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Nanoman's Company News

Nanoman's Company Official Vicennial and Upcoming Changes

2022-05-17 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

Hello, Internet! Nanoman here.

On 2002-05-17, I walked into an Ontario government office to register "Nanoman's Company" as my business's name. Their registration system was offline that day, so I wasn't able to register until the following week. During registration, 2002-05-17 was the date I provided as my first official day of business because a customer paid me that day using this name.

I had been using the name "Nanoman's Company" for frivolous purposes since 1994, but in 2001, I started using this name for my freelance professional IT work. My rationale for registering the name was to give some credibility to my freelance work, and I assumed that having a registered business would simplify reporting my income during tax season.

I consider myself remarkably privileged to have been invited into the homes, businesses, and organizations of all the wonderful people who have been paying for my IT knowledge and skills since 1994. I've been fantastically fortunate to meet so many amazing people, and it has given me immense satisfaction to see how their lives and endeavours have benefited from my efforts. I've also had the misfortune of encountering some people who have been quite rotten, but the majority of my customers have been awesome.

The past twenty years have been chaotic and exhausting. I didn't have a business plan when I registered my business in 2002, and I didn't have any of the infrastructure required to support the long-term needs of my rapidly growing customer base. In 2007, I started turning away customers and projects because I didn't have everything that I needed to keep up with demand, and my business collapsed in 2015. Despite all these challenges and setbacks, I still don't know of any job that I'd enjoy more than the one I have now.

I lost many great customers when my business collapsed in 2015, and I deeply regret this, but this reduced my workload significantly. I had a daunting backlog of orders to process, but with more time available, I've been able to build the infrastructure that I should have had in place before 2002-05-17, and I've had time to think about how I want to proceed.

When I renewed my business's name in 2017, I realized that the name "Nanoman's Company" doesn't accurately represent my work or my ambitions. I've always wanted my business to be collaborative with an ingrained appreciation for ethics, but "Nanoman's Company" sounds like an egocentric dictatorship with no obvious goals.

Since 2017, I've spent a lot of time thinking and writing about plans for my business. I've built and modified infrastructure to accommodate these plans, and I'm getting close to my goals, but some major changes will be needed that I feel I should announce.

Today, I'm announcing that Nanoman's Company will be moving into a new business that will offer all the same services that I provide now, but it will do so using a different name and business model. This move won't happen until the new business is ready, and the name "Nanoman's Company" will continue to exist for administrative reasons, but all Nanoman's Company infrastructure and customers will be migrated into the new business.

On 2021-01-22, a name for the new business was chosen, and on 2022-01-21, this new business's name was officially registered. I believe that this new business's name represents my goals much better than "Nanoman's Company", and I'll announce the name later in 2022.

It's going to take me at least a few months to finish modifying my company's infrastructure for the new business, and I've been doing all this work on my own. I'm hopeful that the move will happen in 2022, but it depends on how much of my time needs to be spent on other matters.

I'll continue supporting my customers during the transition, so this might cause the move to be delayed. When the new business is ready to take over, I'll announce the date when the change will become official, and I'll personally contact each of my customers to inform them of the changes.

With the new business, supporting the widely varying needs of my customers should be significantly easier, and I believe that my customers will be happier too. There's a lot that I want to write about the new business, but I'll save these details for future announcements.

After Nanoman's Company finishes moving into the new business with its own new website, I'll be reclaiming to use as my own personal website. I have personal content here dating back to 1998-07-02 that I want to keep, but a lot of it conflicts with my professional objectives, and there's much more that I want to publish, so I'm looking forward to regaining complete control of this space.

I'm eternally grateful to everybody who has helped Nanoman's Company over the past twenty years, and to everybody who has encouraged my professional ambitions since 1994. I couldn't have endured this long without the patience and assistance that I've received from my customers, colleagues, suppliers, and other supporters. I truly hope that all these people will be proud of what they've helped me enable for the next twenty years.

Migration to OpenPGP for Protecting Email Messages

2020-12-19 00:00:00 -05:00 by Nanoman

Sending an email message is as risky as sending a postcard. Anybody can send a message that appears to come from your email address, and anybody can read and/or modify any message that you send if they can access anything that's used to relay it from you to your recipients.

If you and/or your correspondents need to be able to trust the authenticity of an email message, then the message should be "digitally" (cryptographically) signed. If the contents of an email message need to be secret, then the message should be encrypted.

For digitally signing and/or encrypting email messages, the two most popular standards are OpenPGP and S/MIME. We used and recommended S/MIME from 2006-07-02 until 2020-03-17 because Mozilla Thunderbird had built-in support for it, and we believed that it would be easier to deploy and support.

S/MIME itself worked very well for us and our customers, but there were external problems that severely diminished its practicality. By 2020-03-17, these external problems made S/MIME practically unusable for us, so we switched to OpenPGP, and we began to migrate all our S/MIME customers to OpenPGP.

On 2020-07-17, Mozilla Thunderbird version 78.0 was released with built-in support for OpenPGP. There were problems with this version that made Thunderbird's OpenPGP implementation unusable for our customers, and these problems persisted until the 2020-12-15 release of version 78.6.0. Thunderbird now supports the minimum requirements of our OpenPGP customers, and more improvements are being developed.

We've updated our Mozilla Thunderbird guide to include instructions for configuring it with OpenPGP. We've also created our OpenPGP page to introduce OpenPGP concepts to people who have never used it, and to describe how to use these in Thunderbird. We created these pages to better serve our customers, so please contact us if you're a customer of ours who has any problems with these guides.

All our S/MIME certificates are now expired, and we've revoked them too. If you're a customer or a supplier of ours who needs to verify the authenticity of something that claims to have been digitally signed by us, or if you need to email us something encrypted, please contact us to request a copy of our OpenPGP public key.

Ending Support for Apple Products

2018-10-06 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

Effective 2018-10-06, we've ended our support for Apple products that we haven't serviced previously. If you own an Apple product that we've serviced in the past, or if you think you'll need support from us for a new or different Apple product, then please read our "End of Support for Apple Products" page to learn why we made this decision and how this might affect you.

Nanoman's Company Official Sesquidecade

2017-05-17 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

Nanoman's Company was officially registered as a Canadian business fifteen years ago today. Nanoman first used the name "Nanoman's Company" in 1994, and Nanoman was first paid for his services that same year, but "Nanoman's Company" wasn't officially registered until 2002-05-17.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us through our first official sesquidecade, and a much bigger thank you to everyone who enabled us to start it!

Server Shuffle 2017

2017-04-18 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

We do virtually all of our software development and testing on older hardware. By using hardware that is much slower than what our customers use, bottlenecks become much more apparent. In our experience, being forced to keep software efficient on older hardware results in software that is remarkably faster on newer hardware.

Our old development server has had a series of hardware failures over the past few years, and our production server's hardware has reached end-of-life status. Fortunately, we've had a spare server on standby since early 2013, so after yet another failure of old hardware, we decided it was time for a server shuffle.

Today, we migrated our production server's data to our spare server. This represents a major hardware upgrade for our production server:

  • 1.6GHz single-core 32-bit CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 7200RPM hard disk drives

Our former production server has become our replacement development server, which now sports these speedy specifications:

  • 500MHz single-core 32-bit CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 5400RPM hard disk drives

Along with these hardware upgrades, we've made a significant number of software improvements and upgrades. Two of these software upgrades are worth mentioning:

  1. IPv6 is finally supported. We intended to bring this online when it first became available to us in 2010, but we were too busy with other priorities to make this happen sooner. Our delay hasn't yet caused any problems for our customers, but we knew this would become a problem eventually.
  2. New certificate authority: Let's Encrypt. Certificates from Let's Encrypt are supported natively by every web browser used by our customers, and we have a high degree of confidence in the people running Let's Encrypt, so we decided it was time to change.

To get our company functioning the way that we've always intended, we still have a lot more work to do, but we're making progress. We'll continue to announce notable achievements on our News page.

Dropping Adobe Flash Support

2016-10-04 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

Nanoman's Company has dropped support for Adobe Flash. After we ended the last of our support for Microsoft Windows on 2010-01-01, Adobe Flash became the most frustrating software that we continued to support. Effective today (2016-10-04), we won't waste any more time on it.

Ours isn't the first organization to drop Adobe Flash support. Mozilla, Google, Facebook, Apple, and many others have already done so, and a great many more will certainly follow.

We've created a page titled End of Adobe Flash Support that explains our reasons for making this decision, and provides information for what our customers can do henceforth. Please refer to this page if you have any questions for us regarding Adobe Flash.

Updated and New Company Information Pages

2016-07-19 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

We've updated two of our company information pages:

  1. Nanoman's Company. After years of showing almost nothing, this page now includes a summary of who we are, what we do, and how we operate.
  2. Privacy Policy. We've re-written this page to clarify why our privacy policy exists, to provide some details about how we protect the privacy of our customers, and information about disclosures to third parties.

We've also added two new pages:

  1. Transparency Reports. We believe that our customers have a right to know about our experience with government requests for customer information. To date, we have never received any such requests, and we have no reason to suspect that we ever will. If we ever receive such a request, we will announce it on our News page.
  2. History of Nanoman's Company. We're often asked about our origin story, and we've told it in fragments throughout the years, but we hadn't compiled it into anything comprehensive until now. This page isn't complete, but we think it's a pretty good start.

Please note that we still aren't accepting new customers or new projects. When this changes, an announcement will be made on our News page.

Eighteen Years of Nanoman's Homepage

2016-07-02 00:00:00 -04:00 by Nanoman

Happy B-day to my homepage!

Starting today, this website's primary objective will be to serve as a tool for supporting customers of Nanoman's Company. I'll continue to use this website for my own purposes, but I'll restrict my personal activities to my personal pages. If you're looking for me or for content that used to be accessible via my homepage, please see my Nanoman page.

Also today, I've updated this website's content management system. I'd been working on this intermittently since the 2011-03-14 update, and there are several changes worth mentioning:

  • New layout. This is the most visible change to this website since 2005-07-02, and it retires the columns that I'd been using since 1999.
  • Redesigned and rewrote the menu system. The previous menu was based on another person's design, and I began to dislike it almost as soon as I finished it. I put some thought into how I wanted to replace it, and I like my new design much better.
  • Stopped designing pages around a minimum display resolution. This website should now be much easier to use on devices with smaller screens.
  • Significantly improved the efficiency of page loading, and reduced this website's overall bandwidth requirements. I achieved this by thoroughly cleaning up almost every part of my content management system, and rewriting several parts.
  • Upgraded the markup to XHTML 5.0.
  • Changed the font family to "monospace". Most of my experience with computers has been spent in text-based terminals, so I typically find it easier to read monospaced fonts than proportional fonts. More importantly, with the monospaced fonts that I see most commonly, it's usually easier to distinguish between "0", "O", and "o", and between "1", "I", and "l".
  • Many bugs and spelling/grammatical errors were corrected, and new ones were probably introduced.

I created some new pages too:

My work on this website isn't at all finished. I still have a huge amount of work that I plan to do, but I'll get to it in the years to come.