No to Internet Explorer

Ever have a tough time trying to convince your friends and family to abandon IE (Internet Explorer)? Well now the French and German government is recommending their citizen to switch to non-IE browser. Apparently IE6 has a major vulnerability in which "Internet Explorer can be caused to allow remote code execution." In fact the same vulnerability exists in IE7 and IE8 too.

If there is a time to switch to other browsers, anytime now would be good. I have been using Firefox for some time now, and have no regrets switching over. I've also tried out the other alternatives like Google Chrome, Opera and Safari. In fact all of them perform much better than IE. In terms of speed of loading a webpage, I find they are much faster by 5 to 10 seconds. And that's a lot of waiting time wasted if you are browsing many web pages.

However majority of the users are still relying on good old IE. Using my analytics on my website, most visitors are still dropping by my website using IE. Figure at about 50-70% of them still use IE for browsing.

Why the resistance? Perhaps resistance to change is the factor. Majority of the people are not really technical savvy and to switch over from say IE to Firefox would be a struggle for them.

Heck, even my dad struggled a lot when he was using Windows 2000, and when he switched over to Windows Vista, it took him a long time to finally settle down with it. And now Windows 7 is out and naturally he is resistant to change the operating system. And my dad is considered not too bad, if it was my dad-in-law, switching on the computer is a struggle for him (he didn't even know he has to switch on both the LCD display and the computer too! And he complained to me that his computer was not working!).

So as far as Internet Explorer goes, it will still dominate the browser market for a long time to come despite its shortcomings and despite the fact that there are better browsers like Firefox, Opera, or Chrome.

Here's something from Sitepoint about "IE must die", heh heh:

Here's a tasty bit of schadenfreude for all of you troopers in the "Internet Explorer Must Die" Army: in the wake of the attacks on Google, the German, French, and Australian governments have all advised us to stop using Internet Explorer. Microsoft's Security Advisory points out that a vulnerability can be found in versions 6, 7, and 8, and recommends that you update to IE8 as soon as you can in order to take advantage of DEP -- Data Execution Protection. On the Microsoft Security Response Center's blog, you'll find videos explaining DEP and how it can help you.

It's important to remember, though, that any browser could be introducing undiscovered bugs and vulnerabilities right now. If you make the switch to another browser, it's important to always keep an eye out for updates, patches, and critical issues that could affect you.

Many of our readers and community members have long wanted an end to IE for good, and you'll find that exact sentiment in the majority of the responses posted about it on our Facebook page. Of course, many of these people had already abandoned Internet Explorer long ago in favor of other browsers, though some of you might be trapped on Internet Explorer at work. If you're in an IE-only workplace, what are your IT staff doing about this concern? We're curious here at SitePoint HQ, and we'd love to know how this issue may be affecting you. Drop us a line!
- Raena Jackson Armitage

Wordpress Websites

Wordpress is one of the most popular software app. You can find many Wordpress websites just about anywhere. Even I myself am using Wordpress for my blogging and website creation. It is very versatile.

If you want to build a free website using Wordpress, you can get one at Wordpress.com and sign up for an account there. However using a free website in Wordpress.com may not be the best option. Ok, ok, I should be supporting Wordpress, after all they do provide free download of their software to be installed into your paid hosted website.

And for those who don't want to pay for anything and still like to use Wordpress as their blogging platform, they can build a free website by signing up with them.

But as your needs grow, you will find the free offering is not as versatile as say Google's Blogger/Blogspot in that you can't place any advertisement into your Wordpress blog account. However Wordpress do provide some premium offering to increase your requirement. It took me a while to finally find out the price. Wordpress did not display their premium pricing publicly and I only found out about the pricing after deciding to explore their free Wordpress blog by signing up.

The premium offering can be cost effective as you are just picking up what you want as your needs grow. However in the long run if you are adding up each premium offering, you may end up paying a lot more than just going straight into a paid hosting with a Wordpress installation.

Wordpress premium rates

All the offerings are on a per year basis. And if your needs is not a lot, perhaps you just need to add a domain and Custom CSS that comes to about $29.94 per year.

And that was just what my friend did. He got a domain from GoDaddy and pointed it to Wordpress.com and used the mapping functionality which cost $9.97 and bought the Custom CSS for $14.97 so that he could modify the them to include some Google Adsense in his Wordpress blog.

Unfortunately that was not to be. It didn't work. The Adsense wouldn't come out. Originally the free Wordpress.com will not allow you to paste any Adsense or any Javascript from any affiliate. And the addition of the Custom CSS still do not allow any Javascript to work either and I didn't see any offering in their upgrade that allow for adding any Adsense or other affiliate codes.

So he has just plunk in his money for nothing. Although there is a refund policy of 30 days, but I think he may have exceeded the days after trying it for some time.

So in the end, I advise him to get a paid web hosting. There are many cheap and good web hosting companies around to choose from. It is not always that you need a lot of bandwidth and storage space. So a simple and cheap web hosting account might be all that you need as you are starting out. You can always upgrade later if you need more space and bandwidth transfer.

There are always some pitfalls when trying to build a free website. But if your needs are simple, free is good. But if your website ambition is to blog to promote yourself and your work, it might be better to go for a paid hosting. The upgrade offering from Wordpress.com just didn't suit my friends requirement. And if you planning to go for free now, and then thought perhaps later you want to upgrade to expand your website functionality then you need to think carefully about what you want to do with your website.

If it will tie in with your work and business later. Then don't try to build a free website. Go straight to building one with a paid web hosting company.

And of course if you want to really succeed in building a website, try Sitesell Site Build It. They have the best tools for creating a successful website. And of course, it cost a mint, but it is worth every penny. Scrimping initially won't get you far in the long run. Better to jump headlong into it if you know the direction you are heading.

Wordpress vs Blogger

Which should you use? Wordpress vs Blogger. And when I say Wordpress as in self hosted Wordpress not the free hosted one at Wordpress.com. So maybe this comparison may not be so good, because Blogger/Blogspot is free hosted. So maybe the comparison should be self hosted blog vs free hosted blog.

Anyway, I am using both self hosted Wordpress and Google Blogger/Blogspot. Both has their pros and cons. Sometimes we don't want to rely 100% on the free offering because we may not be able to control what happens to the free hosted blog. However Google is a big and cash rich company so there is some assurance that Blogger/Blogspot will not have a major change in its structure anytime soon.

Wordpress as a free open source software has been improving over the years and it is getting better and better. With better user interface and ease of publishing as well as the many free template offering, one could easily set up on a web hosting company and start blogging or creating a website almost immediately.

However doing a self hosted blog like Wordpress do require some good maintenance. You must always make sure you have hardened it against malicious hackers. Just recently I receive some warning from my Wordpress security that some hacker from Ukraine tried to do SQL injection. They even attempted to guess what kind of plugin that I have and exploit those weaknesses found in those plugin that has not been properly programmed. And before that some Koren hacker also attempted to hack into my Wordpress installation.

I don't know why my Wordpress installation is now the target of malicious hacker nowadays. I never experience any on my other website Wordpress installation. Anyway one could never be careful. So If you are not the kind that like to update your installation and putting up various security to protect your installation, it might be best that you avoid installing Wordpress onto a self hosted web hosting company.

And the alternative? Build a free website using blogger/blogspot. Why didn't I suggest the free alternative at Wordpress.com? Well for one, you can't really customize the theme and if you want to place some banner ads like Google Adsense, you can't at all unless you sign up for their premium service. The idea here now is to build a free website blog.

And of course you want to plug in your domain name to personalize the website, you could only do so with Blogger but not at Wordpress.com

So when it comes to free hosted, Blogger is better than Wordpress. But for self hosted, there isn't any Blogger system around for you to install. So the best option is to use Wordpress but you must put in some effort to maintain it and secure it.

Buddy Press

This is an interesting open source software from Wordpress, the Buddy Press which is a little like a multi-purpose, social website like software that you can build a free website for blogging and running a forum and groups. Well open source software is free. Your cost is the time to install and explore the software and see if it is what you like or fit in to your website strategy.

While looking through the software offering in my Bluehost Simple Script list, I noticed they provided some new software under the heading of Social Networking. There were two software listed, Pligg and BuddyPress. Intrigue, I decided to give them a spin.

The Pligg installation went badly, and I decided to chuck it to another day for testing. So that left me with Buddy Press. Like Wordpress, the installation was smooth. The interface was similar with that of Wordpress and it has some interesting features. Not only could you blog just like Wordpress, it has a forum system build into it. And for socializing, it has group function, I think similar to Yahoo groups for posting and sharing information within a group.

However this Buddy Press software is still new and trying to find a nice Buddy Press theme is not so easy at this moment as there are not many choices around to choose from. In the meantime, I think I will not use it for now from the lack of Buddy Press themes as well as from lack of good plugins. The few Buddy Press themes that I tried looked funny and weren't very functional either. Eventually there would be more of these when it becomes more popular.

Good plugins for bbPress

After digging around online for awhile, I finally settle on a few plugins for bbPress than does a good job at weeding out web spammers. Sheesh, these people really cause a load of headache for any would be webmasters, fortunately there are many tools created by very smart programmers to weed out these bad people online.

I finally found some good plugins for my bbPress that could do just what I wanted:
1. Weed out bots from humans during the registration phase
2. Mass delete the existing spammers who now number about 5000!

The few plugins that I settled for are:
a. mass delete users
b. recaptcha for bbpress
c. human test

After giving a quick spin after installation it worked flawlessly! So one more up against those pesky web spammers.

If you plan for a lightweight software to build a forum website, bbPress is a very good recommendation with its Akismet spam busting ability and a little help from the plugins above, making it one of the best new free forum website application around!

To get bbPress goto http://bbpress.org

The plugins are in the "Extend" tab.

Cheers!
Jan.

Akismet for punBB

I have been looking around for a good forum application to build a website forum. When building a forum website, one of the most important criteria for me is the banishment of spam. This is a headache just for about every webmaster who attempt to build a website forum. I have installed several forum apps into my website just to study its interface, ease of use, etc. All I did was put in one little link from my main site and before long, I start to see spammers getting into their terrible act of stuffing links into my testing forum!

How on earth did they find my little unknown for testing only forum website, I wonder? Anyway, web spam is a big issue.

When it comes to choosing a forum for website, most people will suggest phpBB as it is the most well known and widely used bulletin board web application software around. Having tried it, I don't like it at all. It is a very heavy application, rather slow because it tries to do so much making it very code heavy. With all its sophistication it has some very bad flaws resulting in many security issues. And for such a sophisticated forum software it doesn't even have Akismet anti-spam build-in. Well you can plug it in yourself. But heard that it was a nightmare to put any plug-ins at all.

So far the only forum software that I found that has Akismet build in is bbPress. But this is a fairly new bulletin board. From the creators of Wordpress, bbPress is build from the gound up. It runs pretty fast, very lightweight, but still lacks many features. But from what I see, I think it will do very well in the future. I have started using this for one of my travel forums and it does a very good job at weeding out those web spammers. The only thing left which I hope they will provide in future is an en-masse deletion of users who are marked as spammers or better yet auto deletion of inactive members. Already as of writing there is 4,000 users and 99% of them are spammers!

Currently I'm looking at another lightweight website forum software, punBB. It looks nice and seem to have a good interface. Unfortunately it does not have a build in Akismet anti-spam feature. This resulted in many spammers logging in and doing their misdeeds. There is plug-in but unfortunately their website has been hacked in and just visiting their website would result in virus installing into your PC. The link is here but I would suggest you tread very carefully here.

http://www.punres.org/viewtopic.php?id=1850

I won't download the plugin just yet until they clear out the malicious code from their website. From those who did install the plugin, it seemed to work very well.

But for now, I'll stay off this code for fear the malicious code has infected the plugin too. But I will give this code a look see in the future one they have solve the virus infection problem.

For now, I guess I will just have too look around and see what other forum software that are easy to use, lightweight, and can especially solve those pesky web spammers!

Wordtracker is still Free

Ya, ya. My mistake. Wordtracker Free Keyword tool is still free. The other day when they plonked in an email promoting their free trial for seven days of their full version mislead to think that they were shutting off their Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool.

You can still find it here:
Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool

For those who don't know, keywords are what people key-in in the search box when they want to search for a specific items. It turns out that majority of people when searching for a particular item will key in the same keyword to look for that information. Most keywords that are typed in are shot ranging from one to a few words. And for those more specific searches they would key-in keyword phrases. Keyword phrases are difficult to measure as it is long. But for those short keywords, majority of the people will start their searches from there.

The idea of keywords is that when you make your own website be it free or otherwise, your article or content got to be related to those keywords or it wouldn't be found.

However just placing those specific keywords in your article or website is no guarantee that you will get website traffic. There are more to it. That's why there is a melange of SEO companies out there offering their services promising that they can get your website on 1st page listing on the specific keywords that is related to your website.

Mind you, their services are not cheap, and of course they have to deliver. But the listing of your website or webpage is sort of a yo-yo process. I have seen some of my pages go up quickly and then fall in the page listing. And yet there are some pages that stood the test of time and remain strong in the search engine.

There is no secret. You can fool the robots some of the time, but you can't full them all the time. Especially the search engine companies like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask are constantly tweaking their search engine. No matter how the SEO tries to reverse engineer the algorithm, a tweak here and a tweak there by the search engine and SEO trick is gone.

The best bet in the end is good solid content or good solid application because the main judge of whether your website or webpage is useful will depend on the human visitor. If they like what you have they will return again and again.

The Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool is just that, a tool to help give you ideas on how to attract the right traffic for your given content or application when you build your own website be it free or otherwise.

Here is the link again.
Wordtracker Free Keyword Tool

And for those who really want to make a success from building their website, this one is really recommended. It may be expensive, but their build in Wordtracker Tool plus all the tools needed to make a successful website is there. I'm using it and I can say it is much better than using normal web hosting if you really want to attract lots and lots of website traffic!

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