The free TLS certificate provider Let’s Encrypt automates the request-and-setup process using the ACME protocol to verify domain ownership. Software on your server creates a file in a known location, based on your request. The certificate authority checks that location, and if it finds a match to your request, it will grant the certificate. (You can also validate it using a DNS record, but not all implementations provide that. DreamHost, for instance, only uses the file-on-your-server method.)

That makes it really simple for a site that you want to run over HTTPS.

Redirected sites are trickier. If you redirect all traffic from Site A to Site B, Let’s Encrypt won’t find A’s keys on B, so it won’t issue (or renew!) the cert. You need to make an exception for that path.

On the Let’s Encrypt forums, jmorahan suggests this for Apache:

RedirectMatch 301 ^(?!/\.well-known/acme-challenge/).*$0

That didn’t quite work for me since I wanted a bit more customization. So I used mod_rewrite instead. My rules are a little more complicated (see below), but the relevant part boils down to this:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

# Redirect all hits except for Let's Encrypt's ACME Challenge verification to
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^.well-known/acme-challenge
RewriteRule ^(.*)$1 [R=301,L]

These rules can go in your server config file if you run your own server, or the .htaccess for the domain if you don’t.

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Last summer I saw the 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables on stage. I started reviewing it, but never finished. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I figured it was time to rescue this from the draft folder before writing my thoughts on the film.

For the 25th anniversary of the show, the staging has been completely redone (in part to get rid of the rotating stage). The songs have been adjusted again, and long-standing direction, costume design and characterization has been allowed to change.

Overall I like the new staging. It’s not a stripped-down production at all – in fact, most of the sets are more elaborate than the original, which basically relied on the rotating floor, lighting, two jumbles of boxes, and a bridge. Fortunately they didn’t go overboard: they let the songs carry the show, which leads to an interesting mix of elaborate sets for ensemble numbers and empty stages for the solos.

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