Tech Writing Sample > Automate the Renewal of a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance

Screenshot illustrating the process to automate the renewal of a TLS certificate.
info

Update: May 2020

This article was originally created in December 2018 and completely updated in June 2019. I will not be updating it going forward.

Although the instructions remain valid, if you are using the WordPress Certified by Bitnami and Automattic Amazon Machine Image to create an EC2 instance to host a WordPress site, Bitnami has more recently integrated its own Let’s Encrypt certificate client into the Bitnami Helper Tool, which you can read more about in WordPress on Amazon EC2: Connect to an Instance via SSH.


This is part of my Introduction to Installing Let’s Encrypt Certificates for WordPress on Amazon Web Services (AWS) tutorial.

In Renew a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance I went over the steps to renew your Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS certificate, which will expire every 90 days. It’s good to know how to renew the certificate yourself, but once you do you can write a bash script to automate that renewal process. Here’s a basic overview of how that works:

  1. Create a bash script that executes the same renew commands used in Renew a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance.
  2. Upload that bash script to your EC2 instance.
  3. Create a cron job. Cron is a function in Linux that allows you to schedule automated tasks, allowing you to run your bash script at a specific time and a specific interval. In this example, we will execute the bash script at midnight on the first day of every month.

Unfortunately, when I tried this, it didn’t actually work for me. So the steps below provide a description of the symptom, along with my workaround.

Continue reading “Automate the Renewal of a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance”

Tech Writing Sample > Renew a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance

Screenshot illustrating the process to renew a TLS certificate.
info

Update: May 2020

This article was originally created in December 2018. I will not be updating it going forward.

Although the instructions remain valid, if you are using the WordPress Certified by Bitnami and Automattic Amazon Machine Image to create an EC2 instance to host a WordPress site, Bitnami has more recently integrated its own Let’s Encrypt certificate client into the Bitnami Helper Tool, which you can read more about in WordPress on Amazon EC2: Connect to an Instance via SSH.

This is part of my Introduction to Installing Let’s Encrypt Certificates for WordPress on Amazon Web Services (AWS) tutorial.

In Install a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance, we learned how to install the Lego client to create and manage TLS/SSL certificates provided by Let’s Encrypt. The certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt expire every 90 days, so you will need to renew them before they expire to maintain your website’s HTTPS connection. Let’s Encrypt will send you an email to notify you that your certificate is expiring soon.

Continue reading “Renew a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance”

Tech Writing Sample > Install a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance

Screenshot illustrating the process to install a TLS certificate from Let's Encrypt.
info

Update: May 2020

This article was originally created in December 2018. I will not be updating it going forward.

Although the instructions remain valid, if you are using the WordPress Certified by Bitnami and Automattic Amazon Machine Image to create an EC2 instance to host a WordPress site, Bitnami has more recently integrated its own Let’s Encrypt certificate client into the Bitnami Helper Tool, which you can read more about in WordPress on Amazon EC2: Connect to an Instance via SSH.


This is part of my Introduction to Installing Let’s Encrypt Certificates for WordPress on Amazon Web Services (AWS) tutorial.

This post shows you to use your EC2 instance’s command-line interface to download and install Lego, a Let’s Encrypt client written in the Go programming language. Lego will allow you to create and manage SSL/TLS certificates from the Let’s Encrypt Certificate Authority.

In this example I am installing a Let’s Encrypt certificate on a LAMP-stack virtual server (in this case an EC2 instance from Amazon Web Services) over Secure Shell (SSH). After that, I’ll show you how to download a copy of your certificates and account information using an FTP client. I am using the macOS Terminal, which is Unix-based, but the Linux commands will be the same regardless of what command-line interface you are using. I am also using the Cyberduck FTP client, but any FTP client should work.

Continue reading “Install a Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS Certificate on an AWS EC2 Instance”

Tech Writing Sample > Public-Record Property Investigation: Philadelphia Edition

Screenshot illustrating the process to research property and related water bill information on the Philadelphia Water Department's website.
warning

Update: May 2020

Since I created this article, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) introduced online accounts where customers can receive and pay their own water bills. It only took them until 2019!

Unfortunately, that means that they have discontinued the ability for anybody with an Internet connection and a PWD account number to look up the balance for that account.

This means that Part II: Use the PWD Account Number to Look up a Water Bill is no longer applicable. But it was good tech writing while it lasted.


info

Update: May 2020

This article was originally created in mid-2018 and completely updated in June 2019. I will not be updating it going forward.


The City of Philadelphia’s online presence has been a bad joke for a very long time. But in the past several years the city has taken steps to modernize its website and there are now a number of useful tools for citizens to easily access publicly available data, including basic property records and associated data about that property’s tax status, L&I records, and its water usage.

This tutorial, and particularly the part about gathering information about a property’s water usage, is based on a great article that used to be on Philadelinquency.com, but since the site’s archive is no longer available, I am reproducing the steps here.

Continue reading “Public-Record Property Investigation: Philadelphia Edition”

Website > Massolit-Media.com: v2.0, “MoBerry” Portfolio Website (2017)

Business Skills:
Editorial Skills: , , ,
Screenshot: Customized PHP, etc., for a WordPress child theme that is currently in production on massolit-media.com.
Continue reading “Massolit-Media.com: v2.0, “MoBerry” Portfolio Website (2017)”

Website > Massolit-Media.com: v1.0, “Profeshional” Portfolio Website (2013)

Business Skills:
Editorial Skills: , , ,
Web Development: , , ,
Screenshot: Custom PHP code and screenshots from the 2013 version of massolit-media.com.
Continue reading “Massolit-Media.com: v1.0, “Profeshional” Portfolio Website (2013)”

Article > The Infamous Magazine: Wane Feature

Editorial Skills: , ,
Opening spread of Wane feature, Issue 5, The Infamous magazine, 2011.

An interview with Wane COD, one of the graffiti world’s most respected writers, was one of two feature articles that I wrote for the fifth issue of The Infamous magazine. I talked to Wane about growing up in the Bronx, the allure of travel, how to make a living out of doing something you love, and more. We also discussed the time he has spent working in the fashion world as well as starting his own apparel company, his collaborations with other apparel makers, documenting the history of graffiti culture, and much more.

Article > The Infamous Magazine: Mr. Brainwash Feature

Editorial Skills: , ,
Opening spread of Mr. Brainwash feature, Issue 5, The Infamous magazine, 2011.

I interviewed Mr. Brainwash, of “Exit Through the Gift Shop” fame, in the summer of 2011 for a feature we were doing in The Infamous magazine. As anybody who has seen the documentary might expect, Mr. Brainwash is, um, eccentric, and it was a long and drawn-out conversation, but I found him to be a nice guy, gracious and sincere – but definitely a little over the top.

Continue reading “The Infamous Magazine: Mr. Brainwash Feature”

Article > Philadelphia City Paper: “Train Wreck”

Editorial Skills: , ,
Train Wreck, Philadelphia City Paper, published on September 6, 2007.

I wrote “Train Wreck” for Philadelphia’s City Paper in the summer of 2007. The article was published on September 6, 2007. It details some of the endemic problems of SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the public transit entity for the Philadelphia region) and its reconstruction of the Market-Frankford Elevated subway line along Market Street in West Philadelphia.

Continue reading “Philadelphia City Paper: “Train Wreck””

Article > Philadelphia City Paper: “200 Reasons to Worry”

Editorial Skills: , ,
“200 Reasons to Worry”, Philadelphia City Paper, published on October 18, 2006.

I wrote “200 Reasons to Worry” for Philadelphia’s City Paper for a pre-2006-election issue and the article was published on October 18, 2006. It examines some of the problems and controversies involved with the adoption of electronic voting machines by local governments like Philadelphia. It’s a short article, but I attempted to inform the reader primarily by using quotations from three individuals: Bob Lee, a voting registration administrator for Philadelphia County, Bev Harris, the voting activist and author of Black Box Voting, and Greg Palast, the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and my former employer, who taught me a lot about the politics of voting and elections.

Continue reading “Philadelphia City Paper: “200 Reasons to Worry””