Dusting off my blog

Returning to blogging could have been as straightforward as hitting the publish button. However in the 6 months since I last posted and even longer since I had done any maintenance, there was housekeeping that urgently needed doing.

Social

It dawned on me that I had not reviewed the social links in sometime, thankful it was straightforward to discard some out of date links for Raptr,Anook and Forge, I also added some newer items such as GOG and BattleNet.

Privacy & Cookie Policy

Cookies are a way that sites can store data in the browser, this can range from session information to preferences or options, these allowed for customisation of site features. On top of that nowadays cookies can be used to track everything users do on a site, what they searched, what they clicked on and other behavioural traits.

Unless you have been living under a rock you will have encountered the EU Cookie Policy from 2 years ago and also the more recent GDPR, these cover how cookies are set and explaining how visitors data maybe be used respectively. GDPR covers explaining how a users data will be used and also the right for a users data to be removed and how they can request this.

WordPress has been proactive in giving users the ability to create a privacy policy page with a good template to get the ball rolling, however a list of cookies and their purpose is the preferred display method for detailing what cookies your website will be setting in a users browser. So I set about documenting what cookies load the first time you visit my site directly (incognito mode is good for testing this).

Me and Privacy

In the last year I started using Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Privacy Badger, this plugin is for Chrome/Firefox and Opera effectively allow users to manage what cookies from a site they wish to allow and which they want to blacklist.

You may have noted that my Share Buttons have now gone from the end of each post. The reason behind this is that when reviewing my website looking at what cookies were being set for the cookie policy, there were many tracking cookies that were linked to the sharing buttons.

Why remove them?
We’ll I don’t think they were used much, but since I have been taking steps to help my own privacy I didn’t want people to feel the same about visiting my site, so I removed the Sharing Buttons, which dropped the number of cookies massively. I have been looking into alternatives for share buttons, that don’t actually have any tracking or cookies, sounds simple but it’s still a Work in Progress.

I then decided to review the remaining Cookies. There were however 3 cookies from Google Webmaster Tools that I had setup many, many years ago, now if I want metrics on visitors I generally use the information that WordPress can supply. So I decided that since I could not remember the last time I had looked at the Google data I most likely didn’t need it. So that got removed as well.

The result

So after all that my site only drops 3 cookies on a new visitor coming to my site, 2 from WordPress and 1 that my hosting company drop for load balancing.
Running a website used to be quick and easy, now there are hoops to jump through and cookies to bake.

4.3 update

I updated to WP 4.3 yesterday and found that one of my plugins ceased working, it also stopped the website from loading, both the blog and admin pages.
So I decided that I would raise a ticket to let the developer know there was an issue with the plugin:
https://wordpress.org/support/topic/cannot-redeclare-get_language_attributes?replies=2#post-7315181

I’m very happy that the problem has been fixed, but can’t say that I was ecstatic with the developers comment, seeing as my feedback was the first one posted after I’d checked to ensure there wasn’t one already raised. (The post ID’s give it away).

Perhaps I’m just in a grumpy mood today, as I often have to deal with many cases of people not reading things correctly, getting the wrong end of the stick or just ignoring the facts in-front of them. Normally these are my customers so it’s hard to rant at their complete lack of understanding or attention to detail, and you just have to point out their mistake.

I felt a little dissuaded from raising feedback in the future.

#software #sitenews #wordpress #plugins

Same site, New host

So after 9 years with Evohosting the time came to seek out a new company to handle my relatively low space and bandwidth requirements, with 5 Domains and really wanting a UK based host, it was a rather trickier task than I first thought.
The biggest problem I was encountering was that most of the hosting packages only allow for 1 or 2 domains, to allow more usually bumped the price higher than I was already paying.

vidahostAfter a solid month hunting for a suitable host it was my fellow clan leader MK who put me onto the hosting company Vidahost. After some analysis of the options and pondering over cups of tea, I took the plunge and started the process of migrating my Welshtroll domain across. Moving to a Cloud based hosting and leaving the comfort of my shared hosting CPanel, was a little nerve-wracking but the Vidahost website is well detailed and doesn’t disappoint when you are looking for information.

Nice touches

One of the services that they offer is free migration of content from your previous host, providing you with a temporary link so that you can check it’s as you expect. In this climate of paying for every single addon, it was nice to see that it was a free service. Additionally they have a Concierge service for new customers which is aimed at ensuring they can find everything they need and if they have any questions.

So there you have it, I’ve currently transferred 3 of my 5 Domains over the next will be in a few weeks when I’ve resolved an email issue on my existing host.

That’s about it for now, but hopefully now i have settled into my new role at work a little more I’ll get more time to blog.

PS oh i forgot to say if you fancied trying out Vidahost you can get 10% off the cost of hosting if you use the code “WelshtrollSentMe” 🙂

Last Blaugust post 2014

Woo Yay Hoopla!
Today is officially the last day of Blaugust and despite some troubles in the middle of the month it has not been half as bad as I thought it was going to be. Well done to all those who took part no matter how far you got into the event the mere accepting of such a challenge is quite an achievement when you aren’t in the habit of posting each day and I know some bloggers were getting back on the saddle after quite some time, so an extra Bravo! for you folks too.
A final thanks to Belghast for running the event despite having a tonne of other things sapping his time too.

So in memory of the last 31 days I thought that it would be nice to write up some thoughts in the form of questions, feel free to use them if you want.

What is the biggest thing you will take way from Blaugust?

I think the experience has been quite educational for me as writing a post in a day isn’t something that I excelled at.
The event has at the very least given me a taste of how I could make smaller and more frequent posts on my blog, which was one of the main focuses for me tackling the challenge.
From this I hope to improve on my “time-to-publish” so I can push out content with less of a struggle and ultimately feel more confident, independent of the subjects I choose to blog about.

What was the biggest challenge you faced? (if any)

Biting the bullet and posting after only proof reading my post once or twice, usually I would mull over the contents, the tone, the images. Until the post either got modified or was left to rot in the drafts folder.
This was the best thing for me as I felt there wasn’t a great deal of wasted effort which is a bonus as sometime my dyslexia gets the better of me.

I had a busy time in the middle of the month and despite preparing some of writing before hand the time wasn’t enjoyable and it would have been a natural break for me if I was keeping my own schedule.

Would I do it again?

Possibly, a big fact will be if I feel that challenge is achievable. On the face of it 31 posts doesn’t sound like a huge number but considering that my post count for last year only totalled 21, it’s been rather eye opening that’s for certain.

A bonus was that I’ve also discovered a stack of new bloggers who have all suffered tackled the event themselves. All of whom have been added to my RSS reader and blogroll (Hopefully).

#Blaugust #Blogging

Adventures in blogging

This an odd blog post as this month will be the 14th anniversary of me owning the welshtroll.co.uk domain.
I have been using the name welshtroll since around 2008 and my website content was housed on various 3rd party site such as Tripod and could only be reached via Tripod URL, the static content was usually updated once a week/month. The original domain just redirectly to the hosted site rather than me purchasing hosting as it was very pricey at the time.

2000
Looking back it felt like a lot of work for not much content, but then it was more humbling knowing that you had hand-coded the HTML for each page, far more rewarding for me as a website owner but also from a programming stance too.
Of course the content suffered and truly wasn’t that good as idea of personal blogs we’re only really defined in the couple of years beforehand.

2001
The wayback machine indicates that I had a huge flash movie that acted as a button, of course no link means the rest of the site wasn’t captured.

2002
Fast forwarding, we find a different host and a dark looking website with 6 authors attempting to hold together a collection of news/reviews/jokes and more. The menu system in use maybe java but I’m not sure.

2003
The site is re-themed, the flash and java are no more and the website is full screen, which in the day would have been 800 or 1024 pixels, when viewed on a 1600px it looks rather pants.
This version of the website was where I coded my own Content Management System, it was quite an ordeal but rather educational.

2004
Another redesign and the website has a calendar and the content looks like a cross between a blog and twitter. The content was primarily by 2 authors at this point.

2005
The theme remains but the blogging looked to dry up around February.

2006
I gave up on writing my own CMS system, moved to a software platform and I removed many of the website components that were not in use any more.

2007
My Blog got hacked, embarrassingly I can’t even tell you well it happened, but I recovered pretty much all the articles. I put the website back together but using a different piece of software that I was more familiar with.

2008
I continue to blog migrate my blog over the WordPress blogging software rather than the community CMS software I was using. I designed some plugins and signed up to Microblogging Sites Jaiku and Twitter.

2009 onwards
At this juncture my blog was more established and I got into the swing of thing, well only occasionally re-theming. My blogs tended to lean toward my favourite pastime gaming and that is what I usually focus on nowadays. If course I’ve had large periods of not blogging and have attempted to pick it back up time and time again.

Retrospective

Writing it all down it looks like I’ve been at this blogging stuff for ages, but in the very early days coding was half the fun and the content was more about the laughs than the quality. The middle years there wasn’t much working going on at my site and I was mostly focused on my clan site that I maintained and a social website that was soaking up 90% of my free time and 80% of my bandwidth.

I may locate some of the old content and archive it here when possible, not sure it will be public facing though, but this has been fun digging back through the history of my site and remembering some of the crazy time trying to get a mailing list working or embedded a survey.

#Blog