Keep your spam off of my Twitter

By now, we all know the value of Twitter. It is fun, exciting, informative a time suck and so useful. Unfortunately, spammers quickly saw that value as well and most users soon became inundated with automated bots sending requests to follow.

true twit

TrueTwit is a free site that will attempt to authenticate all followers who request to follow you. If it is recognized as a bot, the request will be rejected. It is only set up to authenticate any requests to follow AFTER you sign up for the service. Any spam accounts that you may already have will need to have a validation request manually sent to them.

It is still possible that a spammer can get through… but:

If a spammer is human, they will get through. The point of TrueTwit is to eliminate automated spam software from grabbing your attention. But as for now, if a user successfully fills out the CAPTCHA, they will be validated. We will be implementing a new feature to help with this issue in the future

It is quite simple to sign up. Simply fill in your Twitter user name and an email address. Then create a password for logging into the TrueTwit site (they do not need or ask for your Twitter password)

According to the About page,

TrueTwit is working on a system that will allow TrueTwit users to check for bots and spammers without using direct messages.  We expect to have this system in place soon.

It’s not perfect yet – there are still some kinks to work out. But it is definitely a step in the right direction. Spam is an unfortunate reality of the internet, and the less we have to deal with it the better.

(look for more answers to your questions on the FAQs page)

Twitter Hit by Denial-of-Service Attack

twitterIn what appears to be a Denial-of-Service Attack against Twitter, even the infamous “Fail Whale” is not visible to users attempting to access the micro-blogging site.

According to wiki-pedia, a “denial of service attack” is when hackers saturate a site with traffic to the point that it either slows or crashes the system.

“One common method of attack involves saturating the target (victim) machine with external communications requests, such that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. In general terms, DoS attacks are implemented by either forcing the targeted computer(s) to reset, or consuming its resources so that it can no longer provide its intended service or obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately.”

Twitter is, obviously, looking for the source cause and is attempting to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

UPDATED: 12:24pm EST – Twitter is up and running again. Things appear to be a bit slow, so be patient, as they are “continuing to defend against and recover from this attack,” according to their latest status update.

Dealing with Potential Issues From WordPress 2.8 Upgrade

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As you might have noticed over the last several days, things look a touch different around here. I have actually been working on a revamp of the site, behind the scenes, but the recent upgrade to 2.8 has necessitated that things temporarily change until I can get this new look up, as my current theme is having problems with the upgrade.

There have been several issues with the upgrade and I wanted to highlight a few and make a few suggestions. My thinking is, if someone like me – who has a great deal of confidence when it comes to dealing with technical issues had struggled with the upgrade, then it is highly probable that someone WITHOUT that confidence is right now struggling with the upgrade and wishing they could throw WordPress into a deep lake.

If you haven’t already upgraded to 2.8, the first thing to do is to backup your site. This may seem like a tedious task, but you need to be doing it anyway. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing everything on your blog. Let me say that again: If you don’t back up your blog (regularly), you may lose your entire blog.

Now, some of you may have the Automatic Upgrade plugin. I do, and this was how I upgraded my blogs. And each and every one of them had awful issues when I went back into the dashboard. My dashboard looked like it had been placed in a  blender on puree and then exploded all over my computer. It was a mess.

One of the biggest issues (and this is huge) was that I was unable to edit any of my posts. None. Nada. Zip. I couldn’t see them. This is what I saw in place of my posts, on my “visual” editor:

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(click for larger image)

The only way I could view what was there was by highlighting it. Even then, it was in HTML, not WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”).

In my attempts to fix it, I deactivated all plugins, tried various themes and contacted my hosting service (Dreamhost) – to see about reverting to my database with WordPress 2.7.1.

Nothing worked. Finally, I deleted my wp-admin and wp-includes directories and did the “On-Click Reinstall” that my hosting service offers. (Even if your hosting service doesn’t offer this, just download a NEW package/zip file and upload it to your host.) This solution worked and I am able to edit my posts once again.

All of the suggestions below come straight from the WordPress Support Forum, but I’m not sure that people are actually paying attention to this post. It’s a sticky post, and I think people are looking for someone to answer their particular question. I’m pretty sure that most issues will be resolved by using one of the suggestions mentioned.

That said – I am still running into problems with my widgets – I can’t move them around. BUT that is a plugin issue and not a WordPress issue. The authors of each plugin and theme are responsible for making sure their items are compatible with the newest WP version.

If you are having problems, hang in there! Follow the suggestions and steps below. And if you need more help with any of the steps, don’t be shy – Ask away in the WP Support Forum. That is what it is there for, and there are plenty of people offering help.

Insure backups are completed before doing the upgrade
1. See WordPress Backups

Can’t login to deactivate all plugins
1. Read How to deactivate all plugins when not able to access the administrative menus?

Try these things to resolve problems with Visual Editor and editor tool bar
1. Delete or refresh the browser cache

2. If using Gears, disable it and re-enable it again

3. Delete wp-admin and wp-includes directories and upload fresh copies from a new(important) install package or reinstall automatically

4. Visit http://yoursite.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/wp-tinymce.php and look for any PHP errors or warnings at the top. If there are any try contacting your hosting provider to resolve them or try the next step. Of course replace yoursite.com with your domain

5. Add define( ‘CONCATENATE_SCRIPTS’, false ); near the top of wp-config.php. That would make WordPress admin run slower, so can try removing it in a few days and testing again (this would eliminate any stale network cache)

6. Some people also reported success redoing the upgrade via Tools->Upgrade->Re-install automatically, then clearing the browser cache.

7. A number of plugins have been reported to present problems so deactivate all plugins and reactivate one-by-one to find culprit

8. Try another browser

9. Confirm that Your Profile, “Disable the visual editor when writing”, is NOT checked.

Try these things to resolve problems with Widgets such as not able to drag and drop
1. A number of plugins have been reported to present problems so deactivate all plugins and reactivate one-by-one to find culprit

2. In Appearance->Widgets under Screen options, try the Enable Accessibility Mode

3. Delete or refresh the browser cache

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of xxxxxxxx bytes exhausted
If deactivating plugins doesn’t work try one of these methods for increasing the amount of memory a PHP script may consume

1. If you have access to your PHP.ini file, change the line in PHP.ini
If your line shows 32M try 64M:
memory_limit = 64M ; Maximum amount of memory a script may consume (64MB)

2. If you don’t have access to PHP.ini try adding this to an .htaccess file:
php_value memory_limit 64M

3. Try adding this line to your wp-config.php file:
Increasing memory allocated to PHP
define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

4. Talk to your host.

Upgraded, can’t login and getting error message
In a few cases, the error message reports what plugin file is causing the problem so rename or delete the plugin folder, then try login again.

A post is repeatedly displayed on the blog’s main page
Likely a problem caused by a plugin so deactivate all plugins and reactivate one-by-one to determine the culprit.

Getting Warning: gzinflate() [function.gzinflate]: data error when doing the upgrade
1. Try redoing the upgrade via Tools->Upgrade->Re-install automatically
2. If that fails, disable all plugins and perform a manual upgrade (see Upgrading WordPress.

Upgrade causing error 500s
1. Deactivate all plugins and redo upgrade.
2. If necessary, perform a manual upgrade (see Upgrading WordPress.

Blank admin pages after login
1. Deactivate all plugins. See How to deactivate all plugins when not able to access the administrative menus?
2. If necessary, rename theme folder in wp-content/themes to cause WordPress Default theme to be place into service

Blank site after upgrade
1. Deactivate all plugins. See How to deactivate all plugins when not able to access the administrative menus?
2. If necessary, rename your theme folder in wp-content/themes to cause WordPress Default theme to be place into service, then see if there’s an upgrade for your theme

Getting Fatal error: Cannot use object of type WP_Error as array
1. Problem has been reported with the Options and Structure theme so look for upgrades
2. Change to the WordPress Default theme if necessary

Tags are not saved
1. If you using hyperdb, make sure to update it.

(photo: jmacphoto.com)

Free Web Radio

photo: alvazer

Do you listen to music while surfing the web? Working on your computer? Cleaning the house?

One site frequently overlooked when discussing social networking, Last.fm, also lets you listen to music and connects you with people who have the same tastes in music.

From the About Page:

Last.fm is a music service that learns what you love…

Every track you play will tell your Last.fm profile something about what you like. It can connect you to other people who like what you like – and recommend songs from their music collections and yours too.

…and as you use Last.fm, you make it better for you and everyone else.

When you recommend some music to a friend, or you tag it, or you write about it – even just listening to it – you shift the song’s importance on the site. It’ll be recommended to different people, because you’ve listened to it. It’ll move up our music charts and maybe more people will hear it because you thought it was good.

Listen to your favorite musicians; find new favorites. Share them with your friends and connect with others.

My Last.fm page.

What The?! – week 39

what the Guess what the following closeup is a picture of.

*For more info on the contest, please see this page.
**Let me know if you are interested in giving something away in the future. You would be responsible for getting it to the winner. This is a great way to promote a service or product that you sell/offer.

This weeks photo:

closeup week 39

Leave your guess in the comments.

Good luck!