Small URL

My obsession with acquiring domain names continues today, with the addition of the domain rick.ie to my list.

Applying for a .ie domain name is not as straight-forward as for other domain extensions. For an IE domain you need to convince the domain owner – in this the IEDR – that you fulfil certain requirements to be able to qualify for a particular domain:

  • that you're Irish or residing in Ireland
  • that you have a business name, trademark, or personal name that matches the domain name

Fortunately you can somewhat side-step the second requirement by applying for what's called a "discretionary" domain – whereby you can apply for pretty much any domain name you want, as long as you can supply a compelling statement saying why you want it, and what you'll use it for.

My immediate plan for rick.ie is to use it as a private small URL for this blog. So instead of having to use the link http://richardbloomfield.blog/2017/11/small-url/ to get to this post, you can use http://rick.ie/kyfje.

Ten years, and then some

I just noticed that this blog is 10 years old!

The first post dates back to June 2007, only a couple of months after I moved from Edinburgh to Dublin.

This isn’t my first blog however. I started blogging back in September 2000, when very few people had even heard of the word ‘blog’. The whole personal publishing concept was very new in those days, and almost nobody had their own website. We felt like pioneers, and formed our own little communities. I used to read a handful of blogs every day, and felt like some of these people were my friends.

Scottish Bloggers

In Edinburgh I even used to go along to Scottish Blogger meetups, which mainly seemed to comprise of sitting in the pub all day drinking. Seeing the Blogger logo printed off and casually left on the pub table was the secret clue for meetup newbies about which group to approach. And contrary to expectations, we didn’t sit with our laptops out, but instead met and got to know like-minded people, and in some cases made new friends.

I even helped out with the running of a site that linked to all the Scottish blogs in existence at the time. There were so few of us, we could include them all in a manually-curated directory!

In the early I blogged anonymously, and was a lot more candid about what I wrote about. Then I decided to put my name to my words, and became more reserved, because exposure of my thoughts was then just a google-search away.

Social Media

When social media came along, blogging as we originally knew it changed. The ephemeral and frivolous posts moved from blogs onto social media, and many blogs – including my own – fell into disuse.

In the last six or seven years, I’ve not really dedicated myself to blogging that much – at least not on my personal site. I like to keep the blog there, as it does afford me an outlet for the occasional post when the mood takes me (like this post). Instead, like the rest of the world, I’ve mainly used social media for personal stuff. And for more specialist subjects, I’ve created subject-specific blogs for my writing – mostly on cycling and weight loss.

Domain Names

It’s interesting (to me, at least) to think back about all of the different domains I’ve used for my personal blog over the years. Since starting some 17 years ago, my blog has moved between all of these domains:

  • web-richard.net
  • rebuke.org
  • bloomfield.me.uk
  • richardbloomfield.ie
  • richardbloomfield.blog

I suppose that speaks more to my obsession with domain names rather than anything to do with blogging!

The Future

So what about the future? Well I realised recently that I quite miss writing blog posts. It’s something I’ve neglected of late, and want to get back into. Let’s hope that feeling lasts, and you should hopefully see a bit more content here!

Playing around with SSL certs

Inspired by a blog post I was reading recently, I started having a play around with an SSL cert.

An SSL cert is what enables a website to encrypt the traffic to and from the end user. This improves security and trust, and I’ve read that it also improves your search rank in Google. The most notable difference to a web site visitor is that the URL of the site changes from http:// to https:// and a little padlock symbol is displayed next to the URL in the address bar.

Some SSL certs can be really expensive to buy. The ones from my own hosting provider range from €30 to €700 a year, depending on the type of cert you want. However by shopping around a bit on the web, I came across SSLs.com who sell certs from as low as $5 a year!

Buying the cert is the easy bit. Configuring it and installing it is a bit more tricky, and I couldn’t find any easy instructions online.

  • First of all you need to generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request). When generated it looks like a really long string of random letters and numbers. Often you need to ask your web host to create the CSR for you, but I found this tool from SSL Store to generate mine. Make sure you keep the CSR and Private Key safe!
  • Back at SSLS.com you then need to activate your SSL cert – and you will be prompted to enter the CSR. Copy and paste the full value into the box provided. The SSL cert will then be generated and emailed to you in a ZIP file.
  • I installed the supplied SSL cert myself using my web host’s control panel. Make sure you install all the certs provided, together with the Private Key you supplied earlier. In the ZIP file you’ll find your domain cert and three CA certs. Install them all.

The cert should now work for your domain, and you should be able to view your site securely using https at the start of the domain.

For my WordPress site, I also installed the WP Force SSL plugin to automatically redirect non-secure traffic to the secure domain.

Anyway, so it all works, and my richardbloomfield.com site is now encrypted and secure!

Web Hosting

I’ve spent the last week or so consolidating my web hosting accounts into one place, with my supplier of choice Hosting Ireland. As well as cutting down the administration overhead, it’s also going to save me some money.

I also didn’t realise, until I started the process, how many different domain names I own.  They were spread out over different domain registrars and hosting providers, and many of them are no longer in active use, but I like to keep hold of them – you know – just in case!  In total I have six domain names for my own personal use:

  • richardbloomfield.ie – My current blog, which has a rather snazzy Irish domain.
  • richardbloomfield.com – My so-called “professional” web site – not much on it.
  • bloomfield.me.uk – My old blog (now defunct), which forwards to my .com
  • layclerk.org – An old blog about cathedral music (now defunct), which also forwards to my .com
  • louiseandrichard.info – Our new wedding website – still under construction at the time of writing, but feel free to check it out!
  • bike.io – A new venture I’m trying out, to try and put together a cycling related information portal. Have tried writing a few articles, but the site doesn’t appear to be attracting any visitors.