leslie g stewart

Combining multiple audio files in Audacity

If you’re using a digital audio recorder, or have ever had a need to combine multiple audio files into one larger file, then Audacity is a great tool for the job. In this screencast, I walk you through how to combine two separate audio files into one, and export it as an mp3.

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Troubleshooting WordPress: server logs

I’ve recently received several emails from visitors to this site saying they were having trouble accessing blog pages and entries. I want to apologize for those issues. They should be resolved now.

This provides a nice segue into a conversation I had recently about troubleshooting issues in WordPress. Specifically, troubleshooting some of the error messages generated by security plugins. I’ve written previous posts about WordPress security, and I suspect I will write even more. While the issue folks were having recently, wasn’t necessarily a security issue, it was a security plugin that triggered errors that I received via email. Ultimately, the issue was a file name, and server logs are involved.

If this post intro makes you feel like you’re reading “Cloud Atlas” (i.e. confusing), I’m sorry. The point of Cloud Atlas is true of the things you’re about to read, everything is connected.

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So you want to make a video

So you’ve decided to create a video, but you’re not sure where to start? I could be a smartass and say, start at the beginning, but that doesn’t really help.

You need a plan. Before you start. Video has a way of making your seemingly solid plan turn into a completely different plan, but what do you do, what DO you do? Read on.

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Web designers, you really should learn code

I’ve been telling my web designer clients and web building students for 12 years, that if they really want to have a chance at gigs, learn code. Specifically, XHTML and CSS.

In fact, I’ve said this to people for the last decade *while* teaching designers XHTML, CSS, PHP, and now HTML5, and a lot of people *still* don’t get it.

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Update to: secure your wordpress installations, really

A while back I posted “secure your WordPress installations. really.” and since that time, I’ve been making additional recommendations to the list of WP security plugins I listed in that post, so it’s time for an update.

In that post, I recommended, the following plugins: Login LockDown, Secure WordPress, WP-Malwatch, and WP Security Scan. Ditch Login LockDown, keep the rest. Why get rid of Login LockDown? It hasn’t been updated since 2009, and it’s only reported by its creator to work up until version 2.8.4 of WordPress.

A better replacement, with a lot more features is Login Lock. It still lets you set the number of incorrect login attempts prior to locking out an IP address, but it gives more options like enforcing strong password policies, forcing a password change every 30 days, disallowing the use of old passwords once they’ve been changed, and more.

I addition to the 3 recommended plugins above, I recommend adding the following:
Bad Behavior: This, along with Akismet, can help keep your comments link spam free.

Block Bad Queries (BBQ): This plugin helps protect WordPress against malicious URL requests. It just quietly does its job.

Ultimate Security Checker: This is a very extensive plugin that will alert you to potential issues, and provide you with the info you need to fix them.

A heads-up, that Ultimate Security Checker doesn’t seem to recognize when you have Block Bad Queries installed, and will recommend that you install it, or rather copy the BBQ code it will provide, and create a file with it. The code it provides is identical to the code in the BBQ plugin file, so I suspect that it can’t read the folder the BBQ plugin is in. It’s a minor inconvenience, but not a serious conflict.

WordPress Firewall 2: This plugin is sort of like a visual version of BBQ, in that it identifies and blocks certain types of attacks. Unlike BBQ, it actually notifies you when an attack has been detected and blocked, and tells what type of attack it was. It also provides the IP address the attack originated from, so you can take additional steps to deal with it.

None of these plugins is a substitute for keeping your WordPress core, plugins, and themes up-to-date.

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