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New Blog! GrumpyReviews!

Published January 31, 2018 - 0 Comments

Every once in awhile I like to launch a new blog/site and try different things. Today I am announcing the grand unveiling of my new blog... GrumpyReviews.com

Naturally you're probably thinking "Why the hell would I want to read a review site by some grumpy old man?"

Good point!

Now let me tell you why...

Because I asked you to! Nicely. C'mon... do it for me. Please?

I am Not a Blogger

Published July 24, 2015 - 2 Comments

i-am-not-a-blogger-womens-box_largeI am not a blogger.  I’m not.  I thought I was.  I tried to be.  I wanted to be.  I think I still do.  But I’m not.  Not now.  I have this blog.  I have several blogs.  But I’m not a blogger.  I have a car.  I’m not a mechanic.  I have a kitchen.  I am not a chef.  See my point?  A blogger blogs.  They find a niche.  They create.  They nurture an idea.  They build an audience.  They blog.  A blogger blogs.  I am not a blogger.  Not yet.  Someday.

Dude, You’ve Been Hacked!

Published November 17, 2014 - 2 Comments

No one ever wants to hear those words.  “You’ve been hacked!”  Sure enough, when I went to the blog, I was greeted by this:

HackedIt slowly scrolled up and told me how good my security was, but how they were far better.  Blah Blah Blah.  I figure that it’s just a group of script kiddies somewhere who don’t have a clue and are just getting their jollies from defacing some websites.  The real kicker here was that I went to check each of my websites, and they were all showing the same thing! 🙁  That’s one of the joys of shared web hosting.  When one is torched, it’s almost a sure thing that everything is gone.

I contacted my hosting provider Dreamhost and received instructions on how to get my websites back up and running.  Unfortunately there is no simple way to roll them back, so I had to go through each one and create new WordPress installations, copy the database and uploads from the hacked folder into the new one, and re-install my themes and plugins.  This started off as a  very slow process, but after the third or fourth time, I began to get the knack of it.  Let’s just say that I’m now pretty proficient in understanding which WordPress files are key to holding your data.

So how did these punks get in in the first place?  I don’t know.  The most likely scenario is that one of my WordPress plugins or themes had a vulnerability in it, allowing them access to all my sites.  Wordpress plugins get updated all the time, and it’s a big pain to keep them up to date – especially when you are running multiple sites.  Some of my sites are not actively used, so I rarely log into them.  That makes them especially vulnerable to hackers looking for access.

How do you manage multiple WordPress sites to keep your plugins or themes up to date?  There are some services out there that allow you to update everything from a single dashboard!  One of the free ones I found is WP-Remote.  Their website claims “Monitor and update all of your WordPress‐powered sites. 68,253 WordPress websites already do.”  I created a login and added a plugin to each of my blogs that I wanted to manage.  Voila!  This is what the WP-Remote dashboard looks like:

 

WPRemoteYou can see the list of WordPress sites on the left hand side, and easily determine whether they are up to date or require action.  Installing updates is as simple as clicking a single button on the right side to update all.  Within seconds everything is good to go!  This is a brilliant service, and saves me a ton of time!  I’ve made a habit of checking in with WP Remote in the morning and updating any files that require it.  Did I mention that it’s free?  They sell a premium version of their service that adds things like automated backups, but I’ve discovered that I don’t need to pay for those.  Why not?  Keep reading, and I’ll tell ya!

Updraft Plus is a fantastic (and free!) WordPress plugin that performs fully automated backups on whatever schedule you set, and saves them locally as well as on virtually any remote storage location.  They offer a premium plan that gives you more control over how those backups are performed, but I’m OK with the free version for now.

Free managing dashboard.  Free automated backups.  What a great deal, right?  Yup!  But there’s one area that I DID decide to splurge a little money on.  I’ve been a faithful Dropbox user for years, and I’d worked my way up to 14GB of free space, but it just wasn’t enough.  So with the money that I saved from the other two services, I upgraded my Dropbox to the Professional plan.  For $109/year I now have 1TB of space.  That’s more than enough for all my backup needs. Famous last words.

So while this hacking incident has cost me some time and money (lost Adsense revenue and increase purchasing) I’ve learned a great deal about WordPress installations, the critical files, bulk management, and now have a solid backup/restore plan in the event of a catastrophic failure in the future.  It was a difficult pill to swallow, but I think that the lessons learned far outweigh the loss.

Let’s hope that I never have to deal with this again. But if I do, I have the right tools in place to minimize any downtime.

The Ultimate Suicide Note … an Entire Website

Published August 24, 2013 - 3 Comments

Too many times families are left asking “why?” after a loved one commits suicide.  Without a note of some sort, it’s almost impossible to answer that question.  While I’m certainly not advocating taking your own life, I do believe that people are entitled to a level of control over how they choose to exit this world.

In the past I’ve commented about using the timed posts feature to ensure that this blog was updated after I was gone.  I think that it would be neat to communicate with the readers from “beyond”.  If I knew that I was going to be gone, I’d load up this blog with posts that were timed to come out on different dates.  I’d remember to pre-pay the hosting plan for as long as possible.

So when I read “The sportswriter who blogged his suicide” on CNN, I thought that it was quite brilliant.  This guy took my idea to a whole new level.  He didn’t just leave a note or blog posts… he left an entire blog!  He secretly prepared a blog about his life and death, prepaid the hosting for 5 years, and on the day he killed himself, he published the site.  I have to wonder if he has any posts still timed to come out.

Of course after learning about the site, Yahoo took it down.  His family has asked them to honour his final wishes, but it doesn’t appear they will.  Thankfully the fine folks at Anonymous have created a mirror site at MartinManley.org.  Check it out.  It’s not graphic or anything like that.  It’s interesting.

I didn’t know you Martin, but I appreciate what you were trying to do.

Peace.

Can a Brotha Get a Little “Like” Love in Da House?

Published October 23, 2012 - 1 Comment

Blogging is a form of social media.  It’s kinda like my own little social network that I’ve created, and invited you to join with me.  And over the years I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they like a particular post, or that something was really well written.

But I laugh because when I decided to integrate social media sharing into the blog… It doesn’t get used.  If I go onto Facebook and upload a picture of cute kittens, chances are I’ll get a bunch of “likes”… which will then be broadcast to other people.  But if I sit down and write an epic post… virtually nothing.  I might tweet my own post, or guilt someone into liking it for me… but other than that… nope.  Let’s be real…this blog doesn’t have too many epic posts.  My most popular one is still the How to Configure Bell Sympatico Email on an iPhone, which regularly get multiple hits every day.  (Apparently there are a lot of people out there with iPhones and Sympatico email)  As of this writing, a single person has “liked” it on Facebook.  There are 6 tweets.  21 comments.  (half of those would be mine, replying to other people)  The vast majority of posts have nothing.. unless I’ve tweeted them myself.  Does this mean that no one is reading?  Not at all.  Does it mean that readers don’t like the posts?  I don’t think so.

Unless you are a blogging machine chances are that you rely heavily on word of mouth to spread your message.  What’s the easiest way to do that?  Leave a comment!  Link to an article from your own blog.  Click the “like” button at the top of the post.  (Just pretend that it’s a picture of kittens)  Tweet to your followers.  It’s great to let the author know that they’ve written something well.  I love getting those emails or message “I just read your latest post.. love it!” … that gives me the warm fuzzy feeling… but it doesn’t do anything to help promote the blog.  And I’m not talking strictly about this one… any blogger would feel the same way…

As always… thanks for reading!

/end rant

Happy 900

Published August 14, 2012 - 4 Comments

I wrote my 900th blog post last night.  I’d say that’s a pretty decent accomplishment.  When I look at the long list of blogs in my news reader, I don’t see too many amateur blogs with many posts.  When I look at the list of friend’s blogs that drew their inspiration (at least in part) from my own… there are certainly a lot of mothballs collecting…   But I understand how hard it is to maintain that consistent momentum.  A special shout out to one of the best friends you could ever ask for, who started blogging as a way to track his progress as a Squire in the SCA back in 2010, and continues to update it today!  I’m sure he’ll be King or Emperor or Grand Poobah someday!

Since launching in 2008, WhatAboutStephen.com has grown from a simple Blogger site read by my mother, sister, and a handful of close friends into a fairly complex WordPress site STILL read by my mother, sister, and a handful of close friends… albeit that number has grown somewhat!  🙂  Truth be told, although you tend to see the same names in the Commenter’s field over and over, those numbers are not a true reflection of the blog’s readership.  Yes, my family and friends will pop over to read the latest posts, but every article posted becomes part of a larger design… one that people still come from all over the internet to read.  Looking at yesterday’s logs you can see a ton of Google searches that landed people on the blog for different reasons… most of which went to posts written well before yesterday.

Search Views
miley cyrus cuts hair 9
lady ashburnham 4
st hubert express drive thru menu 2
setting up nbnet.nb.ca on iphone 2
aliant default address for iphone iphone added 2
bell sympatico incoming mail server 2
bell iphone email settings 2
moncton, nb, concert 2012 2
cirque du soleil batman 1
sympatico email server 1
typical bruising after vasectomy with pictures 1
how to use the starfrit can opener 1
sympatico email settings for ipad 1
lady ashburn pickles 1
what are all the levels in hanging with friends 1
bell aliant email settings ipad sympatico 1
2012 sympatico mail on iphone 1
how to set up mail on iphone using sympatico 1
bruising after vasectomy pictures 1
when do you get missions on hanging with friends 1
what is a trusting face 1
whataboutstephen 1
butterfly house moncton 1
add sympatico account to iphone 1
what about stephen 1
server port for bell aliant 1
how to set up sympatico email on iphone 1
settings for my sympatico email on my iphone 1
imap for sympatico 1
bell aliant email settings ipad 1
hanging with friends new missions 1
hanging with friends missions and levels 1
bell aliant email on iphone settings 1
nbnet.nb.ca email settings iphone 1
miley cirus cuts hair 1
setting up nbnet on playbook 1
look arrow 1
vasectomy complications pictures 1
setting up sympatico email on ipad 1
can u link sympatico to iphone? 1
set up sympatico email on ipad 1
miley cyrus hair looks tertible

 

The numbers might not be staggering, but… My point is, I guess that there’s a value both to myself and a few other people out there who read this blog… so I look forward to the next 900 posts.  🙂

Oh, and here’s a link to my 500th post… seems like forever ago!

Thanks for reading!

Blog Update – Just in Case You Hadn’t Noticed

Published May 24, 2012 - 2 Comments

I’ve been working on the look of the blog again.  When I think back to how it used to look on the old Blogger platform, and many many different variations on WordPress… well… it’s quite amazing, actually!

I stumbled onto a brand new blog tonight.  I was clicking randomly through twitter links, and notice someone posting that her blog was now live, so naturally I went to check it out.  There was a single post there.  No comments.  When I say a brand new blog, I mean a brand spankin’ new blog!

As I read through Katching Kayte I wondered whether the blogger would follow through with her current passion, or whether she would eventually succumb to writer’s block, and Katching Kayte would become yet another addition to the dead blog wasteland…  Only time will tell.

What’s new with WhatAboutStephen?  The blog is still running on the Thesis WordPress theme.  (Remember when I was so frustrated switching to Thesis?)  I moved from the free Thesis Sharp skin to the premium Thesis Blogskin.  I think that it’s a little crisper than Thesis Sharp.  I hope that you agree.

I’m making better use of the teasers on the front page, including thumbnail pictures with them.  Thumbnail and post pictures have always been a little tricky for me, but I think that I’ve finally managed to figure it all out.  Unfortunately this change makes my previous posts look rather sloppy. If a post is not configured properly, it will show a missing photo link… I would have to go back and correct each post manually, and that’s about 3 years worth.  I don’t foresee that happening.  As new posts continue to push the existing ones off the front page, it will become less noticeable.  Oh, curious about those smiley faces?  Those are default thumbnails and get placed there automatically if I chose not to include a photo within the post.  Think of them as a placeholder.  I will probably end up changing them, but for now they work.

I’ve removed some of the more annoying widgets from the sidebar.  In fact, I went on a bit of a cleaning spree and removed A LOT of plugins that I’ve installed over the years.  Most of those are things that you would not notice, but hopefully it provides a little cleaner interface, and fewer 3rd party plugins reduces the chances of a conflict.

So other than a couple of cosmetic things that I want to test out (I really would like to have a proper banner graphic, except that I’m artistically-challenged) I think that I’m pretty much settled on the way things are… for now… and will turn my attention to updating some of my other projects that have been neglected over the past few months.

Thanks for reading!

He’s Baaaaaack

Published February 9, 2012 - 1 Comment

Some of you may have noticed a bit of downtime on the blog recently. All joking aside, it’s been the longest outage I’ve had since I restarted the blog in 2009. I won’t go into too much detail here, but lets just say that I’ve learned that migrating a WordPress blog from one hosting provider to another is not as easy as it should be. In fact, I still was unable to make it happen, and had to put it back on the original host after spending way too long trying to figure it out.

A lot has certainly happened during the downtime. I will try to fill in some of the gaps over the coming days.

Thanks for reading!

Infolinks Results

Published November 7, 2011 - 2 Comments

No doubt you’ve seen the little popups that appear when you hover your mouse pointer over those underlined words.  These are Infolinks advertisements.  You’ve all seen them.  Some of you have even clicked on them.  Don’t try to deny it, I know you have.  I have metrics to prove it!  Although I have no idea who… so your dirty little secret is safe.

But in case you’re wondering whether these annoying little unsightly links are actually useful, or just a pain in your ass… I’ve decided to do a little post on some of the numbers.  Below you can see a report that I ran for the current week.  I have to state that these numbers are for my entire Infolinks account, which includes 4 blogs.  Although most of the impressions come from this blog, surprisingly most of the clicks happen on other blogs.  My feeling is that people who come to WaS want to read whatever is going on in my life.  They’re friends, family, and stalkers.  Most of the traffic is driven from direct hits, and not search engines.  Therefore you really have no interest in clicking a product or service link… unlike someone who lands on a pickle blog and sees ads for pickling, and home cooking products.  As for my Unfriendly Giant blog.. I have no idea what those people are clicking on.. but I appreciate it all the same!

Net
Impressions [?]
Clicks Page
CTR [?]
Page
eCPM [?]
Earnings
 Sunday, October 30, 2011 128 6 4.69% $1.48 $0.19
 Monday, October 31, 2011 158 6 3.8% $1.27 $0.2
 Tuesday, November 1, 2011 119 3 2.52% $0.42 $0.05
 Wednesday, November 2, 2011 94 2 2.13% $0.74 $0.07
 Thursday, November 3, 2011 76 5 6.58% $2.63 $0.2
 Friday, November 4, 2011 54 3 5.56% $3.52 $0.19
Total 629 25 $0.9
Daily Average 104 4 4.21% $1.68 $0.15

I don’t really want to get into explaining what all the numbers mean but I will point out the one of obvious interest:  Earnings.  My daily average earnings for the week is $0.15.  Obviously I’m not going to pay for my Lexus with revenue from Infolinks (yet) but this is substantially higher than the first month of July which averaged $0.02 per day.  In fact, the daily average rose every month (with the exception of October, which dipped slightly)  since I integrated Infolinks into the blogs.

  • August $0.06
  • September $0.16
  • October $0.12

I can not explain October’s dip, especially considering the huge bump in traffic that the Madonna posts attracted.  Apparently Madonna fans don’t click ads!  But that’s ok.  I realize that as more posts are added to all the blogs, more natural traffic will come in, and those numbers will continue to rise.  And they’re really only a small part of the overall strategy, but it’s the one that I can easily share with you.

Until my ebook hits the virtual shelves  🙂

Building the List

Published October 15, 2011 - 0 Comments

Every internet marketer in the world will tell you that the Mailing List is your single most important secret weapon when it comes to success… and the sooner you start building it, the better off you will be.  The people who sign up for your list are allowing themselves to be open to what you have to offer them.  You have cemented a relationship with them, and this makes your list very powerful.

I’ve been neglecting my List for awhile.  Although I’ve been paying AWeber $20/month for almost a year, I’ve only dabbled slightly in list creation during all of that time.  I think I have one subscriber on a test list that I made.  (Thanks Steve!)  Other than that, I haven’t done anything with it.

Part of the reason for that is that I haven’t been quite sure what I wanted to use my list for!  This is a personal blog, and yes.. I experiment with ways to monetize it, but really… it’s not a money maker.

So why now?  What’s the List for?  Well… I’ve decided to use the list to keep in contact should I have a blog failure like I had last year.  But more importantly, I may start to use it for things that are just too exciting to leave to chance that you may or may not read them on the blog.  Things that I want to make sure you have a better chance of reading, because not everyone reads here consistently.

As far as “Why now?” I can definitely say that it has to do with the whole Madonna coming to Moncton post going semi-viral thing... I lost a valuable chance to gain subscribers over those 3 days… I had over 1000 new visitors in 3 days!  That’s amazing!  Unfortunately that’s 1000 people who didn’t have a chance to click that subscription link in the corner!  Sure… I don’t expect a high conversion rate, but even 1% would have given me 10 new subscribers…  My hope is that even if they didn’t have a chance to subscribe to the mailing list, some of them might come back to the blog after the whole Madonna thing settles down.

Maybe.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, why not do me a huge favour, and show your support by subscribing to my mailing list!  I promise good things will happen to you if you do!

Stephen