Pros and Cons of Moving My Websites from Self-Hosted WordPress to WordPress.com

It took a while, but I finally got fed up with web hosts. I’d changed several times over the years, and, until recently, was hosted by NameCheap. This company had a serious security vulnerability that affected one of my sites, and their customer support is horrendous, but making the change on multiple websites is time consuming.

Since all my websites run WordPress, my options were to pay much more for dedicated WordPress hosting, or to move to WordPress.com, the hosting that is run by WordPress itself. I eventually opted for the latter, though this process was not without difficulty.

When I moved of this site, Kirkville, which has more than 2,000 posts, thousands of images, and a plethora of comments, I used the WordPress export and import features. I did this in late June, and expected the process to be smooth. I chose WordPress’s Business plan, which, at $25 a month, gives me a lot of options, such as the ability to use plug-ins and custom themes. It also is supposed to provide dedicated support.

What I found when I moved the site was that the paths of my images had not changed. As such, they were still being served from the previous site hosted on NameCheap. In addition, some didn’t display at all. Part of this was due to the fact that the path for my installation was not at the root level of the folder; for historic reasons, it was in a /wordpress/ folder, but part was because the WordPress import simply doesn’t seem to handle images very well.

To my disappointment, it took more than a week for WordPress support to fix this. My initial contact was via their online chat, but my issue had to be escalated, and there didn’t seem to be any “happiness engineers” available to fix it. I had to complain, over and over, every day, to get this fixed, and, in the end, it was resolved, but there was a lot of stress.

For two other sites I run, I chose less expensive plans. For a site I host for my friend Peter Robinson, author of the Inspector Banks mystery series, I chose the $8 Premium plan, to be able to use premium themes and some other features. And for my site about learning to play the shakuhachi, I chose the cheapest plan, Personal, at $5 a month, because I was happy using one of the basic themes.

One of the biggest problems with NameCheap was that their support for the XML-RPC protocol would break every few months, requiring a great deal of time to solve, as none of the support people really understood the issues. (They had something to do with security rules, and, while I told them to turn them off, they kept turning them back on.) I use this extensively, because I manage my blogs with MarsEdit, which communicates using this protocol. (Which is what WordPress’s own apps use as well.)

Now that everything is settled, I’m very happy. I don’t have problems posting or managing my blogs, and I don’t have to worry about server outages – which were frequent with NameCheap – or any of the back end stuff that I had to deal with in shared hosting. It was very stressful to know that every month or so I’d have to spend an hour in a support chat with NameCheap. In addition, the new sites are fast; much faster than NameCheap, even though I had a plan where my sites were hosted on SSD.

It’s always tough to move a large website, and I wish the move process had been smoother, but the results are satisfying. Shared hosting is a commodity, and most companies don’t care about their users, and support can be abysmal. I haven’t had any issues with my sites since those first bumps, so kudos to WordPress for their service.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 89: Browser Wars: Which Web Browser Is Best for Privacy?

Everyone uses a web browser, on their Mac and their iOS device. But there are many web browsers, and some are better designed to protect your privacy. We take a deep dive into web browsers and discuss the pros and cons of Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and a number of alternatives.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Use Private Browsing to Maintain Your Privacy on the Web

You know that whenever you visit a website, a great deal of data is collected about you by the company running the website, and by third parties that track you to serve ads. The more you use the web, the more information goes into a profile that companies like Google and Facebook use to target ads that match your search terms, the types of websites you visit, and more.

While you can use an ad blocker to not see ads, and also to block some of the trackers used to follow you around, these tools aren’t 100% effective. But there’s another way you can maintain your privacy: you can use private browsing.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Tell If an Online Article is Real, Fake or a Scam

Fake news, scams, and phishing are the plague of our times. It’s getting increasingly difficult to determine which websites are presenting truthful information. I’m not just talking about political views; people can disagree about those, and while you may not like what you read on certain sites, that doesn’t mean, as some like to say, “it’s fake news.”

A Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college found that some 82 percent of them cannot distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. These findings present a real risk when visiting websites you’re not familiar with; and, not just for students, for everyone. How can you know if what you’re reading online is telling the truth or trying to scam you either directly–such as by trying to sell you something, or get your personal information–or indirectly, by spreading lies, or by sowing doubt?

In this article, we offer a few tips to help you sort the wheat from the chaff on the Internet. These tips will help you determine if an online article is real, fake or a scam.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

Instapaper Service Temporarily Suspended in Europe Due to GDPR – Mac Rumors

Popular read-it-later service Instapaper has temporarily suspended user access across Europe as it comes to terms with the EU’s impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.

In a message sent to users yesterday — subsequently shared via Twitter courtesy of tech reporter Owen Williams – the bookmarking service said it needs extra time to make necessary changes to comply with GDPR before the deadline on Friday, May 25.

WTF?

Instapaper gave no indication how long the service would be suspended, and offered no further details on why it has waited until now to take action, almost two years after companies were informed of the GDPR timeline.

Two years. Seriously.

Source: Instapaper Service Temporarily Suspended in Europe Due to GDPR – Mac Rumors

TidBITS Gets a New Look

It’s been a long time coming, but TidBITS, one of the oldest continually published websites about Apple, has been redesigned, and it’s beautiful. As Adam Engst says:

It’s live! After years of planning and months of work with our developer, Eli Van Zoeren, we’ve finally pulled back the curtains on our new Internet infrastructure. If you’re reading this in email, head over to the TidBITS Web site to take a look and click around — all 28 years of TidBITS articles and comments are there.

Check out the new site, and make sure to check it regularly. I’ve written a fair amount for the site over the years, and my first published article about technology, arguably somewhat prescient, was published on TidBITS back in 1996: UberVista is Watching You!.

Contempt for Visually Impaired and Older Readers

As a middle-aged man, I have eyes that match my age, perhaps even a bit older. I have worn glasses since I was in my early twenties, and have worn reading glasses for a long time as well. I also only see out of one eye, having amblyopia (the other eye sees just a blur.) Since my work is done on a computer, I use special computer glasses – with lenses adapted for the precise distance between my eyes and the computer screen – so I don’t squint or tire myself out.

I have long railed against designers and developers who don’t offer font size choices in their apps. I recall a recent information-gathering app that I tried in beta. I launched the app, saw the tiny font, found no option to change the font size, and promptly deleted it. On the Mac, you can still zoom the screen (System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom), but on an iOS device, you don’t have that option. So whenever I try a new iOS app and see that the twenty-something designers didn’t correctly estimate their audience, I let them know. In some cases, this gets fixed – a couple of Twitter clients, for example – but in most, it is ignored.

I saw the most contemptible example of this yesterday. The Guardian newspaper recently did a redesign, altering the format of the paper (they went from a broadsheet to a tabloid), and slightly changing the layout on their website. As such, they released a new version of their iOS app. When I looked at it, I saw no way to change the font size. But I found this:

Guardian

In other words, if you are visually impaired, you will have to pay to be able to read this app. This is an incredibly evil thing to do, and certainly immoral. How can a newspaper think that an adjustable text size is not a standard feature, but expect people to pay extra for it?

Guardian, I won’t pay you for that, and I think what you are doing is misguided, and, perhaps, illegal. But to all designers out there: don’t think that your eyes are the same as those of your users. The number of people who need glasses to read is much higher than you probably imagine, if you’re a millennial with 20/20 vision. Be careful; if you alienate your users like this, it could be very costly.

Update: interestingly, since the time I looked at the app and took the above screenshot (January 17, 5pm UK time), the Guardian has updated their app. There are now font size settings, and the premium tier makes no mention of font sizes. I’m glad they changed this so quickly, and wish all developers would make this sort of change.

Permanently Zoom Specific Websites with Safari on macOS

A useful new feature in the latest version of Safari for macOS High Sierra is the ability to set permanent zoom for any website. If a site has fonts that are too small, or too large, you can change them, and ensure that every time you visit the site, the change will be remembered. Safari does this automatically, but you can control the zoom from the app’s preferences.

Start by going to a website where you would like to change the font size. Open Safari’s preferences (choose Safari > Preferences), then click Websites. You’ll see a number of website options, including Page Zoom. Click that entry in the sidebar to see the websites that are open, and those that you have configured (if you’ve already changed the zoom).

Safari zoom

Is you can see in the right-hand pane, the top section shows those sites that are currently open in Safari, and the bottom section shows Configured Websites, those where I have changed the zoom. All you need to do to add a side to the latter section is zoom one of its pages. To do this, press Command-Plus (+) or Command-Minus (-). The first time you zoom, the page will go to 115%, then to 125%, and so on.

Once you have zoomed a page, Safari will remember that zoom, adding that domain to the Configured Websites section. The next time you visit the site, it will display with the zoom you set.

You can also manually change the zoom settings for any site, either in the Currently Open Websites section or the Configured Websites section. You may want to change some sites so they display smaller or larger fonts, and rather than zoom from the keyboard, you can choose a zoom from one of the Currently Open Websites’ popup menus.

MarsEdit 4 Public Beta – Red Sweater Blog

It’s been over 7 years since MarsEdit 3 was released. Typically I would like to maintain a schedule of releasing major upgrades every two to three years. This time, a variety of unexpected challenges led to a longer and longer delay.

The good news? MarsEdit 4 is finally shaping up. I plan to release the update later this year.

I’ve been using the beta of version 4 since before it was a beta. It’s a big improvement over the previous version, and it’s really the most useful tool out there for blogging from a Mac.

If you blog, you should use MarsEdit. I use it for all my articles.

Try out the public beta and see if you agree.

Source: Red Sweater Blog — MarsEdit 4 Public Beta

Google Plans Ad-Blocking Feature in Popular Chrome Browser – WSJ

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome web browser, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web.

Interesting that Google is floating this idea. They make much of their money from ads, but they are increasingly trying to change their focus to that of a cloud provider.

If Google were to do this, would they whitelist their own ads? Or, at a minimum, would they enforce some type of ad display rules even with their ads? Say a web page has a dozen Google ads; would they block it, but allow a page with just a single ad?

Source: Google Plans Ad-Blocking Feature in Popular Chrome Browser – WSJ