A couple of days ago I saw a tweet from Cody De Arkland showing his new tweaked VMware Clarity based theme on his website.
Staying up until 3am to get the brisket on, so what do I do? Work on tuning up https://t.co/YDiFkGIKLY with some better @VMwareClarity styling! Check out the differences below! Subtle changes but I think it’s a lot better. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/6sYnuBahwI
— Cody De Arkland (@Codydearkland) June 17, 2018
Cody has gone down the route of using Hugo and AWS, which I respect, but just seems like too much work for me at the moment! I am familiar with WordPress, and Simon is barely computer literate at the best of times, so I can’t ask him to start writing in markdown. But I did want some of this Clarity goodness – so I set about learning how to create a WordPress theme, and how to integrate Clarity with this. (more…)
So…this is a frustrated sort of post. As you are most likely to already know, the new data protection laws (GDPR) are coming into effect on the 25th May 2018. I must emphasise that I am not an expert on GDPR, this post is my layman’s conclusion for my specific circumstances. I run this blog as an exercise to help others, provide information and as a hobby. There is a lot of speculation around how this will affect bloggers, and a lot of panic and mis-information too. I’ve seen a few people this week simply shut down and delete their blogs – which is both upsetting and sad.
Once again, here is my disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advice. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.
My general approach to GDPR is one of avoidance – I will avoid collecting any Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Please feel free to get in touch via twitter (@sammcgeown) with any suggestions or updates and I’ll gladly share them (at least, the non-personally identifiable parts :))
Some general privacy best practices, which help towards GDPR compliance
- I already use SSL to secure the site through LetsEncrypt, and HTTP redirects to HTTPS, so that’s good.
- I already back up the site regularly, and encrypt my backups
- My web server is patched and updated regularly
- My WordPress and all Plugins are updated regularly
All comments on DefinIT.co.uk have been disabled, and any existing comments have been deleted. I’ve done this because it seems to be the most efficient way for me to remove the risk that Personally Identifiable Information is collected and stored on the site.
Also, managing comment spam is a pain in the a***
To disable the comments site wide, I used the Disable Comments plugin, which allowed me to disable comments site wide and delete all existing comments. So here it is, 1498 legitimate, productive, helpful comments removed from the site to protect me from GDPR. I’m sorry to all those who put effort into discussions and helpful input.
I use the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) plugin and ensure IP addresses are anonymised. That’s the only PII collected by Google Analytics, but we also enable user opt-out, and compliance with Do Not Track.
For now, I’ve disabled social media links – the reason for this is that they tend to be trackers for the social media platforms that they link back to. I may revise this at a later date when I understand the implications better for each platform.
One of the many perks of being a vExpert is the cool vexpert.me URL shortener provided by Darren Woollard (@dawoo). There are several ways for vExperts to use it once they’ve signed up – there’s a PowerShell script by Jonathan Medd (@jonathanmedd) and Maish Saidel-Keesing (@maishsk) and now even a GUI interface based on the PowerShell.
One thing I wanted to do was to automate the short links for my WordPress installation, so before attempting to write a plugin myself I had a quick search for YOURLS, the software Darren uses to create access. I found “YOURLS Link Creator” by Andrew Norcross which did exactly that. (more…)
Up until now, I’ve been using BlogEngine.Net as my blogging platform, and up until now I’ve been relatively happy with using it. One of the major drivers for me as a “Microsoft” person was to use something that is based on Microsoft technology – BlogEngine.Net is based (as the name suggests) on the .Net framework. I’m much happier these days writing limited amounts of C#.Net than I am with PHP.
The problem is, I seemed to be spending more time fixing the blog than writing on it. I’ve had all sorts of problems, ranging from incompatibility with my hosting provider, theme compatibility issues, random code issues and more. Email notifications seem to work, then stop, then work again. Simple things like adding reCAPTCHA support to cut down the enormous amount of comment spam have taken days of head scratching. Whether or not these issues are down to my ignorance or the software, the outcome is the same, I don’t want to be fixing my blogging software, I want it to just work!
Then there’s the search engines, and the existing web presence that I have. A major consideration for me when changing the software is the fact that a lot of my traffic comes from links that are embedded in forums and other blogs – and that search engines respond with the existing BlogEngine posts rather than the newer ones. I’ve considered this, and I think it’s worth the risk. I will leave the BE running for a while and block search engine traffic to it so that direct links in will still be valid. I’ll see where the traffic takes me – but the advantages of changing now outweigh the risks. I will look to do some sort of URL redirect if it becomes an issue.
So why move to WordPress then? It’s not based on Microsoft technology and it could potentially set me back to square one with my web presence. Quite simply, it just works. It has a massive ecosystem built up around it of plug-ins, themes and widgets. It’s mature – very mature – software that is actively developed and much more widely used than BlogEngine.Net is.
The import of the BlogML from BlogEngine was pretty pain free - the categories came in as a GUID rather than the friendly name, but that was a simple matter of updating the MySQL table using a query. I’ve decided to slim down the categories, and as such I’ve moved the existing post categories into tags (handy little plug-in that). The theme I am using is nice enough, maybe when I have some time I’ll customise it a bit further.
But, I’ve made the jump; Windows Live Writer is plugged in to WordPress and I am hoping that it all comes together nicely. Recently I’ve been studying for my MCITP: Enterprise Exchange Administrator exams which I’m taking on Monday (70-662 and 70-663), so hopefully I can push some more Exchange stuff this way.
Until then, thanks for reading!