Google Drive vs. Docs: Embedding documents into WordPress.com Posts

You may have run into a scenario where a document, like a PDF, had to be embedded into one of your WordPress.com blog posts. There’s an official support article present here on how you can do that, but it only deals with Google Docs.

In this post, I’m going to talk about why you should rather use Google Drive for embedding documents and how to actually do it, because the embed code from Drive doesn’t currently work on WordPress.com. A slight modification is required in the URL.

A bit about Drive

Google Drive, the cloud storage platform by Google, also has the ability to store documents (.doc, .pdf etc.) and unlike Docs, it retains their original format once uploaded. It’s also a lot more easy to manage the documents in Drive—you can upload, view and share them, however, the ability to edit is only available in Docs.

Why Drive over Docs?

It’s in the layout! Documents from Drive embedded into posts look quite different from the ones embedded from Docs. Pics or it didn’t happen! Yes, I know, nothing is better than a visual illustration, so here is a comparison of a single PDF embedded via both the services:

Can you see the difference? Click to enlarge.

The PDF from Docs is shown in a layout where you have to scroll horizontally to read the lines. Moreover, you can’t even select any text, as the embedded PDF from Docs shows up as an ‘image’.

On the other hand, the embed from Drive not only fits the frame but also has an on-screen zoom control and a button for popping out the document in a new window. Makes for a better reading experience!

How to embed Google Drive documents

Now onto the practical part!

Upload the PDF or any other supported format and share it with the desired audience. To do this, right-click the document and select Share. To make it public, click Get shareable link:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After it’s shared, double-click the document which opens up a preview, then select the pop-out button:

drive-1-open-external-full

 

 

Next, click Embed Item under the options menu:

drive-2-embed-menu

 

 

 

 

Copy the embed code and paste it in the post:

drive-3-embed-code

 

 

 

 

Now, wait before publishing the post!

There’s one change you got to make in the code. Where it says drive.google.com, change it to docs.google.com. If you don’t make this change, WordPress.com will turn the code into a simple hyperlink and the embed will not work. 

They haven’t added the domain drive.google.com to their whitelist yet, so until it’s resolved, you have to use this method. Rest of the code should remain the same, except width and height which you can modify according to your liking.

Happy embedding, and let me know which embed source you personally prefer! :)

Protect Your Android Phone from the Latest MMS Bug

Yesterday, security researchers discovered a critical flaw that affects almost all Android phones, that’s about one billion smartphones worldwide if you want to quantify. The scary part is that attackers only need to know your phone number in order to take over your device! There’s a good chance, rather it’s almost certain that your device is also vulnerable. Don’t panic, though, this post is about how you can easily guard your phone against this Stagefright bug, but a bit of background first.

It works by exploiting a security hole in Stagefright library, which is used by Android OS to render incoming videos embedded within an MMS. Thus, attackers can remotely send a specially-crafted MMS to your number, and upon retrieval, a malicious code embedded in it can silently become a part of your phone. Heck, it can even stealthily remove any traces of the received MMS and much more.

Solution

First one will disable the transmission of any sort of MMS, the second involves stopping your messaging app from automatically downloading/retrieving incoming MMS, as that’s when the code gets executed.

Disable sending/receiving of all MMS messages:

  1. Open Settings > More > Mobile Networks. You will get to the first screen above.
  2. Tap “Access Point Names”.
  3. Choose the APN which handles your MMS settings
  4. At the details screen, tap APN to change the value of APN to any random string. Don’t forget to write down the existing value, as you’ll need it to restore MMS functionality

I recommend this method if you don’t use MMS messaging and are not expecting any incoming MMS either.

Disable auto-retrieve in your Messaging app:

The exact steps depend on the messaging app that you’re using. Here are the screenshots of Hangouts and Messenger (messaging client in Lollipop) app:

For Messenger:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced and disable auto-retrieve

For Hangouts:

  1. Slide the drawer
  2. Go to Settings > SMS > and ‘uncheck Auto Retrieve MMS’.

Apply updates from your phone manufacturer

Note that the above fixes are temporary solutions. For a permanent fix, contact your phone manufacturer, see if they have any update on offer and how you can apply it. For rooted phones, the consequences can be particularly severe if a successful exploitation occurs.

This bug is not in the wild yet, that is, there are no reports of it being exploited at a mass scale, partly because the researchers who discovered it haven’t released a proof-of-concept yet.

They’re going to present it at Black Hat USA on August 5th though, and there’s a possibility of attacks emerging after that so apply the fixes or updates as soon as possible!

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