Hiding the Bitnami corner banner on new Google Cloud Compute Engine instances

By default new Bitnami instances show a corner banner on all pages. To remove this connect to your Google Cloud Compute Engine instance via SSH and enter the following commands:

  1. sudo /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/bnconfig –disable_banner 1
  2. sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart apache
  3. sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart nginx

    That’s it! 🙂

How to change the Home address on the Mazda Connect Maps App

Setting the Home address on Mazda’s Connect Navigation App is done during the first-time setup of the navigation App, set it and forget, but it’s not obvious how to change the Home address at a later time.

Here’s how to update the Home address on the MZD Connect Navigation App:

  1. Start your Mazda car and wait for the Mazda Connect platform to load
  2. Open the Navigation App
  3. Select Favourites from the Navigation menu
  4. Highlight the Home menu option
  5. Press and hold down the Commander button down for up to 5 seconds *
  6. Select Edit to update the Home address
  7. Set your City/Suburb, followed by Street and Number
  8. Save your changes

That’s it! 🙂

* The Commander button is shown as the main dial in the lead image above this Post that you use to interact with the Connect platform whilst driving.

Source: Mazdas247.com

Re-map the Calculator keyboard key to Play/Pause on Windows 10

Here’s how to re-map the default Calculator keyboard “shortcut key” to instead send the Play/Pause media command under Windows 10; alot more useful!

This guide is aimed at the Amazonbasics Wired Keyboard but applies to any keyboard making use of the standard Windows media/shortcut key codes. A requirement is that you are using a supported media player including iTunes, Spotify, Windows Media Player or VLC.

  1. Download Command Line Media Controller (it’s free) and copy it to the Program Files (x86) directory
  2. Open up the Registry Editor (regedit64.exe) by clicking the Start button and typing regedit into the search bar
  3. Expand Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AppKey\18
  4. Create a new String with the Value name: ShellExecute
  5. Set the String Value data to: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Command Line Media Controller\CLMControl.exe” Spotify -pp
  6. Click OK

That’s it! Hit the Calculator keyboard shortcut with Spotify open and it will toggle play/pause. Happy listening! 🙂

Recovering from a “dead” hard disk on the XPS 15 9550

I brought my XPS 15 9550’s hard disk back from the brink today. I hope this will help other affected XPS 15 9550 users or just Windows users in general.

The XPS 15 9550 was powered down as usual and on reboot would go directly from the Dell POST logo to the Dell diagnostic software (Enhanced Pre-Boot System Assessment). That’s not a good sign.

After running through common diagnostic steps with Dell Support a new hard drive was ordered and installation scheduled for the following day (unit was covered under a Next Business Day support contract). As Dell Support put it the hard disk was dead without any chance of recovery… or was there? 😉

Here’s how to recover your Windows instance in the case where the hard disk hardware is still being detected and simply has no UEFI boot entries:

  1. Open BIOS Setup by powering up the XPS 15 and tapping F12
  2. Open the Settings > General > Boot Sequence screen
  3. Ensure that UEFI is selected under Boot List Option
  4. Click Add Boot Option
  5. Provide a Boot Order Name (it can be anything, I used Bootx64)
  6. Select the available File System List
  7. Set the File Name to: \EFI\Boot\bootx64.efi or click the ‘…’ button and expand the EFI > Boot directory and select bootx64.efi before pressing OK
  8. Click OK to create the new EFI boot entry
  9. Select the new EFI boot entry
  10. Click Apply
  11. Click Exit

Fingers crossed! That’s it, I hope you’re back up and running again. 🙂

Step-by-step setup for the Xiaomi Plant Flower Care

Here’s a walkthrough for setting up the Xiaomi Plant Flower Care BLE device on an Android device.

  1. Unpack the device from the packaging
  2. Install the free Mi Home App (Google Play Store/iTunes App Store)
  3. Turn Bluetooth on your Android device
  4. Open the Mi Home App
  5. Sign in or create a new Mi Home account
  6. From the opening My Devices screen click the top right “+” (plus) symbol
  7. Select “Add device” from the dropdown menu
  8. Pull the exposed plastic tab from the Xiaomi Plant Flower Care device to turn it on, if you have previously done this open the cover and unset/re-set the battery
  9. When the “Flower care” device appears select it
  10. Wait while the Bluetooth connection is established and the latest device firmware is installed
  11. From the initial Devices tab select the Flower Care device

That’s it! You’re good to go!

Screenshots

Fixing the loud CPU fan on the Dell XPS 15 9550 (2016)

I’ve had my XPS 15 9550 almost 18 months now, here’s my replacement history so far… all covered under Dell’s Premium Support NBD contract:

  • 5 motherboards
  • 1 battery
  • 2 CPU fan
  • 2 graphics card fan
  • 1 heatsink
  • 1 keyboard

I can put at least 3 of the above motherboard replacements down to me telling them “the CPU fan is too loud” which was blamed by Dell Support and on-site technicians on issues with the motherboard and promptly replaced.

The fix for the loud CPU fan – especially when a Thunderbolt device is connected – is to turn on passive cooling within Power Options and using Intel XTU undervolt the CPU 0.100 V dramatically lowering the thermal profile of the XPS 15 9550 followed by setting Dell Command Power Manager to Quiet.

Showing the thermal profile of the Dell XPS 15 9550 24 hours after applying the Core Voltage Offset change and enabling Passive system cooling.

Today I have a silent machine with no noticeable effect on daily usage or CS:GO gaming performance, that’s with 2 Dell U2414H monitors occupying the HDMI and Thunderbolt connectors. I have multiple Chrome tabs open (10+), Slack and other typical CPU hogs running without the CPU fan attempting to rise off the desk.


Here’s how to fix the loud CPU fan on the Dell XPS 15 9550:

Part 1: Turn on passive CPU cooling

  1. Right click the battery icon in the start taskbar
  2. Select Power Options
  3. Click Change plan settings beside the Balanced power plan
  4. Click Change advanced power settings
  5. Expand the Processor power management list
  6. Expand the System cooling policy list
  7. Set the On battery and Plugged in options to Passive
  8. Click OK to save changes
  9. Click Save Changes on the Edit Plan Settings window to save changes

Part 2: Undervolt the CPU 0.100V

Dropping the Core Voltage Offset -0.100 V significantly lowers the thermal profile of the Dell XPS 15 9550.
  1. Download the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility from the Intel website
  2. Install and open Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (ala Intel XTU)
  3. Open the Advanced Tuning > Core section
  4. Find the Core Voltage Offset slider
  5. To the right of the Core Voltage Offset slider hover over the 0.000 V value to show the decrease/increase toggles
  6. Click the decrease toggle until the Core Voltage Offset indicator shows -0.100 V
  7. Click Apply
  8. Close Intel XTU and restart the computer

Part 3: Dell Command | Power Manager

Dell Command | Power Manager is the holy grail of thermal management tools for Dell units.
  1. Download and install Dell Command | Power Manager from Dell’s website
  2. Open Dell Command Power Manager from the Start menu
  3. Switch to the Thermal Management tab
  4. Set the Thermal Setting to Quiet

That’s it! 😀

How to turn off the Mazda Connect watchdog (auto-reboot)

By default Mazda Connect’s Watchdog service restarts the CMU on any error, to the general public this is a god send as the Watchdog resolves common issues by rebooting the system (e.g. Navi going silent, any screen lock-ups, etc.) but for developers this can have the unintended action of locking us out of SSH access from a simple mistyped character.

Here’s how to turn the Mazda Connect Watchdog service off, keep in mind this command only persists until the Mazda Connect system is rebooted (e.g. after turning the engine off for a short period of time).

echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/Watchdog\ Disable/value

You can check if the Watchdog service is now inactive by running:

cat /sys/class/gpio/Watchdog\ Disable/value

There are ample instructions online for how to set up the above command to persist even after rebooting but I won’t provide this here.

That’s it! 🙂

Resetting SSH access after “Too many authentication failures for …” on Google Cloud Compute Engine

Locked yourself out of SSH/SFTP access on Google Cloud Compute Engine? Does the below look familiar… Fun times…

Status: Connecting to domain.com...
Status: Connecting to domain.com...
Response: fzSftp started, protocol_version=8
Command: open "...@domain.com" 22
Error: Server sent disconnect message
Error: type 2 (protocol error):
Error: "Too many authentication failures for ... from 125.18.17.115 port 7145 ssh2"
Error: Could not connect to server

Here’s how to increase the number of allowed login attempts within sshd_config and then restart the sshd service so you can get back to work. 🙂

  1. Open up Google Cloud Console
  2. From the Menu button open Compute Engine > VM Instances
  3. Beside your Compute Engine instance hit the SSH button within the Connect column
  4. When your terminal connection is established enter the following:
    sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  5. By default the sshd_config file does not have a MaxAuthTries entry but scroll through the file using the up/down keys and check just incase…
  6. I set the maximum number of login attempts to 10, change this number to suit your security needs. Add the following lines anywhere within the sshd_config file:
    # Max login attempts
    MaxAuthTries 10
  7. Save and close the file by using the following keyboard combinations:
    CTRL+O followed by the enter key to save the file changes
    CTRL+X to close the Nano file editor
  8. Reboot the sshd service using the following commands (I’m not sure which one works so let’s do all of them…)
    sudo service sshd restart
    sudo systemctl restart sshd
  9. Try and reconnect to your Compute Engine instance using Putty (SSH) or Filezilla (SFTP)

That’s it 🙂

Configuring WordPress after installing on Google Cloud Platform using Click to Deploy

Following on from Fixing Installation Failed message on Bitnami WordPress and Google Cloud Compute Engine I recently tried installing WordPress within Google Cloud Platform using Google Click to Deploy.

As always the installation and initial setup is a breeze, open up Google Cloud Platform and within the search bar type in “WordPress”, one of the available options is called “WordPress – Click to Deploy”, select that then enter the following details:

  • Deployment name (this cannot be changed so think about it…)
  • Zone (where you want your instance to exist; us-west1-b is my favourite)
  • Machine Type (small 1 shared vCPU is plenty to start with and can be changed at any time without affecting site downtime)
  • Administrator E-mail (your e-mail address)
  • whether you want phpMyAdmin installed (if you’re using WordPress then this is very handy to have access to)
  • Disk type and size (Standard Persistent Disk and 10 GB is plenty to start with)
  • Automatic firewall rules for HTTP/HTTPS traffic (turn this on or you’ll need to do it later)

Then hit Click Deploy and away it goes, a minute or so later a set of logins are provided including a default admin WordPress User and login details, if phpMyAdmin was selected a default root User login is provided.

By default a dynamic IP is allocated to your WordPress instance so you’ll need to open Menu > Networking > External IP address and change the type to Static for persistent WordPress sites.

If you intend to manage your WordPress site via SFTP (FTP over SSH) then you’ll need to adjust your SSH user so that it can create and edit files within the base WordPress directory, to do this open the Google Cloud Shell within your WordPress instance by opening Menu > Compute Engine > VM Instances > under the Connect column beside your WordPress instance click SSH.

id
sudo useradd -G visser www-data

(replace visser with your SSH user name displayed when you enter id)

Adjust the file permissions and ownership of wp-config.php within your base WordPress directory then create a new .htaccess file.

sudo chown www-data wp-config.php
sudo chgrp www-data wp-config.php
sudo chmod 664 wp-config.php
sudo touch .htaccess
sudo chmod 664 .htaccess
sudo chown www-data .htaccess
sudo chgrp www-data .htaccess

Lastly let’s change the WordPress URL from the IP address allocated (e.g. http://35.197.92.168 to http://visser.io) and turn on Permalinks.

To change your WordPress URL open the WordPress Administration using the logins provided when your WordPress instance was created then open the Settings > General screen. Change only the WordPress Address (URL) field to your preferred URL – do not change the Site Address (URL) field – then hit Save Changes.

To enable Permalinks open up the General > Permalinks screen, within the Common Settings section change the radio button selector to Custom Structure and within the text input field paste the following (or your preferred Permalink structure):

/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

Hit Save Changes to apply changes.

That’s it 🙂