Category Archives: Site notices

Site notices Technology Waffle and randomness

Fighting back to the spammers: charging for removal of blog spam links…

Right from (almost) the start, this blog has suffered from spam. I guess it just goes with the territory but I’ve written in the past about people who’ve left spam comments and then found Google’s index quotes them out of context or tech companies criticising their competitors “anonymously” in blog comments.

Even when I was helping my then-CTO to raise his social media presence, my employer’s PR agency was encouraging the use of comments on blogs to generate backlinks and now the tide is turning as Google cracks down on low-quality backlinks.

As a result, I’m getting an increasing number of emails from digital agencies including phrases like the one below:

“I’m writing to request the removal of a link to my clients’ [sic] site which is located at the following page:”

They’re (or their clients are) wasting my time, so I reserve the right to charge for removing such links.

The irony is that, over the last few years, Google’s index changes have penalised original content creators like myself in favour of corporate websites and this blog has just a fraction of the traffic it once enjoyed (oh, those were the days)…

Would be blog spammers at this site should check out the Rules for Comments.

Site notices Technology

Website moving to a new server…

My hosting provider has told me that they are moving this website to a new server over the weekend.

All being well, the move will be transparent but I will also need to point the domain names at new DNS servers, so, if I disappear offline for a while on Sunday night, please bear with me and I should be back again once the interwebs have updated…

Site notices Technology

Half-baked cookies…

I don’t know if this website uses cookies. I think it probably does beacuse I have Google Adsense code and Google Analytics code in place. It wouldn’t surprise me if WordPress uses some cookies too but, like many bloggers, I use off-the-shelf software and, as long as it works, I don’t worry too much about how things happen.

Unfortunately, some half-baked EU directive about privacy and cookies (half-baked – get it…) takes effect this month after even the UK government needed a year to get its act together (the Information Comissionners Office, which is responsible for enforcing the associated UK legislation, only removed its last cookie in March).

What’s worse is that the ICO’s guidance for website owners is really difficult to follow. Peter Bryant (@PJBryant) pointed me at an article in PC Pro magazine that suggests I should be OK without doing anything, meanwhile Kuan Hon (@Kuan0) from the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University suggested a few weeks ago that we all need to be looking carefully at our sites if we want to avoid a fine…

I’m no lawyer and I can’t afford to be paying fines so I checked out some WordPress plugins that might help me. Some were linked to websites that should check my site for cookies… except they didn’t seem to work – and, anyway, I don’t really want to be making a big deal about cookies (they are, mostly, harmless).

I selected a very simple plug-in called Cookie Warning that presents a message (importantly, not a pop-up) to first time site visitors. The message is customisable (although changing the size of the text on the buttons will involve me editing the plugin) and it seems to be enough for me to gain consent from users. Importantly, it doesn’t seem to impact the way in which search engines see the site.

Only time will tell if this change negatively impacts my traffic – I’d like to think that most of my visitors understand enough about cookies to realise that this is not really such a big deal – but it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months as companies big and small update their sites to comply with the legislation.

Site notices

Computer Weekly Social Media Awards 2011

This time last year I was pestering blog readers and Twitter followers to vote for markwilson.it in the Computer Weekly IT Blog awards and I was surprised (and absolutely stoked) to win the Individual IT Professional (Male) category.  This time around I haven’t entered as an individual but I do have a favour to ask…

As part of my day job last year, I launched Fujitsu’s blog platform for the UK and Ireland. Although I handed the platform over to our marketing teams following incubation, the CTO Blog is still my baby and I edit most of the content (although I do try to ensure it’s written by others).

One year on, I’m pleased to say that our CTO Blog has been shortlisted for what is now known as the Computer Weekly Social Media Awards and I’d like to ask for your support again:

  1. If you don’t currently read the blog, please check it out.
  2. And if you like what you see, please consider voting for “David Smith/Fujitsu CTO Blog” in the CIO/IT Director Category.

It’d be pretty cool to win an award again, and a great finish to the year for me at work…

Site notices Technology

Rebuilding my site: please excuse the appearance

Regular readers may have noticed that this site is looking a little… different… right now.

Unfortunately, my hosting provider told me last night that they had a disk failure on the server. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem (that’s why servers have redundant components right? Like RAID on the disks?) but it seems this “server” is just a big PC. I can’t get too mad though… the MySQL database backup scripts have been failing for a month and it was my sloppyness that didn’t chase that up, and it was me who hadn’t made sure I had a recent copy of the file system…

So, as things stand:

  • I think I have restored all posts from 2004 until almost the end of August 2011;
  • I need to restore the later posts and comments (using copies from FeedBlitz, Google Reader, etc.);
  • There are no plugins (so things look odd); Some of the plugins have been reinstalled (but things may still look odd);
  • There are no graphics (they were hosted outside WordPress) I’ve restored all most of the graphics and other external media but there are still some I need to track down;
  • I have not restored the theme (so I’m using the WordPress defaults and there is no mobile theme);
  • The theme I’m using does not specify UTF-8 encoding so lots of  characters; Still some spurious characters appearing on some pages…
  • There are no fewer ads (which you might be happy about, but I do still need to pay the bills).

Please bear with me whilst I get things back… it may take some time as it needs to fit in between other activities but it might also be a good thing (new theme has been long overdue and I might even get smarter about my backups…).

And, if you spot another problem, please let me know.

[Updated at various points as the site has been restored]

Site notices

Does this make me an award winning blogger?

Absolutely amazed.

Actually, there’s another word that fits in the middle of that sentence, but I don’t swear on the blog.

Absolutely [redacted] amazed.

I was very pleased to be shortlisted in the IT Professional (Male) category for the Computer Weekly Blog Awards but, I was really treating the Awards ceremony this evening as an opportunity to network (and, in some cases to meet people in person that I previously only knew online). When I saw that Microsoft’s Steve Clayton was runner up, I thought it must have been a really big blog that won.  Me, accepting the award for the IT Professional (Male) category in the Computer Weekly Blog Awards 2010Nope, turns out it was little ol’ me (OK, so I’m not so small, but my blog is!). Computer Weekly’s awards may not have the glitz and glamour of some awards ceremonies, but they are at least recognised, and it’s pretty cool to have won an award this year.

So, a massive “thank you” to everyone who voted for me – your support was absolutely vital.  But, more importantly, thanks for continuing to read this blog.  I’m doing less and less technical work and It’s getting harder and harder to find the time to write original content (most of my online contributions come in 140-character busts these days – @markwilsonit); but knowing that people out there find it useful and are willing to support me in things like this is a great comfort.

[Updated 19 November 2010: added photo – copyright Computer Weekly (linked at source)]
[Updated 25 November 2010: added video]

Site notices

Reminder: Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards 2010

My blog needs you!

The deadline for voting in the Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards is fast approaching and, even though I don’t seriously expect to win, it’s great to have been shortlisted, and I don’t want to come last either!

It’s sometimes a struggle to balance work and blogging (especially after almost seven years of it) but, please can I ask you to vote for me in the IT Professional (Male) category?

If you’re sick of reading posts that are begging for your support, I’m sorry: this is the last time I’ll ask you and I do have some more tech advice and commentary posts in the pipeline!

Site notices

Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards 2010

It’s that time of year when Computer Weekly magazine runs its annual IT Blog Awards and, I’m delighted to say that markwilson.it has been shortlisted in the IT Professional (Male) category.  This category is for blogs that detail an individual perspective, not a company line, of life in the IT industry.

Looking back, I’ve produced less content this year than I have done previously – and some of it has been photography related, rather than IT but I’d like to think there’s still some useful and relevant information on this blog – and it would be great to have your vote.

For those viewing this site directly, there’s a badge on the right hand side of the page.  RSS subscribers won’t see that so this is the link to vote and you can vote for a number of blogs in various categories (as well as the best Twitter users – I didn’t enter that category) but you’ll find me in the IT Professional (Male) dropdown.

(And, for everyone who voted earlier in the week after I tweeted about this – thank you!)

Site notices Waffle and randomness

New job/full disclosure

For some time now, this site has carried a disclosure notice and I generally avoid talking about my work here (for reasons of confidentiality – but also to prevent potential conflicts of interest).  Today I’m going to make an exception, because it’s the first day of a new job for me.

I’ve been a Senior Customer Solution Architect at Fujitsu since August 2005 and, in that time, I’ve worked on customer-facing project implementations; pre-sales consultancy and bid work; and, more recently, have carried out some internal roles evangelising technology, developing capability within our architect community and leading the technical strategy and direction for client device services, including the adoption of Windows 7 within our desktop managed service offering.  Whilst these roles have been interesting and varied, I was recently presented with an opportunity to join the Office of the CTO as a Strategy Consultant and today is my first day in that new role.

I’m not going to say too much about what I’ll be doing in the new role except that I’ll be promoting Fujitsu brand and opinion on a variety of topics and that’s why I felt it appropriate to write this blog post.  Regardless of my professional activities at Fujitsu, this site will still concentrate on the technology issues that I find interesting and it’s not going to become a marketing channel for my employer!

I’ve spent 6 years and many late nights building up this site, along with another year building a my reputation on Twitter and in other social media outlets – that’s my personal reputation as “Mark Wilson, Technologist” and not “Mark Wilson, Strategy Consultant at Fujitsu”.  So, just to make sure there’s no confusion: this site (markwilson.co.uk/markwilson.it or whatever domain name I might assign to it in the future) is my personal website;  the views and opinions here are personal and are not endorsed by my employer; if you see me commenting elsewhere on behalf of Fujitsu… well, that’s the day job – you know, the one that pays the bills!

Site notices

Major WordPress update completed

For all my words about how it’s important for sysadmins to patch systems, this website has been running on an old (approx 2 years out of date) version of WordPress, pending a major database cleanup and site redesign.

Eventually, my requirement to move to an up-to-date platform became more critical than the need to sort out my categories and tags (which date back to before WordPress supported tags), cleanup the database, and make everything all fresh and lovely (as Long Zheng did recently at IStartedSomething).  Time is something I simply don’t have much of at the moment but I have to say it was really simple:

  1. Backup the database and the rest of site (just in case).
  2. Copy over new WordPress files (taking care to preserve existing plugins and themes).
  3. Go to the administration URL and click the button to upgrade the database.
  4. Job done!

(there are more details on upgrading WordPress over on the Codex)

In fact, it felt a little too simple, if you know what I mean… like maybe I missed something?

I will still redesign the site.  I will still sort out the taxonomy and probably move to a clean database.  At least I intend to do those things, one day.  In the meantime I have a bunch of old plugins running against a new WordPress installation – if you notice anything that’s not working, please let me know (the easiest way is probably to leave a comment on this post).

[Update 18:25: Most of the plugins have now been updated too… but please do let me know if you see anything that’s broken]

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