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LinkedIn and Let’s Encrypt

letsencryptDear Reader,

Last night I was playing around with the LinkedIn REST API and quite by accident, I discovered something. If you have installed a Let’s Encrypt certificate on your site, LinkedIn will not read images included in your OpenGraph tags.

WTFBBG?!?

A little primer for my non-tech friends

Ok, for those of my readers who are not programmers, Open Graph is how sites like Facebook, twitter, and sometimes even LinkedIn display an image, a title, and a summary of a web page automagically when all you do is share the URL. Let’s look at an example.

If you go to my recent postcard, https://blog.calevans.com/2016/05/16/postcards-life-010/, and view the source of the page, you will eventually find a section with a bunch of meta tags. Some of them will look like this.

<meta property="og:title" content="Postcards From My Life - 010 - Postcards From My Life" />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://blog.calevans.com/2016/05/16/postcards-life-010/" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Postcards From My Life" />
<meta property="og:updated_time" content="2016-05-15T14:50:55-05:00" />;
<meta property="og:image" content="https://blog.calevans.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/palm_beach_001.jpg" />

See the “og:” there? that is your indicator that these are Open Graph tags. They give any site that pays attention vital information that otherwise, they would have to grep the HTML and attempt to infer. In the case of the tags above:

  • The page’s title
  • The page’s URL
  • The name of the site the URL comes from
  • When it was last updated
  • The image to use when displaying this URL.

That last one is important as it’s the one that LinkedIn is failing on.

Developers, start reading again

Behind the scenes, LinkedIn has a process that reads a webpage, finds the image, and hands all the open graph info back to the browser you are using via JavaScript. (What we used to call ajax) Somewhere in that chain

<pre>

Browser->LinkedIn Service->LinkedIn Image Service->Browser

</pre>

something is broken. Something doesn’t like Let’s Encrypt. How do I know, let’s run a quick test.

  1. Open LinkedIn.com in a separate tab and if you aren’t already so, log in.
  2. Click the “Share an Update” button
    Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.04.38 AM
  3. Past in this link. https://blog.calevans.com/2016/05/16/postcards-life-010/
  4. Notice that you see the title and the copy, but not the image. The image is blank.
    Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.04.55 AM
  5. Ok, abort this update and start a new one
  6. Paste in this URL https://voicesoftheelephpant.com/2016/05/10/interview-helen-housandi/
  7. See how the image appears? That is what is supposed to happen.
    Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.05.24 AM
  8. You can abort this update now as well. (Or post it, it’s a good interview)

Voices of the ElePHPant has a different cert because Apple doesn’t like Let’s Encrypt either.

Conclusion

If posting to LinkedIn is important to you – and it is not to me – then do not use a Let’s Encrypt certificate. Get you a cheap one from ssls.com.

 

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

Are Tivo and LinkedIn run by the same idiots?

Dear Reader,

DISCLAIMER: I have 2 Lifetime Tivo subscriptions and have been a member of LinkedIn since it was in beta.

I know a lot of you out there right now are scratching their heads and wondering what a Networking site and a PVR/DVR have in common. Here is what they have in common, ranks of upper management with closed minds.

Tivo

I was out at tivo.com yesterday and the first thing they did when I hit the page was ask if I would answer a survey after I finished my business. I of course agreed (I’m just that kind of guy) and so when I finished, I filled out the survey.

I gave them the usual answers anyone visiting tivo.com would.

  • 30 seconds is too long to wait for a page to load
  • Your site navigation is goofy
  • Your documentation is incomplete

However, the question they did NOT ask me is “What could we do to make your Tivo more useful to you?” See that’s a question I could write a book on. However, I won’t here, I’ll boil it down into a single concept. “Open it up and let me discover new ways to use it.”

I’m a programmer, when I look at a box like that (or my XBox 360) where the mfgr has obviously gone to great lengths to make sure that I can never run “unapproved” code on it, it just makes me sad. Open it up a bit. Let me build services that can interact with my Tivo. I understand your issues with copyright and I’m not trying to steal content. but hell, it’s a Linux box. Let me write a service that feeds a widget on my blog that shows what I’m watching at the moment. Let me suck down the data on what it’s recording and slice it and dice it myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a better way to recommend new shows.

There are hundreds of thousands of ideas for product enhancements that you don’t have to write, we, the hordes of hobbyist programmers and 21 Century tinkerers will make the Tivo an indispensable piece of equipment if you quit locking us out and realize that the Tivo can be so much more than an appliance, it can be a platform.

Oh and it’s ok if you don’t make any money off of each and every service written…make your money on the stuff you do and don’t try to charge me for the privileged of making your device better. Get it together Tivo, if you open up and let us help you, then Hollywood can’t stop you. You can either be the big dog, or stay a whipped puppy.

LinkedIn

These guys still don’t get it. (This is getting to be a regular topic for me.) I’m on LinkedIn and FaceBook both for very different reasons. However, I’m on facebook 3-4 times a day and linkedin 1-2 times a week. See the difference LinkedIn? Pictures in my profile aren’t enough, I want to actually DO SOMETHING with the data I’ve been giving you all these years. We’ve had this discussion before, “Why LinkedIn Sucks (and why I’ll keep using it)”, “LinkedIn Rant – Part II” and you’ve even promised progress but so far…nothing. Open up, let me do what I want with my data and all of a sudden you are useful enough for me to start paying for your service. Have you ever stopped and wondered why you aren’t growing as fast as facebook? It’s not the teens and tweens on facebook, it’s the fact that on facebook, people have freedom to experiment. On LinkedIn, I still can’t write a program that allows me to simply figure out which of my friends know each other…hell on facebook it’s a game!

If Facebook ever wises up and decided that it wants to be the big dog in your yard, you are so toast. Don’t wait for OpenSocial, give me an API and give it to me now. Anything I can do via a web page should be doable from an API. Do that and do it NOW and it’s a good start…it’s only a start but it is a start.

To both tivo and linkedin, I write this post, not because I’m a disgruntled user but because I really like both of you. Both of you however, need a swift kick in the ass to get you moving before you are relegated to the pile of other services I liked once but are now gone. (anyone remember GEnie? I LOVED GEnie!) Come on guys, closed is so last century, open up, let us into the playground and I guarantee that what we create will do more for your bottom line than any overpriced CEO will ever do.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Flock: FireFox on Steriods? Or just FireFox with Junk in the Trunk

Dead Reader,

Flock, the “Social Browser” built on Fire Fox. It’s now in release 1.0 so I decided to try it out.  I have to say, if you use any of the “Social” website, you are going to like Flock.

Social, All in One Place, Instead of All Over The Place

The main feature of Flock is it’s tight integration with social web sites.  As i write this, I have Flock open  with a side bar with tabs for FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr and youtube. As usual, LinkedIn seems to have managed to screw themselves out of another great opportunity by refusing to create an API. Their loss not withstanding the integration with the other sites is awesome.  The sidebar allows me to see the status or changes that I would normally have to visit the site to see.  Additionally, in the case of FaceBook I can change my status and in the case of twitter, I can tweet, directly from the sidebar. Additionally, there is an “All” tab that combines all the feeds into one. Great way to get a birds eye view of what is going on and what has changed.

The handling of media is great also.  When my daughter uploads pictures to her facebook account, the word “Media” under her facebook picture turns orange.  Clicking on it doesn’t open up another web page though, it opens a tab at the top and shows me her pictures. Flock truly integrates with these sites they feel like part of the browser, not just an add on or afterthought.

As much as I like my friend Ed’s AIR application Spaz, Flock has become my interface to twitter.

A Better FireFox Than FireFox?

One of the things that originally drew me to Flock was rumors that they had improved FireFox’s memory management.  Possibly because I’ve not yet installed all of my extensions that I use in FireFox but Flock is snappier, uses less memory and can stay open for days at a time without leaking memory. With FireFox, I routinely have to shut down all browsers after more than 4 hours because it starts to pause between page loading, field switching or tab switching…it gets really annoying.

Blogging Friendly

Another great feature of Flock is the blogging tool they integrate into it. I’m writing this post from the “Blog Editor” It easily integrates with any of the major blogging sites or, as in my case, WordPress. However, no matter what page you are on, your blog is just a right-click away. The right click menu contains a “blog this” menu item that brings up the blog editor ready with a link ot the page already pasted in for you.

Summary

I live in a browser, it’s just the world I work in, so browser performance is very important to me. Add to it the fact that I actually save RAM by not having to run a separate twitter client as well as time and bandwidth by not having to check the sites I participate in regularly to keep current and I have to say that Flock is really a winner. If you participate in any of the socal networks mentioned or you have been having performance issues with FireFox, I highly recommend you take a look at Flock.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Tags: flock, firefox, youtube, facebook, flickr, blogging, linkedin, review, browsing

LinkedIn Rant – Part II

Dear Reader,
This note actually started out as a reply to Fred’s comment on my first LinkedIn post. Since it kinda grew to a general post, I thought it best to make it a post out of it. To really understand it thought you have to read Fred’s post because he’s bailing on LinkedIn and explains why.

Good point Fred,

My problem is I like the *promise* of linkedin. Up till now they have not really delivered on the promise. I want to know who my friends know. I like the fact that I can’t see more than one level deep because more than that will just encourage spam.

Since I wrote this blog I’ve had 2 interesting LnkedIn encounters.

1) I send a message to someone through 2 people. My wife (the lovely and talented Kathy) was interested in a job at a company. I found that I was connected to the VP of HR at this company through 2 other people so I wrote a message for her and sent it. My friend passed it on to his friend. However, his friend refused to pass it on to the VP. He felt it was beneath the VP’s attention. Well, my problem is that the *promise* of LinkedIn is that you *can* get access to people at this level. So once again, LinkedIn has failed to deliver any *real* benefit to me. (Sidebar: For the record, I have always felt it is everyone’s job at any company to continue to scout talent. The idea that it’s “beneath” the VP of HR to take a look at a resume is stupid, it’s his freakin JOB.)

2) I had a reader write me and invite me into their network. The problem I have is I’ve never met this person. With very few exceptions, I know everyone in my LinkedIn network personally. (Ironically, you are one of the few exceptions) So while I was honored that he would want me in his network, I had to respectfully decline.

I’d love for someone to come up with an alternative to LinkedIn for allowing me to discover who is in my distributed network. It needs to be something easy to use, something that does not require a programmer to operate. Most importantly, it needs to let me keep my data in my silo and let out as much or as little as possible. I’d even pay a reasonable fee to be a part of this new service.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Why LinkedIn Sucks (and why I’ll keep using it)

Dear Reader,

I am addicted to LinkedIn. I tell my friends that it’s Pokemon for adults. (Gotta collect them all!) It’s fun to be able to see everyone you know and see who they know.

Here’s the problem though, it’s a freakin silo. It’s my data but I can only use it in the 3-5 ways that THEY prescribe. I’ve spent time over the past 3-4 weeks working on a little project to help me visualize my relationships via LinkedIn. The first thing I did was scour the web looking for an API, official or unofficial. No dice. I don’t mean I typed in LinkedIn and API on google and gave up after the first page. I checked every source I could find for one and came up empty handed. (There were, however, numerous posts like this one that gripe about the lack of an API.)

Next I started poking around with some code. Actually, I can now login and see pages but LinkedIn is doing some funny stuff (probably to thwart legitimate users like myself who want to eventually see value in their data) in their HTML, Cookies and JavaScript.

This sucks and I’m calling shenanigans on LinkedIn. Look guys, it’s my data. If I want to mine it for obtuse relationships, I should be able to. Honestly, you are delivering this info via HTML. It is only a matter of time before I or someone brighter than me breaks the code and starts sucking that data into a database that will let me use it instead of pay to use it.

Quit trying to sell me expensive InMail and other cruft and build an API. Don’t TELL me your service is valuable with crap like this plastered everywhere.

LinkedIn makes you 30 times more likely to get a response.

Let me figure out ways to make your service valuable to me. Then if you can figure a way to make that valuable to you, we’ve got a win-win. (Hint to LinkedIn’s CEO, the first win in win-win is the customer, not the company!)

Give us a damn API and I’m betting we find way to make the service valuable to everyone. Then, maybe I’ll pay to join. Not because you made the service valuable but because I did.

Sigh, but I know that no one from LinkedIn will read this and even if they did, they will ignore it like the 5 emails I’ve sent them asking for any hint or clue as to whether they are going to provide us with an API.

Until then, I’ll keep plugging away with my code, and I’ll keep using the service. I continue to use them in the hopes that one day I can free my data. Right now they are the best game in town for collecting professional connections. I just want to actually do something with my connections instead of just looking at them.

When I can finally get my data and start looking at it in fresh and exciting ways, maybe I’ll even tell LinkedIn about it.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. Go get your own.