Did That Email Really Come From your Bank?

I'm going to side step coding for just a minute today, to talk about those who USE code in scam spam links. 

Are you one of the 1000s of people who got an email stating your banking email had changed?

But you don't recall asking for this change or logging in to make it? 

Be careful not to fall in the trap of updating that email or logging into your account because you got this email.

Read more
FREE Stats at Your Fingertips

My site is a blogging site ...with lots of photos. I've been blogging for nearly 10 years on this site and have always been curious about statistics and visitors.

In the beginning, the simple "Visitor counter" at the bottom of each page gave some idea of the popularity of the site. While that was a nice "overview" it didn't give me any insights of the visitors. Then, that same number of visitors exploded, and I was very happy.

For a while.

Then I found out that "bots" from Google, Bing, Yandex and countless others corrupted my visitor count. Big time. It was nice to see that the search engines were getting interested in my site, but not that they were counted as regular visitors.

I started to look for other solutions to get information about my visitors.

At first, I tried doing that by programming it myself. That was not a big success and the site started to feel sluggish and slow. Exit homemade programming.

Read more


So you logged into your site and found out your php version is outdated.

Change hosting provider?

Nahhhh. That's a knee-jerk reaction instilled by many forums and FAQs on the internet.

Php has been around for nearly two decades now and constantly receives updates. In the past, a hosting company simply updated the php version running on their servers and everything would be alright. Users and website owners never really found out about it.

Today, that is a little different, or I should say VERY different. Many programs and

Read more

Could it be hacked? Absolutely!

Let’s first see if that site is really hacked or if there something else going on. Here are some signs something may be amiss:

  • You get returned emails by the boat load saying “Couldn’t be delivered” (knowing that you never sent those emails out).
  • People contact you about weird behaviour on your site, like being redirected to a different site, by clicking on a link.
  • People telling you that they see “Chinese” characters on your site.
  • Google placing a red screen in their browser when you navigate to your site

Usually that’s where "suspicions” end and surety begins, your site was hacked [insert devil/sad/crying/angry smiley here, depending on your temper of the moment]

Apart from the google warning that your site may be hacked or untrustworthy, there are still a few things you need to check. When your site displays apparently normally for you, press Ctrl+U in Google Chrome or Right Click + View Source in FireFox.

Read more

By now, General Flash would have been demoted to Private 5th class Flash, and soon he will be dishonourably dismissed from the ranks altogether.

Flash has gone through different hands and stages. Starting in 1995 it was called SmartSketch and was destined to be used on the then budding technology of “Pen Computing”. When Pen Computing didn’t take off, SmartSketch was reworked and rebranded as FutureSplash Animator. FutureWave was acquired by Macromedia in 1996. Macromedia renamed FutureSplash to Flash. Flash belonged to Macromedia, until Macromedia itself was acquired by Adobe in 2005. Adobe continued to improve Flash by adding many features. One of the most noteworthy would be the addition of ActionScript, allowing programmers to write complete programs inside Flash.

It was one of the most beloved platforms to create animations for the web as well as for standalone applications. In 1999, I was pressed by my fellow programmers to learn and use Flash for my websites and Multimedia applications for my clients. I was a bit hesitant then, and have remained to be so. In my (then) opinion, mixing graphics and programming could lead to catastrophic results, even more so if the programming language was insufficiently defined. My friends slowly abandoned their use of Flash over the years.

Read more

We’ve all heard it: Make you passwords complicated!

But do they really have to be like DeAR$312hgy-gFdr47?

Hmm.. was that last ? for the question, or part of the password? Even I can’t see what is what anymore.

Can they be simpler? Yes, they could.

But as outlined in another article, hacks have gone up by 32% in 2017 and the numbers for 2018 don’t seem to be much better. It’s no longer a question of IF you will get hacked, more like WHEN you will get hacked.

That’s a bleak prospect if you're doing business with your site. Finding it riddled with unwanted foreign characters or even worse (porn), and with no way to find how they did that, let alone why. The most likely culprit is your password.

At Coolcom, we often get requests to make a user’s cPanel password something like “Joey123” or "mittens2018" yet when we must respectfully decline it can indeed be a stress point.

Additionally, password control has been placed entirely in the hands of cPanel automation. 

  • “I can’t remember any complicated passwords!”
  • "I need to keep it simple"

These are common and also very understandable sentiments. 

Read more

While there is some truth in the fact that as a shared hosting client you are on a server with limited resources, this is not often the reason for a slow site.

Take a look at my own site https://photo-bytes.com

The first posts on this site were horribly slow, back in 2010. Back then everything was slower, including the internet connections. But I was decidedly unhappy with the speed of my site. As it turned out, the images I was uploading were a "tad" on the voluminous side. 4-5MB per image, having 10 images on the front page. The site took a long time to load.

Getting in an individual post left the same impression of non-existent speed. So I did what every self respecting client would do: I went to yell at my hosting company. At the time, that was not with Coolcom, they told me to subscribe to a bigger, more expensive package. That would solve all my problems, they said. After an upgrade of the account (a mere click on a checkbox on their end) showed a slight increase in speed on my site. Hardly worth paying 80% more for.

So I called them again, and I got the same answer again: "Upgrade to a bigger package and everything will be smooth.". Since I had heard that before, I decided to check on the internet to see what could be done. There were lots of tips around on how to increase the speed on my site.

Read more

So, you find that your email is being rejected. At first you want to know why this is happening and try to send another email. After all, "services" are listening in everywhere and they may not like what they see, right?

Not so much.

More likely, your server is being used or abused by what is called a botnet. A botnet is a piece of programming that is waiting for instructions from elsewhere.

To make that more clear, it's like the butler waiting to be ordered to serve dinner. Spam in this case.

When this happens, indignation sets in and anger might even take over. The first kneejerk reaction is to cancel your hosting and move elsewhere. How dare they, that hosting company run insecure servers?


Going elsewhere is surely the best move of your career!

... Probably not ...

All hosting companies have to deal with so-called Blacklists, some are severe, others insignificant. The bigger the blacklist company, the more email recipient companies will listen to them.

Read more

So here you have that beautiful website you paid dearly for 5 years ago. Until now it seems that it has done good for you, you got your contact requests, your forms filled and everything you asked for. But lately, things seem to have slowed down.

You take a good look at your site and see nothing wrong with it. Or isn't there?

Take a look at your site again, but this time using a tablet or a cellphone. No use doing it with your old Nokia 8210, those don't count anymore. No, just a regular Android or iPhone will do.

Read more

"I got your SSL cert, started to use it but my browser says my site is not secure?"

Ok, hold yer horses, sparky! Having a SSL cert is only part of the work to be secure.

As said earlier, Google wants all legitimate sites to be served over https and will enforce it with a big red label if it's not done properly. This is slated for July 2018.

So you got a SSL Cert from Coolcom but your browser still says that something is not secure?
You may have omitted a few steps.

Major CMS systems have built-in settings for you to make this easy.

If you have Joomla, go to your site /administrator and login with your admin account.
Then go to Global >Configuration. The Server tab will allow you to set HTTPS for None/Admin only/Entire site. Here's where you select "Entire site". Save and reload your site and you are under HTTPS.

Read more
32% Rise in Hacks says Google

A while ago this Google Blog Post pointed out that the number of hacked websites is up 32% and still rising. That rise is not expected to end anytime soon.

There is always a "chance", that your website will be among them because what they want is your software; the site-matter is irrelevant. Hackers get more aggressive every day and when outdated web software is used, their work becomes easier by the minute.

According to Google, only 84% of the webmasters that asked Google to reconsider their listing after cleaning their sites, were approved.


61% of the webmasters that had a hacked site never even knew their site was hacked.

Why? What? How?

If you have a Google Webmaster account, Google sends out a warning if something is amiss with any sites added to this account. Keep in mind, submitting a site for indexing is not enough to keep your site safe. It must be within a Google Webmaster account. Now also remember that you will find out from Google because your site is gone. Using tools to prevent is always better than waiting for word from them. 

Read more
It's Wordpress They're After

Even if a Wordpress Website is personal, hackers find it by way of searching for clues of life in the software itself. 

As of late the new hack is a system of "hammering attacks" on the Login Page (wp-login.php and xmlrpc.php) of Wordpress websites.

Once a bot starts on yours, it doesn't stop. The damage is imminent even if they never gain access.

Of course you could remove those files, but your site won't run properly. Setting permissions to 0000 is only a temporary solution. If applied to the files it cripples the site and when applied to the site it's unseen to all.

It sounds innocuous at first, but 1000's of attempts per minute over periods of 12-24 hours eventually causes a site to top out server resources; the result is that the site turns off. Sure it'll turn back on in a day or so but the bot tends to return.

Sadly, once a site is targeted.. it suffers constant grief. 

Such attacks have occurred to a few clients at COOLCOM and according to some google searches this is the number one growing issue with Wordpress Websites attacks. Left vulnerable to this kind of attack the expense of getting rid of the bot rises. 

The fees to recover a site and apply fixes once it has been targeted and brought down are upward of 50.00.

Read more
Finally, a CMS for Photographers

You are a serious photographer intent on showing your work to the world. The only problem you have is that you don’t have a website that does your work or service as a photographer justice.

You have tried online services like Flickr or Facebook, but they don’t really fit the bill. Not only don’t they attract clients, these services do not offer checkout mechanisms to allow your clients to pay for your work. You have tried Wordpress, but it offers way more than you need, Joomla or Drupal are too complicated. After that, you have mostly given up or given in to money hungry subscription services.

As a photographer myself, I have worked through a lot of CMS to find what would work and what wouldn’t. Years ago, I set up my blog site using Joomla. I kinda stuck with that. After more than 5000 pictures posted and over 500 blog posts, it’s not easy to switch.

Then came the opportunity to start something new and independent from my blog, and with it a possibility to check out the “new” kids on the block. A quick search in Google learned that most of the portfolio sites are not really sites that let you keep everything. The most referenced CMSes for photography that come up are:

  • Zenfolio
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • Smugmug
  • Photoshelter
  • Koken
  • Carbonmade
  • Folio websites (wordpress template)
  • Format
Read more

So, you want a form for visitors to contact you... Normally I would say, "Use the form module that comes with your CMS". But as it turns out, you're not using a CMS. You are using the html code your webmaster (or whoever played that role for a while for you) gave you. Your site looks fine, but modifying it is kind of a hassle. And now you want that form.

You have two choices, start using a CMS like Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal, or try and adapt your site with some php, html, css and some more stuff. After all, there are enough ideas out there on the Internet.

And that's where the trouble starts. You have no idea which of the solutions presented on the web is the best suited for you.

The basic form of a form (no pun intended) looks like this:

<form method="post" action="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">
Your Name <input type="text" name="yourname">
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Send my details">
</form>

Read more

When you search online for “php” there are tons of pages coming up with the most diverse types of answers. Basically after that search you should know everything what there is to know about php, right?

Wrong.

Php started out as a simple scripting tool to make web pages display things that you could not do with simple html, like showing date and time on your home page. Quickly after that, the power of php made that one could do a lot more than make your Personal Home Page more interesting. The scripting language turned out to be a powerhouse with unlimited possibilities.

Combined with a database like MySQL or MariaDB, php is capable of retrieving results from those databases, do operations on the results and display a pretty version of these results. Php is embedded into your HTML and as such doesn't need lots of code and a master's degree to write that code. Php is fairly simple to write, but can become as complex as you like or need it. Of course, if your website consists of one or two pages of html and a few lines of php in there, you don't really care what version you have or how safe or hackable your php becomes over time.

Read more