Switching To Squarespace

If you happened to see this site around the time when the first post went up, you might notice that:

  1. The site looks very different now.

  2. A lot of what’s in that first post no longer seems to be true.

For example, this is not the Rusty theme for Hugo. Those technically savvy would also notice that the site no longer has the same DNS record value as laifu.moe where things were originally hosted. That’s because the site is no longer running on my own web server and is not created using Hugo. There were a few reasons for this. The main was just that I’m really bad at web design. The Rusty theme in Hugo is pretty light on imagery, which I’m cool with. Once we decided to actually make Unusually Pink into a thing and do a podcast, though, we had our amazing logos made by the uber-talented JPFDesigns. Integrating those into the Rusty theme for Hugo was a bit more than I was up for; CSS is legitimately the final boss of my life, and my life is (apparently) an NES Contra game; I couldn’t do it.

The other reason was just that it allows for much better reliability. The site isn’t beholden to my ability to not mess up my web server. Not that it’s particularly likely for me to do something to brick it (I’ve been using Linux and Nginx for my web servers for ages now), but it’s possible. I was also responsible for backups, which I’d prefer to take off of my own hands if possible.

The last reason was that the site really needed to be divided from one main section (e.g. the blog I originally planned just to do something with the domain) to two sections: a blog and a list of podcast episodes. While I was able to just dump a /podcast directory into my static folder for Hugo, it meant that posting podcast episodes and summaries was now an entirely manual process rather than something assisted by a CMS-esque system like Hugo.

Swapping to Squarespace allowed me to let someone far smarter than me figure out all of that within a theme; all I had to do was upload some images (Squarespace is awesome at scaling images for me, even when it needed to make one tiny for the favicon) and then swap around a few of the colors in the theme to get something unusually pink. I was also able to simply add two blogs to the site; one is a normal blog and the other will have posts for each podcast episode. In this way, both sections of the site are managed by a CMS rather than being done manually. Doing it manually may not seem like too big of a deal at first, but once you start to get too many posts for a single page, creating and manually updating the pagination after each new post would be enough to drive someone insane.

As for choosing Squarespace, it’s the one I’ve heard the most about through various avenues on the Internet. Their pricing was reasonable, and I figured it seemed like a safe bet since I know a few other people who have experience with them. The other recommendation I got was Wix, which I admittedly had never heard of previously. Looking at the pricing for Wix compared to the pricing for Squarespace, though, I think it’s clear that Squarespace is a better deal. The Wix $11 USD per month package is pretty lackluster, especially when you look at 2 GB of bandwidth and 3 GB of storage. To get something more comparable to Squarespace’s $12 per month package that includes unlimited bandwidth and storage, you’d need the $14 per month plan from Wix… and that still doesn’t give you unlimited storage.

Expect the site to still go through a few minor changes as we continue to tweak the layout, colors, and everything else. Feel free to drop any feedback to our Twitter profile!

The Accidentals Show

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a pretty big fan of music. I link my Spotify account to Last.fm for all of the juicy statistics, and I feel like I’ve been a complete loser if my weekly report doesn’t have at least 24 hours of listening on it. One of the things I’ve never really done much of, though, is live music. I’ve wanted to start attending more events, though a bit of social anxiety can make that challenging (though it helps that many of the shows I’d want to go to are at bars… drinking making social anxiety more tolerable.)

The final push, though, came a few weeks ago when I got an email from Spotify about an upcoming show. I’ve received a few of these emails before where Spotify finds upcoming shows (relatively) close to me and recommends them. While the other shows I’ve seen before weren’t particularly enticing, the most recent email was for a show by The Accidentals. Despite the fact that they’ve been together for quite a long time, I never discovered them until late last year when a friend and I were trying to find a bunch of songs to add to our BlizzCon-themed playlist we were creating in preparation for our trip. I stumbled across their track Earthbound and immediately fell in love. Since then I’ve been through their entire library more times than I can count.

My friend graciously agreed to go with me, so yesterday we got to experience The Accidentals live. The show was nothing short of incredible; I feel like I should’ve paid more for the tickets given how amazing the experience was. All three members of the band are such talented and passionate people, playing an insane variety of instruments and doing songs in a swath of different styles.

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While they didn’t perform Earthbound, I was stoked for them to play both Heavy Flag and Crow’s Feet, along with a completely acoustic version of Sixth Street at the front of the stage. I also got to experience some brand new songs they’re trying out in preparation for the TWO (!) albums they’re planning to release this year. The first will be a live album coming out in a few months, and the second later in the year will be a fully produced studio album. The show was definitely the high point of my 2019 thus far. Any music fans who happen to get the chance to see The Accidentals live should definitely jump at the opportunity and support some amazing live music.

Unusually Pink Peripherals: Razer Quartz 2019

Given the name of this site and what I said in the first post, you can probably guess that I’m a fan of things which are unusually pink. That’s why last year when gaming peripheral maker Razer announced a line of pink products under their new Quartz branding, I was stoked. I immediately ordered both their keyboard and their mouse. The Quartz products generally aren’t brand new; they’re a pink take on existing products. The first keyboard was a Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition with Razer Green switches (their equivalent of Cherry’s MX Blue line of clicky, tactile switches.) It’s great, and I still use it daily:

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The mouse was a bit less exciting as it was a pink variant of the Razer Lancehead. The Lancehead isn’t a bad mouse, but it’s not what I’m really looking for as far as gaming goes. It’s a relatively flat mouse with small, squishy side buttons. I used it for a while but eventually switched to a different mouse.

I was happy with my purchaes, but just last week Razer announced updates across their Quartz lineup. I once again had zero self control and immediately purchased the new keyboard and mouse.

Razer Huntsman Quartz

This keyboard was exciting because, along with being pink, it’s based on the Huntsman. That’s Razer’s first keyboard with their new optomechanical switches. Rather than being completely mechanical, these switches use the same mechanical feel to allow a beam of light to pass through it and be detected by a sensor on the opposite of where it is generated. That light hitting the sensor triggers the actuation of the switch rather than a metal contact. I’m not pro gamer, so I can’t honestly say if I feel any difference in the speed or accuracy of actuation, but I do have to admit that the whole thing is cool as hell. On top of that, every single switch has a metal stabilizer to ensure each key gives a solid, consistent press. That’s normally something you only see on larger keys like the spacebar, Shift, Enter, etc.

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The keys aren’t embedded into a base for the Huntsman; they sit flat on the board. I really like this style, and it looks great. The keys all have a beautiful, smooth, soft pink finish that looks great. The board itself has the same finish, which is a welcome improvement from the Quartz version of the Blackwidow Tournament Edition. That board had the same key finish but something that felt like a soft-touch powder coating on the board itself. While it had a decent texture, it also seemed like something that could scratch off in an accident. My board actually came with a tiny nick in that coating above the function keys.

I was a little leery about spending so much on a keyboard when I didn’t even know if I’d like the switches, but typing on them is a downright joy. Every key stroke just feels good. Their actuation force of 45 grams is a little lighter than Razer Greens that clock in at 50 grams. I was surprised, though, that after a weekend of gaming on the optomechanical switches, typing on Razer Greens actually felt heavy to me. 45 grams feels like the sweet spot where the switches are easy to press, but not so easy that you could do it on accident. The tactile feedback also removes any doubt of whether or not the switch actuated. On the whole, I adore these switches.

I do wish there was a TKL variant since I don’t really need the number pad on my gaming keyboard. I had to move the keyboard further left to keep the same amount of space on my mat for the mouse, but it’s still comfortable to keep my left hand on WASD.

Razer Basilisk Quartz

The mouse was also a very nice improvement for the Quartz line. This variant is based on the Razer Basilisk, which is an FPS-centric mouse. I appreciate the fact that it has a very large hump behind the buttons, meaning that even with my relatively large hands I can palm the mouse without my hand touching the mat. The rubber grips around the sides are super nice and have a good feel to them. The scroll wheel features adjustable tension, handled via a small wheel on the underside of the device. You can go all the way from extremely rough, tacticle clicks for each scroll to free scrolling. I found a very low amount of tension to be the best for me.

The side buttons have a good feel to them, though the true boon for this mouse is the DPI clutch just in front of them. The clutch can be configured to decrease your DPI if you need to be precise. For example, you might want to hold in the clutch while sniping in a game to avoid things feeling too twitchy. The button for it is a bit large for my taste, extending just a bit over the first side button. Luckily, this button is removable and comes with a smaller button you can swap in that I greatly prefer. If you have no interest in the clutch, you can also replace it with a pink rubber plug that simply fills the hole and matches the rest of the mouse’s exterior.

Given that Overwatch is my game of choice at the moment, the Basilisk feels like the perfect mouse. It pairs nicely with the Huntsman, and I’ve been really enjoying these preferals across a variety of games like Overwatch, Diablo 3, and Elder Scrolls Online. To be perfectly honest, I’d have kept them no matter what just because, well… they’re pink. I’m actually extremely happy with both of them, though, as they’re high quality products that deliver a high quality experience. Many pink computer accessories are pretty much hot garbage because the gimmick of being pink is the selling point, not the quality. With these two devices, though, you absolutely get both the performance and the color. If your battlestation needs a little more pink and you’ve got the spare money, you can’t go wrong with the current Quartz lineup.

Firebase Update Control Error

One of my websites (not this one) is hosted via Firebase. It’s a largely static site that I rarely need to touch. I manage it from their CLI running on a VPS that I do some coding on so that I can access it regardless of which of my numerous devices I happen to be using. Since I don’t touch the site regularly, though, the Firebase tools tend to get a bit out of date. I needed to push a minor change the other day and figured I’d check for an update:

sudo npm install -g firebase-tools

Instead of completing happily, though, I got the following:

npm ERR! path /usr/local/bin/firebase
npm ERR! code EEXIST
npm ERR! Refusing to delete /usr/local/bin/firebase: ../lib/node_modules/firebase-tools/bin/firebase symlink target is not controlled by npm /usr/local/bin
npm ERR! File exists: /usr/local/bin/firebase
npm ERR! Move it away, and try again.

I’m a bit embarrassed that I did a bunch of super unnecessary troubleshooting at first instead of just reading the error. When I finally got to that point because things like clearing the npm cache didn’t work, I saw noticed this:

File exists: /usr/local/bin/firebase
Move it away, and try again.

Okay, seems sensible enough. I first just renamed it in the same directory.

sudo mv /usr/local/bin/firebase /usr/local/bin/firebaseBKP

I re-ran the npm installation command, and sure enough it worked without any issues. I verified I could actually see firebase in my $PATH:

which firebase

And that it was the newer version:

firebase --version

With that out of the way, I simply deleted the file I renamed:

sudo rm /usr/local/bin/firebaseBKP

Then I could push the update to my site without any issues. To be honest I’m not entirely sure why or how that file wouldn’t be controlled by firebase or it couldn’t be removed by running the command under sudo, but I’m happy that it had a clear error message that allowed me to fix things easily enough… once I actually, you know, read the error message.

PSA: Get Ready For New Let's Encrypt Validation

If you’re using Let’s Encrypt, now would be a really great time to make sure that you’re ready for them to stop supporting ACME TLS-SNI-01 domain validation. I got an email a couple of days ago (as I assume everyone using Let’s Encrypt did) letting me know this change was coming. I had nothing to actually do, but going through the validation was super easy and is likely worth the time to ensure your site(s) aren’t impacted. March 13th is the deadline for ACME TLS-SNI-01 to no longer function, so there’s still a lot of time to take a couple of minutes and verify you’re in good shape.

*Note: I’m using certbot, which makes this whole thing super easy. If you’re not using certbot then your steps will be different.*

The Let’s Encrypt staging environment already has disabled ACME TLS-SNI-01 validation, so checking against that is a good test. As a certbot user, I also needed to validate that I was using at least version 0.28 of the application, which is simple enough to do via:

certbot --version    

That appears to be the latest version offered by the PPA: ppa:certbot/certbot

Testing a certbot run against the staging environment is toggled via the --dry-run switch. If you do a dry run of your renewal against the staging environment and everything comes back successful, you should be in good shape:

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

My certs all validated successfully, so everything is ready to go for the change. I presume if there are any failures then the dry run will alert you to what needs to be fixed; I can’t say for sure since I was lucky enough to not see any of those. Full instructions from Let’s Encrypt are available on their site, though.

Happy encrypting!