gunblogging psa

In the past week, two major firearm-related weblogs, including Old NFO‘s, have been hacked and some/all of their data was temporarily/permanently deleted/lost.

Once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action… and whether or not you believe in coincidence is up to you.

In general, you should be in the habit of changing/updating your passwords at least once a year, but if it has been around that long (or longer) since you have done so, I would recommend going ahead and changing them at least for whatever firearm-related weblogs you might run yourself – I have no way of knowing if this is a targeted attack (in all likelihood, it probably is not), but changing passwords does not hurt. In fact, given Old NFO’s bank accounts and other password-protected data were hacked, go ahead and change all your passwords.

A lot of folks I know recommend LastPass, but I am still stuck in the stone ages with hand-generated passwords… but hand-generated passwords that abide by the XKCD theory of password entropy. Still, $12 a year – I do far too many things on my Android to be able to survive without supporting it, and they only offer mobile support through their "premium" plan – is a small price to pay for some pretty hardcore security; the encryption they use for the information they store on their servers and your local computers is, well, absurd. In fact, the more I read about it, the more I am inclined to at least give it a shot…

Additionally, I would strongly recommend creating and maintaining backups of your weblog. WordPress can supposedly do this internally, but I have never been able to successfully execute the onboard script and download the file due to either the backup generator or the download command timing out; instead, I have been experimenting with UpdraftPlus, which backs up your database, plugins, themes, and uploads (but only uploads in the WordPress-created upload directory), and then pushes them to a DropBox, Google Drive, or a file on your own server for you to download. Better, it can do all of this on a schedule, so you can pretty much set-and-forget.

The plugin is free (you can buy a full version that unlocks some additional functionality – the free version works fine as is, though), so there are no guarantees, but it seems to work just fine on my notoriously persnickety host (so persnickety that their SQL admin panel cannot reliably create, save, and allow me to download an export of a <100MB database… go figure).

In parallel with the database backup, though, I would strongly recommend running a plugin like Better WP Security as well; this plugin watches for things like people attempting to brute-force your blog’s usernames, or repeatedly load bad pages (apparently this can be exploited in some way I do not fully comprehend), and then blocks those IPs.  Obviously, the hackers can spoof IPs, but this cuts down on the attempts, even a little bit. 

Yeah, all this sounds like a lot of work, but it beats the pants off losing over seven years’ worth of work (in my case). Think about it.

2012, in review

It is that time of the year again… Just like all the previous posts like this one, I am using Google Analytics data, with the same warning that its numbers do not match the numbers generated by other statistics engines. Likewise, we will compare numbers against last year.

Absolute Unique Visitors: 94,843 (35% increase)

Visits: 174,805 (9% increase)

Peak Daily Visitors: 1,549 (23JAN12) (27% decrease)

Average Daily Visitors: 478.92 (9% increase)

Pageviews: 244,249 (not tracked previously)

Total Posts: 512 (46% decrease)

And speaking of discrepancies, StatCounter shows 203,477 unique visitors, 273,178 visits/pageloads (they do not appear to differentiate), a peak of 1,964 on the same day, and an average of 746 visits a day. On the other hand, WordPress’ stat engine shows 280,000 pageviews total and a peak of 2,187 views on 23JAN.

Top Referring Sites:

1. Say Uncle (no change)
2. Weer’d World (+1)
3. Gun Blog Black List (+7)
4. Sharp as a Marble (+1)
5. Days of our Trailers (-1)
6. PJ Media (new)
7. Gun Free Zone (new)
8. The Gun Wire (new)
9. Everyday, No Days Off (no change)
10. Alphecca (new)

Top Keywords:

1. walls of the city (no change)
2. gunsamerica (new)
3. 9mm luger (no change)
4. little bear holsters (new)
5. lucy lawless (new)
6. renee wyatt divorce (new)
7. the truth about guns (new)
8. spartacus (-2)
9. firefly alignment chart (+1)
10. linoge (-8)

Top Posts:

1. the truth about the truth about guns and robert farago
2. cz-75 magazines in a baby eagle / jericho 941 – a review
3. a criminal perspective
4. gunsmoke lied. twice.
5. graphics matter, year the fourth
6. exile machine’s hammerhead ar-15 rifle grip
7. you are your own first responder
8. gun control demotivator
9. the inconsistency of gun control
10. and this is why you wear eye protection at the range

All said, it was a somewhat quiet yet for "walls of the city"; apparently my posting dropped by almost half, but, conversely, my readership picked up between 10 and 35%, depending on which statistic you think "counts". I guess this means I put more value in my individual posts, or just that I have larger archives for more people to go digging through.

Speaking of archives, three of my top-ten posts are not from this year, and two are from 2010. Interesting.

The two big traffic bumps this year occurred when Instapundit linked to my post about how Florida concealed carriers are more law-abiding than Mayors Against Illegal Guns members and when I exposed the fetid pile of waste that lurks beneath the surface of The Truth About Guns. I am not entirely sure what, exactly, that says about what you folks like to read, but I suppose it says something.

And as for the search terms people use to find this site… well, I have nothing positive to say.

cloudy with a chance of images

Thanks to the new Photon service of the WordPress Jetpack, all images contained within posts on this site are now being served by WordPress’ own content delivery network. This should be transparent to you, the users (in fact, I had to actually check the links of images to make sure pressing the "engage" button did anything at all) and should (I use that term tentatively) decrease load times for the site.

If you encounter any problems, feel free to let me know.

And speaking of housekeeping, I would remind all commenters that the commenting policy for "walls of the city" is available here, and that by clicking the "Post Reply" button, you are agreeing to abide by and respect the terms of that policy. Likewise, by reading this site, you agree to abide by its terms of use; if you do not find those terms acceptable, please close your browser immediately and clear your cache.

danced right on out of there

On account of Google’s ongoing efforts to make Blogger as difficult to use as humanly possible, BlueSun has decided to make the jump to WordPress. He is not quite up to a self-hosted site yet, but something tells me he will appreciate the change in venue and the additional control he can exercise over his material.

Update your targeting solutions… er… bookmarks appropriately.

paul helinski just does not know when to quit

Paul Helinski, president of GunsAmerica, simply does not understand the Internet or how it works.  This profound ignorance is rather surprising in this day and age, especially since he claims to have been using the “network of tubes” for the past 15 years or so, but being the gracious and generous person I am, I took it upon myself to try to correct this oversight yesterday

Apparently, I was too late

Alas, I have to get on a plane in the morning and will be working 16 hour days for the next week, so I will not be able to be as lively in this discussion as I would like. But please understand that I didn’t mean any disrespect for the couple dozen real bloggers out there who have been hard charging for many years out there, nor was I suggesting that just us and Jeff Quinn be allowed into media day. Some of the comments about this post came up in my google notifications, and some of the people whining about what I said are just the people who would be included in what I suggested, because they have been blogging for many years and have thousands of readers per month, they attend the blogger conventions and have been active in the gun blogger community. I was talking about the guys who installed wordpress and registered a domain a month before the show, or "blog" three times per year for a print magazine website that has 16 people visiting it every month, and who **will not** post anything about media day or the show. Jeff knows what I am talking about and I am surprised you don’t. I suggested at the end of last year that NSSF google around and see who actually did post blog stuff about the show to qualify them for media day next year.

Please say Hi if you are going to media day, or stop by the booth. If you mention this post you get a t-shirt you can burn in efigy for a youtube video due to your outrage at my inflammatory and just plain not nice comments. We are booth 1925. -ph

Oh, poor Paul, having to work such long hours, in Vegas, of all the horrible places in the world, shooting guns, and playing with guns, and rubbing shoulders, and all that hard work that comes from pimping his own company.  Don’t’cha just feel horrible for him? 

And obviously he was not talking about the “couple dozen real bloggers out there” when he said things like “nobodies” and “wish I were internet journalists” and “wanna be internet media professional”.  I mean, duh

And, oh noes, someone said something mean about him and it showed up in teh Googolz!  Whatever shall he do?!

Oh, and if you were one of those people who somehow took offense at what Paul said previously, you are just a whiner, and your opinion is meaningless. 

… *sigh* 

Paul, you are being a dick.  Don’t be a dick

Hm… speaking of…  In yet another attempt to show Paul Helinski how the internet works, here is me, throwing down the gauntlet to my readership. 

To all you lucky bastards going to SHOT Show this year, take heed!  I have a few Eastern TN Monster Hunter International patches left, and I will send one patch, free of charge, to the first two people to send me a picture of the following:  you, standing at the edge of the GunsAmerica booth (with their sign/logo visible/legible behind you), holding a sign/placard/piece of paper with “Don’t be a dick, Paul” legibly written upon it.  You can anonymize yourself however you like (I will be posting the pictures here), and be as creative with that as you like, but, hey, free patches! 

You see, Paul, I am very much a “nobody” – my site had all of 15,000 unique hits last month, which, for me, was almost something of a record.  However, I have heard of this thing called “RSS”, and I have heard of this other thing called “Twitter”, and I know how to tinker around with this crazy thing called “metadata”, and, most importantly of all, I know how not to be a dick so people actually read what I write.  And those are skills and abilities that people can learn or have regardless of whether they have been doing this “blogging” thing for 15 days or 15 years. 

So stop being an elitist prick.  Yes, you apparently have an accomplished web business (which very few of the people I read have heard of, but that is a separate problem), and, yes, you have been writing for however many years, but none of that matters if you unnecessarily alienate your readership or your customer base, and none of that grants you the position to justifiably demean up-and-comers… or, better yet, those who will one day replace you. 

Times are changing Paul.  “Nobodies” can create WordPress weblogs yesterday and have enough readership to seriously impact your business.  Time to get with it. 

Oh, and nowhere in that comment did I see an apology.