Category Archives: General News

Few Updates Recently

Few Updates for Several Months

Regular readers of this blog may be wondering why there’s been so few new posts in the past several months…

The reasons for our tardiness are two-fold: First of all I’ve been relocating my home and business to Aston Bay in the Eastern Cape. Secondly – blame the latest versions of WordPress, and above all the new text editor (TinyMCE 4.*).

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Goodbye Zemanta

WordPress.com Kills Zemanta Writing Assistant

WordPress.com stopped using the “Zemanta Writing Assistant” on 2 January 2014. The end of Zemanta was sudden. The only notification I found was a post by jackiedana on the WordPress.com support forum posted the same day the service was terminated.

“On January 2nd, 2014 we’re removing our third-party integration with Zemanta, which added some tools like a manual related content tool, and suggestions for tags and images”.

The only reason given was a statement that WordPress.com is working on improving the editor. I can’t help suspecting there were other reasons to kill Zemanta on WordPress.com

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Bing Banned

Bing and MSN Bots Are Banned

I have banned Bing, Yahoo and MSN search engine spiders from my sites! I’m tired of the constant rule breaking and over-crawling by Bing and MSN search bots.

Bing is a Rule Breaker

Microsoft claims Bing honours robots.txt rules. In my experience that is a blatant lie. Bingbot / msnbot simply ignore robots.txt rules and crawl whatever they want. Some of the specific rules broken include;

  • crawling system folders
  • crawling image folders (msn-media bot). Image folders and extensions jpg,  png,gif, bmp are disallowed
  • crawling RSS feeds. All RSS feeds are disallowed; rss.xml, /feed/, etc
  • crawling comment forms; DOMAIN/comment/184 – the path /comment/ is disallowed in robots.txt

The last straw was today. 2 days ago I added Bing and MSN user agent strings to disallowed bots in robots.txt across all my sites; this morning I see these bots read robot.txt then ignored it totally, and crawled the sites anyway.

Have You Seen Bad Activity by Bing?

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South Africa’s Most Expensive Website

Provincial Government Website Costs Taxpayers R140M

most expensive website iconWell, that’s one version of the story. The Free State Provincial government claims it spent only R40M – on 38 websites! Whichever version is true, the questions remain;

  • why does a provincial government need to have 38 websites?
  • hho in their right mind pays over R1M for any small website?
  • if the R140M is correct, then surely the websites must be massive – with thousands of pages, highly functional, and completely custom designed from the ground up.

Expensive Free State Website

The website causing the controversy is the official website of the Free State Provincial Government (Province is similar to a US State) www.freestateonline.fs.gov.za
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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 33,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Which ERP Solution

ERP Solutions for Small Business – Which One?

ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions are the next step up from a basic accounting package.

An ERP system integrates internal and external management information across an entire organization; finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales and service, customer relationship management, etc. ERP systems automate this activity with an integrated software application. The purpose of ERP is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization… (Wikipadia.org)

ERP Solutions are not for everyone. First of all they are much more complicated to set-up and get working, and a a lot harder to use somatimes too. They can also cost a lot of money. Most small business owners may be satisfied with a basic accounting system, e.g. Quickbooks or similar. But what about the business profesional starting his (or her) own small enterprise, but coming form a corproate or large business envirnment: Such person will be used to a fully integrated system to manage all aspects of the business from a central point, using a single software application.

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Hosting Change – Ten Times Faster

Website Loads 10 Times Faster After Hosting Change

One of my sub-sites loads 10 times faster after moving the domain to an offshore server. To be totally fair and put the improvement in perspective, the actual server is not that much faster; the big difference is route latency or lag.

graph showing 10 times faster page load speed

Before moving the average time it took Google-bot to load a page from this site was around 1100 ms. Now, a month later we can see the improvement – average time is about 100 ms..

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GNAX Hosting – Early Results

GNAX Hosting – So Far So Good

Last week I moved my domain graphicline.co.za to GNAX VPS hosting. I’ve watched Google page load times get shockingly poor the past four months. Nothing I’ve done on-site to improve performance has made any difference. I’d already tried several caching systems and offloaded some files to a CDN and other fast servers – with no improvement.

Eventually, after trying everything else, the only conclusion I could draw was the long path bottleneck between Google’s Mountain View servers and the data centre servers hosting my domain was the main culprit in the time it took for Big G to load pages.

Average page loads for 2 of the sites (WordPress) on the domain had gone from under 2.5 seconds in May to over 4 seconds in August and over 5 by September, while the main site (Drupal) was approaching 4 seconds from under 2 in May. Minimum page load speed had got to nearly 4 seconds for one site by September.

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Server Resource Overload

My Domain is too Busy – Server Overloaded

server resource overload iconI never though I would be saying this – at least not within 12 months of switching my site(s) to CMS. It’s only 12 months – nearly twelve months, since I installed Drupal for my main website, less since adding two WordPress sub-domain sites. Now my the shared server is having to push out more than 80 000 pages a month – or so the server stats show. And it’s causing problems!

It’s causing problems because my domain is exhausting available server resources. The most common resource exceeding limits is CPU – often hitting 100% utilisation. Memory is often going over the available share of 1GB – that’s right 1000MB – available for the domain. While maximum entry processes are averaging between 4 and 6, there have been several instances where the 20 limit was exceeded.

And I’ve been wondering why I’ve been battling to edit and publish content for the past 6 weeks.

server resources used by graphicline.co.za graphic chart

Server Resources Usage Chart for graphicline.co.za

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New Shop Front for Graphicline Shop

Break to Renew Shop Front Page

new shop front page iconThe new shop front page finally got started today, after being a low priority for several weeks. I decided to take a break from the tedious work of capturing products today to do something about the front page of the website, which was looking tacky after changing the layout width.

First off a new sliding banner got set up with 1080 pixel wide images, 100 px wider than the old slider. The banner is also lower in height by 80 pixels. The change of the catalogue from WPOnlineStore to CartPress resulted in an increase to the width of the site pages, and the old banner looked very untidy.

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