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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!

Mastering Growth with Pirates

Mastering Growth Certificate

I recently completed the Mastering Growth online course with Harvard. As an avid listener of the Masters of Scale podcast I was aware of the content, but this course really made me take the time to reflect on the themes in the context of my role as CPTO of a startup.

The podcast episode that resonated most with me was featured in one of the lectures – Uber’s How Pirates Become The Navy. The episode is about the band of startup pirates learning the benefits and behaviours of becoming a navy. Coming from Corporate land however, I needed to do the opposite and learn when to be a pirate.

Google teaches you to plan big – if it’s not in the hundreds of millions of users or $ then it’s probably not worth doing. That implies that planning and robust debate is important, and exemplifies an engineering lead culture where scale is thought through.

When shifting to a startup, although you might get hired for scale they will give you credit for speed. The company and founders has lived through a period of survival and built a credit structure around that. If you want to earn enough credits to spend on that big scale investment, you had better show you can jump on a quick dollar today. It doesn’t really matter whether that dollar aligns with the strategy or not, what matters is that you moved quickly and you closed it. You have survival instinct.

The trick is knowing when you need to show this hustle. Anyone from corporate land can tell you that quick wins buy credits, but in corporate land there are very clearly articulated strategies and even words that will help you find wins. One example is a corporate mantra of being a “trusted advisor” – just go and get a customer testimonial that shows how they relied on your advice to make a decision. Pre-meditated decision making.

In startup land, it’s more opportunistic. You need to jump on the opportunity as soon as you see it, and then work out the messaging later. A key customer mentions a tangential opportunity? Launch an MVP and then test if there’s a market for it. Worst case the takeaway message is we moved too fast – there’s no punishment for that. Best case, you made a customer happy and a dollar. Now you can put your scale hat on, market size it, and think about whether it’s something worth planning for.

Is this a good core strategy? No, if you focused on this then your ever increasing team would be in an ever bigger state of fragmentation and disarray. As a rough rule of thumb, 20% of your effort should be launching MVPs and 80% should be landing the proven ones.

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.

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…

Google Grants Post – Getting Started on YouTube

Wondering why I have been so quiet lately? I volunteered my time to write a blog post for the Google Grants blog instead!

http://googlegrants.blogspot.com/2010/08/get-your-non-profit-started-with.html

I really hope that it helps more non-profits get onto YouTube. It really is a great platform that will deliver a level of transparency and engagement with your supporters, and in turn it offers you call to action overlays to convert those supporters into contributors.

Live Streaming on YouTube Australia

Tomorrow from 1-2pm YouTube Australia will be running their first live streaming event for the 2010 ICT ministers debate on the youtube.com/AustraliaVotes channel.

ICT policy is shaping up as one of the big issues of this election, which is great because ICT tends to take a back seat in Australian politics. The main issues are around the $43b National Broadband Network (NBN) project and the proposed Internet Filter. Each party has a different perspective on each of these major issues, which hopefully will make for an interesting debate. Regardless, I am proud to be helping to bring this first to Australia!

Edit: The debate ran successfully on YouTube Live! You can now see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRHbeONYdUc

Google Adwords Certified Individual

On the 30th of June I became Google Adwords Qualified in the category of Display Advertising. To achieve this I had to complete 2 120 multiple choice question tests with a pass mark of 85% or above. You can check my qualifications here:

Google Adwords Qualified – Display Advertising

Proves that Google dogfoods its own qualifications. 🙂

How can charities get started with YouTube?

Each year Google runs a GoogleServe week, where we each choose a non-profit project we would like to contribute to. I chose to present to a group of 30+ non-profit organisations here in Sydney on how they can benefit from our recently launched YouTube non-profit program. Despite being only a small contribution it was a very rewarding experience, and I was really impressed with how sophisticated many of the charities are.

I am posting my presentation here so that any other charities who didn’t attend can view it at any time. I am also posting a 1-sheeter handout that I gave to all attendees which summarises the simple steps to getting their non-profit onto YouTube. I hope they help!

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