My name is Philipp C. Heckel and I write about nerdy things.
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Posts Categorized / Scripting


  • Dec 04 / 2015
  • 4
Administration, Code Snippets, Linux, Scripting, Security

Snippet 0x0D: Let’s Encrypt – 5 min guide to set up cronjob based certificate renewal

Let’s Encrypt was officially released to the open public today. That means the Internet can finally get free, trusted SSL/TLS certificates. This quick guide shows how to set up Let’s Encrypt with auto-renewal through a cronjob — using the simp_le client, an alternative client developed by one of the same authors who develop the official client.

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  • Mar 24 / 2015
  • 2
Code Snippets, Linux, Scripting

Snippet 0x0B: Bash completion with sub-commands and dynamic options

Every system administrator, most programmers and countless of command line surfing Linux/Mac users use it every day without thinking twice. Hitting the tab key twice, [TAB][TAB], has become the most common thing in the world. Bash completion is the magic behind the tab key. It’s easy to use, but it’s a pain to write. This tiny post demonstrates how to write scripts for bash completion, with sub-commands and dynamic parameters. A working script is embedded in my open source file sync software Syncany.

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  • Mar 22 / 2015
  • 2
Linux, Scripting, Security

Circumvent Internet blockages/filters/censorship with socksproxy and netcat

These days, ISPs are often forced to block the access to certain sites, because their government considers these sites dangerous and/or illegal. While one could certainly discuss the usefulness of such measures in great detail, this tiny post focuses on the more interesting subject of how to circumvent these blockages. It’s not a lenghty post, and it doesn’t show all the ways there are, but I’ll show two simple ways to circumvent Internet non-DNS-based filters.

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  • Aug 07 / 2014
  • 3
Code Snippets, Programming, Scripting

Snippet 0x05: Windows .bat: Checking if process is running by PID file

Batch (.bat) files are an MS-DOS legacy technology and I don’t know a single person who loves writing them — and yet, to this day, many people have to do it. In order to run Java programs, start daemons or check if a process is running, batch files have to be used. For my open source file sync tool Syncany, I had to do just that:

The Syncany daemon runs in the background and is started by a batch script. To check if the daemon is already running, the batch script needs to read a PID file and determine if a process with this PID is running.

Since it took me an enormeous amount of time to figure out how to do that (I am a Linux guy!), I wanted to share that little script in this code snippet.

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  • Jul 07 / 2013
  • 159
Mobile, Programming, Scripting

Send WhatsApp messages via PHP using WhatsAPI

I recently discovered that once you have acquired your WhatsApp account password, it’s relatively easy to send and receive WhatsApp messages via PHP. Using the PHP-based framework WhatsAPI, a simple WhatsApp notifier script only has a dozen lines of code.

This tiny tutorial shows how to use the two very basic functions of WhatsAPI, namely to send simple outgoing messages to any number and to listen for new incoming messages from your own WhatsApp account. This is the second part of a two-part tutorial. The first part demonstrated how to sniff the WhatsApp password from your Android phone or iPhone.

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  • Jun 28 / 2013
  • 12
Linux, Scripting, Synchronization

Script: Run rsnapshot backups only once and rollback failed backups using rsnapshot-once

I use rsnapshot to backup all of my data to my HTPC and home server (the home partition, office documents and the root file system). While rsnapshot is not as shiny as other backup tools, it is very flexible and effective: rsnapshot is based on rsync and makes hardlink-based backups (like cp -al), i.e. backups that point to the same inode on the disk if a file in consecutive backups is identical (much like SIS in deduplication).

However, rsnapshot is meant to be triggered by cronjobs and is built for always-on server machines rather than for lid-open-lid-close-type machines like laptops: That means that rsnapshot must be scheduled to run at a certain time (no retries!) and is not prone sudden system shutdowns. Furthermore, it does not detect failures and simply leaves unfinished backups as if they were complete. That in turn leads to more disk space being used for the backups, because the last complete backup is not really complete.

I wrote a little helper script to fix exactly this behavior: rsnapshot-once makes sure that (1) rsnapshot is only called if a backup is necessary (once every 24h for ‘daily’, once ever 7 days for ‘weekly’, …) even if rsnapshot-once is called multiple times, and (2) that crashed/interrupted backup runs are rolled-back before starting a new backup run.

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  • Dec 07 / 2012
  • 33
Multimedia, Scripting

Script: Refresh the Fritz!Mediaserver DLNA Index of the Fritz!Box 6360 Cable

Some of AVM’s Fritz!Box routers allow connecting a USB device and use this device as a network attached storage (NAS) via Samba/SMB in the local network. In combination with the fact that the NAS can also be accessed from the Internet via FTP, and the multimedia files can be streamed to a TV via the Fritz!Mediaserver (using DLNA), it makes a pretty basic home entertainment system. I use it to automatically copy videos (YouTube, etc.) to the NAS from my virtual server, and then watch these with my Samsung Smart TV. It’s not as great as XBMC, but it works for now.

Unfortunately, the Fritz!Mediaserver (DLNA server) does not automatically refresh the index when media files are added via Samba/SMB or FTP (only if they are added via their web interface Fritz!NAS). It can be refreshed manually via the interface on fritz.box/storage/settings.lua. But, since I like to automate things, I made a little helper to automatically refresh the index.

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  • Jun 15 / 2012
  • 9
Cloud Computing, Linux, Scripting

Script: Your US proxy server in one minute using Amazon EC2

Many of the well known websites determine your location based on your IP address and restrict their content or functionalities based on the country you’re in. Some examples are Gmail (Germans get only @googlemail.com-addresses, legal reasons), YouTube (content is restricted by the GEMA), and Pandora (limited to US citizens) to name only a few. To circumvent these restrictions, being able to quickly get an IP address outside of your own country is most helpful.

To do exactly that I wrote a little script that will start your very own US proxy server in one minute using Amazon EC2. In combination with browser plug-ins such as FoxyProxy, the script enables you to route all your web traffic through a proxy on an Amazon-owned machine — with an IP address in the US, Ireland, Singapore, Tokyo or Sao Paulo (location of Amazon data centers).

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  • Jan 12 / 2011
  • 3
Linux, Multimedia, Scripting

Picasa for Linux: Export albums in sort order

As one of the best picture organizers out there, Picasa is (in my opinion) almost complete in terms of features and has a nice look and feel at the same time. Even though Google stopped developing the Linux version after 3.0, it still works perfectly using Wine and a couple of cp-statements.

However, as stated many times by Picasa users and bloggers [1,2,3,4,…], Picasa’s export function misses a tiny little feature that maintains the sort order of the album when exporting it to a folder. Instead of renaming the pictures to keep them sorted in normal file managers (by name), Picasa just copies the files of an album to one folder and thereby destroys the order. As if that wasn’t enough, Picasa also overwrites duplicates filenames from different source folders.

This missing feature has even led to small standalone projects that fix this issue, e.g. Picasa Independent Album Exporter (PIAE) and Picasa Order Preserver. While both applications do their job, both are a bit heavyweight, and PIAE only works for Windows (and not on Wine).

This post presents a tiny little Perl script that renames pictures of an exported album according to their Picasa sort order.

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