Stephen's Blog Good stuff for the Brain

October 17, 2016

Installing Archlinux or most other OS on Raspberry Pi 3 via Windows

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 5:48 pm

Most instructions on building a micro sdxc card requires OS X or linux.  Here’s how to do it on a Windows machine.  In this example we’ll be installing ArchLinux




  • Let’s install Archlinux onto a SD card using a Windows computer.
    • Move the PINN lite files onto the newly formated SD card
      • Using 7-zip, Windows built in compression program or a simliar software, extract the files and copy to the SD Card
    • Extract the SD Card and place it into the PI
    • Boot up the PI
      • You’ll need a keyboard, mouse and a monitor that support HDMI
      • PINN will auto boot into a GUI
      • Select the archlinux OS

October 10, 2016 now supports encryption

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 4:33 pm

Security is all we hear about today.  Starting right now, now supports HTTPS and encrypts all traffic between your web browser to the server.  Here’s the URL:

For a guide on how to secure your own website visit “Let’s Encrypt” for your very own Free SSL cert.

September 26, 2016

online “learn to code” websites

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 5:33 pm

Original Source:

The future is nearly impossible to predict.  However a trend that appears likely is universal code literacy.  Learning to program will be a core skill that most people will need to enter the workforce.  Here are some resources that will help.


Python programming

August 29, 2016

Odd Charge on Credit Card Statement, Mint or your Bank Statement

Filed under: life — stwong @ 4:09 am

PAYPAL *SHDINGZHUO 402-935-7733 CA on Aug 23

Let’s say you see this information on your credit card statement, transaction tab or your bank statement.  What does it mean?  Is this a fake charge?

No, most likely the charge is legitimate.  However, always double check to be sure.

Well name PAYPAL makes it appear that it is from Paypal.  A google search of the phone number 402-935-7733 points that the number is associated with paypal.  The next step is to log into your paypal account.  However, you check your paypal account and that transaction isn’t listed.  Most likely the transaction just occurred or a few days old and is not yet marked completed by paypal.  (This I believe is a flaw in the paypal system).

I recommend checking your accounts such as, looks for a invoice via e-mail (gmail, hotmail).  Try searching for the exact dollar figure.

In my case, I found an auctions I won on ebay which I used the paypal payment system.  Mystery solved, it was an auction on ebay.

August 22, 2016

WordPress – Error when upgrading themes/plugins or the core. Could not create directory

Filed under: technology — stwong @ 5:02 pm

When upgrading WordPress site or a theme/plugin and you receive this message

An error occurred while updating ANY_NAME: Could not create directory.

I turned on debug mode (, but there are no errors in the log.  Nginx logs show no errors as well.

This is always due to a permissions issue on the file system for the upgrade directory for wordpress.  The directory is located under the path_to_wordpress/wp-content/upgrade.  Most of these steps are for intermediate/advance Linux admins.  Note: These are general guidelines, not step by step instructions.


  • Check the folder permissions on the file system.  Does owner or group member have permissions to write to the folder?  Is the webserver apache or is it nginx.  Make sure that process has write permission to the wp-content and wp-content/upgrade folder.  My mistake was the the folder was owned by “apache”.  A few months ago I switch to “nginx”.  Thus I had to change the group permission.  Another step is to update all the group permissions by using this command # find /path/to/wordpress -type d -exec chmod g+ws {} \;
  • Try to disable all the plug-ins.  Try the update now.
  • Is the server using secure linux?
    • Check the ACL for the directory.  Secure linux maybe block the write command from the web server (apache/nginx)
  • Try the Insert FS_METHOD trick by editing the wp-config.php file.  I didn’t include the step here in case it becomes outdated, but you can google it for the exact steps.


After the file/folder permission issue is sorted out the update will continue without error.

Good luck!

Current as of 8/22/2016.


WordPress and Nginx.   Weird error in logs.

Filed under: technology — stwong @ 4:47 pm


wordpress FastCGI sent in stderr: “PHP message: PHP Warning: Unknown: open(/var/lib/php/session/sess_m6250tpg4bllngs3469q39apb7, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in Unknown on line 0

Check the permissions of the /var/lib/php/session folder.

# ls -Zld /var/lib/php/session/

drwxrwx— 2 ?                                root apache 4096 Nov  9  2015 /var/lib/php/session/

Notice that it is owned by apache.  Since we are no longer using apache but rather nginx you can change the group ownership to nginx or create a new group in which both apache and nginx are members.

Create new group and then change the group ownership of /var/lib/php/session/ to the newly create group containing both apache and nginx.

August 5, 2016

TortoiseGit on Windows 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 8:29 pm

Instructions as of Aug 5th, 2016

Download TortoiseGit

  • Version

Download git.exe

  • Version Git-2.9.2-64-bit.exe

Install git

  • Use the defaults settings

Install TortoiseGit

  • Use the defaults settings

Configure TortoiseGit

  • Git.exe binary
    • By default, TortoiseGit does not no the path for the git.exe file.
    • If all the defaults are select, the git.exe is located here “C:\Program Files\Git\bin”
    • Configure the default e-mail address
      • This can be accomplished by right clicking a folder a create a new respository
  • Github
    • Add a remote repository
    • TortoiseGit -> Settings -> Remote
    • Add your github URL
    • Add your full name and e-mail address
    • Add the Github private key.
      • Ensure this key is added to your github account
      • Use puttygen to convert a .key file to a putty .ppk file

Using TortoiseGit

  • Create a new repository in the website.
  • On your computer, create new folder
  • Right click the folder and select Clone repository
  • Under “URL” enter the repository name 
  • “Directory”
    • The location on your computer that the files reside under
  • Click ok.  The repository will now download onto your computer.
  • You can now use git as normal via the TortoiseGit interface.

April 25, 2016

Dell XPS 13 9350 with Dell Thunderbolt Docking Station

Filed under: System Administrator,technology — stwong @ 9:29 pm

On paper the Dell Thunderbolt Docking Station (TB15) looks great when combined with the XPS 13 9350 (Skylake 2016).  In practice, not so much.  I had a flicking panel, the screen would constantly go blank then flash back.  An attached Dell 27″ 2k monitor with HDMI or Display port would flash back and forth as well.

I did a number of things to fix the issue.  May of the recommendations came from people/post online.

*BIOS – Display C-STATE which is under the CPU/Processor menu
*Graphics Options (Intel) ->Power.  Disable Panel Self-Refresh and Extended Battery Life for Gaming.
*Set system power to “High Performance”
*Install all the updates for the XPS 13 on the Dell Support Site
*install all the updates for the TB15 on the Dell Support Site (
**It appears ASMedia USB 3.0 Extended Host Controller Driver for Dell Thunderbolt Dock ( ,A02) and Intel(R) Thunderbolt(TM) 3 Firmware Update (02.11.06 ,A02) helped the most.

*Pro Tip even if it is installed select the “repair” option so that the files are re-installed.

Best of luck!


*** Update on 6/21/2016

Found a solution

  1.  The flickering screen is caused by the Dell Wireless Network Card.  Yes I know this sounds weird so let’s test the theory.
    1. Enter “Safe” mode with networking.  Try safe mode out to see if the flickering/blink/blank screen occurs
    2. Else try to disable the network adapter by pressing “Function and PrtScr”.  Note: this is different than disabling the network adapter via the control panel.
  2. If you agree that once the network card is disabled and the filter disappears than try one of two solutions

Solution 1)

Under the control panel->network->adapters.  Open the advance options for the wireless adapter.  Change the power output from 100% to 25%.  Test it to see if the flickering stopped.  Try 50% or 75%.  This worked for me.

Solution 2)

Swap out the wireless network card. Replace the Dell wirelss card with an Intel card.   The card I recommend is the Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 which cost around $25.   You have to remove the screws on the bottom of the laptop.  Note: there are two different types of screws.   Carefully remove the two antenna connectors (this just snap on/off).  The 7265 is a direct swap.

Synology and Crashplan

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 9:21 pm

So you have Crashplan installed on your Synology storage device.  That in itself is an accomplishment.

Some time later you receive an e-mail stating your Synology diskstation is no longer backing up into the Crashplan cloud.  Oh no.


-Uninstall Crashplan via the Diskstation Web GUI

-Reinstall Crashplan via the Diskstation Web GUI.  The software is hosted on a 3d party site.

-GUID of the Synology Diskstation
** Log into the Synology Diskstation via command line (I recommend using Putty)
** /var/lib/crashplan/.ui_info ; echo.  Note this information as it contains the connection information (Port Number, GUID, and IP address).

-Connect to the Synology Diskstation crashplan via another computer which has the crashplan client installed.
**You’ll need to modify the .ui_info file on the computer with the Crashplan client.
**File is located “C:\ProgramData\CrashPlan\.ui_info”
**Save a back up of this file as it is needed to launch the local Crashplan.  This is assuming that you have crashplan on both a computer and the Synology Diskstation.  With two computer’s you’ll have two different GUID.  It’s important you don’t get the GUID mixed up.

-Once you launch the Crashplan GUI with the Diskstation GUID modify .ui_info it will connect to the Synology Diskstation Crashplan client.  From there you can adopt the previous backups and you should be good to go.

WordPress Auto update via FTP Error

Filed under: Uncategorized — stwong @ 8:58 pm

Trying to update wordpress and get this error?

ERROR: There was an error connecting to the server, Please verify the settings are correct.

– tried changing host to localhost or
– tried adding :21 port to the end of the host
–localhost:21 or localhost:22
– tried chmod 777 wp-content

If you are still having issues, try the fix from this site.

In short add the line “define(‘FS_METHOD’,’direct’);”, to wp-config.php to bypass the FTP prompt.

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