Protecting My Work

Site changes to images, file links, and RSS feeds.

Well, I’ve had enough. Enough of people using my images on their sites or trying to pass them off as their own. Enough of people hot linking to content on my site, forcing me to host images and files for them. Enough of feed scrapers stealing entire blog posts and using them to fill their sites with content.

So I’ve made some changes to this blog:

  • Through the use of a WordPress plugin called No Right Click Images Plugin, you can no longer right click on an image to display a context menu and download it to your computer — or do anything else with it. As an added bonus, you can’t drag it off the Web page and onto your desktop to save it either.
  • Through the use of some new code in my .htaccess file, if you embed an image hosted on my server in a Web page or use it in a blog post, e-mail message, or other location, you’ll see a message like the one shown here, telling the viewer that the content must be viewed on this site.
  • Through the use of a WordPress Plugin called Download Protect, you can no longer use a direct link to PDF or other selected files on this site. To download the file, you must go to the page on which its link appears and use that link to download it. This prevents file leeching — folks linking directly to a file hosted on my site, sucking my bandwidth without visitors ever seeing the post related to the file.
  • And finally, after a long run with full RSS feeds, I’ve switched back to summary feeds. This means that instead of being able to read entire blog posts from this site in your feed reader, you can now only read the title and summary. You’ll have to click a link to read the post and see its images. Although I’ve been using one-line summaries for all blog posts for a very long time, I’ll do my best to expand those summaries so readers know what they’re missing by not visiting the site.

I do want to remind everyone that the contents of this blog are copyrighted. I have every right to protect my work.

Internet content theft is possibly the biggest problem that original content creators like me face every time we add content to our sites. While these measures won’t prevent all content theft, they will make it a bit harder for thieves to steal my work.

Hopefully, these measures will also encourage more site visitors to interact with me and other visitors, share feedback, and encourage me to produce more interesting content.

Your feedback is welcome; use the Comments link or form for this post.

February Needs More Days

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Ever have one of those months where there just aren’t enough days? We all say that about February — mostly because it usually only has 28 of them — but even if it had its full share, it wouldn’t be enough. Mine is booked solid.

Want a glimpse of what my work/personal life is like right about now? Here’s the bullet point edition:

  • I have two chapters left to write on a book I’ve been struggling to finish since November. Part of the problem was that my editor didn’t seem to take much interest in the project, which led me to feel much the same way. Now, of course, they want it done already (as they should) and I also feel the same way.
  • One of my other publishers suggested a topic for a brand new book for them. I need to come up with an outline and make contact with the public relations person for the software company to see what kind of support I might be able to get from them.
  • That same publisher is gearing me up for a revision of my Mac OS X book for Lion. That book, which I also do layout for, has a brand new look, requiring a new template and mindset.
  • Another publisher is making noises about another revision for another project. I’m think it might be pretty far out on the horizon, but I need to chat with them about needs and scheduling.
  • AircraftOwner Online has announced that my monthly article deadline is now the 12th of the month rather than month-end.
  • I’m under contract to write two more articles (that I keep putting aside) for a Web publication. I won’t get paid for the first one I wrote (last year) until I hand in these two.
  • One of my aerial survey clients wants a 1-2 day wildlife survey flight in northern Arizona next week. (This just popped up today.)
  • One of my aerial photo clients has booked a 4-day photo flight in Arizona and Utah for mid-month. The flight requires me to obtain permits for flying low level in three different national parks. (And yes, one of them is the Grand Canyon. Wish me luck.)
  • I have to drop off my helicopter for its 100-hour inspection in Mesa, AZ; a few days later, I have to pick it back up. I also have to hope there’s nothing wrong with it that would prevent me from picking it up on time.
  • I have an FAA Part 135 check flight scheduled near month-end.
  • I have a day trip to Sedona scheduled near month-end.
  • I have a week-long vacation in the Bahamas with my husband. (A business trip for him; a chance to breathe for me.)
  • I have to drop off and then pick up Alex the Bird from his boarding facility before and after the vacation.

Get the idea?

You might have noticed that blogging does not appear anywhere on this list. That’s not a mistake. Blogging falls very low on the priority list. So low, it doesn’t even appear on lists. So this might be the only original blog post you see for quite a while.

Just thought it fair to warn you. This is going to be a very long short month.

And who says freelancers don’t work hard for a living?

List of Interviews Added to Site

Yes, I do promote my work.

Since one of my publishers seems unable to find instances of where I’ve made efforts to promote my work, I’ve added a list of recent radio and podcast appearances to this site. You can find the list at the bottom of the Digital Media on the new Appearances page. In most instances, you can click a link and hear the interview or podcast in question.

I want to mention here that I am available for interview or panel participation on radio shows and podcast episodes. Contact me if you have something in mind that you think I could contribute to.

I do actively promote my work as a writer. I don’t, however, feel comfortable with the level of self-promotion that some authors indulge in. If this results in lost work, so be it. I’m not prepared to sell myself like a cheap commodity to score points with a publisher who’s more concerned with self-promoted brand names than quality work.

I Love Blog Comments Here

But I hate spammers.

There’s nothing I find more rewarding about this blog than to check the comments held for moderation and find some comments from a reader that really add value to what I’ve written. These reactions are part of why I blog. I want to start a dialog with my readers, I want to learn from them and see their points of view.

Often, I find interesting blogs or Twitter friends among my commenters. I’ve even built relationships with commenters — fellow author Miraz Jordan is a good example — I met her when she commented on my blog years ago. We’ve been friends since then and even co-authored a book together.

I see the comment feature as a way of opening my world to my reader’s worlds. What they say gives me an idea of what they’re thinking, what they’re all about.

Sadly, Comment Moderation is Required

Comments on this site are moderated. There are two main reasons for that:

  • Spam happens. I use automated spam filters, but spam gets through. Spam, in a blog’s comments, are unslightly and unprofessional. They indicate that the blogger isn’t taking care of his or her blog. I take care of my blog. I approve every single comment before it appear on this blog.
  • Some people are abusive jerks. As I wrote a while back in “Why Forums Suck…,” common courtesy appears to be a thing of the past. Online, people say whatever they want to whoever they want, sometimes rudely and abusively. I do not tolerate that behavior here*. Rude personal attacks on me or another commenter will not see the light of day. (And, for the record, I didn’t want to use the word jerk at the beginning of this bullet point. The word I wanted to use was a bit stronger and far less ladylike. I’m trying hard to keep my language more civil these days.)

When I’m in my office or have access to the Internet on my iPad, I check comments throughout the day. I almost always approve or reject a comment within 24 hours and, if I’m sitting at my desk, it could be within minutes. So although moderation doe slow down the dialog, it does not bring it to a screeching halt.

Don’t Think You Can Fool Me

I should elaborate a bit on the spam issue. I also don’t tolerate spam masquerading as a real comment. I’m talking about comments that are obviously hand-written (as opposed to bot-posted) and do add something of value to the original post. But instead of entering his name, the commenter enters his company name. And, of course, there’s a URL in the appropriate field, pointing to the company Web site.

That’s spam.

I handle that kind of comment one of two ways:

  • If it has no real value to the post, I simply mark it as spam and delete it.
  • If it has some value to the post, I remove the company name and URL and approve the comment.

What am I getting at here? Well, if you want to use the comments feature on my blog to get people to visit your site or blog, you need to enter your name (not your company name) in the Name field and compose a real comment that adds value for other readers. Then, when you put your site or blog URL in the URL field, it’s likely to remain and you’ll get the link you want so badly. Consider it a cost of advertising.

I’ve disabled the CommentLuv plugin because it was attracting so many spammers.

June 30, 2014 Update
I’ve finally gotten around to writing up the site comment policy on a regular page (rather than post) on this site. You can find it here: Comment Policy.

You can read my complete comment policy here.

Got something to say? I hope so! Use the Comments link or form for this post to share your thoughts.


Note: In the past, I have tolerated abusive behavior and it quickly got out of hand. Do you want to see how nasty some people can get? Check out this post‘s comments. And those commenters are supposed to be “good Christians” (whatever that means). And please don’t think you can comment on that post here. You can’t.

My [Long Overdue] Breakup with GoDaddy.com

I should have listened to the warnings.

In 2005, I began hosting my Web sites, including several WordPress-based sites, on GoDaddy.com. I was just coming off an extremely frustrating experience hosting my sites on my own office-based server, running WebSTAR and then Mac OS X Server. The problem wasn’t the software as much as my unreliable Internet connection and power situation. It was time to get the server out of my office. GoDaddy was the service I chose.

I picked GoDaddy partially because a friend recommended it and partially because it was cheap. My Web hosting needs were unusual. I was hosting multiple sites, but none of them got much traffic. In fact, on a peak day, I’d be lucky to get a total of 5000 hits. GoDaddy had an affordable hosting plan for me. So I went with it.

As time went on, I expanded my use of its services. At one point, I had about 50 domain names registered with them. I hosted about 10 sites, most of which were mine, but a handful of which were for friends needing a free Web site. I had about 10 e-mail addresses, too, and most recently upgraded to IMAP, which finally became available.

Meanwhile, every time I mentioned GoDaddy.com to someone, I heard a barrage of criticism. Women didn’t like the company because the owner is sexist. (No doubt about that; the company obviously spends more on its “banned” Super Bowl ads featuring a hot female NASCAR driver than it does on technical support.) Other people complained about the constant upselling — trying to sell additional products and services that no one really needs. Still others complained about customer service. And others warned me about server outages, non-existent backups, and other basic ISP services that were supposed to be included in my hosting fees but weren’t consistently provided to all customers.

I didn’t have any of these problems, so I just filed those comments in the back of my mind and went about my business. Besides, by 2008 or 2009, I had so much time and effort invested in my Godaddy-based sites and services that it would be a royal pain in the ass to move them.

And then GoDaddy started moving my sites to different servers. It did this periodically throughout my relationship with them, but in 2009, it they did it three or four times. I started to notice performance issues with my blogs. My main blog — the one you’re reading now — took up to one minute to load each page. My Google Rank dropped to the floor and page hits went way down. Performance was affecting my ability to attract and keep readers.

I called GoDaddy technical support in an effort to resolve what was so obviously a problem. I was told that they didn’t support WordPress and they hadn’t done anything to cause the problem. As far as they were concerned, it was up to me to resolve on my own.

That pissed me off.

My recent experience with the blocking of GoDaddy IP address e-mail (including mine) by some wacko with a personal agenda was the final straw. It wasn’t so much that GoDaddy was the target of this questionable “spam-prevention” filtering service. It was the complete lack of support I got from GoDaddy on this issue. They “escalated” it and it never came back down to earth. Repeated calls got me nowhere. Evidently, it was my problem to solve yet again.

The solution: dump GoDaddy.com and get an ISP that cares.

So, for the past two weeks, I’ve been slowly but surely moving my blogs and sites off GoDaddy and onto another ISP. (I chose BlueHost, if anyone is interested. And no, I’m not interested in any other suggestions; it’s a done deal.) I’ve got the main sites moved: this one, Maria’s Guides, wickenburg-az.com, and Flying M Productions. I’ll do Flying M Air today. Then there’s a handful of sites for friends that need moving. I have until October, when my GoDaddy hosting account expires, but I hope to have everything moved long before then.

Yes, it is a royal pain to move them. But it’s worth the effort. I should have done this long ago.

The improvement in performance is mind-boggling. I didn’t think my blog’s pages could load this quickly. (And I’m on a pretty crappy connection as I travel this summer.) I’m also tickled about the ability to modify PHP settings so they work better with ecto, my offline blog composition tool. It nice to have unlimited IMAP e-mail without paying extra for it, too. In fact, I’m saving money at BlueHost. And every time I give them a call, I get prompt, friendly customer service with my question answered or problem resolved before I hang up.

I’m thinking about doing an article for Maria’s Guides about moving a WordPress blog from GoDaddy to BlueHost. If you have any interest in that, keep an eye on the Maria’s Guides site; it should appear within the next week or so.

The best part of this? I’ll never have to listen to that crappy hold music while waiting for GoDaddy’s technical support staff again.