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Shared Bits 2-Year Anniversary

I can’t believe it has been two years already since starting this blog. Once again, I’ve made a number of changes to the blog. Including this post, I’ve published a total of 31 posts. I wasn’t able to maintain my goal of publishing at least one post a month over the past year, but more about that later.

Sometime during the last 3 or 4 months of 2019, I decided to change the layout of the site main page by removing the rotating sample of prior posts. The rotating sample feature took up too much screen real estate in my opinion. I opted to implement a theme feature that provides suggested posts near the bottom of each post.

I experienced an uptick in comment bot spam, which quickly became irritating. I did some research and decided to try the Antispam Bee plugin for WordPress in September 2019. Antispam Bee has significantly cut down on the comment bot spam for my blog.

In October 2019, I decided to make myself known by adding my name and picture on the About page.

Toward the end of 2019, I discovered that the tag cloud widget provided by the Ashe Blog Pro theme either had a bug or was limited in the number of tags that could be displayed in the tag cloud on my main page. I posted a question on the Ashe Pro support forum and was asked to provide the login credentials for my blog so tech support could take a look and see what might be going on. Uh…no!

I never did like the tag cloud widget provided with the Ashe Blog Pro theme because it took up too much screen real estate. I much preferred a drop down box. So I did some research and discovered the Taxonomy Dropdown Widget plugin and it works perfectly.

I decided to switch back to using the Slimstat Analytics plugin in December 2019 for my site analytic needs. I had been using Google Analytics for a few months in 2019, but the service didn’t provide the following information: who was reading what posts, IP addresses, and time spent by each specific visitor. The aforementioned information is provided by the Slimstat Analytics plugin.

In November 2019, I decided to begin a two part post on using the Debian Linux distribution with the Openbox window manager and the Tint2 panel as a desktop environment. The first post details how to install Debian using the Net Install method. The second post details how to setup a usable system using the Openbox window manager and the Tint2 panel as a desktop environment. Both posts are the longest posts I’ve published to date. I finished the second post in January 2020 and I was mentally and physically exhausted after writing and organizing both posts. I spent a considerable amount of time on the computer resulting in a RSI (repetitive strain injury) flareup in the fingers of both hands. I decided to take the remainder of January 2020 and the first two weeks of February 2020 off and didn’t do anything related to my blog other than site maintenance.

In addition to comment spam, I also experienced a marked increase in bot spam via my contact form. I initially implemented a technique that enabled me to create an email rule to filter the spam emails. However, I grew tired of dealing with the filtered spam email and spent quite a bit of time researching for a workable solution. I first experimented with a mix of two or three DIY techniques involving PHP code that I couldn’t get to work. After additional research, I stumbled upon FormSpammerTrap.

FormSpammerTrap requires creating a child theme which I had never attempted before. Using a Kinsta blog post on creating a WordPress child theme and the instructions included with the downloadable FormSpammerTrap code, I successfully implemented the technique in February 2020. Using FormSpammerTrap has so far stopped all bot spam via my contact form.

I received an email via my contact form in February 2020 from someone who said his name was Chip. Chip informed me that the links on my Treepad post were going to a marijuana dispensary. I checked the links and sure enough, all links going to the former Treepad site were now going to a marijuana dispensary in Canada. That explained the uptick in traffic to the Treepad post during that time period.

I did a bit of investigation and discovered that the Treepad program was no longer available and evidently the domain name had been purchased by a marijuana dispensary. So, I spent a bit of time changing the links to point to the last available Treepad links on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

In May 2020, my thoracic spine pain came back with a vengeance. I was able to manage the pain in the past by taking arthritis strength acetaminophen thanks to a recommendation by Dr. Douglas Gillard, but I thought the acetaminophen was possibly causing an atopic dermatitis flareup. I began taking St. John’s Wort in place of acetaminophen. 4 weeks and three days later, my thoracic spine pain came back.

My thoracic spine pain seemed worse than what I have previously experienced. The pain became so bad that I was only able to work on the computer three times a day at 30-minute intervals. Understandably, my reduced time on the computer meant I was unable to write any blog posts. About 12 weeks after commencing the acetaminophen regimen again, my thoracic spine pain is again manageable. I’m currently able to work on the computer 3 – 4 hours a day, seven days a week, with 30 minute breaks between hour long sessions.

My blog reached two visitor milestones this year. In May 2020, my blog received over 200 visits for the first time. In August 2020, my blog received over 300 visits for the first time. Visit numbers were derived from Slimstat Analytics data.

I have opted for the PremiumDNS feature provided by Namecheap, my domain name service provider, at an additional annual cost for three years now. However, it appeared to be complicated to set up, so I never made the time to figure out how to set it up. I finally made time this month to figure out how to setup PremiumDNS for my domain name. Since my blog is hosted with another provider, I had been using the custom DNS option. Switching to PremiumDNS required creating all of the DNS zone records from my hosting provider under my Namecheap account. It was a bit tedious, but I successfully enabled PremiumDNS for the domain name of my blog in early September 2020.

I discovered just how much I enjoy blogging after not being able to write any blog posts for about three months this year. Hopefully, nothing like that happens again and I look forward to being able to continue blogging into the future. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment box below.

Post header image courtesy of ktphotography at Pixabay.

2020-006

Updated on 2020-10-23

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