6 Tips for a More Secure WordPress Website

Google Chrome's this website is infected with malware message

Google Chrome's this website is infected with malware message

WordPress powers nearly 73M (million!) websites around the World, making it the most popular CMS in existence right now. About 15% of the top one million sites on the web use WordPress, including business heavyweights like Honda, the New York Times, CNN, NASA, TechCrunch and others.

Those are some impressive stats for something that started off as a humble little blogging platform but has grown to become so much more. WordPress’ extensibility (the ability to add plug-ins for almost any functionality you can think of) and ease of setup and use have certainly contributed to its explosion in popularity. But unfortunately that ease of use and popularity are also what make WordPress sites an attractive target for hackers.
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Day One – Starting From Nothing

I guess you could say this post was inspired by Chris Brogan. In more ways than one. First, it’s about why I’m excited, and you should be too, about a recent newsletter update of his. And second, it’s because he challenged me. In response to an email I sent him about the newsletter, I admitted to him I had a hard time with content creation. And he challenged me to make this my day one of content creation. So here goes.

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Try What If Instead of If Only

An entrepreneur recently posed a question to a group I’m a part of and asked, “What is <insert his city> missing?” The issue is that while he has had some successful ventures, success in his city is apparently not the norm. Not for startups anyway. To be honest, I’m not sure success is the norm for startups anywhere but there’s no denying certain areas of the country seem to have more than their fair share of it. While my city, Rochester, is not his city, I think there are some aspects which are very similar and this is a legitimate question if you live anywhere other than New York City, Boulder or Silicon Valley.

I’ve asked myself the same question several times also, and chatted and met extensively with others to try to figure out what’s missing here. We’re pretty smart people and there’s no shortage of great ideas but inevitably the ifs always work their way into the conversation:

  • If only Rochester/Buffalo/whatever had investors, we could get companies off the ground.
  • If only we had a density of other entrepreneurs/mentors/whatever that we could rely on for support.
  • If only we had some examples of success we could use to inspire others to entrepreneurship.
  • I could get started on my idea if I knew a developer/designer/whatever.
  • I could focus on my idea if I didn’t have a full-time job/family/whatever.

What’s that saying about wishing in one hand and something in the other…? While I agree that it would be nice if our community had all those things, the fact of the matter is that there are some it doesn’t. And it won’t. Until somebody stops wishing it would and actually does something about it.

What if, in place of saying if only, we asked what if instead? And then we tried to find out.


Even The Ordinary Has Value

My grandfather's straight razor

This time of year there’s a lot of resolution-themed updates and articles flying around. And I’m always all for it. One I shared recently was advice for 20-somethings that ranged from backing up your hard drive to becoming more politically informed. I shared it with my network with a note that those tips aren’t just for 20-somethings. Then I moved on with my life. As you do. Just another status update.

That was a few days ago but made me think of it recently. So I revisited it. The first piece of advice was this:

Before you status update, Tweet, Tumble or Instagram, pause and say to yourself, “is it entirely necessary that I share this morsel of thought with my entire social network?” And if the answer is not yes, I absolutely must, then step away from the Internet.

At first I was in wholehearted agreement. Most people don’t want to read about what the people in their various networks have for breakfast every morning (or worse). Or about all their comings and goings (thanks Foursquare). But then I thought about some of my interactions from the last few days.

Yesterday I had a nice conversation with someone on Twitter, yes it can happen, because I tweeted the album I happened to be listening to at the time. Up to that point, we both followed one another, I’m not sure for how long, but had never actually interacted. We’ve chatted regularly since then.

A while ago I got a lot of responses when I posted a picture of my grandfather’s straight razor, which I had restored, and said I was going to try shaving with it. Not exactly earth shattering news but it sparked a lot of great conversation including some about tradition.

My point is that most people probably aren’t interested in what I’m listening to or what kind of razor I use to shave with. But you never know when something simple like that is going to resonate with someone. And the resulting conversation strengthens that relationship a little bit.

Isn’t being social what social media is about after all?


Good Spaces and Third Rooms

I was introduced to the idea of good spaces and third rooms a few weeks ago during a talk at TEDxBuffalo and I’ve been fascinated by the concept ever since. I think it stuck with me because it finally provided a name for a concept I had been thinking about but couldn’t really identify.

Ethan Cox gave a talk called Embeer Your City for Fun & Profit, about the role of beer as well as micro and craft breweries in community building. The entire speech is worth watching, but what got me excited is about 7 minutes and 50 seconds into the video.

Cox said people spend most of their time in one of three “rooms”: their home, their work and a third room for cultural exchange. Cafes, barbershops, and community centers can all function as third rooms, but ideally a third room is any neutral space where “…people get together and create culture.”

You’ll see examples of it in any thriving arts or music community where there is a lot of crossover and collaboration among members. Substitute culture for companies or products and you could be talking about our local startup or entrepreneurial community.

For instance, Coworking Rochester, is doing a great job of being the technology community’s de facto third room. It’s a place where locals can gather, work, socialize and exchange ideas. The benefit of this type of gathering place are the partnerships it fosters.

Paul Graham recently wrote an article on a similar topic called Why Startup Hubs Work. The question he was trying to answer is, Why do certain communities, like Silicon Valley, seem predisposed to host a seemingly disproportionate number of startup companies?

He thinks there are three main reasons for this. Environment, chance, and numbers. He provides a pretty good explanation of how each contributes to Silicon Valley’s success.

First, they have an environment that almost actively encourages creating startups. In Silicon Valley, creating and being involved in a startup is fashionable. In other communities around the country, saying you left a full-time job to start a company is almost synonymous with, “I am unemployed.”

The sad reality is that most new companies fail. Even with all the moving pieces perfectly aligned, success still involves an element of luck and being in the right place at the right time.

Can you get introduced to the investor with the money to make your idea a reality? What are the odds that you will randomly meet someone who has worked on, and solved the exact problem you didn’t even know you had yet? That’s chance.

As the undisputed king of startup communities, Silicon Valley attracts the kind of numbers that make those chance encounters much more common. The sheer number of investors, technical folks and idea people in Silicon Valley loads the dice a little in success’ favor.

Based on those key ingredients, I’d say it sounds like Silicon Valley has somehow managed to create a community-sized third room.

It’s a city that supports the visions of its members and has adequate resources to help them make those visions a reality. So now the big question is, how do we create those good spaces and third rooms in Rochester? I have some ideas and I’ve written about them here in my Democrat and Chronicle blog column.

I’d love to hear about the third rooms in your community? How were they created?