No one must ever know

Usually the guys who do this want to pretend that they wrote all that code. Then there’s this guy:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to remove template name from WordPress?

His motivations contain 50 percent more skulk:

I bought a WordPress template from a site for my business, and I want to know if there is a way to change the theme template name? I own a cafe and one of my competitors (who happens to be my ex-wife) figured out what template I’m using on my site and she bought the same template for her cafe site and now both of our sites look similar. I want to buy a new template but I want to know how I can prevent someone else learning what template I’m using. When someone goes to my site they are able to see what template I’m using when they look at the “Source Code” — how do I change that so the visitors (mainly my competition) can’t find out what template I’m using?

WordPress stores all the theme files in a themes/[theme name] directory; to conceal it would require rewriting every one of those files, plus all the code that connects to those files. It would almost be easier to write a theme from scratch, and there’s still the necessity of tweaking all that PHP. I’m thinking it might conceivably be done with a metric buttload of redirects, at the expense of speed: nothing makes people flee a site faster than lack of fastness.

Disabling right-click, which is where people usually try to View Source, is trivially easy via JavaScript. But it won’t do a thing to block, say, the Ctrl-U combination that Firefox devised.

And really, why did those two ever break up? They seem to be so perfect for each other in so many ways.

Comments (2)




Thieves, honor, and so forth

Incoming comment spam, in the WordPress system, always has an email address attached, and almost always carries the URL of some alleged site. WordPress, if it’s not otherwise occupied, will actually attempt to display that alleged site in a frame if you hover over it. Often as not, the “site” comes up 404, and most of the time that it doesn’t, it’s not worth looking at.

Last night, though, was a first: a site that scolded me for having an ad blocker turned on.

Understand this. A spammer scolded me for blocking his ads. On the Gall Spectrum, this places right around Purely Unmitigated.

Rather than drop an email into the proffered address, which is probably bogus anyway, I have decided simply to block the miscreant’s IP address. And no, I’m not giving him a link either.

(Oh, you wanted to know the offending IP? Well, it is subject to change. However, I’m pretty sure you’ll never, ever get anything useful from 95.105.127.113.)

Comments




More arbitrary levels

Bill Peschel had to go rooting, so to speak, around his Web site:

I had received an email from HostGator telling me that they couldn’t back up PlanetPeschel because of “inode,” which was about as unhelpful a message as one could get.

Fortunately, HostGator had a page explaining what the heck inode means. In plain English, I have too many files on my shared hosting. More than a 100,000 of them. They don’t mind my having them, they said, they’re just not going to back up all of them. And if you get to 250,000, they warned me, I’ll have to pay them and make some changes.

(Shared hosting, if I remember right, means my website’s on a server with a bunch of other sites.)

This is indeed what shared hosting is. I have it. I have five sites on that machine, but I’m not alone.

Anyway, this surprised me. I’ve got a lot of files on Planetpeschel, but 100K?

Depending on what the cache has done lately, I have somewhere around 25,000 files.

I have a different backup issue. On my WordPress installs, a plugin called wp-db-backup gzips up the database and emails me a copy once a week — except here. The issue is that this database is freaking huge: on the order of 75 megabytes. Doesn’t sound like a lot for nearly 20,000 posts and about two and a half comments per, but the catch is that gzip brings it down to 21 or 22 MB — and the host’s email facility won’t handle anything in excess of 20 MB. Workaround: while I’m not working on the site, I set the backup to run manually, and drop the resulting gzipped file on my desktop.

Bill’s excess-files problem, however, isn’t related to this at all:

I have a plug-in on WordPress called Autoptimize, which saves bits and pieces of the site to call them up quickly. Turns out my settings told it to save a lot of files. Like, 65,000 of them.

Once I got rid of them, HostGator thanked me and said they’ll back up my site next week. Everyone’s happy (except me; I had to put a note down on my calendar a week from now to check my inodes and see if they’re swelling again).

I hadn’t heard of this plugin, so I went looking:

Autoptimize makes optimizing your site really easy. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and can move scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. There are advanced options and an extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.

Which sounds nice. Then there’s this:

If you consider performance important, you really should use a caching-plugin such as e.g. WP Super Cache or HyperCache to complement Autoptimize.

Hmmm. I went straight to the caching program, myself. It saves bigger pages — full-fledged HTML static pages — but a lot fewer of them.

Comments (2)




And lo, there was debugging

A cry from my techie side (which is actually barely more than a corner) from last month:

After installing WordPress 4.4, I encountered a minor anomaly. Short version: In posts included in two or more categories, the categories are now listed in the post heading, not in strict alphabetical order as they used to be, but in the order of their assigned ID numbers, whatever they may be. I left a note at the support forum, indicating what I thought might be the issue, and expressing some nominal amount of dismay.

Unusually, no one at the forum deigned to respond to my dismay, but the problem was quietly fixed in 4.4.1, possibly as a by-product from this bug.

Comments (2)




The entrepreneurds

After installing WordPress 4.4, I encountered a minor anomaly. Short version: In posts included in two or more categories, the categories are now listed in the post heading, not in strict alphabetical order as they used to be, but in the order of their assigned ID numbers, whatever they may be. I left a note at the support forum, indicating what I thought might be the issue, and expressing some nominal amount of dismay.

On its heels came this email:

My name is Jane and I’m with fixrunner.com WordPress support experts.

I saw your website on one of the forums online and that you are having an issue with your websites, We provide a professional WordPress support and maintenance service.

If you are currently experiencing any bug or need any immediate fix on your website we can help you fix it for a Flat rate of $49.

Please note that payment is not due until after we fix the issue. If we don’t fix it you don’t pay us.

There are, I imagine, circumstances under which I might find this service useful. But this isn’t one of them.

Comments




But you must monetize

I expect to be staring down this particular situation before too awfully long:

The theme I’d worked so hard to look just right got all effered up when I applied an update the developers told me was necessary. Too many issues, not enough patience, and too tired to care, I just went with another theme. Unfortunately, these days, finding a WordPress theme geared for actual blogging rather than rabid capitalism is nearly impossible.

True that. Sunday night’s #blogchat on Twitter is just overrun with people who are desperate to get Maximum Personal Branding, or some such hooey, out of their $75 Premium Themes, if only to earn back that $75.

I have not yet begun my full-fledged search for the new 20th Anniversary Theme. I am, however, deeply suspicious of any theme which mentions SEO in the first two lines of its description.

Comments (2)




One of your own

“How much does it cost to have a site like yours?” asked nobody, nowhere.

What they really want is to know about a really spiffy-looking site, and if they’re interested in running WordPress, this is the most pertinent information I’ve seen:

If you do it yourself (which you totally can if you know how to use the internet, can point and click, can follow instructions and have a little cash and a little patience), you are eventually going to become a WordPress Expert. Maybe not a ninja-level-can-work-on-any-site expert, but you’ll learn enough to know exactly how to maintain everything about your own site. To do it RIGHT and set yourself up for success and future growth, it’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars.

If you are going to hire someone, you either marry a unicorn OR you hire WordPress Expert AND a designer. Your WordPress expert sets up your site for you (and they should ask TONS of questions about your business so they build everything you don’t even know you need), and hire a graphic designer to create your brand for you, and your WordPress Expert will implement the brand on the site for you.

The unicorn of my dreams, of course, wouldn’t have me on a bet.

That said, I did DIY this place, and it didn’t cost a whole lot of actual cash, but headaches and sweat surely count for something on the ledger.

Still, an Expert with her shingle out might come in at any conceivable price point. There’s a local production house with a WP Expert and a graphic designer in-house, and they’re really, really good, but they ain’t exactly cheap, if you know what I mean, and they have enough experience to be able to charge you for it.

Comments




We deprecate your punctuation

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve been rendering the em-dash (and the occasional en-dash) with — mostly because I could never remember how to spell the damned entities. (And typical usage around here has spaces around the dash, which is neither technically nor typographically correct.)

WordPress, as of version 4.3, has decided that I will no longer get away with —. It’s converting that string on the fly to —, which is a correct em-dash in Unicode, and it displays the way I want it to display. Only thing is: now I wonder what else WP is doing behind the scenes.

Comments (3)




Custom for days

Somebody on Quora, presumably for I-want-it-too reasons, wanted to know which WordPress theme thenextweb.com was using, so I took a look out there and quickly decided that this had to be a custom job: it didn’t look quite like any of the canned themes I’ve seen.

Still, duty calleth, so I fetched the View Source screen, and this came back to me:

First few lines of thenextweb.com

Then followed the names and locations of the three actual developers. And yes, this is a custom theme, which is indeed called “Lemon Soda.”

Comments




Short of a half-measure

Do we have enough mosquito netting to keep the bears away? A Quora user asks:

I am powering a bank’s website using WordPress. What security measures should I take?

At this point, your best bet might to have Montresor brick up the entrance to your house.

(Via Popehat.)

Comments (2)




Creaking track

Yoast, producers of commerce-oriented WordPress products, have issued their first three WP themes, none of which have sliders — because sliders suck:

Seriously, whatever makes people think that having stuff move on your website is ever a good idea is still beyond me. You can create awesome collages through which people can browse at will. The pictures won’t be forced onto them (if they even notice them in the first place), they’ll just notice the ones they like. And trust me, that will sell better.

This is, perhaps surprisingly, especially true for photoblogs:

Ok, so you’re a photographer. You should be allowed to use a slider, right? Wrong. People tend to act as if there’s no other way to show their images anymore but by sliders. This just isn’t true. If you couldn’t have a slider and you’re a photographer, would you just give up having a website altogether? Of course not, you would look for other options, such as the revolutionary idea of showing static pictures. If you want moving pictures, you should change careers and become a filmmaker.

That said, about 2-3 percent of recent questions on Programing & Design at Yahoo! Answers have to do with the implementation of sliders, usually in terms of how the questioner didn’t get them to work. This is approximately equal to the percentage of recent questions on Cars & Transportation asking about installing 20-, 22-, or even 24-inch wheels on workaday sedans, and the response is much the same: “You may like the looks of it, but believe it or not, nobody else will.”

Comments (3)




The hard place is over there

Taking care of a WordPress operation is a two-pronged affair, inasmuch as the files are stored in two wholly separate locations: the Web server itself contains the WP core files and the design elements, while the actual posts are kept in a database elsewhere.

I download all the graphics and such to my home box before posting, so I already have copies of them in case of Dire Emergency. I hardly ever see the database, though, so a plugin copies it out on a regular basis, gzips the copy, and emails it to me.

Or anyway, it used to email it to me. The database is now so large that the gzipped copy is up to 20 megabytes, just at the point where the mail server balks: “Too big, pal.” For now, I’m fetching it via SFTP, but I’m thinking I ought to be considering other options.

Comments (5)




Meanwhile at your state healthcare exchange

Dave Schuler, who’s been working on exactly this sort of stuff of late, makes an unexpected disclosure:

There is apparently a known way to build a state healthcare insurance exchange website that flops: do it yourself. That’s what Oregon did. All of the states’ healthcare insurance exchanges that worked the best were apparently built by the technical wing of the same accounting company.

What could possibly be more unexpected than that? This:

[A] plurality of the states’ exchanges were built using WordPress.

Note that he’s not saying that the exchange sites that worked the best were the ones built on WordPress.

I pulled up one state at random: Rhode Island. Sure looks like WP, though they have a cloud-based backend.

Comments off




A dubious anniversary

It was on this day in 2006 that I restarted the Movable Type database. (This was the last post in the first MT database.) And it was two years and one day later when I washed my hands of it and switched to WordPress.

From that first post in the second MT database:

The most maddening thing, of course, is that during the Quiet Times, my traffic went up about twelve percent. Obviously I should post less.

So why start again? Well, for one thing, the old database, with seven thousand and odd items, was getting cranky. For another, it’s not like anything is missing: all the old posts are still archived and are available at their original URLs. And the last time I ran an export of said database, it clipped off at the 18-MB point for some reason, meaning that if I reimported it, I’d have to port over a couple months’ worth of entries anyway, and I’ve already put enough work into this thing.

The Quiet Times, incidentally, lasted less than 36 hours, and didn’t interrupt my run of Consecutive Days With Posts.

But this almost did:

For some incredibly-stupid reason, I decided to try to update Movable Type from 3.21 all the way up to 4.21 on 6 September 2008. It took four hours, and not everything is in place just yet: the comments popup doesn’t work, for one thing. (It may never work again; they said they were dropping support for it, and while I’m looking for a workaround, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to put up with just to retain a feature.)

Also, until further notice, any comments that do come in will have to sit in the moderation queue until I have that rearranged to my liking.

But it’s late and I need some sleep and I’m not going to work on this mess any further until I get some. Sleep, I mean.

That was about one-thirty on the morning of the 7th. About 13 hours later:

There is a limit to how much I’m willing to endure, and some time today I reached it. We are now running WordPress 2.6.1. All of the old posts remain in their original locations; posts for this month were imported to WP and can be read here. It will be a while before I have links up to everything else, the way I used to.

Eventually, I moved all the posts from those two years. (The stuff from before 6 September 2006 is still where it used to be.)

I’ve had some scary moments in these six years, but I’m still on WordPress — now version 4.0.

Comments off




Site questions

New arrivals at the site are often perplexed: “This doesn’t look like any WordPress blog I’ve ever seen.” (In which case, you should see this one, which uses the same theme.) Perhaps your question is answered here.

Comments off




They make it up in volume

Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman finds a piece of comment spam worth quoting:

Ginger ultimately struck North Carolina on September 30 as a chinese culture massive disappointment.

The resulting embryo is afterward transported to tissue may occur, either acutely or chronically, over hundreds of times, sometimes with a little more.

This is right up there with the best ones I’ve received, though this remark of Liberman’s disturbs me:

Among the approximately 15,000 spam comments directed at LL over the past 24 hours, this is one of the few that made it past the filters to be dealt with by human moderation.

Fifteen thousand? In one day? And this estimate may be conservative:

That might be a low estimate — there have been 4,574 comments caught by the spam filter in the past 105 minutes, which would translate to 62,729 per 24 hours.

I don’t know how many of those might have been wrongly trapped, because there are far too many for me to check them manually, as I used to do when there were only a few hundred a day.

Since the fall of 2008, I have had 34,817 comments caught by the spam filter. Total. Admittedly, I draw a lot less traffic than Language Log — whose ancient WordPress theme, incidentally, is also my ancient WordPress theme — but still: 4500 in less than two hours? That’s scary.

Comments (6)




Codes revealed

I’ve never been a playwright, and probably never should aspire to be one, but I definitely relate to this:

I started using computers in 1984 at the computer lab at my college when I realized that I could actually use them as a way to write, save and edit the plays I was writing without having to actually re-type all 120 pages every time I made a change to bit of dialogue. For me this was nirvana. What you should know, though, is that I never took a course or had anyone actually teach me how to use those computers. I just walked in to the lab, asked for an account, sat down at one of the terminals, and sorted out that if I used a few commands like Center and Bold and JustifyLEFT I could format the entire document to print on the dot-matrix printer to look exactly the way I wanted it to look and if I remembered to actually SAVE everything, I could then go back and just edit the small bits that needed to be changed. For a playwright in 1984 who was writing lots of plays this was, well, revolutionary.

Of course, once you get in the habit of taking care of business at this level, something like this happens thirty years later:

I had no idea, none at all, that text actually wraps and formats for you. No clue. In my world, it has always been my responsibility to create a line break, a paragraph break, a page break, to justify things, to format the entire page of text on every single page of the Internet (no matter where I am, mind you) to look exactly the way I want it to appear before I hit publish. Do you know, really know, how freeing it is to just let the words flow and not to have to think at all about format?

I shook up a WordPress guru rather badly the other day when I said that no, I’d never used the WP Media Library for any of the three-thousand-odd graphics on this site: I size and resize manually, upload via SFTP, and code it in the HTML — not the visual — editor. The nature of Twitter is such that I couldn’t see her facial expression, but I imagine that it would have been the same one she would have given me had I told her that my lawn maintenance is performed by goats.

Note: It occurs to me, now that I think about it, that my lawn maintenance might be better if it were performed by goats.

Comments (4)




WordPress ahead

During the Pistons game last night, WordPress 3.9 arrived. (You may remember that 3.8.3 appeared a mere two days before that.) This version is named for the incredible Jimmy Smith, who was taking a walk on the wild side a decade before Lou Reed. I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen all the trickery from 3.8, or even 3.7, yet, but this is promised by Smith:

The updated visual editor has improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support. You can paste into the visual editor from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)

I just felt a pang of whatever it is I feel a pang of whenever I have to contemplate anything in Microsoft Word.

Comments (1)




Fast fixing

“Didn’t we just get 3.8.2?” I mused as the email notifiers came in last night to tell me that 3.8.3 had just arrived. There was, of course, a reason for that:

The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.

We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.

Now what kind of nimrod writes novellas in the WordPress editor?

Oh, right. Never mind.

Comments (4)




While you’re at it

WordPress announced the release of version 3.8.2 yesterday; I was planning to do the update later that evening, but an email around dinnertime announced that the dirty deed had already been done. Three others followed in short order, for some other sites I maintain, and one of them deviated slightly from the formula by telling me that “You also have some plugins or themes with updates available.”

Heck, you’d think that if they could update the whole WordPress core remotely, they could also update those plugins — especially since those plugins are their plugins (Akismet and Jetpack). But this is just grousing; anyone who updated WordPress in the old days, by which I mean before about 2010 or so, isn’t likely to complain about the automatic (or is it Automattic?) core-update system.

Comments (1)