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October 5, 2013

WordCamp Europe Day 1


James and I are in Leiden this weekend for WordCamp Europe.

Since James has been taking lots and lots of photos he'll hopefully post something on the company blog :)

The variety and quality of the sessions so far has been excellent and it's been really enjoyable so far.

Highlight of the day so far - Smashing Magazine's session from this morning.


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April 21, 2013

Dealing With WordPress Hack Attacks


BruteForce1If you follow technology news you'll know that there's been a very large attacking ongoing against self-hosted WordPress blogs. While the worst of the attack may have stopped for now it's still ongoing.

Our technical team released some figures that show the scale of the attack. And we're not that big a hosting provider when you compare us to the "big boys" such as GoDaddy. Their numbers would be several magnitudes higher.

The attack is basically a "brute force attack" ie. using computers / servers to generate thousands of possible username / password pairs in the hope of gaining access to the WordPress control panel. By default when you install WordPress the administrator username is set to "admin", so the hackers only have to work on the password. They've already got the username for most WordPress installs.

And yes, I'll have to admit, quite a few of my WordPress installs were using the default administrator username as well. Fortunately (fingers crossed!) none of my installs had very weak passwords, so, as far as I know, none of them were compromised.

But that wasn't from lack of trying. This site alone has had several hundred hack attempts in the last couple of days that I know of (I started logging failed login attempts a couple of days ago).

If you're running WordPress installs there's a number of things you can do. Some of them will work better than others ..

Obvious things ..

Don't use the default "admin" account. If you have it already then create a new user with administrator privileges and delete the old one. You can reassign all the posts from the old admin user to the new administrator account you've created.

Use a strong password. There are plenty of password generators available online or if you want you can use a password locker to help handle them for you.

There are also a lot of wordpress plugins that can help tighten up the security of your WordPress install by changing some of the default settings. Just bear in mind that some of the more comprehensive tools may impact your site's ability to work with certain themes, plugins and 3rd party services.

And make sure both your WordPress core and plugins AND themes are kept up to date. Seriously.


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July 8, 2012

Automatically Generating Rich Snippets For Recipes


I've been blogging on and off about my experiences and progress with dieting over on my diet blog.

One of the things that I've also been doing is sharing recipes for the various things I've been eating.

In order to display them "sanely" I opted for a WordPress plugin called "Easy Recipe" mainly for the display. I wasn't as concerned with the rich snippets and microformat stuff that it also can handle I just wanted recipes to show up clearly.

Here's one for chicken with olives

What's interesting, however, is how it displays in Google search:

Not incredibly exciting, but that will depend on how much data you provide.

Running the recipes through Google's rich snippet tool shows how well it works.

The tool is also handy to check if your site is setup with the "author" attribute for your posts, which you can do via Yoast's SEO plugin

Of course my dieting blog isn't all about recipes and doesn't get that much traffic anyway, but it's still nice to see how using a simple plugin can help with Google and other search engine's understanding what the content is about.



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April 1, 2012 Revamped

Irish technical jobs listings

Irish technical jobs listingsI've been running for the last couple of years on jobberbase. It's nice software, but it's not as feature rich as I'd like and dealing with spammy submissions is awkward.

So I recently made the switch to using jobroller and gave the site a bit of a facelift. The site's now running WordPress with Jobroller, so it also has a blog :) (Whether I'll be able to find time to actually post on the blog or not is another matter entirely!)

The site still needs a bit of tweaking, but it should be easier for me to manage moving forward, whilst also making it a lot easier for employers to list their available Irish job vacancies for free.

To give it a bit of a "lift" I've also added FXtender Pro, which adds even more functionality for both the admin and end users.



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October 2, 2011

Playing With Flickr and WordPress

Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I use Flickr as the main location for storing and sharing my photos. Some photos end up on Posterous and the odd one might end up on Facebook, but pretty much everything is on Flickr.

One of the things that I love about Flickr! is that you can easily post a photo to your blog from it (once you've setup the integration), but by default it gets published immediately. While that might not be a problem for a lot of people I like having a bit more control over my content. So being able to go back in and edit text, add tags, categories etc., is something that I really want. Luckily Donncha wrote a small plugin that does just that - install it and your Flickr to WordPress posts will end up in your "drafts".

The other thing I was interested in doing was "bringing" my photos into this site. There are plenty of Flickr plugins for WordPress. They all operate in slightly different ways, so I'm currently playing around with them here.


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August 11, 2011

Fixing Permalinks With Mod_Rewrite

I've posted a couple of times about the migration from MovableType to WordPress (and all the other moves that preceded it).

One of the things I discovered via the "Redirection" logs was that I was losing quite a bit of traffic due to some "anomalies" and differences between how the permalinks are currently set and how they'd been when the site was using MovableType.

While I might have wanted people and search engines to always refer to posts using something like:


a lot of them had picked up on the index page, so they'd got:


While that was fine in MovableType and would work fine, it was causing me headaches in WordPress, as that was not how I'd setup the permalinks, nor did I want to set them up that way.

I'd also got a few posts that had a completely different URL structure to the rest of the site, which was odd and quite annoying, but again, as MT stored the posts as actual files it didn't matter too much. In the worst case scenario two versions of the same post might be available - and duplicate content will beat a 404 error any day of the week in my book :)

I tried to fix these anomalies, but while I managed to get various wordpress plugins to fix the bulk of them I was still left with a bunch of errors..

So Niall came to the rescue. He's a bit of a wizard with regular expressions and mod_rewrite

Here's the two rules he added that fixed all my problems (or enough of them to keep me quiet - WordPress' insistence on putting apostrophes back into URLs isn't something I can fix easily!):

RewriteRule ^/blog/archives/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2})/([0-9]{2})/(.*)/ /blog/archives/$1/$2/$4/ [L,R=301]
RewriteRule ^/blog/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2})/(.*).html$ /blog/archives/$1/$2/$3/ [L,R=301]

Thanks Niall!

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August 7, 2011

TimThumb Updated To Version 2

Just a headsup if you're using a theme that uses TimThumb.

Due to all the security issues with the plugin / script (it's a single file) the developers issued a number of updates over the last few days which culminated in the release of version 2.

You should also update the file in any themes that are not active OR delete the themes, as the vulnerability is potentially accessible even if the theme isn't active.

You can download the latest version here

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August 3, 2011

Do People Still Use Blogrolls? And Would You Want To Be In Mine?

Image by Mike Licht,

This site started out on Movable Type years ago .. When they changed their licensing I switched to WordPress.. And it was on WordPress for a couple of years.. until it wasn't anymore.

So when I switched it to MovableType back in 2007 the "blogroll" I'd been maintaining disappeared, as MT didn't really have a way of handling it (well it did, but it was messy) so I had a couple of links in a widget and that was it.

Now I'm back using WordPress which ships with the option to publish a "blogroll" or any set of links into the site's sidebar. (I've currently got a very very small one .. )

But is there any point?

Do people actually look at them?

Do people want to be included in them?

If I published one would you want to be included? (Assuming I have some idea who you are and actually want to link to you .. )

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July 11, 2011

A Couple of WordPress Plugins and Tips To Help With Migration

WordPress Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Moving from MovableType to WordPress involves a bit of fiddling about with redirects. How much fiddling you need to do will vary on your setup. In my case my MovableType URL structure was based loosely on a WordPress one, as I'd migrated from WordPress to MovableType previously.

Of course if things were that simple life would be a lot easier - and probably a bit more boring :)

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say that "simply" redirecting a couple of things wasn't going to work for all posts .. ..

A couple of plugins that helped resolve this (assuming that it is actually resolved):

Redirection - a very powerful suite that logs 404s so that you can redirect on a per page / post / file basis or setup a solution to catch all the issues

Permalink redirect - handy if you need to update your permalink layout and don't want to lose traffic to the old links

For some reason, possibly the settings I had in my MT install, all comments were set to off on the imported posts. This post has a lot of handy tips on opening comments (or closing them) using MySQL ie. directly running queries on the database. A single SQL query is a lot faster than manually updating hundreds of posts!

WordPress SEO - helps with tweaking your WordPress powered site to maximise the SEO impact

WP Super Cache - One of the things I love about MovableType is that you can set it up to write static files so that no matter how much traffic you're getting Apache can do the heavy-lifting and MySQL only gets involved from time to time. Donncha's plugin suite brings sane caching to WordPress and helps make your site a lot more responsive

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded - while a lot of people seem to like offloading this kind of thing onto a 3rd party service I'm more comfortable running the comment subscriptions directly from my own server.

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July 10, 2011

Site Revamp (Sort Of)

Due to the lack of ongoing support with MovableType I've decided to move this site back to using WordPress as it's backend.

As I said elsewhere earlier today, I'm still not 100% convinced about WordPress' security etc., but it is being actively developed, which is more than can be said for MovableType.

Moving from MovableType to WordPress is an "interesting" process, so I've documented it and will share my "process" when I get a chance (it's far from perfect!)

If there are broken links or anything on the site at the moment I apologise, but no migration is ever perfect - something will have broken and it will take me some time to fix all the bits that have, unfortunately, broken

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