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Writing Self Hosted Alexa Skills With Golang

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to win an Echo Dot in a company hackathon. Since then I have been trying to develop Alexa Skills that interest me in my spare time. Before exploring this new field of development, I had been interested in learning and practicing a language that was new to me, Golang (or just Go). Considering Alexa skills are based on web services, one of the area where Go excels, it seemed like a great way to “have my cake and eat it too.”

It was a couple of months ago when I came across a great post by Nic Raboy on writing about writing Alexa Skills with Golang and AWS Lambda which can be found here. Most of the Skills I have developed started before Lambda had first-class support for Go so I am much more comfortable writing Skills using self-hosted web services. Using Lambda for Alexa Skills is definitely a great approach but there are some instances where using your own server might make more sense. If you are looking to reuse an existing server or rapidly prototype an idea then maybe it makes more sense to use this approach.

In this post, I will detail the steps necessary to deploy a web service that can be used to fulfill Alexa Skill requests. To make it easier to compare this approach with using Lambda, the functionality of the Skill will remain almost identical to Nic Raboy’s example. It is only the deployment process that will be changed.

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Manage Sessions Over HTTPS With Node.js And Vue.js

A long time ago when I had been exploring session management in Node.js, I had written a tutorial titled, Session Management in Your Express.js Web Application. This was a basic tutorial that is still very functional today, however little things have changed since then when it comes to how the web works. For example, in 2015 HTTPS was never a requirement and we weren’t exposed to all the frontend web frameworks that exist today.

When you start introducing things into your web applications such as HTTPS or micro-services that operate on different origins or ports, or frontend frameworks, session management can get a little more complicated. We’re going to see how to maintain a session for a user using Node.js with Express.js on our backend and Vue.js on our frontend, in this tutorial.

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Create A Self-Signed Certificate For Node.js On MacOS

I recently picked up a Yubico U2F hardware key and thought I’d try to create a web application that was protected with two-factor hardware-based authentication. Things were going smooth until I realized that it is mandatory to be using HTTPS within your application, even when testing locally. HTTPS is common, but I’d never actually set it up with Node.js because I had always been using services like Cloudflare that configure it for you. The problem is that these services are for live domain names, not necessarily localhost.

While we’re not going to explore U2F hardware keys in this tutorial, we’re going to take a look at creating and installing a self-signed certificate for use in Node.js within macOS.

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Fix iOS 9 App Transport Security Issues In Apache Cordova

The release of iOS 9 has caused a mess of problems in the Apache Cordova, Ionic Framework, and PhoneGap communities. Problems spanning from styling issues, to permission issues, and even stricter security requirements that Apache Cordova wasn’t ready to handle.

Here I’m going to discuss App Transport Security (ATS) an issue that is rapidly appearing amongst app developers.

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Force HTTPS On All Pages Of Your WordPress Site

Because of popular request, I decided to make my entire WordPress blog secured behind an HTTPS connection. In addition to requests, I also read that search engines such as Google reward site owners that have complete sites behind HTTPS.

In a previous post I made, I explained how to generate and install an SSL certificate to an Apache web server, but things are a little different in terms of WordPress.

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Using An SSL Certificate With Apache

When you have a website that transmits information from a user to your server it is very important to encrypt it. The last thing you want is someones password being sniffed by a malicious user when they register or sign in. By using Secure Socket Layer (SSL), data is encrypted between client and server preventing any malicious users from sniffing your password in plain text.

The following will help you install an SSL certificate to one of your Apache web server virtual hosts.

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