My Journey into WordPress Land

My relationship with WordPress has been turbulent at best.

To think having graduated as a computer science major something like this would be easier to pick up – I sure sank more time into figuring out issues than I would have liked. Now that I’ve actually deployed this website, I thought it would be nice to do a post-mortem of sorts on using WordPress in general. Hopefully you can pick up some wisdom along the way.

I will admit: My concentration was web development. People come to me asking for help developing things in languages I’ve never heard of (any web devs want to be my friend?). I’ve done some front-end development for static websites throughout the years but that was about it.

 

 

Your first mission, should you choose to accept…

I think I know what I’m doing.

My first interaction with WordPress was when I signed on to be TAP-Boston’s Tech Chair. One of my first task as Tech Chair was to migrate our chapter’s WordPress content out of a central server that was suspected to be compromised. To be frank, it was a daunting task for someone whose not familiar with WordPress, but I know my previous experience as an backend support engineer would come in handy so I rose to the occasion. Armed with a slew of linux commands and some help, I managed to back everything up. In the end I decided to revamp our website and started a new design from scratch. The old files had the traces of some code injection anyways, so better safe than sorry right?

 

 

Everything went fine and dandy until… Hackers!

My shiny new TAP server ran well for a month and then it happened – emails and texts from my fellow peers telling me how the server was down 1 a.m. in the morning, the type that would keep any IT person awake until it was fixed. After checking out the logs it turned out to be some bots from Russia that would flood my server with requests as to make the server unresponsive for actual traffic. Simple problem to address – if only I knew where to look and what to look for! Lots of banging my head on the wall for this task. I can write a post later going into detail and what I did about it.

Exactly as it went down.

 

 

Less was more

This website was originally hosted on WordPress.com, but I quickly became displeased with the customization options that it offered so decided to host my own with a purchased theme. Hosting this on my own was my chance to get my hands dirty – real dirty. One thing that I realized while working on this website was that you actually need quite a wide skill set to set up a solid website and infrastructure, from configuring your host server, web server, to optimizing any proxies and web caches. There was even a moment where I had to go into the source to figure out I was missing a whole image compression library. Ironically, the smaller my server was, the more creative I needed to be to get around its limitations. Had I gotten my hands on a enterprise-scale server, I’d probably would have been content doing the basic install and called it a day… So in the end, working with less turned out to me more rewarding!

I’m thinking about doing tutorials on the technologies and plugins I’ve used to set up various sites. Is there anything you wanted me to touch on? Drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to get back to you.

Happy hustling!

2 Comments

  1. Michael L March 18, 2017 Reply

    Hi Sean – how did you deal with the russian flooding? I’ve heard other people have this problem.

    • Author
      Pixelmetry March 25, 2017 Reply

      I’d first look to set up CloudFlare with your server and block traffic at the DNS level, if that still goes through block it manually with your .htaccess file. WordPress has a nice plugin called Wordfence that can do some basic IP blocking with their free versions. Hope that helps!

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