Posts tagged ‘wordpress’

EEEK -- Bleg Related to Google Feedproxy Links

For years I have been blogging from articles in my Google Reader, which is going away in a month.  When I cut and paste the article URL from the reader, I get a Google shortcut like "http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Twistedsifter/~3/BohimNYue3Y/".  This resolves to "http://twistedsifter.com/2013/04/strangely-similar-movies-released-around-the-same-time/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Twistedsifter+%28TwistedSifter+%29".  The links are written in my wordpress data base, in many cases, as the feedproxy version.  So they depend on this Google service remaining live to work.

Does anyone know if the Google feedproxy servers are going away with Reader?  If so, about a zillion links on my site are about to break.  My hope is that Google uses these for more than just reader.  Perhaps at Feedburner? (though if Google is bailing on RSS that might be next on the kill list).

I would normally just do a Regex search to fix this, but there is no systematic way to do it, you have to resolve the link and then replace the resolved URL.  Someone seems to have an app for this, but I am not sure it is ready for prime time and I do not want to use it unless I have to.  But once the servers are turned off, it will be too late.

Anyone know about this or have advice?  Obviously, I have been trying not to use these feedproxy URL's if I can remember not to do so.

Amazon Dot Spam

I have been using Amazon AWS servers for years to host large videos and to store backup files in their S3 service.  But apparently their servers have also become the home of a lot of spammers and bots.   I have been in the process of locking down the security of my climate blog, testing changes that I will then migrate here (Incapsula front end, Disqus comments, a package of improved wordpress security changes, and ZB Block to catch what still makes it through.  I am not naive enough to think that I am safe from hackers, but I can at least be safe from stupid, lazy, or automated ones.

Anyway, I probably don't see a lot of the bots any more because they hit either Disqus or Incapsula.  But a great number still get through, and if they are persistent they get banned.  What amazed me was that of the first 22 IP's banned, 9 were on the Amazon AWS servers.

My sense is that this is one of those classic tragedy of the commons issues, which happens when valuable resources are essentially free.  I had an idea years ago, that I still like, that charging a tenth of a cent to pass each sent email would shut spam down.   You and I might spend five cents a day, but spammers would be hit with a $10,000 charge to email their 10 million name lists, which would kill their margins.  Don't know if there is a similar approach one could take for bots.

Yes, the Site is Slow

I have a horrible, awful, embarrassing confession.   All my sites, including this blog, are run off of super-cheap shared hosting accounts at Godaddy (yes, the guys with the juvenile commercials).  For years I think they did a decent job and my sites were not that busy, so it was no problem.  But as with most large, cheap hosting companies, they seem to be cramming more and more domains on each shared server.  Someone on this server is chewing up a lot of CPU cycles and it's time to move on.

I have switched to a virtual private server account at a new hosting company, as a sort of stepping stone potentially to a dedicated server  (my business and I have over 30 web sites so it probably can be justified).  The VPS account is cheaper and lets me start learning some new things about managing hosting (e.g. I have access to the root for the first time) but still shields me from some of the server management (e.g. OS updates).  And it's cheaper than a dedicated server, so we will see how it goes.

At some point, not quite yet, the site will have some down time when I do the migration.   Not sure yet when that will be -- the wordpress database for this site is over 50mb which exceeds the import file size allowed in my data base tools (phpmyadmin for mysql).  I have read there is another way to do it, I just have to do some research and tests first.  I probably will have to learn to work the data base from the command line.

Blogging-Related Bleg

It was pointed out to me that a number of my old posts from my unlamented Typepad era are full of comment spam that carried over into the wordpress database.  My current comment spam filtering for new comments works fine.  Does anyone know of a solution that will actually go back through the data base and mine out old spam?

Permalinks Screwed Up

The permalinks are screwed up right now.  That is the one problem I have had that keeps me from 100% satisfaction with WordPress -- the mod-rewrite stuff is pretty finicky and can lead any custom permalink structure to get screwed up from time to time.

Update: Fixed now.  There is some kind of bug that whenever I try to change the URLs of categories, I get a permalink mess.  So I am just creating redirects for all the old category locations and calling it a day.  This error may well be a host problem rather than a WordPress problem.

Whew! Done

OK, I think I have finally, successfully migrated both my blogs from the Typepad ASP service to self-hosted WordPress, with the completion of Climate Skeptic last night.  Now I can get back to real posting.

Site Migration is Done (I Hope)

As of this evening, the site migration from the Typepad service to self-hosted WordPress is mostly complete.  I have gotten a few emails about broken links and such, but I am fairly certain most are chased down now (though you are welcome to email me if you have problems).  The RSS feed is the last thing I need to test -- which I will do with this post.  For those of you who have been accessing this site via the feeds.feedburner.com/CoyoteBlog feed, I am hoping nothing has changed -- that should still be the primary feed in the future  (though you may experience about 10 duplicate posts from this weekend).  Folks who have been using other feed locations will have to migrate -- all those other feeds are now off (well, almost, I will put a few more messages on the old feeds to remind people to switch).  If you are seeing this post in your feed reader, you are good to go.

I have really tried to make the site more attractive, and I rejoiced in the much greater flexibility I had on WordPress.   Since several people have asked, I did all the design myself, though I paid a whopping $7 each for two stock images I used in creating the banner image.  Most folks read this blog via text feeds, but do me one favor and check out the new design just to make me feel better for all the work that went into it.

Actually, the vast majority of work went into migrating the site from Typepad without breaking hundreds of inbound links.  It is not impossible to maintain the permalink structure of the old Typepad blog, just hard, and I will post on how I did it soon.  On thing I will say now, though -- the new Typepad platform implemented for my site in October made it MUCH harder to migrate.  The last 50 days of posts took more time to migrate than the previous 4+ years.  That is one reason I have dropped a lot of my posting and really pushed up the priority of moving the site -- Every day I waited created a lot more work.

I have posted on my dissatisfaction with the new Typepad platform several times.  Suffice it to say that while the WordPress platform is a much better one, I would not have moved had it not been for three issues:

  • Typepad eliminated the blockquote option from the editor.  Yeah, I know, this seems a trivial concern.  But it is telling that a blog software provider could be so clueless about their customers as to think blockquotes to be unnecessary to bloggers
  • Typepad really screwed up the image functionality.  I have been on and off to customer service for weeks on images that simply would not post or would not post correctly.  Further, perhaps in an effort to make it impossible in the future for anyone to leave, Typepad implemented a new image storage system where it is impossible to actually access your image file.  What this meant for me was that, in blogging, the same images had to be uploaded over and over again, for every post in which they were used.  Further, it meant that my program that I used to scrape the old blog site and put all the images on my new site could not copy these images.  I had to painstakingly go into every post, right click and download the image, and then re-post it.  And I use a lot of images.
  • OK, so Typepad would have been fine if I did not ever quote any other sites and used no images (lol).  But it had one more problem-- when switching to the new platform, they built a new spell check program which is awful.  Folks who read my blog a lot know I DESPERATELY need a good spell checker.  But the new Typepad spell checker did not have an "add to dictionary" or even a "slip all occurrences" option, and somehow it disabled the built-in Firefox checker.   Image spell-checking a 3000 word piece on global warming and having to hit skip 150 times for each occurrence of "CO2" in the piece.

So, one blog down and one to go.    The second should be a lot easier with what I have learned.  My one screw-up on this one is I imported some old posts with Carriage Returns on each line so they don't wrap right, but I will just have to live with that -- I know how to avoid it with the next migration.  Expect blogging to be light, as I need to get my other site off Typepad before I post too many more items that I have to port manually.  I also still need to get the caching system up and tuned, so the site may be a tad slow for a few days.

Thanks to all those who complained about my site being the visual equivilent of nails on a chalkboard -- you gave me the final push to get this done.  In retrospect, an intervention was clearly necesary and I appreciate those who were forthright enough to provide it.

WordPress as a Content Management Tool

My company has over 20 URL's for various recreation facilities we manage.  I do all the design and maintenance of these myself, generally using a shared core design with some color and content changes.  Since this is just a side job for me, I often put it off and unfortunately things get dated fast.

For a while now I have been wanting to experiment with a content management system to ease the maintenance of multiple web sites.  So over the past couple of weeks, I have played around with various CMS's.  I was intrigued for a while by ExpressionEngine, but the fact it was not public domain (ie it charges per site licenses that would be prohibitive for me) finally killed the deal.  I also looked at Joomla and Drupal. 

Eventually, I settled on what many will consider an odd choice:  WordPress.  Yeah, I know, its a blogging engine.  I know quite well, because I am in the process of converting both my blogs from Typepad to WordPress.  I chose WordPress for a few reasons:

  • I understand the blogging paradigm, and so I have a good sense for how the content will be handled, and the limitations.
  • I am, having messed around with my blogs, comfortable with the WordPress templating system.  Though certainly more limited than ExpressionEngine, it does what I need to do. I am moderately facile in CSS and PHP, the two real requirements to make a good template.
  • Most of my sites are simple.  The only two API's I really need to plug in to are Google Maps and Flickr, and I have tested and am comfortable with the available WordPress plugins for these.
  • I want to begin, carefully, to let some of my employees be able to add and edit some content (e.g. changing store hours).  I think the wordpress interface is pretty accessible to some folks who may be new to online content and gives me the amount of control I need as an editor.  For a noob content contributor, WordPress is far more accessible than other CMS's.
  • With a static site, I have an advantage over a blog in that I can turn on full site caching to speed up the site (via WP-super-cache).  I also added an SEO plugin to make my permalinks and pages more SEO friendly, something I don't care that much about on my blog.

I think that the first site came out pretty well, and I don't think its obvious that it is built on a blogging engine (site here, for our Arizona snow play area).  The biggest internal debate I had was whether to go with fixed or variable widths.  I actually went the opposite way of most modern programmers, moving from variable to fixed rather than vice versa.  Most of my customers, as shown by my server logs, have slow and dated computers and monitors, so I think fixed width makes sense. 

Yeah, I know that no one will ever consider me a l33t h4x0r for using WordPress, or even for using a CMS at all, but I was absolutely thrilled how fast the second site is going up now that I have built all the templates and functions I need.  More reports to come  (and hopefully this site will soon be on WordPress, but I am not holding my breath.  Still having trouble with brinking over the permalinks so they all work right).