m stuck with using Chrome and Safari simultaneously. I use Chrome exclusively on my computers (Mac, Linux and Windows) and Safari for my iOS devices. This experience is fragmented, but I can’t escape from the need to use multiple browser profiles and Apple doesn’t let me truly switch my default browser on iOS. Furthermore, Safari is the only adblocking, mainstream browser available (excluding Dolphin and variants of ad blocker browsers) on iOS.

The lesson learned from this experience is that there are some features that keep us locked in an ecosystem. For me it’s Chrome’s browsing profiles and Safari’s Adblock plugins on iOS. If I didn’t have so many online identities—switching to Firefox for Pocket or Firefox Hello might have been more tempting.

How to Set up an SSL

One way to get a free SSL is to migrate DNS control of your domains to CloudFlare. By default, CloudFlare offers a free “Universal SSL”. Under the “crypto” menu select “Full” for the SSL box.

cloudflare_crypto_ssl_full

The process takes 24 hours before your certificate works consistently. After 24 hours have passed you can force your website to only be accessed through https. This option is found under page rules. You’ll want to create two rules for your non-ssl URL: http://yourdomain.com and http://www.yourdomain.com and turn on “Always use https”.

agarciatv green lock

If you don’t wait to turn on forced https your website will work intermittently for 24 hours in 30-minute intervals. But don’t worry, it will start working tomorrow!

Now Using SSL and DNSSEC

Today, I enabled Secure Socket Layer (SSL, also known as, HTTPS) and Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) on this website; my first time working with these technologies. This is a major milestone for me. Self-taught since 2008, my journey has led me to this day.

For those who know what these technologies are and already use them, try not to laugh. This was a real journey for me. For everyone else, I’ll do my best to explain.

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), both of which are frequently referred to as ‘SSL’, are cryptographic protocols designed to provide communications security over a computer network.

Wikipedia

Basically, I added a green lock to my website (agarciatv.com). By doing so, I have joined the ranks of Facebook, your bank and every payment network that you’ve ever interacted with (assuming they were all legit). Granted there are different levels to these certificates; you’ll notice that Twitter has a really fancy green box next to their lock that says, “Twitter, LLC [US]” while Facebook doesn’t. And I certainly don’t. But, the green lock is good enough for me and obviously good enough for Facebook.

agarciatv green lock
Twitter green lock
facebook green lock

In addition to getting my very own green lock, I enabled DNSSEC. I had been curious about it ever since I had seen it in my registrar’s control panel. It’s my personality to want to fill every box and flip every switch. Some have told me that DNSSEC was unnecessary, but it sounds like a security measure I didn’t want to pass up. Wikipedia explains DNSSEC as:

The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a suite of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for securing certain kinds of information provided by the Domain Name System (DNS) as used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It is a set of extensions to DNS which provide to DNS clients (resolvers) origin authentication of DNS data, authenticated denial of existence, and data integrity, but not availability or confidentiality.

Wikipedia

I thought Google explained DNSSEC more clearly:

Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) protect your domain from attacks such as DNS cache poison attacks and DNS spoofing. Your DNS provider can provide you with the values you need to activate DNSSEC.

Google Domains

To further simplify, now you will not have to worry about visiting a fake version of my website or hackers snooping on you. At least that’s the idea. I’ve stepped up my game and I hope to continue, as I learn more about security. If you have a website and would like to add an SSL too, ask specific questions in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to answer them!

No, You Can't Just Use Photos from Google

Not all of us know this, but you can’t just take photos from Google and use them in a website or marketing campaign – it’s illegal. For those who already knew that you’d be surprised by how many don’t.
Photos, like other creative works, are copyrighted by their creator the moment they are created. The intellectual property rights belong to the creator unless willfully surrendered. Some photographers have taken steps to ensure their rights are respected legally. With impressive tools like TinyEye copyright holders can easily find you and when found, they may sue you.
Make no mistake, when there is money to be made, copyright holders don’t miss an opportunity to strike. It’s important to understand copyright law and avoid finding yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
Images that are marked as Public DomainCreative Commons or royalty free are safe to use as long as you follow the licensing guidelines. Never use photos that were not explicitly licensed for your use. For websites offering stock photos that you CAN use, check out my resources page at agarciatv.com/resources.


DISCLAIMER: The content in this post is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This post is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.

Mobile First Design

Let’s face it, our readers prefer purchasing a new iPhone every other year than buying a computer. Computers are for nerds. There I said it.

In 2015, designing a website for desktops and laptops when our readers will only view it on their iPhone is embarrassing to say the least. So, when are we going to start designing with the predominate mobile audience in mind?

It’s the dominating statistic: 61% of my website viewers are on mobile. The majority of these views come from iPhone’s Safari browser. This is a trend that I’m seeing everywhere including with older demographics; even 65+ (I work closely with the oldest operating HOA in San Antonio and eight public golf courses).

Using a computer just as much as your iPhone makes you elite. Unfortunately, not everyone is elite. That’s why we cannot design for ourselves anymore (not that we ever should have). Some leave their laptops off most of the time. I guess laptops remind people of work and school.

So moving forward, we need to ask our friends to check out our websites as we are developing them. If they grow impatient with how slowly it loads or how many finger flicks it takes to scroll down the pages – redesign it. The desktop versions of our websites are the best around, scoring a 77 easily in Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but if the mobile site makes our audience put down their phone in boredom, that’s a clear sign of failure.

Rethinking Security on Mac

I haven’t used antivirus software since 2007 when I switched from Windows to Mac. Like many Mac users, I believed that OS X is impervious to viruses and other security threats. But, I have come to the conclusion that this is a flawed belief.

Security threats are not limited to viruses and spyware, there are phishing and JavaScript threats too. These threats affect all operating systems connected to the web, because these attacks take place online, not on your machine. As we use more online services, such as online banking, electronic communications and cloud services we re-open ourselves up to cyber threats.

Mac users culturally take a lazy approach to security. We’re never so safe that we can let our guard down. Even with antivirus software installed, we’re never impervious to cyber threats. It is wise to use password managers, ad blockers, script blockers, encryption software and VPNs too.

Part of me wonders if it were possible for Apple and Microsoft to build these security functions to a point where third-party services like Bitdefender and Norton were no longer necessary. With the deep pockets that these two companies have, why aren’t our computers more secure? Is this a conspiracy to keep the cybersecurity industry alive, eating $99 a year from our wallets? And how is it that a small third-party firm is able to fend off all these cyber threats that Apple, Microsoft, and Google cannot?

These are questions that I do not have the answers to, if you have some insight on this topic please feel free to share in the comment section below.

I am definitely stepping up my approach to cybersecurity. Who knows what scripts have been doing in our browsers.

How to Convert a dmg to an iso file in Linux

Press Ctrl + Alt + T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the commands below:

sudo apt-get install dmg2img

Once installed, change the directory to where the .dmg file is located and run the following command:

dmg2img <file_name>.dmg

This will convert the .dmg to an .img file. Run the following command to convert the .img to an .iso file.

mv <file_name>.img <file_name>.iso

How to Download YouTube Videos in Ubuntu via Command Line

Downloading a YouTube video in Ubuntu is easier via command line than installing an application or using a website like clipconverter.cc. Just follow these simple steps.

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Run the following command to install YouTube Downloader:
    • sudo apt-get install youtube-dl
  3. Run the following command in Terminal for each video you wish to download:
    • youtube-dl paste URL here

Your videos will be saved to your home folder in mp4 format.