Let’s make it 28

Not much action on the old blog this year. 2012 was just not a blog-happy year. This makes only post 28 for the year. Lots of good in it however, and looking forward to all life has to offer in 2013. In the meantime, happy dog wishes you all a Happy New Year!

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Maintaining a Web Presence

So, today was fun. I got an email this morning that I had a new comment to approve on my website, and tapped my way to the WordPress app to do just that. When I did it, I recieved an error message. Then I moved to my laptop and attempted to get to it that way. It wouldn’t load, and I was getting server error messages.  I logged into the admin section of my web hosting service, and was unable to get to specific management components. 

uh oh. Sigh…. 

So, I sent off some messages and tweets to them, and waited. Quite soon, they replied to me and I went thru a series of troubleshooting with them via Twitter, live chat and email. Turns out, for some reason, my IP was being blocked on their server end. So I couldn’t get to my own site, even though it was freely available on the web for everyone else. I’m still not sure what the cause of the blacklisting was, and I’m hoping to hear back from the that it was just a glitch and not something I need to worry about.   But after my email hacking earlier in the week, I’m a little bit nervous of my web security. 

So, huge kudos to the folks at Doteasy, as they are quick to help and come to my rescue. Thanks a bunch! 

BUT, and there’a always a but, I’m not starting to wonder about the value of maintaining my own webspace. It seems that it might be simpler to leave this kind of maintenace to another provider. I’m also wondering about dumping some of my lesser used spaces online, as I’m not sure that having them has provided me any value, other than a long list of sites and passwords.

Something else to ponder as we head to a new year. Time for a cleanout maybe? 

Security Woes

You know how you have things that you mean to do, and you keep putting off? Yeah. I’ve been meaning to beef up some of my account security with new passwords and stuff. It was on my list of things to do for the end of the year. But, as luck would have it, I was forced I to an early change. Somehow, on the night of the 25, someone accessed my email account from Albuquerque New Mexico. Since, I’ve never been to NM. It sure wasn’t me. Guess it was a wrong turn at Albuquerque. The hacker/bot then proceeded to email a ton of people some spam mail with links and phishing things.

So, after being notified by the ever vigilant @dougpete, I quickly changed passwords, the assessed what damage had been done. I also updated security on my email and other accounts.

Lesson learned. Never put it off.

And I apologize to anyone who got the spam from my account. It shouldn’t happen again.

Non-Extreme Makeover. Blog Edition.

After upgrading to the newest WordPress 3.5 release, I had a few issues to sort out with the blog. After getting all that squared away and everything running smoothly again, I got looking at the layout and design of the blog.  The theme that I had chosen was now out of date, and a new one was available as a version II. So, I updated that too. 

This is the now running Weaver II as the theme, with a subtheme called Wheat. It’s pretty much the same as the other one, but has much more customizable features that you can play with. 

I also updated, moved and tidied up the widgets in the sidebar to make them flow a bit better.  And as a finishing touch, I dug through my photos and found a new one for the header image. 

Overall, a good use of time, and I’m happy with the new digs. Good way to finish the year and get ready for 2013 blogging. 

Upgrading blues

I saw recently that WordPress had released a major upgrade to version 3.5. But I hadn’t bothered to upgrade my site until just yesterday. I noticed that Dean Shareski had tweeted that he noticed some things had seemed to be not working on his site after the upgrade. I took a look at my site, and lo and behold, had the same issues. The updated Media Uploader button won’t work, and the ability to toggle from WYSIWYG editing to Text/HTML editing wasn’t working either.

So, off the the WordPress forums I went, and found that a number of folks had the same issue. After some digging through some posts and very technical information to try and troubleshoot it, I found a post where they suggested disabling ALL the plugins on the site, and seeing if that fixed it. Then turning them back on one at a time to see which one broke everything.

I don’t use a lot of plugins, but I do have a few for my widgets and stuff on the sidebar, spam protector etc… So, when I turned them all off, the site worked, and I was able to regain all functionality.  So I started turning the plugins back on one by one, and then trying a test post in draft to see if it worked. I finally found that the plugin I was using to display Flickr images in the sidebar was the one that made everything stop working. So now, I’m on the hunt for a new Flickr widget. Any suggestions?

As I was troubleshooting this, and going through a logical, step-by-step procedure it struck me how I didn’t really even think about how to approach the problem, I just did it. I guess having a basic programming understanding and some logical troubleshoot skills comes in handy. I wonder if everyone would have approached this problem the same way?

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Stories of #Bill115

It’s pretty hard to avoid discussion of Bill 115 in Ontario education circles these days.  The labour action by OSSTF and ETFO is in the news every day.  I have two stories to share.

An ETFO colleague, who used to teach with my wife received the devastating news that she had a diagnosis of breast cancer this fall. She received this news on the first day of school. On the very day that Bill 115 stripped her of her bank of sick days. So in addition to dealing with the stress of a horrible disease, she and her family had to sort out their options for taking the necessary leave to deal with her illness and get well. That is not fair on many levels.

Just this week, another colleague and friend has ended up in the hospital. As the doctors work to diagnose his illness and figure out what is wrong, he is rapidly burning through his newly allotted, Bill 115 sick days.  There are many questions that arise, as this colleague is in in final year of teaching. This was meant to be one of his ‘best 5’ for pension purposes in his retirement. But if he’s off on leave, does this affect how this income will be calculated, and therefore impact his pension for the rest of his life if he choses to still retire?  Again, questions that are not fair to be asked as you try and heal.

Both of these teachers have put in 30 (ish) years of service, and all that good faith and trust was taken away with a stroke of a pen.

I think of them when I have to remind myself why OSST and ETFO have chosen to stand up and fight Bill 115. Because it’s not right or fair to many of our colleagues.

I’m sure there are many other stories of impact. Do you have one?