Tag Archives: wordpress
January 15, 2014

Matt Mullenweg Makes A Surprise Stop At Namescon

One of the things I love about going to conferences in the US is that you never know who is likely to turn up.

This week I've been in Las Vegas for NamesCon which, as you'd expect, was primarily focussed on domain names and the domain name industry. However Matt Mullenweg was in town and dropped by for an additional session this afternoon.

I've seen Matt speak a few times over the last couple of years. The first time was in Budva (Montenegro) and the most recent one was at the Wordcamp Europe event in Holland. At each event the audience was very different and the questions from the audience were varied. Today was no different and it was very enlightening to listen to Mr WordPress talk about the WordPress eco-system, domains, the internet and what it's like to be an entrepreneur.
Braden chats with Matt Mullenweg @photomatt #namescon

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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.

#wceu

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May 1, 2013

Posterous Dies – Posts Imported

With Posterous being shut down - supposedly yesterday - I have imported all the posts from my Posterous account into this site. You won't notice the posts unless you peruse the archives, but they're there ..

They also look a bit odd, but I thought it best to preserve them somehow.. even if it did look a bit odd ...

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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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July 7, 2012

Website Traffic And Hacks

A couple of months ago one of the sites I run was hacked via a nasty hole in a plugin that it was using. It took quite a bit of work to find the source of the issue and resolve it once and for all.

Once the hole had been plugged properly the traffic levels returned to normal.

But it's only when you have a reasonable amount of data that you can really see how much impact this kind of issue actually can have on a site's traffic.

Here's what a longer period looks like:

Unfortunately other sites that I run have had issues over the last few months. Some were defaced, others had nasty junk inserted - the list goes on and on.

The key lesson to be learnt from all this is to keep a close eye on your Google Analytics (or whatever you are using)

If you see a dip in traffic overnight it might be caused by Google changing their search algorithms, but it could just as easily be due to something hijacking your traffic or inserting some junk into your site's code.

If you're using WordPress make sure to remove any themes or plugins that you aren't using. If they're not installed they can't be compromised.

Keep an eye on Google Webmaster Tools and make sure all your sites are registered there (I discovered that one of mine wasn't which made removing it from their "bad" list that bit harder)

Keep your WordPress (and other CMS) software installs up to date. Make sure that the themes you are using are up to date as well - a lot of them won't "tell you" when an update has been released, so you'll need to check manually.

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April 22, 2012

Nasty Hacks Hijack Your Site’s Traffic

Alexa clickstream - downstream sites

Any popular content management system, be it for a blog, a website or a forum, is going to be targetted by hackers at some point. They'll try to find ways to exploit any security vulnerability that they can find.

To be honest you could expand that statement and simply say "any popular software".

If the hack is a defacement or similar you'll notice it pretty quickly, but other types of attack are much more subtle.

Instead of visibly changing a site they'll take its web traffic.

How?

By intercepting traffic coming from certain sources. So, for example, if you visit the site by typing the address directly into the address bar you won't notice anything, but  if you follow a link from Google or other search engines you get sent somewhere else entirely ie. they intercept search engine visitors.

This kind of compromise has hit pretty much every CMS out there at some point and it's a hard one to spot unless you take the time to check your web stats regularly. If you notice a sudden dip in traffic then that might be an indicator.

Another way to check, in conjunction with your web stats, is to check Alexa. Yes - Alexa can be useful for something! :)

Here's a screenshot of the stats for a site that was infected by a Vbulletin hack:

Alexa clickstream - downstream sitesThe top two sites are not legit and being used by a number of hacks targeting Vbulletin installs to hijack traffic.

If you're using Vbulletin there are a couple of tools available that can help detect and remove infections. Vbseo has a good thread on a hack that impacted them and also provide both removal and monitoring tools. There's also a plugin that will check your vbulletin install for dodgy code. Most of the vbulletin hacks I've seen hide themselves in the datastore, so reloading it can remove them, though obviously you need to find the point of entry or it'll just get reinfected again.

If your site is setup in Google webmaster tools you can keep an eye out for any notifications there. While Google's tools may not catch all hacks they can spot quite a few and will also do things like informing you of updates to your CMS.

No matter what CMS you are using make sure you keep it up to date AND check for updates for any plugins or extensions you might be using. Remember the TimThumb security issue last year? Thousands of WordPress installs were compromised via a hole in a popular script that was being used by a lot of templates, themes and plugins. Nasty!

Remove plugins and extensions that you aren't using. Even if they're not "active" a malicious 3rd party could exploit them.

If you're running WordPress remove themes that you aren't using. The defaults ones that ship with WordPress will be kept up to date automatically, along with your core WordPress install, but a lot of 3rd party theme developers don't provide notifications or automated updates.

If anyone has any other tips or tricks please share them via the comments.

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April 1, 2012

Technicaljobs.ie Revamped

Irish technical jobs listings

Irish technical jobs listingsI've been running technicaljobs.ie 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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January 29, 2012

Captain Obvious Says Blogging Regularly Gets Traffic

fat.ie Google analytics stats January 2012

I posted a few weeks ago about how I was going to go on a diet and change my lifestyle.

Yesterday marked 3 weeks on the diet, so I posted a "status report" / "progress report" (I work in IT - you'll have to excuse the IT-esque terminology!).

What I didn't go into were some of metrics related to my weight loss / diet blogging.

On the technology.ie podcast Conn and I are going to be talking more and more about sharing tips and tricks with people to help improve their websites. So one of the things we thought we'd talk about was "breathing life into an old blog". My dieting and weight loss blog isn't the case study, but it's still quite interesting to see how traffic etc., on there has developed over the last few weeks.

So a bit of background first.

The site had been left idle for quite some time - there hadn't been a single update since November 2009. It was also running MovableType. Much as I love MT I've been moving all my blogs over to WordPress due to the phasing out of MT development and also it's a lot easier to get a WP based site tweaked quickly and easily.

So I migrated the existing content over to a fresh WP install and gave it a "new coat of paint" with a relatively simple theme from Woothemes. James had done a logo for the old site a couple of years ago, but it had never been used, so he updated it slightly and that gave the site a slightly more "professional" look.

I've had Google Analytics tracking set up since the beginning, so it was simply a matter of adding the correct code into the theme's options (it supports it "out of the box").

I hadn't had Feedburner configured for the RSS feed for some odd reason, so that was rectified.

In terms of RSS traffic the numbers aren't exactly stellar, but they're growing:

Fat.ie Feedburner stats January 2012

NB: feedburner wasn't setup before January 2012

What about web traffic?

fat.ie Google analytics stats January 2012

fat.ie Google analytics stats January 2012

You can click to enlarge the graphic, but the basic metric to note is that since I started posting on there more regularly ie. practically every day, since the beginning of the month the traffic has been going up. I'm cross-posting and sharing the posts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, which is driving some of the visitors, but there's also a few that are following it via RSS, or simply following it without subscribing.

I'm tracking the site's "progress" using multiple tools, but the obvious "take away" is that the more fresh content you produce the more traffic you'll get.

Another one of my sites, for example, has been left on "auto pilot" for the last couple of months and the traffic has dropped quite a bit as a result. There is "fresh" content on there practically every single day, but it's not original, so the search engines aren't giving it much "weight", which makes sense.

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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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