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Adding a free SSL certificate to Google Compute Engine

Google provides a one click install option for WordPress on their Google Compute Engine instances. This is a very economical and customisable way to spin up a WordPress blog if you’re comfortable with a Debian shell. Unfortunately it only spins up a HTTP rather than secure HTTPS instance, so here’s how to add a free SSL certificate.

Firstly, log into your Cloud console and open an SSH shell for your instance

Google Cloud VM Instance SSH login

Then in the shell, run the following commands as mentioned here:

sudo apt-get install certbot python-certbot-apache

Accept the downloading and installation of some Python packages, then to request and install a new Let’s Encrypt certificate into Apache the :

sudo certbot --apache

It will ask a number of questions such as the server hostname and whether you want to redirect HTTP to HTTPS (you should), then link to the SSL Labs server test to verify your installation.

Finally you can optionally run a dry run renewal, just to make sure it all works:

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

And that’s it!

My Google Story

Dropping off my Google badge
Dropping off my Google badge

Dear team and friends,

When I was about 11, I created a Lego greenhouse that grew a real plant. That’s when I first believed that I could create technology that makes a difference in the real world. I came to Google as a level 3 just over 9 years ago to work with the best people in the world to achieve that mission. Being part of programs like YouTube Symphony only confirmed this truth. Four promotions later I hit an EQ brick wall, leading to 2 years of hard self reflection both inside (thanks Take the Lead) and outside Google (thanks INSEAD).

At the end of this period I wrote a thesis with a paediatric surgeon in Singapore. She turned up late to our first group meeting… typical university group work right? Except she was late due to performing a liver transplant on a newborn. I reflected that the ads I delivered today didn’t give me that same feeling, she reflected that she only had one pair of hands and YouTube educates the world on health every second.

In the couple of years since this experience I’ve felt a need to more deliberately structure teams to solve real world problems. Full time this was helping my awesome Publisher team find a way to fund journalism again, but at night I was kept awake by failed health startups and raising our 3rd child. My list of requirements for a healthtech role that would be good enough to leave Google for was extensive, but after a lot of sleepless nights and consultation with family and mentors, I think I’ve found one.

There are a huge number of people to thank for this journey – Neeraj, Estee, Alan, Abhay and Scott for being amazing mentors and advocates. My teams and peers across Brand, CSE and Publishers who have pushed me to be a better person and manager, but more importantly shared so many personally meaningful TGIFs, off-sites, coffees and lunches. I’m sorry for pushing so hard on PDPs and career development, but if it helped spark even one new insight into what motivates you then I leave content.

Please stay in touch, it’s a small world even outside the Google bubble.

Scott

Wordpress + Google Compute Engine

Migrating WordPress from Dreamhost to Google Cloud

Wordpress + Google Compute Engine

I’ve hosted my WordPress blog on Dreamhost for some years now, as part of a broader hosting package. The decreasing costs of the Cloud have meant that many of the services I used to host have now moved off Dreamhost, and in addition the performance of Dreamhost is quite poor from countries like Australia. Google Cloud now offers a quick deploy WordPress feature and a free tier of Google Compute Engine (IAAS), so I decided to go through the steps of migrating:

  1. Install the Updraft plugin and run the Backup to your Google Drive or other account. Note that the paid version makes this process easier, but is not required.
  2. Signup for a Google Cloud Platform account (if you don’t already have one)
  3. Deploy a new WordPress Single Instance using Cloud Launcher
  4. Ensure you record all the username/password details displayed, including your WordPress admin details
  5. Set your VM to f1-micro (1 vCPU, 0.6 GB memory) to ensure you’re on the free tier (unless you get more traffic than I do)
  6. Log in to your new WordPress instance and use Updraft import to migrate your blog content into the new instance
  7. Create a new External IP address in the Cloud console, making sure you attach it to your recently created VM using the dropdown
  8. Change site url in phpmyadmin
  9. Update your A record in your DNS settings (Dreamhost example) with your domain registrar to point to the new external IP you created in step 7
  10. Test your new site!

Flickrtoplus.com now supports Google Photos

Google Photos iconGoogle Plus photos has been split out into a separate product, Google Photos. As part of this move there were some API changes, in particular an newly enforced requirement to use OAuth 2.0. With some help we managed to get the tool updated after a period of 1-2 weeks of downtime in late June 2015.

Usage volumes have since been steadily increasing: over the period June – December 2015 daily usage has doubled. I’m not sure whether it’s due to a decline in Flickr usage, and increase in Google Photos usage, or a combination of both (my guess). I need to spend some time working on improving the efficiency of the tool over the holiday period, but until then would ask for your patience. It’s working, it’s just a bit backlogged.

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

FlickrToPlus.com – Flickr to Google Plus Migration Tool

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

I have been using Google Plus a lot more lately, and now feel that the social layer (permissions and annotations) adds substantially to the photo experience. I know this is not a new revelation, but as a long time Flickr Pro customer I felt that the options of “Friends” or “Family” visibility, when I don’t really have either on Flickr, were not enough. Therefore over the 2012 Christmas holiday break I decided to work on a new web tool, FlickrToPlus.com.

There are two really annoying things about doing this migration for me:

  1. Losing metadata – especially titles and geo data
  2. Downloading/Uploading every file

This tool solves both these problems with the help of the Flickr and Picasa API’s. In fact my server doesn’t even see the photo files, you can pass a Flickr original image URL directly to the Picasa API. This means the service is fast and reliable. All you need to do is log in with both Flickr and Picasa, and then check the box against the set you would like to migrate. The site will then provide a progress update on the migration status. Google Plus albums and Picasa albums are currently pretty much the same thing, so these migrated albums are available straight away in the Google Plus interface for sharing with your friends.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

Finishing my San Francisco Rotation

My 35 days of living in a corporate apartment in SOMA, San Francisco have come to an end! I decided to record my impressions in a video (of course) log from the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno.

Hills Bros Coffee on the Bay desktop background

Welcome to San Francisco

Hills Bros Coffee on the Bay desktop backgroundI’m in the land of the Start Up. The sky seems a little bluer and there is a cloud based business on every corner. Viral cloud engagement analytics seems to be whats buzzing here. Who is funding all these businesses? It can’t be entrepreneurs mortgaging their houses like in Australia, I thought it was impossible to get a loan in the US? I guess the Angel and VC markets really are all here.

The story of Hills Bros Coffee is a pretty good SF anecdote ironically. Wikipedia notes that the brand started as a great family company passed down the generations, surviving World War II and merging with another coffee company. Then the family sold out to the Swiss Nestle, who sold it to the US based Sara Lee, who then sold into the Italian Massimo Zannetti (aka Segafredo) mega-coffee group.

Regardless, this $1.2b 120,000 tonne completely vertically integrated Italian company has vacated this prime piece of real estate – but Mozilla is moving their 125 CA-based employees into the 15,000ft building. Their gross profit was $43 million and is based on freely available software. New World Order?

australian youtube logo doodle

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day 2011 to all the aussies who read my blog! Ernesto, 3DM and I worked hard to deliver the first YouTube custom logo for Australia ever and a custom video mapping gadget! The basic premise is that Australians can upload videos to YouTube and plot them on a map. This map then visually “fills in” to create essentially remap Australia in terms of summer memories. I am really looking forward to seeing how much momentum we can build off this one and it is great showcase for local creatives.

australian youtube logo doodle

Custom YouTube logo and youtube.com/MapMySummer gadget

Google also put up a custom doodle for today, which indirectly drives through to the YouTube channel too:

google doodle for australia day 2011

Google doodle for Australia Day 2011

Is it weird that I get a buzz from having input into the creation of these programs that re-craft some of the most recognised brands in the world? Must be my inner marketing geek showing through…

Movember 2010

30 days worth of growth...

This is the second year that I have participated in Movember, a great initiative to raise money for men’s health. Google Australia put together a strong team to compete, so I had no excuse not to join the cause. If you don’t know what Movember is, here is the summary from their website:

Each year Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in Australia and around the world, with the sole aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression in men.

The program started in Australia, but has now spread to 9 more countries around the world. It’s really great to see Australia coming up with programs like Movember and Earth Hour that make a difference to the world.

If you would like to donate to my (poor) efforts to help, then that would be greatly appreciated! You can do so here: http://au.movember.com/mospace/227691/

YouTube Symphony 2011 in Sydney

YouTube Symphony 2011 has launched, and the Sydney Opera House has been announced as the new final location! The program is revolving around an APAC advertiser and location, so it is an extremely exciting program for the region. Make sure you try the Augmented Reality application in the “Experiment” section.

This excitement is being driven internally by a surprisingly large and distributed number of Australians based all around the world. I was at the launch event at the Opera House on Wednesday morning, and every Google employee who spoke was Australian! It was quite an inspiring moment for an Australian in IT like myself looking to make an impact globally. Working on the project has already been an amazing experience, and things have only just begun.

I guess Symphony is already achieving its goal to be a globally inspiring program.

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