Routine HVAC Maintenance Saves on Long Term Costs

The cost of running a business, retail store, or building in New York City can be quite high. When you think of adding in the cost of repairs an HVAC system in time for summer, it can be a costly bill on the horizon. Although getting an HVAC repair in NYC might seem expensive, it is nothing close to the costs that you would incur if the system broke down entirely during the summer and required days or longer to fix it then. Remember the cost-benefit trade off in getting the work done early. Hire a trained professional with experience working with commercial clients or industrial settings. At times your system will need a major repair, but for systems that have been properly maintained over the years, the call for service can amount to more of a tune-up.

The difference in the level of repairs needed for a system that is well cared for and one that has been neglected can be substantial. (more…)

I’m Not Cut out for the City

I grew up in North Carolina, so it was a huge culture shock to me when I moved to New York City for a job. While I appreciated the opportunity, I never felt comfortable there. I felt so out of place, and I never felt safe. I knew that I would not last long there, which is why I was happy when a teaching position opened up in Asheville. I applied and was hired almost immediately, and I started looking at Asheville apartments for rent the same day I got the good news.

I knew that after living in New York City for two years, I could put up with just about anything in North Carolina. I was not ready to settle like that though. I wanted to be able to see the mountains again. (more…)

I Like Having a Chance of Pace

You do not have stay in one place all your life. My parents always told me that it is important to do that. They always felt that putting down roots and not moving around was the smartest thing to do. But I wanted to spread my wings and try and do new things. I decided to check out apartments for Toledo Ohio because I have a friend living there. It is also not too far from where my parents and my siblings live, so I knew I could easily come home on the weekends.

I decided to choose the Toledo area because of all the fun things there are to do there. I had been living in a much smaller city. (more…)

Getting Rid of the Junk Email

I work in a very small office. There are only four of us total, and only three of us are in the office at any given time. Because we are so small, all of us know how to do everyone else’s job, just in case one of us would fall ill or have an emergency absence. When one of the other women had to be out for a few weeks, I was responsible for our main email account. I never realized how much junk we received, and I wondered if I was able to report a spam email when one kept sending all kinds of junk to us.report a spam email (more…)

Scrap Copper Can Add Up

When I bought an old farmhouse for a really low price, I had so many ideas for it. I wanted to remodel it, and I was able to get all of that started since I paid a fraction of what it was worth. It took me nearly six months to get the house how I wanted it, then I decided to start working on the outbuildings. There were at least a dozen of them, and I had only looked in the barn. I knew that I was going to have to find out the price of scrap copper after looking in some of the others though.price of scrap copper (more…)

First WordPress Baltimore Meetup

We held our first Baltimore WordPress Meetup last night at the Beehive in Canton. Here are some notes on the conversation.

Plugins:
Margie shared http://www.wordpress-tips.org, and demoed security plugins mentioned during Brad Williams’ WordCamp MidAtlantic presentation
ServerBuddy – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/serverbuddy-by-pluginbuddy/
WP Security Scan – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-security-scan/
WP-MalWatch – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-malwatch/
WordPress Exploit Scanner – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/exploit-scanner/
WordPress File Monitor – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-file-monitor/

Matt demoed W3TC, which is different, and more configurable than the more commonly known WP Super Cache

We discussed PODS, Custom Post Type UI, and GD Custom Posts and Taxonomy tools. We’ll probably discuss these in further detail at a future meetup.

Jim mentioned three useful plugins, one for events, one for data uploads, and one for helping to troubleshoot .htaccess and permalinks. We’ll look into finding the names of these.
Will mentioned his two websites, murallocator.org, and geoill.com. He’s using a customized version of the GeoMashup plugin for his mural locator. The app clusters points of interest for a zoomed-out view.
Matt mentioned a number of cool projects he’s working on, including presswp.com, and wpmodguide.com
Jason has an interesting game-based captcha alternative plugin in the works.
Gordon is developing a site for the Geek cycling community, bikebmore.com

Troubleshooting:
1. We tossed around several approaches to help Thor with an HTML issue. One was the Raw HTML plugin, another was similar code found on wpmodguide.com for functions.php
2. Will wants to upgrade hosts. Thor mentioned that he’s pleased with a2hosting.com
3. Margie mentioned issues on her new server with permalinks.

UPDATE: Permalinks now work on this site. I needed to run the following two commands on my server:

a2enmod rewrite
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart
(4. Related: Once we can troubleshoot weird timezone post-duplication issues with the p2 theme, we’ll make this site, wordpress-tips.org available to all members of the Baltimore WordPress community.)

Planning:
Audrey, Amanda and Thor are particularly interested in theming
Rich might present on marketing
Jim has an idea for a presentation next month, announcement to follow. He’d like to conduct a WordCamp for the Baltimore area next year.
We’ve invited core team member Andrew Nacin to present.
Other future topics include blogging, widgets, and custom content types

I catered the meetup, with East Indian Curry Lentil Stew, and baked apples with ginger and cashews.
(My catering career will be enhanced, when the propane container doesn’t somehow fall out of the box before arrival. Cold soup was enjoyed by all, okay, some! The apples were organic, and delicious.)

To join the meetup, visit http://www.meetup.com/The-Baltimore-WordPress-Group/

WordPress Security: A Basic Overview

wordpress-security-300x175WordPress Security is something that should be concentrated on during the entire life of your blog, not just when you install WordPress.  WordPress is in a constant state of evolution, being updated on a regular basis, and so are WordPress plugins.  These changes can both increase your WordPress security levels, and can decrease them if you are not careful.  The primary reason for an update, whether it be for WordPress itself, or one of its plugins is that vulnerabilities are discovered, and if you continue to use the older versions of WordPress, or your plugins, you decrease your WordPress security, and open your WordPress blog up to possible attacks.

A WordPress upgrade meant to patch a vulnerability in WordPress security does you no good if you do not take advantage of that upgrade.  Worse, if you do not upgrade, you can possibly create a larger problem, as you are leaving your blog open to the very vulnerability that the upgrade was meant to patch.  Since WordPress documents in their change log why they are doing the upgrade, you are now running a blog with a publically documented vulnerability; a roadmap to possibly compromise your blog. When it comes to WordPress security, there are several basic fields that the topic can be broken down into.  We will cover these basic broad categories, and point you to some additional resources on the site so that you can do further reading.  If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave us a comment, use our contact form, or drop us a line at security at wordpresspinterestplugin.com.

WordPress Security: Basic Topics

  1. WordPress Installation
  2. WordPress Database Security
  3. WordPress File Security and WordPress Directory Security
  4. WordPress Information Security
  5. WordPress Security Maintenance and WordPress Security Upkeep

WordPress Security: WordPress Installation

As with the installation of any script that you do on your hosting account or server, there are a number of items that can be done at installation time to increase WordPress security.  These items range anywhere from simple things like picking a strong password for your administrator account, to changing file permissions on vital files, to moving files out of web accessable locations.  All of these can assist with WordPress security.  Remember that WordPress security begins with the initial foundation that you lay during your installation.  In addition, especially with WordPress, it can be difficult to return to these foundational steps once you have your blog installed.  WordPress security begins with your installation, and we have a number of articles on WordPress installation to help you with this.

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The database is the heart and soul of your blog, and a good place to look to when you are concerned with WordPress security.  All of your posts, tags, categories, and anything else that is related to your personalized blog is stored in your database.  Without the database, WordPress has no way to store any of the information that you put into it, and as such, should be a prime target for your WordPress security efforts.

WordPress Security: Backing Up Your WordPress Database

WordPress security when it comes to your database can be as simple as backing up your database, and as advanced as changing the structure of the database to make it harder for hackers to make database injection attempts against it.  Most hosting companies now days do regular backups of your hosting account, but you should never, ever rely on a backup made by your hosting company.  Not only do most hosting companies’ Terms of Service state that these are courtesy backups, and should not be relied on, when it comes to WordPress Security, you should be taking matters into your own hands.  Regular database backups are vital to a WordPress security plan.  We cover a number of methods for this in our articles on WordPress database backups.
Controlling access to vital files is an important part of WordPress security.  Just like a database is the central repository of all information for your blog, the files are the very engine that makes your blog function properly.  Files like your wp-config.php file contain information that is central to WordPress security, and if breached, can have effects from your blog simply going offline with an error, all the way to your blog being completely defaced and destroyed by a hacker.  WordPress file security ranges from simply changing file permissions to moving files out of web accessable locations.  In our WordPress file security section, we discuss several methods for accomplishing this important facet of WordPress security.

WordPress Security: WordPress File Security

Whether you know it or not, your blog is sending out information that could possibly compromise your WordPress security and the safety of your blog.  Do you know that WordPress, with its default settings, sends out the version of WordPress that you are running everytime it generates a page?  If a WordPress security update has been released, and for whatever reason you have not upgraded yet, a hacker looking to penetrate your blog will know that you are running an older, vulnerable version of WordPress.  Let us help you patch some of those WordPress security holes with our articles on WordPress security.

WordPress Security: Reducing Public Information

The final step to a good WordPress security plan is regular maintenance.  When you first install your blog, even following all of our tips, your blog could become vulnerable without regular maintenance.  Would you run your car for a year without performing basic maintenance on it and expect it to be in tip top shape at the end of that time?  The same rules apply to your blog.  Doing regular maintenance on your blog such as backing up your WordPress database, keeping your WordPress installation up to date, and more will keep your WordPress security at the top of its game.

 

Change Your Default WordPress Database Prefix

A solid WordPress security practice is to change the prefix of the WordPress database tables when you are installing WordPress.  The goal here is that WordPress security is heightened by changing the default WordPress database table prefix from wp_ to something different.  This changes the default WordPress database table names, and helps to block those hackers seeking to penetrate WordPress security by performing database injection attempts.

For example, a hacker has decided that he is going to deface your corporate blog, and will know that your user table should be wp_users, but if you have changed the database prefix from wp_ to perhaps four_ then the injection attempt against wp_users will automatically fail, as that table does not exist.  Your hacker does not know this, just that his attempt failed, and your WordPress security is intact.  The hacker is none the wiser, and may move on to easier hunting grounds.

Changing the prefix to your WordPress database tables during the installation of your blog is simple.  The installation process will ask you not only for the database name, user, and password, but also the database prefix that you wish to use for your tables.  To increase WordPress Security, simply alter the default database prefix “wp_” to something else.  This prefix can be anything, such as a shortened version of your blog name, or something completely random.  Many times, when I am installing a blog, I will use a prefix like “greengrass_” or something else completely unrelated to the blog.  This increases WordPress security even more.WordPress Security: Changing Your Database Prefix During an Install.

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Changing the Default WordPress Database Prefix After Installing WordPress

Now you may be asking, “What if I have already installed my blog?  Can I change the prefix of my WordPress database now to increase my WordPress security?”  Yes, even though this a bit more difficult than doing it when you first set your blog up, it is quite possible to make this change after you blog is installed.  To do this WordPress security upgrade, you are going to need to set aside approximately 10 minutes to make the changes.  During this period of time, your blog is going to be down, so you may wish to put up a maintenance page until you are through.

1. As always, before making any type of changes to your WordPress database, you should do a database backup.  The method to actually back your database up is going to vary from hosting company to hosting company, and from control panel to control panel, therefore, I do not intend to cover those specifics here.

2. Next, in your wp-config.php file, you are going to edit your database prefix from “wp_” to something more secure.  The line to actually edit is line 65, and will read $table_prefix  = ‘wp_’;.  You can change this to an abbreviated form of the name of your blog, such as “tbr_”, or you could do something completely random, such as “wp_kG^#18Uh”.  The more randomness you add here, of course, the better your WordPress security is increased.

3. Now you will need to make some edits to your database itself, changing the prefix to match the one that you came up with in Step 2.  Using PHPMyAdmin, or whatever program that your hosting company has for you to manage your database, you will need to run the following SQL commands to change the WordPress database prefix to the one that you changed it to in wp-config.php.  In the example below, you will change “new_prefix_” to whatever new database prefix it is that you have decided to use.

RENAME table `wp_commentmeta` TO `new_prefix__commentmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_comments` TO `new_prefix__comments`;
RENAME table `wp_links` TO `new_prefix__links`;
RENAME table `wp_options` TO `new_prefix__options`;
RENAME table `wp_postmeta` TO `new_prefix__postmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_posts` TO `new_prefix__posts`;
RENAME table `wp_terms` TO `new_prefix__terms`;
RENAME table `wp_term_relationships` TO `new_prefix__term_relationships`;
RENAME table `wp_term_taxonomy` TO `new_prefix__term_taxonomy`;
RENAME table `wp_usermeta` TO `new_prefix__usermeta`;
RENAME table `wp_users` TO `new_prefix__users`;

Please note at this point that if you have installed additional plugins after the installation of your blog, you may have additional tables besides the ones listed above that need their prefix changed.  Just follow the syntax that I have used above, and run additional SQL commands to rename the database pefixes on those tables also.  If you happen to be using PHPMyAdmin, or some other database administration script, you will be able to run multiple lines of SQL commands at once (note that a “;” terminates a MySQL command).

4. The next step in this WordPress security process is to edit the wp_options table to reflect the new WordPress database prefix.  If this is not done, your blog will not function.  Using the method described above, run the following MySQL command, once again changing “new_prefix_” to your newly chosen database prefix.  This MySQL command will search the wp_options table, returning the wp_user_roles option, along with any other plugin-created options, custom scripts, or other entries.  The goal here is to rename any entries in the wp_options table that begin with “wp_” to the newly chosen database prefix.

SELECT * FROM wp_new_prefix_options WHERE option_name LIKE ‘ %wp_%’;

5. The final edit that we will need to make is in the usermeta table.  We are going to be looking for any instances of the old “wp_” database prefix so that we can edit that prefix to our newly chosen one. Once again, we are going to run a MySQL command to find these instances.  When you run the following command, it will reveal those rows that have the instances of the old prefix so that they can be altered.

SELECT * FROM new_prefix_usermeta WHERE meta_key LIKE ‘wp_%’;

To show an example of this, running this MySQL query on a newly installed WordPress install returned the following results from the usermeta table.

The number of fields that you will need to alter is going to depend on a number of different factors: the number of plugins that you have, as well as a few other variables.  The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to change any entry returned by this search from the default “wp_” prefix to the new one that you have chosen.

Finishing Up: Testing Functionality

When you have finished this last step, this WordPress security upgrade should be complete.  All entries of the old “wp_” prefix in the wordpress database should be gone, and replaced with the new wordpress database prefix that we selected in Step 2.  Now comes the moment of truth: disable your maintenance page, if any, and test the functionality of your blog.  Do this by going through your blog, checking links and posts, and assuring yourself that everything is functioning properly.  If the blog appears to be functioning properly, then it would appear that your WordPress security upgrade has been a success.  Now, make an additional backup of your WordPress database for good measure: WordPress security should never be stopped.

Best Practices to Maintain Your Health

Data is showing that people are experiencing more and more health problems. There are many factors that are contributing to these issues. It is important for a person to learn ways to increase overall wellness. Here are ten of the best ways to stay as healthy as possible.

1.  Rest.  In this fast paced society, people are running around everywhere. People are going to bed later and getting up earlier. Sleep is not a top priority. However, lack of sleep has been associated with an elevated risk for heart problems and high blood pressure. When a person is tired, productivity is low as well. Experts recommend that adults sleep at least eight hours of sleep every night. When a person gets the correct amount of sleep, health will become better.

2.  Proper Diet.  Everyone knows that eating well will be the best foundation for good health. A balanced diet will keep blood pressure at a good level. It also keeps dangerous diseases away. Meals filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products will be best. It is important to keep fats and sugar to a minimum. Alcohol should be consumed sparingly as well.

3.  Exercises.  To stay healthy, a person must remain active.  Experts recommend that adults partake in at least two hours of aerobic exercise every week. A person does not need to hit the gym or spend large amounts of money on equipment. Simply playing with the kids or taking a walk around the neighborhood should supply the necessary exercises to stay well. It may also be helpful to perform some muscle strengthening activities as well. Taking the stairs or working with free weights will accomplish this goal.

4.  Use Sunscreen.  Many people worry about the heart or other organs. However, caring for the skin is also a key part in maintaining overall wellness. When skin is exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time, aging can occur and cancer may develop. The American Cancer Society has guidelines for adults and children regarding sunscreen. All people should wear lotion with an SPF of 15 or more and stay out of the sun between mid morning and mid afternoon. This is the time when rays from the sun are very intense. When enjoying outdoor activity, it is wise to wear protective clothing.

5.  Stop Smoking.  One in five people will die because of the smoking habit.  Smoking is often responsible for cases of lung cancer along with stroke and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is also very dangerous. Despite the addicting habit, there are numerous products on the market that can help a person quit.

6.  Lower Stress.  Stress is at an all time high in this country. A person goes to work and deals with many hassles, then returns hone to a family that has requirements as well.  Stress causes high blood pressure, heart problems, anxiety, and depression. It is essential to find ways to relax.  Meditation, deep breathing, and exercises such as yoga can  help a person unwind. When a person has a calm mind, emotions are more stable and mood is heightened.

7.  Oral Care.  A major health factor that gets ignored is oral care. Visiting a dentist is an important part of a wellness program. Taking proper care of teeth and gums can prevent problems including heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.  It is essential to brush and floss each day. A white smile is a good indication of a healthy body.

8.  Maintain Good Friendships.  Studies have shown that people who are surrounded by family and friends often have top physical and mental health. Social relationships offer a support system throughout life. This lengthens lifespan, increases immunity, and keeps the mind sharp. A person does not need to be a social butterfly to reap these benefits.  Having one or two quality relationships will provide these essential results.

9.  Protect The Body.  One of the best practices that promotes great health and wellness is protecting the body from injury.  Whenever a person drives in a car, it is essential to wear a seat belt. These devices save thousands of lives each month.  Besides seat belts, a person should wear a helmet when driving a bike or motorcycle. Helmets prevent brain injuries.

10.  Visit A Doctor.  Even when a person is not sick, it makes sense to maintain a routine of regular checkups. This is a way to detect health problems early. Immunizations, prostate exams, and pap tests are all important yearly exams.  It is also helpful to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It does not require much effort to take preventative measures in order to stay healthy.

There are numerous practices that a person can follow in order to maintain positive health and wellness. A person must tend to both emotional and physical needs. Diet, exercises, and a balanced mind will be crucial parts of an everyday routine.  In the end, a person will be able to live a happier and healthier life.

Eating Right and Exercising for Optimal Health

If you’re looking for ways to live a healthier life, you are certainly not alone. Americans are spending upwards of $46 billion in diet products including foods, books, and exercise machines. It’s clear that people do want to get healthy not only to look better but to feel better as well. Doing so also helps you to avoid health risks that often arise from poor diet and lack of exercises.

Starting with Dieting

One of the first areas a person zero’s in on when they think about wellness is starting a new diet. It is human nature to want fast results and instant results from a pill or a ‘proven’ new diet for melting away the pounds.

Stop and think about how many diets you have been on in your life. You probably have lost a great deal when you add up all the pounds you’ve lost in the past 5 years. However, did the weight stay off? For most, the answer is a resounding no. That’s because quick fix diets and diet pills are not the answer to weight loss or overall wellness.

Looking at Food in a New Way

While many people do suffer from being overweight, even people who are not overweight but eat a poor diet are not as healthy as they could be. Food needs to be looked at in a new way. For instance, food is not the enemy, it’s the food choices that become the problem. Eliminating certain items from your diet can greatly improve your overall health and well being.

Eliminate the following:

* Processed foods
* Fast foods \ fatty foods
* Large amounts of red meat
* Lower sodium intake for your kidneys
* Partially hydrogenated oil

The one item on the list above that you may not have heard of is partially hydrogenated oil. Back in the 1970s, foods such as crackers, cereals, chips and many other ready made food were processed with butter. The discovery of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils changed all of that.

It was clear that hydrogenated oils were much cheaper to use than butter and manufacturers quickly switched everything they could to replace butter usage and thus cut costs. Hydrogenated oils start as polyunsaturated, which is a healthy fat but it is then treated chemically through a process called hydrogenation, which makes it into a solid base and this turns into the bad trans fat.

Start Reading Labels!

When you buy products at your grocery store, read the labels to see if you see the word ‘hydrogenated‘ anywhere in the ingredient list. If so, choose another product. By eliminating foods that contain this ‘bad fat’ you can increase your overall health and wellness. In addition, by eliminating this your cholesterol levels can be impacted positively. It can also help with weight loss since you won’t be eating as many processed foods.

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Foods to Eat

Let’s face it, everyone has heard, “Eat more fruits and vegetables and lean meats” but the problem is, not everyone enjoys veggies and fruits. This is especially true if you didn’t have a good variety as a child. Veggies and fruits are sometimes an acquired taste. By slowly changing your diet and including fresh vegetables and fruits, you will begin to find you truly enjoy the taste.

Lean meats and fish especially salmon are excellent sources of protein. Whole grains are also a very good source of carbohydrates, which is what fuels your body, while protein is good for energy and your muscles. Low-fat cheese such as cottage cheese is another excellent addition for it’s calcium content.

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What Exercises Actually Work?

Like diets and the many products you’ll find on the market, you’ll also find several machines and other devices specifically for various exercises. The truth is, just like with quick diets, there is no magic exercise machine that can give you rock hard abs in a month.

Some of the best exercises you can engage in include:

* Walking
* Jogging
* Aerobics
* Water aerobics
* Biking

All of these will get the heart pumping and help to bring the body into a fit state. These work well and most do not even cost anything except your time.

When it comes to your overall health and wellness, there are no quick fixes. Trying to lose weight too quickly or exercise too much, will only make you dread the ‘diet’ and the ‘exercise program’ and then being eating poorly again.

By taking small steps every day to improve your health such as eating fast foods and processed foods and learning to incorporate fresher foods will pay off. Especially when you combine it moderate aerobic exercise.

Juicing has also been shown to substantially increase overall health!