Mar 09

Default WordPress Tables and Cleaning Old Unused Plugin Garbage

One thing I have spent a lot of time on recently is cleaning up orphaned tables in WordPress from running blogs for 5+ years where I do a ton of plugin testing.  I have installed probably 200+ plugins for various review/testing purposes over the past years and many of them do not properly clean up SQL database tables when you simply uninstall them, they leave these orphaned tables often with bloated rows and data that just aren’t needed anymore.

So for anyone unfamiliar with WordPress, here are the default WordPress tables.

This means when you are looking at your WordPress database with PHPMyAdmin or another SQL browser and you see other tables that aren’t listed, they are plugin related tables. It isn’t always easy to match the table with which plugin, though some use pre-fixes that give you an idea, it isn’t always so easy to point it out. In this case it may require you to do some digging, to figure it out or simply backup your database, drop the table and see if a plugin functionality is lost.

Example

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In the above, I am truncating my prefix for security reasons, but after the prefix you can see the 1st plugin is for EasyAzon and is a table for holding IP lookup information.  The Flicker_post could be some flickr related plugin or something that stores flickr information, but I never had a plugin that had Flickr in the name directly so most likely this would be one that searches for images for posts.  The frm tables are for Formidable Pro, but you wouldn’t know that just by seeing frm acronym.

I found the dmsguestbook table, which I haven’t used this plugin in 3 years, yet the table was still out there orphaned.

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So if you find that you have been using a lot of plugins over the past few years or you have uninstalled plugins recently you may want to go into your PHPMyAdmin and make sure you drop and clean up those tables for plugins that you know you will never install or need again.

In the PHPMyAdmin you would click on the table, click on Operations and then click Delete the Table.

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But again, serious caution is needed here, make sure you do a full database backup first and double check on the next screen to confirm you are actually selecting the table that you want to drop.

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If you make a mistake and drop one of the core WordPress tables you could lose important blog data or corrupt your WordPress install terribly, so make sure you have comfort and familiarity with the tables before performing a cleanup operation like this.

If you have any questions related to removing WordPress tables, cleanup of WordPress database just let me know.

Feb 27

How to Use Large Images the Smart Way

Getting people’s attention on your website is now more important than ever given the huge influx of new sites online. As a result, many site are using large images above the fold,” in order to do this. The problem is that a lot of these images are stretched beyond their natural size in order to be eye-catching enough. This makes them look stretched and distorted. There are other problems with big images as well. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to avoid this problem.

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Keep It Simple

If you’re using one huge photo for the backdrop for your site, it’s important that you keep the rest of the design of the site very simple. This is because otherwise the site will become very cluttered. If you have a really beautiful image to serve as a background, you don’t want to ruin it by putting too many other things in the same photo that might distract from what you’ve got. This means that you should try and just put the bare minimum that you need for description, and try to put the menu options on the sides so they don’t obscure you have.

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Focus on Contrast

Obviously, not all photos will be useable when creating backgrounds. Usability is more important than anything else. AS a result, you need to make sure that you use the right sort of picture in terms of contrast. Users are often really turned off by things they can’t read, and if you have a picture that has the wrong kind of contrast, you’ll end up with a problem when it comes time to actually read anything that you have there. For example, if you have thing white fonts and you’re using a picture that has a light contrast, everything will be washed out and impossible to read. Basically, if you have a light picture, you’ll want to use dark text in order to show up properly. If the image is darker, you’ll need regular white text in order to show up in contrast. Of course there are ways to use light photos with light text if that’s what you want. You can use techniques like a drop shadow, making a light photo darker in order to get the contrast right.

Use the Right Software

If you’re worried about distortion when increasing the size of an image, the important thing is to make sure that you don’t just do it in Paint. You need a program that can actually keep the dimensions the same even when you’re expanding the picture. There is an option for doing that in Photoshop but you can also use IrfanView (free) and the ACDSee family. You can check the box that locks the dimensions in place. This will let you expand the dimensions without making the photo looked stretched or uncanny at all when you make it much larger. This is key to making sure your photos are nice and big, but also nice and clear.

Finding Photos

Obviously it’s important that you put some effort into finding photos that right way as well. There are plenty of stock photos out there that are completely free. The Creative Commons site can help you find them. This will let you use sites like Google Image search or Flickr. That way, you can specify dimensions when you’re searching. This will make it easier to find images that are large enough.

Once you have the right image, it can help to use a website maker in order to make sure that you integrate the background image properly into the site that you then create.

About the Author

Guest author Charlie Oszvald is an online marketing enthusiast who spends most of his time online and loves to share his thoughts and articles on various channels in topics related to business, social media, marketing and SEO. If you have any question to ask from him, feel free to leave a comment below.

Feb 11

Denial of Service Attack Means Time for Incapsula

Well I had been procrastinating on putting dragonblogger.com behind Incapsula again due to the fact that Incapsula doesn’t do full DNS management, which means I had to do my DNS Zone Editor from my DNS company point to Incapsula, and then Incapsula point the IP behind the scenes to my web hosting company, technically adding 3 hops into the mix just to resolve DNS and end up on the right server instead of 2 just having the DNS provider point directly to web host, but in the end the fact that I was hit with a denial of service attack against my XMLRPC this weekend means I had no choice but to protect the site.

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Synthesis informed me over 119,000+ hits against xmlrpc.php which is the remote publishing protocol for WordPress which I need active for Live Writer and some other services, I don’t know the source IP, but it clearly was an attack or compromise of a service that does direct remote publishing.

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Meanwhile, Incapsula would likely help prevent and have allowed me to analyze at the cloud layer and block at the Incapsula cloud without having to have my web host find and block the IP’s on their side, so DragonBlogger is repointed and now on Incapsula.  This gives me greater control and awareness if some unhealthy attacks or IP’s are coming in in handling it, as with WebSynthesis hosting I don’t have a panel to really look at logs and do anything at the web host end.

I use Incapsula for all of my sites, and it does a fantastic job protecting them and providing analytics.

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Feb 08

Convert EasyAzon2 ShortCode to EasyAzon3 Easily

For those of you who have been using EasyAzon for years to sell Amazon affiliate products on all your WordPress blogs you probably have noticed that upgrading to EasyAzon 3 broke all of your older shortcode for EasyAzon 2.1 and older.  This is because the older shortcode uses [easazon-link-link] or [easyazon-block] instead of the newer code using underscore instead [easyazon_block] and [easyazon_image] without the link.

Well you don’t have to pull your hair out in frustration, there is a quick WordPress plugin called Search and Replace that will let you go through and make the short code changes automatically in your WordPress database for you.

Just download search and replace from WordPress.org or find it with Add New Plugins

After you install it and activate it, you click on Tools –> Search and Replace

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Search for easyazon-block first and then click on the "field" dial for All – search/replace! and put easyazon_block as the field you are replacing that finding with.

Click go and you will see the results of the search and replace, you can see on one of my blogs I instantly found and fixed 238 posts that used the older invalid EasyAzon shortcode in less than 60 seconds, imagine if I had to manually update 238 posts to fix the code.

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Now to fix the image part you go back to search and replace and put in the easyazon-image-link in the search section, and easyazon_image in the replace section.

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Voila, you just replaced all of your EasyAzon 2.x broken shortcode with compatible EasyAzon 3.x shortcode with this easy trick.

Search and Replace gives you many more options as well for purging old plugin shortcode, if you retired any plugin that uses shortcode you can use this plugin to help replace it with new shortcode or simply remove it altogether, but be careful as this plugin does find and replace content in your database, there is always risk for harm.  I would make sure you backup your WordPress database prior to making any changes just in case.

EasyAzon is still my favorite plugin for earning Amazon Affiliate income for WordPress blogs, but it was a shame they changed the structure of the short code in the newest version which made the old code incompatible, there were sites I had with hundreds and hundreds of posts that needed code changes as a result. 

PS, I sell a lite version of EasyAzon if you are interested for only $3 which allows you to earn from images, it is a great way to test the lite version of the product before you choose to buy the full version.

Buy AzonPostImages for $3 and start inserting images into your WordPress posts to earn Amazon Affiliate Income.

Then if you really like it, upgrade to EasyAzon 3 and you can get full summary shortcode, localization, link cloaking, nofollow and so much more.

Jan 23

MotoCMS Website Builder: Get An Almost Ready Website In 5 Minutes

One of the nicest things about What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get website builders is that they offer brilliant ‘turnkey’ solutions that liberate users from annoying issues, technical intricacies and other problems distracting them from what really matters – site improvement, updating and promotion. By all accounts, one of the most well-thought-out solutions in the niche of DIY site creation is offered by MotoCMS website builder: you make a one-time payment and get an almost ready, 100% customizable website. This article details the process of website creation with MotoCMS site constructor.

Step 1: Pick a Template

MotoCMS provides users with a unique web templates category – Flash and HTML CMS templates. To put it simply, each template comes with an inbuilt Content Management System which integrates editors of different levels: design editor, content editor, point-and-click widget integration, mobile view editor etc. – everything is done via your MotoCMS control panel.

MotoCMS template collection has over 1,500 HTML and Flash designs engineered by professionals with years of experience. They’re grouped by industry for easier browsing and can be tested in demo mode without registration. Each template offers different style in content layout options, navigation, headers and other design elements. MotoCMS website templates are updated on a regular basis.

Step 2: Upload It to Server

Each template has a detailed description including Hosting Requirements. Once you have purchased a template, you need to purchase a domain name and hosting or use your existing hosting account. Though MotoCMS partners with Bluehost, their service doesn’t cover hosting and domain name purchase. This means you’re free to use any web hosting provider. This is one of the major advantages of MotoCMS over its competitors which don’t allow users transport their websites. If you choose Bluehost for your MotoCMS-based website, you get a discount ($3.95/month instead of $6.95).

Step 3: Customize and Publish

Along with the great-looking template you will get a flexible content management system enabling you to customize the design and extend site’s functionality in the WYSIWYG editing environment. Each template already contains preset widgets that can be configured as per your needs, so there’s no need to upload third-party apps, unless you so choose. Each template is equipped with Rss Reader, Google Maps, Media and Music players, Search and News, HTML and Rich Content widgets just to name a few. In addition to the default widgets you can upload a custom widget. You may also upload custom fonts (MotoCMS support multiple languages).

MotoCMS devs create templates that are web standards compliant, guaranteeing that your website will look and run properly across different devices, operating systems, browsers and their various combinations. You may customize your website’s mobile look using MotoCMS Mobile Editor. It also employs the drag-and-drop editing principle: just select, drag, drop, resize, rotate and edit any element of the design. Remember to save changes and activate the mobile view of your website before leaving the Mobile Editor.

Because everyone has different website building experience and different needs, MotoCMS provides users with numerous video tutorials and step-by-step guides. They’re also available over email and live chat.

About the Author
Malcolm Thomas is a webmaster and blogger who has found his niche researching and testing online website builders. You will find his in-depth website builders reviews on http://mmthomasblog.com/.

Jan 22

3 DIY Website Builders: Get Published In Minutes

Most website builders share the same history: they were invented to help non-tech-savvy people build and publish professional-looking websites independently from designers and coders. And they succeeded. In fact, they have revolutionized the niche. Millions of websites are powered by online website builders all over the world, generating income for their owners and simultaneously spreading the word about Do-It-Yourself platforms. It goes without saying that complex web projects require professional expertise and serious approach, and simply can’t rest on sitebuilders for newbies. This is true. But we’re not talking about complex, feature-laden websites, we’re talking about basic, informational sites and blogs that can be designed and published in mere hours. Why should you pay hundreds of dollars for what you can get at $5-10 per month? All inclusive.

#1 IM Creator

The founders of IM Creator developed the platform to help their friends and family design their own websites in a code-free manner. The future team of IM Creator wanted to provide their close ones with complete freedom of design and let them build pages exactly as they planned, both in terms of visual appeal and functionality. These very people became the first testers of IM Creator.

As of today, this website builder is one of the most popular DIY site building solutions, especially among photographers, bloggers and other creative professionals. Each month they add dozens of new, unique templates to their library. Each IM Creator template is an ‘almost done’ website. You just need to personalize it by replacing default imagery with your own logos/pics/videos, adding required widgets and filling in the inbuilt search engine optimization block (title, description, keywords). You can publish a free site using IM Creator’s subdomain, or upgrade your account ($5.95-9.95/month) and connect a custom domain (previously purchased or a new one).

#2 Weebly

Weebly website builder has a pretty similar story: the three founders of the platform created a WYSIWYG software enabling even completely HTML-illiterate users to build and maintain an Internet portfolio (Pennsylvania State University required all students to have one). Today, Weebly is one of the major players in the niche. It competes with Wix, Yola and other easy-to-use website builders. In 2013, they’ve survived a major overhaul – their Editor was completely rebuilt. They’ve also launched an iOs and Android app, saying nothing about their large-scale eCommerce platform update.

#3 Squarespace

Squarespace is the oldest website builder in this list. It was launched ten years ago (January 2004) by Anthony Casalena who was obsessed with an idea of creating an all-in-one website building and publishing platform. Squarespace V6 is now one of the most powerful platforms out there, many compare it with WordPress. Besides traditional for site builders pre-designed solutions and templates, Squarespace offers an unmatched solution for professionals – Developer Center. It gives access to every line of HTML, CSS and Javascript in your website. Full freedom of design and development. Developer accounts never expire when under construction. You may check out this site builder free of charge during a 14-day trial. By the way, Squarespace website builder itself is built on Squarespace platform :).

About the Author
Malcolm Thomas loves researching and testing WYSIWYG web publishing tools. On his personal website http://mmthomasblog.com/ he publishes in-depth website builders reviews and comparisons.

Dec 13

WordPress 3.8 Adds Color and New Theme

WordPress 3.8 is more of a cosmetic upgrade than a behind the scenes re-work of WordPress and with it comes a much improved visual interface in my opinion. The WordPress 3.8 dashboard more clearly delineates the admin area to the left of the Admin site as well as the top admin bar.

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Theme wise, the Twenty Fourteen theme is slick and more magazine style than any of the previous default WordPress themes.  There is a great deal of flexibility in configuring the theme and adding customizations and I like how the post separator is handled on the home page.

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The number of default profile colors has been increased and now you can have 8 different default profile colors to choose to suite your mood or whatever color scheme is the most aesthetically pleasing to you.  For those of you who manage multiple WordPress blogs having a separate color scheme for each blog can help you instantly recognize and remember which site you are on without having to look at the URL bar and will become instinctive in short order.

For me, Blue and Black are my favorite colors so I stuck with the default scheme, too much blue and not enough black with the blue, but I definitely did like the Coffee colored theme and it paired nicely with a food blog.

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The widget screen has also been redesigned adding 3 columns of widget area’s so you can clearly separate out your sidebars from your header/footer bar areas.  Less scrolling is needed to move between the various widget areas.

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Mobile support and consistency is now part of the WordPress 3.8 admin theme, where the administrative interface is easier to navigate and use with better support for that mobile browser. 

Have you upgraded to WordPress 3.8 yet?  If you have, tell us what you like about it so far.

Dec 08

Creating a Link Removal Request Form

If you have run a blog for any extended period of time you may have already found yourself in a link removal request email exchange with clients or firms who go about trying to restore and undo the damage caused by the countless companies who go out and purchase backlinks by either having people comment on other sites or by guest posting on other sites.

You know the type, the CommentLuv comments that come in with "name@the best web hosting" and such are most likely to be left by those trying to get those backlinks. In the end the all get penalize and yet most companies still haven’t learned.  The only proper way Google accepts linking is by doing your exact site (full DNS name) or the name of the site, there is no more "dofollow" anchor txt linking targeting the specific keywords you want.  This will lead to penalties.

NoFollow linking is recommended for anybody who runs a blog, make sure you install a plugin to nofollow all of your comments left by commenters, CommentLuv does this but many people still seek out CommentLuv plugins to leave the backlinks hoping for the link juice too.

Regardless, you will start getting link removal requests and when you do you will have to make it as easy as possible for you to honor their request without consuming too much of your time.  This can be done by creating a simple Link Removal Request Form and having anybody who makes a request fill out that form.

This can include the following fields:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Page Link is Located On:
  • Anchor Text Used:
  • Commenter Name (If Link is left from comment):
  • Checkbox (I confirm that I have permission from site owner to make this link removal request)

This will help you quickly remove those link requests, but I have also heard of bloggers charging to remove requests, in the order of $5 or more.  The company could just end up using the Disavow tool if you don’t remove the links, which ignores it as if it were removed so I don’t typically charge for link removal requests unless it is an absurd bulk removal like more than 10-20 linked comments over a span of pages/posts.

For those who use Formidable Pro, I created a template you can easily download and just import that you can use as your Link Removal Request Form. 

Download the Link Removal Request Form Here

Nov 29

How to Change WordPress Admin User Password in PHPMyAdmin

On the rare occasion you have a WordPress blog and do not remember what the admin password is or any administrator account password you do have the option to reset it directly from PHPMyAdmin on your hosting provider so that you can once again log in.  Sure you can do the forgotten password feature in WordPress and follow the email to change the password, but this method can also be used to change the password for admin accounts on blogs you may administrate but not own, so therefore the email is tied to someone else and you wouldn’t see the email.

The steps to reset your WordPress Admin password in PHPMyAdmin are below:

  • Log into your hosting providers CPanel or web hosting panel
  • Click on PHPMyAdmin

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If you don’t know the username/password to your PHPMyAdmin you can actually get it from your wp-config.php file which is in the root directory in your file manager.  You can login with this ID and see the WordPress database tables.

Just look for these 2 lines in wp-config.php for your database user and password.

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Once you are in your PHPMyAdmin and looking at your WordPress database, click on your users table, which will be a prefix_users typically. The prefix could be whatever was configured, it could be wp_users but that would be the default and really a good hosting and WordPress install should not use default table names. 

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When you click on users you will see a list of all users in your WordPress database, if you have no guest publishers or writers you may only see the 1 admin user, or if you don’t use the default admin username (which you shouldn’t) you will see the 1 username you recognize.

Click on the Edit link on the left when you identify the admin username.

Now type in your new password in clear text on the user_pass row

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Then select the down arrow right to the left of it, and make sure you select MD5 in the drop down after you typed the password.

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Then click save button at bottom of screen.

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This will properly hash the password to MD5 which is required for WordPress, if you left it in clear text then the password would not work.

Now you can try going to your WordPress admin dashboard and logging in with the password you just set for your WordPress admin account through PHPMyAdmin.

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