Social Justice – Social Injustice

In the 1980s, the then Prime Minister famously declared that there is no such thing as society. She encouraged a free-for-all so that people would claw themselves higher. Of course, it came at the expense of ordinary working people who were not very good at ‘clawing’ – people who did not have many educational advantages or personal skills.

And it was obvious that they had been simply consigned to the rubbish heap.

How can anyone expect people to care when the society is run by self-seeking mobsters? People aren’t stupid – they know when they are being robbed blind.

And the dominance of big business doesn’t help to make anyone feel they are a meaningful member of society.

It is for each person to bear responsibility for their personal actions and to behave ethically no matter what they see around them – or at least to do so as much as possible.

But responsibility and allegiance are not the same – and disaffected youths who are born of disaffected parents are only doing what is right in the circumstances, which is to try to survive in the cracks left in the framework of a system that doesn’t care about them.

Men will put up with a lot when they know that they share the burden with everyone. But when social and economic justice are missing – any man will question why he should put up with anything.

Ten Useful WordPress Plugins

#1 Limit Logins

By default, WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked.

The stronger your password, the more brute force is needed to crack it, but with unlimited attempts and a computer program set to just keep trying, even a strong password will be cracked eventually.

The Limit Logins plugin limits the number of malicious login attempts that can be made before lockout.

#2 Optimise Database After Deleting Revisions

When you write a post in WordPress, it is saved to the database. If you save a draft first, it is saved to the database along with the published version.

If you make a change to the draft – even changing just a single letter or punctuation mark – another draft is saved to the database.

If you publish an article and then add to it later, another version is saved to the database.

And so it goes on. Optimise database after deleting revisions deletes those redundant versions and then cleans up and optimises the database.

#3 Redirect Visitors

Page Links To is a very useful plugin made by Mark Jacquith, one of the WordPress developers.

It allows you to make any WordPress page or post link to a URL that you choose.

Suppose for example, you have a blog and you also have an Etsy shop. Create an empty page named My Etsy Shop and put your Etsy shop’s URL in the field that the Page Links To plugin creates in your admin panel. Then add that page to your main navigation menu on your site.

#4 Subscribe To Comments

Subscribe to comments enables commenters to check off a box to receive e-mail notification of subsequent comments.

#5 Disable Comments

If you don’t want people commenting on your site at all, the Disable Comments plugin will disable comments on posts. Since WordPress 4.3, comments are disabled by default on pages.

#6 Sitemaps

Unless you tell them not to, search engines will scan or crawl your site. That is normally a good thing because you want your site to be found.

Site maps help the search engines by presenting them with a file that sets out the structure of your site and tells the search engines what posts and pages you have published.

The search engines can then crawl the site more completely than if they were working blind, and once they have the results they can show the appropriate posts and pages in their search results in response to search queries for the appropriate search terms.

The plugin I use makes site maps that also automatically update every time you publish a new post or page. It is called Google XML sitemaps, and it is available from the WordPress repository.

From the name of the plugin you would think that it only works with Google’s search engine, but it also does the same job with Bing and Yahoo.

#7 Changing Internal Links When You Change Domains

If you move your WordPress website to a new domain, all your internal links to pages and references to images will still point to your old domain name. The quaintly-named Velvet Blues plugin helps you change old urls and links in your website.

#8 Private Only

Do you want to keep your blog private so that only people with a password can access the content and read it?

Private Only does this and allows you to change the logo on the login page from the standard WordPress login logo to tell people who have the password access that they are in the right place.

#9 Garbage Collector

Maybe you have used some plugins in the past and no longer use them. You deleted them, but did that remove all the bits of code? Garbage Collector scans your WordPress database and shows you any tables besides the core WordPress database tables so you can delete them.

#10 WordPress Database Reset

Database Reset is a simple way to reset the database to the state of WordPress right after you install it for the first time. It keeps your user credentials so you can continue to access the back end, and it gives you the option to keep or junk plugins and themes.

Forcing HTTPS

You’ve almost certainly seen and visited sites secured by https. Banks secure their sites with https , e-commerce sites often do, and Google and Facebook have been using https for a while.

You can recognise sites that are secured this way by the section with the little lock at the beginning of the URL (the web address).

The advantage of sites connected via https is that the connection to them is more trustworthy. That means that there is almost no chance of them being something other than what they say they are.

For example, you wouldn’t want to go to you bank’s website and be unsure whether it was your bank or some other site pretending to be your bank’s website, would you?

The security is achieved with a ‘secret handshake’ if you like between the visitor and the website whereby the site proves to the visitor that it is trustworthy and is what it says it is.

In coding terms, an https connection is the protocol that defines how the visitor and the server negotiate a secure connection.

In order to set up the secret handshake, the server on which the website is hosted needs a way of showing to the world that it is entitled to be recognised as what it says it is.

An SSL Certificate is the document that proves the authenticity of the server.

As for why you as a website owner might want that level of security, well you might want have your site under https if you have an e-commerce site.

In fact you may not even have a choice because the payment system that you want to use on your e-commerce site might require that you have that level of security.

How To Force HTTPS on a WordPress Site

First make sure your web host can deliver an https site. They might only provide this under certain plans and may need to move your site to another server.

Buy an SSL certificate – your web host can probably sell you one.

Download this plugin by Mike Ems from the WordPress repository – WordPress HTTPS – and activate it.

You can make your whole site secure or only certain pages (such as checkout pages) secure, if you wish.

Now change the URLs to https in Settings / General in the admin panel on your site.

Once you have done that you need to add instructions to your .htaccess file to tell it to redirect any http enquiries to https.

You will need to FTP to your .htaccess file. If you haven’t set permalinks then it is possible that you do not have an .htaccess file in your WordPress setup. In that case, read this article on why it is a very good idea to set permalinks.

Once you have FTP’d into your .htaccess file you need to add a few lines of code.

You will find the following code mentioned around the web but you may find it causes the site to hang.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R,L]

The following code works. Add it before the comment line in the .htaccess file that reads ‘# BEGIN WordPress’.

WordPress can overwrite anything between the # BEGIN WordPress and # END WordPress tags, so you should add the code before ‘# BEGIN WordPress’ to prevent WordPress overwriting it.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Now test it with this SSLLABS test and give yourself an A.

Or maybe you are not seeing the padlock in the URL bar? Head over to Why No Padlock and it will highlight any issues. As the site says:

Pulling your hair out trying to find out why your secure page is not fully secure? Here’s a simple tool that will tell you about any insecure items on your SSL page.

Simply type in the full https secure URL into the box below and get a report about:

Insecure calls to images,css, and javascript
Images called insecurely from linked css and js files
Expired cert, invalid or missing intermediate certificate (including 3rd party SSL certs.)

Leads and Ledes

I came across an article in Isoosi about writing a compelling opening or lead paragraph.

In the article, the author makes an aside about the alternative spelling of ‘lede’ – as in the ‘lede paragraph’.

I am familiar with the alternative spelling and the meaning, and one might think that the alternative spelling is just an old-fashioned version that has now mostly fallen into disuse.

To check, I decided to look up the origin of the word and as usual the best source is the Online Etymological Dictionary, which has this to say:

lede (n.)
By 1965, alternative spelling of lead in the newspaper journalism sense, to distinguish this sense from other possible meanings of the written word, perhaps especially the molten lead used in typesetting machines.

China Stock Market And The World

On July 3rd I read an article in the Guardian and it concerned me enough that I shared my concerns with friends on Facebook.

The opening paragraphs of the Guardian article read:

China’s efforts this week to stem the tide of losses on its main stock market failed on Friday when the Shanghai Composite index plunged a further 5.8%, taking the drop in share values to 28% since their June peak.

Panic selling wiped more than £2tn off the value of Chinese-listed companies and traders signalled the rout would extend into next week.

The authorities had cut fees and eased borrowing rules that make it cheaper to buy shares in the hope it would cheer investors battered by the relentless selling since 12 June.

A promise by the main stock market regulator to tackle concerns of market manipulation, which has sapped investor confidence in recent days, also failed to halt the slide.

No one picked up my post, which made me wonder when the looming problem would burst onto the world scene. I also wondered what was behind it.

In the Washington Post today there is this comment

“At the moment there’s panic in the market, because we have lots of retail investors,” said Wei Wei, an analyst at Huaxi Securities in Shanghai. “We’ve never experienced anything like this in China’s stock market, the speed of the decline and the scale of it.”

The Chinese stock market is quite small. That is, there are not many investors compared to the size of the economy and the number of Chinese people.

So the ups and downs of the market might not reflect the direction of the whole economy, particularly if the investors have not learned to hold rather than sell at the first tremor.

Yes, there’s that. But there are other factors. There is the sanctity of the dollar. There is the size of China’s foreign dollar holdings. There is the question of relations with the West and the ongoing sanctions against Russia.

There is a lot that is not obvious and which may play a part in what is happening. I don’t see how it all works, but I sense that what is going on may not simply be a slowdown in the Chinese economy.