Category Archives: Web Design

NJ Video Marketing Group

Congrats to NJ Video Marketing Group on their new fully responsive website!!

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A long time web user, Greg was frustrated by the limited features available on his old website.  Now he can update from anywhere in the world, embed videos quickly and easily and has future proofed the site by building on the worlds largest platform.

 

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Considering GoDaddy Protected Registration? DON’T!

I registered my first website back in 2005 and today, after years of trying, I finally prevailed in a multi-year battle with GoDaddy to shut that URL down.  

FinallyIn an effort to spare you my pain, and warn you of what I consider to be some shoddy business practices, I’ll give a brief explanation.

I registered my first domain for a small web business that I went into with a good friend.  Being my first URL I believed their hype and paid for the optional Protected Registration.

Two years later, after much fun, it was obvious that we couldn’t run the project on a part time basis and we closed the company down.  The URL, however, lived on and GoDaddy dutifully renewed it the following year, charging the renewal and the Protected Registration feeds to my personal credit card.  Here’s where things get a little strange.

I tried to cancel future renewals through their web interface but was blocked because the Protected Registration.  No problem, I thought, I’ll just cancel the Protected Registration.

When I tried to cancel the Protected Registration I was unable to do so because they required documentation from the company that was no longer available because the company was closed.  Apparently I needed this to “prove that I had the right to cancel”, despite the fact that:

  1. I had login access to the administration page on the Protected Registration account
  2. It was MY credit card being charged

I suggested (reasonably I thought) that since I was the one paying I should also have the right to cancel.  Not so, according to them.  

I asked if there was any other way to cancel, since the company the Protected Registration was for no longer existed.

  • They asked me to fill in a cancellation form, sign it and send it to them, which I did
  • They then asked me to send them copies of my drivers licence and passport, which I (stupidly) did
  • They then asked me to sign a legal contract so open ended and one-sided that I refused to do it

Each time I pointed out that, as the person paying, surely that gave me the right to cancel.  

When I refused to sign over my first born child they told me there was nothing more they could do.

Time for plan B.

Clearly I was not getting anywhere with logic or common sense, so a new strategy was in order.

I opened my GoDaddy account and simply removed all of the credit cards on file.  

By now I also had at least a dozen other domain names registered with them.  All of those were transferred to a registrar that actually treats customers as though they want to keep them.

Then the waiting game started.

Periodically I would get calls from them warning me that I was about to lose my URL.  “Good!  Please do it right now!” They would invariably ask why I didn’t just cancel it, leading to an ear bleeding tirade that would make a sailor blush.

Finally, after two years of warnings, I received an email today telling me that the URL and the Protected Registration have been deleted from my account.  Hooray!!!

Learn from my mistakes people.  If you are offered Protected Registration, don’t do it.  It sounds great, but most decent companies offer automatic renewal with email reminders anyway, so the benefits are practically zero.

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Filed under Online Security, Web Design

Google Gives Real Time Analytics to iPhone Users

In case you missed it, Google released Google Analytics for iPhone last week. It comes a year after it was originally released for Android devices. The Real Time analytics is the best feature for website owners who can now get-a-glance of their information right from their pocket.

For the full story click here:  Google Gives Real Time Analytics to iPhone Users | LevelTen Dallas, TX.

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Who’s attacking your website?

ImageWith the explosion in web creation tools owning a website is no longer the domain of a select few.  Whether you have an online store, a “business card” site or a fan site for your passion setting up a website can be done by almost anyone with a need and a little patience.

What many people fail to realize is that, just like your home PC, a little care is needed if you are to avoid having your website taken over and either vandalized or used as a springboard for spreading viruses.  After all which of your friends wouldn’t download something from a website they knew you created?

Think people aren’t attacking your site?  A quick look at the sites I have set up showed, without exception, every one of them had logged attempts to log in using brute force password cracking.  I know this because I have software installed on these sites that tracks failed attempts to log in and, if they occur often enough (10 tries in my case) then my site will automatically  block access from those IP addresses with increasingly long lockouts and sends me a note to let me know about it.  Here’s a sample from one of the sites I take care of:

IP Tried to log in as

 

As you can usernames like admin, administrator, root, and variants of the URL (starred out for privacy reasons) have all been tried.  It’s one of the reasons I NEVER use those as either a user id or a password.

Attacks mostly seem to come from the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine and so on.

Why those places and what are they doing?  Who cares?  The important thing to realize is that even the website you put together as a memorial to your beloved dog can, and will, be attacked.

The site i pulled the lockout information from is only special to the people that use it.  It doesn’t get millions of views, isn’t a political or controversial group, and doesn’t contain any secret information.  In fact everything on the site is public.  So if they are being attacked then it’s a very good bet that your website is too.

So what can you do about it?

Well you can’t stop people attacking you, but you can make life difficult for them by taking some simple steps.

  1. The most obvious, and easiest, thing to do is to make sure that you don’t use any common user names  or passwords.  If your website providers sets up a default user such as Admin when your site is built, change it!  Passwords don’t have to be long and hard to remember – two random words like BlueDriver or NotedMarketer will keep people guessing long enough to make them bored.  If you use Admin and password because they are easy to remember then you deserve what you get.
  2. Install software that can lock out repeated login attempts.  There are many of these around and they are often free.  Install them for some peace of mind and sleep easily knowing that someone isn’t bombarding your website with thousands of login attempts.
  3. Make sure that you keep your website software up to date.  As the HeartBleed bug showed us, no website is foolproof, so make sure that vulnerability are patched regularly.

Those three simple steps alone should keep the vast majority of people at bay.  Sure there are are few highly skilled people out there that could get in if they wanted to, but with so many juicy targets for their talents why would they waste their time on your cooking blog?  Nope…it’s the equivalent of the thug with a brick that we want to stop and the steps above are the equivalent of a spray can full of mace to those guys.

 

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Filed under Computers, Online Security, Web Design

Software upgrades for Computer Whisperer WordPress clients

software-update-iconWhat is happening?

Clients of the Computer Whisperer WordPress hosting websites are updated and maintained regularly.  Usually these upgrades are minor, performed outside of normal business hours and not something that would need notification.

Periodically it is necessary to deploy major upgrades to the core platforms to make sure that your website remains stable and secure.  In this case we will be upgrading PHP from version 5.2 to 5.4 within the next seven days.

What will happen and how does this affect me?

Even major upgrades are not normally problematic and should result in nothing more than a few minutes of downtime for your site.  In almost all cases you will not even be aware that the change has taken place.

Within the next seven days the following actions will be taken on your site:

  • Your site will be fully backed up
  • All plugins will be upgraded to the latest version
  • WordPress will be upgraded to version 3.8 if necessary
  • The PHP version on your site will be upgraded from 5.2 to 5.4
  • After upgrading your site will be tested to make sure that core functionality is performing as expected
  • Email access will not be affected during the upgrade process

What if there are problems?

Since WordPress 3.8 is known to be stable with PHP version 5.4 any problems are most likely caused by plugins.  In the event of a problem we will identify the offending plugin and either work with the plugin developer to resolve the issue or find an alternative plugin that provides the same functionality.

Rest assured that your website is fully backed up using a method that allows for rapid deployment to an alternative host.  In the unlikely event of a major problem we will set up a new host using a legacy version of the software and migrate your site to that host.

If you would like to speak about this please feel free to call the usual number or simply leave a comment below.

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Filed under Computers, Web Design

Lock your Smartphone or Risk Losing Everything

stolen-iphoneWhen my wife’s iPhone was stolen in Paris I was very happy that we had the ability to remotely lock and wipe it. But the fact that it wasn’t locked with PIN had me frantically changing email and bank account passwords at 5 in the morning.

Why the worry?

Most smartphones receive your email without the need to enter a password.  They also receive bank, PayPal and credit card statements and are used by these institutions as a place to confirm a password reset.  This information can be used to access your bank account, reset your password and, once that has happened you can kiss your money good bye.

And phone theft is on a steep climb.  In New York City, cellphone thefts make up more than half of all street crime, with iPhones being the most popular item.  In fact Infoworld has produced an interesting interactive map showing where cell phones are stolen in San Francisco which you can see here.

My early morning panic could have been significantly reduced with a simple PIN added to the phone.

pinI know having to enter a PIN is a pain but you don’t have to set it up to ask for the PIN every time – every 15 minutes is plenty.  That’s because the first thing most thieves do is to power down your phone so that you can’t track them.  When a phone is powered up again the PIN is requested even if it was last entered just a few minutes ago.

Other things you can do to keep your data safe include if your phone gets stolen include:

  • Don’t store a list of passwords, PINs or personally identifying information on your phone.  If you must (and let’s face it, it’s too tempting not to) then use an app that asks for a master password.
  • Set up the phone so that you can find, lock and wipe your phone remotely.  For the iPhone use the Find my iPhone service available through iCloud.  I found a similar one on the Google Play store called Where’s my Droid but haven’t used it myself.
  • Back up all of your data to a PC or the cloud.  I was able to have my wife’s new phone up and running in minutes with everything just as it was before she left because we had this.

If you’ve taken the right steps to protect yourself, losing your phone will be just an annoyance. But if you’ve failed to safeguard your phone with a password, backing up all your data and installing a program that can wipe the phones data remotely, you are setting yourself up for a seriously traumatic event.

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Filed under Free Software, Online Security, Technology, Web Design

Make Quick Posts to Your WordPress Blog with Press This | WordPress.tv

Press This is an easy to install bookmarklet that allows you to grab just about anything off of the web (like a text quote, video, or image) and turn it in to a blog post, all without ever touching the dashboard of your WordPress site.

via Make Quick Posts to Your WordPress Blog with Press This | WordPress.tv.

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