There be dragons

I should subtitle this “a snarky developer talks shit about other developers”.

One of my WordPress rules is that I keep plugins to a minimum. Hell, I just blogged about a plugin that I released – it’s currently one of three plugins installed on my website.

I keep my plugins to a minimum for a few major reasons. The first is that WordPress itself is fairly secure and when WP sites get hacked en masse, it’s usually a plugin’s fault. The second is that honestly, I think WordPress gives theme/plugin developers way too much control to hook into how the CMS itself runs.

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A new plugin

A few days ago, I was checking out the content on my website and I noticed a problem. Ironically, I spelled ‘website’ in two different ways – ‘website’ and ‘web site’. I found that annoying so set about to fix it.

I checked out some other WordPress search and replace tools and mostly found that they did some weird things with the database, so I decided to build my own. I just finished testing it and am about to release it to the masses.

So far, I call it Keyword Meter and it has two uses. The first screen does keyword research – type in a keyword or phrase you’re interested in and the tool will spit out how frequently it appears in every article. Keyword density is thought important in search engine optimization and keeping tracking of that is very helpful. The most important part (for me) is the search and replace. Hence, I’m going to do a bit of a tutorial on it now and at the end, I’m going to ask for a big favour.

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A warning about performance testing

A few days ago, I was deep into testing my website and wrote up a quick article about some tools that I use when I’m testing sites. After a few days of reflection, I realize that I should have included a warning in that article.

Be very careful before you start performance testing your website. The key thing to remember is that a very typical run of ab looks a lot like a denial of service attack. Good hosts will ban any endpoint that sends that much traffic that quickly.

Before you do any performance testing, read what kinds of terms your host imposes upon you. And if you self host your website, be sure to turn off any security software that automatically bans users who flood the website with too many requests per second. This will save you from some serious headaches.

Welcome back Google Analytics

Yeah we tease him a lot, welcome back, welcome back
Cause we got him on the spot, welcome back, welcome back

Not even three full weeks have gone by since I removed Google Analytics from my website and I can’t handle it. I just reinstalled the tracking code and updated my privacy policy. This website has rejoined the land of ad technology.

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A different kind of wake up

Edit – I received some feedback in a comment that indicated some problems with my routine. So, I did some reading and have decided to change my routine. I have updated the article accordingly.

When I was young, I used to be able to get away with whatever I threw at my body. Write code for 16 hours off of two hours of sleep? No problem. Spend a week living off of pizza pops and coffee? Sign me up…

Then, I turned 35 and everything went to hell. By day 3 of the Pizza Pops and coffee diet, I could qualify for Red Cross emergency aid. All of a sudden, my routine started to get important.

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Return on investment and on-brand search ads

Before you start any kind of online advertising, you need to do some preliminary work. You need to figure out how you will define a conversion, how much revenue (or profit) you will assign to that conversion and use those numbers to build a return on investment equation. When you start tracking return on investment, it’s important to point sales back to the medium that actually brought them in. This can get a little tricky.

If your company invests in Google Ads, there’s a good chance that you run campaigns on your brand. Consider this example where the Google query “google ads” shows an ad for Google Ads’ official site:

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Free tools for website performance testing

Web application/site speed is a major factor in whether it will achieve its marketing goals. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good your content, service or product is, if your web property is slow, most people won’t come back.

Luckily, we have tools to give us a sense of how much traffic our sites can handle and lots of them are free or open source. Here are some of my favourite tools for monitoring how a site or application performs:

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Interesting performance benchmarks with a new theme

Note – I’m doing a lot of performance testing on this production site so some things might be sketchy for the next couple of days.

I launched this new theme about ten days ago and have been running performance tests against it ever since. Making the home page much more static has yielded some remarkable performance boosts on its own. But over the weekend, I experimented with generating static menus into header.php and footer.php. The results of that were absolutely crazy so I pushed a new change into the theme last week and plan to have a fully static menu system by the end of 2019.

In very complex performance testing with Locust.io, with caching turned off, making my header and footer menus static increased my requests per second by over 30%. With aggressive caching turned on, making those menus static still increased my requests per second by over 4%.

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Apple Replay – 2019 (Lauren’s List)

I just wrote a short article on my 2019 Apple Music Replay playlist and some of the stats on my music listening they exposed. Writing that got me thinking about my three year old, her relationship with music and our family’s relationship with devices.

Lauren is three so I don’t let her have devices. That’s not completely true – when she’s at my Mom’s she plays on Granny’s iPad, she uses my laptop when she Skypes with my Dad, and she gets to use my phone when I have to take her to a business meeting. Outside of those special times, she doesn’t get to touch devices.

At some point, that will have to change. Heck, some of her daycare friends already talk about their iPads and Lauren wants one too. She lives in a hyper-connected world and I’m a hyper-connected Dad, so she will want to be hyper-connected too. But honestly, I love the innocence of three and feel like a device will be the end of that, so I’m more resistant than I ever dreamed I would be.

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Apple Replay – 2019

It’s the end of December and I’m starting to reflect on a full year of listening to music. I listen to music a lot – Apple Music remains one of the best purchases that I make because I get thousands of hours of entertainment for a very small amount of money. I make a point of listening to as many new releases as I can, but I also keep going back to the same basic artists. Here is my look at my 2019 Replay list:

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