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Website Hacking — Strong case for Shared Managed Hosting

WordPress self-hosted websites can be very sophisticated. So therefore also are the range of hacker vulnerabilities.

How do you secure your site? Have you been hacked, need help?

hackerThis is normal. Because under-managed websites are normal. It used to be that you put up a page and things were “static.” Not so nowadays.  Any Web Presence needs persistent care and feeding.  Most especially where Security is concerned.  New exploits emerge almost daily. Keeping up with patches and upgrades? Critical.

There are no technical suggestions here. Just ones for managers who wear all the hats at once. (As does Yours Truly.)

We’re devoted to demystifying this stuff for the small, independent operator. We don’t actually think you should afford people with IT certifications on the payroll.

So, one best practice (and certainly a minimum for anyone who isn’t a developer or doesn’t have the vast quantities of spare time to invest learning — and then keeping up with — the ever changing security ecology of websites) — is to contract for your coverage.

A great free tool to catch almost anything — as a surety against gaps in your perimeter defenses — is to add your site to Google Webmaster tools.

At the end of the day, by moving to a shared hosting scenario, you’ll deliver better results not only in the security spectrum but performance. Shared hosting is inevitably a cloud of servers and these automatically scale to accommodate loads.

Get faster, get shared. Get secure, get managed.

If you don’t require customizations that can’t be delivered with a site on WordPress.com, don’t let anyone talk you into Self-Hosted.

The driver is: What am I doing that I can’t accomplish except by going self-hosted. Can I dump that? (Critical decision making flowchart involving this issue and the one of choosing consultants at that Link. Enjoy.)

And if you can’t dump that unique widget, think (very seriously) about outsourcing that function to a third party.

Radio Shack TRS-80Call or email me with questions.

Or, dump the new science and go back to smoke signals, sneaker net and snail mail.

By the way, we just recently used a resource (not listed above) to salvage a hacked site. He deserves mention.

Andrew at http://FixWordpressSite.com

His specialty is responsiveness … but be patient, he bounces from issue to issue helping others simultaneously. If your site was hacked you’re not alone and you’ll appreciate Andrew.

Mobilegeddon? A non-event or big thing?

We’re curious … it’s 10 days since Google adjusted it’s search results algorithms to favor “mobile compatible” sites over legacy architecture.

Has Mobilegeddon affected your traffic?  Take the poll, help us understand what’s happening…

Moleskein and Mt Blank Pen

Content Intelligence — Does Search “Grade our Work”?

In a word? “Yes.”

But more importantly so do your web site visitors.

Much of the interaction with clients migrating from legacy web sites revolves around building a new vocabulary. New sites require new processes and these are not described with the web language of the previous decade.

Further, deploying a new Web Presence inevitably involves reshaping the message. Most often to sharpen it’s focus. Why? To render an effective page on mobile appliances to start. But there’s more.

A paper published online discussing these issues for Grad Students at Washington State asks:

“How can I decide what to include and what to exclude?”

“In all of these steps, it is important to have a clear sense of your audience: what are their interests? what do they know already? what do they consider appropriate evidence? Based on your title, what are they expecting?”

By default the “Forklift” site migration process means just what it sounds like — “shoveling” content from the old site to the new one.  Yet this can be detrimental to how Search agents view the new pages.

Here’s why:  A site that is 5 years old or more, probably contains way too much prose.  And, there is a chance that the text it contains is less well written, at least from a “freshness” perspective.  For lack of a better description, it’s “Grade Level” isn’t competitive with new sites in the market for a reader’s attention.

Given a site that reads like it was written by a High School student and one that seems if it was written by an MBA — Search will more positively rank the MBA’s work.

Why?  Because in the age of “Symantec Search” — correctly and effectively answering questions is the game.  It’s being won by well-designed and well-written Pages. (For heavens sake don’t use these pages as examples.  Calculus makes sense to me.  English has always been more like Black Magic.)

An online search of testing tools — ones where you can insert a paragraph of text and have it analyzed — yields just a few results.  Here is my favorite:

Text Scoring Tool. http://sarahktyler.com/code/sample.php

Give it a whirl.  And send Sarah an email to say thanks.

Or hire a quality Editor.  Most of us don’t enjoy that kind of budget do we?

So when your Boss says “Just put it in there the way I wrote it” – you can run it through Sarah’s tool. Go back to them armed with some concrete suggestions on how to improve that lump of 10th grade (bleep) before site visitors laugh at your page.


Previously Unpublished Isaac Asimov Essay “On Creativity”

Celebrated novelist and thinker, Isaac Assimov is note worthy because his witness of the technological and information sciences evolution was fodder for his sometime prophetic literature.

Celebrated novelist and thinker, Isaac Asimov is note worthy because his witness of the technological and information sciences evolution was fodder for his sometime prophetic literature.

With great interest I recently read in Technology Review online:  About one of Isaac Asimov’s intersections with ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the late 1950’s

An MIT research group was asked to “Think outside the box.” Asimov was recruited to assist the process.  The essay he left in his wake is remarkably fresh, especially now.

“It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts.” Isaac Asimov. 1959

His coinage of the word “Cerbration” was a bit of an eye-opener.  A willingness to invest with diligent determination in the creative process will benefit the inventor, insists Asimov. The essay is full of very practical advice and pragmatic observation. His keen eye into these matters applies as much now as it did then.

Jo-Hari Diagram helps to focus thinking into useful areas.  Planning should include treatment even of the unknown-unknowns.

Jo-Hari Diagram helps to focus thinking into useful areas. Planning should include treatment even of the unknown-unknowns.

Another way this has been discussed is within the context of a Jo-Hari diagram… Wherein one examines knowns and unknowns — and spends time in the abstract space of unknown-unknowns.  Unk-unks, as we call them.

Anyway our version of it includes a word in each quadrant that we use to “shape” the conversation. Enjoy our “Back of the Napkin” visual…

What is it about your Web Presence that you’d like to more deeply understand?  Where is your business going with it’s on-line effort in the digital revolution?

InterWestIT’s specialty is to hash out the facts and fact-combinations, the theory and peripheral thinking relative to your tech. Take advantage of a free hour with us a “High-tech reality check.”

Anyway, that’s a favorite photo of a favorite author.  Catch the resemblance?  LOL.


Why operate an Anchor Website in your Web Presence?

Two issues: Vision and workflow.


Publishing Workflows are typical across all kinds of “Content Management Systems.” If your process doesn’t at least have “steps” that replicate some of these areas of interest, you should ask for help. Grow into mature online practices by finding a tutor. It’s not that difficult.

Until an Operator begins to recognize the greater ability of an Anchor Website site to support, aggregate and consistently “Brand” content of all kinds, they won’t use it. The default is to just dump stuff to Facebook.

The impact of working from an “Anchor” site is an orientation to focusing attention — Specifically that the site isn’t full of all of the extraneous, distracting baloney that Facebook foists on viewers.

An Anchor Website site becomes the source for all of the Social Media “Channels.” So, which of those receive automated notifications from the site with pictures and links back to the site – depend on the kind of post one is “producing.” SM is used to drive visits back to the web pages you control. Collecting followers there permits all sorts of direct marketing opportunities — even via email.

There are specific occasions where one would prefer Twitter for certain things… and even less so, Facebook. Increasingly however, these are less SM channels (focused on engagement) for NPO/NGO and businesses — but more like simple media outlets. There is some capacity for “engagement” but a website is much more powerful.

Rules of thumb: Estimating the maturity of an Operation.

First: Until distinctions exist within a content vision — News, Press Releases, Member announcements, Documentation, Events, Updates, etc. — That each of these is a format and type of it’s own, in which one strategically overlays images, sound and video…  Until an Operation reorients toward “Producing and Publishing” content, there won’t be any drivers for controlling distribution.  If you don’t mind that you plaster FB with all of your stuff, don’t bother reading further.

So: If for now FB serves as a repository for unorganized and often unrelated or even conflicting information (like when one posts a time and a place — only to repost that it’s changed) and you don’t care.  You needn’t fuss with anchoring your Web Presence with a Web Site.

Any “mature” operator today, realizes they doesn’t actually “control” what happens at FB. How people see Branded info, and where it’s placed into user feeds is dictated by FB. FB (In particular) kind of places a FB Wrapper on everything.

Second: And this is killer/chiller – is that content listed on FB isn’t even close to being optimized for search. In fact, you can’t view the details unless you’re a subscriber. I’m often stunned that operators don’t intuitively Hate FB. Engineers and Content Producers almost universally dislike FB/SM because any effort there doesn’t result in much cross-channel availability of the content.

Time one spends posting to FB results in content that lives inside the perimeter of FB – with only certain caveats of “public” visibility. In any case: Search Engines really don’t optimize results for FB content.  Search Engines prefer a devoted, focused page – something that correlates interest-wise very highly with the query they are solving for.

Whereas: Content that I invest my scarce resources into that I produce on my Site — lives on the INTERNET. And oh by the way, it can be set to post to SM without additional effort by me.

An Anchor Website is a powerful tool.  But be wary — if your expectation is that “if you build it they will come” — you’ll be disappointed.  Any community requires active participation.  We are in the dawning years of Web 3.0 … and “living” websites associated with SM Channels are powerful tools in Business.

Back of the napkin proof: Why Engineers will always earn less than Managers.

Back of the napkin "proof" of why Engineers will always earn less than managers

Back of the napkin “proof” of why Engineers will always earn less than managers

Finally, mathematical proof that highly trained Engineers with knowledge across many disciplinary boundaries — will always earn less than management.

Understanding the proof requires a “pre-calculus’ understanding of basic math. This of course implies that managers, no matter how hard they try can ever actually understand what we’re saying.

And we Engineers, being a fraternity of the under-appreciated, will never, ever tell them. Why? Well, simply because we really actually love what we do. And we’d do it even if they weren’t paying us.  (Shhh!!)

Free internet research tool online — big data.

Filtering for US and for appliances I was surprised to snag this current stat: 85% of use internet user have a smartphone and use it online. Is your website mobile ready?!!

Filtering for US and for appliances I was surprised to snag this current stat: 85% of use internet users have a smartphone and use it online.

Is your website mobile ready?!!

Thanks Google.


Make your own charts, test your theories.  Because this is Google, the presumption is the enormous database and statistics behind the results assure a level of interest that isn’t available elsewhere.

No, seriously.  Thanks Google.

Astounding. Share your surprises here.