Tag Archive: tandem

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:

Foetus Products Shop Made Simple

Foetus Products Shop Open

Foetus Products

Foetus Products

In preparation for our next release, Spookhouse, I’ve set up a proper shop to sell it!  Our intention is to sell everything ourselves via this sole outlet. (Click image for the UK shopping site.)

The announcement is on the Crawling Chaos website here.

Kicking off the shop I’ve reworked (…er…shouldn’t that be ‘am in the process of re-working?…) all tracks from the two previous CD issues.  Finally I’ve had a decent handle of the articles…

Some have been substantially changed which may upset the purists, my current modus operandi being to imagine myself back then using the current software and equipment I now have at my disposal, then to change the existing 2-track recordings to best fit this basic idea.  After all, they’re already in the digital domain – so I may as well try and make them something like how I/we wanted originally, but was thwarted by technology.

In tandem with this, I’ve whipped out some jam and hidden parts in tribute especially to Paul, Jeff & Garry, because this was the core of many creations that appear on those two releases and turned them into something dark and tragic, as that’s how I currently feel about their absence from the planet.

As Steve Jobs once said,

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Close observers will spot the “new” tracks.  They are there to highlight our jollity, our bleakness, the tiny hidden gems of deftness in improvisational Jeff’s playing and Paul’s lyricism, the randomness of Gazza and the end that must come to us all.

All this stuff is competitively priced compared to the muffled output from the usual on-line stores.

Spookhouse

The Spookhouse design is currently being set.  Downloads from the CD will be available following the CD release.

Other Items

These will be released, mainly as download, for other artists wanting to contribute to to the Foetus Products collective sound resource.  This isn’t a joke.  We really mean it folks!

Technical

I’ve set it up using open-source software on the foetusproducts.co.uk domain.  All links are secure where they need to be using a SSL Certificate I bought from GoDaddy.com, as they were had a special offer going…!  It’s security level is the highest you can get (it uses a 2048 bit key), which means folks should have no qualms about their bank getting raided or whatever if they buy from us.

Users will have a choice of two financial transaction processors – PayPal and Google Checkout for which I’ve set up merchant accounts.  They’re ubiquitous and most people are familiar with their operation nowadays.  I thought about using Amazon, but they don’t currently process for digital items.

The reason that we’ve gone this route harks back to our (i.e. Crawling Chaos’s) independence of spirit – and because our returns will be on par to going the iTunes route, say, for distribution.  We lose about 10% commission in the transaction process compared to a lot more through online download stores.

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The Three Rules of Trust – Using SwipeAuctions/Bids as an Example

Introduction

There’s a well-known adage that says,

Don’t believe everything you read in the papers (Point 1)

Another, (which is derived from the mantra of the old UK stock market) goes like,

An Englishman’s word is his bond (Point 2)

Make what you want of them, but many people still go by this, replacing “An Englishman’s” with the word “MY”.

The Need for New Rules of Trust

The internet has made the job of snake oil salesmen, gangsters and other assorted conmen so much easier that the adages need to be re-thought and rules written.  It’s a bit like Isaac Asimov’s Rules of Robotics.   Here are mine, but please note the notes just below….

Note 1: All on-line businesses are required to reveal their correct identity through the WHOIS process.  The only exclusions are for private non-trading individuals in certain countries.  (Some people have a bit of a debate about this, but when you sign up for a domain, you’ll see!)

Note 2: The internet, (or world wide web), by its very nature is like the newspaper business – see Point 1 above!

Note 3: There is a consensus among decent people and a certain legality regarding tax etc., that most legitimate businesses would like to be known and contactable, or else they appear like spiv barrow boys on the make.

Note 4: There is no note 4… yet.

The New Rules of Trust

Rule 1:

Do not believe anything on-line without double or treble checking as a minimum.

Rule 2:

For any business that hides its WHOIS entry, do not believe anything that they say!!

Rule 2 and a half:

For any business that previously hid their WHOIS entry and later chooses to reveal it – same as Rule 2!

Example: Jesse Willms and his “businesses”

n.b. This is one example.  This whole web area is currently ballooning and Willms is not alone!

  • A business that is anonymous, is on the edge of trust. (Willms’ businesses have previously been cloaked in the main.  Only recently have they had publicly exposed WHOIS records.)
  • A business that uses false or misleading advertising, is on the edge of trust. (This very website is plagued by dodgy adverts, for which I apologise – it takes some time for the Google adwords filters to kick into play.)

The infamous Jesse Willms got his internet start by selling counterfeit software from Microsoft and Symantech (at least), and for which he had to pay oodles of dollars in damages.

Note: Willms translates this information on his website fluffs like so:

Before becoming a philanthropist, Willms was known for starting his first business – buying and selling computers and software when he was 16 – and launching several Internet companies by the time he was 22.  see http://jessewillms.com/ & link & link (two links WHOIS hidden)

His current activities are in the business of skirting the lotteries and gambling laws with On-line “Bid” “Auctions”.   These (and Willms is only one of many) are so far removed from the normal concept of an auction that they are more like Bingo.

In tandem with this he’s promoting himself as an internet good guy while still hypocritically continuing along the same vein of his previous activities. Like so…

His previous businesses included flogging green tea and acai fruits to either clean your bowels or make you thin with rippling muscles, and nicking the idea of and ruining the rotten business of a teeth whitening company, for which there have been sues and counter-sues which were resolved “with prejudice” as the wigs say (see link courtesy of @Justin Asking).

Like many fly-by-night websites, these were all promoted and run:

  • via email spam from a plethora of hidden marketing businesses, some of which he may or may not have had direct control although he admits to having close contact….(see info from @Justin Asking again)
  • via fake websites in the form of informational blogs or news websites designed to appear as such, although minutely disclaimered as otherwise – good link with screenshots here and another hereThese first two are run under the concept of “affiliate marketing” which harbours a whole realm of fly-by-night operations with virtually no scruples or accountability.  Someone once remarked that managing affiliates was like herding cats….
  • via a plethora of drop-point contact addresses, widely dispersed around the globe having no relevance to site visitors’ locations.
  • via a plethora of dubious phone number contacts of highly variable functionality.
  • with an early predilection for multiple un-called for monetary withdrawals from customer credit accounts
  • with a penchant for rapidly changing website names that came and went faster than the seasons although much of the modus operandi and contact points would remain unaltered – a good test for these is that the registration period is generally only a year.

Swipe Offerings

SwipeBids.com which kicked off at the end of 2009 soon morphed into SwipeAuctions.com  (see final point above!)  How long this lasts is anyone’s guess… (p.s. swipebids domain expires soon).

Willms' Latest Fib

Currently, you’ll find that SwipeBids.com now redirects back to SwipeAuctions.com at a “prelogin” page.  There, sit a heap of hysterically hypocritical statements right on this front page – see screenshot on the left and dissection below!

This website is Jesse Willms’ latest saucy effort at world domination! Tied in with this has been a massive internet hype of “Jesse Willms, the caring philantropist”.

The plethora of websites for which he’s been loathed continues in the myriad of hype sites and linkage referrals containing the vomit inducing self-promotional bilge, plus a continuing swathe of fake news websites.

Uncharacteristically, he sticks with only one “bid auction” website…?  Hmm?  (p.s. since this was written, the site has been pulled although rumours are rife about a new startup…!)

Meanwhile, like snake oil, the Swipe-Bid-Auction scam has proved very enticing to all the scum of the earth and has turned into a veritable plague…  (p.s. since this was written, the plague of copycat sites is now a deluge)

Bid Auction Scum Fight it Out – it’s Getting Dirty

Dirty?

Yep! There’s a veritable bidding war going on to get to the top of the Google search results and the Facebook sidebar.  As noted elsewhere, BidSauce.com has joined the affray and Willms’ lawyers have been issuing writs a-plenty.

Amongst others…..  How so?

A. Well do a Google search for BidSauce.com, SwipeAuctions.com & SwipeBids.com (click links to see results – my results today are below), and you’ll see what I mean.

BidSauce.com

SwipeAuctions.com

SwipeBids.com

Bid Auction Scum New Kids on the Block

My results show the following paid for ads on Google and their WHOIS hidden status.

BidSauce.com

Bidhere.com – Hidden

Biddi.com – disclosed UK company, KSB Trading Ltd

SwipeAuctions.com

SwipeAuctions-Register.com – Hidden!  It also redirects to SwipeAuctions.com which is registered in California.  Check out this info from @Not Kevin for an earlier version of the listings.

MadBid.com – disclosed as Marcandi Ltd in the UK

Bidhere.com – Hidden (again!)

SwipeBids.com

No paid for ads at the top but some of the above appear in the right-side advert box of paid for ads.  Interestingly, swipeauctions.com is top!

What Does it Mean and What Should I Do?

puZZleMean? It means that many people have seen this “bid-auction” as a good bandwagon to join, while it lasts!

Do? What I do is click on the paid for ads as much as possible! These ads are costing well over a pound to place and it costs those businesses for every click!!!   (n.b. if you think I’m being hypocritical in allowing similar ads onto this website, then read my privacy policy.)

If it’s Facebook where I see the ad, I also click on it so that it fires up in a new window so the geezers have to pay again, then I click the cross next to the advert and report the adverts as “Misleading” – because, from all my research as seen on this website and others, plus the example searches shown above, they are all misleading.

Penny/Bid Auctions Mislead?

They mislead as it’s gambling, not an auction.

They mislead as you pay to enter the auction at each step, it’s not a bid.

They take money in advance – no auction does this, even one for a Van Gogh or an old wardrobe, because anyone can bid!

Swipe Auctions Duff Photo Evidence

Willms' Latest Fib (at the bottom)

Yep! At the bottom of his new landing page of swipeauctions.com, under “picture testimonials” Jesse states, today:

Each and every testimonial on the site should have a picture of the customer who sent it in. You can only use someone’s picture with his or her permission, so if there is a photo you can be sure the testimonial is legitimate. If there is no photo, the site’s management could have written a false testimonial.

Compare and contrast with my screen-shots of his website here where I explicitly show the fake photos from a testimonial: http://strangelyperfect.tv/7955/facebook-msnbc-jesse-willms-swipe-auctions-and-doctored-photos/ –   these photos are from an affiliate’s website about which there is some conflict of ownership evidence.

And compare Jesse’s fine words with the fantastic investigative ScamRaiders revelation that the picture of an “auctioned” Honda as used on his website was taken and then Photo-shopped even before the website was set up!!!

Don’t you just love it when the creeps are so blatantly bad? !!

Suggested Further Reading

http://www.webcops.net/just_think_media_spam_scams_8001.html – Best expose on early Willms’ scams.  How he threatened legal action as his whereabouts were exposed.

http://strangelyperfect.tv/7955/facebook-msnbc-jesse-willms-swipe-auctions-and-doctored-photos/#comments-2834 – info on the incarnations and IP addresses of Willms’ Swipe**** sites  (I am currently taking legal advice on this article so it’s withdrawn pending notice.  Contact me for its contents which most right-minded folk would consider fair and accurate reporting.)

http://www.jimlillig.com/internet-marketing/abcs-news-2020-features-jesse-willms-among-others-in-alleged-deceptive-practices-story/ – smiling Jesse is exposed by “the CPA Guy”  n.b. currently offline but transcribed here courtesy of this link.

http://www.bbbroundup.com/ – discredits much of the BBB rating system and how entries flip and change due to possible business collusion.

http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/09/14/better-business-bureau-risks-losing-credibility-over-ratings-co/ – more info on BBB ratings not being what they seem…

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showpost.html?p=36648669&postcount=22 – comment detailing the above BBB conflict of interests and how Jesse Willms’ businesses generated 2612 complaints at the BBB before they revised his status with his newer websites!  n.b.  This is one of the top UK websites!

http://onlinescamwebsites.com/how-do-penny-auctions-work/ – clearly explains how these “auctions” work

Suggested Reverse IP Checks

Reverse IP checking is a very good indicator that many websites are related in some businesses, commercial or personal sense.  Using this website, this website strangelyperfect.tv shows as follows:

Found 4 domains hosted on the same web server as strangelyperfect.tv (174.120.2.125).

ceinonline.org

crawlingchaos.co.uk

strangelyperfect.tv

www.foetusproducts.com

This is hardly surprising and I make no secret of the fact…

Using this website again, enter these three domains into the box. What you find are a host of probably related dodgy websites, fake blogs and news sites, and other stuff. Look and see!

SWIPEAUCTIONS-REVIEW.COM :2 domains

live9news.com, swipeauctions-review.com

SWIPEAUCTIONS-REGISTER.COM: 101 domains including such gems as:

1r2chat.com 24-7keybank.com  AcaiBerryBurnTrial.com  ColonCleanse4FreeTrial.com  Resveratrol-Resveratrol.com  acaiforceformen.com buy-wii-in-stock.com  buyipodnow.net  buyps4console.com  buyps4now.com  consumerhealthreporter.com  consumernewsreporter.com dazzlesmilefreetrial.com findluxurywatches.com   goboff.com hairexpert.org myhairexpert.org natural-hair-transplant.com  naturalhairtransplant.org swipeauctions-register.com thumoney.com  top3-coloncleanse.com top3-whiteteeth.com  www.buywiinow.net www.findluxurywatches.com www.natural-hair-transplant.com www.thumedia.net  www.thumoney.com  www.top3-resveratrol.com  www.tradeblogger.net

I’ve omitted most of the “foreign” domains.  Make of that what you will but it is noticable that many snake oil websites are to be found grouped under a single IP address.

SWIPEAUCTIONS.COM: has just the canonical and www domains.

Disclaimer

Many things are said above that rope all “bid” “auctions” into the same boat.  While some may have differing operational procedures with perfectly legal transactional and customer services, and may differ in their Terms & Conditions to Jesse Willms’ offerings, I accept those facts.

However, I consider all web-operations in this field of “bid” “auction” to be nothing more than gambling, and they should all be governed by those gambling laws applicable to their country of viewing and business location.


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UK Economics – how optimism can be made to sound like pessimism

This is the continuing story of pointing out media “information” that is made into political “comment” fuelling whatever trend is needed at a moment in time.

This article, UK economic growth slows sharply, in tandem with this story and this story reporting the same fact, show that the UK economy grew 0.2% in the last quarter.  This is being reported as bad!  Apparently this is the lowest growth since the dark, dark days of……wait for it……2005!

If I recall, in 2005, house prices were still booming, people were spending and going on holiday just the same.  The TV was flooded with programs about getting second homes or new lives using inflated property prices as the source, makeover shows – and big brother.  Things were never so good then, in 2005!

Now with the same growth, things are being made to appear really, really bad.

But wait, this summer, a record amount of people are going on foreign holidays (although it’s hard to find reported evidence)!  And a record number are staying to holiday in the UK!  So if they are both right then a record number of people will be holidaying..   Things must be really, really bad.

Not!

It’s the continual talking down by people with an axe to grind.  Why and who are they?  What can they possibly gain by making the country look bad and by making people feel sad?

Power.  That’s what.

Who wants the power?   It’s pretty obvious really.  See a previous post, the-grand-conspiracy-over-government-incompetance

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