Surf the Dream A discourse of links and articles from Justin Avery

Category Archive: Writing

  1. Is it illegal to park across someone’s driveway?

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    How frustrating is that!!!!

    We have a car parking place in London that is included in our contact running the studios.

    There are a few business that also are within the area we park, but there’s one that is always annoying.

    The London kitchen

    The Lndon Kitchen decides that it’s a great idea to park their car across a clearly marked NO PARKING area, blocking off access to the parking spot.

    The first time this happened our car was trapped for two hours on a Friday night while we waited for someone to move the van before embarking on a 4 hour drive with a 18mth old.

    Now it’s Sunday evening and while I’d love to be relaxing at home with my family I’m instead waiting in the car park for someone to turn up and move the van so I can park in the space and go home for dinner.

    It’s really not hard London Kitchen… A little bit of curtesy, a dash of common sense and a sprinkling of being able to read and follow clear directions.

    I can only imagine the disasters that happen in the kitchen if they can’t follow basic instructions.

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  2. Off to Adobe Max

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    Today I’m off on an adventure after very fortunately being invited to speak at the Adobe max conference in LA.

    I’m going to be talking about 5 things to take your RWD to the next level, and as always I’m concerned that the talk won’t be good enough of miss the mark with the attendees.

    It’s a multi track event though, so only people that are interested in RWD should be there so it’s an order of magnitude less stressful than the talk at MobX about the universe.

    I’m doing some before and after shots of the London/Los Angeles climate…. London is being a little stereotypical today 


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  3. Side project 378

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    I’ve decided to take on another side project.

    The aim of it is to provide people with facts and interesting content about the history of time and the universe in an easy to consume site.

    The benefits for me is to try out a bit more progressive enhancement techniques. Really starting with the content and hyperlinks and building it up layer by layer.

    The biggest risk is if the publisher shits a brick and demands the content be pulled down, however I’m repurposing a free pdf I found on the web and making it easier to read with links to buy the book.

    Win win I think.

    Here’s some initial local grabs from the phone


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  4. Space Alphabet

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    As you should be well aware I love Space (I’m pretty fond of the alphabet as well).

    That’s why when I came across this yesterday I thought it would be remiss of me not to post about how wonderful this print really is. It’s something that your little ones will love, but also that they’ll learn from. Forget the basic A is for Apple rubbish… knowing what an Apple is will come naturally as they grow up anyway, but understanding what a Black Hole is…. that is opening up a whole realm of possibilities.

    Get your poster now or check out their full list of alphabet posters.

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  5. Responsive Performance

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    I’m setting up a new page over on the site looking for some guinea pigs lucky volunteers to start receiving reports and recommendations around their website performance across a variety of the devices and connections.

    Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reviews of site performance and most of the recommendations are being repeated across a variety of different sites. There are so many things that you can do today to shave off 20-50% of your webpage load time that it seems stupid not to do it.

    The idea behind the first few is to test the waters. I want to know if

    • Do the reports make sense?
    • Are you the recommendations easily achieveable
    • What are some of the barriers to get this done?
    • Do the metrics I’m checking link back to your business goals?
    • Can we track the return on investment for the work (although there’s no investment on your part to start with)

    The page should be up over the weekend and then I can start testing the work that I’ve already put together.

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  6. Dear Professor Cox

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    I’m preparing a talk for an upcoming conference and it’s going to center around the Universe and the Web, two things I’m incredibly passionate about.

    The web side of things I’m pretty solid on… after several years working in it you would hope I could at least grasp a few of the semi-difficult concepts. The Universe on the other hand, that’s a whole other thing. While I’ve kept up a keen interest over the years through a bit of reading there are still some basic concepts (like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) that I keep having to remind myself which is higher and which is lower (like a child remembering their left from right).

    To help me with this I’ve reached out to my favourite person in this field, Professor Brian Cox in a rambling contact form through his website. I can only imagine a LOT of people contact him about random thoughts and ideas… hopefully mine will strike a chord with him.

    Hello Professor Cox (or Brian – which ever you prefer),

    My name is Justin Avery and I spend a lot of time working on the web. Before I fell into working on the web I became incredibly interested in Space & the Universe. The first book that really started wrapping my head around things was called “Frozen Star” by George Greenstein. It was written in 1984 so by 1995 when I was reading it I’m sure a few further discoveries had been made, but it certainly provided a great launch pad to understanding (or wanting to understand further). These days my involvement is limited to re-posting NASA photos onto Facebook which has most of my friends and family from Australia asking if I’ve actually started working at NASA.

    For the past 2 years I’ve been wanting to tie these two passions together – the Universe and the Web, and present it to people in a way where they learn amazing things about both fields… but remaining the same lesson for each.

    This year I’ve been very fortunate to be asked to speak at a few Web conference events including Mobile UX in Berlin and an Adobe Conference in the U.S. and I’m working on possibly tying these two things together in a presentation finally.

    First of all, my theory isn’t anything ground breaking. I’m not proposing a new bubbling/expanding multiverse, I don’t have anything that breaks up strings into fibers, and time continues to run in the one direction (that’s right isn’t it?)

    My concept/theory is that man made design always follows nature. Gaudi was famous for this with his huge columns ridged and slightly twisting as they “grew” upwards to support the ceilings. I think the web is following the laws of the universe. I LOVE the description you give of Entropy in the BBC series, and I think that the web has done this over time. Our web pages now need increase their entropy. The previous web pages we have made have been rigid, like the sandcastle example you used, but with the many many devices in todays world our webpages need to be able to adapt… they need to naturally form themselves again given a new context. Like the sand in a sand pile can be reorganised in many ways and still produce the same thing, so too do websites need to be able to arrange themselves given the many different viewport/device/screen/assistive technology they are rendering upon. The web and it’s webpages need to increase in Entropy over time… just like the natural order of things.

    So that is one point. I want to draw other parallels between the vastness of the universe and the vastness of the web. I want to point out that the web has a massive advantage over what the Human Race can achieve in space. If you likened plants, stars, constellations, galaxies to page elements, web pages, web sites, (think of Facebook, Twitter, Google, as galaxies for example) then the web has a massive advantage in that we already have instant interstellar travel capabilities. The coordinates or our destination is the URI (this is incredibly important for the web) and the method of hyper-travel is the hyperlink. I then go into the performance of websites and how that can make it seem like travelling light years if the website is slow, and then also into the physics of actually requesting a web page on a cellular network from across the globe and how some delays are unavoidable.

    Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this, even more hopeful is that you like where it’s going.

    I can imagine you’re incredibly busy, but it would be amazing if you would be able to spare some time to either:
    – write back with a “this is stupid” or “this is awesome” or something in between
    – read over the draft presentation and point out any flaws (or bits I might have missed altogether)
    – jump on skype for an hour for a podcast chat about the concept (I run a series of podcasts at
    – catch up for a coffee to discuss the same thing if you’re ever in London

    In exchange I’d be more than happy to make a few updates to this site to increase it’s Entropy (am I even using the term in the right way?) – basically make it easier to use on mobile devices. If you’d like a bit of a design refresh as well I’m also happy to help out.

    I didn’t mention it to begin with, but I’m a huge fan of yours. After long conversations with my wife about physics concepts I usually find a youtube video of you explaining it much better… so thanks for that ;)

    Thanks for reading and I hope it all makes sense. I look forward to hearing back from you.



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  7. Next Steps in Responsive Design

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    Last week I was lucky enough to be the opening online speaker on Day 2 of the CSS Summit run and managed by Christopher Schmitt and Ari Styles from Environment for Humans.

    It was really enjoyable and even though I was really nervous I think everything went to plan. It was supposed to be 45 minutes long with 10-15 minutes of questions but I managed to stretch it all the way to 60 minutes… albeit having to speed up a little towards the end. To be honest I could have spaced it out to be two hours, but then no one wants to hear someone drone on for that long ;)

    You can flick through the slides below, they were based upon an article I wrote for Net Magazine that has recently been posted their Creative Bloq.

    There were some lovely tweets from folks that watched it so at least a few people enjoyed it.

    I’m going to be speaking at MobXConf in Berlin in September and a yet-to-be-confirmed-but-would-be-awesome conference in the US in October… more about that one hopefully later.

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  8. Enabling https SSL on your site

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    Update 3pm: After MUCH research I finally found that Plesk sucks. Further to this there are some fixes that were required for Plesk to ensure it was more SSL friendly. These updates moved me from an F to a B –


    Update 11am: The certificate was just the first step. I’m getting an F for security at the moment because a bunch of server vulnerabilities need to be fixed. You can see the real results here


    Yesterday I joined the Indie Web Camp in Dusseldorf at the lovely Sipgate. One of the topics that were discussed was around HTTPS and SSL.

    I challenged Jeremy Keith last night over a beer just what the point of using SSL on an otherwise public website. I figured that if all of the content on the site was publicly available then there was no point in making it secure.

    He, of course, set the record straight by explaining that it is more for the person receiving the information. By serving his content over https then people snooping on what I might be looking at will have a hard time seeing that I was reading his blog, and also I could be sure that there was no “Man in the Middle” that were changing Jeremy’s well chosen words.

    I was sold.

    Getting Stared: Obtaining the SSL Certificate

    This proved to be comically difficult. I went to go with NameCheap to purchase the certificate as they were only €8 for a domain (Wildcard is much more expensive). It was pointed out that I could get a free Certificate at StartSSL, this was also one of the topics during the chat yesterday… everyone felt it was wrong to be charging so much money for certificates.

    The comical bit came when I registered with StartSSL and was notified that it would take up to 6 hours to be issued with a certificate, and then proceeded to give me a SSL Certificate error when trying to log back in and check the status.

    Back to NameCheap.

    I purchased the certificate and was away.

    Enabling a certificate on you host

    There are a few different hosting providers that I use. One of which is a friends server and he provides Direct Admin to manage my account. The site I was looking to SSL enable was and it was hosted through my friends server, but unfortunately that particular server configuration would only allow his own parent domain to be assigned a certificate. Back to the drawing board.

    I have two other hosts, a handful of Digital Ocean boxes (one of which runs and Media Temple, something that is set up perfectly to manage multiple domains.

    After locating the DNS provider for the site (Cloudflare controls the DNS for these sites as is using a paid account there) I was able redirect traffic from the old host to the new location of the site, my Media Temple site.

    Generate a CSR Code

    This is the first step after buying the SSL certificate. It is done through the Plesk Control Panel provided through media temples hosting interface. Specific details on that process can be found on the Plesk site

    Activate the Certificate with CSR Code

    Once you have the CSR code (and you’ve safely saved the Private Key as well, I use 1Password for this stuff) then you will need to validate the request. You can either do this through WHOIS Record but the easier way would be to do it through an email verification. For this you will need an email account assigned to your domain ( is the one I had, but that wasn’t a choice for emails). You will want to have admin@ hostmaster@ webmaster@ or administrator@ as an email address to enable this. I host my emails through Google Apps so I was able to go through the user profile and add an alias for

    You need to confirm the details and an email will be sent to the address containing a link with a code for you to copy and paste. This took a few minutes to arrive and I pasted and submitted the confirmation which then results in another email being generated, although this time the email is generated to the administrative contact you specified when you confirm the details (for me this is justincavery at gmail).

    Three emails were sent. One was a thank you, the other was encouraging me to include a SEAL on the site (which pretty much advertises the SSL Certificate provider) and the final one contains a Zip file with 4 .CRT files and also a plain text for your domain certificate.

    The plesk instructions,, show that there is a standard certificate and then a bundle. I didn’t actually get the bundle as part of this process however Francis explained that I was able put them all into a single file myself, so I added each of the other three files into a single file and named it

    I was expecting fireworks when I clicked on commit but it simply added the contents of the files into the page and refreshed. Pfft.

    Enabling SSL/HTTPS

    On Plesk go to the Host Settings where you can update the domain name, hosting type, document root etc. The second option on this page is “Security”.

    SSL support should be ticked and you can pick the certificate from the select box. Save the changes and you are AWAY!

    Check SSL has worked

    You can head over to and test to see if the site now passes.

    You can see the results of

    Redirecting http to https

    The final step is to ensure that all your traffic will now be hitting the https version of your site. Depending on your hosting setup this can be done in a few ways, I found that .htaccess was the easiest approach.

    By adding the following to my .htaccess file I was able to redirect all traffic

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R,L]

    And we’re done. You can try this out for yourself by heading to and you should be redirected to the secure version of the site. Hoorah!

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  9. Roland Davies

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    I first met Roland Davies playing U12’s cricket in Darwin. I was playing batting at the time playing for PINTS and Roland was the wicket keeper for Darwin Cricket Club.

    He didn’t keep quite.

    “Go on, this bowlers rubbish, smash him out of the park”

    …. and more and more of the same. He managed to convince a few of my team mates as they attempted just that either to be stumped of caught… very clever ploy Mr Davies.

    Over the next two years we played in the same representative team (Darwin) and we played in the NT Championships in Alice Springs and Gove. On the second trip to Gove we both made the NT Primary Schools side managed by Russ Marlborough along with a series of other team mates who would go on to become long time friends.

    The team was made up from

    • Roland Davies
    • Aaron Shattock (shatz)
      Matthew Whealan (Wheels)
      Phillip Sutherland
      Jeff Oliver
      Robert M
      Ross Stanger
      Michael Greenup

    and a number of other players.

    Both Shatz and Wheels went on to become close friends with Rol’s

    – Juice Crew friends with Clint
    – Speaking with David King he talked about how scared Roland was to head out to open in the first games while playing rep cricket. Eventually he just said

    “Bugger it”

    and manned up to the challenge. Following on from that was yet another call up to the All Australian side.

    – He was one of the brightest men on the planet, and in the days of the pub quizes in Darwin he was quick to point out that fact time and time again. As bright accademically as he was there are litterally hundreds of incidents throughout his life that contradict this.

    – Driving back from Cricket training with Jess giving us a lift. He was busting to go to the toilet but thought that Jess would leave him on the side of the road, so instead proceeded to wind down the window and try take a wizz out the window. Jess hit the brakes and roland ended up wearing much of the urine before we set off again.

    – I remember staying over with Roland, a man that could never see past about 9pm even on the weekend as we were growing up. Thankfully Jess is one of those awesome people who didn’t care I was Rolly’s friend and we stayed up to the wee hours eating popcorn and watching the late show. This really bugged Rols and they used to fight with Jess teasing him that I really stay over to hang out with her instead.

    At 15, and looking about 12, we were in Melbourne playing in the U/17’s Australian Championships. We played against the likes of Michael Klinger and Marcus North: but it was other events on tour that really stood out. On a trip to the zoo Roland became over excited and offended a school group as we walked past the monkeys cage exclaiming

    “He’s wanking…. the monkey is wanking off”


    Later that tour Roland would head off with a few of the older lads in the Squad to “The Shaft” which was the only strip club in Melbourne that would let them through the doors. He was devastated when Cherry took off his brand new hat he had got for Christmas to use as a prop for part of her show.

    I remember Roland at St Johns being kept after class one day because of his classroom antics. Not realising what he had exactly done wrong he assumed it was because this particular teacher, Ms Marny, was actually attracted to him and wanted to spend some time alone with him. He actually said

    “I know why you wanted me to stay behind. It’s because you want me don’t you.”

    I thought he was stretching the truth a bit until I joined him in the office to officially apologise to the teacher in question with the headmaster there also. At this point Roland begun to develop a reputation of telling a story… and for those of you that knew him well would have heard the same story told a few times…. each time the fish getting a bit longer. Knowing this Roland and I struck up a deal: he would always tell me the actual truth and I promised to never call him out during the elaboration of a story.

    When Roland moved to Queensland we still kept in touch and I tried to visit as often as I could, usually once or twice a year. It was during this time that he was finishing off University, for the first time with his Law degree, while also introducing me to the Paddo Hotel. At the time he lived on Given Terrece above a Flight Center about 100 meters from the Paddo with Chris Picton. Pico had hundreds of hours worth of stories where Roland had gone off the rails and done something stupid. Roland’s favourite story was the one and only story he had on Chris over a 5 year period of living with him. After an afternoon of playing beach volleyball in the sun and swapping out water in favour of $2 Smirnoff Vodkas we were refused entry back into Paddo 10 hours later. We all retreated back to the apartment when Pico began throwing the contents of the vegetable chrisper down the road at the rather large and angry samoan bouncer.

    One of his favourite stories

    At this point Roland and I knew we were going to be lifetime friends.

    I find it hard to believe that at just 35 years old I can look Roland and say that we’ve been friends for 25 years. That’s a long time to know someone, to share an lifetimes worth of experiences. I love my wife and know her very well yet I’ve only known her for 8 years. Roland I have known for 3 times longer.

    Although we knew that we’d be best friends forever… brothers from different Mothers and Fathers… neither of us ever knew that our life time of friendship would be cut short just a few days ago.

    When I first arrived in London in September of 2007 it was Roland that took me into his home. The first thing we did was go out for a beer down the road in Colliers Wood.

    Roland and me enjoying our first beer for a few years.

    Enjoying our first beer together in London 2007

    20th July 2010

    I hope you are well. I set a new record last weekend and managed to lose a mobile phone on two consecutive nights. I am now on first name basis with the staff at the local vodafone shop. Can you please email me your phone numbers.

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