This is a general warning for anyone who owns or manages multiple internet domains.
If you have ever used a domain name, and switched to another one, you should never let the original domain expire.
The reason is, there are nefarious people out there who will buy that abandoned domain, put up content they scraped from an internet archive, and add links to malware or scam sites.
This happened to Ginny’s church’s web site (which I was hosting). They had a domain that had been used but was abandoned in favor of a new domain. Because the old domain wasn’t being used, and all the content had been migrated over, we decided to save some money and stop paying for it.
About a year after that, the domain popped up on the internet as a local church. I was confused by this and looked at the site. It was an almost exact copy of the last version that had been published … except it had links that tried to redirect people to scam sites.
The only thing we could do is file a complaint with the domain registrar. I’m not sure if they ever took it down.
Now, if I have a domain that I had used, I keep paying for it and just set it to do a permanent redirect to the new domain.
The only real exception to this is when I bought a domain with the intention of using it, but never got around to it. In those cases, I just let it lapse, because it’s not going to have content to mimic.
Many of us who manage websites are familiar with Google’s ‘Search Console‘. The search console is a way for webmasters to manage how Google interacts with our web sites. It provides functions to tell Google what parts of the site to search, what parts to ignore, and determine what pages are doing better than others.
One of the functions it provides is a way to see what parts of a web site that Google has indexed and what part it hasn’t. It also can tell what parts of a site it is ignoring and, to a certian extent, why it’s ignoring them.
One of the reasons that Google might be ignoring a page is because it’s been to be determined to be a ‘Soft 404’.
What’s a Soft 404 error?
Well, a REAL 404 error is a page not found. It’s a function of the web server software. Most web servers provide the ability to use a custom page when a 404 error is encountered. You can see an example of one here.
As for a ‘Soft 404’ … according to Google …
A soft 404 means that a URL on your site returns a page telling the user that the page does not exist and also a 200-level (success) code to the browser.
While some sites might actually do that … handle a page not found error with a friendly page but indicate to the browser that it’s a normal page (200 status code) … I suspect it’s actually a minority of sites (granted, it may be a way to game the system).
However … it turns out that pages that contain the words ‘not found’, ‘error’, ‘authorized’, ‘not allowed’, etc., in the title or body are often treated by Google as a soft 404 error … even if the page isn’t a 404 at all. Additionally, the words do not even need to appear on the page at all. The details of what constitutes a ‘soft 404’ are very mysterious.
We all agree that email is crucial to modern life.
But what email should you use?
Everyone gets email when they sign up for high speed internet service … the problem is that you’re tied to that internet service for that email address. If you switch service providers, you could lose the address. Even worse, if your provider goes out of business, you could loose access entirely. Sometimes the email provider charges a fee for better service and/or removing advertising.
Yes, you could use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL, but you’re still tired to the provider. Plus, you don’t often get to choose the best address (firstname.lastname@example.org just isn’t that sexy).
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get an email address that belongs to you forever?
As part of my migration to the cloud, I terminated the Comcast Business internet service and switched to Xfinity internet.
When I initially signed up for the Xfinity service, I got their cable modem / router / wifi appliance. My plan was to get my own cable modem eventually because Xfinity charges $13 / month to lease the appliance.
I was at Best Buy and saw that cable modems weren’t expensive, so I decided to purchase a mid-level model (Netgear CM600) so I could save the lease fee. The CM600 would pay for itself in about 8 months.
It took a while to get setup … and there were a few false starts, but eventually I got it working connected directly to my MacBook.
I ran into a problem when I switched the CM600 over to my ASUS RT-5300 wifi router.
I kept getting the message “Your ISP’s DHCP does not function properly” on the ASUS network map page.
Although not directly supported, it’s quite possible to use the LetsEncryptcertbot client on Amazon Lightsail Linux.
First of all … what is LetsEncrypt?
Let’s Encrypt is a free service that offers basic SSL certificates any web site. The certificates are good for 90 days but can be renewed indefinitely. With the proper software, the installation & renewal of the certificates can be fully automated.
There are a few things to be aware of and workarounds that need to be done.
The problem was, they were a subscriber to the list and had posted before … so the normal counter measures for that didn’t work (the first post for all subscribers are held until approved, to prevent people from subscribing, posting spam, and unsubscribing).
The puzzling thing about this was … the ‘from address’ on the message was not in the subscriber list.
Turns out that Mailman will accept message based on the FROM address of the message or the SENDER address (also known as the envelope-from). The sender addressed is set by the sending mail server and is not normally in the body of the message.
After a bit of digging around, I figured out a way to add this information to the message headers so I can more easily diagnose the problem in the future.
Sometimes I find that the message list in Thunderbird gets out of sync with the message bodies. When this happens, if I click on a message in the list, the message body that is brought up doesn’t match the subject.
I found a easy solution … just shut down Thunderbird, delete the corresponding .msf file from the accounts data directory, and start Thunderbird back up. Thunderbird will rebuild the .msf file and everything should be fine again.
To find accounts data directory, click on the “Server Settings” category of the effected account and look at the “Local directory” field.