Category Archives: zieak.com

A tiny bit of extra income

You can probably tell that every now and then one of my posts has a paid link in it.  It’s true, I’m willing to sell that.  Since May 1, 2012, (the last 12 months) I have actually made $440 $465 (just made another sale) selling links and ads on my site.  It it a lot of money?  Heck no.  But it more than pays for the cost of my web hosting.  I recently went back through old posts to remove links that were over a year old.  I won’t sell ads for more than a year.    I recognize that the ads may be a distraction, but usually all I need to do is incorporate a link into my post.  The payment is just a carrot that gets me to write about the topic.  I turn down offers that are really restrictive or that I can’t include in my own style.  Now I keep track of the links that I sell on a spreadsheet.  About once a month I’ll check it for expiring ads to remove.

I get most of my advertisement hits through Sponsored Reviews.  The rest come from direct queries through my site.

March link dump

Every month there are some new interesting sites that link to this site or use my photos.  Here are some recent ones.

  1. Earth911.com – Hacks and Mods to Repurpose Your Own E-Waste – Some cool projects here, perhaps least interesting is my Nintendo mouse.
  2. MacGyverisms – 5 Cool DIY Projects for Reusing Your Old Computer Keyboards – Shows my use of the keyboard circuit sheets and other ideas.
  3. Surfingnewsdaily.com – Ecuador’s Amazing Surf Spots Make For Exciting Surf Camps – Used a few of my photos from Montanita.
  4. Cheapflights.co.uk – 80 great ways to get around the world – Used my photo of the maglev train in Shanghai

WordPress Dashboard css won’t load

After removing some malicious material from every .php file on my WordPress install I had a few things that still were wonky. Every time I went to the Dashboard for WordPress it seemed like the CSS was not loading and the view was all messed up. I tried a number of different things and couldn’t get it to work.

At the same time I could not get Jetpack to work. It kept telling me “Your Jetpack has a glitch. Something went wrong that’s never supposed to happen. Guess you’re just lucky.” No, I wasn’t feeling lucky. Checking my site stats is one of the ways I find out that there are problems with my site!

Well, after hours of web searches, reading, and trying things one little line of code made both problems work. Adding…

define('SCRIPT_DEBUG', true);

…to wp-config.php solved it for me! Now on to other problems…

What brings people here

Tiffany asked a fun question. She wanted to know what search terms people used that delivered them to this site. So here are the 6 most popular over the last 365 days. (I condensed similar searches.)

  1. Heather Thomas – One blog post about an 80’s movie with a couple of stolen pictures is my best post?
  2. Print your own Monopoly money – my second most popular post is providing links to another site.
  3. Kate Nauta – apparently I need to blog more about women in movies to get more blog traffic.
  4. letter blocks – a picture that I took!
  5. mustache types – another stolen image!
  6. french doors – my own content!

Here are some of the more humorous searches that land people at zieak.com.

  • white buffalo
  • amish beard
  • dumpster diving
  • corona in a can
  • cat stinky face
  • freak in the room
  • mickey mouse phone
  • lesbian barbie
  • dirty toilets
  • starling recipes
  • C3PO porn
  • chlorine and yeast infection
  • wife beater shirt
  • aluminum foil armor

WordPress blog hacked

Quite a few weeks ago I noticed a few things amiss on my blog. Then one day my mom said that the site was down entirely. I contacted my host and they indicated that my .htaccess file was the problem so they renamed it. The site came back up. But some of the problems I had noticed before didn’t go away.

Before you go on you might be here because you think your site is compromised. Check here.

My web traffic had declined tremendously.
My RSS feed title had been changed to something spammy.
Search results for my site gave the site title as spam.

For instance, instead of “Ryan McFarland’s blog » Print your own (Monopoly) money” the page title would show as “Windows Email Server — Discount -137% price off” or something like that in the search results. My page was still at the top of the search results but nobody would follow that link.

Here is an example from someone else’s blog.

That is the first result for a search for “Day-Lab Ice Blue Necklace $28” (Link goes to their page.)

The first thing I did was check my blog template files. But nothing there seemed out of the ordinary. But a look at my source code on the resulting pages was messy with spam words. What the heck?

I scoured the net looking for a solution. It looks like since I still used the “admin” account for my login for the site that I was the victim of a brute force attack that got my password. Perhaps it was a compromise of my ftp password. My web host announced a security failure and reset everyone’s ftp passwords.

I tried everything listed on this source for how to fix a different hack of WordPress blogs. But none of them seemed to be the source of my problems.

Finally I found it. A file called style.php in my theme was packed with nasty spam links. The clever name was easily overlooked when I was scanning through template files looking for the culprit. There should be a style.css file. I deleted all of the text in the php file from the WordPress template editor and the problems cleared up. My results in search engines cleaned up quickly.

What I find interesting is that other blogs are still linking to me according to the incoming links list on the WordPress dashboard:

I’ll try and contact those site owners to have them try and clean up their sites too.

A site stat checkup

I used to check on my site’s statistics every week. It has been over three years since I peeked at them all so let’s see what changed in the three years…

Here is where things were in July of 2008:

  1. 1,680 posts
  2. Comments – the new WordPress UI doesn’t make this easy to find!
  3. Technorati Authority: 32 Rank: 222,916
  4. Google Page Rank: 3
  5. Alexa: 386,664
  6. Page Strength: 4
  7. Feedburner subscribers: 17
  8. BlogTopSites: 86
  9. RealRank: 575

And today…

  1. 2,852 (1,172 new posts)
  2. 4,040 comments
  3. Technorati Authority: 96 (down 64) Rank: 51,481 (Improved 171,485)
  4. Google Page Rank: 4 (up 1)
  5. Alexa: 866,671 (down 480,007)
  6. Page Strength: No longer free
  7. Feedburner subscribers: 51 (up 34)
  8. BlogTopSites: Not listed
  9. RealRank: Defunct

It’s a mixed return. Google rank up one is good. My Technorati authority went down but my rank went up. Alexa dropped considerably but feed readers went up quite a bit. So without trying to I have improved in some core areas – ranking and followers and dropped in some of the measures of authority. I’m happy.

Time for a new start

I write about such varied stuff that I think It is time for me to consider new homes for some of my content. A personal blog can be that way – meandering from subject to subject as your interests change. I see some major themes in my posts. Some should really be spun off to their own thing. My personal site could still remain quite personal but perhaps not be so mixed. Perhaps just mentions of my posts on other subjects are thrown in. Here’s a list of the major themes that I think I have and things that I like to write about.

  • Travel
  • Finances
  • Fitness
  • Beards
  • Beer
  • Photography
  • Projects
  • Bacon

Perhaps subdomains of zieak.com will work such as phy.zieak.com for the fitness stuff or some should have their own domains like travelguidetobeer.com. Some of my topics will cross-post such as the interest in beer when I travel. But some beer you can get without traveling. And there is lots to travel that isn’t about beer.

Breaking my site apart might really help these niches grow. I have some decent photography posted but also have lots of pictures uploaded from my cell phone that are meant for documenting the moment and not to be artistic. Personal posts could talk about projects I’m working on and then finished ones can be uploaded to a more refined area. (Although perhaps those will stay with Instructables and other sites.)

Can you think of other topics that I have covered that might be worthy of a niche?

Traffic spike

I have had a few big traffic spikes to zieak.com. It looks like the Nintendo Mouse is going through Stumble Upon again. I get a bit of daily traffic from the site but not usually 4,000 hits in one day.  And usually the heavy traffic comes and goes – there is an aftershock from the first spike.

stat_spike

Check out my traffic history by month for the last 15 months or so…

20090827094356

The big spike last fall was from after Sarah Palin was named as the VP candidate for John McCain.

Things like this are the right motivation… just when i was starting to consider quitting blogging…

Site tweaks

It was time for a design fix. I changed the site template to Disconnected but made a few tweaks to the style including my rotating banner images.

I also added a plugin that kicks any comments made on my images posted to Flickr right to my blog. It is called Flickr Comment Importer. At first I couldn’t get it to work – i kept getting an error message that my RSS feed was not correct. After some hair-pulling i realized that the form taking the comment feed url was too short and was cutting off the end of my pasted url. I’m working on trying to figure out a few other modifications to the plug in and as soon as i have them done i’ll post the php file for others to use.

I’m playing around with a Facebook plug in that allows people to post using their Facebook login. My intent was to have comments pulled from my duplicate posts there extracted and posted to this blog but the author of that plug in has not updated it and fixing it it is beyond my abilities. So i have one installed that you can permit zieak.com to pull information from your Facebook profile. If you’re logged into Facebook then you’re logged into your commenter account on zieak.com too. it will even pull your avatar from Facebook to post with your comment.

I disabled the localized avatars. I suggest registering your emails for a Gravatar. It will be recognized on many websites including most that use WordPress.