zobie's blog I create software, I like music, and I'm mildly(?) OCD.


Setting up OpenID using my personal domain

If you haven't seen the site before, go take a look at Stack Overflow. Imagine digg hooking up with wikipedia and having a baby that looks kinda like a forum. Stack Overflow is that baby. It is designed as a place for software developers to collaborate and get questions answered. Very cool idea. Excellent implementation.

I've been a lurker on Stack Overflow since it opened up. Well, I dunno... my uid = 6937 so it was fairly early on. Anyway, a few times I've wanted to participate in the community, but I've always held back. I have never really gotten in to the whole OpenID thing, and OpenID is the only authentication that Stack Overflow uses.

Yes, I know that I already have OpenID accounts (obviously, since I was able to register with Stack Overflow), and it is really cool that my existing accounts with WordPress, Blogspot, Flickr, Google and WhateverElse.com are already setup as OpenIDs. The problem is that I am not really committed to any of those services. I registered zobie.com several years ago, and I use it for all of my permanent communication. Those other accounts, they're pretty much disposable.

I sign up for every new service I encounter just so I can check it out. (Yes, I use a different randomly generated password for each site.) Most of these websites never even get a second visit. Even the accounts I use frequently, like Gmail, aren't "permanent" identities in my mind.

What if Yahoo goes bankrupt and closes down Flickr? What if Gmail suddenly becomes really uncool, and people laugh at me for using it (like we laugh at people who still use Hotmail)? I was afraid that I'd start using one of these OpenIDs and then I wouldn't want to use that service any more. Fortunately for me, I figured out how to use my personal domain as an OpenID. It was really easy.

Before anyone points out my logical fallacy, I realize that, because I'm not actually hosting my own stuff, if myOpenID goes down, I'll still lose all of that data. Somehow, the risk doesn't seem as big if I'm using my own domain. I never claimed that my fear was rational. 🙂

Here's how easy it was to set up:

  1. Signup for a free account at http://myOpenID.com
  2. Click on the "Your Domains" link on the right of the screen enter your domain name
  3. Decide what url structure you want to use (either http://domain.com/user or http://user.domain.com)
  4. Before you can actually use your new OpenID, you'll need to verify that you own the domain. I just had to point some randomly generated subdomain at myopenid.com
  5. That's it!

And now, life is good. I can log in to any OpenID enabled website using my own domain. I can start participating in the Stack Over community!


Clay Shirky on the Cognitive Surplus


I really enjoyed this speech. It is a very insightful commentary about web 2.0 and the shift away from passive entertainment (i.e. TV) towards pastimes that require active involvement (e.g. editing Wikipedia, playing WoW, etc.).

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