Another Website Goes Live


We flipped the switch on Laurie Murphy’s website last night. She is a motivational speaker for little kids.

As the entire creative staff of DopplerDesign, I was responsible for developing her new logo and the rest of the site.

Something was missing. Video!

That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few hours. The screen above shows my editing program.

Helaine and I shot Laurie this afternoon in front of a nearby school. We brought my Canon 7D that’s usually used for still photography and a few lenses. Of course there was a microphone and tripod and other equipment specifically for video.

The video and site were fun to do. I’m not averse to wearing a multitude of hats.

There are still a few internal additions to make it more attractive to Google and Bing, but for humans it’s mainly finished.

When You’re The Server Wrangler

Though this blog belongs to me, it doesn’t live with me. resides on a computer somewhere in the suburbs west of Philadelphia. I rent a tiny sliver of the server which is shared with countless others.

I pay the hosting company to handle the operating system and play traffic cop if one of the tenants uses more than his fair share of the resources. I handle the rest, including the code that runs my site.

About two weeks ago the server stopped allowing me to upload new files.

Uh oh.

I poked around and found that though I have unlimited storage space (I’m using around 10 Gb of storage) there is a limit to the number of individual files. Sneaky.

I am allowed 262,144 files. That should be plenty. Unfortunately a quick check showed I was at the limit.


In a case like this there are a few go-to geeks I lean on. Not this time. This was going to be my challenge!

My server is headless, meaning there is no pretty graphical screen like you see on your computer. My only means of communication is through a terminal program.

Think Matthew Broderick in War Games!

This is where Google is indispensable as a tech support tool. A half dozen keywords hinting at what I wanted went in, a site with exactly the code I needed came out!

du ~/*|sort -n

Those characters commanded my server to count the number of files in each of its directories, then list them starting with the directory containing the most files.

Within seconds I found the problem. A caching plug-in, a tiny program to make this website faster for you, had gone nuts! It had spawned hundreds of thousands of files and never cleaned up after itself.

Two minutes later after an uninstall/reinstall I was 184,783 files short of a full load. Problem solved… at least for now.

I Was Hacked–I Am Healed

Hacked! I’ve been hacked again. I hate it when that happens, but if you run a website it will happen sooner or later. This wasn’t my first time.

I cleaned out as much of the wound as I could. There are probably a few small pieces still hanging around in hidden recesses of my server. After years of hosting websites my directory tree already looks like that drawer in the kitchen where you throw everything that has no real place to go. That makes searching more difficult.

The hack itself wasn’t going to infect you as a reader, but it did plant seeds for further, deeper hacks. I cleaned those out.

I host a bunch of sites from this server. All of them were hit to some extent.

The point of entry was my FTP (file transfer protocol) account. I found strange activity in the logs. The attack looks like it came from a computer in Australia, though hackers seldom leave a direct trail that can be easily followed.

I’ve changed my password. That may or may not help.

It’s frustrating. It’s time consuming. It will happen again.

We Have A Winner

Congratulations to Beacon Falls Congregational Church. I hope you put the new website I’m going to design for you to good use!

Back on March 31 I posted an entry titled “My Good Deed Offer.”

If you’re involved with a small charity or civic organization listen up. I want to make you an offer. Among the skills I’ve been honing here in my “off season” is web design. I’d like to design a website for a small charity or civic organization. I will do it for free, no strings attached.

Congratulations to Beacon Falls Congregational Church. I hope you put the new website I’m going to design for you to good use! Thanks to over 1,200 of you who voted.

My next step is to meet with someone from the church to decide what they’d like to see in the look and functionality of the site. I have some suggestions too.

It’s good practice for me and something nice for them. Win-win!