Troubleshooting: Is It You or a Glitch?

Had an early morning start to the day, went for a jog and after having a shwarma in the breakfast, started working on a few projects. Just as I thought it’s going to be a wonderful afternoon, stumbled upon my blog and found the menus totally vanished!

Not a problem, I said to myself; setting them up in the menu editor would fix it like a magic wand! Next second I was in the new dashboard, trying to assign the menus:

Menus had changed to “Default Menu”.

I set the Primary and Social Links Menu to the appropriate items and hit the Save button. This should’ve fixed it, right? Refreshed my blog but disappointment! No emergence of menus so far. Must be a browser issue, after all I had about 150 tabs open in Chrome! off I went to my trusted Firefox, repeated the exercise, but it seemed like luck wasn’t on my side.

By now I had a feeling that the new dashboard must be the culprit. Classic editor to the rescue! Here I was trying to apply the menus to their appropriate locations:

menus-classic

After selecting the corresponding menus, hitting Save Changes was showing the all-clear ‘locations updated’ message. But did you notice something? The ‘Assigned Menu’ column was still asking me to select a menu, whereas it should’ve shown the name of the assigned menus. That was it—if even the classic editor is giving up on me, I knew it has to be an internal glitch.

Off I went to the support forum, where usually I try to help out awesome fellow bloggers, but I needed their help today (that’s how brotherhood works!). And there I saw the same issue being reported in mass numbers; a flux of threads on header images getting disappeared, CSS customizations vanishing and even menus turning into Arabic!

That’s when I realized it’s not specific to my site, it’s neither me nor my browser, rather a site-wide issue. A sigh of relief, I knew WordPress.com engineers would be on their way and must be trying their best to fix the glitch.

And that’s what happened too, one of the Staff replied on the main thread that the issue was due to an update which is now fixed. It indeed was, things were automatically restored and back to normal.

Made me think, must be a tough job to not only maintain the codebase and configuration but also provide timely support to an enormous user base. The geographical distribution of their team is of a big help here I believe—this issue occurred when North America is deep asleep, Asia and Europe is awake!

Why I shifted back to WordPress.com

It was in the year 2010 that I first created a free blog at WordPress.com. Didn’t have my own domain back then and used to post on ehtis subdomain, but eventually got one a couple of years later. That was the time I started to think I’ve outgrown the features that I need on the hosted platform, and would need to move to my own self-hosted WordPress install—AdSense and the ability to add popup plugins was on my mind.

Fast forward to 2015, after years of being on a self-hosted blog, I began to realize that I didn’t actually need the features which were initially on my mind, for a personal blog. Taking care of updates, themes, server administration (I have my own VPS server) and uptime was an unnecessary labor for a personal blog, where the intention is just to write and not worry too much about customization, geo-targeting and capturing leads. I finally made the switch and following are the main reasons for it.

Stability and Uptime

It wasn’t like my VPS server was going down every other day, the situation wasn’t this bleak but my web host used to be a target of an occasional DDoS attack, resulting in degraded service or downtime for a few hours. Most mid-level hosts don’t have the bandwidth to thwart several Gb/s attacks, and this is where WordPress.com shines. They have the bandwidth to deal with waves of traffic and hold their own against the menace of DDoS—many top websites rely on them to serve millions of page views. The infrastructure is obviously scalable, which includes load-balancers, memory and bandwidth to name a few.

Here are a few uptime stats which I’ve gathered:

Recent stats of all Automattic websites
Recent stats of all Automattic websites
WordPress.com uptime stats from 2014
WordPress.com uptime stats from 2014

WordPress.com has almost 100% uptime since October 2014, not even one day of downtime in 10 months. You can check out the complete history here, which shows 99.97%+ uptime since September 2012, the only anomaly was February 2013 with a 99.91% figure.

Where your blog gets ranked in Google depends on several factors, uptime and speed are one of those signals. You’ve got them covered here, so just focus on creating quality content!

Security and Updates

Critical security vulnerabilities can strike your installation any time as they’re discovered. Recently an XSS bug was discovered, which prompted the release of version 4.2.3 on July 23rd. Goes without saying how much damage they can cause, from sensitive information leakage to defacements.

Yes, you can set your blog to auto-update, but that may cause issues with your theme or plugins in some cases, so many like to take the manual route. Being on WordPress.com’s hosted platform, there’s a bit of peace of mind in this regard, you’re not exposed and the platform is timely updated.

Reader and Community

Just like other social media sites, WordPress.com has its own ecosystem of bloggers and readers who can find relevant content through Reader. It’s a nice little way to get more visitors to your blog, who I’ve found will be more engaging than the search engine audience. Expect a comment if they find your content interesting!

I’ve been having a good time in the community, moving has also helped me learn many new features of the platform which is helpful because I’m trying to get into this amazing company Automattic—the brains behind WordPress.com. :)

And wait, everything is not perfect!

These were the prime reasons which prompted me to move my personal blog. Your scenario can be different, perhaps you’re looking for a platform where you have the ability add third party plugins. You could be looking for revenue through AdSense (there’s a WordAds program here too, just in case) or just have a requirement which is not supported here. In that case, you’re free to go the WordPress.org route, have your own hosting and customize all you want! ;)

Slow PTCL Internet Solution During Submarine Cable Cut

Many internet users in Pakistan, particularly those using PTCL Broadband were left in extreme agony last night when their internet lines started failing — connections timing out, websites not loading and the refresh button getting abused!

It was due to a submarine fiber optic cable fault, one of those high-speed undersea internet cables through which PTCL runs its traffic, and the particular culprit was SEA-ME-WE-4 — also called SMW4. It’s not the first time that PTCL users had to bear this torture of slow internet due to a cable fault, last time it occurred was in 2013 and that too was a fault in SMW4.

Thankfully, though, Pakistan doesn’t rely on only one cable to connect with the outside world. It has multiple submarine cable links like TW1 (which is operated by Transworld Associates) and SEAMEWE3.

Solution

During cable outages, which mostly occur on SMW cables affecting PTCL users, the ISPs using Transworld Associates’ fiber optic cable (TW1) are Continue reading Slow PTCL Internet Solution During Submarine Cable Cut

My Motivation

At times you feel like writing non-stop, taking it all out what’s torturing you from the inside and throwing it away in the form of words — words that carry the fire, the flame, the hurt that’s eating you from the inside.

I was hurt today, demotivated, because what I thought I can do and achieve, for what I totally believed in myself and backed myself to do, jolted me and gave me a shock. You’re not good enough. Yet.

It was hard to take it in at first, I wasn’t able to think clearly about my next steps but then a trait of mine kicked in. A trait which has kept me strong and going till now, a trait for which I’m thankful to God — the ability to to transform negativity into positive energy, to seek optimism in an apparently bleak situation.

I don’t know the cause or exactly when I was bestowed upon with this trait, but whenever I’m told that the thing I believe in, I can’t do it or I’m not good enough for it, instead of getting demotivated and thinking what a waste I am, I rather take it as a challenge and go on to analyze where did I go wrong. Perhaps it’s the desire to keep on improving myself and the skills that I have, but the energy that I gain forces me to prove myself.

And I’ll do the same this time too. Going to analyze what I need to do to prove myself. Oh, and I’m going to try and blog a bit regularly here, I so miss this place. ;-)

List Of KMU Students For KPK Laptop Scheme Naway Sahar

This is the list of selected students for Naway Sahar laptop scheme of Khyber Medical University (KMU) including all its government institutes like KMC, KGMC, KCD, KIMS, AMC, Gomal Medical College and the rest. Links for each institute of Khyber Medical University are listed below.

For list of students for rest of the universities, please open this link. For details regarding specs of laptop and distribution dates, scroll below.

You will also have to fill and submit an undertaking available here. According to this, you cannot sell your laptop received under this laptop scheme. Continue reading List Of KMU Students For KPK Laptop Scheme Naway Sahar

KPK Laptop Scheme – List Of Students (All Universities)

List of selected students of all universities has been uploaded and can be accessed via the links mentioned below in the post. Under this laptop scheme, termed as “Naway Sahar” by the KPK government, a total of approximately 23,000 to 24,000 laptops will be distributed among the students who were short-listed on the basis of their GPAs.

The laptops are rumored to be Dell Inspiron 14 3420, equipped with Intel Core i3 CPU, 500GB HDD and 2GB RAM.

Students List For Laptop Scheme (University Wise):

Continue reading KPK Laptop Scheme – List Of Students (All Universities)

YouTube Unblocked In Pakistan

*EDIT*: This news is NO LONGER VALID. It was blocked again after a few hours on the orders of PM. Such a shame! The site MIGHT open at times but videos won’t load, the servers hosting videos are blocked at PiE (Pakistan Internet Exchange).

So finally after a wait of well over 3 months, access to YouTube.com has been restored in Pakistan. Last night, interior minister Rehman Malik tweeted that YouTube will get unblocked within 24 hours after chairing a high level meeting. The promise is fulfilled. YouTube is unblocked and fully accessible. Videos are loading perfectly fine — Last checked on PTCL DSL.

Previously, the site used to load at times but videos wouldn’t play. This is not the case anymore.

Following the anti-Islamic video “Innocence of Muslims” which was uploaded on YouTube, on 17th Sept., 2012.,YouTube was blocked in Pakistan on the orders of Prime Minister. The reason given was to protest against YouTube for not removing the said video, which YouTube declined to remove as according to them, it did not violate YouTube’s community guidelines.

My stance is still the same, PTA should have blocked access to only that particular video if it wanted. Restricting access to entire YouTube was like blocking access to a large treasure of educational, scientific and religious knowledge too.

Specially for university students, YouTube can be a life saver as there are many educational channels from universities like Stanford and MIT where course lectures are uploaded. And who doesn’t know about KhanAcademy, which has video lectures on many different courses and subjects from elementary school to university level.

At last, this move is positive. Darkness of 3 months, now finally over! :)