Git Clone and SSH

I seem to get caught by this every now and then when I’m using Git through the command line (the syntax varies slightly depending on how you navigate to a directory). Anyway…

RWBY

I’ve recently started watching RWBY, a new web series by Rooster Teeth. The team is also behind Red vs. Blue which, incidentally, I didn’t know was still running (it’s been going for 10 years now). Anyway, it seems to be heavily influenced by anime and has garnered a lot of interest lately. The soundtrack is pretty amazing too, especially This Will Be The Day and Red Like Roses.

Here’s a piano transcription of the latter by TehIshter (who I recently found out was a fellow Edmontonian):

Bootstrapping a VPS

Cloud hosting services like Linode, Digital Ocean and Amazon EC2 have made it really easy to spin up a new server on-demand. Generally, there is an interface that allows you to choose what operating system you want to use and what default applications you want installed. Of course, that doesn’t mean a VPS is easy to manage as it is perpetually connected to the web. After creating a new instance, I like to make a few tweaks in order to lock down the system a bit.

I typically install the latest LTS release of Ubuntu on my servers, but the ideas are the same. First off, log into the server:

Check to see if the server’s hostname is what you want it to be (optional):

Typically, the root account should be used sparingly as mistakes can be disastrous. Create a new account for everyday use and give it sudo permissions:

We can then prevent direct logins as root:

Limit consecutive login failures to defend against brute-forcing attempts by installing fail2ban:

Next we install a basic firewall and allow only certain ports. Assuming that we want to set up a web server, allow HTTP and SSH at the very least.

Update the distribution. This should be done regularly in case of exploits and whatnot.

Finally, install some basic applications (optional, depending on how the server is to be used):

Done! Next steps are generally server-specific. For a web server, I’d consider installing things like Nginx, Apache, Unicorn, PostgreSQL, etc.

Sword Art Online Anime

 It’s been over half a year since the anime adaptation of Sword Art Online aired in Japan. The English dub premiered last month — although, as usual, I much prefer the original. I wonder how long it’ll take for the next few story arcs to come out (given the hype, I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t under consideration at the very least).

In any case, imagine if the series was completely hand-drawn…

Moving On

I’ve decided to move Irythia and all of its content off of HostMonster yesterday. After being with them for several years, I can no longer justify paying ~$15/month (on a 3-month contract with a dedicated IP) for a shared hosting solution. I was slowly gravitating towards other offerings already, but had to make a quick decision when I realized that my renewal period was almost up.

HostMonster is decent for what it is. For the average user who just wants to get something up on the web and isn’t really expecting a massive influx of traffic, it’s hard to go wrong with them. I haven’t run into much trouble in the past, although I’ve occasionally been frustrated by the limits of shared hosting. Be sure to take note of their Terms and Conditions, however — there is no such thing as “unlimited”. Additionally, their advertised rate is generally only for the first year — it ramps up significantly after that especially if you aren’t planning on paying for years of hosting in advance and want to make use of other features (like having a dedicated IP).

So where to? I already had a Linode VPS for my websites built with Ruby on Rails (they don’t really run well on a host that defaults to a LAMP stack) and other applications like Murmur (the server component for Mumble, a voice chat application). However, I wasn’t too keen on setting up PHP there as well, especially since I don’t really use it much anymore outside of WordPress. And of course, spinning up a second Linode didn’t make much sense either since it’ll be severely underutilized.

I first heard about Digital Ocean when Ryan Bates moved Railscasts there. Starting at $5/month, it’s an amazing deal for anyone getting started with cloud servers. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a try — having another VPS for experimental purposes would be handy in any case.

Setting up a server (i.e. a droplet) with DO was incredibly easy. Making use of their pre-built images, I had a LAMP stack going within a couple of minutes. I logged into the droplet via SSH to make a few tweaks and that was that; soon after, I had WordPress up and running again. In the future, I might bring back some of my older stuff built upon IrythiaCMS, a simple content management system for (mostly) static sites.

Move complete!

Rising from the Ashes

Reflections is back! This marks the first time I’ve written a blog post in a little over two years. I suppose with the proliferation of social media (most notably Twitter), there hasn’t been much of a reason to write one as thoughts are easily conveyed in short messages / status updates.

It seems as though even the WordPress developers agree with that statement. Recent versions of the software have support for post formats built-in; that is, posts are styled according to the type that they’re categorized as. The aside and status formats certainly speaks volumes as to how we communicate nowadays.

As before, I’ll likely write about random things that come to mind. In time, I’d like to integrate some other stuff here such as my Twitter stream and my photo gallery; however, a redesign will probably have to come first.