Mostly about my amusement

Month: September 2009 (page 1 of 2)

SSL certs for free and not self signed?

I may have been under a rock lately. I saw on Reddit that Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 supported StartSSL certificates. So as a goof I signed up at and applied for a free server certificate.

I generated via their web page a certificate for, installed it on my apache server and started using it. Firefox complained that I’m not certified as I have not validated who I am. That’s reasonable and very X.509v3 of them.

Internet Explorer 8 used the SSL cert for my server without a single hiccup. Other than my WordPress mixes http and https on the same page, there were no complaints. Internet Explorer just used the SSL cert without any problems.

I use SSL certs for privacy and not for identity, so self-signed SSL  certs that I have generated are no big deal for me. But having a Microsoft browser not complain about my SSL web site is surreal.

Edit: Oh. Turns out you also need to follow these instructions too. I added SSLCertificateChainFile to my conf and on my other laptop Firefox does not complain at all now. Chrome works like a charm too.

How did I find out about my misconfiguration? Because I recieved this e-mail from StartSSL this morning:

This mail is intended for the person who owns a digital certificate issued by the StartSSL™ Certification Authority (

It seems, that the installation of your server certificate with serial number 45568 for is not complete! You should add the intermediate CA certificate to your installation. This is important, because most browsers will issue an error if this is not properly done. Please consult the installation instructions at on how to do that. The missing certificate can be obtained from

Best Regards

StartCom Ltd.
StartSSL™ Certification Authority

So after I applied for a cert, they reached out to check if I installed it correctly. For Free. How cool is that?

Off camera flash


I’m playing with my new camera and got to a feature that does not exist on my D60: off camera flash. It’s easy to set up the D300s to use the built in flash solely for commander mode.

On my SB-800 flash, I held down the SEL button for two seconds to get to the next menu.  There I was able to set up the flash as a remote. On the camera I set the flash to commander mode without also using it as a TTL flash (you can use it as TTL flash and commander at the same time).

The results were really good.  I put the flash on its stand and pointed it 45 degrees at a wall. Resting it on the floor worried me because of the kids running around. Bouncing off of the wall filled up the room nicely without making the light harsh at all.

This feature exists on most of the Nikon cameras such as on the D70 and above. It’s an old feature that is part of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS). But for me it’s all new and very cool.

The Nikon D300s came in


So after months of waiting, I finally got a Nikon D300s with the updated 18-200mm VR lens.

I was originally planning on getting a Nikon D90 which would have been a fine upgrade from my existing D60.  But Lily intervened and pointed out that getting a D90 now and possibly repeating this in a year in a half might not really be a good idea.  A new D300s would almost certainly keep me entertained for a couple of years.

The conversation went like this:

Me: I’d like to replace my D60 with a D90.

Lily: No. Get the next model up, that makes more sense.

Me: Oh, okay. But only because you are twisting my arm and forcing me.

That conversation was in May. I waited for the D300s because I knew that the D300 was at the end of its for sale life and I like to get the latest and greatest versions. The D300 is an amazing camera but the controls are updated on the D300s and for fun Nikon added video. The video is more of a novelty for me, I just like how fast my new camera focuses and handles low light.

Right after I got it I updated my Adobe raw converter to version 5.5 and downloaded the latest PTLens version. My Photoshop Elements work flow is to fix the white balance, adjust for lens distortion, and crop. Not complicated but having the updated software helps.

Today I took over 200 photos of a 5 year old’s birthday party.  Compared to the D60, the D300s felt heavier but not unwieldy. The autofocus is fast and accurate.  Low light bounces the ISO up to >1600 but that works out on this camera.

I’m playing around with it like crazy and I’m hoping that I get a chance to take some memorable pictures soon.

Don’t look at the clock, just go to sleep

You know how when you can’t sleep, your eyes sometimes wander to the digital clock on the night table? At some point everyone does that. It’s no good since you are not going to sleep, you are just watching the clock countdown. The whole night can go by that way repeating that same counter productive routine.

Last night I was trying to sleep along those lines. But being an overachiever, I was much more counter productive than that.

Yesterday evening Lily and I went swimming and we did 10 laps together. She’s a better swimmer than I am, since I don’t push myself too hard.  My muscles will not cramp up because at the first sign of warning I slow it down. Even taking it easy I still get really tired.

Just like last week, water got into my right ear and I could not hear much from that side.  We got home and eventually went to sleep.  Or Lily did, I spent the night pulling, tugging and prodding my sensitive ear.

At some point around 3 AM I went to the bathroom and poked at my ear with a q-tip.  Then in a pre-dawn state of mind, I poured some hydrogen peroxide in my ear. My thinking was that I had a build up of ear wax. This flat out did not solve my problem but my ear sure got sore.

Now, I do not know anything at all about the human ear.  If I was not so tired and had slept, then I am sure my response to my idea for treatment would have been “Wow, that’s just stupid”.  Normally I would expect that my ear would get worse from that plan but at 3 AM it seemed like a pretty good idea.

I did not get to sleep at all and when the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning I tried to go downstairs to have my coffee.  I did not make it, I was just too freaking tired. I thought that if I went to the office in my nervous state of mind, I would have a psychotic episode. So I called in sick and kept my hands off my ear.

It’s now 12 hours later and still no sleep. And my ear is only a little better. I have to do a parent-teacher meeting tonight, it’s my first one this semester. I think I will let my wife do all the talking. Next week I have a scheduled doctor’s appointment so I’ll skip any further swimming till I speak with him.

I’m really hoping I sleep like a log tonight.

Making a Tooth for the Tooth Fairy

Note from Jan Dembowski: This post is from my friend André Quitta. André sometimes shares his stories here.

My son, Aaron, is six years old and just lost his first tooth. It was one of his bottom front teeth, one that had been loose for about a week. He had heard about the Tooth Fairy and was excited about the nighttime exchange that was to come. He had lost the tooth somewhere at sometime during the day and became sad about the missed opportunity. However, his mother had convinced him that a visit from the Tooth Fairy would still be possible. The next morning he was happy to see a quarter under his pillow and planned to ensure that future teeth were safely put aside.

He called me last night to tell me about his monetary gain and I mentioned to him that there may be additional funds possible at our house, because I knew a thing or two about the Tooth Fairy. He was convinced it was the lack of tooth under his pillow that caused the shortfall in expected funds. His solution was that we should build a tooth by making a small white box with the prongs that hold a tooth in place. We could go to Home Depot and get the right supplies. He suggested we get a kind of paint to make the manufactured tooth “super white, whiter than anything, like yellow.” He also said we should buy paint of a different color so that when the tooth fairy comes, she’d be splattered and we would know she was there.

I shared with him that paint tends to dry quickly. His solution was to apply multiple coats of paint on the constructed tooth so that it stays wet. I also expressed my concern that the Tooth Fairy may not appreciate getting paint splattered on her and it could impact future financial transactions. Ever quick thinking, Aaron said we would buy clear paint at Home Depot. I had not heard of this before but told him that we could ask the people at Home Depot for guidance. The last detail on the manufactured tooth was that we would need to buy cotton to fill the tooth. He reasoned that because the Tooth Fairy is clever, she would know if the tooth was just a hollow box and thereby feel tricked, thus diminishing any future financial funds. Ultimately, we may go with tissues or paper towels, depending on availability and most importantly authenticity. I’ll let you know how the project turns out.

Completed F.E.A.R.2:Reborn (DLC)

That WAS quick. The name of this downloadable (hint: the Reborn part?) content should tell anyone who played the original F.E.A.R. what this was about.

The game play was okay and I hope that Monolith either releases more content. If there is a F.E.A.R.3 then this mini-episode will set things up nicely for the return of the original protagonist.

Now to turn off the lights, crank up the volume and replay F.E.A.R.2.

Swimming once a week

I’m exhausted, my ears are clogged up, and I smell like chlorine. I’ve signed up with Lily to go to the Half Hollow Hills West Natatorium once a week for laps.

See, I’ve only been used to swimming at a leisurely pace to hang out.  I have successfully avoided going to a gym my entire life.  But Lily has been taking lessons for more than a year. Last semester she cast off all of her fear and swam in the 12 foot deep section.

Swimming is great exercise and tomorrow I will ache. I don’t think there is a muscle in my body that I have missed. I’ll keep up with it but I have to do something about my ears.  My right ear’s hearing is off by half and that bugs me.

The things I do to spend more time with my wife.