December 14, 2015 Leave a Comment
December 14, 2015 Leave a Comment
September 11, 2015 Leave a Comment
“I read too much Internet. We all do. Imagine printing out all of your Internet reading from the last year and putting it into a leather hardcover. Would you go to your best friend and say ‘This is a great book, you need to read this’? No, it would be the world’s shittiest book.”
— Aziz Asnari
September 4, 2014 2 Comments
Tam has checked out of blogging due to a creepy stalker. I hate that she’s in that situation. I can’t blame her calling it quits, but I’ll definitely miss her blogging.
I started this blog in February, 2003. At one time I averaged five thousand visitors a day. I used to post every weekday, sometimes half a dozen posts daily. If I couldn’t post something in the morning I’d put up an apology about not having any free ice ream that day.
Since starting the blog I got married and had a kid, then another kid, then another kid, and the blog posts have gotten farther apart. Lately I’m happy if I post once a week to whoever still has me in their feed reader – the days are long past that anyone would check the front page for new posts every week, much less every day. Like lots of other bloggers, I post more material on Facebook than I do on my own blog. The daily visitor count is down below 200.
Tam was one of only five bloggers that I still read every day. And I go to them straight from my bookmarks toolbar. RSS? Forget it. There are dozens of blogs still in my RSS feed reader, but I only fire it up once or twice a month if I’m bored out of my mind. I have to use Feedly now because Google discontinued Google Reader, which wasn’t exactly a show of support for the future of blogging.
There are still great bloggers out there, but the fire is gone from the first generation. Jeff Jarvis said that blogging is a conversation. As the number of people talking drops, the conversation gets a lot less interesting.
August 29, 2014 Leave a Comment
WordPress installations often get broken into by brute force guessing of the password for the “admin” account. Changing the administrator account to something other than “admin” is the single best thing you can do to improve WordPress security.
My favorite WordPress security plugin is iThemes Security (formerly WP Security). It has every security feature you can think of in one plugin, and is available as a free plugin or a paid version with more features. I just noticed that it has a new feature. It can automatically blacklist IP addresses that try to log in using the admin username.
That will stop 99% of bogus login attempts.
Another WordPress plugin I like is Captcha (free and paid versions available). It protects the login page and comments from bots by asking the user to answer a simple math problem.
February 2, 2014 Leave a Comment
I had an advertiser who wanted his link to appear in the right sidebar of the site, but only on the home page of site. Sidebar widgets usually appear throughout the site, so I had to figure out how to make it work.
I knew WordPress supported an
is_home() conditional statement, but PHP code can only be executed in themes and plugins, not in free text/HTML. I tried inserting the code into the functions.php code, but never got it to work exactly right.
It turns out there’s a WordPress plugin called PHP Code Widget that lets you execute PHP code inside a widget. Just type it in along with your text and HTML and it works. Here’s the code:
<?php if( is_home() ) : ?>
Text and HTML go here and will appear only on the home page.
February 2, 2014 Leave a Comment
My first blog post was 11 years ago tomorrow.
In the past 11 years sometimes I’ve blogged more and sometimes less. It’s been almost two months since my last post, which is a personal record.
There are lots of reasons for the lack of blogging, all of them good. I started a new job in July and I still have consulting work coming in from the time I was unemployed last year and turned to consulting. Having three kids keeps me busy and I’m trying some new hobbies, like learning the ukulele with the kids.
So I’m still around and thanks to everyone who emailed to make sure everything was OK. I’ll still blog from time to time, so keep me in your RSS reader.
June 26, 2013 Leave a Comment
Too busy to blog much right now, so go visit Longnow.com. Lots of good seminars there on a variety of topics. The videos are subscriber-only, but the summaries are good and you can listen to the MP3 version under the Downloads tab.
I found it by way of an article about Richard Feynman’s involvement in Thinking Machines Corporation. (If you don’t know who Richard Feynman is, eat 10 packs of Ramen without the flavor clod, then find a copy or Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman or What Do You Care What Other People Think? He’s turning out to be one of the more relevant figures in 20th century science culture.
I liked the seminar on Easter Island. The traditional Easter Island narrative is an ecological morality play:
Anthropologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo’s talk presents a different view:
True or fales, since Easter Island makes such a pat simple ecological ghost story I expect the old narrative to be defended to the last man standing.
June 23, 2013 2 Comments
I love Craigslist. Good place to buy and sell locally. But I decided to shy away from ever giving anything away anything on Craigslist after reading this:
Family Loses Everything After Craigslist Post Gone Terribly, Horribly Wrong
Facing foreclosure on their home of 20 years, Pam Hobbs and her son lost even more when a yard sale posting on Craigslist gave people the impression that it wasn’t just the furniture in the driveway they were giving away for free. Folks were welcome to come into their home and take anything — and everything — they could get their hands on. Total. Chaos.
Terrible story. Even short of that, free stuff attracts people who can’t even afford the five dollar cover charge. A safer bet is to drop the stuff off at the nearest Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.
May 1, 2013 2 Comments
Someone asked me about exporting their entire blog into something readable and printable. Here ya go.
April 16, 2013 Leave a Comment
Marketing Experiments Blog – This Just Tested: Stock images or real people?
So what were the results? Well, Mrs. Generic finally met her match. It appears that an attractive smile is not a match for a good name. Overall, the familiarity hypothesis held some water. When the recognizable image of the founder was used, visitors were 35 % more likely to sign up for a free consultation. Remember, this is a 35% lift on top of many other previous gains in the testing-optimization cycle.
I was having a conversation with a friend who also works on websites just yesterday about how much we hate sites with generic, stock photos of people in offices. Nothing says “cheap, generic website like a photo of people in business clothes working on computers.
My friend told a funny story about his friend in the web design business who goes one step further. He takes a stock photo of an office building and Photoshops the business’s name on the side, even if they only have a couple of employees. Like no one will ever notice when they actually visit the business.
Stock photos are okay. Places like iStock.com make it easy to customize the look of a site with quality photographs for a few dollars. I have a client right now who does business locally rather than nationally, so I’m using stock photos of local landmarks so that visitors instantly know he’s local to them. It’s just the generic photos of smiling people that make a website look generic and insincere.
April 16, 2013 4 Comments
Security analysts have detected an ongoing attack that uses a huge number of computers from across the Internet to commandeer servers that run the WordPress blogging application.
The unknown people behind the highly distributed attack are using more than 90,000 IP addresses to brute-force crack administrative credentials of vulnerable WordPress systems, researchers from at least three Web hosting services reported. At least one company warned that the attackers may be in the process of building a “botnet” of infected computers that’s vastly stronger and more destructive than those available today. That’s because the servers have bandwidth connections that are typically tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times faster than botnets made of infected machines in homes and small businesses.
The attacks currently target the “admin” username and 1,000 common passwords. If you’ve got a simple or obvious password, now’s the time to change it.
If your WordPress admin account is admin you need to change that, too, and not just because of this bot network. I monitor failed login attempts, and 99% are using “admin” for the username.
I recommend the Better WP Security WordPress plugin for changing the admin username, monitoring failed logins and excessive 404s, and a whole lot more:
Before making the security changes, backup your WordPress install. You should be doing automated backups anyway in case of successful hacks, server problems, or human error. Better WP Security has a backup feature, but I’ve tried it on two separate WordPress installations and couldn’t get the scheduled backup feature to work.
Instead I’m using the UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin for backups. It can backup the database and files separately. You should backup the database more often than the files. The database changes every time you create or modify a page or blog post, or receive a comment. The database is relatively tiny – even with thousands of blog posts and comments mine is only 437 MB – so backing it up doesn’t take much processor time or disk space.
Updraft Plus can email you the files, FTP or SSH them to another server, or upload them to cloud storage. Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive cloud storage are currently supported. You can choose to receive an email report every time the backup runs.
March 18, 2013 1 Comment
You know how, when The Simpsons needs some material post haste, they piece together a clip show from pieces of previous Simpsons episodes? So what do the same thing, but with Facebook posts? And if you aren’t following me on Facebook it’s all new to you.
I don’t understand the point of roller skating rinks. I could stay at home and hold on to a wall.
Wife is out with a friend for a performance of The Vagina Monologues. I wonder if she’ll buy me a t-shirt?
If I ever open a bookstore I’m going to call it Books on Paper.
From the “Obama said ‘Jedi mind meld” hilarity a few weeks ago:
I made one myself.
I usually only listen to lame white boy rappers with three nipples who go on to have sucessful acting careers, but this is pretty good.
It seems like I never post my photographs on the blog anymore, so here’s a series from Facebook:
February 5, 2013 4 Comments
I’m writing an article for work about WordPress security. Part of the process is trying different WordPress security plugins. One of the plugins I tried it Better WP Security, a Swiss army knife of security tools. One of its features is to log failed attempts to log into the WordPress backend.
It turns out I’m getting hundreds of login attempts every day from people trying to guess the administrator password. That’s a bad thing.
A couple of things you can do if people are trying to log into your site:
January 25, 2013 Leave a Comment
But hey, at least we got a cool name for our ice storm: KHHAAAAANN!