Comments

I have to give one particular spammer credit. His comments are often somewhat relevant to my blog. His email and link fields are the give away of course. But what makes me laugh is while the comments are often relevant, they are 99% of the time posted to the wrong post. I’m curious to know what program or bot he uses because the comments are almost comprehensible enough to be written by a live human…almost.

Sadly (for him), the filters are adequate enough to catch 100% of his many comments and they get moved to the trash bin w/o fail. Should you happen to be reading this, maybe if you tried spamming less, your comments would get thru.

Upgrades

I was on day shift all last week for meetings with our primary software vendor. We are in the beginning stages of upgrading our software. While with the same vendor, the new system is built new from the ground up1 and in many ways fundamentally different from what we have now. These type of upgrades occur only a few times in the life of a call-center. With emergent technologies, it is a necessary upgrade. We must do this or jump to a whole new vendor which would be a whole a lot more money than just an upgrade. And a new system is always rough on the end users. lol

The process itself wasn’t bad albeit a bit tedious at times. I had to flex my hours for the week to accommodate the vendor schedules. While a hassle, not the end of the world and well worth it considering the impact this will have on myself (and others) as the end users. Only 2 big surprises so far. The first surprise was a functionality problem. The new system while more robust created a more tedious format for one of our daily (and constantly repeated) functions. The architecture of the new system would not allow a fix no matter how much money we might have thrown at them. We were upset because this was not properly demonstrated during the initial investigative phase. Needless to say this caused some tense conversations. My big boss happened to be in the meeting at the time and was also not amused. But, while unfortunate and most definitely annoying, it was not a deal breaker. It does mean some training issues are involved and some headaches for the end users for the first few months.

The second surprise came from a sub-vendor regarding hardware upgrades and would be a total deal breaker. The software to control the hardware had to be modified and the modifications were just not going to work for us. The sub vendor was a bit miffed and seemed completely at a loss that what they had designed wouldn’t work for us. It’s always funny watching folks who don’t routinely use the software they create get frustrated when the users don’t like it. There are certainly two sides to that coin but at the end of the day the user-base should be happy, or at the very least still be able to do everything they need to do. In this scenario, it just so happens some of SF’s daily operations are unique and created a conflict. Naturally, the fix requires more than just some drop-in code. The interface will have to be almost completely rewritten. From my perspective, I see it as poor programming as the issue deals with API calls and they wrote an interface with no flexibility. It was all or nothing and as-is, it was nothing for us. lol The good news is the vendor wants the contract bad and will bend over backwards to make it work within the budget constraints. Granted some money issues will be discussed but that is way above my pay-grade. I think we’ll end up with a decent fix.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitching or even unhappy. I’m actually glad I got to be part of the process. Being a bit technology-inclined I had a higher-knowledge base to work from. And while I may not have understood some of the hardware terminology, I was never once lost in the process. Both my coworker and myself pointed out some real issues along the way and the main vendor was very responsive to our needs.

In the end, the project will probably remain on budget but just barely and there will be some serious code re-writes to accommodate what we need. The rewrites are going into the base code which means less headaches anytime a system patch or small upgrade is put out. As for us, there will be some definite training issues and adjustments but overall the upgrade will make life easier for us. The project won’t go live until early 2014 so still plenty of time to hammer out the details.

I was very happy my boss included us because often times a lot of very important decisions get made about software w/o the end-user being consulted. Our input helped avoid some major problems that would have been over-looked otherwise. This of course, saves us a lot of grief being stuck with a product that only partially meets our needs.

  1. new as in newer than we have now but still mature as a product []

Comments

So I’m considering disabling my janrain plugin and switching to Intense Debate. I’m taking feedback from anyone who has used Intense Debate as an end user and/or on your own site.

This really only affects folks that log in via universal log-ins like Google, OpenID, Twitter, etc. Those of you who have your  own log-ins here, won’t be affected.1  The janrain plugin is easy to install but the back end setup takes more programming knowledge than I have to keep it running correctly. Plus, every time one of the big players update their api’s I end up having to start over with fixing it on my end. I don’t really have the time to screw with it. I like janrain because everything remains in-house, meaning all my comments are stored in my blog, not on someone else’s servers. This removes any problems with people not being able to comment if afore mentioned other servers go down.

There are a variety of comment management systems out there. I don’t like Disqus as I always have problems trying to use their platform from mobile devices. For whatever reason, the log-in mechanism never seems to go thru. Even worse, the comment box doesn’t seem to come thru as an actual box so I can’t activate the keyboard to type. Since about 70% of how I access blogs these days is thru mobile devices, I sure as hell ain’t planning to shoot myself in the foot. lol

Intense Debate seems to be very tightly integrated with WordPress. Instead of trying to hold all my comments, they sync with my WordPress installation. In simple terms, they keep comments added thru their platform on their servers but they also sync with my WordPress installation. In a nutshell, this means I get to keep my old and new comments. And, if I ever decide to ditch the platform I still keep all my comments. But wait, there’s more! I also don’t have to worry about mobile comments as my mobile plugin uses the WordPress built in comment system, which gets synced! I remember way back when I migrated from Blogger to WordPress, I lost all my comments. They didn’t have an import-comment function then and to do it manually was more headache than I wanted to research. Intense Debate also offers a variety of log-in options built into their platform. That means I don’t have to manage it on my own. You could still leave comments via your favorite universal long-in.

The only problem I can foresee is a user conflict if/when I switch over. Even when using universal log-ins, WordPress creates an internal user account on my blog tied to your email. I don’t know if a different platform like Intense Debate would understand if it’s the same user account or try to create a new one, which would generate a conflict. I sent Intense Debate an email asking how it would work since I couldn’t find anything in their FAQ or support pages.

Wish me luck!

  1. This means you still have access to all the “private” stuff I post from time to time. heehee []

Theme

I loaded a new theme on the ole blog site this week. I like the fact that is has tons of custom options, many of which I haven’t even begun to tinker with yet. The theme itself is clean, easy to read, as well as being easy on the eyes.1

The design also suits my mobile theme plugin. They are completely separate items but I like the symmetry of the look. The header can be set to slide to different images or load a new header on each page load. I’ll probably swap out headers at some point. Right now the one provided is nice and clean. I was gonna use one based on the new Google+ layout but it was too simplistic. I didn’t like it.

Anyway, the right column looks soooo much nicer now. It’s very easy to browse, read, and find info. I’m planning on deleting some of the Dandy ID links. Many of them I don’t use that often, if at all. Having them clutter up my blog is pointless. Sometimes less is better. I’ve already removed the “recent comments” box. It really didn’t add much. I’ll probably add a different one at some point but for now its gone.

I’m thinking of adding a photo slide/viewer in the right column. Ideas? Feedback? Suggestions? Hate it/Love it?

  1. Or at least I think so. 🙂 []

Sa-kur-atee!

I’ve noticed a huge upswing in attempts to crack the admin account for my blog lately. Way more than usual. Its no secret I monitor my log-in records. Its an easy way to spot people up to no good. I use a legacy hack from an old version of WP. It records your key strokes at log-in, your IP, how many times you fail to log in, etc. If I notice someone with too may attempts they get a friendly email (if I recognize them) or their IP blocked (If I don’t).

I can’t help but wonder if my last post might have spurred them on. hehehe  I keep a pretty good password on my admin account already. Plus, you only get 5 tries before the system blocks you anyway.1  If you can crack it in 5 or less tries, I probably deserve to be hacked.

As an extra precaution, I switched over to a different user account. You probably won’t notice anything different on your end. I figured one extra layer of protection wouldn’t hurt. The administrator account with WordPress comes with a default administrator account and you can’t delete it. That said, there is no reason you have to use it either. You can simply set the password to something incredibly complex and create your own account with admin privileges. Tip: If you use the same plugin mentioned above (or a similar one), incorrectly log into your default admin account until it locks up. Now its permanently locked until you reset your password by email or change it from your newer admin account. Most savvy bloggers do this already.2  I confess after I switched over to my new database last year I never got around to it. I know, BAD MOBY! lol

  1. courtesy of a little plugin called User Locker []
  2. Or they should! []

FB Log In

Ok, I think ( I THINK ) I got the damn log in for Facebook to work now. If you are on FB, please click the log-in link in the sidebar on the right, under “universal log-ins”, and attempt to sign into my blog with your FB credentials. Don’t worry, I’m not culling any data. Its strictly to allow FB’ers to log in. I’m not sure if it will post back to your FB page or not. I’m tinkering with code that is beyond my understanding.

Please post your success rate along with any error messages you might encounter in the comments.

Thanks!


**Update – I found an error in some of the code I was using and have changed it. anyone who hasn’t already tried or tried and failed, please try again. **

**Update II – After tons of hours tinkering and no support from the site provider, I’m removing the FB option for universal sign-ins. It only works randomly and with no explanation of why it fails. If you wish to use universal log-ins, you’ll have to use one of the others provided. **

FB Fail

If you’ve tried to log-in to my blog via Facebook recently you’ve probably noticed it ain’t working. Apparently, they changed the api for that shit and I don’t have the time or patience to go back and figure it all out again.

All of the other log-ins work though. Amazing how simple of the others were to setup but Facebook’s is a nightmare of BS. Why am I not suprised?

Third-Party Logins

Trying to get on the easy log-in bandwagon, I finally found a plug-in that allows (and actually works) users to log in using 3rd party accounts like Google, Yahoo, Openid, Blogger, etc. You’ll notice on the right side of the page a new section called 3rd party log-ins. I tested it and found it to be functional with a few caveats. If you are already a registered user, your log-in will still function from the sidebar or the log-in page.

Caveat #1

If for some reason leaving a comment invokes the captcha test, you will see the captcha but you’ll see some funny code regarding my header failing to load.  Don’t fret, after you pass the captcha just reload my blog page and you’ll see your comment. This was already happening as I use a hack to rotate my header images.

Caveat #2

Sadly,I could not get the Facebook login to work. I tried very hard but it was beyond my understanding and I didn’t have the time or patience to sort thru it. I may revisit it later, but I have removed that option for now. Anyone familiar w/Facebook’s API’s and/or the RPX plugin I’m using, feel free to help a brother out. :p ***Update – I got it working, you can log-in using Facebook. It will not currently post activity to your wall but its a start. ***

Caveat #3

And lastly, none of the social log-ins will allow you access to hidden content on my blog. Gasp! I know. lol  I can’t change that at current. There is no hand-off built in to allow private content on WordPress. Not that it really matters as I haven’t really been adding much of anything in that arena lately.

If you have any trouble, please email me directly at my email link, bottom right of page.

Blog Update

work file

check blog version – check

try internal update function – check

check plugins – check

check login script – check

check filter – check

delete htaccess file from image directory after plugin update – check

delete temp files

*update* – Ok, color me stupid. This was a private ‘to do’ file. Not sure exactly how I managed to publish it. lol Needless to say, I successfully upgraded my blog to 2.8.