News items for tag web - Koos van den Hout

2017-08-19 Moving to https 2 months ago
I received a notification from the google webmaster program that chrome browser would start showing security warnings on due to the search box there.

The simple solution: make the site correctly available via https and redirect to the https version. I found out I already started doing the first bit and therefore the conversion was easy. Now with encrypted connections: The Virtual Bookcase.

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2017-03-26 It was Groundhog day again! 6 months ago
I have Gooogle Sightseeing on my 'regular visit' list because they found really interesting places all over the world and I liked to make a virtual visit to those places myself.

But lately the site hasn't been updated much and now I notice it has three 'Groundhog day' articles on the front page: Groundhog Day for 2017, Groundhog Day for 2016 and Groundhog Day for 2015. The last non-Groundhog Day article is from May 2015.

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2016-11-03 Speeding up my website(s) with mod_perl 11 months ago
I am currently working on a new version of one of the sites I manage in perl, rewriting it from php. I noticed loading times were slower and gave mod_perl a try.

The basic configuration of mod_perl is quite simple. This did not give me the big advantage in web server speed, that came when I added:
PerlModule Apache::DBI
to the apache2 config. The Apache::DBI module caches database connections for supported drivers, this speeds up database-dependent scripts. The module comes from the ubuntu package libapache-dbi-perl and Apache will throw really bad errors at you when the module you want to load is not available.

This is now enabled for my homepage site too. The processing times of the pages don't change much, but the startup of the perl interpreter, modules and scripts is much faster so the waiting time is a lot less.

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2016-10-25 Speeding up apache by not resolving for access 12 months ago
I was testing something on my own webserver and noticed the loading time of the page was over 10 seconds. Browsing the log showed me the hostname of the client was logged which was not what I wanted, and the IPv4 address I had at that moment was slow to resolve. It turned out this was caused because the part I was visiting has an authentication check, which looked like:
    <Location />
        Order deny,allow
        Deny from all
        Allow from localhost
        AuthName "Restricted access"
        AuthType basic
        AuthUserFile /...
        AuthGroupFile /dev/null
        Require valid-user
        Satisfy Any
Using the name 'localhost' triggered the resolver. A big speedup was caused by changing to:
    <Location />
        Order deny,allow
        Deny from all
        Allow from
        AuthName "Restricted access"
        AuthType basic
        AuthUserFile /...
        AuthGroupFile /dev/null
        Require valid-user
        Satisfy Any
Which let me concentrate on other methods to speed up the site.

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2016-10-20 Being way behind in webdesign... 1 year ago
I recently started pondering making the text font on my homepage slightly less black because I saw a lot of pages with different shades of grey looking (to me!) easier on the eyes and more 'modern'. So I finally updated the stylesheet of my homepage (still HTML4, so already outdated) to use a not completely black (#000000) color for all text but something slightly lighter. I changed it to #202020.

And one of the first things I saw right after testing and implementing that change (of course the css file of my homepage is under version control to move it from the development version to the production version) was... How the Web Became Unreadable - Kevin Marks.

I guess I missed the cycle completely. I'll stick with the current colour for a while. I'm not a graphic designer, I am just lagging in sometimes updating design things.

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2016-10-13 A few pictures added to The Transmission Gallery 1 year ago
I am a fan and regular visitor of The Transmission Gallery and a photographer. But it is not very often I can submit pictures for The Transmission Gallery as it is aimed at transmitters in the United Kingdom.

But on our recent holiday in the UK lake district I noticed on one campsite I had a direct view of a TV transmitter tower. And good, fast mobile data from the same tower. So I took a walk to photograph the transmitter so I could add something to The Transmission Gallery.

So, now available to the general public: Keswick - Pictures taken August 2016 - The Transmission Gallery.

My previous addition to the gallery was in 2010: Wooler - The Transmission Gallery. We have visited the United Kingdom a few times in between but never got close to a transmitter site or the weather hid the site completely in clouds or fog.

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2016-06-02 Not filling my disk with .well-known/acme-challenge directories 1 year ago
Encrypt all the things meme I am slowly gaining trust in my Let's Encrypt setup and today I renewed my certificate. One thing I noticed on the first tries was that the whole process left me with a .well-known/acme-challenge directory in every website. Solution: use the options for a general configuration item available in Apache which is then inherited by all virtual hosts. So now I have in the general configuration:
Alias /.well-known/acme-challenge/ "/home/httpd/html/.well-known/acme-challenge/"

<Directory "/home/httpd/html/.well-known/acme-challenge/">
        AllowOverride None
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
So now there is only one directory filling up with challenge-response files which is easier to clean out. I have seen filenames for challenge response with a - at the start so rm * started to complain.

The first complete change to https is on Camp Wireless, Wireless Internet access on campsites.

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2016-05-24 Updating the Electronic QSL collection for SWL reports 1 year ago
In the Electronic QSL received at PD4KH / PE4KH I have some SWL reports received via eQSL and I decided I should note these correctly. So I updated the script that generates this page and now NL12621, DL-SWL/DE1PCE, R4A-1227 and others are properly noted.

I haven't found a conclusive list of all SWL 'callsigns' so I may miss some.

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2016-04-29 Now available as TLS encrypted website 1 year ago
Encrypt all the things meme I consider it testing at the moment, but you can visit The mixed-content warning will not go away soon since I partly depend on images and audiofiles from sources not (yet) available via https.

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2016-04-28 First tries with letsencrypt certificates 1 year ago
A while ago I already pondered preparing links in my websites for https. With Let's Encrypt I can get free domain validating certificates for TLS encrypting my traffic. Even the subjectAltName extension is supported to get multiple domain names on one certificate. But it took me a while to really get around to implementing the rest and testing the results.

The standard way of using letsencrypt is a bit too much 'for dummies' to my taste. The suggested and supported method for using Let's Encrypt uses the standard Let's Encrypt client which is very good at modifying apache configurations on it's own.

I would like free certificates, but not at the price of letting that script do things to my webserver configuration. So I asked around and someone pointed me at letsencrypt-nosudo with the brilliant introduction:
I love the Let's Encrypt devs dearly, but there's no way I'm going to trust their script to run on my server as root, be able to edit my server configs, and have access to my private keys. I'd just like the free ssl certificate, please.
Exactly my thoughts. So I used that script, got my brain around what was happening and now I have a TLS certificate for a number of my private domains.
Read the rest of First tries with letsencrypt certificates

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2016-03-31 Interesting report from pskreporter 1 year ago
PSKreporter negative time Interesting report from pskreporter psk map today: a negative time at which the signal was reported. I guess the reported time is taken from the original spotter, I had EB4DDQ in the log at 18:12 UTC, he had me in the log at 19:12 UTC.

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2016-02-02 Humor van 1 year ago
In lynx krijg ik ook de melding over een adblocker van Nee, ik heb geen adblocker in lynx!

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2016-01-20 Testing protocol-relative hyperlinks with letsencrypt in mind 1 year ago
I am pondering making my websites available via https using a Let's Encrypt certificate which are free and support multiple servernames. Currently I have one HTTPS site running with a certificate signed by my own CA which is only trusted by my own systems.

Chances are that I will find lots of places where I will get mixed-content warnings and things that will break. So switching to https-only will have to wait.

But the good news is that it's possible to omit the protocol from a hyperlink, leading to the following bit of HTML code in Nice APRS track this morning:

<img src="//" alt="APRS track PD4KH 20160108" title="APRS track PD4KH 20160108"><br>
This will keep working when becomes reachable via https and will not give a mixed-content warning. I just have to make sure the http and https versions of work exactly the same.

At the moment this works fine, even when viewing the RSS feed using sage. According to Can I change all my http:// links to just //? on stackoverflow the number of browsers that don't support this is very small.

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2015-11-08 Latest QSOs on my hamradio site 1 year ago
It's possible to get your 'most recent QSOs' (radio contacts) on a website using iframes/scripts from sites like or

I had to do my own thing and get the data from my logging application CQRLOG which has all my radio contacts logged. In a MySQL database. Which is not my preferred database, but it works with CQRLOG and I don't touch it otherwise.

A bit of searching found me Accessing the MySQL server spawned by CQRlog - N0NB which had the right incantations. I used this to build a perl script which does an SQL query to extract the latest QSOs, like:
        SELECT callsign,band,mode,loc,rst_s,rst_r,qsodate
        FROM cqrlog_main
        ORDER BY qsodate DESC LIMIT 10
Followed by some work to export the data to a format the webserver for my website can pick up even when the 'radio' desktop is not running. And the result is now visible at the top right of PD4KH Amateur radio - Koos van den Hout.

Having the script really shut up when MySQL isn't running was a bit of work, but in the end this works in my crontab:
./ 2>/dev/null

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2015-07-24 Less flash but still playable audio 2 years ago
I like to sometimes add audio to items here on my homepage. In a format accessible for anyone with both download and play in browser options. Until now this was done using a flash-based player but lately flash has not been the secure option.

With the latest browsers it is quite possible to have an html5 audio player, but to keep it accessible for every visitor I also want to keep the flash audio player available. So I looked up how to do that and found Using HTML5 audio and video.

The linked audio is also available as attachments to the homepage RSS feed which is the standard for podcast feeds but since the recordings of satellite passes don't have an audio explanation or introduction they are not very usable as a podcast feed.

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2015-05-04 Keeping PHP to a minimum 2 years ago
I noticed the recent upgrades left some PHP scripts non-working. The default is now to disable PHP in userdirs, via:
    # To re-enable php in user directories comment the following lines
    # (from  to .) Do NOT set it to On as it
    # prevents .htaccess files from disabling it.
    <IfModule mod_userdir.c>
        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
            php_admin_value engine Off
I decided I want some PHP in userdirs, but while I was working on this configuration I want to turn the default around: disable the PHP engine in the global configuration and only enable it on those sites where I need it for the site. So now /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini has:
; Enable the PHP scripting language engine under Apache.
engine = Off
And some sites that need it have in the VirtualHost config:
# enable php
    php_flag engine 1
    <FilesMatch "\.ph(p3?|tml)$">
        SetHandler application/x-httpd-php

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2015-03-27 Overly interested Amazon EC2 nodes 2 years ago
On Camp Wireless and The Virtual Bookcase I see the following pattern in the access logs:
2620:108:700f::36bc:aade - - [27/Mar/2015:13:27:11 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 302 298 "-" "curl/7.36.0"
2406:da00:ff00::36e2:d963 - - [27/Mar/2015:13:27:38 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 302 298 "-" "curl/7.36.0"
Constant requests, 2 or 3 per minute from Amazon EC2 IPv6 addresses just requesting the / using curl. Over the day I now see 1334 unique addresses with at most 5 requests from one url.

The same pattern as described in Stange stream of HTTP GET requests in apache logs, from amazon ec2 instances - Server Fault with no real answer to the why.

It's not a problematic amount of traffic, I'd just like to understand what is happenning!

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2015-03-23 Meer mobiel geschikte pagina's 2 years ago
Recent gaf google me allemaal meldingen dat mijn websites niet goed zouden werken op mobiele apparaten (telefoons, tablets). Het gevolg is dan dat google bij zoeken vanaf mobiele apparaten de sites ook minder aantrekkelijk zou vinden.

Mijn eerste gedachte was dat dat me niet zoveel uitmaakt omdat de gemiddelde bezoeker van mijn sites wel vanaf een desktop of laptop PC komt. Maar aan de andere kant doe ik simpele dingen ook vaker vanaf een tablet tegenwoordig en zag in ieder geval mijn homepage er daarop niet uit. En sites als Camp Wireless hebben zeker een mobiel publiek.

Alleen liep mijn kennis wat achter. De laatste keer dat ik serieus keek naar sites voor mobiele devices was toen WAP de oplossing was. Dus maar eens de informatiepagina's gelezen die google aangaf, over viewport gebruik en media queries voor CSS.

Voor de meeste sites is het een simpele CSS aanpassing om een en ander mogelijk te maken. Onder een bepaalde breedte hebben de 2 kolommen die ik vaak gebruik niet zoveel zin. Dus met de media query dit opgelost. Nu langzaam maar zeker sites aanpassen. En van sommige sites moeten echt dingen aangepast worden (juist camp-wireless..) omdat daar nog deels verouderde technieken gebruikt worden die aanpassingen voor mobiel moeilijk maken.

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2015-02-23 Preparing for upgrades and testing speed improvements for my homepage 2 years ago
As part of a needed upgrade on my homeserver I will also have to deal with Apache 2.4 and the changes needed there. Because some other things will change completely like asterisk I used an old server with comparable packages to do the same upgrades and test the results.

As keen visitors to my page may have noticed I am interested in the performance. This test-setup also gives me room to experiment with some possible new methods. I have to establish a baseline on that server first since it has different hardware.
Read the rest of Preparing for upgrades and testing speed improvements for my homepage

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2014-11-24 Updates to my homepage 2 years ago
With some newsitems here on my homepage getting longer I started to feel the need to make a more blog-like format possible with items with an introduction and longer text. And titles here and there to give a better title to newsitems that deserve it. So some changes to the database format, support scripts and all the scripts generating pages.

The changes were big enough to update the version number so now it is 4.5.

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PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 local copy PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 via keyservers pgp key statistics for 0x5BA9368BE6F334E4 Koos van den Hout
Other webprojects: Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites, The Virtual Bookcase, book reviews, Weather maps