Flash AVR Amtel ATtiny Chips with a Modified CH341A ISP Programmer

I bricked a lot of ATtiny85 Digistump chips while I was building a custom bootloader. Here is how I unbricked them and flashed onto them bootloaders with less than $5 of hardware using an AliExpress CH341A BIOS programmer and some soldering. The problem is that the CH341A is not designed for ATtiny chips, but for flashing motherboard BIOS chips, so I had to hack it.

Build a Secure MFA Web-Browser-Based Remote Desktop Gateway on a Raspberry Pi

Let’s say I’m in a Starbucks or the airport (or both) and I want to connect to my Windows (or OSX or Linux) machine to check on things. Maybe I don’t want to take my primary computer with me on vacation; maybe I’ll just take a Chromebook. Behind a restrictive firewall all we have is port 80 and port 443 (no VNC or RDP allowed), so let’s make a secure web-based remote desktop gateway with a Raspberry Pi, Docker, and Cloudflare.

Random Useful Linux Commands

These useful Linux commands and snippets are a reference for myself, all in one place, so I can refer to them quickly during my workflow without searching for them again and again. These include networking, git, grep, journald, ss/netstat, process uptime, and more. More are added as I go.

Hack the Digispark BlinkStick and ATtiny85 Microcontroller

My project this weekend was to fork both the BlinkStick C firmware and the Java API to make the Digispark USB hardware with the AVR ATtiny85 microprocessor do something never done before: execute color patterns on the microcontroller, not the host CPU. I outline how I failed many times, and how I eventually succeeded with links to my Github repos and pictures of my hardware hacks.

Big Data Backup to S3 Glacier via Java SDK with Spend Evaluation

Why use AWS Glacier for big data backup? It’s exceedingly inexpensive to archive data for disaster recovery on Glacier. AWS Glacier is only US$0.004 per GB/mo, and their SDK is beautiful. Here I outline a pricing matrix for cloud storage providers, and I take a look at the Java SDK for working with AWS Glacier to effectively archive 200GB a week.

Block Malicious and Obnoxious Ads and Scripts at the DNS Level

Ads are getting more and more aggressive. Some ads are even malicious. Some sites even load crypto-currency mining scripts in the background in JavaScript. Users have discovered that a lot of traffic is advertisement or tracking scripts, and putting a damaging strain on our mobile device data plans and batteries. Here I explain how to safely setup Pi-hole – a network-wide ad-traffic blocker – in a Docker container on an external Linux device as a hardware DNS server to block ads.

Profile Remote Java Apps with VisualVM or JMC

Sometimes remote Java apps leak memory or are killed by the OS. Let’s connect through an SSH tunnel to a remote JVM running on an embedded Ubuntu system and profile memory and CPU usage with free tools VisualVM and JStatD, or Java Mission Control. No firewall adjustments are needed. We’ll also set up JMX connections to allow remote heap dumps and garbage collection. Finally, I’ll explore the features of VisualVM.

Algorithm: Optimized PDF Web Page Print Layout

I’d like to share my efforts to prevent page breaks in the middle of paragraphs and maximize the use of page space when printing web pages to PDF. I’ll outline how this PHP+NodeJS+Chrome tool and algorithm accomplish this. The motivation is to prevent pictures from being cut off, cut halfway through, or from being pushed […]

GoAccess Web Log Analyzer Installation on CentOS

GoAccess web log analyzer is a beautiful tool to show real-time traffic and stats – including GeoIP information, bandwidth usage, and visitor time distributions – of my web projects and apps over and above Google’s Webmaster Tools and UA reporting. At a glance I can see current traffic and historic traffic just by adding a […]

Download YouTube 4K Videos with PHP and SlimerJS

Among friends let’s agree we’ll be privately caching videos and not permanently saving them, or we’ll be using them for Fair Use, and we’ll certainly not upload nor share these videos outside of the originating platform (e.g. YouTube.com). Existing YouTube downloader scripts: YouTube-Downloader (does not work with videos using a cipher signature) YouTube video downloader […]

Running Xvfb on a RHEL Shared Host (without X)

This is how I compiled the Xorg Server for RHEL on a CentOS machine with modifications to create a portable Xvfb binary. Xvfb (X virtual framebuffer) is an in-memory display server for Linux and Unix-like OSes. It enables running graphical applications without a display such as running a headless browser (e.g. A full-blown Firefox instance […]

Dropbox Direct Download Link

Sometimes I want to share a large file on my site without tying up bandwidth. If I don’t intend for the file to be downloaded often, I can offload the work to Dropbox and use PHP or htaccess to share a convenient URL. https://yoursite.com/project/psdfile/index.php https://yoursite.com/project/psdfile.psd You can get the direct download link for a Dropbox […]

PhpStorm Productivity Shortcuts

I use PHPStorm daily and it’s nice to remember the shortcuts. Sitepoint has a great run down of productivity shortcuts. I’m reproducing my favorite ones here. This comes straight from Sitepoint. PhpStorm remembers multiple clipboard contents – you can press CTRL+SHIFT+V to summon a popup which lets you paste clipboard content that’s less recent than […]