Shared Bits 4-Year Anniversary

Updated on 2022-11-08

Wow, what a busy year it has been. I think the past year has been my busiest year blogging yet. I published 13 posts over the past year, including this post. My total post count since starting my blog now stands at 58. My most popular posts continue to be the two posts on a usable Debian Linux installation.

I received a Wordfence Security notice on 10/15/2021 that the Slimstat Analytics plugin I used for visitor analytics appeared to be abandoned since it hadn’t been updated since 10/15/2019. Comments on the plugin’s page seemed to indicate that something had happened to the developer. I opted to begin using AWStats. Later this year, I found out that someone else began developing the Slimstat Analytics plugin again, but I’ve elected to stick with AWStats. I think AWStats provides better analytics since it operates on the server side and it is not as resource intensive as the Slimstat Analytics plugin.

After encountering a particularly ugly bug a number of times in the Gutenberg editor since at least version 5.8 of WordPress in December last year, I once again longed for a simpler, more responsive, less buggy interface for creating my blog posts. The bug I encountered involved attempting to add a block after a custom HTML block. Doing so resulted in either the block not being added, or only being able to access the added block using the code editor.

I decided to take a look at Hugo. I installed Hugo on all of my Linux installs and purchased the book Hugo in Action on running the static site generator. I then began the laborious process of reading the book and going through the exercises.

I spent over a month reading up through part of chapter 5 of the Hugo in Action book, following along with the exercises on creating a site. By the middle part of February, I felt that I knew enough to pick out a theme and customize it for my needs.

Unfortunately, on February 20 I decided to give up on using Hugo as a possible platform replacement for my blog after spending a few days attempting to customize the HTML5 UP Arcana theme for Hugo. In my opinion, unless you can find a theme that exactly matches your needs (I couldn’t) or you’re willing to do without some desired features (I’m not), you need to be quite knowledgeable about coding in HTML, CSS, and possibly Javascript to customize an existing theme to meet your needs. I know just enough HTML and CSS to blog under WordPress and I don’t care to learn more than that.

In January, I thought I would repost a tutorial I last posted on the BunsenLabs forums on running Windows 7/8 under VirtualBox as a blog post. I completed the first draft and then I decided to go through the tutorial steps and compare them with the latest version of VirtualBox only to find out that the VirtualBox GUI has changed somewhat. I didn’t feel like redoing all of the screenshots and installing Windows 8 under VirtualBox, so I decided to scrap the post. I spent quite a bit of time putting the first draft together and it would have been a long post; 3,600+ words at last count.

In early 2022 I traded emails with Brian Shim about ad revenue. Brian’s responses finally prodded me to begin looking at Google AdSense alternatives in March in a desire to generate a revenue stream from my blog. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of options that I discovered. I soon determined that I needed at least an EIN (Employer Identification Number) and I possibly might need to come up with a company name instead of using my site name. In conjunction with an EIN and company name, I might also need to establish my company as a LLC (limited liability company).

Before venturing into creating a company name and possibly setting it up as a LLC, which would trigger an additional annual expense, I decided to read the book, From Blog to Business: How to Make Money Blogging & Work from Anywhere to determine if I really needed to setup a LLC. After reading the book, I determined that it would be worthwhile to go through the process of setting up a LLC to be able to offset my blogging costs as business expenses.

Unfortunately, my wife and I haven’t received our income tax refund yet, so I haven’t been able to put into action my plan on setting up a LLC and then working with potential candidates to serve ads on my blog.

On March 23, I attempted to upgrade the Wordfence Security plugin to version 7.5.9, but the upgrade failed. When a plugin upgrades, my site is placed in maintenance mode, meaning anyone visiting my site is unable to do so. I am also unable to login to my WordPress Admin panel under such circumstances.

I attempted to disable the Wordfence plugin to no avail, so I performed the nuke option by renaming my plugins folder to something else to disable all plugins. I was then able to log back into my WordPress Admin panel. I then logged back out, renamed the plugins folder back to its proper name, and then logged back into my WordPress Admin panel once again.

I had to reactivate all of my plugins, but to my horror Wordfence Security was not available. The UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore plugin came to the rescue as I had taken a backup of my site on 03/11/2022. I used the 03/11/2022 backup to restore Wordfence Security. Had I not had the backup, I might have had to reinstall Wordfence Security and reconfigure everything. I then ran the Wordfence Security 7.5.9 upgrade again and the upgrade successfully completed.

I had been contemplating getting rid of UpdraftPlus – Backup Restore because there are numerous updates at times. However, after the incident with the Wordfence Security 7.5.9 upgrade, I decided to keep the plugin, at least for now.

Toward the end of the summer of 2021, my hosting provider at the time, Name Hero, sent out an email about a new free service option offered for all Web hosting and reseller hosting accounts. The new service option was free CDN (content delivery network) from QUIC Cloud. I dismissed the offer because implementing the CDN required using www as part of your WordPress and site addresses. I mistakenly thought I needed to use my domain name without the www prefix because my domain name as provided by my domain name provider doesn’t include the prefix.

After making the appropriate changes, I went ahead and enabled QUIC Cloud CDN for my site sometime shortly after 03/22/2022. I’m not sure enabling QUIC Cloud CDN was worth the effort though as the speed difference at that time was negligible. I went from over 1 second to 993 milliseconds for my site to load after clearing my browser cache and performing a hard reload while on my site.

In 2021, I came up with the idea of creating memorial posts. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it. I asked my mother in 2021 for any photos she had of a list of individuals I provided who have passed away.

Three individuals whom I now have on my Rainlendar calendar as a memorial passed away in May. As April drew to an end, I decided I wanted to publish my memorial post on May 01 initially with the three individuals. I didn’t have the exact date of death for my paternal grandmother, so I contacted an individual whom I thought might have the information. I also began going through digital images of photos I had to prepare them for the post. I didn’t have an image for one individual, so I searched the Internet for candidates.

I initially thought I would post separate memorial posts as pages, but after seeing the option of sticking a post to the top of your site in WordPress, I opted to create one memorial post as an actual post.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating the memorial post. Writing the post and working with the images have brought back many memories.

Sometime in early May 2022, I was researching something related to WordPress (I can’t remember what it was), and I came across a review about the Cloudways cloud hosting service by Tom Dupuis on the Online Media Masters blog. I had pretty much decided to continue my web hosting service with Name Hero come July 2022 (even though I despised them because of their horrible tech support) because they offered free LiteSpeed Web server, free QUIC Cloud CDN, and I couldn’t find another provider that offered the same features for anywhere close to the price they offered.

However, the more I read Tom’s blog post and the more I researched what Cloudways offered, the more impressed I became with Cloudways. Although they only offered their service on a month-by-month basis, I eventually decided that I would switch my hosting service to Cloudways.

On May 08, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my blog started being archived on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine beginning in 2020. Therefore, if and when my blog ceases to exist, you will still be able to view archive snapshots of my blog on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

On May 14, I once again did a major reorganization of all of my blog images. All of my blog images are now under one main images directory/folder. Prior to the reorganization, my blog images were scattered among 3 or 4 main directories/folders. After reorganizing my blog images, I had to redo the featured image for all posts and then I had to change the links to all of the images used within each post. The reorganization was very cumbersome and time-consuming, but it had to be done. My blog images are much better organized now.

After completing my image reorganization project, I decided to begin uploading all of my featured images using secure FTP so that the images can be stored in a preferred folder. I then use the Add from Server functionality provided by the Add from Server plugin to import the images into the Media Library area of the WordPress admin panel.

Toward the end of June, I began planning to migrate my blog to another hosting provider. I thought I would be using Cloudways, but after using the hosting service for a few days in early July, I wasn’t totally happy with some of the shortcomings of using the service. Cloudways doesn’t provide email functionality by default, but they do provide add-on services that provide the functionality. While the cost was very cheap, the setup process seemed more complicated than I thought it should be. I also wasn’t able to get my additional login functionality to work prior to being taken to my WordPress Admin login page.

I came across the Hipster Pixel site last year while researching Jekyll as a possible alternative blogging platform. The site owners reference using Opalstack as their hosting provider. I looked at what Opalstack had to offer at that time, but I thought they were a bit pricey. However, when buying a one year plan, Opalstack provides two months of hosting service for free which worked out to be cheaper than hosting on Cloudways, so I decided to give Opalstack a try.

I had a bit of a rough start getting my blog set up on Opalstack because they do things a bit different than the previous two hosting providers I’ve used. After some trial and error, asking numerous questions in the community forums, and seeking help from Opalstack tech support a number of times, I finally have my blog mostly set up the way I desire. I’m planning on implementing a CDN (content delivery network) service sometime in the near future.

I’ve been awestruck by the quality of the tech support I’ve received from Opalstack. The Opalstack tech support is a night and day difference from the Name Hero tech support I received.

I needed to update my privacy policy due to the fact that I began using a different analytics program a few months ago. I have also wanted to reformat my privacy policy for quite awhile because I didn’t like the original format. Therefore, a week prior to publishing this post, I began working on updating my privacy policy.

The update took me about 3 days to complete, but I’m quite pleased with the new format. I think the new format is cleaner looking and much easier to navigate.

I’m looking forward to my fifth year of blogging. Leave your comments and questions in the Comment box below and thank you so much for visiting.

Post header image courtesy of Paul Stachowlak on Pixabay.


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