I Dropped A Single

There’s not much else to it. I produced, recorded, and released my first single today. And it’s not that bad, if I do say so myself.

However, this wouldn’t be much of a post if that was everything I had to say about it. I’ve realized that blogs are so out of fashion that, at this point, mine is more of a glorified journal than it is anything else. But alas, I’m here and I’m writing something long about my song’s philosophy.

Speaking of, I want to talk about my song’s philosophy. Or, at the very least, explain why I released a song that, in hindsight, is considerably low-quality when compared to the music you here from independent artists these days.

Let’s start with the basics — the lyrics. Before I go any further, I’d like to just emphasize that I wrote this song on my own. That isn’t to say I wasn’t inspired by other artists or their songs, because I was, but I feel like I should take an immense amount of credit for this particular work. It’s my first (kind of), and it means a lot to me.

Anyway, back to the lyrics. I can’t go into too much detail, as doing so would advertise a fairly well-kept secret of mine, but the gist of this song is that it’s a love song. The chorus is, quite literally, “I hate myself for loving you.” And that’s where the name comes from, obviously. I was inspired to write about something personal for a song that is relatively personal, so one night, while I was sitting in bed with nothing else to do, I just started writing. Which, as with most people, is something I don’t find easy per se.

By the end of the next night, I had a full song. And by the next day, I was ready to produce the beat, and so I did. The beat isn’t much in itself. I just opened FL Studio, created some simple loops, and layered them at 65 BPM. And boom, I had my song.

Quick side note, this wasn’t the song I had originally intended to produce and release as my first — I set a deadline for the end of October, and by early October I had written and produced another song (a rap). I still have it, but it felt right to save it for later and roll with what I was doing in the moment.

When it came time to record the song, I quickly realized that my microphone (a Blue Yeti) couldn’t exactly handle the type of audio I was looking to record. Sure, it’s a good mic, but it’s not exactly meant for eliminating background noise or recording quality vocals. But I saw this as a chance — a chance to start a legacy.

I want my music to start from the worst possible, and grow and grow until I’m signed by a record label. And when that’s happened, I’ll go back and remaster every song I’ve released up until that point. Since I can only make the best of what equipment and software I have, this makes perfect sense.

So, there you go. There’s more to it, but the rest only makes sense in the context of private conversations amongst my friends and peers. Maybe one day I’ll have a Genius interview or something, and I’ll be able to explain it all.

In the mean time, you can listen to my first single, “Hate Myself”, on any major music distribution service as they begin to index my song. Or, you can check it out here (Soundcloud) or here (YouTube).

The Ultimate iPad Killer

So, a few years ago, I saved up what money I had and went down to my local Apple Store. And when I say local, what I really mean is I used to live close to one — but that’s not important. I had my heart set on buying myself a new iPad, more specifically an iPad Mini 2.

Previously, I had an iPad 2 (note the lack of the word “mini”) and it was amazing. I received it as a Christmas present the year it came out, and for a long while it served me well. Before that first iPad, I knew next to nothing about Apple or its technologies, and I certainly didn’t know my potential to become so involved in any technological field.

Heck, I even jailbroke that iPad, which was undoubtedly one of the worst decisions I ever made. I regretted it immediately, and that regret led me to learn about the world of breaking things (and fixing them, albeit the former more than the latter).

My point is that I loved that device. And as time went by, that love become frustration — that is, it was too old and too slow. So I decided it was high time for an upgrade, hence my story about going to the store and buying a new iPad. I never really tried anything stupid or experimental with my new iPad, but I certainly had my share of fun times with this shiny new slab of metal and glass.

Well, that was until the story repeated itself. The iPad Mini, after having served just as much time as my original iPad, was too old and too slow. Unlike when I was little, I had plenty of other, newer devices to occupy my time, so the Mini got to the point where I let it die constantly and only turned it on for the occasional iPad-only game. So, after much thought and little guidance, I decided to replace it once again.

Since Apple released a new version of their 9.7-inch iPad only a couple or a few weeks ago, I decided I would treat myself to said new version. Granted, I was supposed to be saving that money for a big trip this summer, I shelled out nearly $600 for this new device (which this post happens to be written from). And once again, I made a great decision.

This time around, I expect things to be a bit different. Unlike the last time I upgraded, the processors are the newest of the new and everything is factory-fresh. I expect this iPad to last me a long time, meaning I won’t be venturing to buy a new one anytime soon. Plus, I was never really content with the size of the iPad Mini, so having another device of this size is refreshing.

But why did I write all this out? It’s simple — I once had a teacher who told me that his new Android tablet was far better than his iPad. You can find that devastating tweet below (and hopefully read it without me getting in some form of trouble).

The part of me that’s a die-hard Apple fanboy immediately broke down crying, but the somewhat sane part of me realized that he was right. For him, his new tablet was just what he needed. For me, my series of replacement iPads have been just what I needed.

This whole thing has given me the chance to sit back and think about the way I’ve looked down on people that choose Android over iOS, Google over Apple, or even Microsoft over Apple. I’ve realized that these debates are nothing short of stupid and silly, which is why I’ve decided to put my aggression to rest and just allow people to have a different opinion — at least about this sort of thing.

So yeah, once again, I’m not sponsored by anyone.

StartSSL is Dead, Long Live StartSSL!

I swear, I feel like I just wrote about this. It seems StartCom, which is now operated by WoTrus, has finally shut its doors as a certificate authority — or has it?

As I’ve said before, StartCom announced that it would stop issuing SSL certificates after January 1st. However, a month later, StartSSL was still operational, and existing users could sign into their accounts to find all of their data.

In my mind, the project had been abandoned, and they were keeping it running so that users could migrate away from the platform. But, to my surprise, WoTrus decided it wanted to take advantage of the domains linked to StartSSL and transform the site into a reseller platform. Now, that doesn’t mean you can go sign up to create your own branded Intermediate Authority (which would be great), but rather that WoTrus has been once again trusted by major browsers.

How, you ask, did they accomplish this, after so many companies publicly expressed their distrust? Well, WoTrus went behind our backs and signed deals with DigiCert and Certum, two trusted certificate authorities. This means that although they no longer operate as root certificate authorities, their certificates are automatically trusted by all major browsers (this is almost entirely thanks to DigiCert).

So, what exactly does this mean? It means that WoTrus (er, WoSign, or, er, StartCom), is back in the game — for now.

Security 2018

As I’ve said before, Let’s Encrypt Is Keeping Me Secure. They’re the only trusted free SSL certificate provider left, but business is better than ever.

Earlier this year, Let’s Encrypt issued their 100,000,000th certificate, which is not only a huge step forward for their platform, but a huge step forward for the secure and open internet.

However, Let’s Encrypt was not the first group to offer free SSL certificates. StartSSL offered free low-level domain and email certificates completely free for years, until the “major browsers” (Safari, Firefox, Chrome) stopped trusting them due to a failure to disclose acquisition by a Chinese certificate authority called WoTrus (formerly WoSign).

You can read more about that here, here, and here.

As a result, StartCom recently announced that they will be shutting down as a certificate authority (per this documentation). All major trust banks had made it clear that they did not plan on re-trusting StartSSL (or WoSign), and business was falling apart.

With that aside, let’s focus on our clear frontrunner. Let’s Encrypt recently announced that beginning in January 2018, they will be supporting and issuing wildcard certificates (source). Long story short, this means that instead of having to issue a certificate for each of your subdomains, you can issue them for each sub-level (meaning only one certificate every three months).

At the end of the day, nothing is changing for the average consumer (er, viewer). But for those of us in the system administration business (or even customer support, if you work for a software company), this is a big deal. So, I encourage you to pay attention to the changes that will be unfolding in the coming months.

Powered By 000webhost

So, a few years ago, I discovered the amazing free hosting from 000webhost, and no this isn’t technically sponsored.

But then, after figuring out that I knew nothing about web design or how to make  a website, I drifted away for a while. Luckily I missed a massive data breach, which you can read more about here.

But, a few months ago, I bought the domain sulliops.co. Since Namecheap‘s hosting is way too expensive, I decided to find my way back to 000webhost and setup my site there. Once I got there, I found that everything had changed – a new look, new limits, and a fresh new feel. This was the beginning of my website – but something was missing. I didn’t have SSL. So, I decided to start shelling out my money for paid web hosting from Hosting24.

That was a great decision – I now have all the storage space I could possibly want, cPanel, Let’s Encrypt SSL, and more. Once again, this isn’t sponsored.

But soon after upgrading, I discovered the 000webhost community forum, and since I knew so much about the systems, I started answering questions. Then I was promoted to a moderator by the forum manager – which was awesome. And that’s where I am today, answering any question that I know how to. If I cannot answer a question, I have a few other guys I can ask. We recently added two new members to the moderation team, so it was my job to “train” them.

At the end of the day, while I don’t personally use their services, I still refer back to 000webhost as being welcoming and insightful. Without them, I would still know nothing about how websites and the internet work, so that’s pretty cool. I’m even making super cool video tutorials for them now, and you can check those out here.

Like I said, not sponsored, I wish, but no.

Let’s Encrypt Is Keeping Me Secure

I’ve set up multiple (and when I say multiple, I mean thousands) of websites before. Whether through a sub domain service, or using my own domains, I know what it means to keep my viewers safe. 

However, Google has recently spoken out against insecure websites saying that they won’t index them on the first few pages of their search engine. And, just to top it all off, they are rolling out a feature for Chrome that makes you confirm that you want to visit the “insecure” website. 

Well, as it turns out, it’s not an attack on insecure websites, just on the standard HTTP protocol. They, along with many other Internet Authorities, want HTTPS to become the new standard. These Internet Authorities, such as Google, DigiCert, GeoTrust, Symantec, and Comodo, want you to use their services to give your site that shiny HTTPS extension. 

The issue is that there are so many different types of security certificates, called SSL/TLS certificates. There are a few types, such as DV (domain validation), which is the standard. This will show visitors a lock icon in the address bar when viewing your site. This is now the minimum for Google’s site indexing. Then, there’s EV (extended validation), which gives you that green address bar. The point is, with so many options, which one should you choose?

Let’s first talk about your budget. This is important, because each certificate authority, or CA, charges differently for a certificate. Luckily, since HTTPS is now becoming a standard, prices have been lowered for most standard certificates. The problem is that they are still progressively pricy. A standard DV certificate could cost you anywhere from $10/yr to $200/yr. An EV certificate can cost more than $1000! This makes for a very competitive market, because each CA wants you to spend your precious money on them, when in reality, it doesn’t matter who you buy from. 

But wait, there has to be an alternative, right? Yeah! There does. If you have the access to the right materials, you can sign your own certificate. Only, it won’t be trusted by any major browsers, meaning only you will know how secure you are. However, free DV SSL certificates are floating around, you just have to know where to find them. StartSSL used to be the largest provider of free certificates, but their roots are no longer trusted in modern browsers.

Hold on, there’s more. Let’s Encrypt, a brand new CA started in 2016, has taken over the free certificate market, and they are already trusted in all major browsers. They provide free DV certificates to anyone, and you can get a virtually unlimited number of certificates from them. For example, this site and all the sites with “sulliops.co” in them are secured with a Let’s Encrypt certificate. There is even a plugin for cPanel, the largest website management platform in the world, that allows you to get a certificate with the click of a button. 

So, if you own a website and want it to live up to new standards, I encourage you to check out Let’s Encrypt