Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Jun 30

I’ve Moved!

Well, has moved to a new host. It wasn’t exactly seamless, but it wasn’t tragic after all. Hopefully, this means the end of lagging, downtime and poor customer service (you can read all about it on Reviews by Cole). I’m now with Namecheap (affiliate link FYI).

If anything looks wonky, please please please tell me. Leave a comment on this post. Email or submit the form here.  I appreciate your assistance.

You can now return to the regularly scheduled haphazard posting that this blog has become. LOL

Aug 29

Smush.It: My New Favorite Plugin

For this entire year, I’ve struggled with the fact that I am slowly running out of space on my host. I have a small plan — only 500 MB — but it’s cheap, and I haven’t had other problems (and I’m super lazy and don’t want to move). The limitations of my host mean that if I want to add more space or another domain, I’m tripling how much I pay for hosting. Now, I’m on a shared server, so I’m not paying the most, but who doesn’t want to keep their bills as low as possible?

I’ve been bouncing around the 400 meg mark for some time, even though I fixed a couple issues that were using excess disk space. I cleared out database trash, deleted a couple subdomains and empty my mailboxes on the server on a weekly basis. It just wasn’t cutting it, however. For some reason, I was up 30 megs in the last month or so for no reason.

In a last ditch effort, I did some Googling. I ran across SWP, a plugin for WordPress that squishes images by eliminating unnecessary bytes. The process took 30 minutes on Reviews by Cole but significantly less time here because I use fewer images. In the future, every image I upload will be “smushed” by this plugin. I anxiously waited to see how much file space this reduce.

After running WP on a single site, I dropped 30 megs in a day. I expect I’ll be well under 400 megs after my control panel updates data. Of course, this benefits my readers because those images take less time to load.

The technology behind WP is part of the Yahoo Developer Network, but the folks behind WPMU are now keeping the plugin alive and updated. I can’t wait to see what else they do with WP in the future.

Jul 15

In Which Cole Improves Her SEO

I’ve been taking some time to both make my site more visible on Google and improving the user– that’s you!–experience. First up, was a stop to webmaster tools. I decided to tackle all the 404s. A site that’s been as long as this one, that’s more than a decade, is bound to collect a few.. hundred. Okay, almost a thousand. Putzing around in the crawl errors revealed just how out of date Google’s index is. It knew of a whopping 11 pages. Until that point, I’d just been using my feed as a sitemap, but it obviously wasn’t doing the trick.

That led me on the search for a WP sitemap plugin, and I found one. It submitted just under 1700 pages to Google, which is a far cry from the 11 that Google knew of. It took Google about two days to index all those pages. My other sites, all of which have fewer pages, took less time. Immediately after the indexing finishing, Google began displaying sitelinks, which are the sub-pages that appear when you search for any specific website. Now, my sitelinks aren’t quite right. They include a bunch of subdomains that, to Google ,are part of the site, but aren’t to me.

My next step, then, was to go back to webmaster tools and demote specific sitelinks. According to Google, this doesn’t guarantee they’ll disappear, and this can take an unknown ammount of time. However, the search engine will take my demotions into consideration when determing which pages belong in the sitelinks.

Finally, I’ll be editing the meta data for my main sections. I’m not hoping so much as to raise their ranks but to help Google recognize the value of those pages and use them as sitelinks, because there’s no other way to add sitelinks. For this end, I’ll be making use of All in One SEO Pack, which I already had installed.

Wish me luck.

Jun 22

Oh hey, I was hacked

I checked my email yesterday to see a notice from my host about how one of my websites, Lyrical Musings, was acting as a phishing scam. It seems that someone gained access, changed a bit of code in my main theme and uploaded a couple dozen directories to use my website as part of their phishing activities. I hadn’t noticed, because I don’t often update it. In fact, WordPress came out with a pretty recent security update, and I was on the ball with my other three websites that use it, but totally forgot to update my writing blog.

Someone must have fallen for the phishing scam and then reported it to the actual website, who then took the time to contact my host and myself. My host immediately shut down the website, and I went to work, because I was at the computer right when I received the email. Although they didn’t touch my WordPress database, they’d uploaded a bunch of files, so I logged into FTP to delete those. I then manually updated WordPress and reinstated the website, so that I could update any plug-ins, all of which were up to date.

I was receiving an odd error, so I ran through all my WordPress files that I hadn’t updated to see if that was any inappropriate code, and I found a single line in the beginning of the index for my main theme. I deleted it, and everything is safe now. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve only personally been “hacked once” in over ten years, so I’m doing okay. The hack was also pretty weak. They accessed no passwords, and didn’t lock me out. I didn’t need to do a complete roll back; although, I could have.

There were a few lessons to be learned anyway:

  • Just because you don’t frequently update a website doesn’t mean it’s less of a target. In fact, that may very well be the reason it is a target.
  • This is why it’s so important to update all your scripts.
  • Scripts as popular as WordPress take security seriously, but can only do so much if you don’t update your stuff.
  • You may not necessarily notice that you’ve been hacked. It could take several weeks, if you don’t frequently check the website.
  • Every single anti-virus company has a tool to check websites for compromises (although, efficacy varies).


Have you ever been hacked?

Jun 07

Keeping up with the Cole

So I’m not super rich, bitchy or dumb–well, maybe bitchy–but you can keep up with me in a variety of ways, you know.

  • Grab my feed and stick it into your RSS reader, Google home page or feed app on your phone.
  • Subscribe to my blog on your Kindle. It’s just $.99!
  • Go mobile. Her Realm now uses an awesome mobile app that should autodetect your phone, tablet or other devices.

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