Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

May 22, 2014 by

Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

There’s a lot of noise about Web security these days and one has to wonder how much of it is inflated to sell software and services and how much of it is real. With the release of Glenn Greenwald’s book this month, No Place To Hide, about Edward J. Snowden and national security, the speculation is to be raised even more. Wordfence Alerts

Months ago we wouldn’t have believed how much goes on in trying to attack a website. That was until we began religiously employing the WordPress plugin WORDFENCE to every site we manage.

That has been an eye-opening experience. Even websites for smaller local clients constantly are bombarded by IP addresses, most often in other countries, trying to break into their Admin login and damage the site.

Alerts constantly come in from Wordfence because a bot in Europe has been targeted against a client, this site or DaddyClaxton.com. How it would strategically benefit a group in Europe, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the Netherlands, or wherever to gain access to these sites is unimagineable, but regardless, the battle goes on nearly 365/7 and it is constant.

We write this in hopes of two things. 1) Raising your awareness that if you’re running a WordPress site and not using Wordfence, you probably should be just so you’re aware of how hard others are trying to get into your site. 2) You’d better have some fairly strong passwords, and you might want to delete the ADMIN login all together and use another person or name as such. It appears most of the bot attacks our clients, and we get, are preprogrammed to use Admin as the user name and if it isn’t even in your WordPress system, you’re already miles ahead of them.

Wordfence can be configured so that you get an email every time someone is locked out from trying to hack into your site. Or, you can choose not to be notified. It also can be set up to send someone a notification for every time someone with admin capabilities accesses your site,  just in case someone nefarious actually does get in, you’ll know it immediately.

It’s a shame this is what has become of the Internet, but it’s also a fact of life, it’s not going to go away. Wordfence. You need it. And if bots are hammering away so hard at minor WordPress sites, think of how many are programmed to get into your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts once they know your email address….

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Who Am I? The Self-Discovery Caused From Writing A Novel

Apr 22, 2014 by

Who Am I? The Self-Discovery Caused From Writing A Novel

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My childhood window, upstairs and down. I used to sit at these windows and write when I was in elementary school at KI Sawyer AFB in Michigan and we lived at 208 Fortress.

Somewhere back in time at 208 Fortress Street in base housing of the former Strategic Air Command’s K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I would sit at a kidney bean family heirloom desk with a children’s red type writer and “write.” I would sit in front of the lower window you see in the photo to the right and I would write.

A few years later in Mrs. Reid’s eighth-grade journalism class at Mitchell Sr. Elementary School in Atwater, CA circa 1979-80, I received the worst grade I’ve ever received on a writing project–an F, for refusing to write a short, fictional story. Note, it was a journalism class.

During my senior year of college at Auburn University at Montgomery, in 1987, I received one of my best writing grades–an A, in Nancy Anderson’s Advanced Expository Writing class. Mrs. Anderson, who went by the self-proclaimed nickname “the Dragon Lady,” almost never awarded works with such grades, but I am proud to say, I am one of the few. During that quarter I was taking 24 hours of classes, working on the school newspaper and working at a local department store to help pay for school.

Writing, and principled writing, has been a part of my life since I can remember.

But I am learning at age 48 there still is much I have to learn about writing.

My late maternal grandmother, Joyce Sheptak, used to always to encourage me to “write what I know,” the oft used cliche nearly every writer knows. She always used to cite “I Remember Momma” as her impetus for the suggestion.

During the past month or so since I began this new novel writing practice, I’ve studied much about what I know and come to the conclusion that my writing shouldn’t be as much about “what I know” but about “who I am.”

And that’s led to some amazing self-discovery and analysis. My counselor, friend and web client, Dr. Harold Duncan of Dallas, Texas says right now I’m actually doing something that almost 95 percent of the population, or more, never will do, whether writing a novel or not.

I’m trying to really find out who I am.

WHO AM I?

That’s been an amazing question to ponder. Dr. Duncan says that at age 48 it’s about time I started asking myself such questions. As he has explained, you can’t do what I’m doing in your teens, 20s, 30s or even really in one’s early 40s. In life, we’re just not ready. Our perspectives on such an exercise would be highly skewed.

Think about that for a moment. In our teens, we clearly have no clue about what life is about. We think we do. Many parents have done much to help get us ready to leave and cleave by age 18 and graduation from high school, but even as the eldest of five children, I can honestly assert, I wasn’t ready for that.

Our 20s are spent trying to find a vibrant career and in large part, mine were also spent thinking I needed to find a spouse to start a family. God had other plans.

Our 30s are spent in family and work mode.

Our 40s leap up fast and we think we have become experts about what this life is about and all of a sudden someone pulls a rug out from under you and everything that once was up is down and what was down is now up.

And at least for me, after enduring that mid-40s upsetting of what I thought was going to be a smooth sail to the finish line, I can honestly sit here and pen this. I have some new perspectives on life I didn’t have before.

So who am I? I’m not the person I was at any other point in my life. When I was younger I held the perspective that I probably couldn’t write fiction because ultimately, I hated to see the travesties of life inflicted on my characters. I wanted and thought and longed for a smooth life. I thought that was still possible. After being wronged, cheated and having lost nearly every element of normalcy to my life I once held as dear, I finally feel like I can skewer a character or two of my own in my stories.

More about me to follow. This is, after all, a journey. We’re not going all the way in one or two posts.

 EXERCISE

Time to step away from the computer for a bit, take out a piece of paper and a pen and think about yourself.  Do this exercise:

1) Write down one or two words that describe each of the various roles you currently play in your life.

Fill up the page. Do two or three. That’s fine, there are no right or wrong answers, so long as you’re being honest with yourself. This isn’t for anyone else to see, so be brutally honest with yourself. The more honest you are with you, the more you will get out of this activity, whether you’re going to write a novel or simply work on better defining who you are.

2) Once you’ve made a sizable list go back thru it. What roles are you in that are positive? Are there any that are negative? Do you need to change any of them?  If there are roles you think you need to change, I recommend getting out a 3 x 5 notecard and putting them on a separate list. We’ll come back to them later.

 

My Novel Project

The Beginning April 21, 2014

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Domestic Violence is Real, and it’s Serious

Feb 27, 2014 by

Domestic Violence is Real, and it’s Serious

There have been two murder-suicides in Dallas in as many days.

Domestic Violence is a real and serious crime and far too often it goes unreported and when it is reported, many times little or nothing is done about it until it’s too late.

As a victim of Domestic Violence in my own home (yes, a man can be a victim, too), and having worked with Veronica Galaviz, who in April 2010 was attacked in the middle of the night by her estranged husband who after trying to kill her, set her house on fire and then killed himself, I take it very seriously and often roll my eyes when local media give props to efforts to hold awareness rallies or DV agencies that have been in operation for years clammer for additional funding of programs that haven’t even put a dent in addressing the problem.

Let me qualify that. I get why there have been rallies to raise awareness in Dallas about Domestic Violence and I applaud Mayor Mike Rawlings’ efforts to raise awareness about the problem. Raising awareness of the problem is good. Getting people to come make a pledge not to do it, admirable. Sending high school kids to a Cowboys game (to see a star wide receiver who allegedly assaulted his mom) for the most pledges at their campus, yeah.  Saying our agency needs money for shelters because more and more women, children AND men are  falling victim to Domestic Violence, yeah, I get that, too.  There’s just one problem with all of that–little has changed.

Where is the effort to stop Domestic Violence before it happens? 

Sometimes my level of efficacy about the issue is low. Domestic Violence takes place in every culture around the world and has since the beginning of time. The “If I can’t have you, no one will” jealousy mentality is powerful, isn’t new and it isn’t going away. And it’s often deadly.

Veronica has been doing research the past few years and has made yet un-heeded recommendations to lawmakers about ankle bracelets for protection order violators. In her case, she kept telling Rowlett Police that her ex was at her house cutting her cable wires, slashing her tires, and just stalking. They said, even with a video of a man in front of her house slashing tires, that the video wasn’t conclusive it was him. And so they did nothing.  And so he kept acting, and acting, and acting, until April 21, 2010 at 1:30 a.m. he broke into her house and tried to shoot her. When she got away, he set the house on fire and shot himself.

Veronica has advocated for a one-strike you’re out provision for violating a protective order. Right now, it’s basically just a piece of paper, and if law enforcement won’t act on what’s in it, then it is an EXPENSIVE piece of paper that’s worthless. So add an ankle-bracelet, and when there is a 500-foot violation, etc. it’s off to the county lock up until the person can appear in front of their judge again and the potential victim is kept safe.

Just two ideas. Two ideas that could be a little more costly to enforce, but they could save lives and certainly do more than people filling out pledge cards or shelters filling up with more and more victims.

My Own Case

Domestic Violence comes in different, but nearly always at escalating, levels. I have had things thrown at me, been rushed at like I was going to be physically hit, and scratched and more.

When you wake up in Dallas and fly to New York for an event and don’t want to go walking in Times Square at 12 p.m. EST cos you’re exhausted and have to be up at 3:30 a.m. to go over to the Today Show, you don’t deserve to be beaned by an iPhone in the back of the leg by your spouse, your “safe” person in their anger. (See photo). And then you’re in a mentality of “if I just don’t crack eggshells, things will be better.”  But I’ve learned the hard way that once someone begins doing that and more to you, the relationship needs to end and fast before it gets worse. Getting An iPhone Thrown And Hit In the Back Of The Leg

I have no problems saying that hearing about pep rallies about Domestic Violence make my eyes-roll. The Dallas media has done a lot to promote the mayor’s efforts. And each story I’ve seen, I’ve just rolled my eyes and tried to keep my mouth shut, you know, the victim mentality.  I’ve lived through the abuse and have lost more of my life than I ever could have imagined. People think Domestic Violence only happens to women, but it affects the whole family, and women can do it and act like they’re the victim themselves and few would believe it to be the other way around.

This also is why I don’t take lightly when I hear others making threats either to me or my children whether married, dating or separated. I’ve finally reached the point in my life where if people in relationships are going to be dangerous, the relationship with that person is over and if it keeps up, someone is going to jail. Period.

Domestic Violence is a serious crime and it’s high time it be taken far more seriously than standing in front of City Hall and saying “make a pledge.” I get why it’s being done. It’s just not having an impact.

Anyone can become a victim of Domestic Violence. And that’s the scariest part of all.

 

 

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In Hard Times God Was With Them–Do You Think He’s Forgotten You?

Feb 11, 2014 by

In Hard Times God Was With Them–Do You Think He’s Forgotten You? What Gordon Dabbs Taught Me Sunday

Sunday in the a.m and p.m. services, Prestoncrest Church of Christ’s Gordon Dabbs drew two amazing word pictures that have helped continue to reshape my focus and attitude the past few days, and I feel compelled to share them here. You know I don’t do this about religion very often, but I’m drawn now to do so.

Growing Into The Enormity Of God’s Love

When we put on Christianity, most of us don’t really have an idea of its breadth. I’d say it’s almost impossible to do so until we spend a lot of time in study, prayer, reflection and personal growth.

During his morning sermon, Gordon painted this word very special word picture: Imagine I’m a billionaire and I go and buy the most expensive private jet aircraft in the world for my 13-year-old son and give it to him and say, “It’s yours. All paid for. The only stipulation is that you are the only one who can pilot the aircraft.”  At 13, his son does not have a pilot’s license. To make the most of his father’s gift, the son will have to go through growth, maturity and pilot school in order to ever make full use of the gift.

Doesn’t the same situation exist in our walk with Jesus? Do you think new born Christians are ready to “fly the plane?”

It’s why on our walks, we need to do as I think it was Paul said, and drink small sips of milk in order to grow, to study regularly and to find ways to mature in our faith.  That’s why it’s a walk, not a sprint.

God Was With Them

The other great thing Gordon was talking about Sunday evening was that through their trails and tribulations, which both involved jail time, the Bible says that “God was with” Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery, and with Paul, who was falsely imprisoned.

The inference is that even in times of great despair and loss for two of God’s favorite biblical characters, he was there with them, at their side, ensuring that they’d be around for to meet his purpose for them.

Finding Life’s Purpose

On the way back from Denver in October I sat on a Southwest flight to Tulsa to Dallas next to a man who claimed to be a professional provoker. Our conversations soon turned to what he does–helping people find their purpose in life.

In an hour, he and I are going to have a Skype call about how to expand the reach of what he does. In preparing for that call, I’ve had to search for many new technologies and gone through his learning materials, which have led me to find my purpose in life. On ClaxtonCreative.com now you will find the new tagline, “Telling Stories With Purpose.”  I firmly believe now that my purpose for being on this Earth is to find the best stories ever, and maybe not yet ever told, and share them with as many people as I may.

So at 48, I don’t know if I’m ready to take the plane up in the air, but I’m at least ready to taxi out to the runway.  As noted many times, the past four years have been the hardest of my life. There have been times when I felt like I’d been left alone in a personal prison of great depth and despair with little where to go but back up again. In those times, I did wonder if God was with me. But as life has begun to unfold, as I have now found my purpose, it’s clearer by the minute that he indeed was right there all along. It also has become clear that I had to weather those horrific storms of life in order to be where I am now. At a point of discovery.

So what’s the take away here? Our faith’s progression is a journey and our minds need nourishment to feed them so they can grow in our understanding of what God intends us to do while we’re here. And no matter how dark things may appear in life, he’s always there. You just have to reach out to him to connect. And in dark days when it seems like you’re miles down in a dark, dark cave that’s pretty hard to comprehend. But I encourage you nonetheless. Reach out your hand. God will be there to take it.

 

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AT&T Please Fix Your AT&T Stadium on Cartwright Road in Mesquite/Balch Springs

Jul 25, 2013 by

So AT&T is going to drop millions on Jerry World.

Another crazy-assed Mesquite driver took out the AT&T phone box on June 22, 2013. A month and five days, it's not been fixed. Now there's a blue tent over it.

Another crazy-assed Mesquite driver took out the AT&T phone box on June 22, 2013. A month and five days, it’s not been fixed. Now there’s a blue tent over it.

Good for them. (Maybe in their negotiations they could have leveraged Jerry stepping down and NomoRomo getting traded to AAA ball or something for a player to be named later.) I won’t go into my typical Cowboys issues.

No, I just wish that before AT&T spends a lot of money on the dome in Arlington, they’d fix this eyesore at 500 Cartwright Road in Mesquite/Balch Springs, TX that’s been there for more than a month now.

You see, AT&T had the wisdom to put their telephone, cable and DSL box at the intersection of 500 W. Cartwright and too many Mesquite drivers think that Cartwright is something of a race strip. (Thankfully, Mesquite PD has started, well, they had started, running radar thru the area back in June, but it’s been a while now since I’ve seen a car out there.)

I’ve been here for more than three years now and the telephone box in question has been hit at least three times.  One time a car hit the telephone pole at least 15 feet in the air.  I think Bruce Willis must have been driving. There was a fence to the right of the phone box and it’s been taken out so many times by cars veering off the road at high speeds that the owners replaced the fence in April with pine trees….

But on June 22, 2013, the latest no doubt drunken driver exceeding the 40 mph speed limit came flying thru and effectively took out the AT&T box. Somehow, we still have service.  But instead of just putting up a new box, I’m assuming they’re having a new one built, AT&T has let this eyesore of a blue tent, fashioned not too unlike the dome in Arlington, to just sit there.

A month and three days later, it’s still there.

AT&T Please Fix Your AT&T Stadium on Cartwright Road in Mesquite/Balch Springs

It has looked like this for a month now…..

The AT&T Stadium Dome in Mesquite/Balch Springs that's been there for more than a month now.

The AT&T Stadium Dome in Mesquite/Balch Springs that’s been there for more than a month now.

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