Mark's blog

Site updates

No matter how secure you might think a site is, there will be a way to hack into it.

I've just come through a long lineup of site updates. Virtually all the sites I run have needed an update, new code freshly rewritten to foil the bad guys out there.

It's just like virus updates. If you run Windows you get them just about every day. I feel for you. Between the virus scanning and the updates it's a wonder you all can get anything done! OK, seriously, it really is like virus updates. Every hour of every day someone's trying to figure a way in.

Oh sure, the sites I run aren't all THAT popular. And I don't collect private information like credit card numbers, so it doesn't really matter, right?

Wrong! Sorry but out of date web sites are part of the virus and malware problem. Hacked sites come in all flavors. Hacked sites that steal credit card numbers get all the headlines because stolen credit card numbers is big news. But hacked sites also distribute malware.

Domain Name Shenanigans

If you come to a fork in the road, take it. - Yogi Berra

A friend of mine called me the other day asking advice about setting up a web site for his business. His is a long-existing and successful business; but he's never had a web site. He was wondering whether he should create one.

Now, you probably know what my answer to that was. And that's not what I want to tell you about anyway. The real story here was what happened when he did go try to register his domain name. He found it wasn't available. It had been when he'd checked it before, but not now.

Someone else, or more accurately someone else's computer program, had taken note of his having considered the name. When he didn't follow through the program had snapped it up.

They're out there and they're watching.

Up to date

That took a bit of work. I'm happy to report all sites are up to date running the latest software releases.

Every once in a while - on average I'd say about once every couple of months - I'll get a notice that some new security exploit has been discovered and that a new version of Drupal or one of the contributed modules I use to run sites is available.

Usually these new releases cover fairly obscure exploits that could never apply to the sites I manage. Just the same I take them all seriously. For one thing I don't think you can be too careful, not when the property you're looking after belongs to someone else. But the real reason I like keeping things up to date is the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing there is no known way for some culprit to get in.

Note I said no known way. To be sure there are ways in yet undiscovered by the bad guys. For now, at least, we're all up to the moment, safe and secure.

New Site Launched

Well here it is, the new site.

I wonder how long I'll keep it this way.

Every time I looked at the old site I'd cringe a little bit. The layout and design was based on a packaged theme created by a fellow Drupal theme designer / developer. I really liked it at first but over time ... Well it just started to grate on me.

This one's all my own. As such it's possible you might run into something odd looking. I've tested it against all the most popular browsers on Linux, Mac, and Windows but experience has shown me if there is a browser out there that's incompatible with your site, somebody using that browser is sure to come visit.

If you're that person, leave me a note so I can check it out, and maybe even fix it.

Harder than they look

Well, harder for me anyway.

I really enjoy just about every aspect of putting a new site together or relaunching an old one. But there's one activity I always get stuck on - creating the favicon.

The favicon is the little 16x16 pixel image that shows up in your browser's address bar. It's about the size of a line of text so it fits nicely there and in your favorites drop down menu.

The problem is the favicon is only so big, so you're basically limited to whatever image you can draw with 256 dots.

If you pay attention to that sort of thing you know there are some good ones and a lot of not so good ones. The first one I did for this site back in the last century was just an array of squares of varying colors. I thought that was pretty original. Evidently several others did too, because I see that simple pattern in a lot of places.

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