Category Archives: REVIEWS

Occasional Product and Company Reviews:
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GNAX Hosting Review

How Good is GNAX Hosting

Let me start by saying my own sites are hosted on the GNAX (General Net Access) network. We’ve been using the GNAX backbone since October 2012. If I wasn’t completely satisfied with the service, I would have moved my sites long ago.

GNAX hosting also provides the international backbone for our fully managed hosting service.

GNAX is VPS or Higher

gnax hosting review thumbnail imageGNAX is not your regular hosting service provider. They don’t offer the shared hosting packages most of us use for our WordPress sites.

The lowest level hosting you can get with GNAX is your own VPS. If you are looking for el-cheapo shared hosting, GNAX hosting is not the place to look.

If you are wanting shared hosting, you need to look for a second or 3rd tier service provider. You cannot sign up for a shared hosting account directly with GNAX.

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Roubaix Ovh Systems

Roubaix Ovh Systems – Most Dangerous Host?

ovh systems france graphic

Is Roubaix Ovh Systems, a hosting and Internet Service Provider in France, one of the most dangerous ISPs and hosts in the world? We could be justified in thinking so. At least out of ISPs and hosting companies in the Western economic zone, outside of former Soviet Union states.

When you see a spambot active on your site, a hacking attempt, or a trackback spammer, there’s a pretty good chance it’s coming from an IP registered to Roubaix Ovh Systems, or another Ovh Systems IP.

Roubaix Ovh Systems Banned on Sight

We (Graphicline Web & Technology) have seen so much bad activity from IPs traced back to Roubaix Ovh Systems we now ban all their IPs as soon as I find them. Activity from all other OVH Systems networks are watched carefully

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13 Second Page Load Acceptable

New WordPress Site Loads in 13 Seconds

GoDaddy LogoI read a forum article the other day where a web site developer mentioned 13 seconds to load the front page for a new WordPress (self hosted) site was ‘acceptable’. The developer compared this to another build taking 18 seconds to load that he considered unacceptable.

Anyone who has installed a new, clean WordPress website will know the brand new front page has very little content to slow down a page load – all the time is used by the server reading from the database. I must question the knowledge of any website developer who finds thirteen seconds to load this clean install front page acceptable. Five seconds are pushing things already, less than two is acceptable!

If the server takes so long to read a database consisting of no more than a fresh WordPress installation, a single short page and a welcome post message, how long is it going to take to serve pages to visitors once there are 50 posts, 100 posts, 1000 posts?

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WP Online Store Plugin

WP Online Store Plugin Review

WP Online Store Plugin: The FREE WordPress e-commerce plugin integrating the osCommerce online store system with a WordPress website. WP Online Store is the WordPress integration of the Open Source osCommerce e-commerce platform.

WP Online Store PluginThe WP Online Store Plugin brings a full featured osCommerce site into a WordPress website framework. The plugin is not theme dependent like so many other WordPress e-commerce solutions. Some of the other solutions only work properly with themes specially designed for the plugin/system.  This feature allows a store owner to create a great looking website for their online store.

WP Online Store Site Optimisation

The excellent SEO aspect of WordPress allows for a very strong website. E-commerce website are notoriously hard to get rated by search engines. With Google so content driven, any site needs a lot of good content. Short product descriptions and so on are not Google friendly. Strong, original product features however can be content rich, exactly what Google looks for.

While highly detailed content may added to an osCommerce store, too much of this makes the shopping experience somewhat clumsy. In my opinion, a well written and optimised page describing a product, winked to the product in the store catalogue is an ideal, if work intensive, option. Product descriptions in the store catalogue can be concise and to the point, a brief overview of the main features and the most important specifications, with links to the description page for more detailed information.

WP Online Store for Large Catalogues

The WP Online Store Plugin integration of osCommerce is ideally suited to large product  catalogues. In the case of my store, a comprehensive range of computer products will be available aimed at Southern African buyers. The structure of the WP Online Store osCommerce solution permits products to be categorised by type e.g. motherboards, graphic cards and so on, placed in sub categories within these categories, as well as by manufacturer. Further Product Attributes (providing product options) can also be used, e.g. differentiating between different motherboard CPU sockets and chip-sets.

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Is WordPress Thesis Theme so Good

Thesis Great When Released

The Thesis theme for WordPress self hosted blogs has been very successful since being released in the previous decade. Online reviewers rave about Thesis. This author asks the question, “are these rave reviews justified?”

Thesis WordPress Theme in 2012When the theme was released it may have been a masterpiece of simplistic styling and compact code. When compared to many other WordPress themes of the time, it may have offered superior performance, and several well developed built in standard features.

Is this wonderful rating still justified in 2012. If we look at the way WordPress has developed since the mid to late 2000’s, becoming a fully fledged CMS system for web sites, instead of just an easy to use blogging platform, I think not!

In response to all these reviews, many of which date back to circa 2008, I published a new review today titled Thesis WordPress Framework Theme Debunked on my company website concentrating on the more technical aspects. This article continues with commentary and my personal opinions.

The main points discussed in the article are summarised next. Read the rest of this entry

A Blog Worth Mentioning

KL Makes Sense about “Optimisation”

This article caught my attention;  Content Optimization vs. Search Engine Optimization Well written, with an eye for human readability (I seem to remember reading somewhere this is exactly what Google is developing their algorithms to find).

KL’s logical approach makes sense with a balanced discussion of practical ways to establish web site authority.  “Content Optimisation” in my opinion is going to become the cornerstone of the industry in a post Panda 2.5 world. A good proofreader is of greater benefit to the website owner than a fortune spent on optimisation services

If Google is looking for well written content for human readers, this blogger has the formula. I glance through Readomatic regularly, seldom going any further unless something grabs my attention. This one did. There you have it, it caught my “mental algorithm’s” attention. Not an easy task either; some days my eyes grab snapshots of several hundred articles on diverse topics, only those that stand out get speed read,  only the good ones from those get studied. Not much difference between me and the Google search spider these days.

Not SEO Shark Trash

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8ta 3G Modem Issue Resolved

Recurring problem with 8ta 3G Modem

I have previously enthused over the 3G service package from 8ta Telkom South Africa, but mentioned one problem with the modem or software in my 1st month use review.

“the application has a tendency to ‘freeze’. It shows it is connected, but other apps, e.g. browsers and mail clients cannot connect to the net. A manual disconnection just leaves the modem reporting it is disconnecting, and cannot be closed without using Task Manager to force a close”

At the time of posting the article I mentioned I suspected it was something to do with my system, not the modem or the software.

“This may be a purely local issue with the PC in use”

Finally got round to sort out a few things for myself that have been left for ages.

Huawei Modem Instability  fixed

Huawei E1820 3G Modem
Huawei E1820 3G Modem

The Huawei E1820 Modem software app was uninstalled, and the modem moved to a rear panel USB port, instead of the front panel port it had been plugged into initially…

Additionally, the no longer used modem drivers and software (for the previous Voda service modem) were removed from the system.

End result – modem has been completely stable now for 8 days – more than 100 hours of connection time.

Possibly the older Voda software drivers were causing the problem, more likely the Huawei E1820 prefers the USB2 port it now inhabits (the front panel ports are USB1). Better still, it is now connected to a USB cable, whereas when using the front port, it would only work plugged directly in to the socket – suspect a power availability issue there

A local system problem only

The conclusion must be drawn that the 8ta 3G modem problem was purely a local machine problem and not anything wrong with the hardware or software. The service remains in my view the best value mobile connectivity option available in South Africa at present.

DMX Dreamweaver Extensions Verdict In

The verdict is in on DMX Zone Extensions

DMX ZoneIn a recent article I Dreamweaver Hangs at Start Up I described an intermittently recurring problem I was experiencing with Dreamweaver, suspecting the possibility that an extension(s) from DMX Zone had created the problem.

It may be early days, but since I uninstalled all the DMX Zone extensions, no more hangs when starting up Dreamweaver. All the entries in Windows registry were also removed.

After a few days of use, with no hangs, a new message popped up  – “you have not installed DMX updater.. to ensure you always get the latest… install updater….”

Admittedly I got side tracked during the process of removing the extensions, simply disabling them, but leaving the actual extension file in the folder, so apparently something was still active there. These have now been sent to the trash bin – no more message pop ups…

There must be a reference to the updater extension in the DW configuration file or more registry entries. If that message returns, then I will have a look into the config file and Windows registry again.

Fast DreamweaverAnd Dreamweaver now starts up much faster than before as well! from around 10 to 15 seconds (when it did not hang), to less than 2 seconds. No more constant message pop-ups informing of new extensions released, updates to installed extensions.

I did not set out to identify which extension was the culprit causing the hang on start-up, simply because I had no use for any of them. The updater and notifier were just a nuisance, and the CSS transform extensions of no use anyway.

The verdict. No more extensions from DMX Zone for me. The extension behaviour described is too much like Adware (a form of Malware). No more daily notifications of products and updates from DMX zone either. I did not cancel the account, just blocked all e-mail notifications as spam – no time to waste cancelling accounts. They can continue to send mail ad-infinitum to the black hole that receives junk mail from thousands of blocked senders.

No more annoying promotions of their ‘Advanced HTML Editor’ either. Once again I ask the question; what is a company claiming to specialise in Dreamweaver extensions doing promoting their own non Dreamweaver application? Surely a conflict of interest. It would make more sense to create a separate business division with its own web site to promote such an application. (and the apps own range of overpriced extensions).

8ta Review 1st month

30 Days with 8ta8ta still gets a yes

And no complaints

The service has been reliable, and fast enough to make the net a pleasure rather than an irritating wait while files download.

Downtime:

There were a few periods of network downtime, although mostly these were in the early hours of the morning, around 00h30, when most users will have been asleep, and on one occasion, several hours during business time, but this affected Vodacom service as well, so was likely a local service tower, or network issue common to several operators. (The past 60 days has seen more than its usual share of internet network issues, with several hosting service providers also experiencing un-scheduled downtime – software upgrades, security upgrades, virus attacks? I’ve been too busy with other things to do the research – perhaps someone knows!)

Speed is good:

(Remember this is more often than not limited by the connection speed of the serving machine, not the service connectivity speed). Downloads up to 10.2 Mbps and surprisingly, UPLOADS of up to 3.2 Mbps which was Speed trapping in Johannesburgtotally unexpected.

Comparing to the Vodacom 3G service I used for some 4 years: With Voda – Best download speed EVER; 3.2 Mbps but more regularly less than 2Gbps even from known FAST servers. Best upload speed in 4 years of use; 750kbps, more usually 250kbps (all numbers rounded off)

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Drupal CMS – First Overview

A first look at the installation and use of drupal CMS green logoDrupal CMS;

set up on our website as a development platform, and called The Zone, Although I am thinking about changing the title to Zone 7. (UPDATE: The development site is now our primary web site interface)

Version Installed: 7.4 Upgraded today to v7.7

(Also installed on a LAN Apache Server, along with V6 which will also be installed on a live site in the near future)

Status of Installation:

Live ‘in development’
Security update completed today
Restricted access due to a pending major configuration and feature update. (Completed)

Overview:

The following is a quick(ish) look at how I felt about the installation procedures and features of the CMS. Rated on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the least favourable, and 10 the most)

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