I finally installed an SSL certificate on my website

Back when I started really getting into web development and coding, SSL certificates and having your website start with https:// wasn’t really a common thing. I helped run a few other websites for e-commerce companies, and they needed SSL certificates to ensure their clients’ information wouldn’t be stolen, but I personally didn’t sell anything on my own website, so I never bothered with it. … This was nearly two decades ago.

Nowadays, having an SSL certificate is considered normal and standard for all websites, even if you don’t sell products. They’re also free now, very contrary to having to pay a decent chunk of money for them a decade or so ago. I like to keep up with modern trends and make sure things are secure, but I hesitated from immediately implementing an SSL certificate – not because I didn’t care to do it, but because I realized there was something I did a handful of years ago that would make SSL certificate implementation extremely difficult.

Namely, when I set up my .htaccess file to have rewrite rules for formatting my website’s URLs, I did so in a very disorganized and makeshift manner that was incredibly inefficient. Basically, I dreaded having to go back and try to understand my thought process from several years ago in order to reverse engineer it, implement the rewrite rules properly, then make sure there were no infinite redirect loops that would keep forwarding the https:// URLs to http://.

It was obviously a waste of time that could’ve been avoided if I did it properly the first time, but I managed to put in an extra 15 or so minutes to get everything fully figured out and for the SSL certificate to work properly. … Or so I thought.

My next problem? When I went to my brand new https:// website, Google Chrome insisted on telling me that the website, although it had an SSL certificate, wasn’t actually secure – it claimed that I was loading stuff from insecure sources. That was definitely reasonable, and I spent an additional 15 minutes combing through the rest of my code and making sure all my scripts and extra includes were being called securely via their https:// versions.

But that still didn’t work.

And here ensured a series of events worthy of Benny Hill music, where I went around in circles trying to figure out why my website kept calling an insecure version of my header font. It ended up being a combination of the font being hosted in an unexpectedly different theme folder for some reason, combined with the fact that I use both W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare caching at the same time for website speed optimization.

After spending yet again an extra additional 15 minutes on that alone, after nearly an hour, my SSL certificate was installed and active on my website.

As for the lesson of the day… make sure you keep a log of notes of all the stuff you’ve done in the past. If not, then at least do things correctly the first time.

 

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Northwest Las Vegas during a rainstorm

Las Vegas was covered in storm clouds today that blocked the sun, but the clouds only extended across the city and not out by the mountains. This engulfed the city in darkness, but the mountains were still sunny. Here’s a view from central Las Vegas facing northwest:

Northwest Las Vegas during a rainstorm

Interesting visual.

 

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Things you can buy instead of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition

Ever since suddenly being very interested in pickup trucks out of nowhere, I’ve been following pickup truck and truck modification news pretty closely, and I get excited when something fresh comes into the market. When Jeep announced that they would be releasing a pickup truck of their own, I was pretty excited; even though I personally would never buy a Jeep myself because it just really isn’t my style, having more mid-size trucks available in the market ramps up the competition and encourages other automakers to improve their own vehicles.

Then, I saw the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition pricing. On April 4, they went on sale to celebrate the new pickup truck, and only 4190 Launch Editions are being made (that is paying homage to the 419 area code of Toledo, Ohio, the home of the Gladiator). The price? MSRP US$62,310.00.

… I like going to automobile manufacturers’ websites once in a while to load up the vehicle builder/configurator and see what kinds of options are available. I thought this would be a great time to do that just so I could see exactly what else you can buy instead of a $62,310 mid-size pickup truck.

  • 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with 801A – $60,540

    Probably the truck that is given most frequently as the answer to the question “what is your favorite pickup truck,” the Ford F-150 Raptor with the 801A equipment package (which includes everything included on the standard 800A package, plus 10-way power heated leather-trimmed seats, power-adjustable pedals, and a power-sliding rear window) is $1,770 cheaper than a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition.

    Yes, the Ford F-150 Raptor, the truck that most truck enthusiasts would call their “dream truck,” and then follow it up by saying “but it’s way too expensive to actually buy,” is cheaper than the Launch Edition. Now sure, a lot of dealerships actually sell the Raptor at prices higher than MSRP, but if you want to maintain the example, you can just take the 801A upgrade down to the standard 800A, then there’s nothing more you can say.

  • 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel, fully optioned – $60,290

    Not a fan of the Ford Raptor? Go to the Ram 1500 Rebel configurator and click on literally every single available option for a fully-optioned truck, and you can get it for $2,020 cheaper than a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition. This includes options like the 5.7L V8 HEMI MDS VVT eTorque engine, air suspension, the Rebel 12 package (which comes with the 12″ tablet-like display), Level 2 equipment group, bedliner and tonneau cover, and power sunroof… and literally everything else, because I actually mean fully optioned.

    Remember that Ram was the first manufacturer to introduce the oversized center console display. That, combined with the black leather interior with tastefully attractive red contrast stitching and accents throughout the cabin, and the fully-loaded Ram Rebel feels like you’re driving a top-tier luxury vehicle off-road.

  • 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon with Level 2 Equipment Group and 12″ display – $62,385

    Don’t forget that the Jeep Gladiator is a ¼-ton, mid-size pickup truck, and the two examples I gave above are ½-ton, full-size pickup trucks. But is that still not enough for you? Then take a look at the ¾-ton Ram 2500 Power Wagon – you even have the luxury of tacking on a Level 2 Equipment Group and the iconic Ram 12″ display and only exceed the cost of the Jeep Gladiator by $75.

    All of these trucks are still very off-road-capable vehicles – that’s not unique to the Jeep Gladiator. But, beyond the obvious increase in payload and towing, keep in mind that the Power Wagon actually feels like a luxury vehicle on the inside, as opposed to the Jeep Gladiator that seems a bit too committed to the off-road look-and-feel.

  • 2019 GMC Canyon Denali… AND A 2020 TOYOTA COROLLA – $62,245

    Being the owner of a 2018 GMC Canyon, I felt like it would be appropriate to include it as an example in my list. A 2019 GMC Canyon Denali with 4WD is currently $43,240, and the starting MSRP on a 2020 Toyota Corolla is $19,500; combined, they are $65 cheaper than the Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition.

    Yes, this does indeed mean that you can get a Denali, the sub-brand recognized among pickup truck enthusiasts as the “luxury GMC,” as well as a small daily driver sedan that gets over 30 MPG in fuel efficiency, and you’ll still have money left over for a little cargo tote for your trunk straight from the Toyota dealership.

  • A 20% down payment on a $311,550 house

    … You get the point.

Honestly, Jeep has to know that the Gladiator Launch Edition is overpriced. They might have been able to pull off something like this for the Jeep Wrangler, because the only “competition” to the boxy off-road vehicle is basically the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and those two aren’t really that com­pa­ra­ble. With no competition comes market control, and a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Launch Edition at the $60k+ price point might have worked.

But entering the already-very-competitive pickup truck market, then proceeding to price themselves to compete against full-size trucks as well… they’re really preying on Jeep fanatics who like driving with the doors off and top down, because once capitalism kicks in, I foresee unbelievably high dealer discounts off MSRP for the Jeep Gladiator.

 

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Today, I went grocery shopping…

But apparently Smith’s Food & Drug no longer accepts Visa credit cards,

So I returned home from grocery shopping with no groceries.

Fantastic.

I used to be a loyal Discover credit card user, but I ended up running into two main problems. The first is the bit more obvious one that had begun ever since I first created a Discover credit card, and it is that Discover is not accepted in as many places as Visa and Mastercard. Discover claims a rate of 97% merchant acceptance, except I’ve run into that 3% in quite a few instances. When I’m with someone else, I can just have them pay for me, but when I’m alone, that becomes a bit problematic because I would only ever carry the one credit card and never carry cash.

The second problem I had was that Discover doesn’t have any credit card options that come with “luxury” benefits. The no-annual-fee Discover It card was great, and it had pretty good cash back options, but I wanted a high-end credit card that offered lavish and over-the-top benefits. Discover only had the basic credit cards and nothing that catered to an elite audience.

To address these two problems, I got myself a Visa Infinite Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card back in the middle of 2018. It came with a $450 annual fee, but $300 of that would always come right back to me in the form of a travel credit, and being able to get 4.5% of travel and dining and 1.5% of everything else back in travel redemption meant that I got a lot more value for everyday spending. The card also came with free elite status for car rentals and offered lounge access at airports, along with tons of other perks like extended warranty on purchases and insurance on travel-related incidents.

Since getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I ran into literally no problems. Visa is one of the most wildly-accepted credit card brands, and unless I was going to a place that does cash-only transactions (which usually meant I would just leave, because I don’t carry cash and don’t agree to giving business to people who don’t offer the convenience of cashless transactions in today’s age), I never had any payment problems. As you can imagine, having my grocery store stop accepting Visa credit cards was quite a shock after getting so accustomed to it.

So yes, this does mean that I will end up having to drive about an extra mile in each direction to and from the grocery store, because I’ll be shopping somewhere else other than Smith’s. It’s a little disappointing because of the extra time and mileage I’ll have to put in just to do basic grocery shopping, but I guess there isn’t really anything else going wrong in my life right now, so I can’t really complain.

So instead, here is a picture of twilight that I took this morning at around 5:30 AM – a time when my life was simpler because I had not yet discovered my new Visa credit card conundrum.

Las Vegas at twilight

 

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I just finished moving for the 7th time in the past 2.5 years

View from a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip

  1. 2016-11: Hometown in Chicagoland suburbs → Tempo Storm’s 1st SoCal team house, to start my full-time esports journey
  2. 2016-12: → Tempo’s 2nd SoCal team house (I was setting up these team houses while I was living in them)
  3. 2017-01: → apartment in SoCal, because the team houses were full with players
  4. 2018-01: → back to Tempo’s 2nd SoCal team house, after the conclusion of my one-year apartment lease
  5. 2018-03: → penthouse at The Mercer Las Vegas, because I wanted to live in Las Vegas
  6. 2018-08: → Tempo’s Las Vegas team house, because H1PL Split 2 was postponed and the players moved out
  7. 2019-03: → high-rise condominium complex on the Las Vegas Strip, after the conclusion of the team house lease

I’m hoping I’ll be able to stay at my new location for more than just a short duration, because the view out of my unit is pretty amazing. My unit itself is extremely efficient and fits what I need perfectly.

Yes, I realize that if you’re familiar with Las Vegas, I’ve essentially given away exactly where I live, because there’s literally only one building that could possibly have that exact view from the photograph. But, considering just how many units are packed into this building, even if you already know that I live on an upper floor, you’re still looking at a number of possibilities that almost rivals the size of an average American subdivision… so I’m not too concerned.

Right around two months ago, I posted a blog post titled “My desire to live in a high-rise condo has been rekindled,” after my co-worker Jordan King and I went to visit our lawyer’s office in a high-rise building in Los Angeles.

Well, if you know me, you know that there aren’t many things that I want, but when I really want something, I get it. So that’s how I ended up here, and I’m glad I did.

 

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To everyone who said I was stupid for moving to Las Vegas because “it’s always 100°F there”

Yes, it is snowing in Las Vegas.

No, I did not Photoshop in the snow.

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

I haven’t been around in Las Vegas for that long, so I don’t have any prior first-hand experience with snow in the desert city, but I’m hearing that there is usually noticeable snow about once every 3-5 years. However, I’m also hearing that having this much snow piling up and actually sticking to the ground is extremely rare – closer to happening once every decade or so, most recently in December 2008.

So, as we can obviously see at this point, just because Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert and is one of the (if not just straight-up the) least humid cities in the United States doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get cold and there isn’t precipitation. People still wear coats in Las Vegas in the winter, and on occasion, have the privilege of building snowmen.

Unfortunately, after the snow stopped falling and it became midday, temperatures rose to the mid- to upper 40s in Fahrenheit, and the snow melted pretty quickly. I captured a final photo later on in the day as I was headed back to the house after getting some food, and the only remaining snow was high up in the mountains.

Snow in the mountains in Las Vegas, NV

 

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The best part of traveling is coming back home

At this point, I feel like “the best part of traveling is coming back home” should just be one of my catchphrases – it seems fitting, considering how often I travel and how I’m always eager to come back home.

After a tough second half of January 2019, I can finally sit back and relax, as the rush is over – the National PUBG League is moving forward in full force, we have an insanely high-end team house, and to top it all off, our PUBG team finished the opening weekend of league play in first place overall after the first day and second place after the second day, out of 16 teams.

Sunday the 3rd ended up being an errands and work catch-up day, spending a big chunk of the afternoon driving around Beach Cities with two of my co-workers, then doing a bunch of operations and editorial work after returning to the team house. Sunday also marked the day that Jordan King returned to Nebraska – I dropped him off at the airport close to midnight so he would catch his red-eye flight. This wassn’t just any red-eye flight, though – he took a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Chicago O’Hare, then retraced his steps on a connecting flight from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. He was planning on sleeping overnight on the plane and waking up fresh Monday morning to begin working again – I’m sure we can all guess how well that ended up working out.

After finishing up some final errands on Monday morning, I loaded everything up into my trusty pickup truck and drove back home to Las Vegas. Everything was decently uneventful – just the typical California traffic in the middle of nowhere up the mountains, plus a light drizzle. That is, everything was decently uneventful until I got to Baker. There was a massive collision right outside of Baker that backed up traffic to a standstill for a few miles. The funniest part is that people were presumably just following their GPS instructions, which were probably detecting massive traffic on I-15 S and were telling drivers to reroute to I-15 S Business, which is an extension of the freeway that cuts through the actual city of Baker… thus ensued a literal standstill throughout the entire city of Baker, and not just on the freeway.

I got a chance to plunder my SD card of photos I took throughout the week, and I have a few more highlights, the first being a photo of the Pacific Ocean that I took while touring a house in Rolling Hills, a gated city in the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Pacific Ocean from Rolling Hills

I also captured a glorious sunset from the rooftop deck of our new team house in Beach Cities… and also captured Jordan King taking a picture of his can of Red Bull with the sunset in the background.

If you’re a photographer, you know that most cameras adjust themselves such that, if you face it directly at an orange sunset, it looks a bit more dull than it actually is. That was the case for my photos as well, so I did some edits to the full sunset (I guess with these saturation edits, it becomes more “art” and less of an authentic photograph) to reflect the magnitude of what I recall seeing in person. However, I didn’t edit the saturation on the second photo, and that is still a pretty intense sunset.

Sunset from Redondo Beach

Jordan King taking a photo of his Red Bull can

Remember how I said it was drizzling during the drive? Eventually, the drizzle became an actual rainstorm, but the precipitation didn’t completely engulf the entire Mojave Desert. It was still the middle of the day, so the sun was strong – I managed to capture beams of sunlight penetrating storm clouds and illuminating the desert sand. I don’t think this photograph does the scene justice, but this was one of those rare times where I looked at something happening right in front of me and inadvertently said “wow.”

Beams of sunlight penetrating storm clouds and illuminating the Mojave Desert

My next scheduled travel is between February 13-20 to Chicago. I am already looking forward to my next “the best part of traveling is coming back home” post.

 

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My first time visiting the Santa Monica Pier

Having lived in Illinois and Wisconsin my entire life until late 2016, and not really traveling much or having an interest in traveling (except for just going back and forth between Chicago and Los Angeles multiple times for esports-related stuff), I never really learned much (or cared to learn much) about notable landmarks and points of interest around the world (or even around the country).

One of these points of interest was the Santa Monica Pier, which I did not really know much about until the middle of 2016 back when Pokémon Go was released and everyone said that the Santa Monica Pier was the best place to play. Since moving to the Pacific coast and learning more about what’s over on this side of the country, I soon realized the importance of the Santa Monica Pier (and even discovered that the pier in Grand Theft Auto V, which I play on occasion, is modeled after it). But, I still never really bothered to go visit it in person.

A few days ago, I joined one of my friends and co-workers on a trip to the Santa Monica Pier late at night – a trip I agreed to because I was able to be a passenger and be whisked away to our destination with no effort. Being the first time visiting, I aggressively photographed everything around me; here are a few highlights:

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

 

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