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Visual Aid: Why Responsive Mobile-First Design

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | June 2, 2015

Stephanie Walter makes the case for mobile-first web design with a visual metaphor of pouring water into different size containers.

Illustration by Stephanie Walter

Illustration by Stephanie Walter

She based her work on Brad Frost’s Responsive Strategy post. Like all great instructional illustration her graphic doesn’t explain everything (see Frost’s post for that.) Instead she communicates the idea… well… graphically in a way that makes you want to know more.

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GoDaddy Shared Hosting: Slower than a First-Generation Thumb Drive?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | May 3, 2015

Image via Tumblr user Optimistic Overanalyzer

Image via Tumblr user Optimistic Overanalyzer

I have a very tough time speaking ill of others but I’ve concluded that GoDaddy is no longer a good choice for WordPress website hosting.

Some time since the beginning of they year they began throttling their cPanel/Linux disk I/O down to one megabyte per second! This is very slow!  To a point that, as forensic computer scientist Dr. Neal Krawetz put it recently…

This is slower than a USB-1 thumbdrive! You know, the old USB drives where you copy a file and then go get some coffee? With USB-1, you get 12MB/s at full power and 1.5MB/s at low power.

This is with their “Deluxe” hosting. If you upgrade to their “Ultimate” package you get… 2MB/sec I/O!

I run weekly backups and updates on roughly 50 websites spread across a wide range of hosting companies.  14 of those sites are hosted at GoDaddy.  Beginning around February of this year backup plugins started timing out before completion. BackupBuddy, InfiniteWP, and other backup plugins I’ve tried all fail more often than they succeed. Consequently for those 14 GoDaddy clients (and, incidentally, *only* those clients) I’m reduced to logging and using cPanel home-directory backups!

Nor do I seem to be alone in this. Jeremy Trask at BackupBuddy said recently in a response to a trouble ticket I filed:

As I noted previously, we have particularly seen a recent spate of reports like your[s] with Customers on GD who suddenly started having problems and when we check the logs we can see that the disk write speed is very poor and their backup would never have worked before if that had always been the write speed – we know what type of constraints hosts apply and the effect they have and sudden changes of behaviour with nothing else changing always point to application of more aggressive constraints and this is almost invariably disk i/o based on the log characteristic and the fact that this is easy for them to apply when they have the right technology in place.

So really we know pretty much exactly what is happening (whether or not a host wants to own up to it) and in fact we have been observing this sort of degradation in hosting for a while and that is why we are introducing additional options for Customers that are experiencing these type of problems. So from your logs we can certainly help you and it helps us validate our new options.

This is particularly embarrassing for me because I actually like GoDaddy’s ease of use, their low prices, and their exceptionally responsive tech support team.   Even more embarrassing as until recently I cheerfully recommended them to my clients!

But!

If they can’t serve files any faster than an 18-year-old thumb drive (and their tech support mention this throttling is a head-office decision they have no control over) then no amount of pretty interface, ease of use, low price, and fast support can make up for it.

 

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Message Control On Platforms You Don’t Own

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | May 3, 2015

Yesterday on my Facebook page I unfavorably compared GoDaddy’s “Deluxe” hosting speed to a 1996 USB thumb drive.

Today on my Facebook page?  Well, I did mention GoDaddy so Facebook helpfully decided I might be interested in…

Facebook posted a GoDaddy ad on my page one day after I harshly criticized GoDaddy!

The ad Facebook ran on my page after I harshly criticized GoDaddy a day earlier!

Thanks but no thanks!

There’s nothing wrong, by the way, in posting on Facebook. Not at all!  And it’s really not that big a deal.

But!

When you post on other people’s platforms you really have no control over what else they might choose to post there too.

Good reminder, though, that the only place you really control your message is on your own website.

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Very Large Companies that Use WordPress Now Include…

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | May 3, 2015

The string of large companies adopting WordPress continues to grow.  From a post by Matthew Mullenweg, one of the original WordPress developers:

WordPress is also trusted to run sites for some of the largest and most security-conscious organizations in the world, including Facebook, SAP, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, eBay, McAfee, Sophos, GNOME, Mozilla, MIT, Reuters, CNN, Google Ventures, NASA, and literally hundreds more.

Source: A Bank Website on WordPress

There’s also, oh, say, small local enterprises like the University of WashingtonWashington State University, and Gonzaga University.

WordPress is just a great, safe, effective, and most importantly credible solution for the most important place to have a presence on the internet: your place!

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Google Tips from the SEO Wizards at Yoast

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | April 30, 2015

Google graphic via Yoast.com

Here’s a little information about how search engines like Google index and rank web pages.  It’s taken from the ebook Optimize your WordPress Site by the SEO wizards at Yoast.com.

Links
Search engines like Google follow links. It follows links from one web page to another web page. A search engine like Google consists of a crawler, an index and an algorithm. A crawler follows the links on the web. It goes around the internet 24/7 and saves the HTML-version of a page in a gigantic database, called the index.

 

This index is updated if Google has come around your website and found a new or revised version of it. Depending on the traffic on your site and the amount of changes you make on your website, Google comes around more or less often. For Google to know of the existence of your website, there first has to be a link from another site to your site. Following that link will lead to the first crawler-session and the first save in the index.

Google’s secret algorithm
After indexing your website, Google can show your website in the search results.
Google has a specific algorithm that decides which pages are shown in which order. How this algorithm works is a secret. Nobody knows exactly which factors decide the ordering of the search results. Moreover, factors and their importance change very often. Testing and experimenting gives us a relatively good feel for the important factors and the changes in these factors.

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Short answer: Our Standard Bells and Whistles

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | March 12, 2015

On Mar 12, 2015, at 9:32 AM, a potential client wrote:

What are your “standard behind-the-scenes bells and whistles?”

Security best practices; premium backup, security, caching software; other open-source and premium software (where needed) such as sliders, forms, and themes, all configured to optimize performance, security, long-term stability, and ease of use.

David Innes, owner
Real Basics, LLC
(206) 390-8082

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Use these 25 passwords to make sure you get hacked… oh wait!

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | January 20, 2015

Cool post from VOX.com on the runaway most-popular passwords… and therefore the ones hackers try first.

[twocol_one]

  • 123456
  • password
  • 12345
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • 1234567890
  • 1234
  • baseball
  • dragon
  • football
  • 1234567
  • monkey
  • letmein

[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]

  • abc123
  • 111111
  • mustang
  • access
  • shadow
  • master
  • michael
  • superman
  • 696969
  • 123123
  • batman
  • trustno1

[/twocol_one_last]

So about the title of this post: yeah, don’t choose any of these.  Also, pro-tip: computers are fast and sorted lists of the thousand most popular passwords are easily obtained so when possible pick a good one that’s easy to remember but hard for computers to guess (four or more random words in one or more languages is good, for example (though just an example, “elbow Lucerne brown elegante” works well.)

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Cool post: 11 Simple Tips to Boost Your Website’s Security

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | January 15, 2015

From Shaun Quarton at Torque Magazine

  • Backup your site
  • Keep everything updated (WordPress plus themes and plugins — even the ones that aren’t in use.)
  • Hide your WordPress version
  • Choose secure passwords
  • Use secure usernames too (do not use “Admin”)
  • Move you login page
  • Hide your username (your login name)
  • Limit login attempts
  • Use a secure host
  • Disable the theme and plugin editors
  • Add and configure one or more security plugins

These are all great tips.  Go check out Shaun’s post.  I’m always happy to answer questions as well.

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Over a billion websites: mostly parked, old, vulnerable!

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 16, 2014

Statistics site Internet Live Stats reports there are currently 1,060,822,043 websites in the world!  Even if you read this only minutes after I post there will already be thousands more!  Just follow that link and watch the counter fly!

ILS also reports, however, that

It must be noted that around 75% of websites today are not active, but parked domains or similar.

Ouch!

We’ll just add that of the remaining 250,000,000 sites an extraordinary number are live, yes, but also old, obsolete, broken, and vulnerable! Small wonder then that as operating systems become more robust hackers and spammers are breaking into and hijacking websites.

Ouch again!

Our advice?  Make sure your website software is up to date, backed up, protected with security checks and plugins, and of course regularly updated!  Either do it yourself or if you don’t have time or resources find someone able to do it for you.

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What Would You Do If Your Site Completely Disappeared?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 25, 2014

Recent database server-failure messages.

Recent database server-failure messages.

Nobody wants to see messages like these when they visit their website.  Or their hosting company.  Or their website control panel.

And the good news?  Usually you don’t!

It’s even better news if you have regular, recent backups stored somewhere besides your hosting company’s servers.

That way, if bad comes to worse and your hosting company has gone dark or, nearly as bad, has an extended, intractable data center equipment failure, you’ll at least be in a position to temporarily (or permanently) relocate your website to another server, on another account, or even with another host altogether.

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