2018 – time for new search engines and social share options

2017 was a shocking year for so many reasons. Some of the biggest portals started censoring in ways never imagined, the giants were caught with their pants down. Some said they were going to change. It looks like the change is for the worse and that it’s not going to get better.

The time is right for a new search engine that takes privacy and access to information more seriously. These are things I’ve thought about for years, however the past 9 months or so it’s become obvious that now is a really good time to jump into this fray. Trust in the big engines and portals has been eroded. They are censoring even more than before, and people are ready to jump ship.

I have seen some people say that we can get a new search engine started for as little as $10,000 in equipment and 5 grand for a year of data connection. I expect that to grow considerably, but to get is started I need some partners that have database skills I don’t have yet. Things similar to hadoop and other big data skills are needed from what I understand. Writing algorithms and scaling data. If you have the skills or want to invest the coin, lets talk.

I also think the time is right for new social networks to pop up, ones that are premium. I don’t see a lot of money in this project, but I think it’s easy.

Basically we need to create some scipts that allow for a one click install of wordpress buddypress with some auto update defaults and security settings, and a script that will email all users of these networks and ask to pay the yearly $100. I think people will want one for family, and another for friends.

Most people will have at least one person in the family that can pay the family server bill of $100 – or they would all chip in a portion. Same with groups of friends.

Easy simple. Solution to problem. Let’d do these.

If you know who to write the coded needed to get one click setups for places like digital ocean, vultr, aws, etc – I know what kind of settings would be needed for wordpress and budypress, we can make this happen easily.

Could be some extra sass money in for all kinds of things, but my goal is to give the world something better, and that can be fast seeing as though we can package what other giants have made available.

2012 the year of internet security growth

So many events in the past year have pivoted internet security as the number one most important focus for everyone here at global advanced media. I am sure people have seen news reports about major hacking and web sites being shut down, but there have been many more smaller businesses affected by attacks and that has changed the primary focus for our SEO team, web design team, and web site hosting team quite a bit the past year.

I remember the good old days when designers could focus on making new designs and adding original content. Our search engine optimization and search marketing teams focused exclusively on web sites performing well in the search engines. Our web hosting team focused solely on customer service for minor things like email setup. With all the attacks an exploits going around the web, we have learned that security needs to be the primary focus.

There have been several times in the year when we had to pause all projects and focus squarely on fixing hacks, updating security and repairing damage done to sites. Search engine marketing does not work if sites are hacked. Web site hosting is now more focused on recurring backups and checking for exploited files or un-patched scripts. Designers are not forced to think more about securing designs and choosing code that is less likely to fall prey to malicious systems.

All of our teams are now working to instruct people at the various businesses we work with on how to be more proactive about viruses, password security, and more. So far we have been able to recover completely from all the hacking attempts this year, and have made sure our checklist for clients includes strong passwords, and systems that double check backups as well as keep a closer eye on updates and intrusion attempts.

Billing clients for the extra work is a challenge, as it is difficult to explain to the average web site owner exactly how important all of these things are, and the amounts of time needed vary greatly depending on how many updates are needed watch month – but it’s something we are working on.

Anyone who is using wordpress on their web site should seriously consider adding the limit login attempts plugin, and the si captcha plugin (even if you only enable it on your login page) – we also suggest making sure that someone is keeping your wordpress up to date with the latest versions, and making backups in case the newer version break current themes or other plugins that are necessary for the functionally of your site.

Of course backups and updates are suggested for all systems, make sure your anti-virus is up to date or get a new one. Make sure you update and do not ignore updates for flash and java as well. If one  employee at your office ignores these updates, surfs facebook, and downloads emails – this is a recipe for disaster.

I  also suggest that everyone test their backups at least once a year, preferably every 3 months. Get a backup computer or server and start from scratch with your backups. Is all of your data safe? Is it all recoverable? How long does it take? You definitely need to know this before you find out the hard way.

Research before buying web software – script security is important

We spend a good deal of time researching software before we buy it, and even then we are at time disappointed with purchases we had hoped would make web sites function better. Whether it’s server side software for web site addons, or complete web site scripts, take the time to research the piece of software and the company behind it before you try it.

Over the years we have considered hundreds of scripts and programs, a few of those have proven to be excellent choices, but many are half baked, don’t do everything you want them to, or even worse, leave huge hacker / security vulnerabilities for you, and perhaps the other web sites hosted on your web server. Our most recent consideration is one of those, if the price and features combination seems too good to be true, maybe it is?

We have been looking for new chat programs to launch on as server addons for various client web sites, and integrations with a forums or membership system is a key functionality that has been requested. After on hour of research we determined that there were 4 programs that seemed to be a good fir for our client, so we decided to big deeper and see if we could narrow it down.

It would have been easy to just choose the most expensive and well known solutions, but we try to find options that will save our clients money, and often times not every site needs all the full blown features that the most expensive and well know companies make available. Looking for more affordable options we came across a piece of chat software that seemed to have a ton of features, and a very fair price. Wondering if it was perfect for our client, or too good to be true, we decided to do further research and see what other people were saying at other web sites.

Searching for their program and company name in google brought up tons of results, and most of them were from other places that were offering the program, places like hotscripts and the tons of clones out there, none of these were very helpful as far as finding critiques of the company. After digging a few hundred search results into google, we started finding security vulnerabilities posted at about a dozen sites. That;s red flag number one – but these could all be fixed in a current release – so we had to spend more time to find out.

More research revealed some posts on a forum where a particular user was complaining that it did not work in his current server / software environment and had received no support what so ever from the programs author. Red flag number two, but I looked further, and it appears that the post in question was on a forums that was for a similar, or competing product, so not as trustworthy of a review as we would like.

I will be contacting the author of this script to see id they have been aware and fixed the security issues that have been posted online. I will also be asking for a demo of the product to make sure that it works with the membership system that our client is using. Sure it says that it works with that particular program, but which version? Do ALL features work? Better to find out before purchasing if possible.

Before purchasing scripts, or even using free scripts online it’s best to look around the web and see if you can find and security or support issues with the company. Some web sites to definitely check include:

http://www.us-cert.gov

http://insecure.org/

http://secunia.com/

http://www.securityfocus.com/

http://www.f-secure.com/vulnerabilities/SA32603#

http://www.securitytracker.com/search/search.html

This method of research has saved tons of trouble in previous new business development. Working with clients for a new business plan they were setting everything up based upon a company’s affordable piece of social networking software. It looked good, the demo was decent, the pre sales support was fast. They put their entire business plan around the use of this product. I can’t remember what it was that led us to a bad forum thread about it, but that thread led us to links that found many more horror stories about the company, and then we realized that particular script would not work, and that too-good-to-be-true price and feature combination was indeed, too good to be true.

Lessons learned, even when a demo works and pre sales support is fast, it does not mean that everything will work as you planned, and it does not mean that you will get the support you have expected, and if the program will work as it was advertised.

New chat and community portals coming to the web

We have been consulting with a client about opening a new chat portals and community web site. There are many premium options for establishing an online presence in the chat and social software arenas, and we suggest several. For clients on a tight launch budget, we recommend free and open source software to get started.

Many of our clients are in the early launch and beta test phases of new web projects, and the early steps of new online business models require at least some web presence to get started. We know that everyone wants to have a super slick, tricked out, full featured web site, but when funding is tight, getting things started is more important that getting things full blown and polished.

It doesn’t take a lot to show concepts and get options from colleagues, teammates and investors. We have found by installing basic software and apps, giving people a demo of how things will flow, and showing some rough examples of color schemes is the best way to launch a new project. Many times we have seen clients spend time and money developing the web site’s look at feel with fancy graphics, only to have them completely reworked later in the public announcement phase. This is why we suggest getting the core functionality first, and then develop the look and feel later.

With all that in mind, we have a pre-launch of the new online chat forums up and running. It’s a start, and a great skeleton for future development.

New online community and local search for TN

We have helped a client develop a new online community and local search portal called Tennessee Seen. It’s just a beta launch as of today, but it is setup to handle lots of great functions for people who live or visit cities in Tennessee.

The initial launch will be focused on indexing dozens of great restaurants, bars, and nightlife in the Nashville metro area. After beta testing we will look to include lots of businesses and events for people to browse, read reviews and comment about each business and event. Options for becoming a fan and leaving feedback will be simple for everyone to add and read. Mobile phone picture uploads and more are also slated to be functional by summer 2010!

This should prove to be a valuable asset to the businesses and events in the Tennessee region, as well as a very useful resource for people who are looking to go out and about in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga. A wealth of information is about to be put together for the public and easy to find out whats hot if you live in TN or just planning to visit or move here.

Keeping a WP site takes some time, but it’s worth it

There are plenty of how instructions out there about how to keep your wordpress site secure, how to keep it from being hacked. For the average user it’s even easier today as many WP installations have the ability to upgrade with the click of a button from inside the administration dashboard. Sometimes I wait to upgrade when a new version comes out, thinking that a new newer version will be available a week or so later, sometimes that bites you in the butt.

The auto-upgrade doesn’t worth with all web servers or WP installs. I have several WP sites that I administer in which I have to manually upload all the new files and such. Not a big deal for one site, but having to do that for twenty web sites becomes a bit of time consuming work, especially if there are plugin upgrades needed. Some of the web servers I maintain have fantistico installers that are suppose to make upgrading very easy with one click to do it. Unfortunately fantsistico is slow to get the updates out, or the man web host I work with are slow to add the fantistico updates, so at times we wait for weeks to have the latest WP update available with that method. If it’s a major security bug update, then we end up doing all those manually – many more hours spent with repetitious ftp.

This is mainly a rant, and certainly any of WP gurus out there will just say that I should upgrade my servers to root access dedicated or VPS – sure that’d be great, but not in the budget any time soon. Keeping your site secure is important. I suppose my suggestion to people would be to find a hot when the one click upgrade is available, and make backups of your database.

I would love to have one solid stable version of WP that did not need to be updated ever, and new features could be rolled out as optional plugins. There are some new features that may make a manual upgrade worth the time and hassle, but a majority of the new features I can live without, I just want to live with a basic secure blogging platform.