Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Remove the Comments Section from WordPress Blog Articles

We recently had to disable our Akismet plug-in, which offered reasonable protection from spam, but not stellar performance.

How they plug their plug-in ...
"Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep. To get started: 1) Click the "Activate" link to the left of this description, 2) Sign up for an Akismet API key, and 3) Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key."

At a cost of $50 per month for unlimited WordPress commercial websites, some users want alternatives. Several spammy comments got by the protection anyway. We immediately though it would be a good idea to dump the comments section from WordPress.

For years Askismet was provided free with our WordPress host. But a compatibility problem prevented the host service from offering Akismet with a shared API key. Each website publisher was forced to get their own API key. Then came the shocker -- $50 per month for any Akismet spam protection coverage greater than ONE website.

The host provider didn't warn users about the cost. We thought we would just activate a new API key.  Deactiveted to old key and then watched spam increase at a rate of about three spammy comments per minute or 2300 new spammy comments in 12 hours -- without any protection. Instead of paying $50 per month, we removed the COMMENTS SECTION TAG ...

<div id="comment">
<?php comments_template(); ?>
</div>

You'll find yours in your Single Post (single.php) Template. You can search comments in your template to jump to the text illustrated above in bold. Simply remove the text and your comments section is removed.

As soon as we removed the COMMENTS SECTION TAG, the spammy comments stopped, except for about four that trickled in over the next five hours (forgot to uncheck "Allow people to post comments on new articles" in the Discussion Setting).

In summary, it's not very easy to learn how to delete the comment section. It's surprising there isn't a control feature in the discussion section that would complete the operation.

We're wondering how much the lack of a comment section and the lack of processing the pending spammy comments will increase the speed of our website and decrease the load on the host server.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Google Gmail Service Disruption on Thursday, October 22, 2014; Blogger Not Posting Emails Designated to Post Articles

Google reported an issue with Gmail at 2:52 AM on Thursday, October 22, 2014. Google Message: "We will provide more information shortly."

Google reported Gmail service has already been restored for some users at 3:13 AM Thursday, October 22, 2014. Google message: "We expect a resolution for all users within the next 1 hours. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change."

Google reported the problem with Gmail should be resolved at 3:19 AM on Thursday, October 22, 2014. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.

Emails to blogger are not posting to blogs at 11:15 AM Thursday, October 22, 2014.

Service Disruption Reported with Google Drive on October 22, 2014

Google was  investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive. Google message: "We will provide more information shortly at about 2:52 AM on Thursday October 22, 2014."

Google Drive service was reported restored for some users at  3:13 AM on Thursday, October 22, 2014., and we expect a resolution for all users within the next 1 hours. Google Message: "Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change.

The problem with Google Drive was reported resolved at 3:19 AM on 10/22/14. Google message: "We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."


Times in Central Daylight Time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

AT&T Expanding 1000 Mbps Speed Internet to the City of Chicago

AT&T said Tuesday it is expanding its fiber network to Chicago. AT&T reported its fiber network can deliver speeds of up to one gigabit per second, about 100 times the national average. At that rate, a user can download 25 songs in one second.

AT&T announced in April that Chicago and the Illinois suburbs of  Des Plaines, Glenview, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Park Ridge, Skokie and Wheaton were among 100 cities nationwide it was considering for the expansion of its fiber network.

AT&T did not provide information Tuesday about whether the suburbs would be included with the City of Chicago expansion.

In Austin, Texas, where AT&T has already installed its fiber network, the one-gigabit-per-second service, is available for $70 a month.

Google Fiber offers speeds up to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit per second) for $70 per month in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Provo, Utah.

In February 2014, Google announced it was considering rolling out Google Fiber service to the Georgia cities of Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs and Smyrna. The cities are part of a broader rollout that involves eight other metropolitan area, including Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville.

Comcast fastest speed is 505 Mbps, but is about $300 per month and requires special commercial equipment.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Website Cookies Explained with Animation by UK Guardian Animations


What are cookies? Our animated guide to website cookies, the many functions they have, and how you can control them.

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a visited website and stored in a user's web browser while the user is browsing that website. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the web visitor's previous activity.

Security vulnerabilities may allow a cookie's data to be read by a hacker, used to gain access to user data, or used to gain access (with the user's credentials) to the website to which the cookie belongs.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in Web applications. XSS enables attackers to inject client-side script into Web pages viewed by other users. A cross-site scripting vulnerability may be used by attackers to bypass access controls such as the same origin policy. Cross-site scripting carried out on websites accounted for roughly 84% of all security vulnerabilities documented by Symantec as of 2007.  The vulnerabilities effect may range from a minor nuisance to a significant security risk, depending on the sensitivity of the data handled by the vulnerable site and the nature of any security mitigation implemented by the site's owner.

While finding ways of injecting malicious scripts into web pages, an attacker can gain elevated access-privileges to sensitive page content, session cookies, and a variety of other information maintained by the browser on behalf of the user. Using this method, offenders can impersonate users and their sessions.

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF, sometimes pronounced sea-surf) is also known as a one-click attack or session riding or XSRF. The forgery is a type of malicious exploit of a website whereby unauthorized commands are transmitted from a user that the website trusts. Unlike cross-site scripting (XSS), which exploits the trust a user has for a particular site, CSRF exploits the trust that a site has in a user's browser.

The attack works by including a link or script in a page that accesses a site to which the user is known (or is supposed) to have been authenticated.

The Self Destructing Cookies extension for Firefox does not directly protect from CSRF, but can reduce the attack window, by deleting cookies as soon as they are no longer associated with an open tab.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Facebook Down Again on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 -- Third Time this Summer


Facebook suffered the third outage this summer for many desktop and mobile users Wednesday afternoon with the outage lasting about 20 minutes for many people. The social media website also suffered significant outages in early August and mid-June.

Facebook officials said they were investigating the problem, while the status page for Facebook developers did not show any anomalies, though the data appeared to have been last updated prior to the outage.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bublcam for 360-Degree Video


Bublcam's 360 Degree Spherical Camera.

Bublcam's CEO Sean Ramsay stopped by the office to show off the current version of the device, available for preorder for $579. The camera’s price makes it more of a “prosumer” device than something like a GoPro. That means that Bublcam has to find markets willing to pay more for the advantages that come with being able to capture a complete 360 degree sphere of video.

National Weather Service Website Down

The National Weather Service official website was slow to respond Monday August 25, 2014 for most of the day. Services, such as the hourly forecast graphs, and text forecast discussions were inaccessible. Several internal links from forecast.weather.gov were inaccessible and produced an error page with the following messages ...

(1)

An error occurred while processing your request.

Reference #97.6fee32b8.1409001160.1d0386c2

(2)

An error occurred while processing your request.

Reference #97.6fee32b8.1409001298.1d03ea79

Access time average about 14 to 15 ms according to isitdownrightnow.com on August 25, 2014 at about 4:20 p.m. CDT.

Apparently a rogue or misconfigured app caused the interference with the National Weather Service website.  The National Weather Service did not release any information about the the specific app that was causing the problem or any other details.

A message on Monday, August 25, 2014 read ...

TO - ALL CUSTOMERS SUBJECT - POINT FORECAST ISSUES . WE ARE PROVIDING NOTICE TO ALL THAT NIDS HAS IDENTIFIED AN ABUSING ANDROID APP THAT IS IMPACTING FORECAST.WEATHER.GOV. WE HAVE FORCED ALL SITES TO ZONES WHILE WE WORK WITH THE DEVELOPER. AKAMAI IS BEING ENGAGED TO BLOCK THE APPLICATION. WE CONTINUE TO WORK ON THIS ISSUE AND APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE AS WE WORK TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE. . NIDS - KM

Then Tuesday, August 26, 2014 a message read ...

Last Update: Tue Aug 26 19:05:01 2014 GMT
NWS TOC Operational Status Message

Tue Aug 26 02:42:58 2014 GMT

NOXX01 KWBC 260240
TO - ALL CUSTOMERS
SUBJECT - POINT FORECAST ISSUES
.
AKAMAI HAS INSTALLED FILTERS WHICH BLOCK
THE OFFENDING TRAFFIC.  NIDS HAS VERIFIED THAT
THE TRAFFIC IS BEING BLOCKED.  ALL SYSTEM ARE
NORMALIZED.  WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE.
PLEASE NOTIFY THE TOC AT TOC.NWSTG-AT-NOAA.GOV
IF ANY FURTHER ISSUES ARE IDENTIFIED.
THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
NIDS - KM

There were no messages regarding the problem on the official Twitter or official Facebook for the National Weather Service as of 4:20 pm. CDT.

The NWS has suffered a series of telecommunications problems during the past two years. In April, several important local NWS websites went down during spring's first major tornado outbreak. In May 2014, warnings were not broadcast via the website and via automated channels when an EF-3 tornado touched down near Albany, New York.

On some occasions, the National Weather Service has turned to Facebook and Twitter to make announcements when the website is not working properly.


See also ...
http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/weather.gov.html

http://weather.gov

forecast.weather.gov