kinston free press

Dear Kinston Free Press, We’re Getting A Divorce

Dear Free Press (what an entirely contradictory name),

When I click on an article in my social stream, whether it be Twitter or Facebook, and arrive at your site to find a message notifying me that I must pay to read your online articles, I’m terribly turned off. You’ve had years (10-15?) to prepare for generations of folks that don’t consume their news in paper form. Why, in 2014, do I receive a notification that I must now subscribe to your paper to read your stories? Poor planning? Ineffective management? Lack of innovation? Corporate greed? Do you really expect me to believe that you do not make enough in advertising dollars from your website to support your online content? I can’t begin to imagine how much Piggly Wiggly pays to have their HUGE ad intrusively popup on my screen each time I visit.

I guess I will just have to get my news somewhere else. Perhaps one of your competitors? Oh wait, there aren’t any other Newspapers in this immediate area. Is this a sign of what’s to come for you? You did it, you monopolized the Newspaper business in Lenoir County… Congrats! Although it mustn’t have been too hard. Most media outlets saw the writing on the wall and moved to different mediums long ago.

It’s unfortunate. We had a good thing going. I’ve been a very active visitor to your site (kinston.com) for quite a few years. Surely, some of my clicks (and others that feel like me) have helped you sell a few ads. Remember when you reformatted your site so that I had to hit “next” 10 times to read one story? Yeh, it was annoying. But I understood. I got over it. I know that page hits translate to $. But, this is just too far. I refuse to purchase a subscription to consume online content. Unfortunately, this seems to be a trending thing. Newspapers all over the country are starting to charge for online access. I don’t understand. National news and local television stations didn’t have to resort to this. Why have you?

I think that this change will do nothing more than annoy most of the folks in my age group (30-40) and younger, and will ultimately precipitate your exit from the media scene. By the way, these are your future customers (or not) we are talking about. I don’t expect you to reconsider. After all, you are owned by a huge company based in another state (Halifax Media), that cares about nothing more than the bottom line. Good luck, and farewell. I can’t say I won’t miss you. I truly believe that your content has improved in the past year. It honestly saddens me that we cannot continue our relationship. But I cannot, and will not, bring myself to pay for access to news when there are so many other alternative sources. Oh, and please consider changing your name to something that doesn’t include the word “free.”

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Chris Decker (former daily kinston.com visitor)

How to Create a Twitter API for WordPress

How to Create a Twitter API For WordPress

So you have a brand new, shiny WordPress site and you want to pull in your Twitter feed? And why wouldn’t you. You invest so much time perfecting those 140 character broadcasts. There are several good plugins that will help you accomplish this, but we will cover that in a future blog post.

Before you can incorporate your Twitter feed into your WordPress site, you will need to create a Twitter Application. While this fancy language makes this seem very technical, it is actually pretty easy to do.

Create Twitter ApplicationCreate A Twitter Application

  1. To get started, point your web browser to https://apps.twitter.com and sign in with your Twitter account.
  2. Click the button that says “Create New App”.
  3. Complete the “Create an application” form.
  4. Once the form is submitted, you will receive a confirmation screen with some information that you will use to pull your Twitter feed into your WordPress site.

In most cases, you will probably only need the Consumer Key, Consumer Secret, Access Token, and Access Secret. If you find that you need more of this information later, you will be able to login and access it. So what are all these fancy numbers? These API keys are used to access your Twitter information by third-party applications, such as the plugin you will be using to pull your Twitter feed into your WordPress site. It is important to keep this information confidential.

In the next post, I’ll show you how to use this information with a WordPress plugin to pull your Twitter feed into your website. Stay tuned!

Add A Favicon To Your Wordpress Site

Add A Favicon To Your WordPress Site

A favicon, or shortcut icon, is that really small image that shows up next to the website title in a browser. Yes, it’s very tiny, but it helps visitors to your site easily identify your brand. Most people probably never even notice favicons, but if you glance up at the tabs in your web browser right now, this will begin to make more sense. If you are like most folks, you have multiple tabs open at any given time. As the image below illustrates, favicons help you quickly and easily identify what sites you are on within those tabs. Also note that favicons are used when users bookmark your site in their web browser.

Add A Favicon To Your WordPress Site

Creating a Favicon
This is actually a very simple process. Open your favorite graphics editor and start with a square canvas of 128×128 pixels (we will resize this later). Create your favicon and save it in case you need to make edits later. Remember it is best to keep this image very simple. After all, it is very tiny and there isn’t a lot of room to work with. Once you are ready, resize it to a 16×16 square and save it as a PNG file.

While most modern browsers will display PNGs, older versions of IE will not (wait, you’re not still using Internet Explorer are you? Different article…). To ensure that your favicon will work properly in all browsers, I recommend that you convert it to an ICO file. Need help with that? Check out this Instructables video.

Add Your Favicon To Your WordPress Site
Once you have your completed ICO file, name it “favicon.ico” and upload it to the root directory of your website, and place this code in your WordPress theme’s header.php:

<link rel="icon" href="http://www.yourwordpresswebsite.com/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="http://www.yourwordpresswebsite.com/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />

That’s it. If your favicon isn’t showing properly, you may need to clear your browser’s cache. If it doesn’t look like you expected, go back to your original 128×128 image and make edits. Just repeat the process until it’s perfect.

How To Disable Automatic Wordpress Updates

How To Disable WordPress Automatic Updates

An automatic update feature was added with the release of WordPress 3.7. An out of the box WordPress install will now update itself whenever there is a minor security release available without any user input (for example, WordPress 3.8.1 will auto update to 3.8.2). The automatic update feature does not download and install major releases, such as 3.7 to 3.8, but allowing WordPress to automatically install minor updates and security patches may still be a concern. Several of my customers have asked how to disable these automatic updates in WordPress.

WordPress decided not to include an easy on/off button for disabling automatic updates, but this can be accomplished with a very simple line of code.

To disable WordPress automatic updates, edit your wp-config.php file and add the following line of code:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

Save your changes to disable automatic updates. You will still receive a notification in your WordPress admin panel when a new version is available, allowing you to control when updates are installed.

I hope you have found this information helpful. What are your thoughts? Do you want WordPress to automatically install updates, or will you disable them?

Stealth Login Page Wordpress Plugin

WordPress Security – Add Authorization Code To Login Page With Stealth Login Page Plugin

The Stealth Login Page Plugin adds an authorization code field to your wp-login.php page. If anyone tries to login to your WordPress admin panel without entering the authorization code correctly, they are redirected to a website of your choosing.

While this isn’t comprehensive security for your WordPress site by any means, it will help guard against hackers, brute-force attacks, and bots.

To install the WordPress Stealth Login Page Plugin:

1. Login to your WordPress admin panel

2. Select Plugins, Add New from the menu on the left

3. Search for, install, and activate the Stealth Login Page plugin

4. Select Settings, Stealth Login Page from the menu on the left

Stealth Login Page WordPress Plugin

5. Check Enable Stealth Mode, enter an authorization code in the space provided, and provide a website redirect for unauthorized attempts

Stealth Login Page WordPress Plugin

6. Click Save Settings

Stealth Login Page WordPress PluginObviously, it is very important that you don’t forget your authorization code or you will not be able to access your WordPress admin panel. Once these steps are complete, your login page will now include an authorization code field.

What other plugins or methods do you use to secure your WordPress site? Leave your ideas and feedback in the comment section.

Wordpress Google XML Sitemaps for Search Engine Optimization

Building Sitemaps For WordPress With Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

Sitemaps are very important for search engine optimization on any website. Simply put, they are a way to tell search engines about the pages included on your site. This helps search engines keep up with a list of all the pages of your website, including those that may not normally be discovered in their normal crawling process. There are many WordPress plugins that will create a sitemap for you, but I prefer to use Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin generates XML sitemaps for your WordPress site and even notifies Google, Bing, and Yahoo each time you create a new post. To setup Google XML Sitemaps for your WordPress site:

1. Login to your WordPress admin panel

2. Select Plugins, Add New from the menu on the left

3. Search for “Google XML Sitemaps” and install it

4. Once installed, go to Settings, XML Sitemaps in the menu on the left

wordpressgooglexmlsitemapsseo1

5. This will take you to the settings page. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about sitemaps and search engine optimization, just leave all the default settings and create the sitemap by using the link at the top of the page – “The sitemap wasn’t built yet. Click here to build it the first time.”

wordpressgooglexmlsitemapsseo2

6. That’s it!  You will receive a confirmation that the sitemap was built and submitted to search engines.

Do you have tips or other helpful information to share about building sitemaps or WordPress SEO? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

 Need help with building a sitemap for your WordPress site? 

Wordpress Permalink Search Engine Optimization

Improve WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With Good Permalink Structure

One of the great things about WordPress is that it’s one of the best content management systems you can use for SEO right out of the box, and there are a lot of good plugins you can install to enhance your search engine optimization efforts. One very important consideration for your WordPress site is the correct use of permalinks. It is a well known fact that URLs are very important for SEO. Thankfully, WordPress has a built-in feature for changing your URL structure, also known as permalink structure.

The default permalinks in WordPress are actually horrible for SEO because they make no semantic sense. Take a look at these examples of default permalink structure:

  • Post Permalink: wordpressseo.com/?p=14
  • Page Permalink: wordpresseo.com/?page_id=14
  • Category Permalink: worpdressseo.com/?cat=14
  • Tag Permalink: wordpressseo.com/?tag=tag-name
  • Archive Permalink: wordpresseo.com/?m=201311

Do those links make any sense to you? Probably not. And they don’t make any sense to Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines either. Fortunately, this is easily corrected. The recommended permalink structure for good search engine optimization is:

  • “/%category%/%postname%/” or
  • “/%postname%/”

Wordpress Permalink Structure for Search Engine Optimization - SEOTo make this change, go to Settings, Permalinks in your WordPress admin panel. Select Custom Structure and enter one of the selections above (see screenshot on the right). If you use “/%category%/%postname%/”, your URLs will now look like this:

  • Post Permalink: wordpressseo.com/cat-name/post-name
  • Page Permalink: wordpressseo.com/page-name
  • Category Permalink: wordpressseo.com/cat-name
  • Tag Permalink: wordpressseo.com/tag-name
  • Archive Permalink: wordpressseo.com.com/2013/11 or example.com/2013

These are a lot easier for people and search engines to understand. For example, the permalink of this post is “http://chrisdecker.com/wordpress/improve-wordpress-search-engine-optimization-seo-with-good-permalink-structure/”. This will help search engines better determine what your post or page is about. I generally tend to use one category per post on my blog, but if you like to use more than one category, you should use the “/%postname%/” permalink structure so that your links don’t become messy and you don’t confuse your readers.

What other ideas or recommendations do you have for optimizing your WordPress sites for search engines? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Letters From Dad – Year One

Taylor, sorry this is a little late. I will try to do better. I had an idea a few months ago to write you letters as often as I can so that you will be able to read them when you grow up. I hope that you find them entertaining, that they help you remember your childhood, and that you will cherish them when you are older. I chose to blog them for you because one, you know or will know that writing just isn’t my style, and two, they will always be available to you wherever you are.

This first year with you has been amazing! People often say, “You never thought you could love someone so much did you?” Honestly, I really had no idea how deep and wide my love for you would be! I know now that my life would have never been complete without you. I’m so thankful that God allowed Jess and I to be your parents. He has blessed us with such a beautiful, intelligent, happy, healthy little girl. We enjoy watching you grow up and learn new things, and year one was full of them. First smiles, first words, first teeth, first giggles, first tears, first steps, first boo boos, first day at church, first sleepless nights, first day at daycare (multiplied by 3, more on that later), first snow days, first family vacation, and first birthday. It still amazes us how fast you learn and pick up new things. It seems like every day you came home from daycare, you were doing or saying something new.

An hour after your delivery - 11/8/2012

An hour after your delivery – 11/8/2012

You were born on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 3:14pm at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, NC. Your mom and I went to the hospital the night before so they could induce her. I didn’t sleep well that night. I was just so nervous and excited to meet you! Don’t worry, your mom had lots of good medicine, so she rested pretty well. Grandma Shelia, Mrs. Rose, and Grandma and Papa came early that morning to await your arrival. Your delivery was quite an exciting time. Mama had to push for almost 4 hours and she became extremely tired. The Doctors decided to pull you out with a ventouse (Look it up. It’s basically a baby vacuum that helps with delivery). It left a big bruise on top of your head for about a week, but don’t worry, you were still beautiful! I tweeted during the whole delivery so that all of our family, friends, and coworkers could keep up with what was going on. When your head popped out, your eyes were open and you looked right at me. There are no words to describe that moment. I hope you get to experience it one day for yourself (you know, after you turn 30! lol). You were 18 1/2 inches long and weighed 6 lb, 14.1 oz. We had the best delivery nurse ever, Ms. Donna Keith! I think she was just as happy and excited as we were to meet you. I remember feeling the presence of God when you arrived. I was overcome with joy, fear, excitement, hesitation, and love. It was the happiest day of our lives!

In your car seat, ready for the ride home.

In your car seat, ready for the ride home – 11/10/2012

We came home from the hospital on Saturday, November 10, 2012. It was a sunny, warm day. We were thrilled and scared to death all at the same time. I didn’t sleep well in the hospital chair and it is really hard to rest there, so we were very glad to be coming home. We had to bring the car seat into the hospital and get the straps adjusted so the nurses could make sure we had you in there correctly. You looked so small in that thing. I had no idea how quickly you would grow. This was the first time I had ever driven with a baby in my car. I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be, but definitely more careful. Mr. Franklin brought us food from Garris Chapel UMC for lunch. There was some sort of event going on that day that we couldn’t make it to. I still remember looking at you for hours at a time when we first brought you home. I was so amazed at how beautiful you were and how much I was in love with you already. I was so ready for you to grow up a little bit so we could start playing together.

Sitting in the rocking chair and singing to you on 11/12/2012.

Sitting in the rocking chair and singing to you – 11/12/2012

Newborns don’t do very much. It’s a pretty strict schedule of eat, poop, sleep. Your mom and I took turns staying in the living room or bedroom with you for the first few weeks. At night, I would rock with you, sing you songs, or make silly faces to entertain you. I think you really enjoyed my singing, or at least you pretended like you did so you wouldn’t hurt my feelings. You would lay your head on my chest and listen. Your mom was a champ at breastfeeding. That’s something I’m pretty sure I would never have the patience to do, but both of you were so good at it. At age one, you still don’t have any issues eating. I think most parents wish their kids would eat as well as you do. When you were very young, you had a hard time keeping your milk down, but we quickly got used to dealing with overflow after feedings.

First day at Garris Chapel UMC.

First day at Garris Chapel UMC – 2/3/2013

The first few months of your life were right in the middle of flu season, so we stayed home quite a bit. We were also very careful to make sure people weren’t sick before they visited. We didn’t want you to pick up any nasty germs. We didn’t even take you to church until you were almost 3 months old! I took 3 weeks off from work at the school system to stay home with you and mom after we came home from the hospital. I’m so thankful that I was able to take that time to bond with both of you and help mom adjust. We had no idea that being your parents would be so much fun and so fulfilling.

385671_10100886490343263_93814302_n

You started smiling at us at 1 month old – 12/12/2012

You started smiling at us when you were only a month old. You have the most contagious smile in the world. Mommy sent me this picture through Facebook on December 12, 2012. Look at that fuzzy head and perfect smile! You have no idea how hard it was to go to work every day and leave you at home with mom. I missed you so much!

In your first year, you went to 3 different daycares, but you were dearly loved and cared for a great deal at all of them. At 4 months old, you started staying with Mrs. Rebeccah, Thomas, and Leigha every day. Leigha was only a couple of months younger than you and they had recently moved to a new house just down the road from where we lived.

Playing with Thomas at Mrs. Rebeccah's

Playing with Thomas at Mrs. Rebeccah’s house – 1/24/2013

Mrs. Rebeccah and Thomas really loved having two little baby girls to look after. I would drop you off in the morning on the way to work and pick you up when I got off. Sometimes, mom would get off before I did and pick you up. Everyday, we had to take 3 or 4 bottles for you to drink and a change of clothes in case you had an accident. After a couple of months and a lot of praying, Mrs. Rebeccah decided that it was just too much to try to keep up with Thomas and two newborn babies. Honestly, I don’t know how she even lasted that long. There’s no way I could handle 3 little children every day all by myself! So, you started going to Falling Creek Daycare on Kelly Road. You were the youngest in your class for a few months, but you did very well. We really enjoyed Mrs. Nancy and all of your teachers – Mrs. Victoria, Mrs. Amy, and Mrs. Mary. You and your classmates played so well together – Conner, Kayden, Macy, Shamari, and Ivan. After 30 years of taking care of children, Falling Creek Daycare closed on October 18, 2013.

You on my first Father's Day (June 16, 2013). I think you are trying to tell me that I'm the number 1 dad! ;)

You on my first Father’s Day. I think you were trying to tell me that I’m the number 1 dad! ;) – 6/16/2013

You started daycare at ABC 123 on October 21, 2013. We were worried about you adjusting to a new environment, but you amazed us at how well you did. You had such a great personality and we could already tell that you loved people, even at your young age. Conner and Macy moved from Falling Creek Daycare to ABC 123 with you, but they went to different rooms. We are still hoping that you will be reunited with them in a few months.

At ABC 123, they started calling you “little mama” because you helped take care of the other babies. You would pat them on the back when they were crying and return their bottles and pacifiers when they dropped them. Every morning when we arrived, you would act like you were starving even though you just had a bottle. Your teachers always thought that was funny. When I would pick you up every day, you would point to your coat, give your teachers hugs, and tell everyone “bye bye” as we walked down the hall. It always made me smile, no matter what kind of day it had been!

After Baptism. From L to R: Grandma, Uncle Daniel, Pastor Jerry, Mom and you, Dad, Grandma, Papa

After Baptism. From L to R: Grandma, Uncle Daniel, Pastor Jerry, Mom and you, Dad, Grandma, Papa – 6/2/2013

You were baptized on Sunday, June 2, 2013 by Pastor Jerry Mitchell at Garris Chapel United Methodist Church in La Grange. We had been going there for about a year, even traveling 45 minutes from Greenville before we moved back to Kinston, and we were very excited on this special day. Mr. Jason Cox, our worship leader, sang “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris for you, and your whole family was there to support you. Mom and Dad also joined the church that day. This was one of the best days of our lives.

Taylor NC Mountain Apple

Your first apple, fresh picked at The Orchard at Altapass – 9/24/2013

In September, we went on our first family vacation together to the mountains of North Carolina. Grandma, Papa, and Uncle Cameron came with us. I was worried about making the 4 hour trip with you, but you did really well. We stopped halfway at the Alamance County Rest Stop on Interstate 40 on the way there and on the way back to stretch and eat lunch. You fell and hit the coffee table in the living room a few days before we went on vacation, so you had a nice bruise under your right eye the whole week. We stayed in a beautiful cabin in Valle Crucis, just outside of Boone, NC. We had a really good time hiking to waterfalls, shopping, and hanging out as a family. During our trip, we visited The Orchard at Altapass where we picked apples for the first time. You really enjoyed picking and eating apples. You even made their Facebook page because they thought you were so cute eating your first NC Mountain Apple, a York Imperial. According to the orchard, York Imperials were the main variety of apple used in Gerber baby food at one point.

First Halloween

First Halloween – 10/31/2013

For your first Halloween, you were a strawberry, which was also your favorite food for many months. We had to hide them from you while you ate your other food, or you would just skip everything else and fill up on strawberries. Your second favorite food was Papa’s Chicken Pastry, which I’m sure you will love when you are older too! On Halloween night, we went to Bethel Christian Academy with the fire department to hand out candy to kids from all over the community at the “Trunk or Treat”.

Mom and I were really excited that you started loving books at such a very young age. I’m pretty sure you got that from mom since I’m not an avid reader. Each night before you went to bed, you would get a book or two for us to read to you. Some of your favorite books this year were Pat The Bunny, Good Morning, Good Night, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Supper time - 10/1/2013

Supper time – 10/1/2013

You enjoyed reading, playing with blocks, sitting in your bouncer, riding the horsey on mama’s lap, drinking bottles (like a champ), taking baths, sleeping, taking your socks off (and slobbering on them), turning lights on and off, watching big bird and ballet on the Kindle with mama, playing peek-a-boo, pushing the dining chairs all around the kitchen, singing with dada on the way to and from daycare in the truck, exploring the kitchen cabinets, play time with other children, walking with mama around the neighborhood, and eating (a lot). Some of your first words this year were “ca” (cat), “dada” (dad), “mama,” “papa” (grandaddy), “bah” (ball), “ba” (bath), “bye bye,” and “uh oh”. You took your first steps about a week before your first birthday.

taylorbirthday

Feeding birthday cake to your mommy – 11/2/2013

You turned one on November 8, 2013. We had your birthday party at North Lenoir Fire Rescue Station 1 on Saturday, November 2, 2013. There were a lot of people there to celebrate with you and everyone had a great time.

We are already so proud of the sweet little girl you have become. You bring joy and meaning to our lives that we never knew before you. We pray daily that you will continue to be healthy and happy, and that we will be good parents. Your mom and I love you more than anything else in this world, but we hope that you always remember that God loves you even more!

Love Always,
Dad

How to Schedule Facebook Page Posts

Did you know that you can schedule posts on your Facebook page for a later date?

  1. How to schedule a Facebook postSelect the type of post you want to make (status or photo/video)
  2. Create your post exactly how you want it to appear.
  3. Click the clock symbol in the bottom left of the compose box.
  4. Choose a date and time that you want the post to appear.
  5. Click the Schedule button.

Once the post has been schedule, you will receive a notification about it being included in your Page’s Activity Timeline. To access the Activity Log, click on the admin panel at the top right of your page and then click Manage, Use Activity Log. From the Activity Log, you can edit or delete scheduled posts for your page. Facebook will allow you to schedule posts up to 6 months in advance.

How To Enable Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on a VMWare 5.1 Virtual Machine

Changed Block Tracking (CBT) is a feature of VMWare that keeps track of virtual disk blocks that have changed between backups or replications. It can identify the disk sectors that have been altered between two change set identifiers. Enabling CBT on your VMs will substantially speed up your incremental backup and replication times. Most backup solutions now support incremental backups of virtual machines with CBT enabled.

With CBT enabled, block changes on the virtual disk are tracked in the virtualization layer. Your backup software or appliance can request only the disk blocks that have changed and the blocks in use since the last backup. Here’s how you enable it:

1. Ensure that your host is ESX/ESXi 4.0 or later and that your VM is hardware version 7 or greater.
2. Make sure your virtual disk is located on a SAN, iSCSI, or local disk VMFS volume.
3. Remove all snapshots prior to enabling CBT. CBT may work without removing snapshots, but VMWare recommends clearing them for a clean start.
4. Open vSphere Client and power off the virtual machine.
5. Right-click and select Edit Settings.

How To Enable Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on a VMWare 5.1 Virtual Machine

6. Select the Options tab, Advanced,General and Click Configuration Parameters.

How To Enable Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on a VMWare 5.1 Virtual Machine

7. In the VM’s configuration file (.vmx), add the following entries:

ctkEnabled = true
scsix:x.ctkEnabled = true

(where “x:x” is the identifier of your virtual disk)

How To Enable Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on a VMWare 5.1 Virtual Machine

8. Your VM must go through a stun/unstun cycle (power on/power off, suspend/resume, create/delete snapshot) before CBT is enabled. If you followed these instructions, your VM is already powered off, so simply powering it on will complete the process. Power on the virtual machine and verify that your backup or replication software recognizes that the VM has CBT enabled.

You can also verify that CBT is enabled on a VM by ensuring that your virtual machine’s home directory contains a “hostname-ctk.vmdk” file. On a final note, I have seen VMs that take a few minutes to boot back up after enabling CBT. Don’t panic – go grab a coffee.