I'm happy to say this website is now fully static and hosted by AWS! Since its creation in 2009 (10 years ago!), micahjayne.com has been running off a LAMP stack on an old desktop at my parents' house. Learning how to setup a web server was a lot of fun and a great experience. I also didn't have to pay for any hosting, so I could spend all of the paychecks from my minimum wage job on musical instruments instead.
It's had some issues, though. The occasional-to-frequent power outage at my parents' house meant I had to call them to restart the server whenever it went down. I set up email alerts through a service called Statcounter that would email me whenever the server went down. Sometimes it'd come back up in an hour or so, other times I'd have to call tech support (my parents) to reboot the server. It was rare I'd ever have a month with 100% uptime. A couple years ago, I bought them a UPS and plugged the server into it (okay, I bought me a UPS. But they're using it for their computer too!). This helped with the outages a lot, but the uptime was still never 100%, due to occasional internet outages.
Ever since I learned about static website hosting with S3, I really wanted to move my website over to it. There was one major sticking point, however — this blog. I know, I haven't posted on here in 3 years, and rarely posted even before then. Still, there's some stuff here that's somewhat sentimental that I'd like to keep around, for my own records, if nothing else. But the blog was stopping me from just dropping all the files in an S3 bucket and calling it a day, so I put it off for a while.
Then I learned about Jekyll, a way to statically host a blog. This is exactly what I wanted, so over a very long Memorial Day weekend, I finally took the plunge.
It makes a lot of sense. Pre-computing all the pages beforehand and statically hosting them. This makes loading considerably faster (and a lot more secure, too). Do all of the computing once, beforehand, not every time a user visits the site. This makes sense for a lot of blogs, especially mine considering the frequency of updates.
Getting Jekyll set up initially was super simple, but it took a lot of tweaking to get things exactly how I wanted them. I wanted to maintain the same look of the old blog, including the sidebar with categories and archives. For the categories, initially I was able to achieve this using a plugin called jekyll-archives. However, when I started working on implementing pagination, things got more complicated. I ended up using the autopages feature of jekyll-paginate-v2 to generate the category pages, but still using jekyll-archives to generate the monthly pages (those are always so small that they never need pagination). It took a lot of experimentation and trial-and-error, but I eventually got everything to my liking.
After I finally got all the files staticized, it was time to upload everything AWS. Getting the S3 bucket and CloudFront distribution was a snap. The AWS documentation actually has a pretty good guide if you're interested in doing this yourself. It takes you through setting up the S3 bucket, setting up a CloudFront distribution to point to that bucket, as well as setting up a custom domain with Route53. Transferring the domains took some time unfortunately, just due to my previous registrar taking a long time to release them.
All said and done, everything is lightning fast now, downloading files especially. Right now, the S3 and CloudWatch costs are fully covered by the Free Tier. Once that expires after a year, the costs will be <<$1/mo. I moved domain name registration from Namecheap to Route53. I never really had any issues with Namecheap, but having everything in AWS makes things a bit easier. Setting up HTTPS certificates for CloudFront is one-click, CloudWatch-served traffic is free, also the DNS service is better (though total overkill in my case). The yearly registration cost is slightly cheaper, but I do have to pay $0.50/mo for the hosted zones. Still, overall I'm paying less than a couple bucks a month for hosting 3 websites, which is amazing. I also moved my other two websites to CloudWatch + S3 + Route53 (these were already static, so they were very easy to migrate). In the future, for some improvements, I could add comments via Disqus or search via Bing or Google, but I don't really feel the need for them at the moment.
My first computer build, dubbed "The Modest Beast", has served me well. Now its successor, "The Promiscuous Beast", has risen to life!
Here are some pictures of the completed build:
After many BSODs, I've finally reached a stable overclock of 4.5GHz, up from the 3.5GHz stock speed. I probably could have reached 4.6GHz, but it would have required upping the voltage to 1.3, which was giving me temperatures around 90° Celsius under load, which I wasn't crazy about. Under my current configuration, I'm getting temperatures under 80° Celsius while running AIDA64, and around 25° Celsius idle. I've read that with Haswell, it's pretty much luck of the draw, and while my chip isn't the greatest overclocker, I'm happy with the results.
- Click here to view the parts list
CPU - Intel i7 4770k Quad-Core 3.5 GHz Haswell
CPU Cooling - Corsair H100i Liquid Cooler
Motherboard - ASUS Maximus VI Hero
Graphics Card - XFX Double D Radeon R9 280X
RAM - G.Skill Sniper 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600
SSD - Samsung 840 EVO 120GB
HDD - Western Digital Black 1TB (x2)
Power Supply - NZXT HALE82 v2 700W Modular
DVD Drive - ASUS 24x DVD-RW
Media Card Reader - Rowewill 5.25" USB 3.0/USB 2.0/eSata Hub & Multi-in-1 Card Reader
Wireless Card - TP-LINK TL-WN881ND Wireless N 2.4GHz 300Mbps PCIe Card
Firewire Card - Vantec 3-Port Firewire 400 PCIe Card
Side Fan - NZXT FZ-140mm (Red)
Front Fans - NZXT FZ-120mm (Red) (x2)
Case - NZXT Phantom 410 (White)
Mouse - Logitech G600 (White)
Keyboard - Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard w/ Cherry MX Brown Switches (White)
Keycaps - Rosewill RIKA-12001
Monitor - Monoprice 27" IPS-ZERO-G 2560x1440
I've been using Bing as my default search engine for over a year now. I must be crazy, right? Who uses Bing? People always love to hate on Bing, and constantly treat it as a joke. Why? I guess because it's "not Google", or simply because they haven't even tried it. When I tried it, I too was a little reluctant at first, but here are a few reasons why I stuck with it.
Bing on the left, Google on the right
Try it. Seriously. You might be surprised. I tried it again just now as I write this, and 4/5 times I chose Bing. Very rarely does Bing not give me the results I'm looking for.
Bing had the endless scrolling of images long before Google did. Google eventually added this functionality, but there's a big problem with it. As you scroll down, on Google, you have to scroll all the way back to the top to do another search. On Bing, all you have to do is scroll up just a little bit and the search bar pops up. Try it!
One advantage Google does have over Bing though is the ability to search by an image. I'll use this occasionally and it's great if you're looking for a higher resolution version of a picture.
Video searching is one feature that's way better on Bing. All of the results show up as thumbnails, and in most cases you can even mouse over them and it will start playing an excerpt from the video.
This is awesome. Search for a flight and Bing will give you a price predictor, telling you whether or not you should buy now or wait a few days. I've used this several times, and it works great.
I think even people who don't use Bing can admit that the Bing homepage is awesome. A beautiful new picture everyday, filled with squares you can mouse over to learn more.
When I first started using Bing, probably the thing that annoyed me most was the logo. I thought it looked terrible, and unnecessarily stretched out. I am happy that the logo has recently seen a refresh, and I like the new one much better now.
Just a few of the available rewards
This is the big one, and the reason I decided to give it a try in the first place. Bing pays you to use it. So far I've earned $50 worth of Amazon gift cards, just for using Bing. Do searches and you'll earn credits. You get 1 credit per 2 Bing searches, up to 15 a day. It doesn't sound like much, but they add up fast. There are occasionally other opportunities to earn extra credits as well. You can then redeem these credits for various rewards such as gift cards or subscriptions. I can get a $5 Amazon gift card for 475 credits, which takes about a month. This program may not last forever, but it's been over a year and it's still going strong. Even if it were to end now though, I don't think I would switch back to Google, as I've come to prefer Bing.
April 26, 2013 - 2:19 pm
I made the switch from Windows Phone 7 to the iPhone 5 about a couple months ago now, and I thought I'd post a few of my thoughts about it.
- First off, the all-aluminum and ceramic glass body feels amazing. The only bad thing is, with aluminum being a rather soft metal, it's prone to scratches. So far I've only managed to get a couple tiny nicks on the edges, nothing too bad.
- The screen really is incredible though. Using it spoils you. Looking at my friend's Galaxy S3 and seeing all of those pixels just looks gross.
- As for size, I'm glad Apple finally switched to 16:9, as I find that preferable. Videos are no longer letterboxed and the extra row of icons is nice. Though, when holding it with one hand, it's hard to reach the top row of icons.
- Using Messages, the first thing that got on my nerves is the infamous autocorrect. I feel like the autocorrect method on Windows Phone 7 is far superior, but I've adjusted pretty quickly. One of my favorite things though is the ability to use Messages on my computer to text people. When I'm working on the computer and I get a new text message, I can respond instantly right there with a full keyboard, rather than having to pull out my phone and type up a response on the tiny touch keyboard. Back to the computer... what was I doing? Right. The ability to fire a quick response and keep working without interruption is great.
- Another two of my favorite things are Notes and Reminders. I use to-do lists all the time, and in the past I've often just emailed myself to-do lists from my phone. I tried using Wunderlist for a little bit, but it was just too slow when I wanted to jot down a quick reminder. Notes and Reminders syncs seamlessly between my computer and phone. I can add stuff from my phone to do when I get back on the computer, or I can add stuff on the computer to do while I'm out with my phone. It's great, and fast.
- With Passbook, all of my boarding passes and gift cards are on my phone. Awesome.
- Google+ and Dropbox let me backup all my pictures with instant upload, so now I have two backups of everything and I never have to sync with my computer.
- I use Slice to keep track of all my online shipments. It tells me when they will arrive so I don't have to bother checking the tracking numbers.
- Flipboard and Circa are both great news apps.
- The voice in Google Maps is impressive. It sounds almost human. My parents just bought a new Garmin and it sounds just like their old one that they got half a decade ago -- like a robot.
- Some of my favorite music apps are Moog's Filtatron and Animoog, Propellerhead's Figure, and Apple's GarageBand. GarageBand is even compatible with the GarageBand on my computer, so I can record a song idea on my phone, transfer the .band file onto my computer, and keep working on it from there.
- I'm subscribed to iTunes Match so I have my entire 11,000+ song library on my phone at all times (without the 65GB that comes along with it). If I know I'm going to be without service for a while, on a flight for example, I can download a few albums ahead of time and listen offline.
- 4G is awesome and in most of my experience it's faster than wifi.
- Games like Cut the Rope: Time Travel and Rayman Jungle Run will make standing in line never boring again.
There's plenty of other great apps and features I could go on about, but these are among my favorites. I really like the interface on Windows Phone 7, and Windows Phone 8 was kind of tempting. However, with the lack of apps, I hardly used them, and mainly just used my phone for texting. Now I can do so much more, but making phone calls will continue to not be one of those things.
January 2, 2013 - 12:41 pm
At last, I'm back home for winter break after another semester at College Park. It is nice to be reunited with my beloved desktop computer, which I've finally been able to install Windows 8 on. I've got to say, I'm a fan. I've been using a Windows Phone for almost two years now and I like the Metro interface. I can't say I really miss the old start menu at all, and once you learn your way around, and all the shortcuts, I've found it actually makes things easier. The ability to just press the windows key and start typing to launch the program you're looking for is a nice feature, like spotlight on Mac or numerous app launcher programs. The new task manager is great too. Also, this is probably due to getting a fresh install more than anything, but I've noticed a considerable speed increase as well. Nothing like a good-old winter cleaning.
I like the fact that the same apps are available on both the tablet and the desktop. Not all apps are useful; for instance, it doesn't make much sense using the Facebook, Amazon, or Wikipedia apps on the desktop when you can just as well use the full site. However, I enjoy the Netflix and Hulu apps, and other things like Fresh Paint and Jetpack Joyride are cool to have available on the desktop. There are plenty of iOS apps that I would like to be able to use on Mac and it's unfortunate they can't be. The built-in Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Weather, etc. apps are great as well and I've been using them quite a bit.
Another source of my love for Windows 8 stems from the resolution of a problem I've been having with my audio interface ever since I've gotten it (and the one before it as well, which I returned because I assumed the interface was the problem... turns out it wasn't). I was unable to use it as my default sound card without getting nothing but awful static for sound, and I constantly had to power cycle the interface every time I opened a program like Reason or Samplitude in order for it to work. I ended up having to feed the output from the built in sound card on my motherboard as an input into the interface to get sound from the computer to come through my speakers. Anyways, ever since I installed Windows 8, this problem has gone away completely. I'm able to use the interface as my default sound card and I no longer have to reboot it for it to work properly. This makes me happy.
Overall I think Windows 8 is a solid upgrade. Anyone who doesn't like the new interface or misses the old start menu can install another shell like this one, but really once you learn a couple shortcuts you won't miss a thing!
July 6, 2012 - 10:23 am
My laptop has finally received a long-overdue upgrade. After going through my second power cord, the cord on my old 15" Dell is hanging on by a couple of alligator clips. I just received my new MacBook Air last Monday, and it is wonderful. It really is amazing how light and thin it is; two aspects which weren't even really my main motive for choosing the Air over the Pro (more-so the SSD and higher resolution screen; sure you can configure a Pro with an SSD, but that adds yet another $200 to the already high price). The new retina MacBook Pro looks amazing, but they're just too expensive, and definitely overkill. Having my desktop, the MacBook Air provides all that I need on the mobile end of things. The hard drive is only 128GB, which sounds tiny, but I hardly need more than that. With Spotify and iTunes Match, I no longer need all 56GB of music in my iTunes library, and all other documents I may need can be kept on an external drive. With the SSD everything is ridiculously fast, from rebooting, to launching apps, to copying files. It's incredible. The battery life has also been extremely good. The trackpad, with it's multi-touch gestures, and the keyboard, which I am typing on now, are both great as well. I can't remember the last time I've used a CD drive, so that's certainly something I don't miss; and as far as the lack of ports goes, with the occasional need for a USB hub, there's really no others I need. For classes where I need to bring my laptop with me, it's going to be a lot nicer carrying this in my backpack than my late 6+ pound laptop; the Air being less than half that. Being on such a big campus means lots of walking. I like the 13" form factor much better for a laptop. 15" just seems too big, and 17" is just preposterous (no offense to those getting their mobile desktop on). This is my first Mac, and while I do like OSX, I'm still a fan of Windows. Anyways, I couldn't be happier, and I'd definitely recommend the Air to anyone looking for a ultraportable laptop!
I've had this idea for a while now so I finally decided to try and throw it together. The idea is this: a clock that tells time in reduced fractions. For example, think of the time 8:18pm as the fractions 20/24 : 18/60. So we're on the 20th hour out of 24 hours total, and the 18th minute out of 60 minutes total. Now reduce both of those fractions to their simplest form and you get 5/6 : 3/10. It might seem nearly impossible to read and pretty impractical, but it does give an interesting new perspective on time (e.g. "3/10ths of the hour have just gone by"). Anyways, I coded up a little java applet that does exactly this, which you can check out here (you'll have to click "run" and it might take a second to load). Go take a look!
The Clock Project
January 19, 2011 - 6:27 am
So I decided to post a little update to note the new occurrences in the fascinating life of Micah Jayne. It is now 2011! Hooray! I suppose I'm a few weeks late, but no matter. On to business!
- As you may or may not know, over the course of my Thanksgiving spent in Ohio, me and my cousins (along with the help of @nathantsego) filmed the third (yes, third!) season of the revolution known as Camo Plaid Revolution 2. You can watch said episodes on our YouTube channel here. Currently there are only 3 episodes instead of the usual 5. Due to time constraints we weren't able to get all 5 out there, but sometime in the future, if we can scrape together enough footage, a couple more will be released.
- For christmas, my lovely girlfriend (@autumnhaac) got me the behemammoth (that's behemoth+mammoth, I know, epic right?) of all computer mice, the Logitech G700. It is a beast. It's super comfortable and all of the buttons are very fulfilling. It even has it's own onboard memory and can store 5 different profiles on the mouse itself. Me and her have been playing quite a bit of Cataclysm lately and I have one profile set for gaming with some buttons set to trigger specific moves. One day while she was back for break I went over and brought my mouse and we ran a dungeon together. I used her laptop, plugged in the mouse, and all my macros worked perfectly without installing a thing. Nice.
- There are rumors that with the aid of @coreyfmurphy, a promotional video for Bathroom Protocol will be released. If you are unfamiliar with the protocol, I suggest you inform yourselves here.
- The new micahjayne.com has been up for quite sometime now! I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and I think it proves to be more functional than the previous rendition.
- I am in the process of mapping out drums for my next CD entitled "The Clock Project." More info on it will be released soon.
- Me and Jeremy Ray are in the process of recording one of his new songs entitled "Jaded Eyes." All that's left to record are vocals and a couple more electric guitar tracks.
- The very long process of recording the "The Boy, the Bird, & the Beast" record is still underway. There are 2 songs with some parts that need to be redone and only 1 full song left to record. I will also need to remap the drums, strings, and horns for all of the songs. More info on this project should be coming soon as well.
- I created a simple new flash site for Corey Franklin, which can be seen at coreyfranklin.com.
- I have just begun my final semester at Wor-Wic. This will complete my two years there and I plan to transfer to a four-year college this next fall semester.
- I have been hired as THaT* Furniture Store's "webmaster" and am in the process of building them a new website. After the site is complete, my job will also include updating the site with new pictures. I will post a link to the new site once it's completed.
- I have received a new Martin GPCPA3 Acoustic/Electric Guitar which is absolutely amazing and I love dearly. I have been in need of a new acoustic for quite some time now and I could not be happier.
And I believe that is all for now! Hopefully I'll start posting more frequently instead skimming over a dozen different topics like in this one. You can expect some more updates on many of these things soon!
My new computer has been built and up and running for about 2 and half months now. I've overclocked it to 3.3GHz and it's been running great, and is quite the improvement over my previous laptop. Also, after being backordered for about a month, my new desk finally arrived last friday and I put it together. It has 8 rack spaces built into it for various musical equipment. My previous desk, made out of 2 old speakers and shelves, wasn't exactly "stable," and it's nice to have something I can rest my wrists on without it leaning forward. The new desk also looks a lot better and has a lot more work space. My new audio interface, the Echo Audiofire Pre8, just arrived today and I installed it in one of the rack spaces on my new desk. It sounds great, and even with a cheap condenser mic there's a night-and-day difference compared to my Blue Snowball. It has 8 preamps, 16 ins and outs, and 2 inputs with mic phase, impedance, pad, hi-pass, and DI switches. Guitars and basses sound great even with a direct in with the DI switch enabled running through an amp modeler like Guitar Rig 4. You'll get to hear some of my new work through the new interface soon. Below are some pictures of my new set up:
The parts have arrived. Let the building commence!
Here are the specs:
CPU - Intel i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz Quad-Core
CPU Cooling - Cooler Maser Hyper 212
Motherboard - Asus P7P55D
Graphics Card - XFX ATI Radeon HD 5770
RAM - 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1300
Hard Drives - 2 Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB in RAID 0
Power Supply - Corsair TX650W
DVD Drive - Lite-On 24x Internal DVD Writer w/ LightScribe
Media Card Reader - Rosewill 40-in-1 Internal Card Reader
Additional Case Fan - Apevia 120mm Blue LED Case Fan
Case - NZXT Apollo Black
Grand Total: $1036.85
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