QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.A Disturbance in the Force

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness)
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force…” © 20th Century Fox

I haven’t tinkered with anything on this website for a while. Obviously I couldn’t allow that to continue, because tweaking is what I do!

New Host

Perhaps the biggest change is the move to a new host. I am now entrusting this website to Vidahost, having moved from the SDF. I have been with the SDF for a decade or longer and continue to use their servers for other projects. But I wanted to go a little further with the Perpetual βeta than I was able to on their platform.

New Domain Name

Perpetual βeta now has a corresponding domain name — perpetual-beta.org — and about time too. The website is still accessible at http://darkblue.sdf.org/ and all previous links, bookmarks and URL‍s should redirect to their corresponding pages on this domain (because cool URI‍s don’t change).

W-w-why?

The default domain for this website is www.perpetual-beta.org rather than my preferred perpetual-beta.org (often referred to as the “naked” domain). I have never liked the “www” prefix on web addresses. I know, of course, of the long-standing practice of naming Internet hosts according to the services they provide, but “www” seems entirely redundant to me. URL​s can get unwieldy as it is, without the burden of four additional characters.

Also, I dislike the prefix itself. It’s one of the only initialisms I know that takes longer to say than the words it represents.1  Try it:

double-you, double-you, double-you

versus:

world wide web

It’s cumbersome to say a “www”-prefixed web address out loud (over the phone to your customers for example). Surely a better prefix would have been a simple “web”?2

However, there are sound reasons why we should use the prefix and it’s significant that the majority of these have the potential to impact on performance:

  • CDN: It can be difficult to integrate with a CDN as the naked domain cannot have a CNAME record in its DNS;3
  • Assets: If we use the naked domain, any cookies get sent to all sub-domains. This is undesirable behaviour if one intends to use a sub-domain for serving static assets (images, etc.);4
  • Cookies: There are additional problems in sharing cookies between the naked domain and its sub-domains;
  • Recognition: Even today some users might not recognise that a naked domain is actually a server they can visit with their web-browser;

If you do use perpetual-beta.org you’ll still get here, through the magic of mod_rewrite. However, you might notice that your browser quietly inserts the “www” prefix into the URL in the process.5  Shame really.

mod_deflate

I am now able to use mod_deflate.6  It’s available on the Vidahost servers by default. With the mod_deflate filter in the request pipeline, the server can compress text-based files before it delivers them to your web-browser (which then transparently uncompresses them). This results in smaller files, which download faster, making the website feel more responsive.

Git

I have changed the source control from SVN to Git with this iteration of the website. The ease with which Git imports from SVN was a pleasant surprise. All my branches and tags survived the migration and my entire commit history is intact. That’s impressive.

Syndication

Your RSS feed from the Perpetual βeta should still work, if my redirection mojo is up to scratch. However, you might see some read articles appear in your feed reader and I apologise for that.

If things are not working properly I respectfully ask that you unsubscribe from the darkblue.sdf.org feed and subscribe to the perpetual-beta.org version. In fact, I would recommend that you do that in any instance.

Damage Report

As you can see, these are significant changes. I have tested the new site extensively but there’s a chance I have missed something. If you find anything that’s broken would you be so kind as to shoot me a quick email: webmaster@perpetual-beta.org and let me know?

Thank you.

  1. Apparently the late Douglas Adams said the same thing. ↩︎

  2. So why didn’t I use “web” then? Well, I couldn’t really break with tradition now could I? ↩︎

  3. See also: Why does Heroku warn against “naked” domain names? ↩︎

  4. See also: How do I set up a cookie-less domain? ↩︎

  5. See also: www. is not deprecated ↩︎

  6. The SDF sys-admins would never install it on their servers, for reasons I was unable to determine. ↩︎