Blurps of the day – 2008-10-29

  • – installed database backup and SEO plugins, and gave up on tagging all the posts in my blog. 1000+ posts? pure suicide. #
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WordPress: Upgrade or be hacked!

I spent the better part of a day upgrading my WordPress platform.

In a word: lovely!

Summarised tale:

  • I started seeing less visitors from the usual search keywords, which was odd.
  • Could not see my own blog post even when Googling the post title e.g. “brazillion crumpler mod keinism”. I was (and still am) quite sure that no one else has written anything similar so far, so WTF?
  • Official conclusion: Blog had been kicked off Google for some inexplicable reason.
  • Started checking Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics, could not see shit. Looked in top search queries, found shitty keywords that led to my blog e.g. “download hlds updated patch for czero”, “download steel beast pro full version”. What the hell?
  • Rummaged through webhost and discovered weird looking .php files, and modified .htaccess as well. WTF?!
  • Found a text-only Google snapshot of the blog, displaying a link farm at the footer region. Depressing.
  • Finally found an article by Donncha, Did your WordPress site get hacked?. Fcuking A for sure.
  • Proceeded to clean everything up. Deleted all suspicious files, looked inside active_plugins on the options table, changed user passwords and upgraded WordPress.
  • Got down to writing this post.

Total shit.

So boys and girls, do not slack off like I did – upgrade your damn WordPress before it’s too late!

(Besides, it’s got a pretty cool UI. And effortless upgrade at that.)

Update:

1. Bunny’s Technorati Tags does not work well now, and I had to re-tag all my posts with the default tag system.
2. UTF8 will fcuk your Chinese characters up.

Raph Koster recommends using this setting inside your wp-config.php:
define('DB_CHARSET', '.');

Blurps of the day – 2008-10-27

  • – My blog’s Google ranking is fcuked. Google “brazillion dollar home mod keinism”, and it doesn’t even come up on the first page WTF! #
  • – Modified search function in blog to display partial posts instead of the original super-duper brief listing. Looking good, woot! #
  • – Added featured posts to the blog sidebar, makes for easier reading of the better-written(?) posts. More to come another night. #

Blurps of the day – 2008-10-26

  • – for the guys who are looking to register on the Digital Grin forums – it’s Kodachrome! #
  • – Apparently self-adhesive velcro isn’t strong enough, sewing is a must. #
  • – Minor works on the blog: resubmitted sitemap.xml to Google, added a few meta keywords, and the <title> now shows blog description too. #
  • – note to self, never use greater-than-semicolon or less-than-semicolon in tweets; they turn out looking screwy. #

Keinian ideals: Tips on improving business writing

Business writing is much like report writing; what is the desired outcome? We want a piece of readable content that is straight to the point and (preferably) easy to read. So let’s take a look at a few examples of writing, before and after my edits.


Original version:
“A good measure ABC can measure the performance of the outsourcing company is the lead time of the delivery and the number of returns due to incorrect product or quantity.”

Does saying “A good measure .. can measure” sound odd to you?

My version:
“A good performance measure of the outsourcing company would be lead delivery time, and the number of returns caused by incorrect product(s) and/or quantity.”

Tip: what do you want to say? Try to be concise, less is more.


Original version:
“ABC need to address security risks arising from virus, spyware and Trojan hours which need to give comfort to new customers that web-ordering is secure and that such risks are not affecting its infrastructure.”

That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Words like “which” and “that” are used to extend the sentence unnecessarily. Grammar and spelling play a big part in conveying professionalism, so keep your eye out for mistakes e.g. “horse” instead of “hours”. (Microsoft Word wouldn’t know a Trojan horse from a Trojan hours.)

My version:
“There is a need to address security risks arising from viruses and malware. This is reassurance to customers that internet orders are secured.”

Tip: Punctuation marks exist for a purpose, and most especially the full stop. Keep your sentences short, allow the reader breathing space.


Original version:
“With its vast range of products, there may be other potential customers who will like to buy from ABC but they are currently not served by other ordering methods. By offering web-ordering and doing web-promotion, the customers will know ABC’s presence and can go online to order what they need. This will help to increase its customers base, market share and hence its long-term profitability.”

There are times when sentence structure is important in maintaining language flow, but overabuse leads to storytelling. For example, “hence” is unnecessary. Information like “vast range of products” is optional background to the reader. After all, the management would probably know what his company’s doing; there’s no need to unleash sales talk!

My version:
“There could be potential customers who are currently not served by existing order methods. By offering internet orders and promoting its online presence, the customers become aware of the internet order option for their needs. This helps to increase its customer base, market share and long-term profitability.”

Note the changes made.


I hope the above examples have been useful in understanding how important it is to keep things short and sweet. The one rule to always keep in mind, and yes the good old rule applies:

KISS aka Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Did you like this article? Please share it with your friends if you found it useful, and comments are always welcome!

Keinian ideals: A fascinating economic concept

I was quite intrigued by an article LH recommended the other day, titled Money: A New Beginning (Part 2) by Charles Eisenstein. It is a little long, but definitely worth the read.

I will just quote some interesting passages, and spam my thoughts accordingly.

Given the determining role of interest, the first alternative currency system to consider is one that structurally eliminates it. One such system, called Frei Geld or “free-money” was proposed in 1906 by Silvio Gesell in The Natural Economic Order. Gesell’s free-money bears a form of negative interest called demurrage. Periodically, a stamp costing a tiny fraction of the currency’s denomination must be affixed to it, in effect a “user fee” or a “maintenance cost”; another way to look at it is that the currency “goes bad” and depreciates in value as it ages.

This sounds interesting, because the currency essentially devalues at a much faster rate. What would that lead us to?

The best-known example was instituted in the town of Worgl, Austria, in 1932. To remain valid, each piece of this locally-issued currency required a monthly stamp costing 1% of its face value. This anti-hoarding measure spurred citizens to spend their money quickly, even to pay their taxes early. Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden; much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer. Worgl’s economy took off; the unemployment rate plummeted even as the rest of the country slipped into a deepening depression; public works were completed, and prosperity continued until the Worgl currency (and hundreds of imitators) were outlawed in 1933 at the behest of a threatened central bank.

And to have an example that actually worked in real life, makes the idea even more interesting. I am a self-professed idiot at economics, but from what I know:

  • Spending = economy works good because money keeps circulating. Everyone earns, everyone spends.

In case you haven’t realised this yet, not circulating the cash (aka hoarding) is part of the reason why things are still screwed up now.

You might think that it’s bad because the motivation to save (aka hoard) goes down, but let’s break the concept of having savings down a little. Why do we save?

  • For emergencies e.g. hospitalisation, getting sacked
  • For big purchases e.g. buying a house
  • For retirement, when you do not have income sources

What if we had a way to work around the need of having savings?

In today’s system, it is much better to have a thousand dollars than it is for ten people to owe you a hundred dollars. In a demurrage system the opposite is true. Since money decays with time, if I have some money I’m not using right now, I am happy to lend it to you, just as if I had more bread than I could eat, I would give you some. If I need some in the future, I can call in my obligations or create new ones with anyone within my network who has more money than he or she needs to meet immediate needs.

This sounds like a good way to remove the need for hoarding, but it would be subject to the issue of human selfishness. Then again, even selfish individuals are pragmatic enough to understand that favours could be called in. And the entire cycle might even encourage people to be more giving, since everyone is inclined to share what they have.

The scenario changes if money is used to recreate rather than destroy the social relations of a hunter-gatherer. In those societies, when a hunter killed a large animal, he or she would give away most of the meat, dividing it according to kinship status, personal affection, and need. As with demurrage money, it was much better to have lots of people “owe you one” than it was to have a big pile of rotting meat, or even of dried jerky that had to be transported or secured. Why would you even want to, when your community is as generous to you as you are to it? Security came from sharing. The good luck of your neighbor was your own good luck as well.

Once again, this makes a lot of sense. But of course, the modern man would think that owning all the meat and making people pay for what they take is fair. And if they need anything from others, it’s fair if they pay for it. Favors have no value because they do not hold a guaranteed value. I have to admit, I am not above thinking in that same fashion yet, but I am trying to maintain a neutral view.

Actually, this concept reminds me of Pay It Forward.

The banker reached into the folds of his gown, pulled out a single credit note.
“But eat first – a full belly steadies the judgment. Do me the honor of accepting this as our welcome to the newcomer.”
His pride said no; his stomach said YES! Don took it and said, “Uh, thanks! That’s awfully kind of you. I’ll pay it back, first chance.”
“Instead, pay it forward to some other brother who needs it.” The banker touched a button on his desk, then stood up.

Don said goodbye and left.

– Robert Heinlein’s Between Planets

It sounds like gestures of goodwill definitely goes a long way into greasing the wheels of our lives, and there should be no reason why we should not do it, other than the nagging fear of being ripped off. Perhaps, the demurrage system is all about cultivating the positive side of humans to come into play more than anything else. I might be a tad too idealistic at this point, but isn’t something like this worth working towards at all? Everyone appreciates kindness, and what is so wrong about repaying kindness with its like?

There are plenty of other good bits in the article, but I’ll just round things off with this.

My dear reader, think about it: Is it really who you are to say, “I will lend you money — but only if you give me even more in return”? When we need money to live, is that not a formula for slavery? .. Today, young people feel enslaved to their college loans, householders to their mortgages, and entire Third World nations to their foreign debt. Interest is slavery. And since the condition of slavery demeans the slaveholder as much as the slave, in our hearts we want none of it.

Indeed, does the system we live in even make sense at all? We are simply people trying to live in these times, hmm. Or could a difference be made, even by one such as you or me?