HTTPs on this site

I made run on HTTPS recently (optionally. It works on both and Quite easy to do, and free using letsencrypt


Why encrypt

On the face of it there’s not much point. This is mostly just a straightforward read-only website. Not much scope for bad people to be snooping anything interesting. No passwords or credit cards or anything. General “tracking” doesn’t seem particularly problematic either. Who really cares if somebody can track the fact that you’ve been visiting these sweet innocent innocuous blog posts? Well…

Some types of commercial web tracking only tend to get creepy when they happen in bulk. The evil corporate advertising machine won’t learn much about you from knowing you read a blog post on, but it might start to know you pretty well if it knows this and the previous thousand websites you visited. Encryption throws a spanner in the works for some types of tracking.

Government tracking by intelligence agencies, is also thwarted by encryption (more so probably). They would also like to intercept your browsing traffic to get to know you with their big evil AI. Now sometimes I think it’s fair enough for governments to do a bit of anti-terrorism targeted snooping, but the trouble is it’s too easy for politicians to make that simple-minded argument. The flipside is a subtle future threat of eroded freedoms. That’s tricky, and in general I don’t trust politicians to weigh it up properly. We can use technical measures (encryption!) to help things move in a more freedom preserving direction.

Tracking is a numbers game, done across many websites, and equally encryption as a counter-measure is more effective if we encrypt many websites. If we start to be able to browse a significant proportion of the web in HTTPS, even right down to piddly little websites like this one, then we’ll be getting somewhere. As a result it’s becoming recommendation and slowly a sort of groundswell of expectation on webmasters to do this. It’s slow to get lazy webmasters like me to do something like this, but …well now’s the time for (Who knows? One day I may actually work on updating the content!)

Encryption helps protect against password snooping security issues. has no user passwords, except…  my own password for logging in to write blog posts. I’ve probably used this from public wifi access points in the past. Slapped wrists for me. But now I guess I can be a little more relaxed about that. Speaking of wifi, wifi javascript injection (attacks or just crappy advertising) seems like a nasty problem. Are we safe using any wifi these days? Well we’re a lot safer from this when browsing HTTPS sites.

London Wiki Wednesdays March 2010

Last week we had a London Wiki Wednesdays event, and this time I was involved helping to organise and promote it. You can read what happened here (including lots more pics) The event was hosted by NYK line thanks to Alek Lotoczko.

Pulling SharePoint Apart Andrew Berridge Ben Gardner London Wiki Wednesdays David Terrar

Alek along with me, Gordon, and Andrew managed to prod David Terrar enough times to get things moving in advance and get the event off the ground. I did some facebook messages and also created a twitter account, @LondonWikiWed, and went on a mass-following mission. All standard web2.0-social-media-promotion tactics. Sadly we’re still failing on a web1.0 level with google still sending people to a stale site which David Terrar is in charge of, and needs to sort out. The biggest thing we need to do for next time though, is sort out hosting and sponsorship in advance. As well as being the backup option for hosting, Alek very kindly forked out for some beers on the day, but we should try to find different sponsors next time. I set up some Sponsoring London Wiki Wednesdays information. A good promotion opportunity for someone I think.

The event itself was great! Lots of interesting talks. I was particularly interested to learn a bit about Pfizer using semantic MediaWiki for a patent database (but I’m still not convinced that the added complexity is a good idea as part of a normal wiki).

I gave a quick talk about crisis commons wiki, and about the kinds wiki mess which have built up there. I pointed to out-of-date information, duplicated information, and other structural and cosmetic problems. This was as a kind of case study in wikis going wrong, but I wanted to stress that these problems are solvable through clean-up work. I showed my initial efforts to do so, but this wiki is open for anyone to help with the clean-up effort, so this was an invitation for people to join in. I also put in a plug for Crisis Camp London (Something I’ve been along to a few times. When I get round to it, I’ll blog about that too)

(photo Benjamin Ellis CCBYSANC)

Slides on slideshare

OSM talk at London Wiki Wednesdays

London Wiki Wednesdays last night (Wednesday night in fact) was pretty good. It was kindly hosted by NYK line in the amazing city point tower. Here’s the slides for the little talk I gave:

‘OpenStreetMap : The Wikipedia of Maps’ on slideshare

In fact on the second slide you can see the city point tower in the aerial imagery screenshot.

My talk was explaining the similarities between this large open mapping collaboration, and wikipedia. Although mainly it was just a very quick run through of OpenStreetMap.  ( Some links related to the slides: the Flash editor, the desktop app editor, API, mapping techniques, gordo’s photo, stats, the Open License,,, Hiking Map, Whitewater Maps, bus map, CloudMade style editor, and a zoomed in map of the building  )

David Terrar is back in the wiki mood and managing to secure venues and sponsors for future months, so I think it’s looking good. It will be somewhere different in November. Check back on the London page for details

London Wiki Wednesdays are back tonight

London Wiki Wednesdays

There was a series of monthly London Wiki Wednesdays events with presentations and networking chit-chat, all about wikis, blogs and social media technology, mostly as applied to enterprise use. Sadly they stopped happening back in 2008    ….but tonight they’re back!

London Wiki Wednesdays 7th October 2009

When I first went to Wiki Wednesdays a couple of years ago, I was massively enthusiastic about wiki collaboration in open content communities such as wikipedia, entirely for fun, as a hobby (though mostly pursued while bored at work). The events really opened my eyes to the possibility of working in this arena. I wanted a piece of this action. At the same time I was getting hooked on OpenStreetMap. Wiki-style collaboration to build a free map of the world. Since the last Wiki Wednesdays meet-up I’ve ditched my more dull I.T. job and got myself a job working full time on OpenStreetMap, so this evening I’m returning victorious!

I’m going to give a talk about OpenStreetMap. The talks are only 5 mins, so hopefully they’ll be a bunch of other talks. Often these are about behind-the-firewall or b2b collaboration style uses. Should be good.

The Lost Shoe Project

We went to see In Search of a Midnight Kiss about a month ago, maybe more. It’s a quirky artistic movie, with a quirky artistic character who at one point mentions that she likes to take photos of shoes, and publishes them on her quirky artistic website called “”. Seeing this, I was sitting in the cinema burning with curiosity. I had to know if the website really exists, and really does have photos of lost shoes. …but then I forgot all about it ….until now.

So looking at it now, I was expecting to either find:

  • A website created by the official makers of the movie (possibly pretending to be someone’s quirky artistic lost shoe project)
  • A fan website dedicated to the movie
  • A holding page grabbed by some domain name parking search engine optimising asswipe.
  • But I’m not sure what to make of this site. It does really exist, and has photos of lost shoes. No mention of the movie, but a very personal little account of what the site is about, complete with a very personal looking email address. “Have you found a lost shoe? Send me a picture and tell me your story…”, and an unpolished “coming soon” section, all of which makes me think it is not an official site by the makers of the movie.

    Maybe this is some clever double-bluffing. It could all be designed to harvest email addresses or generate confused blog posts like this, which help promote the movie.

    Or am I being too cynical. It really is someone’s little quirky artistic pet project, which the script writer randomly came across and decided to write into the movie. 

    ….Nah! Surely not. There’s only one way to find out. Anyone lost a shoe?