Thursday, December 27, 2018

This blog isn’t insecure

Recently, Google, which hosts these Blogspot/Blogger blogs, made a change to allow secure connections over “https”. This is a good thing because it prevents malicious code/links from being loaded to infect/cause problems for visitors’ computers. However, it can cause problems for otherwise legitimate blogs, too, which requires some work. Bloggers with Blogspot/Blogger blogs will need to learn how to make sure their blog can cope with this change, and that will mean tinkering with things. I did that today.

The purpose of a secure connection is to keep the connection between a site (in this case a blog) and the user secret, that is, no one can view the network traffic to see what information is being exchanged. On most sites, this is really useful, on a blog, not as big a deal. The only information send from user to the site is usually comments, which aren’t usually very risky for anyone, but it’s good to keep those secure, too.

The easiest non-compliant things to fix were the clocks/timer in the upper right corner of this blog. They link to timeanddate.com, which is pretty safe—at least, I’ve never heard of any hackers exploiting it. With a secure connection to this blog, the clocks and timer disappeared. All I had to do to fix that was change the URL from http to https, since the site already accepted secure connections.

The bigger concern for me was how to change the Disqus commenting system I use. That took me several days to figure out.

The help section on Disqus talked about using the “universal code” and used words and phrases that I presume were English, but I had no idea what they meant. That option wasn’t really an option.

So, I kept looking for how to fix it when I decided to look back at the way to install Disqus on a Blogger blog. I went to the gadget to try and edit it, but there was no code to edit.

Next, I went back to Disqus and changed the address for my blog to an https address. That didn’t fix the problem.

Finally, as an act of desperation, I went back to the Install part of Disqus to generate a new gadget which, I was hoping, included the universal code the original help file was talking about. I installed that, and the problem was fixed: Comments reappeared.

I began this post as a way to provide a workaround for readers of this blog, but I realised it was better and simpler for everyone if I could figure out how to fix the problem rather than try to get visitors to take special steps. That’s what I spent my afternoon doing today. How was your afternoon?

My podcast site is really a self-hosted Wordpress blog, and because I pay for the hosting I have full access to the HTML code, which actually makes it easier to fix problems like this (although, at the moment it doesn't accept https connections—but that's a project for another day). Editing computer code doesn’t sound easy, I know, but sometimes it’s really easier than trying to fix things in closed systems like Blogger/Blogspot or a Wordpress.com (free) blog. This is probably a case of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Well, assuming one has a lot of time to work through the problem. Lucky for me it’s summer holidays right now.

In the dozen the years I’ve done this blog, I’ve had to fix problems several times, and each of them took a lot of my time, generated a lot of frustration, and, ultimately, I succeeded. I’ll admit that it certainly feels like I’ve spent a lot of my time fixing stuff, but the reality is that when spread over 12 years, it’s not really all that much, I guess.

In any case, the important thing is that there were problems with this blog caused by what was really a good idea/upgrade to Blogger/Blogspot blogs. I fixed those problems. And once again peace reigns supreme in this corner of the blogging universe.


rogerogreen said...

I was having a dreadful time commenting on your blog. Not that that I ever would. Comment, I mean. That's just not what I do.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

While I hope that changing the Disqus code to "universal" will fix your commenting problems, I'm not sure it will. Still, it's good to live with hope…