How to Make Your WordPress Blog Not Run Faster by Using a CDN That Goes Out of Business and You Suddenly Realize After the Fact That Maybe It Wasn’t Such a Good Idea In the First Place

My difficulty instituting a CDN continues

 

I had been using a CDN, the acronym for “Content Delivery Network”, to deliver the pictures on this blog to your browser. The reason for doing this is to speed up the load time of the web page and it certainly fit in my “Experiments with WWW” or whatever I’m calling it. A CDN stores your pictures/videos/whatever (content that is larger than the rest of the html in a site) and when the page loads your server doesn’t have to spend a bunch of time pushing that heavy content around, it can focus on the simpler and faster html  and associated scripts.

 

But, what happens when your CDN provider gets shut down and you didn’t even notice? Or get a notification? And what if that happens at exactly the same time that you upgrade your caching plugin, which leaves a file on your server that breaks the website? And not just your website, but the other three websites on the same host? What happens is that even if you put your server right side up again, all of the pictures that you call on the deceased CDN no longer answer.

 

Oh MY GOD this is SO boring!

 

The CDN I was using was called “SimpleCDN“. SimpleCDN logoAs I recall, they offerered 150Mb of storage, and up to a Gb download per month for $FREE. I’m using MAYBE 10% of that. I could pay some “cloud” service like Amazon $100.00/mo. And there are others, most of which are as expensive. SimpleCDN “fit my needs”, as they say. Apparently, SimpleCDN were using a hosting service then reselling it as a content delivery network. This article explains it better than I will, so you should read it if this type of thing is interesting to you. So the host shut them down. Hit the kill switch, with no advance notice. UH OH! Now you have subscribers who are using your service to run their websites, and they all go dark (sort of, I mean, their content wouldn’t be visible if the page tries to refer to stuff on the CDN server).

 

Two lessons I learned from this experiment:

 

  1. You get what you pay for. This is an immutable natural law. Whether it be for Graphic Design, a CDN, or a bottle of wine.
  2. If you want your blog to stay online, you MUST do some maintenance and pay attention to all the stuff you have tacked on to it.

 

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How to Make a Blog on WordPress using Network Solutions

WP_logo1- Buy a domain name (like www.jefflazerus.com)
2- Buy a hosting account on Network Solutions
3- Install WordPress out of the “Tools” panel in your account manager area
4- Login and post, but don’t expect it to work the same each time, and always expect some new useless (?) upgrade from WordPress at random times.

UPDATE 11/05/09:

Network Solutions now allows you to buy a WordPress hosting package, without shared hosting or the high end virtual server, for something like $4.00 US. If you just want WordPress on a nice stable platform, this could be a good solution. If I were going to add WP to a commerce site that already exists I would seriously consider this option.

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Turn and face the strange

For the two people who regularly read this blog 😉 ,  I wanted to put up a quick post to say that I’m evaluating the whole thing aesthetically and from the content standpoint. Changes are in the works. My idea (to do experiments with the www and report on them) took a bit of a turn into a marketing and advertising opinion blog, and there really are quite enough of those out there, although it just so happens that those issues are the most read. My time to write has been constrained by work issues, specifically the fact that I am now a full time employee of a marketing agency, and I’m not certain about the appropriateness of my opinions in relation to the company, and I need to look at that before I write any more about that subject.

I’ve already changed the WordPress theme, and I will be spending some time sprucing it up. I apologize in advance for any breakages/hideousness/anomalies or links that get destroyed.

There is some interesting comment activity going on, in the older posts. I am going to investigate it, I am not convinced that these recent comments are just people who have an interest in the subject matter. Stay tuned for a post about it, if I can figure anything out. My bounce rate is still higher than I want, so I will be adding things to make that go down.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, thank you, stay tuned, the next generation of this might be interesting. Please let me know what you think.

How “Mine Magazine” stepped on itself and exploded

Please for the love of god keep in mind that this blog is completely my opinion. I really respect and admire the effort Lexus and their marketing/advertising people have put in over the years to create a truly personalized experience for customers and prospects alike. They’ve done some really creative things, things which even I have had the unique pleasure of contributing to while at the now semi-famous Rastar, doing variable data programming work. Lexus truly are cutting edge and have shown how digital printing technology can benefit everyone in the marketing supply chain, when well thought out and well executed.

I read WITH GREAT INTEREST about Time’s new “Mine Magazine”, touted by some in the print industry as the variable data savior of all that we know and love in a very problematic era. The idea is very sound: allow readers to choose their own interests and create a magazine that is directly relevant to those interests. A magazine publisher with many titles (like Time) could potentially get more subscriber interest this way. I like Travel & Leisure, Money, Food & Wine, and Time news. I don’t really care about Sports Illustrated or InStyle.

So, they can custom-make (not really, but in a way) a magazine tailored specifically to my interests. Panacea! (I like to reserve certain words for proper dramatic effect. Plus, panacea is just a cool word!) Anyway, a couple of weeks after ordering Mine, I get an email:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for subscribing to mine magazine. We want to let you know that a computer error may have affected the first issue you received this week. It’s possible that this issue did not contain the combination ofmagazine content you selected. Please know that the problem has been resolved, and that each of your subsequent issues will reflect the exact content you originally requested.

In appreciation of your support, we have extended your five-issue subscription to include a sixth free issue ofmine. You can also access real-time mine content through your smartphone device at http://mine.mwap.at.

We apologize for the inconvenience and, again, thank you for being among the very first to experience mine.

Best regards, 
Wayne Powers
President, Time Inc. Media Group

 

Wow. The whole point of Mine (sorry, mine with the lower case em for added coolness), is that it is customized to my preference. Botching this one thing is the ONLY POSSIBLE mistake that would ruin the effect. They made the ONLY POSSIBLE MISTAKE that would damage their reputation. Worse, though, is that at a time when printing in general and digital printing in particular need as much good PR as an industry can get, this happens. I can hear the critics now doing the “I told you digital printing is all hype” song and dance. 

I can talk. I have been personally responsible for quality control in digital printing jobs like this many, many times. I have seen mistakes like this that cause $25,000 in postage go up in smoke (another story). I’ve seen Roger’s face get printed on the back of Alex’s card, etc. The thing is, it doesn’t have to happen. Ever. Digital printing, is NOT THE SAME as traditional printing. It’s got that whole ugly database thing embedded. It really is like a landmine. 

I would like to offer my services to Time Magazine as a Variable Data expert. Of course, it’s possible they have laid off all the experts as a cost cutting measure, and perhaps that’s why this happened. Just conjecture, ya know? Just conjecture. THANK GOD they got they variable elements in the Lexus ad correct. That was cool.

Read more articles about mine in the mainstream press and other blogs: 
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Social Networking simplified

I love this chart. Brian Solis combines intersting data about social networks, analysis, and a nice readable representation.

 

The Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism

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A New Era of Marketing Gobbledygook

Paying people to hold signs is one of the olde...

Marketing has long been the platform of choice for $#!t-shovelers, wise-crackers, pseudo-scientists, bs-artists, hucksters, shysters, and so on. I believe the Post 9-11, post-internet-boom, “social media” era has upended a large rock under which these people have been hiding, crawling, secretly practicing their weasel words, inventing new ones, creating verbs out of nouns and vice versa, and collecting data by polling each other on their blogs in order to come up with a NEW AND IMPROVED proven method for separating the average person from his hard earned money.

To wit:

I am the Knowledge Sharing Partner, meaning that I am tasked with ensuring information is distributed, knowledge is gained, and best practice deployed for systems and tools to help learning within, and beyond, the company.

It’s hard to summarise what we do succintly but here is our attempt at explaining ourselves in the digital marketplace we work in.

We believe in working collaboratively with our clients to understand their business goals.

We believe in gaining an intimate understanding of our clients’ customers, their behaviours and motivations, the language they use and the networks and communities they belong to.

We believe that a successful brand understands, grows with and seeks to become more influential within its network – it connects with its customers.

We believe in communicating with people authentically, every step of the way is what builds trust in a brand.  Trust is the only basis for a long lasting relationship.We believe in working with responsible clients who understand the need for  an authentic approach. 

What do we do?

We create simplicity out of this complexity.

We help you understand your new opportunities and where to get started.

We find the people that matter most to your business, identify the language they use, describe what they’re looking for and explain how to provide it quickly.

We exploit technology that listens, maps, visualises and reveals customer behaviour and journeys. This insight is the basis of the strategies and programmes we develop with our clients.

We connect brands online by understanding the role of online advertising, user generated content, brand generated content, search engines, information architecture and web development – and the role that they play in the customers’ online experience.

We blend traditional and digital channels, such as search, advertising and creative content in innovative ways to deliver measurable results

We take part in the conversation online by being an active and useful part of the network.

We use proprietary engagement metrics to measure how well connected a brand is with its customers. We ensure our metrics are useful and understandable by presenting them to our clients as stories, pictures and numbers.

Who are we?

We are a full service digital agency, with a ten year heritage in search. We have 650 people in 13 international offices.

We’re the best of a new breed – innovative, results driven, accountable, agile. 

We act as a lens to help you maximise engagement and value.

We’re on the journey as Agency of Record for Coke, Epsom, Unilever and more.

If been able to make it this far, congratulations, I hope your eyes haven’t dried up the way mine do when I read it. And I’ve had the masochistic displeasure of doing so several times in the preparation of this post. My favorite paragraph is this, where he talks about his “authentic communication,” and how they require their clients to communicate authentically (even though they can’t authentically tell you what they do):

We believe in communicating with people authentically, every step of the way is what builds trust in a brand.  Trust is the only basis for a long lasting relationship.We believe in working with responsible clients who understand the need for  an authentic approach. 

GRR!! You’re in the COMMUNICATION business but you can’t even create a sentence with a noun and a verb! “We believe in communicating…is what builds trust in a brand”. Whaa??

moe2

Lets look at some of this more closely. That all sounds very nice. If I were going to spend $100,000 on a marketing campaign, I would want some seriously flowery speech to decorate my thinly veiled excuse for traditional marketing tactics that a student could execute. I think what their really saying is that they will act as an agent for companies who desire some control and brand monitoring whithin various social networks, they’ll check blog postings for you, get you on Twitter, Facebook, and so on, and basically infiltrate internet communication about your company in order to either: retain customers or acquire new customers.

Go to the Plain english site and study up over the weekend, you’ll make at least one more friend. 

 

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Bizarre job posting of the day

I run into so many job postings that make me think “Huh?” that I’ve decided to save the most bizarre for posterity.

 

Domestic goddess wanted, w/ style (S.E. Denver)

Date: 2009-03-04, 9:53AM MST

Actually 3 jobs…
First, recent move out from rental house near Arapahoe and Parker rd. Need rental house cleaned…
Second, about to have second rental vacated near iliff and Parker rd. Need rental house cleaned…
Third, Need the bachelor pad cleaned and decorated, its not a total mess, just needs a ladies touch… Also almost finished with a new greenhouse, could really use somebody with a green thumb!
Just turned the sprinkler on… I’m on almost an acre, spring spruce up.

If you don’t do windows… don’t call If theres anything that is “below” you… don’t call.

I have made a living re-working houses(some gross), I can’t stand when people tell me they are too good for anything!
Hard working individual only…

All I did was copy it from Craigslist and posted it here. I’m sure this is totally legit, but, it’s still… BIZARRE!

Digital Printing and Prepress job trends

letters
Image by MonkeyBoy69 via Flickr

It seems from the chart below that jobs with the phrase “Digital Printing” in the job description (being precise here) were definitely trending up, even ignoring the anomalous spike in Summer ’07. Of course, the trend has turned down now.

The situation for prepress jobs is far more dismal, as this chart shows:

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Next time I’m in London, I’m going to Ling’s place FIRST!

sethgodin
Image by technokitten via Flickr

Is it wrong for me to be such a fan of this person?

Wow! Jeff, thanks so much for your support!

You know, I met Seth Godin this week, I have a page on my site: /sethgodin.php

I must say, he has been very helpful, he even mentioned me in his talk in London. You are spot on with many other blog posts here, too. I found you as I noticed a visitor on my site, from here. Cheers!!

By the way, I am making some small improvements following Seth (and other) advice. I have better images and some better navigation. But, I insist, my website will always be personal 🙂

– Ling

Originally posted as a comment by Ling Valentine on Regular Guy’s Experiments in www using Disqus.

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Where is the marketing money going?

First, it’s going away from magazines. No surprise there. According to MarketingCharts.com, 62% of marketers plan to increase spending in their online marketing budgets. Money is going away from print, and going to online. This is a trend we’ve been seeing for the past two years at least. Marketers are getting better results for less money by putting effort into the online channels.

Courtesy MarketingCharts.com/Alterian study

Courtesy MarketingCharts.com/Alterian study

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