Robots dot text

Robots dot text (robots.txt) is a really interesting, conflicted, frequently disrespected – but useful – little file. Its intended purpose is to give me control of how bots visit my site. Depending on the bot though, my robots dot text directives might be obeyed, ignored, partially obeyed, and/or interpreted in different ways.
robots dot text

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Website speed tests – Part 2

Awhile back I bemoaned the very inconsistent results I get from online website speed checkers. Not just inconsistency from checker to checker, but also from the same checker at different times. I test-drove a few of the checkers and …

In summary, results are all over the damn place. My site’s speed grade is A, B+, B, or C. Load time is less than or second, or over 4 seconds. Also, there seems to be no correlation between grade and actual speed. Pingdom gives me a ‘C’ with less than a second load time, Uptrends gives me an ‘A’ with a 4.4 second load time.

Furthermore, if I use the same 10 checkers again, I will get different – sometimes wildly divergent – results from the same checker at different times.

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Prank contact form emails

My first website, byGosh.comlaunched at the dawn of the millennium – features public domain literature. It includes all the classic stories for kids. I rewrote parts of many kid’s stories to remove the violence. Red Riding Hood is rescued by her grandmother who chases the wolf away with a broom, Jack returns the harp and lets the giant climb back up before cutting down the beanstalk, none of the three little pigs get eaten – even the wolf lives happily ever after, and so on.

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Optimizing the WP task scheduler

Certain WP tasks need to be executed in the future, either one time or on an ongoing basis. These tasks include things like publishing a scheduled post  (one-time) and checking for WP, plugin, and theme updates (ongoing). WordPress includes a built-in component called wp-cron.php that triggers execution of these scheduled tasks. But not always when I would want or expect it. It runs on every page or post load. This works fine on a site with a regular stream of moderate traffic.  But …

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Cloudflare Canaries

Cloudflare is awesome – in many ways. Not the least of which is their support for Internet freedom. Twice a year, CF issues a Transparency Report, with the opening statement …

An essential part of earning and maintaining the trust of our customers is being transparent about the requests we receive from law enforcement and other governmental entities. To this end, Cloudflare publishes semi-annual updates to our Transparency Report on the requests we have received to disclose information about our customers.

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WordPress Lives!

Any question of the demise, or even decline, of WP due to the inexplicably clumsy imposition of the block editor has been resoundingly answered with a thunderous “nope”. WP continues to thrive. In fact, WP just passed a huge milestone – it now powers over one-third of the web!  From about 13% in January 2011, WP use has grown steadily to 33.4% to start 2019. Non-CMS share of the web has correspondingly plummeted, from over 75% in January 2011 to less than 50% today.

The trends appear intractable, so much so that I will make a foolishly reckless prediction – WP web share will surpass non-CMS before the end of calendar year 2019, U.S. Pacific time.

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Bad Bot Honeypot

Jeff Starr of Perishable Press offers what appears to be an excellent, free Blackhole for Bad Bots. Unfortunately it does not work with all cache setups, and I use some pretty crazy aggressive caching to boost site speed. I have not been able get Jeff’s plugin to work for me. I decided to make a very much simplified, less automated version, that will require an ongoing bit of my time but hopefully will thwart naughty bots.

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Cloudflare Access

Back in January 2018, Cloudflare introduced a new service, Cloudflare Access. As is their generous habit for many of their features, CF even made it available on the free tier. CF describes Access as “a perimeter-less access control solution for cloud and on-premise applications”. Basically, Access lets me host internal applications on the Internet, where use is controlled, authorized, authenticated, and encrypted. For the end user, it works very similar to two-factor authentication. But it all happens on Cloudflare’s servers.

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MDD Hosting and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

or, How to Destroy an Entire Data Center with a Typo

First, MDD Hosting is awesome. I’ve been with them for about a year and a half, and will likely stay for decades if they stay awesome. Uptime – with the one big exception described below, has been good. Speed is great. Price is reasonable. They check all my must-have and nice-to-have features: LiteSpeed server; cPanel; free Let’s Encrypt SSL; CloudLinux account isolation technology; SSD storage; Softaculous Autoinstaller; PHP version selector; Not associated with Endurance International Group (EIG); No obnoxious up-selling or other BS marketing games. Most impressive is help service – always prompt, courteous, and knowledgeable.

But last September (2018), MDD and its clients endured a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day – several days actually.

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Facebook Post Optimization

Once in a while I get lucky and someone will ‘like’ or ‘share’ my site on Facebook. By default, the FB post can look crappy, unlikely to drive much if any traffic my way. FB makes guesses about the title and description, and crops an image from my post or page to fit the space allocated on the post – not exactly the best Facebook post optimization.

A crappy-looking Facebook post

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Coming Soon: Cloudflare as a Registrar

For awhile now, Cloudflare has been quietly advertising “coming-soon” no-added-fees registrar services for Cloudflare customers – even those like me on the free tier. According to the sales pitch, CF will charge exactly $0 for this service, adding no fee at all to the Wholesale Registry fee (currently $7.85 for dot com) + the $0.18 ICANN fee. So, CF will register a dot com domain for the bargain annual cost of $8.03.


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