Tag Archives: tutorial

No more Google AdSense plugin for WordPress + yellow background color on responsive ads

Not too long ago, I received an email from Google AdSense stating they are dropping their plugin for WordPress. Within the email, they provided two options in placing AdSense ads into WordPress sans the Google plugin. I was able to apply both methods to my site. I made a quick tutorial on how I did it. Check it out.

I encountered a problem with the responsive ads that were generated. If the ad chosen by Google was smaller than the size of the container, a bit of yellow shows. I figured I’d tweak the code generated by Google by adding "background-color:transparent" setting to the style attribute. I decided to go inline instead of tweaking the style sheet. My logic is: if I decide to change my theme, the inline code should stay the same, whereas, the external style sheet will update with the theme.

Android Marshmallow

Android Lollipop to Marshmallow (6.0)

I received an over-the-air notification on my Nexus 5 for Marshmallow (Android 6.0) a few days ago. I put off on doing the update until today. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to migrate all my apps and time to troubleshoot any issues.

In this post, I’m just going to give a quick overview of my update from Lollipop (5.1.1) to Marshmallow (6.0.0). I’ll also provide links to the downloads.

Backup:

I ran a backup of all user apps using Titanium Backup. Instead of re-downloading the apps from Google Play, I reinstalled the apps  from the backup.

Since this is a major upgrade, I also ran a full Nandroid backup of Lollipop via TWRP.

Upgrade:

My Nexus is rooted. I’ve had issues with updating the various Lollipop versions. My resolve was to manually flash each of the system files. I approached the Marshmallow upgrade with the same technique. I downloaded the factory image and ran through the steps (see this post for the steps). Here’s the link to the factory image.

Recovery:

This was also a straight forward process. I used the most current version (2.8.7.1). This is the same version I used on the last Lollipop update. Here’s the TWRP Nexus 5 (hammerhead) link.

SuperSU:

Reestablishing root was where I came across a problem. I used the Lollipop rerooting method (see this post). I was able to boot into Marshmallow without any issues. The problem was when I tried to update SuperSU via Google Play–it failed. I did a quick search and found Chainfire’s SuperSU 2.52 beta file. I sideloaded that… bad decision. I was stuck in Marshmallow’s boot animation (boot loop). I had to do more digging and found that there is a corresponding boot.img file that needs to be flashed in tandem with the SuperSU beta file.

I got out of my boot loop by holding the volume up & down, and the power buttons together. The resulting key combo boots into bootloader. I connected my Nexus to my Mac and flashed the boot.img file. I then booted into recovery, and installed Chainfire’s SuperSU beta file.

Here’s the XDA post that has a link to the boot.img file. The beta file is found here.

Bonus: workaround for Android Pay credit card input issue

To input a credit card to the Android Pay app, you’ll need to disable root (there’s a checkbox that needs unchecking; check the settings in SuperSU app). Input the credit card info and then reestablish root by checking the box again. I was able to input my credit card using this method. I haven’t tested Android Pay. There’s a possibility this will still fail.


Yosemite install on USB

Create a Mac OS X bootable USB Thumb Drive (using createinstallmedia)

Apple stopped making their software available on CD/DVD ages ago. Applications including the entire OS is downloaded only through their App Store.

When you download and install the OS from their App store, it performs an upgrade to the existing operating system. Your applications and a large majority of your settings are preserved. But what if you want to perform a clean install? Wipe everything off and start anew? Well to do that, you’ll need to have the installer on another media. Such as another hard drive you can connect to, a CD/DVD, or flash memory (thumb drive, SD card, etc.).

To transfer the OS installer to a secondary storage media requires more than just copying the installer to the media. It has to be bootable. You will need to install the OS on the secondary media. The general method is to format the target destination (flash memory, hard drive, etc.) and run the installer on the target.

createinstallmedia is an easy way of installing the operating system to the secondary storage media. This was introduced in Mavericks. (Unfortunately I didn’t know about it until now because I skipped Mavericks.) createinstallmedia is packaged in their OS installer. There is no need to download it separately. createinstallmedia is a program that needs to be run in Terminal.

There are numerous tutorials available online (video and writeup). From what I’ve read and seen, the steps require downloading the OS installer, formatting the target media, copying the code and pasting into Terminal, and then executing the code. The tutorial steps are straight forward. If you don’t deviate from them, then you will succeed with a bootable system.

For my tutorial, I’m targeting the command line averse. The method I employ gives more leeway. For example, the majority of the tutorials online have you download the installer from the App Store and leave it alone (that is, don’t move it from the Applications folder). Well, say you’ve downloaded the OS already and have is stored in another folder or another volume (a different hard drive)? If you try to execute the command based on their tutorial, it will fail because the path is wrong. The method I use will ensure the path is filled out correctly. I’m using a USB flash/thumb drive as my target destination, but this should work on any other form of flash memory or external hard drive. The only caveat is the target destination must be large enough to accept the OS (min is about 6GB; 8GB is ideal).

Resources:

raised garden bed

DIY Raised Garden Bed Using Pocket Screws

There are a lot of benefits for having a garden, especially an edible one. You get to control the chemicals you expose your food to, and thus restrict the amount of chemicals you consume. From the garden to the table–you cannot get any fresher (nor greener) than that.

I had some success in planting directly in the ground. What I find troublesome about that is the weeding required. The buggers grow everywhere. The solution is to isolate the plant… a garden bed, aka an oversized garden pot. I did some research and decided to take this on as my next DIY project.

There are a lot of raised garden bed build types. You can construct it from stone, brick, wood, or simply a mound of dirt. For my project, I decided to go with a wooden bed. I was dissuaded from using pressure treated wood because of the likely hood the chemicals can leach into the soil and onto the plant (there’s a lot of debate about that NOT being an issue today, but I’m going to err on the side of caution). Cedar and redwood were highly recommended for its longevity. Redwood won out because I can easily find it here in the Bay Area. It is expensive though.

For the build, I wanted to keep it simple. I’m lacking in wood working tools and some of the plans/designs would be difficult for me to execute. A very typical and simple design just uses the planks/boards that comprise the width and length of the garden bed and scrap pieces of wood or posts (usually a 4×4). The posts or scrap wood would be used in the corners as nailing anchors for the sides of the garden bed. I didn’t want to go this route because I didn’t want to buy extra wood just for nailing purposes. It just seems like a waste of wood and more importantly waste of money. My solution was to use pocket screws. I saw them being used on PBS woodworking shows. They used pocket screws to join pieces together in furniture and cabinets. I figured why not for this application? After finding out they make weather resistant pocket screws, I green lighted this option. I decided to go with the Kreg pocket hole system because that was used on the PBS shows and it’s readily available online (links below) and in big box stores.

I did more research on pocket screw joinery. Knowing the thickness of the material you’re using is very important. For optimal bite, the screw should leave the board (that has the hole bored out) at or near the midway point of that board (https://www.kregtool.com/store/c13/kreg-jigsreg/#tab1394). Therefore, positioning of the jig (device used to bore the pocket screw hole) is important. The thickness of the work material is also important in selecting the right screws to use. It needs to be long enough to bite into the connecting board. It is also important not to over torque the pocket screw. You don’t want to strip the wood threads. This is crucial info. I would hate to spend all the time and money to have the joint fail because I drilled the hole in the wrong position, stripped out the threads, or use the wrong size screw to connect the pieces together.

The material cost is approximately $65. The screws and plugs were relatively cheap. The large chunk is due to the wood choice: redwood. The cost can easily be reduced by using more common cheaper wood. The compromise is the longevity of the garden bed. A cheaper wood, like pine will rot faster.

The tool cost is hard to factor in. Yes, I did buy the Mini Kreg Jig, and the driver bit specifically for this project. However, its use is not only restricted for building raised garden beds. It’s a joinery system. I can use it to repair drawers, chairs, tables, etc. As with the bar clamps and combination square, it’s not a must have in the home DIY tool box, but there are multiple uses for those tools and therefore, it’s a safe buy.

Here’s the video I shot of the project and price breakdown (located below the video link):

Project tools & materials

Wood:
2x6x16 untreated redwood

  • I purchased two pieces
  • cut to four 4ft lengths
  • cut to four 2ft lengths
  • durable
  • common in California (where I’m from)
  • I paid approx $35 for both boards at Home Depot

Kreg:

Clamps:

  • Irwin Quick Grip ($20)
    • I used 2 clamps to lock the jig to the board when boring out the pocket holes and to lock the wood together when assembling the levels together
  • alternative: Kreg Locking Face Clamp ($20)
    • this type of clamp will lock the jig to the board better than the bar clamp

Combination Square

Soil:

  • top soil
    • 3 cu ft
    • $8.25 total
  • garden soil
    • 3 cu ft
    • $8.50 total
  • manure
    • 1 cu ft
    • $1.50

    Nexus 5 manual update to 5.1

    I encountered issues when I updated my rooted Nexus 5 from 5.0 to 5.01:

    archive does not contain 'boot.sig'
    archive does not contain 'recovery.sig'
    

    (You can read about that here: blog post). For the 5.1 update, I decided to manually flash all the files, so as to avoid running into the same errors.

    The following is a step by step process of how I updated my rooted Nexus 5.

    Notice: If you don’t know how to use adb and fastboot, you should just stop right here. You’ll have to reference another tutorial. For those that proceed, you are responsible for your phone. If you brick it, it’s on YOU!

    Prerequisite

    • download and install adb & fastboot
    • download latest TWRP recovery (openrecovery-twrp-2.8.5.2-hammerhead.img)
    • download 5.1 factory image (“hammerhead”)
    • download and prep Chainfire’s CF-Auto-Root (XDA link)
    • run a Nandroid backup and transfer a copy of the backup to your computer
    • (optional) run a full Titanium backup of all your apps and transfer the copies to your computer

    Prep of 5.1 factory image

    1. expand the hammerhead-lmy47d-factory-6c1ad81e.tgz file
    2. expand the image-hammerhead-lmy47d.zip file
    3. rename the folder for easier reference (e.g.: extractedZip)
    4. move/copy bootloader-hammerhead-hhz12f.img and radio-hammerhead-m8974a-2.0.50.2.25.img files to the extractedZip folder
      • the img files are found in the expanded tgz file from step 1
    expanded hammerhead-lmy47d-factory-6c1ad81e.tgz

    This is the expanded hammerhead-lmy47d-factory-6c1ad81e.tgz file with the three important files highlighted

    final modified folder

    The folder contents of the extracted zip file, including the relocated bootloader & radio .img files from the .tgz factory image

    5.1 update via manual flash

    1. connect computer to phone via USB and boot phone into bootloader
      • command: adb reboot bootloader
    2. install bootloader-hammerhead-hhz12f.img
      • command: fastboot flash bootloader bootloader-hammerhead-hhz12f.img
    3. install radio-hammerhead-m8974a-2.0.50.2.25.img
      • command: fastboot flash radio radio-hammerhead-m8974a-2.0.50.2.25.img
    4. install system.img
      • command: fastboot flash system system.img
    5. install userdata.img
      • command: fastboot flash userdata userdata.img
    6. install boot.img
      • command: fastboot flash boot boot.img
    7. install recovery.img
      • command: fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
    8. delete the cache
      • command: fastboot erase cache
    9. from the phone, boot into Recovery
      • background image is of an Android on its back with chest open and red triangle (default system recovery)
    10. press Power + Volume Up buttons to enter into Recovery options
      • note: do NOT press and hold the buttons too long, as this will result in booting into the system (the phone), which will not boot… you’ll be stuck with the boot animation
        • if done accidentally, reboot back into bootloader: Volume Up + Volume Down + Power and continue from step 9
    11. select Wipe data/factory data reset
    12. reboot phone when data wipe is completed
      • booting into a newly installed system will take awhile — be patient!

    After installing 5.1 update: Re-root & install custom Recovery

    After the update, your phone has a fresh and clean install of Android 5.1… meaning there is no custom recovery, nor root access. However, Bootloader will still be unlocked. The default settings will not have USB Debugging enabled. USB Debugging enables you to run commands from your computer to your phone via USB.

    Install TWRP recovery and Chainfire SuperSU:

    1. setup the phone with your existing Gmail account
      • recommend setting up as a new device and use Titanium Backup to reinstall your apps
    2. setup USB Debugging
    3. connect computer to phone via USB and reboot phone into bootloader
    4. flash TWRP recovery: openrecovery-twrp-2.8.5.2-hammerhead.img
      • command: fastboot flash recovery openrecovery-twrp-2.8.5.2-hammerhead.img
    5. execute Chainfire’s CF-Auto-Root
      • Mac command: ./root-mac.sh
        • on a Mac, this will require the admin password of the Mac computer
      • the background will have a red pirate android
      • when complete, the phone will automatically reboot
    6. in Google Play store, update SuperSU to the current version
    7. SuperSU requires updating binary
      • select “Normal” and reboot when finished

    Reinstall apps & check phone settings

    To reinstall apps, download Titanium Backup and restore from there. If you have issues, I would recommend also using Nandroid Manager (Google Play Store Link). I resolved most of my issues by using Nandroid Manager to install the app and Titanium Backup to install the data.

    I recommend checking the phone settings. I’m on Ting (MVNO provider on the Sprint network; CDMA), so I updated my PRL and profile. The default for “Preferred network type” is set to Global; I had to update that to LTE.

    Multiple RSA key pairs using ssh-keygen & .ssh/config (Mac OS X tutorial)

    I got tired of typing my password after ssh‘ing to remote servers. After some googling, I found the solution, the ssh-keygen command and ssh-copy-id command. ssh-keygen generates an rsa private/public key pair. Once you generate the keys, you’ll need to store the private key on your computer and the public key to the server. ssh-copy-id command is used to copy the rsa public key onto the remote server. This command will also create the necessary file and change the necessary permissions to make this all work.

    I followed a tutorial from Ramesh Natarajan (http://goo.gl/fX68N). I got stuck on trying to copy the public key to the remote server. I’m on a Mac and apparently ssh-copy-id command is not built in. I found the Mac install (located at GitHub, MacPorts or Homebrew) and completed Ramesh’s tutorial. I was able to quickly connect to the remote server without typing in the password… How sweet is that?

    All was good until I started to frequently connect to different servers. Ramesh’s tutorial covers a single rsa key pair. For security, it’s best to have a unique rsa key pair for each unique connection . After some searching, this can be accomplished by modifying the ssh-keygen command and using the config file located within the hidden .ssh directory.


    I first began by creating another unique rsa key pair:

    ssh-keygen -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userA -C "userA @ server1"
    • The -f flag specifies the filename of the key file. In the example, it is “id_rsa_userA“. The private key will be “id_rsa_userA” and the public key will be “id_rsa_userA.pub". As you can see from the absolute path, the files will be locate in the home directory and within a hidden .ssh folder.
    • The -C flag is for commenting. The string that follows will be appended to the end of the rsa public key. This helps when you copy the public key to the remote server — you’ll know it was copied because of the comment you provided.

    The following is what you will typically see after you execute the previous line of code.

    Generating public/private rsa key pair.
    Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [enter something complex]
    Enter same passphrase again: [confirm by entering it again]
    Your public key has been saved in /Users/username/.ssh/id_rsa_userA.pub.
    The key fingerprint is:
    81:d4:12:cd:57:aa:42:47:12:de:4c:23:6a:34:62:78 userA @ somedomain.com
    The key's random art image is:
    +--[ RSA 2050]----+
    |        ..+0.    |
    |         .. .    |
    |         *.*     |
    |       +.o o     |
    |     .. +        |
    |      S.  ..     |
    |        ..       |
    |       o + . . . |
    |        .  +o.oE+|
    +-----------------+
    
    • After generating the rsa key pair, you have the option of entering a passphrase. You should do this! Check out this GitHub article on that (http://goo.gl/rR1ebp)
    • The location of the public key is given.
    • The fingerprint and random art image is also generated.

    Repeat the ssh-keygen command for the other connections. Be sure to keep the filename of the key file unique and the comment unique, as well as relevant to the connection.


    Use ssh-copy-id to copy the public rsa key to the remote server. (Install via GitHub, MacPorts or Homebrew).

    ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userA.pub userA@somedomain.com
    • The -i flag allows you to specify the public key to upload.
    • The last argument (userA@somedomain.com) is the remote host connection info.
    • ssh-copy-id will create the authorized_keys file if it doesn’t exist and append the public key (specified after the-i flag “~/.ssh/id_rsa_userA.pub"). It’ll also update various file and folder permissions.
    • You will be required to type in the account password to access the remote server (note: this is not the “passphrase” you created at the beginning of the tutorial)

    Test the connection again by ssh command:

    ssh userA@somedomain.com

    Mac OS X will then ask for you to enter the “passphrase” you should have created when you used the ssh-keygen command. It is important to check the “Remember password in my keychain” box. By doing this, you eliminate from typing in the “passphrase” every time you login to this specific server.

    keyChainBox


    This step is not necessary, but once connected to the remote server, you can examine the authorized_keys file:

    cat ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
    
    • Within this file, you should be able to see the long key, followed by the comment included when the ssh-keygen command was executed.

    You should log out and try another ssh connection to the same server. This time, the “passphrase” is saved by Keychain Access, so you shouldn’t have type it again. If all is well, you should be instantly connected to the remote server.

    Repeat the public key transfer of all the remaining server connections.


    Next is to store all the connection info into a config file contained within the .ssh folder. This will speed up connection to the remote servers by assigning shortcut names to each unique connection.

    touch ~/.ssh/config
    vim ~/.ssh/config
    
    • The file doesn’t exist, so I’m using touch command to create the file.
    • I’m using Vim to input the connection info.

    For demonstration purposes, the following contains basic connection info for two different accounts. There is a lot that you can put into the config file, but I only limited it to basic connection info.

    Host userA
      HostName somedomain.com
      User userA
      IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userA
    
    Host userB
      HostName anotherdomain.com
      User userB
      IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userB
    
    • Host userA and Host userBis are used for pattern matching and applies the declarations that follow it (note the indentation of the lines that follow it). userA and Host userB are the names I choose for their unique connections. This will also be used when you remote connect to the server. It’s the shortcut name, so keep this name unique.
    • HostName somedomain.com and HostName anotherdomain.com states the domain of the remote servers.
    • User userA and User userB states the user account to the corresponding remote server.
    • IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userA and IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_userB states the specific private rsa key.
    • More info about what can go inside the config file can be found here http://goo.gl/FEF1a5 or by checking out the manual pages in terminal (man ssh_config)

    That’s pretty much it. You can then quickly connect to the remote server, without inputting any password by typing in the connection type (ssh, sftp, etc) followed by the shortcut name as listed in the config file — the one after “Host“. Here are some connection examples:

    • sftp userA
    • ssh userA
    • sftp userB
    • ssh userB

    Install of WeatherTech Window Deflector

    I ordered vent visors from WeatherTech for my Scion tC. WeatherTech brands them as “window deflectors”. I was going to go with the cheaper vent visor that attaches by adhesive tape. I was dissuaded by some forum posts stating the adhesive tape doesn’t stay stuck for long. The other option, but much more expensive alternative was the precisely molded in-channel visors sold by WeatherTech. The cost is around $75, which includes shipping.

    I hoping this investment will pay off. It’s near winter time; we’re finally getting some rain (I live in the Bay Area, and we’re suffering from a major draught — this is well needed stuff). The trouble with rain, no matter how small you crack open the window, you’ll still get water inside. With these installed, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. I also plan on leaving it cracked open. I’m getting tired of the condensation fogging up my windshield after my late evening workout. Hopefully this will save on running the AC to defog the windows.

    I could have used these this past summer. I gets hot here. Not desert hot, but hot enough to steam when getting into the car after it’s been baking in the sun for 6 hours. I have a Broadway mirror attached to my rearview. When it gets too hot, any slight vibration from rough roads will cause it to move on its own. Really annoying when driving. I could crack my moonroof to help vent when parked, but find that leaves tend to blow inside when I do this. These vent visors should help with that.

    Is this a worthwhile investment? I’m kinda talking myself into thinking it is. The design is unobtrusive and install was easy. The question is, will it fulfill its purpose and help regulate the inside temperature and relative humidity? Dunno… have to wait and see.


    DIY Camera Dry Box

    DIY Camera Dry Box

    I usually store my camera gear in camera bags. I store my primary shooter in a sling bag. I would also cram extra lenses, flash and whatever other gear that can fit into that same bag. All remaining gear would go into miscellaneous camera bags.

    I had to rethink this when I was searching for used lenses to put on my Canon EOS M (my primary video shooter). It’s a given to check the quality of the used lens. Does it have scratches? oily blades? fungus? Fungus… huh? After some searching, fungus primarily grows on the lens. Given the right conditions, it can spread. Can it be cleaned? By a professional. So what do you do? Prevention is the key. The fungus spores thrive in damp environment. I live in the Bay Area, but that’s no guarantee that fungus cannot contaminate my lenses. Keep in mind I’m still buying used lenses… dunno where they’ve been.

    One form of prevention requires storing the lenses and camera body in a cool and dry environment, the camera dry box. Professional camera dry boxes are way too expensive — from a couple of hundred dollars to well over a thousand. One solution to make your own camera dry box. That requires a storage container, a desiccant (to absorb the moisture within the container), and a hygrometer (to measure the relative humidity).

    Here’s a video of my DIY camera dry box:

    Here’s a price breakdown of my diy camera dry box:

    • 26.5 qt Ziploc Weathertight Box: ~$12 @ Walmart
      • Ziploc branded but manufactured by Iris USA
      • interior dimensions of the box: 18.25″(w) x 14.25″(l) x 6.25″(h)
        • it tapers, so subtract about 1 inch: 17.25″(w) x 13.25″(l) — base dimensions
    • 10.5 oz DampRid: ~$3 @ Home Depot
    • HTC-1 Digital Thermometer and Hygrometer: ~$5 @ eBay
      • any hygrometer will work
      • check out my post and video on how to check hygrometer accuracy
    • Drawer Liner: ~$5 @ Walmart
      • optional, but recommend
    • Sunflower Crackers: ~$5 @ asian grocery store
      • optional
      • recommend any secondary catch storage in case DampRid leaks

    Sugru + Neodymium magnet + sponge holder = movable sponge caddy

    I found this cool sponge caddy years ago. The caddy hung over the sink; it hooked over the edge of the sink. I could only reposition it on the left and right sides of the sick. The center wall dividing the double sink was too wide for the caddy to hook onto.

    Another problem to this caddy were the tight corners. Food particles from the sponge would get stuck. It was very difficult to clean.

    I happened on a different caddy design. The mounting mechanism relied on suction cups. This however didn’t work on my sink. That was the only flaw. I tried ceramic magnets, but that wasn’t strong enough. I then tried rare earth neodymium magnets. That was the perfect type. I used Sugru to affix the magnets to the caddy.

    I now have a movable sponge caddy — I can affix this to any wall of the sink.

    The sponge holder was around $6 from Target.
    The neodymium magnets was around $4 (1/2″; 6-pack) from Home Depot.

    adb push & adb pull to transfer from Mac to Android device

    Here’s a screencast of a tip/tutorial on how to transfer files or folders between an Android device and a Mac. There is a GUI utility called Android File Transfer that’s more intuitive. The only problem is that it sometimes fails [read: crashes] on transferring large files. I found adb technique to be consistent and fast.

    I also used adb shell to establish a shell in the Android device. I would then locate the target file or the target directory. Once found, I would copy and paste the path to complete the command:

    adb pull /pathOfFolder_onAndroidDevice/filename /pathToMacFolder
    adb push /pathToMacFolder/filename /pathOfFolder_onAndroidDevice
    

    Using a two terminal window allows me to copy the path onto the other terminal window containing the command. This saves from exiting the shell in order to type the command.