FeedBurner Link for those using RSS Readers

FeedBurner - by GoogleFeedBurner is one of Google’s aging products, but it is still very useful utility. Yes, it is still useful, even after Google killed off the companion, Google Reader utility.

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, often called Really Simple Syndication and its used to publish frequently updated information. You may have seen some websites refer to this type of technology, even though you didn’t realize it at the time. Have you ever been on a website and seen an area that says:

Subscribe to our News Feed

Their News Feed is likely a RSS Feed and many people, who promote an RSS Feed, use FeedBurner.

An RSS Feed, requires a RSS Reader. This is a utility which grabs the RSS Feed and displays it, for your reading enjoyment.

Confused or Don’t Care?

Thats ok. This is just another avenue for me to circulate information, found on my website, to those who want, or need it.

If this all sounds like technology garbly-gook, you are right! If you don’t know or can’t understand what a RSS Feed or RSS Reader is, its likely you don’t use this type of service.

Bamajr.com – FeedBurner Link

http://feeds.feedburner.com/bamajr

Want More Information?

For those of you who are interested in how FeedBurner and RSS can be used, that is what I’m here for. There is a place below this post, for you to comment, or ask questions. You can also contact me using the “Contact” link, in my website’s menu.

500 Internal Server Error

The “500 Internal Server Error” may be referred to in one of a couple different ways. The most common references are:

  • Internal Server Error
  • 500 Error
  • HTTP Error 500

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Pleas contact the server administrator, [no address given] and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.


Apache/2.2.16(Debian) Server at bamajr.com Port 80

500 Internal Server Error on iPhone 4

When this error occurs, the web browser window title, shows the full name (500 Internal Server Error) and the error heading shows a truncated name (Internet Server Error). No matter how you recognize it, if you happen to stumble on this error, there isn’t much you can do about it.

A 500 Internal Server Error IS, exactly what it is called… an internal, server error. It doesn’t matter what web browser is being used or what operating system is on the computer. This error exists because something went wrong on the server. In reality, this error could be cause by a number of things, none of which a user can control. After a user has tried refreshing the web page or contacting the webmaster, the user will simply have to be try again later.


500 Internal Server Error: An Administrator’s Nightmare

The “500 Internal Server Error” can be a nightmare for inexperienced Server Administrators. Blue Host identifies three main reasons why a “500 Internal Server Error” is generated:

  1. Incorrect File/Folder Permissions
  2. Bad Code, or Incorrect Syntax in the .htaccess File
  3. Incorrect php.ini Configuration

While I think the Blue Host article is mostly accurate, it is also a little deceiving. I think Blue Host accurately identifies the three most common reasons for this error. Blue Host also accurately mentions that other reasons can exist, as well. However, the “500 Internal Server Error” is most definitely an internal server problem, though Blue Host states that it “typically” is not a problem with the server itself.

Knowing the error is almost always an issue with the server, Server Administrators have the daunting task of locating the problem and fixing it. Even with only three common reasons for this error, there can be many, many tasks, associated with locating the root cause. So, while most Server Administrators have tools to help them troubleshoot the error, Advanced Server Administrators will go right to the web server’s Error Log.

My servers are currently running Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.5 (Squeeze), with the Apache HTTP Server (along with a lot of other stuff). So, on my system, the Apache Error Log is located at:

user@server: /var/log/apache2/error.log

Now, on this same server, I’m also taking advantage of logrotate, which creates a new log file, for every day an error is generated and backs up the previous day’s log file. This makes it easy for me to find a specific error, on a specific day. Server Administrators who choose not to use logrotate, may find their log files are really long and cumbersome.


500 Internal Server Error and WordPress

At some point yesterday (late afternoon or early evening), I started getting blank pages, when trying to log into my WordPress Website. Upon further investigation, I was able to identify that those blank pages were actually “500 Internal Server Error” pages, though not every page was actually displaying the error message.

I started investigating the issue by looking at the Apache Error Log, for my server. I noticed that every time I tried to log in, or access one of the WordPress Administration Areas, the following error was being logged:

[Fri Aug 10 09:26:54 2012] [error] mod_fcgid: process /home/bamajr.com/fcgi-bin/php5.fcgi(15293) exit(communication error), get unexpected signal 11
PHP Warning:  Module 'gd' already loaded in Unknown on line 0
PHP Warning:  Module 'mcrypt' already loaded in Unknown on line 0
<br />
<b>Deprecated</b>:  Directive 'register_long_arrays' is deprecated in PHP 5.3 and greater in <b>Unknown</b> on line <b>0</b><br />
<br />
<b>Deprecated</b>:  Directive 'magic_quotes_gpc' is deprecated in PHP 5.3 and greater in <b>Unknown</b> on line <b>0</b><br />
<br />
<b>Deprecated</b>:  Directive 'register_long_arrays' is deprecated in PHP 5.3 and greater in <b>Unknown</b> on line <b>0</b><br />
<br />
<b>Deprecated</b>:  Directive 'magic_quotes_gpc' is deprecated in PHP 5.3 and greater in <b>Unknown</b> on line <b>0</b><br />

Looking through the log files, I was able to confirm when the error started, and verify that it occurred every time I tried to log in or access any part of the WordPress Administration Area.

In WordPress, this error is most likely to occur when plugins (or themes), with weird code in them, get installed or activated. The unusual part of this specific incident is, I hadn’t installed, activated or edited any plugins or themes, nor had I made any changes to widgets, pages or posts. I simply logged in, reviewed some stats, moderated a single comment, and deleted a user. Then, for some unknown reason, the “500 Internal Server Error” started popping up.

Still suspecting a plugin problem, I started by manually removing all plugins, via FTP. I first copied each plugin over to a directory on my computer, and then deleted the plugins from the ~/public_html/wp-content/plugins directory, on the server.

I had all of the following plugins installed:

500 Internal Server Error WordPress Installed Plugins 01

All the pictured plugins were activated except the three QR Code Plugins. They were installed, but not active.

Next, I started re-adding each plugin (via FTP), by copying them back to the server, from my computer. I added one plugin at a time, logged into the WordPress admin area, activated the plugin, logged out, browsed a couple pages on the website, logged in again and logged out again. I followed this process, until I came to the SendPress Plugin – and the issue started again, immediately upon activating the SendPress Plugin.

This time, when the issue started, I only had the following plugins installed (plus SendPress – not shown):

500 Internal Server Error WordPress Installed Plugins 02

All the pictured plugins were activated except the single QR Code Plugin. It was installed, but not active.

This told me there was in issue with the SendPress plugin. Now, I know it may not be an issue with the SendPress plugin, itself and could instead, be an issue of an incompatibility between SendPress and another plugin. However, by removing the SendPress plugin, I was able to re-add all the remaining plugins, without any additional “500 Internal Server Error” pages being generated and without additional errors in the Apache Error Log.

I was able to identify the problem and find a solutions. I also submitted this issue, to the plugin devoloper, via the SendPress Plugin Support Forum, on WordPress.org, and included all these details.


500 Internal Server Error: Server Header Status Codes and SEO

After all this techno-babble, people concerned with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), only have one question on their mind. How does the “500 Internal Server Error” affect SEO?

For one answer, take a look at this infographic, created by Dr. Pete, for SEOMoz:

An SEO's Guide to HTTP Status Codes (An Infographic)

A little more artistic interpretation of Status Codes and their effect on SEO can be found here.

In my opinion, all Server Header Status Codes have some effect on SEO. To what degree they have an effect, depends on the specific Status Code. I can tell you this, though, when a “500 Internal Server Error” is displayed, the visitor, whether a person or robot, is not getting the information they were looking for. So, you tell me, how the “500 Internal Server Error” effects SEO.

Ethical SEO

Ethical SEO has gotten a lot of attention recently. Opinions on this topic, have been surfacing all over the world. Some people have an “all of us” (SEOs) versus “all of them” (search engines) mentality. Other people try to point to a huge “grey” area. There are even a few people trying to claim Ethical SEO doesn’t exist, only SEO.

Ethical SEO & My Upbringing

I was raised in a Christian Church, by Christian parents. So, I grew up to have pretty strong ethics and beliefs. It is these ethics and beliefs that come into play when choosing which industries I will work in and websites I will work on. For instance, I will not work for much of the medical or financial industry and I do not work on gambling or pornography websites.

For me, Ethical SEO means I will follow the guidelines, set by Google and other search engines. Ethical SEO (or “white hat” SEO) is all I will practice and the only techniques I will promote. This is not a hard line for me to draw and I follow it, along with those who work for me.

Ethical SEO & My Choice

While it is my choice to practice and promote Ethical SEO, I am unaware of any legally definable right and wrong, differentiating between “white hat” SEO and “black hat” SEO. Even in the New York Times’ article The Dirty Little Secrets of Search, the author was careful to point out:

…black-hat services are not illegal, but trafficking in them risks the wrath of Google.

The author of this New York Times article continues on to say:

The company’s (Google’s) guidelines warn against using tricks to improve search engine rankings, including what it refers to as “link schemes.” The penalty for getting caught is a pair of virtual concrete shoes: the company sinks in Google’s results.

Outing

I for one, am glad Google continues to strive for quality in their ranking. I think Matt Cutts and the rest of the Google search team, do an excellent job managing this quality. While, I do have some sympathy, for the lost jobs and lost business, “outing” can cause, I do not think SEO “Outing” Is Immoral.

To me, the issue is pretty simple. If “black hat” SEO techniques and those using them, are not reported, the cheaters will continue to prosper, while those who follow the guidelines, continue to struggle. So, every time another link building scheme is singled out by Google, my personal belief in Ethical SEO is strengthened and my methods are endorsed.

One of my favorite “outings” was the outing of GoDaddy. Joost de Valk had this to say, about it:

GoDaddy was using its paying customers to strengthen their own SEO without consulting them, in fact, they were specifically hiding what they were doing in their editor. I don’t mind them “playing” Google’s algorithms. I mind them abusing their customers websites without their consent. The only way of making that stop is to ask Google to remove the value that abuse has.

GoDaddy’s link scheme had gone on long enough and needed to be reported, just as the J. C. Penney’s link scheme needed to be reported.

Resolve

As long as external links have an influence on search results, there will be link schemes. They and other “black hat” SEO techniques will continue to be enticing, due to the quick rise effect they have on search results. However, a quick rise almost always leads to a quick fall and often, the fall is further than the rise. Ethical SEO or “white hat” SEO practices are capable of producing noticeable rank improvements and will help sustain the ranking over time.

Most Common Website Issue Affecting User Experience

Web designers and front-end web developers spend a lot of time creating awesome looking websites with cool functionality. Many times however, it is these websites that end up offering a poor user experience.

While I don’t think poor user experience is ever intended, it often happens as a result of coding awesome and cool.

I spend a lot of time looking at websites, evaluating code and trying to come up with cool new ideas. I see many of the issues, affecting user experience, first hand. While I try to ensure these issues don’t show up on my websites, I’m sure, even I miss something from time to time.

So, what is the most common website issue affecting user experience?

[Read more…]

Is the www really necessary

Most people understand “www” in a web address, means World Wide Web, but is the www really necessary?

Many domain names used for the World Wide Web begin with www because of the long-standing practice of naming Internet hosts (servers) according to the services they provide. The hostname for a web server is often www, in the same way that it may be ftp for an FTP server, and news or nntp for a USENET news server. – Wikipedia

I own the domain Bamajr.com and if I named the internet hosts, according to the services they provided, I would have:

  • www.bamajr.com for my website.
  • ftp.bamajr.com for a FTP server.
  • nntp.bamajr.com for a USENET NEWS server.
  • pop.bamajr.com for a POP3 mail server.
  • smtp.bamajr.com for a SMTP server.

[Read more…]