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Malware, Lock-outs and How to Check if Your Blog is Infected

I’ve been having a hard time with my blog. On one hand, I have REALLY enjoyed having it.

On the other hand, I am sick of the spam.

Earlier this year the blog stopped working properly. After some online research my husband and I found that someone (or more likely some thing) had infected it with malware. Eventually David was able to get advice from a co-worker and learned how to identify and strip out the bad code. Unfortunately, it just kept coming back. Over and over no matter what security measures and plug-ins I tried. Then, just recently, they locked me of my own site.

Jerks.

So, you may notice that the blog looks and works differently now. It was a hassle, but my husband kindly took the time to switch service providers (this is a self-hosted wordpress site). Some things were lost, and its going to take some time to put back what I can find. Then we updated to a newer, less vulnerable WordPress theme, changed to a stronger password and took steps to make everything more secure.

Not surprising, this whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth. I had to seriously think about whether the blog was worth saving and how much I’m willing to invest in something that may again disappear out of my reach. And maybe it won’t ever happen again.

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Meanwhile, if you’re curious about your own blog you can go to Securi Sitecheck and type in your web address to be scanned. I’m happy to report that thepaperseed.com is “verified clean”, and I truly, truly hope it stays that way.


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Learn Something New – iPhone Edition

I learned two new things about my iPhone today.

The first is that you have to manually turn off apps. I guess I thought that simply shutting down the phone would do. Guess not. If you don’t turn them off yourself, then they will continually run in the background, draining the battery life. You can find the step-by-step instructions here (thanks Ohdeedoh!).

The second thing my husband showed me. If you turn on the Google Maps app, you probably know that the little pointer in the bottom left zooms into your exact location. What I didn’t know was that if you tap that pointer button twice the icon changes into a spot-light icon. Now, if you move the iphone around, the map moves around as well, acting like a compass to help you get where you’re going. Neat right?

And lastly, I thought I’d just mention the blog reader app that I use, called Slide Reader Broadsheet Edition. It has a nice visual layout where you can see an image along with the title of the post (see the photo above). It’s free to download on the iPhone, but $2.99 if you want the add-free add on, which I totally recommend. It helps that I recently cleaned up my feeds and switched from using Bloglines (which I loved and used for years) to using Google Reader, so it loaded right up. I tried other rss readers like MobileRSS and My Feeds, but I’m the kind of person where the visual experience counts for a lot.

Do you have a favorite app or iPhone tip? If so, please share!


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New Masthead

Did you notice I updated the masthead? I don’t know how bloggers like Dooce find the time and inspiration to put up a new one every month. I’m lucky if it gets update once a year. Actually, I didn’t even fully design this one myself, but incorporated free artwork from Vecteezy. There was something about the cheerful color and simple landscape that drew me, or maybe I just had trees on the brain. It is also worth checking out brusheezy (photoshop brushes), flasheezy (free flash), and fresheezy (free websites).

I’ve also added a Paperseed blog button, which you can find on the sidebar. I followed the instructions here to learn how to make the text box for the code, in case you want to make a button of your own available. If you want to place my button on the sidebar of your blog, you can follow these directions (for wordpress): Go to your dashboard and click on Appearance > Widgets. Drag a new “Text” widget to your sidebar. Copy the code from the box underneath my blog button and paste it into the textbox of your new “Text” widget. Hit save and close and you should see it on your homepage. Enjoy!


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My husband is a genius!


A shameless shout out for my husband’s fly fishing blog

After searching around the Paperseed database, David was able to somehow repair the comments file, so at least that’s resolved. It doesn’t explain the missing blog posts, though, and my email problems. One thing at a time, I guess. Luckily, I was able to go back and find the missing posts (via this method), and have re-posted them (with fingers crossed that they won’t disappear for a second time!)


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A Big Scare (or) What to do when all your blog posts have disappeared!

This morning, after I logged onto my blog, I noticed that all my posts were missing. Vanished. Everything I’d written here since April 2007 was gone. What the heck? Did I inadvertently do something? Did someone hijack my account? I was both surprised and a little upset, mostly because I’ve never backed-up all the posts I had written involving Chloe, which were the ones most important to me.

After some quick internet searches I came across several recommendations, including restoring permalinks and disabling all my plug-ins (which I tried, but didn’t work). I also came across this promising solution by Blog Tech Guy. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about databases, and only through the grace of WordPress am I able to blog at all.

How to save information off of web pages


Meanwhile, I did the only thing I could think of to recover some of my posts, before they were gone forever. Using Google’s Advanced Search, I entered each month (ex. “August”) and the word “archive” in the search field, and my blogs’ url (www.thepaperseed.com) in the field “Search within a site or domain.” Alternately, I could have just worded the search like this: “August archive site:www.thepaperseed.com.” When Google pulled up the search results I was looking for (see below), I then clicked on the “cached” option. Basically, Google stores pages in its memory, kind of like a back-up. Because of this, I was able to copy the posts it retrieved, and then paste them into another document so I could save it (I used TextEdit on my Mac, which saves the images and links in Rich Text). If I had clicked on the search result link itself, it would have taken me to where those posts used to be, but then tell me that there was no file by that name (because they had somehow disappeared!).

There are other ways of copying information you find on the internet, besides copy and pasting. One way is to take a picture clipping. On a Mac, hold down the “command” and “shift” keys, and then hit the “3” key. This will take a picture of whatever you have on your desktop. Or, hold down the “command” and “shift” keys, and then hit the “4” key, which will allow you to click and drag your mouse in order to crop just the area you want to save. If it is a long web page, you’d have to do this multiple times.

Another way of saving information from a particular web page is to create a PDF. With the page you want on the screen, go up to your browser (I use Firefox), and click File>Print. At the bottom left corner of the Print dialogue box, click on the button that says PDF and choose “Save as PDF.” This will create a PDF of that information on your desktop. I’ve noticed this doesn’t always work perfectly, depending on how the web page was created, so be sure to check that all the information you want is there.

Crisis Averted

In the end, after hours of peering at database information, my husband was able to fix the problem by following Blog Tech Guy’s advice. Turns out my blog had a crashed wp_posts database table (wtf?). I have no idea how that happened, and hope it never happens again. Meanwhile, I hope to be more careful about keeping copies of the posts that are important to me and, at least monthly, export an updated .xml file.

How to export an .xml file of your blog

From your wordpress dashboard, click the “Tools” heading on the left side and click “export.” A new .xml fil will appear in your downloads folder.

Just for the record, I am in no way qualified to give web advice. However, I’m hoping this post might help if someone else ends up with the same problem.

Update: Just installed the WordPress plug-in WP-DB-Backup as suggested by Blog Tech Guy. Wish I had done this before, but better late than never!


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Welcome (giveaway)!

Welcome to my new blog address! After much deliberation, I’ve finally decided to make the move to host my own site. It is far from being finished, but I realized that if I waited until it was “just right” I’d never make the switch. So, expect it to be under construction for a while. Probably forever. 🙂

As I’m sure all my regular readers noticed, my life and my blog posts have taken a decidedly maternal bent. Being a new mother has propelled me into all kinds of baby issues, from diapering to toys to parenting, and I’m coping with the general elation and struggles that come with that territory. Then there is the other me, the graphic designer, crafty gal, gentle soul, who likes to try new recipes, take photos, explore, make things and just be me. Juggling part-time work (even from home) and a baby is no small feat, but I’d like to try and carve out more time for my own personal projects and pursuits. We’ll see how it all pans out. I hope you will join me in finding out.

P.S. To help make the transition, I’ll be having several fun giveaways during the month of March. The first one starts today for the set of 3 notebooks shown above. Printed on recycled paper, the set includes a date book, an address book and a handy notebook, all measuring 4×6″. Designed by Defteling and beautifully printed by Brown Printing. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win. Two lucky recipients will be chosen at random in a weeks time (sorry, this particular giveaway is only for North America, but I will have world-wide giveaways later).

Love,
Emily


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Ladygil.com Banner & Avatar


I was recently contacted again by the talented Rachel of Ladygil.com to design another banner and avatar for her newest blog. Taking visual cues from the previous banners I made for her Etsy shop and studio blog, plus her love of green, we came up with this fun and friendly design. She’s excited about it and so am I. And check out the cute little promo magnets she had made using the avatar image. What a great idea!

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