We’ve Moved from Bluehost. If You Use WordPress, You Should Move, Too.

Going to this blog’s home page resulted in at least 10 seconds of wait time until yesterday. That’s the day we moved it from Bluehost hosting service to One World Hosting.

CPA Throttling bar chart

We recommend that anyone — make that everyone — who uses WordPress blogging software for their site move ASAP from Bluehost.  They are just too damn slow!

WordPress blogs and sites take more CPU power to deliver than simple HTML-based sites.  Every time someone asks for a page, WordPress rebuilds the page you see with a script.  There is some remembering (caching) of recently delivered pages, but, basically, the hosting servers have to do more work for a WordPress site than they do for a vanilla HTML site.

But, Bluehost compounds the need for CPU resources by penalizing sites that need more computer power by denying them even average access to the CPU. Bluehost has server software that “throttles”  sites that use more power than an arbitrary amount of CPU time Bluehost has decided is reasonable.  This means that your visitors have to wait extra seconds for your WordPress-created pages to be shown to them because your site is consciously denied CPU time by Bluehost.

Bluehost says they “throttle” sites that use too much CPU power so that other sites on the same shared server do not suffer.

The concept is fair in theory.  Someone could code scripts that run in a loop or otherwise hog the computer. But, Bluehost is catching vanilla WordPress sites in its resource rationing.  This blog — and another client blog I hosted at Bluehost — use standard WordPress themes and plug-ins.  There’s no custom code or exotic functionality that requires an abnormal or unfair amount of computer power. They shouldn’t be penalized for using too much of the computer.

When I wrote Bluehost support about the site’s slowness, they explained their company’s throttling was automatic and said that debugging my WordPress site to discover which plug-in or function was causing the excessive resource demand was beyond their free service to clients.  They sent me links so I could buy consulting services to discover why and where I was using more CPU time than Bluehost thought I should.

No thanks.

Casual WordPress users, using pretty standard functionality, should not have to analyze — or pay to have someone else analyze — their use of a hosting service’s resources.

Thus far I have moved WordPress sites to One World Hosting and Webmasters.com.  The speed of the copies on these two hosting services was much, much better than it was on Bluehost.

Since site speed affects Google’s ranking of your pages, WordPress sites really need to migrate away from Bluehost and its throttling.

Can I Use that Picture?

Puppy with a rose hip
Puppy “Zenith” Can Help with Your Marketing

Good looking pictures make all the difference in your website, social media posts, and printed marketing materials.  Previous blog posts have talked about how sex sells and told you to load up on photographs of pretty women, babies, and pets.

But, you can’t just grab a photo of a Golden Globe winning actor from another web site and stick it on one of your pages as if the star was a raving fan of your business.

I am not a lawyer, so if you want specific legal advice, contact an attorney.  However, let me tell you the rules I follow when I create web pages and social media for my clients.

  • You must have the right to use the photograph — maybe you took the picture (you own it) or you bought a license to use the image from a photo service.
  • If the subject in the photograph is identifiable and if you’re using the photograph for commercial purposes (this includes beauty shots designed make your web site attractive), you must have a model release.  Either ask the subject to sign a release yourself, or make sure that the photo service you’re using gets releases from their models.
  • If you are using a picture to illustrate a news story, you do not need a release as long as the picture was taken in a public place where the subject doesn’t have an reasonable expectation of privacy.  This means you can use pictures you take of church members BBQing  in an article about the picnic without getting a release from each person in the crowd.  The photograph can include children, too.
  • Although you can use photos of recognizable people for editorial purposes, it’s my policy to remove pictures from the website/Facebook/wherever if the subject says they don’t want their picture published.

The rules as I understand them — see non-lawyer caveat above! — are pretty simple.  Use pictures you’ve taken or ones you have permission to use.  If you’re using the photo for a non-editorial purpose and a person is identifiable in a picture, get a model release from that person.

You cannot use any picture or graphic you find in a Google search, on Flickr, or anywhere else on the Internet, unless the photo is marked in some way that gives you explicit permission to use it. Flickr and possibly other photo sites encourage people to give permission to others to copy their works using Creative Commons licenses. But, most images are not tagged with permission, and by default a photograph is protected by copyright law and copying is not allowed.

Pictures that grab the attention of your potential clients are powerful components of your Internet marketing effort. If you have the pictures you want for your Internet campaign, great!  Use them! If you’re looking for more photographs, I take some darn good photographs (see examples — especially the puppy pictures).  I am happy to come over with my camera and take the pictures you want. Or, browse stock photos available for licensing on the service I like best, Dreamstime.

Just make sure you get pictures of puppy Zenith or something equally appealing on your Internet marketing materials now!

Get 25% off Anti-Virus or Security Suite Software

I received email today announcing a 25% sale for two-year licenses of the security software that I use on all my machines. I don’t see a time limit on the sale, but I thought I’d pass it along today. The email says the lower rate is in celebration of the release of a new version of their products… whatever! I like the product and a sale price is something to celebrate.

Check out ESET NOD32 anti-virus and SMART SECURITY programs.

ESET Smart Security Logo

I have used ESET’s software for several years.  I like it because it doesn’t slow down my computer when it scans for problems.  You may notice some slowness on older or less beefy computers when it’s running a scan, but in my experience ESET is much less of a computer hog than Norton, McAfee, or the other better-known programs.  ESET also rates well in tests by independent labs for actually doing its job and stopping attacks on your system.

I use SMART SECURITY which includes the NOD32 antivirus programs and adds a firewall and other features like an anti-theft module that locates your stolen laptop and locks down the files on it via the web.

Yes, although ESET updates its list of known viruses several times a day, I have been bad in updating the program itself.  I was a couple releases behind and have been missing out on some of the newer features that are now included with NOD32 or SMART SECURITY.  I didn’t know about the anti-theft feature, so I paid for that separately by buying LoJack for laptops. Stupid! And, I didn’t know that the anti-virus program will also scan my Facebook and Twitter feeds to make sure I (or someone else) hasn’t posted a malicious link in my feeds.  You know, a link to a phony status line that takes you to a spammy site that tries to get you to download something evil to your PC. The current versions of NOD32 and SMART SECURITY run through your social media streams and makes sure that there’s nothing dangerous on your steam.

I also like the summary they give of the information I share with the public on the two social media sites.

ESET Social Media Dashboard screen shot
ESET Social Media Dashboard

Finally, unlike security software programs I have seen on other people’s computers, ESET’s suite doesn’t give me a stream of alarmist warnings about what what I should be doing.  So, I chose to run the check on my Facebook account, I didn’t get a warning message that my Facebook feed was unprotected.  This is a big deal, in my opinion.  I have watched friends ignore important warnings from Norton et al. When I asked why they didn’t react to the message, I have been told that the program is always sending them messsages that aren’t important so they don’t read anything it pops up.  A security program that cries “Wolf!” is a bad watchdog.

Enough of mixing metaphores. If you’re tired of Norton, McAfee, or whomever slowing down your system or annoying you with endless off-target warnings, check out the lighter touch of ESET.  Scroll down the page to see a comparison list of features to see if you want NOD32 or SMART SECURITY.

Leave Daddy

I am mystified why so many of my clients come to me having already bought web site hosting and domain name registration services from Go Daddy.

Go Daddy Girl
source: Go Daddy

You know Go Daddy.  They’re the company who advertises web services on the Super Bowl using large-breasted, pretty young women.  The commercials are cheesy bordering on the sleazy, and they seem to target hormone-crazed geeky teenage men of whatever age.  They are wildly successful.

The photo at right shows Go Daddy’s everyday sex-selling technique.  The image is from Go Daddy’s home page as configured this morning.  The picture shows that the company has even registered the term “Go Daddy Girl”.  Classy, eh?

Yet most of the clients who arrive on my doorstep having already purchased Go Daddy accounts are professional, liberated women — often attorneys. Others are female accountants and businesswomen who command respect.

I’m stumped. Do these women warriors secretly want a Daddy to take care of them? (They don’t seem to need big, strong male caretakers when I meet them, but who knows.)  Do the women think that using Go Daddy will make them look like the women in the ads? Maybe the commercials are so  effective that the women don’t know that there are better alternatives out there?  Or, are the rates for services so appealing that the wise women shoppers cannot resist.

Resistance is NOT Futile

There are two reasons to not select Go Daddy for any Internet services: professional and moral.

Why Go Daddy is Bad for Your Business

I have disliked Go Daddy for years for an amoral reason:  working on sites hosted at Go Daddy is a pain.  And, my pain means cost to my clients.

Go Daddy’s log on and control panel for services are simply confusing.  I suspect deliberately so.  Instead of a clear path to accomplish any task, you’re confronted with non-intuitive menu choices and endless options to buy add-on services.  I always feel like I’m just one errant click away from adding $100 a month to my client’s bill.

Even without mis-clicks, Go Daddy’s electronic maze of confusion is expensive to my clients.  I charge by the hour, and if I cannot get something done quickly, my clients pay for more of my time.

Just this week a client needed a different version of PHP installed on her site. There was no helpful PHP icon on the control panel, nor did a search of the help files reveal how to make the needed settings changes.  Twenty or more minutes later,  I gave up. I submitted a trouble ticket asking for help, emailed my client about the status, and waited for a response to the support request. Next morning, there was no response to the ticket, but my client had replied suggesting that I call Go Daddy’s telephone support because they were good.  They were. I waited only about 5 minutes on hold, spent only 2 minutes or so verifying my right to change things on the account, and then the knowledgeable rep showed me where the apparently undocumented  PHP settings lived in the control panel. I made the change I wanted, and then was told it would take 24 hours for my update to be effective. Because my client was on deadline, I checked periodically while working on other sites to see if the change had been applied. Finally, the right version of PHP appeared, and I was able to get on with site enhancements.

So, let’s say I spent 45 minutes for what should have been five minutes of work.  The cheap $5/month hosting plan isn’t such a bargain after adding in my hourly rate.  And, checking my notes, Go Daddy also cost the same client another hunk of my consulting time in the past 12 months when a Go Daddy bug got in the way of accomplishing what my client wanted.

Why Go Daddy is Bad for Your Karma
Go Daddy's CEO on an Elephant Kill
Go Daddy's CEO on an Elephant Kill. Source: Wired.com

Go Daddy and its CEO Bob Parsons uses sensitive topics to their commerical advantage. They play with moral issues to make money.

  • The over-the-top use of sexy women to sell Go Daddy’s services, at best, pokes fun at women’s equality issues.Is it good-spirited fun? Can you make fun of something while furthering the wrong?I don’t know, since I am not a female attorney, accountant, or designer.

    But there is something uncomfortable to me about financially rewarding sexism.

  • Making graphic videos of killing animals for publicity purposes makes me uncomfortable.Just yesterday Go Daddy’s CEO appeared on news shows talking about his kill.  He’s talking it up, justifying and glorifying it.

    I suspect the graphic video and even the shooting are beside the point.

    The point — just like the reason for producing juvenile sex-merrcials,  is publicity for Go Daddy.

Trading on other people’s struggle for equality is wrong.  Killing anything for your own aggrandizement is wrong.  I prefer to not trade with people who do wrong.

My Recommendation: Leave Your Abusive Daddy

If you haven’t yet signed up for web hosting or domain registrations services, pick one other than Go Daddy.

If you are a Go Daddy customer, find out when your services expire.  Move your domain registration to another registrar now — the new one normally extends the registration so the move will cost you nothing.  Sign up for a hosting service and move your web site a few weeks before it is supposed to renew.

Simple.

Ozdachs regularly uses five different web hosting and domain name registration services.
The service we use most frequently has live, US-based tech support. It’s Webmasters.com.

Why I Recommend NOD32 Anti-Virus Software

I’d forgotten how intrusive the major anti-virus programs are.

So, when I was helping a friend and working on his PC, I was surprised when the machine locked up.  I looked around, and saw an icon indicating that the computer had just downloaded the automatic update of the virus list.  I cannot remember if it was McAfee  or Norton, but it was one of the two.

I asked what was going on, and my friend said that whenever the virus update comes, he takes a break because the anti-virus program takes over his computer.  The program rescans the hot spots on his disk to make sure that they hadn’t been infected with any of the viruses that it now knew about, and no other work can be done.  He said that starting his computer takes an extra couple minutes, too, because the anti-virus program runs a similar scan when the PC boots.

As we were working, we got warning messages every so many minutes about possible problems or actions we might — or might not — want to take.  Again, it was the “anti-virus” computer security program flexing its security center muscle.  The alerts weren’t about actually finding anything, but the security software seemed nervous that my friend’s style of computing was not safe enough for its standards.  He opened email attachments, for example, and he went to unapproved web sites.  I don’t remember his exact crimes, but the nervous Nelly security program seemed to act like a Harpie, stealing his machine and preventing him from using his computer the way he wanted.

But, if you use Norton or McAfee, you know what I’m talking about. Both of those programs are big bullies. They want to run your computer their way, keeping you safe, keeping you slow.

I removed my Norton and my McAfee years ago.  I just couldn’t stand the slowness those programs caused as they intruded on my computing. With Norton, the daily (or more frequent) updating of the virus database was painful. I had to stop working while Norton re-scanned my critical computer files.

In place of the major anti-virus hogs, I installed a program called Smart Security with NOD32 anti-virus by a company called ESET. I heard about this alternative while listening to Leo Laporte’s radio show. He was recommending NOD32 to callers, even as he acknowledged that ESET were advertisers. I checked out what industry gatekeepers like CNET said about the ESET security suite. Everything I saw was positive, so I downloaded the free 30-day trial.

I have never gone back.

The anti-virus scans that had locked up my computer for minutes now took less than a minute AND I could use the computer at the same time. I did have to persuade the security version of ESET’s product to stop scanning my incoming mail for spam characteristics (I can figure that out myself, thank you). But, the ESET program has been far, far less bossy than any other security program than I had used.

If you’re ready to reclaim your ownership of your computer, consider, dumping McAffie and Norton… at least don’t renew them when you’re subscription runs out. Check out ESET and NOD32 instead.