Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Using GeoIP.dat and Apache on cPanel / WHM to block 75,000+ attacks on wp-login.php in one day Jun 4 2014

Client denied by server configuration - protect wp-login.php

After yet another brute-force attack on our servers hosting WordPress sites today I finally decided it was time to take some drastic action.  There are a number of different approaches you can take, this is what I did to block literally over 75,000 attacks against wp-login.php today.

Step 1: Install the GeoIP database and Apache module

Step 2: Add this to /usr/local/apache/conf/includes/post_virtualhost_global.conf

# Whitelist countries allowed to access wp-login.php or wp-comments-post.php
<FilesMatch "(wp-login|wp-comments-post)\.php$">
SetEnvIf GEOIP_COUNTRY_CODE US AllowCountry
SetEnvIf GEOIP_COUNTRY_CODE CN AllowCountry
order deny,allow
Deny from all
Allow from env=AllowCountry
ErrorDocument 403 "Forbidden."
</FilesMatch>

(We have some clients in China who need to legitimately login to WordPress, so we included them in the whitelist). Adjust your whitelist / allowed country list appropriately.

Restart apache service httpd restart and start watching the attacks get served up “Forbidden.” messages instead of hitting WordPress and database. Server load way down, yay! Sorry rest of the world, you can’t have our wp-login.php anymore.

How to find an excellent local coffee shop for getting work done Dec 27 2012

Actual Cafe in Oakland

As a web designer who owns my own business, I have the option of working anywhere I can get a good Internet connection and mobile phone coverage. For a while I’ve been exploring different coffee shops / cafes in the East Bay and have discovered a couple of good indicators to tell you if it will be a good cafe for working or not.

#1: Check the Yelp Reviews

Yelp iPhone app

The first place I usually start when I’m looking for a new coffee shop to try is doing a search on Yelp (either Yelp.com or using their excellent iPhone app), usually searching for places nearby that match “coffee shop wifi”.  If you then filter by Rating and Open Now, the top picks will almost certainly be excellent places to try.  If you already know about Yelp, this is probably a “duh” type of recommendation, but if you haven’t tried it or used it a whole lot lately, give it a go.  For extra points, leave a review of your experience on Yelp to help others find the good stuff.

#2: Good Atmosphere

The best coffee shops are the product of love.  It’s a very hard business to be successful in, and some places do a very good job of letting you know how much care and thought they’ve put into creating the sort of environment you’ll be comfortable sitting in for hours.  Starbucks and Peet’s have done a good job of creating a consistent experience no matter which location you go to, but they will always be less interesting than a local, independent coffee shop will be.

 

Business Cards

 

#3: Business Card Boards

It’s a funny thing, but coffee shops that are beloved by “locals” tend to have a bulletin board, usually placed somewhat prominently, full of pinned-on business cards, fliers, and other community sharing resources.  They also will often have a lot of local event or show fliers for people to peruse.  If you find a thriving business card bulletin board, that’s a good sign you’ve found a good spot.

#4: Local Focus

The best coffee shops tailor their offerings to their local community.  This could include holding regular charity-focused events, using local coffee roasters, featuring local product makers and playing a role in the greater community.  If the coffee shop has a booth at the farmer’s market, bonus points.

#5: Artsy Art

Coffee shops are a great place to see some new artwork, and for artists to get exposure for their work.  Rotating art shows help stimulate your creative impulses, and also lend vibrancy to the atmosphere.

 

Latte

 

#6: Delicious Drinks and Tasty Pastries

This is another obvious thing to look for, but delicious, expertly prepared drinks are worth seeking out.  One way I’ll check for this ahead of time is to look at the Yelp pictures for a place.  If the lattes look interesting and like the barrista paid attention to what they were doing, that’s  a good sign of quality.  The ingredients that places use are also a good sign — organic Clover milk and fresh-roasted beans?  Yes please!  You can easily pay a bit more for a drink but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly since the better places try to pay their employees living wages.

#7: Strong WiFi

MacBook Pro keyboard

Even if you have data tethering for your cell phone (as I do myself) it’s very nice to have good pipes for your Internet connection.  The best coffee shops can be full of people, all using their laptops, streaming music and YouTube videos, and you’ll still have a fast and reliable connection.  It’s not a bad idea to ask if there’s a password when you’re ordering your drink.

#8: Sofas, Seats and Tables

I enjoy coffee shops that have comfortable places to sit and stay a while.  I don’t mind working with my laptop on my lap, so working on a couch is feasible for me.  Some days I prefer a table instead, and having available seating is key.  The most popular coffee shops will be pretty packed, but you should still be able to find a spot.  Having a variety of seating options is very nice.

#9: Power to the People

Outlet

Power outlets can be a precious commodity.  One pro-tip is to bring a 3-way splitter.  That way you will never go without power for your laptop — you can always sneak in.  Most of the coffee shops I spend a lot of time in have ample power outlets (another thing you can check for in the comments people leave in Yelp reviews).  This makes spending more time there feasible, because otherwise it will be a max of a couple of hours before the power runs out.  You know a coffee shop is serious about attracting regular in-shop workers if they provide power strips so there is always an outlet for everyone.

#10: Get Friendly

Coffee shops are an excellent place to meet new people.  Express some interest in what people are doing around you, but don’t be overbearing, or interrupt when they’re in the middle of something.  I’ve met a number of new clients just by sharing what I was working on, or talking with people about their projects.

#11: Clean Bathrooms

Clean bathrooms are a good sign of a well-kept coffee shop.  You’re going to have to go, so it’s nice when the bathrooms are kept tidy and are regularly attended to.

#12: Walkable or Bikeable?

I usually prefer to walk or bike to work — it’s a nice addition to the day to get a little bit of outdoor exercise.  If a coffee shop is bikable or walkable, that moves it up in my list.  If you need to drive, then good parking is another thing to check for.

Headphones

 

#13: Bring Headphones or Earplugs

If you get distracted easily, bring a good pair of headphones or earplugs and you can listen to music (or just quiet the background noise)

#14: Don’t Forget to Tip!

Barristas don’t make a ton of money.  If you find a place you like, be sure to leave a tip every time you make a purchase.  It helps keep a good atmosphere, and you won’t overstay your welcome.  You’ll be one of the regulars.  You want to be a net positive addition to the environment, and everyone appreciates being appreciated.

#15: Get Out There and Explore

Don’t get stuck in only one coffee shop, forever.  Explore your local options and see what you like the best about each place.

My current local favorite coffee shops to work at in in the East Bay:

Berkeley: Local 123A ‘Cuppa Tea

Oakland: Actual Cafe, Nomad Cafe, Bica, Spasso, Arbor Cafe, Gaylord’s

Lafayette: Panache Cafe

Walnut Creek: Cafe La Scala

What are your top criteria for coffee shops?  Where should I try next?

Value and Valor – Bringing your A Game Dec 14 2012

Hand-painted sign - A

It’s the end of 2012, and I’ve been thinking about the idea of creating value lately. What makes something valuable, what makes it good, what makes anything worth having? What makes a person valuable and worth having as a friend?

If someone behaves in a way that is considered valuable, especially in the context of a larger community, we say that they’ve acted with valor. There is honor in acting this way. The opposite of this is cowardice.

We measure value in terms of money — it is how we’ve standardized the exchange of value. If I do something of value for one of my clients, there is usually a transfer of money to recognize that. More important than the money, however, are the feelings, emotions, and communications that happen. Gratitude, fulfillment.

Why are the richest people rich? I think that most people who become rich arrive at that state of being because they have found a way to deliver or realize an extraordinary amount of value that they’ve been able to transfer to other people, which those other people then exchange their own value-units (money) for. Some folks do this in ways that I have no desire to emulate, and some are worth studying and learning from.

What should I be doing with my life? I’ve seen advice from people that we should follow what we love. Why? Because when we focus our time, attention, money, energy and soul into an activity, we get better at doing it. When we get better at doing it, we are able to communicate or transfer more value outwards.

My focus for 2013 is to try to deliver the maximum amount of value I possibly can to as many people as possible. — to try to give the most I can. Not for money, but because that is the person I want to be.

People who act unselfishly on the behalf of others are considered to be valorous — they are recognized as being valuable people, because of what they do. That is the person I want to be, not for glory, but for the true happiness that comes from being a help to others.

Please call me on this if you see me acting like a jerk, or if I can do better. And consider for yourself, are you prepared to commit to being the best version of yourself that you can imagine?

Classic Personal Productivity Tip: Inbox Zero method Aug 23 2011

In case you haven’t seen this video yet, you should watch it. Once I adopted the Inbox Zero system (which took about 30 minutes to do the first time) it literally changed my life for the better.

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UjeTMb3Yk

Email verbs:

Delete Delegate Respond Defer Do

More here: http://inboxzero.tumblr.com/

WordPress 3.1 is released! Feb 23 2011

Our WordPress upgrader dashboard

We have 82 installations of WordPress on our servers and are excited for the new release of WordPress 3.1. There are a bunch of neat new features, but probably the thing that most of our clients will notice first is that there is a new admin bar that will show up for them. Should be fun managing the upgrades. 🙂

Read more about the new update here.

Evolution of a stadium billboard advertisement Aug 28 2009

One of my clients (ARMS – Athlete Relationship Management Software) needed a billboard design to be displayed in a university stadium.  Here are some of the revisions we made, going from the first draft to final version. The requirements were to build two square billboards, one 24″x24″ and the other 8’x8′.

First version:
In the first draft, I simply pulled elements from the existing ARMS website and adapted them for use in a square billboard. This involved scaling up the background gradients and building the rest of the artwork from the original elements — logo files and fonts to ensure maximum crispness when printed.
ARMS Billboard - First version

Second version:
In the next revision we decided to emphasize the software messaging by putting the URL into an easily recognizable button element. We also substituted some different language in place of the website’s tagline.
ARMS Billboard - Second version

Third version:
Changed the button color to blue to stand out more against the orange background and adjusted the wording to be more concise and less crowded.
ARMS Billboard - Third version

Fourth (final) version:
In the final version, I made a number of final tweaks to the design, including emphasizing the logo highlight more so it will show up better when viewed at a distance. I also whittled the marketing message down to 3 simple bullet points, more easily read by the intended audience — coaches and athletic directors. A final increase in the height of the button helps the URL to stand out a bit more, and some bottom gradient arcs help complete the design and add additional movement and interest.
ARMS Billboard - Final version

The final full-size Photoshop PDF for the 8’x8′ 150dpi file is 46.6 MB, compressed into a ZIP file only 6.9MB.

Learn more about the leading Athlete Relationship Management Software.

Vogon Poetry is now available in the App Store! Apr 11 2009

Click here to get Vogon Poetry

I’m proud to announce the immediate availability of our Vogon Poetry application for iPhone and iPod Touch. You can get it in the App Store for $2.99.

Click here to check it out!

Going to SXSW in Austin, TX this year Mar 12 2009

Got the badge! #sxsw

Finally I’m going to SXSW in Austin, TX this year. Now I get to be one of the cool kids. Or something like that.

Pictures from the trip:

How to file a DBA (Doing Business As / Registration of Fictitious Name) in Missouri for $7.00 Oct 23 2008

Grilling
Now we’re cookin! 🙂

It’s surprisingly simple to get a Fictitious Name registered in Missouri, and it only happens to cost $7.00.

Simply click here: Missouri Registration of Fictitious Name and then fill out two simple online forms (takes about 1 minute), submit your credit card info for $7.00 and you’ll get an immediate confirmation of your name and PDF invoice and registration documents to download.

Very handy if you’re applying to something like the iPhone Developer Program and they need to see documentation… 🙂

Formula Sensei - iPhone formula calculator

Formula Sensei - iPhone formula calculator

150 open documents in Photoshop – long day of work May 14 2008

screenshot
This is after a long day of work building out a new website: TeamMercy.com. Lots and lots of graphics there. Good times.



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