It was time to buy a new computer. My old no-name white box wasn’t able to keep up with all the demands of web development. I like to keep a number of programs open three browsers, a virtual box loaded with XP, email, ftp, and eclipse are the minimum. Also, there are Apache, ssh and mySQL servers running in the background. Not a particularly heavy load but it was starting to bog down my old system.
Archive for the ‘technical’ Category
I have been visiting the UK for the last few weeks. It was a bit of a “whirl wind” tour “5 cities in 14 days”. There was so much to see that 14 days per city wouldn’t have been enough.
Among the items waiting for me when I got back was a request to do a SEO audit on a website that had recently been updated. One of the problems was so common that I thought I would pass it on.
I first checked the robots.txt file. This is the file that tells the robots (search engines) which pages pages you want them to exclude from their index. Google, and the other major search engines, take the robots.txt as gospel and obeys all the entries. Getting the robots.txt wrong is the quickest way to get your site ignored by the search engines.
Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that many, dare I say most, people claiming to be web designers either don’t know about or forget to check the robots.txt. In this case the txt was blocking the search engines from a directory that no longer existed – not a problem. And, pointing to the sitemap.xml file.
The sitemap.xml, or sitemap, is a complete listing of all the pages that you want the search engines to index. And, while the search engines have a method of submitting sitemaps, they can also ‘discover’ the sitemap if it is listed in the robots.txt.
IMHO, all websites should have a sitemap, with ONE BIG PRIVISO – IT MUST BE KEPT UPTO DATE!.
One of the key pieces of information provided by the sitemap is the last time a page was modified. The search engines use this as a short cut. If the page hasn’t been modified since the last time they indexed the site – there is no reason to check that page for new content. It saves the search engines time, and reduces your bandwidth usage. But, this works only – ONLY if the sitemap is upto date.
Sadly, it hadn’t been updated since 2009.
Fortunately, the major search engines were ignoring the “last modified” tag and viewing the new pages. They new content apperared to be indexed as the new description meta tags were appearing in the SERP. However, this is sub-optimal.
A current sitemap is the best way to ensure all your pages are at least being indexed. Don’t forget to update it when you do your next site update or add new content.
I belong to a local business support group. At our last meeting the topic of iPhone apps came up. iPhone apps are getting to be like blogs – everyone thinks they need one, they just don’t know why. I mentioned that a webpage for mobile devices would be more appropriate.
After the meeting I was asked how they work – so here are the basics.
Google recently announced the release of their latest major update – code name ‘Caffeine’. Google has been working on the update for a number of months. The release is currently in a test stage. However, you can expect it to be rolled out across the Google network later this year.
A half of a second isn’t much time. Most of us would have a hard time thinking of something we do that only takes half a second. Certainly it is not enough to worry about!
The reason I wanted to look at the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) was the HP MIE operating system wouldn’t connect to my wireless router using any of the security settings. So, after a quick look at the new desktop it was time to try out the wireless connection.
I just got back from a short vacation and am getting back to normal – except normal around here is chaos just about every where else.
Of course, emails come whether you are on holidays or not. To deal with them I created a new Google gMail account and forwarded all my email there. gMail has an easy filter setup – so I was able to filter out all my standard emails, such as newsletters, and have only those from clients and the occasional SPAM left in the Inbox.
You maybe maybe wondering why I didn’t use my company’s webmail. I am paranoid!!
Like most of you, I use a laptop (in my case netbook) to connect through public ‘hot spots’. They have become so common that most of us take them for granted. However, they all have one major flaw – they aren’t secure.
While some webmail login pages are sort of secure – many are not. To check your webmail go to the login page and see if it says http or https in the location bar or look for the padlock icon at the bottom of the browser. Our webmail service uses https – but many don’t.
We have all come to believe that the lock icon and https means we have a secure connection. In most cases that is true. ISPs and other legitimate businesses handling Internet traffic go to great lengths to maintain the security of that connection. However, any time you go through a third party’s server you risk what is called a ‘man in the middle’ attack.
The easiest way to break any security encryption is to have an encrypted and plain text version of the same message. The more text, the easier it is to crack the code. In the case of your connection at "Joe Blog’s Coffee Shop" (the man in the middle) both the plain text version and encrypted versions of the login page are available to Joe’s server. Is the text on a login page enough to make it easy to crack the code? – Yes but it would take a while. But, like I said, I am paranoid!!
Why, is the gMail login more secure, after all it has more text? The text is not always the same – the little counter that indicates the amount of free space available makes the code harder to crack. Also, I deleted that account once I got back from my vacation.
BTW: Banks are the worst offenders for having plain text information on a https server. NEVER log into you bank from a public ‘hot spot’.
If you are like most people you start worrying about your backups after your system crashes. And, if you are like most business people today, the fastest way to shut down your business is to have your system crash.
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of backup tools available. Some backup over the Internet, some to a DVD and some to a second disk drive. They all have one serious flaw – they only work if you use them.
Any backup system is better than no backup system — but you have to use it. Create a system that works for you and USE IT!! You don’t need to by a lot of software. For most small businesses, the data and document files can be backed up onto a flash drive -do it every day. Information on restoring your system can be burned to a DVD – do it once a week. Then take the DVD and store it in your safety deposit box. Too many businesses have lost their data because the DVD with the backup information was burn in the same fire that destroyed their computer.
Finally, test your restoral procedure!!!
There are few word that can adequately describe the feeling of, after religiously backing up your data, finding that all your backups are corrupted. IT HAPPENS – don’t let it happen to you. Check that the data really has been transferred to your backup media.