Secure Apache configuration for WordPress & SSL

Apache runs nearly 50% of all active websites

Apache runs nearly 50% of all active websites

Recently I moved the hosting for keithRozario.com from a regular hosted platform called WPWebhost to my own Virtual machine on digitalOcean. The results have been great, but the migration process was a bit tedious and took some effort.

I thought I’d share my Apache configurations, so that if you’re thinking of hosting your own WordPress site on an SSL server, you’ll at least have a solid base to start off from. I’m by no means an expert here, but this is what makes sense to me, and if you have any feedback please let me know in the comments.

So let’s start. Continue reading

Nearlyfreespeech the hosting provider that takes security seriously

NearlyFreeSpeech.NET Web HostingYou all know how much I love nearlyfreespeech, it’s one of the best hosting providers out there. Here’s one more reason, recently they alerted me to a suspicious number of login attempts to my wordpress site, which usually means someone was trying to hack it.

If you remember the post I did about the RHB bank scam, it’s quite common for hackers to inject pages onto a wordpress site to help them carry out banking scams. This was probably something similar.

Fortunately, the guys over at nearlyfreespeech were not just kind enough to log the attempts and alert me, but even automatically disabling the login page of the site to prevent something similar happening. Good on them!

Nearlyfreespeech is a great hosting provider and this just proves my point. Check out the email below: Continue reading

My Issue with WPWebHost: Bad Support

WPWebHost-Logo

Last weekend I had an issue with my hosting provider, WPWebHost.

I switched to WPWebHost 2 years ago, and recommended them because they promised wordpress hosting at an affordable rate. WordPress hosting is where the hosting provider would support wordpress specific features, e.g. help troubleshoot plugin and theme issues, perform nightly backups, and offer ‘higher availability’ for WordPress sites. If you’re still wondering what WordPress is, take a look at one of my previous post.

My latest experience with WPWebHost has left me wondering if indeed this was actually WordPress hosting or just regular hosting in disguise. I’m now wondering if I should stay with them.

Was my server really getting the 99% uptime promised by WPWebHost? Nope.
Did I get the WordPress Specific support that help identify theme and plugin issues? Nope.
Does WPWebhost cost more than regular hosting from other providers like GoDaddy, Dreamhost and my previous provider NearlyFreeSpeech? Yup.
So why I am still with them? Read more to find out.

Below is the full un-redacted transcript of my email correspondence with WPWebhost–I’ve left out the customer service agents name because I believe they have a right to privacy. However, nearly every time I sent an email, a different rep would respond making the whole conversation very messy and difficult to keep track off. Some emails were left out to simplify the flow.

Continue reading

SEO Tips for Malaysian Bloggers

A lot of my search traffic comes from Google, in July I had slightly more than 8,000 visits to my site with just over 6,000 of those coming just from Google. So it made a lot of sense for me to look into some Search Engine Optimization to help boost those numbers. In September, I had more than 10,000 visits with more 8,o00 from Google, which of course begs the question who are the lovely people giving me 2,000 hits/month without going through Google.?

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization or more commonly know by it’s acronym SEO, is the process of optimizing your site so that search engines like Google know exactly what is on your site, what topics you’re writing about and what keywords are present in a page. This allows the search engine to display your site as a result for people searching for topics and keywords most related to your articles.

In Laymans terms it’s making your site understandable for Google to analyze.

Google doesn’t employ thousands of workers to categorize every site on the internet, Google automatically ‘tries’ to figure out what your site is about through a mixture of sophisticated algorithms and feedback from search results. SEO is about trying to help Google figure this out by adjusting certain elements of your site to fit what Googles algorithms are looking for, of course SEO isn’t just about Google, but the general concept is the same. Continue reading

Why I stopped the Nuffnang Ads on my blog

About 2 months back, I posted up a nuffnang ad on my blog, and with reasons explaining why I felt the need to advertise. The guys from Nuffnang were pretty stand-up characters and I felt like I could trust them, so I begin to post Nuffnang ads and monitor that over time.

Unfortunately the results haven’t been so good, and after some reflection I decided not to port over the nuffnang ads when I migrated the blog over to a new hosting provider. It’s important to recognize that your experience with Nuffnang could be different, and I have no doubt that they do contribute significantly to some bloggers, but for me the relationship just wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t really getting any value out of the ads. So when I migrated my blog from Nearlyfreespeech to WPWebHost I decided not to port over the Nuffnang advertising widget–and here’s why? Continue reading

WPWebHost : WordPress Hosting in Malaysia from Exabytes

You may have noticed that my site recently got a spanking new design. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my previous wordpress theme (compositio by Design Disease) and my previous web host (the ever awesome, nearlyfreespeech), but there were 2 real compelling reasons for me to switch web host.

First, maintaining wordpress was taking a lot of time, this included the usual backups and updates and that was eating into time I could have spent researching other stuff or just plain blogging. Secondly, the site had grown both in size and visits, previously I received my first notch up the Google Page Rank, and now I’m a Page Rank 1 site (woo hoo!!). The additional traffic and storage cost were increasing to the point where it made more sense to have a fixed cost monthly payment than worry about the topping up my account (that being said, it would have still been cheaper to host on Nearlyfreespeech).

My first choice was dreamhost, but I’ve tried them before, and while they were good, they weren’t exactly out of this world. So I decided to look for a WordPress specific hosting service, these are web host that specialize in WordPress. They cover stuff like daily backups and offer free wordpress themes etc. Unfortunately, most WordPress host cost quite a bit, but with some google searches, I manage to come across a WordPress host that was well recommended, was at the right price point, and best of all–based in Malaysia. Continue reading

What is wordpress?

I’m a really big fan of 3 things, Manchester United, AC/DC and Wordpress!!

WordPress is awesome, but as awesome as it is, a lot of people don’t really know what it is.

It gets even more confusing, because there’s actually two definitions of WordPress. One is WordPress the blogging platform, and another is wordpress.com –the blogging website.

WordPress is a blogging platform designed specifically to make blogging easier. It’s a tool that simplifies website creation to a point where webmasters no longer have to be programmers but just content writers. However, just like any other tool or platform, WordPress needs to be installed–usually on a server–for it to work.

WordPress.com is a service that offers functionality of the WordPress blogging platform for free. On wordpress.com you can start your own blog in seconds without worrying about finding a server to install WordPress on. However, because it’s a free service it has it’s limitations (which we’ll discuss later).

There’s a lot of confusion about WordPress (the blogging platform) and WordPress.com (the free service), and I hope those two lines above make the distinction clear. Continue reading

What I learnt from winning the DigiWWWOW awards

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/DiGi_Telco/status/211447275891855361″]

Exactly one month ago, I was honored to be awarded the DigiWWWOW awards Fave tech Head award. It was truly unexpected and I continue to feel grateful for it. For those of you who don’t know what the DigiWWWOW awards is, it’s basically like the Grammy Awards for Malaysian blogs, so instead of singers and producers being awarded gold statues, the DigiWWWOW awards present bloggers a cool looking glass plaque with our title on it. My award is currently sitting on my bookshelf between an Optimus Prime Model and a yellow Ferrari car.

Just like the grammys as well, there are many categories, 15 categories to be exact– quite substantial prizes, so it was pretty cool to receive one.

In my view the Fave Tech Head category is sort of like the Best Country and Western album at the Grammys, sure if means a lot to Country and Western fans, but quite frankly the rest of the world really don’t care. Who cares about a tech blogger when we’ve got the most funny award or even the best food blog, if there’s one thing Malaysians love more than anything else it’s food. Technology, though pervasive in our country–particularly in rural Malaysia usually takes a back seat. An iPhone is the same as any other iPhone but Aunty Gemuks Char Kueh Teow is a one of a kind.

However, winning wasn’t all rosy and peachy, and in fact it was a pretty interesting learning experience for me, and with the dust from the win now comfortably settled, I’d just like to share what I learnt from it. To be clear, this isn’t a tutorial on how to win the award (to be honest I still don’t know)–but sort of a reflection of what I learnt from my experience of winning.

You can’t please everyone

Let’s first talk about the elephant in the room, my win didn’t sit well with a lot of people. This of course especially true for fans of the the other far more popular nominees, apparently they were upset their fave site didn’t win it — two years in a row some more!!

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/derrickveejay/status/211447857151090690″]

A lot of the criticism was aimed not at me personally, but instead to the seemingly unknown status of my blog. The question on everybody’s mind was, how does an unknown underdog blog, beat out websites who get 1000 times more hits (possibly even millions more).

The 2011 DigiWWWOW awards were done a bit differently. Last year the winner of the award was the blog with the most votes, and people were unhappy because spammers were winning the awards instead of the quality blogs. In fact, the blog that won the fave tech head last year isn’t even around anymore. So I guess Digi took the wise step of not making this a voting only award, think about it, If the Grammys were awarded based on popularity, Justin Bieber would win everything–now nobody wants that to ever happen, not even the hardcore beliebers.

There in of course lies the conundrum, last year people were unhappy because it was a popularity contest and this year people are unhappy because the blog that won wasn’t popular enough.

You can’t please everyone, so no point trying.

That being said, the guys over at other blogs in the category were stand out guys, congratulating me both in person and online. Unfortunately, their fans weren’t feeling the same way.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/Piratz/status/211663965913223168″]

Have a consistent Brand

A lot of the criticism was with merit though. The first bit of criticism that I took was “I typed keiths and blog on google and couldn’t find it”. Now if you have a blog online, and your blog won a award and people can’t even find you on Google, that raises a whole bunch of questions on whether you deserve to win the award in the first place. Particularly when the award was for something called “Fave Tech Head”,and you can’t find the Fave Tech Head on Google?? Sure boh he’s the Fave Tech Head?

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/sha_munira/status/211449982195204098″]

So this is where I made a serious blunder!

My branding was inconsistent, the blog address is keithrozario.com, but the blogs name is keiths.blog that little bit of inconsistency is confusing. To make matters worse, Keith is a pretty common name, and hence keiths blog is a pretty common term, so I’m way down the pecking order in that respect. Do a search for google and I’m most probably on the 6th page. (maybe even further behind…)

I must admit, this is a god-damn rookie mistake and I deserve every bit of criticism I get.

From now on, I’m changing the banner to reflect keithrozario.com, and using keithrozario.com in all my communications including the the banner on the website, the signatures in the emails I send out and in all my contest entries.

To be honest, I was thinking of putting keithrozario.com as my entry name, but thought it was a bit too narcissistic, guess in branding –narcissism pays.

In order to win you have to show up

Just before submitting the entry I was contemplating whether it would be a wise decision to even enter the competition. I always had the blog under the radar, as my own personal thing I did in my own personal time.

Once I signed up, I was contemplating on how could I get the votes required to win. After all, I was an unknown blogger hitting way outside my league. So I wrote up a small post on the blog, dragged out the list of contacts of everyone who ever contacted me via the blog contact page and posted the entries up to both twitter and faceboook. Finally I sent a short email to all my personal friends asking them to vote for me– to many this was the first time they heard of me starting my own blog.

If I wanted to get the number of votes necessary, I was going to have to pull out all the stops, and I did.

Thinking back, if I didn’t submit my blog entry, none of this would have happened. If I didn’t send out those emails, I may not have gotten the right amount of entries to even qualify.

Upon further reflection, I’ve learnt, that the first rule of winning is first to actually show up to the competition. If you don’t show up thinking you’re going to lose–then you lose no matter what. If you show up, expecting to win, and working hard for it — then you WIN — no matter what.

And because of that, I now can type this blog post on my newly minted Alienware laptop!

Gratitude works

Overall though, regardless of everything else, award or no award, this blogging adventure has been a pretty good one. I’m fantastically grateful for all that I’ve been blessed, and taking stock of all that I have and all that I’ve achieved so far I must say– Life is Good.

Scratch that.

Life is AWESOME!!

Gratitude in all I do really does make me happier, you should give it a try.

Conclusion

So overall, I’ve learnt that :

1. You can’t please everyone — so don’t try.

2. Having a consistent brand is very important — applies to your personal brand as well.

3. In order to win you have to first show up — so show up and try hard everytime you want something.

4. Blogging is great — it’s more than great. It’s AMAZING!

5. Gratitude works — so be grateful for everything you have in life.

On the note of gratitude, I’d like to say Thank you to YOU!! Yes YOU , reading this blog now.

Thanks for stopping by, Thanks for adding the visitor count of the blog by a +1, Thanks for your support.

If you would leave a comment below, I would be even more grateful to you than I currently am. Thanks.

I’m officially on Nuffnang

If you didn’t already know, there’s something on the sidebar of this site, something that hasn’t been there before. Something that I’m not particularly happy to put on my site– it is — an Advertisement!!! (gasp!)

To be more specific it’s a nuffnang add, about 10 lines of javascript code that will for the next couple of months display ads to visitors of this sites. I’m not too familiar with ads, but from what I gather I have little control over who will display ads on this site, and that’s the part I’m not particularly happy with. Aside from the usual “No alcohol” and “No tobacco” options, I couldn’t really control who I would not like to advertise on my site.

So why put ads, especially when I claim the blog cost under $4 a month?

First the blog does cost less than 4USD per month, and second it isn’t about making money–but money is still nice to have — it’s about taking this to the next level.

What is Nuffnang anyway?

Nuffnang approached me last week, and suggested that I join their network. They described it as a platform and community for Malaysian bloggers to ‘unite’ and provide a social and communitarian aspect to an otherwise dispersed group of bloggers working in silos. Of course, companies have to pay the bills and the whole community/social aspect of Nuffnang is funded by advertisers who view blogs as another way to reach their target audiences. Over time, blogs will slowly creep into the mainstream advertising space to compete with print and televised ads (if they haven’t already). Continue reading

THANK YOU: keiths.blog won the #DigiWWWOW awards

Some of you might have heard, but if you haven’t then brace yourself– I won the #DigiWWWOW awards!! WOO HOO!!

I’m still trying to come to grips on how I manage to beat out competitors like Amanz,  MrPiratz.ComDroid.my and of course Technology, Design,Inspiration. All of whom garner more hits than me, and are far more popular. Mr.Piratz was the first person to congratulate me in the backstage room.

I must admit though, I’m still trying to figure out how I won, I even got hold of the Lowyat rep to figure out what the judging criteria was–he didn’t know. Right now, this is all feeling very surreal.

However, surrealistic feelings aside, I’m really really…REALLY happy I won. The award validates my past years work, and let’s face it–this really kicks ass.

I’d like to thank all of those who voted for me in the first place and everyone whose ever commented on my blog, followed me on twitter, or sent me an email to just say ‘hi’.

This blog has always been a sort of one man show, but as the saying goes, behind every successful man is a–WOMAN, I still wouldn’t consider myself successful, but I definitely have a woman behind me, my wife has been with me for 2 awesome years (11 if you count the years before marriage), and she’s supported me through all my crazy adventures including this one.

May this adventure never end!

Thanks everyone and goodnite.