technical solutions and commentary

May 29, 2015

Lessons learned in WordPress migrations, hosting accounts, and SSL

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 1:21 pm

Hosting Accounts and SSL

I recently created a WordPress site on my hosting service at GoDaddy. The site looked great and I was ready to apply an SSL certificate to it. The issue was that this site was not my primary hosted domain on my account. It’s actually hosted site on my primary domain. Before I pulled the trigger to buy the certificate, I thought it wise to call GoDaddy to see if the lowest cost SSL cert (about $70/yr) would work in this scenario, because I wasn’t sure. Happy I made that call.

The low cost SSL cert can only be applied to the primary domain associated with the hosting account, not a hosted site. A hosted site is essentially a folder you create under the primary domains folder and then use the Hosted Domains control from Go Daddy to point a different domain at the folder. From what I can tell it works better than domain redirection or forwarding with domain masking, but seems to function in a similar manner. So I was told that I would need to buy the next level SSL certificate in order to apply it to multiple domains. Its a cost of about $150/yr, so more than double the cost. So I decided to hold off and do a little digging before dropping that much $.

What I discovered, was that you can actually change the primary domain associated with the hosting account fairly easily using the “Domain Change (Primary)” function under the Settings in the Hosting Manager. Since I wasn’t using SSL on the primary domain, I could make this switch and apply the SSL cert for $60. Problem solved.

The other option, which I opted for was that I could sign up for a new hosting account for 2 years, get a domain registered for 2 years, get a SSL cert for 1 year, and get on a more current virtual service with cPanel for a little more than the cost of buying the second level SSL cert. This was a win-win for me! My original hosting account is up for renewal in a few months and a new hosting account had a great promotional discount available. So I get my cert fora year, my main concern but can also migrate all my other sites from the old hosting account the new one and not have to renew at the higher rate. So all in all I’m saving a bunch of $.

The issue that I had to figure out next was how to migrate a WordPress site from one host to another. So there are a few options that I tried.. FTP is a no go since a database needs to be restored to a different mysql host and files repointed. So I needed a tool to help.  I looked into some paid tools and a free tool called Duplicator which I ran a test migration with from the the original site to a sub domain hosted on the same server. It went extremely well!

After running my test migration, I started the same process of migrating the site to the new host. It seemed to go well, but checking the site after the restore there were issues with fonts and graphic rendering. So so good. I changed a few settings and tried it again, and again with the same issues. Extremely frustrating and hours were being lost.

The solution.  When I went to cPanel to setup a new WordPress site on the new host and looked a little closer at the options, I noticed an option to migrate a site. So I choose the option to migrate from the other host, submitted a few details and 1o minutes later the site was migrated to the new host without issues! From there its easy to enable SSL and other tweaks.

Lesson learned: 1) Don’t take the more expensive default answer you get from Tech Support. 2) Explore the free tools you already have in a hosting account before you look for third-party tools that do the same thing, but ar for a fee or free but not supported.

March 17, 2015

Brother DCP-7065DN Scanner Problem

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 3:15 pm

I bought a Brother DCP-7065DN mid-June 2014. I have been very happy with the device, it prints/scans and copies quickly and has good quality.

After running it for 8 weeks, a black vertical line – about a pixel wide – began showing up on the left 3rd of all of my scans and copies. I made the assumption the scanner must be faulty and dreaded having to call brother support for warranty service. When I finally got around to calling support, I was literally on the phone for 6 minutes and had a fully functional device at the send.

The issues was that the scanning glass (the small strip of glass on the far left of the bed) and the pressure strip (directly above the scanning glass) needed to be cleaned using an alcohol wipe. I completely thought this was going to be a waste if time. But it turned out to be the issue. That was the easiest printer/scanner fix I have ever done.

Zillow Premier Agent Website – How to cancel

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 3:13 pm

If you are a Real Estate Agent and have signed up for the Zillow Premier Agent Website, now have decided to cancel the service, you may have a difficult time finding instructions. Its actually a very simple process, but not documented anywhere in the Zillow Help from what I could find. Here is what you need to do to cancel:

  • Log onto your Zillow.com profile.
  • Click the menu item ‘Advertising’ at the top of the page
  • Choose on ‘Manage Payments’.
  • You will see your current package and a ‘Cancel Package’  option to the right. Click on it to cancel the service

You can use the same steps to upgrade your account to a higher level package as well. The links to upgrade are next to the Cancel Package option.

February 2, 2015

OneDrive for Business Sync Issues

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 3:13 pm

If you are using OneDrive for Business and Syncing local folders you may have run into the problem of some files not syncing with the cloud. You’ll see the icon in the system tray for OneDrive for Business showing an alert. It can be frustrating to figure out why the files are not syncing. There are a few things to look for when this happens:

  • There may be special characters used in the file name – which work fine on the local computer, but don’t work for saving in OneDrive.
    • I find it’s best to use the standard text/numeric characters and  some basic “-” “_” characters when naming files.
  • The file you are trying to sync may be too large or you may have too many files in the OneDrive for Business  folder to sync.
    • You can sync up to 20,000 items in your OneDrive for Business library, including folders and files.
    • In any library, you can download files up to 2 GB.
  • Your credentials may have been changed on Office365/OneDrive, but your computer saved the old password.
    • Go to the Control Panel or Search from the Start Screen for “Credentials Manager”
    • Open Credentials Manager. Delete the Office14/Office15/Office365 Credentials.
    • Open OneDrive for Business and Sync and enter your current username and password in when it prompts you.

Here are some other resources that you can try if you are still having Sync issues with OneDrive:

July 18, 2014

Free Conference Call Service

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 8:45 pm

If you are looking for a free conference calling service – that is reliable, easy to use, and does not require a credit card to sign up – I recommend you take a look at InstantConference.com.

Last week I began researching free conference calling services. I wanted service that didn’t have advertisements when you dialed in, didn’t require a credit card to sign up, and was easy to use.  I looked at the reviews and the service features for eight different services, and decided to try InstantConference.

The “Basic Plan” is completely free. With the free service you don’t get a toll free number to dial into, but that’s not a show stopper for my needs. Here is what you do get:

  • 5 conferences /month
  • 10 participants /call
  • 1000 minutes /month
  • Recording – individual call recordings up to 10 participants for 6 hours each call
  • 1¢ /minute overage

I signed up and was provided a New Jersey dial-in number, and a 7 digit conference ID code. The 862 number isn’t ideal for someone who does business primarily in Colorado, but not a huge deal with cell service having free long distance and cheap Skype out minutes.

InstantConference.com also has a Outlook plug-in to easily schedule a conference call from the Outlook client. I use Office 365 for Small Business and have no problems with the plug-in on my Outlook 2013 client.

When you sign up, you are provided a PIN code for moderating the calls, as an options. When I dialed into the conference call and entered my conference ID, I was never prompted to enter my PIN, and was never given audio prompts to do anything as a call leader. When I looked in my account profile after the call, it looked like I need to enable the moderator feature if I want it. Otherwise everyone just enters the conference call as normal.

A couple of things I would like to see options for in the future:

  • The ability to choose a conference call number with an area code in other large metro areas, such as Denver.
  • The ability to change my 7 digit conference ID and not have to use one they assign to me. I like the ability to change it to the last 7 digits of my local phone number, because its easier to remember.  (You can already change you leader PIN).

But all in all, it’s a free service and works great!  Since I don’t have a land line in my home office, I used Skype and dialed into the conference call bridge and had a crystal clear conference over my headset.  It would really be great if Microsoft let you integrate Skype voice into the Lync client! But unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see that anytime soon.

This is NOT an ad or a paid endorsement. I’m just a person that had a good experience with the service.

June 6, 2014

Windows 8.1 Update Adds Boot to Classic Desktop

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 9:01 am

Microsoft FINALLY is listening to its customers with Windows 8.  With the slow adoption of the OS in the Enterprise space, they are finally understanding people wont upgrade if it doesn’t help the end users.

In May Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Update that allows end users and enterprise admins boot directly to the classic desktop… if they are not using a touch-based device. If you are using touch enabled display, then you will still logically begin on the Windows 8 start screen. If you spend most of your time working in the classic shell like the vast majority of business users, then you can force Windows to boot directly to the desktop. To enable this you have to have Windows 8.1 Update KB2919335 installed. Which if your business administrator controls the desktops then you may not have right now, as they have until August 12 to approve the update.

To boot directly to the desktop:

  • Right-click the taskbar, choose Properties
  • Click Navigation
  • Check the top check box in the Start Screen section
  • Click OK

That’s it. Now the PC will boot to the desktop at every start up or sign in.

Other changes with the Update

The Start screen now displays icon for Power and Search next to your Account image in the upper right corner of the screen. This eliminate a few steps in using the charms bar. If you are using a Tabley, you wont see these options though.

Windows Store Apps now appear on the taskbar, just like classic desktop applications. These Apps also have a application bar which appears when you hover over the minimized app on the taskbar.

Changed for the desktop, non-touch laptop experience is the default media and photo viewers. Instead of choosing a picture or video and being ported to a Windows 8 App, you will now stay in the classic desktop using classic viewers/players.

For those still using Internet Explorer (IE) as their web browsers, the Update  improves compatibility with older IE versions.  While this is great for consumers, it’s even better for Enterprise customers so they can maintain a tighter level of security and use older IE-based Web Apps. This is why Microsoft introduced IE Enterprise-mode, which has to be enabled through GPOs, and is not on by default.

Another improvement to IE, is device awareness. Now IE will render web sites based upon the size of the PC or tablet screen that you are viewing it from. A welcome change for sure!

December 6, 2013

Free Quality Technical Training Resources

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 11:41 am

Microsoft Virtual Academy is the best free technical training resource that I have found to date from a large IT vendor. It goes beyond the basics with some of the free courses spanning multiple days which is taking classroom content and presenting it in a nutshell.  For anyone that is needing to update or their Microsoft technical skills, or is just getting started with Microsoft technologies, MVA is the best place to begin.

I am also a fan of the MOOC sites Udacity and Coursera. Google has recently made an investment in Udacity and has co-created content for development courses. This approach is a bit different than MVA as its setup like an online university program. I have taken business courses from both Udacity and Coursers, but have not taken technical courses yet.

I have explored the free online training from some of the other large IT vendors. While the majority have some free content, I am finding it is more limited to beginner knowledge, or 101 knowledge. There also seems to be a lot of up selling for their paid online or classroom courses in as part of their free content. I understand the value of classroom learning and that content development isn’t low cost for vendors. But with a lot of learning content being given away these days, vendors could benefit by adopting the same methods as Microsoft and Google. Training people that will know how to use their products which will result in these people promoting the vendor products to employers and customers. This only makes sense as people will promote or sell what they understand.

Have you run across any good free training resources? Please share by leaving a comment.

August 27, 2013

SkyDrive Pro update brings massive storage increase

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 12:34 pm

On August 27, 2013 Microsoft made an announcement affecting Office 365 business, Enterprise, and Government cloud users.

SkyDrive Pro storage allowance is increasing from 7GB per user to 25GB per user. The Online Admin Portal will also provide administrators a way to increase the SkyDrive Pro quota up to 100GB per user. Subscribers can add storage at a cost of $0.20/GB/month and this goes into the pooled storage, which can then be allocated to SkyDrive Pro users as the administrator deems appropriate.

Improvements have been made to the user experience in SkyDrive Pro. a new “Shared with Me” view provides users the ability to easily locate documents and folders that others have shared with you without having to subscribe to them in some form. While the documents that you see in the “Shared with Me” view are actually storage in the other persons SkyDrive Pro, you have rights to view, edit, download… as if its in your own SkyDrive PRo.

other improvement are increasing the file size upload to 2GB per file, the recycle bin has been increased to 90 days retention, and versioning is enable by default for new libraries.

The official blog post on the changes is here: http://blogs.office.com/b/office365tech/archive/2013/08/27/skydrive-pro-increases-storage-and-ease-of-sharing.aspx

August 22, 2013

Mobile device Malware increasing

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 11:48 am

According to eWeek, McAfee found that android-based malware threats rose to 35 percent in the second quarter of 2013. Contributing to the threat are:

  • SMS-stealing banking malware has risen
  • fraudulent dating and entertainment apps
  • ‘weaponized’ legitimate apps – installers with spyware
  • malicious apps posing as useful tools

The second quarter also saw the following increases:

  • suspicious URL’s (16%)
  • digitally signed malware samples (50%) – increased to 1.2 million new samples
  • notable events in the cyber attack and espionage areas – including multiple attacks on the global infrastructure for bitcoins
  • revelations around the Operation Troy network targeting military assets
  • McAfee Labs registered double the number of ransom-ware samples (320,000) in the second quarter versus quarter one.
  • 5.5 trillion SPAM messages, equal to 70% of the global Email volume

a security vulnerability within the Android operating system had exposed bitcoin users to theft through several digital wallet applications. the latest highlight of the weaknesses inherent in the Android platform.

Source:http://www.eweek.com/print/security/mobile-malware-threat-growth-hits-record-in-q2-mcafee/

July 24, 2013

Office 2010 Service PAck 2 (SP2) released

Filed under: tech — Jason Hartley @ 9:38 am

Microsoft released SP2 for Office 2010 this week. the sp can be downloaded from the download center and will be made available through automatic updates in the next few months. Those using Office Click-to-Run will have SP2 streamed to them beginning in August.

improvements include:

  • Office & SharePoint  2010 compatibility with Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, Office 2013, and SharePoint 2013.
  • security, stability, and performance

fixes are specifically listed in the SP2 changes list.

details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/office_sustained_engineering/archive/2013/07/16/office-2010-and-sharepoint-2010-service-pack-2-availability.aspx

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