Category Archives: Web

Transcribe audio with Google Cloud speech-to-text api

I had a few audio files of an interview done with a late relative that I wanted to have Google transcribe for me. I wanted to supply an audio file and have it spit out the results. There are many ways to do this but I went with using the Google Cloud Platfrom speech-to-text API.

First I signed up for a GCP free trial via For my usage, it will remain free as 0-60 minutes of transcription per month is not charged:

Next, I needed to create GCP storage bucket as audio more than 10 minutes long cannot reliably be transcribed via the “uploading local file” option. I did this following the documentation at which walks you through going to their storage browser and creating a new bucket. From that screen I uploaded my audio files (FLAC in my case.)

Then I needed to create API credentials to use. I did this by going speech API console’s credentials tab and creating a service account, then saving the key to my working directory on my local computer.

Also on said computer I installed google-cloud-sdk (on Arch Linux in my case, it was as simple as yay -S google-cloud-sdk)

With service account json file downloaded & google-cloud-sdk installed I exported the GCP service account credentials into my BASH environment like so


I created .json files following the format outlined in command line usage outlined in the quickstart documentation. I tweaked to add a line “model”: “video” to get the API to use the premium Video recognition set (as it was more accurate for this type of recording.) This is what my JSON file looked like:

  "config": {
      "sampleRateHertz": 16000,
      "languageCode": "en-US",
      "enableWordTimeOffsets": false,
      "model": "video"

  "audio": {

I then used CURL to send the transcription request to Google. This was my command:

curl -s -H "Content-Type: application/json" -H "Authorization: Bearer "$(gcloud auth application-default print-access-token) -d @JSON_FILE_CREATED_ABOVE.json

If all goes well you will get something like this in response:

  "name": "4663803355627080910"

You can check the status of the transcription, which usually takes half the length of the audio file to do, by running this command:

curl -H "Authorization: Bearer "$(gcloud auth application-default print-access-token) -H "Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8" ""

You will either get a percent progress, or if it’s done, the output of the transcription.

Success! It took some time to figure out but was still much better than manually transcribing the audio by hand.

Zimbra expired ldap certificate fix

I started getting SSL errors with my Zimbra mail server despite having a valid SSL certificate everywhere I knew where to check. When I tried to use zmcontrol status I got this error:

Unable to start TLS: SSL connect attempt failed error:14090086:SSL routines:ssl3_get_server_certificate:certificate verify failed when connecting to ldap master.

Eventually I found this blog post explaining the problem – it’s with the LDAP component in Zimbra. You have to switch it from ldap to ldaps. Why did this change? I do not know.


sudo -u zimbra bash
zmlocalconfig -e ldap_master_url=ldaps://$ZIMBRA_HOSTNAME:636
zmlocalconfig -e ldap_url=ldaps://$ZIMBRA_HOSTNAME:636
zmlocalconfig -e ldap_starttls_supported=0
zmlocalconfig -e ldap_port=636
zmcontrol stop
zmcontrol start

This did the trick. The errors went away.

apache reverse proxy with basic authentication

I have an old Apache server that’s serving as a reverse proxy for my webcam. I swapped webcams out and unfortunately the new one requires authentication. I had to figure out how to get Apache to reverse proxy with the proper authentication. The best information I found was given by user ThR37 at

Essentially you have to use an Apache module called headers to add an HTTP header to the request. On my Debian system this was not enabled, so I had to install it (thanks to Andy over at serverfault)

sudo a2enmod headers
#if you're on ubuntu then it's mod_headers

I then needed to generate the basic authentication hash for the header to pass. This was done via a simple python script:

#replace USERNAME:PASSWORD below with your credentials
import base64
hash = base64.b64encode(b'USERNAME:PASSWORD')
print hash

Save the above script into a file and then run it by typing


With headers enabled and hash acquired I just needed to tweak my config by adding a RequestHeader line:

RequestHeader set Authorization "Basic <HASH>"
#Replace <HASH> with hash acquired above

After adding that one line and restarting apache, it worked!

Headless Private Internet Access with OpenVPN & Port Forwarding

I wanted to initiate a connection to my VPN provider Private Internet Access (PIA) from one of my headless CentOS 7 servers. Unfortunately PIA software requires a GUI to work. Fortunately, PIA provides ovpn files that fully work with the openVPN software, which does work headlessly.

I followed this guide from to get me going. I tweaked it a bit to work with CentOS 7. I then used this guide to help me set up port forwarding to work with transmission-daemon.

First, install openvpn & iproute

sudo yum -y install openvpn

Next grab PIA’s ovpn files for their servers:

sudo unzip -d /etc/openvpn/pia

Now create a credentials file to specify your PIA username and password. The format is simply the first line being your PIA username, and the second line being your PIA password, nothing else.

#Create file
sudo vim /etc/openvpn/pia/.secret

#Enter PIA credentials into the file, then save and exit

#Change permissions to be readable only by root
sudo chmod 700 /etc/openvpn/pia/.secret

Test if it’s working by manually running OpenVPN

sudo openvpn --config /etc/openvpn/PIA_SITE_FILENAME.ovpn --auth-user-pass /etc/openvpn/pia/.secret

Create a systemd service file to get OpenVPN to run on startup

sudo vim /usr/lib/systemd/system/pia.service


ExecStart=/usr/sbin/openvpn --daemon --config "/etc/openvpn/PIA_SITE_FILENAME.ovpn" --auth-user-pass /etc/openvpn/.secret


Reload systemd daemons and enable at boot:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable pia.service

Start the service (or reboot) and then use curl to verify your external IP has changed

sudo systemctl start pia.service

Port Forwarding

PIA is awesome because it supports port forwarding to facilitate things like torrents. I took the script from this guide and tweaked it a bit to suit my needs (and to correct a syntax error)

Note: PIA only supports port forwarding from specific regions. Here is the current list.

Download script to pia directory

sudo wget -O /etc/openvpn/pia/
sudo chmod +x /etc/openvpn/

Edit the script to provide PIA username and pass, and Transmission user/pass (if you have that configured.) The variables to change are USERNAME,PASSWORD, TRANSUSER, and TRANSPASS

Test the script by running it manually (make sure both your pia service and transmission services are already running.) I’ve noticed that the script will say success even on failure which is why I suggest using bash -x so you can see actual error messages from PIA regarding port forwarding:

sudo bash -x /etc/openvpn/pia/

After that’s run you can check your transmission daemon to ensure it is listening on the PIA port that’s been forwarded.

Configure to run on startup and every two hours by invoking cron:

sudo crontab -e

@reboot sleep 60 && /etc/openvpn/pia/ | while IFS= read -r line; do echo "$(date) $line"; done >> /var/log/pia_portforward.log 2>&1 #PIA Port Forward
0 */2 * * * /etc/openvpn/pia/ | while IFS= read -r line; do echo "$(date) $line"; done >> /var/log/pia_portforward.log 2>&1 #PIA Port Forward

If you are paranoid about transmission running without the VPN working you can tweak your transmission service to rely on the pia service before starting. Modify /usr/lib/systemd/system/transmission-daemon.service and tweak the After line and add a Required line so it now reads this:

Required=pia.service pia.service

Don’t forget to run a sudo systemctl daemon-reload afterward.


If you get the error message “/etc/openvpn/pia/ line 35: [: : integer expression expected” it means you have to tweak the script a bit (it’s broken?)

Change line 35 to be the following:

if [ "$SPLITVPN" == 1 ]; then

Rotate videos for WordPress using ffmpeg

WordPress has an extremely annoying issue with reading EXIF data when posting photos and videos. There is a plugin to fix rotated pictures, but I couldn’t find one for rotated videos. If you happen to upload a video from your phone that was shot in portait orientation, it will likely upload to wordpress in landscape orientation (sideways.) Very annoying.

My fix to this is to re-encode the video so it is at the proper orientation before uploading to wordpress. Thanks to this site for the information – ffmpeg does this automatically for you. So the syntax is simple:



Active Directory / LDAP integration with WordPress

I struggled for a while to get WordPress to use Active Directory credentials on CentOS 7. Below is how I finally got it to work.

First, install necessary packages:

sudo yum -y install openldap-clients php-ldap

If you use self-signed certificate for ldaps, you’ll need to modify /etc/openldap/ldap.conf

PORT 636

With the above settings you can test your ldap string with ldapsearch

ldapsearch -x -D "<BIND USERNAME>" -b "<BASE_DN>" -H ldaps://<LDAP_SERVER_HOSTNAME> -W sAMAccountName=<USER_TO_QUERY>

Once ldapsearch works properly, install your AD integration plugin.  I use AuthLDAP by Andreas Heigl

I struggled with which LDAP strings and filters to use. This is what finally got everything working with our Active Directory environment:




User-ID Attribute: sAMAccountName

Second Name Attributesn


Group-Separator:  _

Group-Filter: (&(objectClass=user)(sAMAccountName=%s)(memberOf=*))

Role – group mapping

I had to change Group-Separator to _ above, because in Role – group mapping for active directory, you must put the FQDN, which includes commas. Put an underscore separated list of FQDNS for each of these fields you want.

Rewrite HTTP host request with Varnish

I had a stubborn WordPress plugin that somehow was remembering the URL of the site it was installed on. It became a problem when I changed the site URL. Despite changing the URL everywhere I could think of, this particular plugin was calling CSS files for the URL of the original site. I did a search and replace in the site database and searched all files for any reference to that site but couldn’t find anything. I never did find the culprit. My workaround was to use varnish to rewrite the request before it hit the browser.

Thanks to this answer by Jorge Nerin on Stack Overflow, I found my answer on how to do this.

backend www {
  .host = "";
  .port = "http";

sub vcl_recv {
  if ( ~ "(?i)^(www.)?$") {
    set req.backend_hint = www;

In my case I had a default backend (no other backends configured) so my varnish config was simply adding these line in sub vcs_recv (varnish 4 syntax)

if ( ~ "(?i)^(www.)?$") {
     set req.backend_hint = default;

That did the trick!

Fix wordpress PHP change was reverted error

Since WordPress 4.9 I’ve had a peculiar issue when trying to edit theme files using the web GUI. Whenever I tried to save changes I would get this error message:

Unable to communicate back with site to check for fatal errors, so the PHP change was reverted. You will need to upload your PHP file change by some other means, such as by using SFTP.

After following this long thread I saw the suggestion to install and use the Health Check plugin to get more information into why this is happening. In my case I kept getting this error message:

The loopback request to your site failed, this may prevent WP_Cron from working, along with theme and plugin editors.<br>Error encountered: (0) cURL error 28: Connection timed out after 10001 milliseconds

I researched what a loopback request is in this case. It’s the webserver reaching out to its own site’s url to talk to itself. My webserver was being denied internet access, which included its own URL, so it couldn’t complete the loopback request.

One solution, mentioned here, is to edit the hosts file on your webserver to point to for the URL of your site. My solution was to open up the firewall to allow my server to connect to its URL. I then ran into a different problem:

The loopback request to your site failed, this may prevent WP_Cron from working, along with theme and plugin editors.<br>Error encountered: (0) cURL error 60: Peer's Certificate issuer is not recognized.

After digging for a while I found this site which explains how to edit php.ini to point to an acceptable certificate list. To fix this on my Cent7 machine I edited /etc/php.ini and added this line (you could also add it to /etc/php.d/curl.ini)


This caused php’s curl module to use the same certificate trust store that the underlying OS uses.

Then restart php-fpm if you’re using it:

sudo systemctl restart php-fpm

Success! Loopback connections now work properly.

Update 7/16/2018: I still had a wordpress site that was giving me certificate grief despite the above fix. After MUCH frustration I finally found this post where André Gayle points out that wordpress ships with its own certificate bundle, independent of even curl’s ca bundle! It’s located in your wordpress directory/wp-includes/certificates folder.

My solution to this extremely frustrating problem was to remove their bundle and symlink to my own (Cent 7 box – adjust your path to match where your wordpress install and certificate trust store is located)

sudo mv /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt.old
sudo ln -s /etc/pki/tls/cert.pem /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt

FINALLY no more loopback errors in the Health Check plugin, and thus the ability to edit theme files in the editor.

Make Java run on privileged ports in CentOS 7

I recently gnashed my teeth at trying to get java to directly bind to port 443 instead of using nginx to proxy to a java application I had to use. I was surprised at the complication of finding the solution, but I eventually did thanks to the following sites:

First, determine the full path of your current java install:

sudo update-alternatives --config java

In my CentOS 7 install, the java binary was located here:


Next, use setcap to configure java to be able to bind to port 443:

sudo setcap CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE=+eip /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk-

Now, test to make sure java works:

java -version

java: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

The above error means that after setting setcap, it breaks how java looks for its library to run. To fix this, we need to symlink the library it’s looking for into /usr/lib, then run ldconfig

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk- /usr/lib/
sudo ldconfig

Now test Java again:

java -version

It took longer than I like to admit to get this working, but it it does indeed work this way.