Tag Archive: sabre

Akismet and Jetpack Issues, Stop Spammers and CloudFlare Save the Day

My Web Host Penalised Me Yet Helped Speed Up My Site

Introduction

shared web hosting

shared web hosting

This site used to be hosted on Site5, in Texas.  I had a shared web host account, about the cheapest there is on Site5 though by no means the cheapest around (I’ve had experience of really cheap hosts….).  It worked alright, site management was good.  Then, I got hit by spammers.  Twice.  Big time.

Each time, this slowed the site down, made life hell for other shared accounts, especially when I introduced WordPress plugins to counter this.

Naturally, Site5 advised me to stop the hits or they’d pull my account (they’d already temporarily disabled it).  They advised me to cut the plugins, using GoDaddy’s plugin testing tool, WordPress Plugin Performance Profiler (P3).  So I did this, and after some trial and error, got the running processes down.  Of course, I lost a bit of neat functionality.

Testing Times

Apart from internal WordPress testing, it pays to test your site as if you are someone else somewhere else.  Pingdom have a set of tools that does just this, testing from various global locations and I can recommend it.

Result!

I used an iterative approach, testing various combinations of plugins and systems to end up as being in the top 8% sites for speed in the world!  Not bad for free is all I can say!   You’ll see in the screenshot above, that 92% of websites are slower than mine….   So is it really free?  Here goes…..

Paid For:
  • Web Hosting.  Shared.
  • My domain registration.
Free:
  • WordPress and all the LAMP functionality
  • WordPress plugins
  • CloudFlare
Pingdom Says

Pingdom Says

Automattic Issues

WordPress (which this site uses) is built by the Automattic team and naturally have expanded over time.  I’ve used their plugins for many years, Akismet from the off, which is a comment spam blocking system.  Latterly, they came out with Jetpack, where they say,

Supercharge your WordPress site with powerful features previously only available to WordPress.com users.

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com.

P3 Selected Output

P3 Selected Output

This is all well and good, except when I tested it using the P3 plugin profiler, Jetpack was the biggest drag on everything!   The worst part of it, was that actually, I was only using a small part of its features and it was still the biggest suck on performance.

  • I didn’t use Carousel for photos since I had an old solution, NextGen Gallery, that I’m loathe to change.
  • The comments system mucked up all other comment plugins, grabbing all for itself (a bit like Microsoft here!)
  • I used the stats, and that was about all, yet they were very slow and not that informative, actually.
  • Nearly all the other stuff I looked at, tried and ditched for similar reasons.

So much for the awesome cloud power.  On top of this, you’re now supposed to pay for parts of Automattic’s offerings, like Akismet, the comment spam blocker while a major offering of theirs was actually slowing my site right up!

What Did I do?

Change host!

Well not initially, actually, though the heavy-handed Site5 approach got my ire a bit I must admit.  I did do loads of tests with a host of caching, anti-spam and page load improvement plugins first…

Vidahost

Vidahost

I now use Vidahost in the UK.  The site is faster to manage (along with my others) since the servers are in the UK with me, and it’s cheaper, providing almost the same functionality and tools as Site 5.  I took the opportunity to clean out a few dead files in the process, but essentially, all was moved, database and files.  The lot.  Just twiddled config.php and the .htaccess file a bit.

did worry that my American visitors, who are actually in the majority, would  suffer slower speed and thus I’d get hit in Google rankings, but hey, wait for later…!

I got it all working and as part of the whole “thinking” process since the very first warnings from Site 5, I’d been looking for better things.

Looking at Things Closely

  • I like Related Posts.   Related Posts plugins do just that.  I love the idea of pulling out meta-data relevant stuff from a website.  Site 5 had said, as have others on the web, that this sort of plugin makes big hits on a site.  Some of them really do!  I use  YARPP, with a limited subset of features enabled which cuts down processing.
  • I also like Andrew Ozz’s Shutter Reloaded which shows images nicely.   I also like his post editor, TinyMCE Advanced, it being the best of many I’ve tested over the years.
  • I like NextGEN Gallery having used it since before WordPress got all image fancy.  I haven’t got time to fiddle with thousands of photos now…
  • I’d like some statistics within WordPress.
  • I’m not that interested, any-more (though I was) in Social Networking sharing features.  Truth be told, if someone wants to share, they will.
  • I’ve read a lot on image improvements.  I’ve always shrunk images manually before uploading using the excellent IrfanView application.  But during this enforced research, other things like sprites and delayed image loading popped into the equation.

So I like certain plugins or functionality.  I try and use the one that works best for me.  Too many plugins make a big hit on the server and thus website loading.

Caching

A way round this is caching.  e.g. If a post is created and has related posts clagged on the bottom using YARPP, then the post is cached and YARRP is only running once.  How and where the caching is done is the crux of the issue…

Site 5 suggested W3 Total Cache as a better alternative to Wp Super Cache,  which I’ve used for years.    Naturally, I’ve tested this and my conclusion was that it could be fast, and it was fast for a while, but over time on each of my sites I got issues around lock-ups and the huge and complex caching system around files, databases and sprites.  This list is long.

I’ve also tested various database query caching plugins likewise over the years.  W3 Total Cache incorporates this method too, but ultimately, it made too much work for not a lot of difference IMHO, since I’m lazy.

However, it did point me to one thing!  CloudFlare.

CloudFlare

CloudFlare Admin1

CloudFlare Admin1

Ah.  The power of the cloud is back!

Not only that – it works!

CloudFlare Admin2

CloudFlare Admin2

You re-direct your DNS at your domain registrar (joker.com in my case) to CloudFlare’s DNS servers, set up the site malware protection level you want – then after a few hours your whole site is cached and protected.  Best of all, it’s free for a little site like this!

In fact, using CloudFlare speeded everything up even before I got caching going again…

Further Plugin Work

Now, I went back to Wp Super Cache from Doncha and it all works fine.  Site speed good.  I then ditched Jetpack after testing it again.  It really does interfere with all comment plugins, and I really like this comment one as do people who comment here:

  • U Extended Comment

It works great and does everything I want.  So Jetpack, it’s bye bye.  Take all your fancy commenting system, your stats, your social media and fancy image handling.

But What About Comment Spam?

Stop Spammer Results2

Stop Spammer Results2

Stop Spammer Results1

Stop Spammer Results1

I’ve found the best solution is a plugin called Stop Spammer Registrations Plugin.  It needed a bit of fine tuning and a re-activation of Akismet to whip out a few wisps of spammer, but it works and seems to trap and report more spammers than ever Akismet did alone.  Akismet, by itself, does the commenting bit in tandem with the plugin, rather well.

Registration Spam

SABRE Results

SABRE Results

Unfortunately, during testing, a few unwanted visitors managed to register on the website.  They can’t do real harm since I use the lowest role level at registration time.  So I re-enabled SABRE and since then, no more unwanted visitors.  I’ve tested SABRE as a visitor and the settings I’ve chosen are just about right – I’ve had issues with it previously when it blocked registration!  But reducing the feature set and re-uploading a clean plugin fixes that.

CloudFlare and the CDN Issue

I toyed around getting a CDN to host images.  But they (can) cost and anyway, I’ve gone off Amazon and others because of their anti-Wikileaks actions plus they don’t pay UK tax…

Delayed Image Loading

However, in the course of my reading, I found that images can be loaded just as the page comes into view, which speeds up page loading, and as a consequence the perceived nippiness of a site.  The plugin BJ Lazy Load does this for me and works brilliantly.  Check this last post about Australia which has a lot of medium sized images to see them pop into view!

Delayed Javascript Loading

I use two plugins that handle this end of the issue around JavaScript.

Statistics

WP SlimStat1

WP SlimStat1

Well, Jetpack is gone.  I won’t be using it unless some serious improvements are made, it being the prime reason for the server load that brought me to this position in  the first place.  As soon as I disabled it (and simultaneously blocked all comments to the site, which isn’t the best thing, this being a blog after all), all server loads went away.

I now use SlimStat and it works very well.  I’ve tried many over time, including Google’s analysis tools, my webhost’s stats tools, Wassup and more, but for now, this is it.

Conclusion

My site works pretty fast and is pretty protected from the bad guys.  I actually still use more plugins than what is usually recommended – 50 is a huge lot according to web gurus and sages.  Currently there are 31 in active operation with 8 inactivated.  I love trying new ones, it’s like that, that’s just the way it is.

The delayed image loading is particularly apparent on a post with a lot of images, say this recent one.  The post loads fast and you see the first images load, and as you scroll down you’ll see other images appear with a slight delay.

All the other stuff is incremental improvement, with the biggest, by far, being the free CloudFlare service which I cannot recommend highly enough.  It’s a no-brainer, go and do it?

My Full List?

These are the plugins currently running that help my site work.  Many are for security, which demonstrates the state of play versus the bad internet guys full well.

Related Posts:

Assange Given Ecuadorian Asylum

Assange Given Ecuadorian Asylum – but what next?

Ecuador Assange Statement

Ecuador Assange Statement

This is the full text released by Ecuador for their reasons for Assange’s successful application.  See original text at the end.

But What is to Happen Now?

For now, Assange will have to stay in the Embassy.  Ecuador has asked for assurances about his safe passage, but as it stands, Hague and Cameron look the foolish chumps for what they are and won’t back down.

My guesses, are:

  1. That Assange will have a “mysterious” accident or similar and the nasty people in the world will breathe a sigh of relief – the embassy is no doubt bugged and all communications in and out religiously monitored.  His undetected escape looks unlikely.   Food, drink or water could be tampered with; holes could be drilled, hypodermics, germs or gas through the walls – who knows?   Like a Sherlock Holmes/locked room mystery,  try the poisoned ice dart through the keyhole?   See http://wramsite.com/forum/topics/breitbart-murder-by-heart-attack-the-cost-of-exposing-our-corrupt  and http://youtu.be/tzIw44w00ow CIA Whistleblower talks about Heart Attack gun
  2. Assange will have to wait for a change in UK government.  Even so,
    • should he get a plane to Ecuador it can be shot down (remember the start of the Rwandan genocide?).
    • Should he get a boat, it can “disappear” in a storm…
    • Should he arrive safely he can be either murdered in secret or by a public presidential decree – remember Trotsky in Mexico, Allende in Chile, Che Guevara in Bolivia, Bin Laden in Pakistan, Rudolf Diesel on the English Channel?
  3. At  low level of current probability, those in charge of the USA and UK must fundamentally change their attitude towards freedom of information and accountability in public office.
    • The emails etc. which are at the real centre of Assange’s troubles show elected and non-elected officials behaving with scant regard to either their own laws, international laws or natural law.
    • It is for them to recognise this which will allow Assange back into normal society and thus face the law courts in Sweden.
    • As I said, a very, very low probability in the current climate since those in power, those in the emails, those on the tapes, those on the videos (like the machine gunning of innocent civilians), all of those need to recognise their culpability at worse, or at least that they’ve been shown to have acted like idiots and now have egg on their face.

Reminder:  The Initial Swedish Set-up

Forgetting the secret US indictment from over a year ago revealed in the Stratfor secrecy emails,  Sweden issued an arrest warrant, then dropped it, then “sort-of” reopened the investigation before barring Assange from Sweden?  I know.  You work it out.  It’s all detailed succinctly in this Telegraph page from June 2012.

Bizarrely though, this Foxnews rant/explanation from Glenn Beck (both not noted for their liberal stance…!) is even better at describing the events for which Assange was arrest warranted with in Sweden.  Pay close attention and you’ll see how what we are now being fed by Hague and the Obama administration is seriously at odds with this very precise investigation and summary made soon after the events in question…  http://youtu.be/npBvNJl6X9w

Ecuador’s Key Points

An English translation of the eleven key points, derived from The Dissenter, is here:

  1. Julian Assange is an award-winning communications professional internationally for his struggle for freedom of expression, press freedom and human rights in general;
  2. That Mr. Assange shared with the global audience was privileged documentary information generated by various sources, and affected employees, countries and organizations;
  3. That there is strong evidence of retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that may endanger their safety, integrity, and even his life;
  4. That, despite diplomatic efforts by Ecuador, countries which have required adequate safeguards to protect the safety and life of Mr. Assange, have refused to facilitate them;
  5. That is certain Ecuadorian authorities that it is possible the extradition of Mr. Assange to a third country outside the European Union without proper guarantees for their safety and personal integrity;
  6. That legal evidence clearly shows that, given an extradition to the United States of America, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, could be tried by special courts or military, and it is unlikely that is applied to cruel and degrading , and was sentenced to life imprisonment or capital punishment, which would not respect their human rights;
  7. That while Mr. Assange must answer for the investigation in Sweden, Ecuador is aware that the Swedish prosecutor has had a contradictory attitude that prevented Mr. Assange the full exercise of the legitimate right of defence;
  8. Ecuador is convinced that they have undermined the procedural rights of Mr. Assange during the investigation;
  9. Ecuador has found that Mr. Assange is without protection and assistance to be received from the State which is a citizen;
  10. That, following several public statements and diplomatic communications by officials from Britain, Sweden and USA, it is inferred that these governments would not respect the conventions and treaties, and give priority to domestic law school hierarchy, in violation of rules express universal application and,
  11. That, if Mr. Assange is reduced to custody in Sweden (as is customary in this country), would start a chain of events that would prevent the further protective measures taken to avoid possible extradition to a third country.

What’s clear is that Ecuador is actually in a win-win situation here.

  • LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22:  A protester wearin...

    LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 22: outside the Ecuadorian embassy.(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

    They recognised the sabre rattling of William Hague and David Cameron for what it is – that the UK cannot pick and choose which international treaties to abide by without acquiring the severest opprobrium of its own people and parliament.

    •  Of course, there’s the “sticks and stones” argument which the government may ignore by barging in, armed to the teeth, anyway, but also the long-lasting risks to the whole British diplomatic force who will be placed in the severest of danger.  This latter they cannot ignore.
    • The memory of the US embassy in Iran lies still, as does the death of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy.
    • How can the UK pontificate on others when behaving worse than a bull in a china shop?
  • Ecuador has its own internal problems and this crisis will strengthen the hand of its President Correa, but also its standing in the eyes of all the little countries of the world, especially those in South America, historically in the thrall of US might.
  • They point out that Assange is only wanted for questioning in Sweden and that Sweden has refused to question Assange on Ecuadorian “land”, the embassy.
  • They point out the red herring issue of Sweden in its entirety, in that several public and private threats have been made or allured to against Assange by the governments of Sweden, USA, UK and that his own country hasn’t offered any protection (of course, we all know that the Aussie government is following the UK & USA like sheep).
  • So Assange is in dire and immediate threat of kidnap, torture, summary trial by a military court, execution or imprisonment in inhumane conditions.  We all know the USA is guilty of this having been caught red handed several times as has the UK in its collusion.
  • So the UK & USA are not havens of justice, guardians of the rights of Man, protectors from dictatorships nor international peacemakers.
    • Their actions from Vietnam through to Chile, from Egypt through to Bahrain, from corrupt banking to multinational deforestation programs, from Stratfor and the secret surveillance society to drone bombings of civilians shows them to be pariah states on the same footing as Zimbabwe or North Korea, say.
    • Ecuador has rightly recognised all of this, and more.

As part of their statement, they stood on the following points  (derived from Google translate!):

a) The asylum, in all its forms, is a fundamental human right which creates obligations erga omnes, that is, “for all” states.

b) The diplomatic asylum, shelter (or territorial asylum), and the right not to be extradited, expelled, delivered or transferred, human rights are comparable, since they are based on the same principles of human protection: no return and no discrimination without any adverse distinction based on race, colour, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, or any other similar criteria.

c) All these forms of protection are governed by the principles pro person (i.e., more favourable to the individual), equality, universality, indivisibility, interrelatedness and interdependence.

d) The protection occurs when the state of asylum, refugee or required, or the protecting power, consider the risk or the fear that the protected person may be a victim of political persecution or political offences against him.

e) The State granting asylum seekers qualify causes, and in case of extradition, assess evidence.

f) No matter which of its forms or forms are present, the seeker is always the same cause and the same legal order, ie, political persecution, which causes it lawful, and safeguard the life, personal safety and freedom of protected person, which is the lawful purpose.

g) The right to asylum is a fundamental human right, therefore, belongs to jus cogens, ie the system of mandatory rules of law recognized by the international community as a whole, do not support a contrary agreement, being null treaties and provisions of international law they oppose.

h) In cases not covered by the law in force, the human person remains under the protection of the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience, or are under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience.

i) Lack of international agreement or domestic legislation of States can not legitimately claim to limit, impair or deny the right to asylum.

j) The rules and principles governing the rights to asylum, extradition no, no delivery, no expulsion and transfer are not converging, as far as is necessary to improve the protection and provide it with maximum efficiency. In this sense they are complementary international law of human rights, the right to asylum and refugee law, and humanitarian law.

k) The rights of protection of the human person are based on ethical principles and values universally accepted and therefore have a humanistic, social, solidarity, welfare, peaceful and humanitarian.

l) All States have the duty to promote the progressive development of international law of human rights through effective national and international action.

  • Here they kick down the quasi-judicious use by the UK of the 1987 Act regarding Embassies and the like in the UK.
  • They state the various rights of Man as defined in the United Nations and elsewhere (in case the UK has forgotten them!!!)
  • They point out the various ethical issues.

Ecuador has produced a clear and unambiguous statement, totally unlike the shadowy cloak and daggers stuff from Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

United pops up a lot in the state’s names.  They’re united, but only united in shame and devilishness corruption.  This is the reason for their stance – it’s nothing to do with national security and everything to do with covering their own backs.

The truth is really out now.  Notably, bonkers Boris has been quiet on the issue so far – he never thought much of Cameron and I guess it’s even less now!

 


Ecuador Statement

Declaración del Gobierno de la República del Ecuador sobre la solicitud de asilo de Julian Assange

Read the rest of this entry >>

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Trouble with eclub.lv and Browsers

WordPress User Registration Spam

Last year I told how I tackled various sorts of spam hitting the website, in particular, in this post, User Registration Spam.  Even now, my main defence is SABRE, although I don’t use all the options.  This gives me the combination of flexibility, security and openness I require on this website.  Other plugins combat comment and trackback spam with similar arguments of implementation.

As part of the post, I mentioned how I was getting repetitive pings from a Latvian (or certainly E European) outfit called eclub.lv

eclub.lv and It’s Browser Differences

This is the guts of this post.

I have four browsers installed on my Windows XP machine.  All software is current and my anti-virus NOD32 updates when it feels like – sometimes every hour if there’s a big web attack happening.

My browsers are:

  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Opera
  • Chrome

All software I use is at the latest build version.  I’ve tried Safari but it was too open and naff when I tried it and haven’t installed it since.

Browser Happenings

Now you try this experiment and see if you get the same result as me…

Open eclub.lv in each browser in turn.

3 browsers say the site is okay.  Opera says it’s dodgy and hosts malware.

Now this is weird.  Firefox normally picks up on stuff like this, as do the others.  But Opera is the only one this time….  It’s not as if it’s a new site.  My original post was from April 2008 (last year) and it’s behaviour was such that I had to block it out.  Since then, cleaning out .htaccess hasn’t resulted in the Latvian’s return.

Weird, huh?

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Comments are closed

WordPress Comments Settings Turned Down

Strangely post on November 13th, 2008
Posted in Internet Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just for a while I’ve closed down the open comments access a bit (but not completely) until the splurge of spam has passed that started last night.  For some reason, Akismet etc missed a lot.  Hopefully, it’ll be back to it’s normal trappy self soon.

My sites went slow with all the hits, but as soon as I blocked open comments, wahay; they went faster!

They weren’t registration spam, just pure comments like so:

Kara Cherry | [email protected] | IP: 94.102.60.151

h6cuww24312353jd

한국어

The last bit means Korean!  The last octets went from 151 to 153.

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Comments are closed

How Many Blog Spam Bastards Have I Actually Blocked?

spam_filter_software_1_.gifWell it’s hard to say, actually.  I run this site on WordPress which dynamically uses a backend database and various plugins.  The thing is that I chop and change the various blocking systems for testing, failures, experiments and even because I like the name!  There a host of reasons.

But my website has had millions of hits.  Of course, it has thousands of pictures and links so each one of these is a hit.  But I’ve had tens of thousands of page hits…

So how much spam?

Here’s the totals I’ve got per “system” that are still hanging round my “to use” box:

What’s it all mean?  Only that;

  • there is more than one block method,
  • there is more than one attack method
  • not all the systems have been used all the time
    • and they weren’t all used from the beginning
    • and I’ve dumped stats at various times
  • some methods interact
    • and thus don’t work together well
    • or duplicate some functionality
  • I like trying new stuff
  • The bad people like to try new stuff as well!

Of course, my normal emails are blocked by other means.  I use a local program on my computer called MailWasher Pro that checks the POP3 and IMAP mails while they are still on the mail servers before I download them to my PC.  I’ve used it for several years now and it’s good.  There are other solutions dependant on how much you want to pay and if you are a sole person or business etc.  It’s horses for courses.

Happy blogging!

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