Site Information – Crisis Adverted

Site Information – Crisis Adverted

I wanted to get a quick post here for a couple of reasons. Saturday January 14 I had a major website failure that for a little over 24 hours had this site completely disabled.

The issue started when I decided to install a new security plugin called “Wordfence”. From research I came to the conclusion I needed this for exactly what it is supposed to be good at, security. Security in the form of malicious access, hacking attempts, and unauthorized installation of damaging or malicious code. Sounded like a good and needed thing.

This was installed last Friday and was active for about 24 hours. In that time I received notification that there were some “unknown” files present with the potential of being malicious.  It referenced these files and suggested they be removed with big red X’s placed next to them for easy removal. So with one click, poof they were gone. And you guessed it, so was the functionality of this entire site. I simply took it’s suggestion without much research into what it was referencing. Big mistake.

As some of you know this site runs on the WordPress platform. One of the mostly widely used content management platforms worldwide. A very good platform for not only blogs such as this but just about any type of website can be built using WordPress. I won’t get into the details of WordPress other than to say it’s functionality in part is made possible with the easy addition of plugins of which there are tens of thousands available and Wordfence is one. Thanks to another plugin I was smart enough to install a couple of years ago called Updraft Plus, a site back up plugin that routinely creates full back ups of this site. I fear with out UpdraftPlus I would be back to square one.

I took a quick look and see that I started this blog September 13, 2009 and now have 670 published posts. That is not counting the pages of behind the scenes content that is used to in addition to the post’s themselves such as 1485 images that go along with post’s, pages, products, page layouts, and the like.

Attempts were made to update WordPress through my hosting site which failed, I believe due to the fact it was a broken installation at that point. I spent many hours trying to figure out exactly what had taken place and attempting to simply correct what I though were a few missing files. These files ended up being WordPress core installation files that are installed during the initial installation at my hosting site. What completely blows my mind is, what in the sam hell was Wordfence doing suggesting these files were “unknown” and possibly malicious, and suggesting them for removal? For the love of pete if the Wordfence developer was standing in front of me I would….. well, since I try to keep this site rated PG I can not say what I would do, but you probably get the point. The decision was finally made to uninstall it completely. Which left this site, for a few hours completely nonexistent. Simply a url with nothing there.

I have my backups take place monthly which I still believe is sufficient. But as my luck was going, for some reason I did not have a December 2016 backup and the latest was November 2016. I am not going to sweat that to much other than verify UpdraftPlus a little closer and possibly change where my backups are stored. Presently they go to a Google Drive account, which is a complete pain to set up and could be the reason for the missing December backup.

So November was restored and here I am. I had added a couple of new posts since November along with the December print of the month. Really the only things that are missing at this point. Gone to the great cloud storage in the clouds, literally.

I could probably go on rambling incoherently about this for another couple hundred words but there is no need. I have been slowly getting things back in proper working order. Slowly checking all the functionality of the site. This is the first time I have had a major snafu such as this and actually needed to rely on complete backups. I will give a shout out to the folks at UpdraftPlus. As I mentioned they pretty much saved my butt on this one.

I believe things are back in shape, minus the December updates. Time to carry on, and make sure the backups keep happening!

Winter in the Kansas Flint Hills ©Brad Mangas

Pastels Of Winter ©Brad Mangas




Words of Unwisdom

Words of Unwisdom

I read many blogs, posts, tweets, follow many different photographers works and thoughts from friends with the same interests to long time well established professionals that have become quite successful through photography.

I recently read a blog post entitled “How to Improve Your Photography Literally Overnight – Really.” Wow who wouldn’t want to do that! Quite a catchy title and I’m sure intentionally thought out to be so. One of the not so secret secrets of writing, give it a catchy title and they will come. Well, over the years I can’t count how many catchy titles I have clicked on and articles I have read that have been nothing short of a complete let down. I take somewhat personal offense to this approach, not that I have anything against catchy titles I’m drawn to them as much as anyone else. But when the title doesn’t match the substance I feel as if I have been duped.

This article is from a long standing highly successful photographer/business person who utilizes social media very well and has over 121,000 followers on twitter alone. This is the person making claim to instant improvement and then writing an article that when all summed up says; you ready for this, they claim it is life altering in it’s power to improve, I think I can feel the improvements taking place simply by writing it. Well here it is; “Ignore jerks and stay positive.” What? Hang on a second, what did I miss? Let me get this straight, in order to “improve my photography” literally overnight I need to stay positive and ignore negativity? Hey no sweat but, I’m kinda doing that now so, what part is supposed to help improve my photography? The positive part right? OK, got it, I think.

Hey thanks for the life altering tip oh master of “How To Improve Your Photography Literally Overnight – Really.” I will keep doing that but I might try to slip out and take some pictures once in awhile just in case practice might help a little as well.

© Brad Mangas


Technical Difficulties

The title of this post reminds me of when I was a kid and we had a whapping 2 tv channels to chose from. When one would go out for some unknown reason on the stations end the dreaded “Technical Difficulties” screen would come up, do I dare say, the good old days?

The prospect of technical difficulties is much more apparent these days, everything we do, have, consume has some sort of technology attached to it. We aren’t immediately notified of difficulties in such the case as 1960’s television but we deal with it just the same. If your like me you love the technology, the gizmos, gadgets ease of changing the channels, reading the news, sharing your life with folks from around the world if you so desire. In most cases the difficulties it brings are ones of inconvenience when something doesn’t work. What I would like to touch on is the difficulties technology brings to the photographer or more accurately the growing, learning photographer.

There are boat loads of books, articles, videos on “how to take good pictures” or “how to become a better photographer”. I admit they capture my attention and many times drag me in for a few moments just to see what path someone is going to take in order to help others become a better photographer. More times than not the techniques are the path in which others go down, sharing the technical aspects of knowing your camera typically aperture, shutter, composition etc. or more accurately “knowing your camera” as opposed to “how to become a better photographer”.

So what does one need to know in order to become a better photographer? To me the answer is simple. Stop worrying about your camera and start understanding what compels you to take a photograph in the first place. How does one develop the knack of taking good pictures, simply being observant doesn’t seem to be enough. Furthermore your camera has nothing to do with it, technique is simply a burden to get out of the way so you can free yourself to make images that are compelling. Many people mistakenly think mastering simple techniques such as shutter, aperture, depth of field and the like is to know about photography. It has as little to do with photography as someone who knows how to type being able to write a great novel. Ansel Adams is quoted in his biography as saying,   “I am not a scientist, I consider myself an artist who employs certain techniques to free my vision”.

Free yourself from the technical aspect of taking a picture and allow yourself to have a curious vision of the world around you, your camera won’t be able to help you with that and truth be known some people simply are not able to do that. At least to the level necessary to create good photography. I’m not a psychologist so don’t ask me why this is I simply am aware of those who try but seem to fall short. In passing I will mention photography is subjective and just because one person finds an image to be lacking by no means should it be considered bad. But do you want to take photographs that some may find lacking, or make images that brings out humble emotions to those who view them.

Don’t put your camera down take pictures, lots and lots of pictures, and keep the book handy in case you need it, but don’t rely on your camera to make good images, only to capture them once they have been discovered.

© Brad Mangas

Information on purchasing this image.

More online presence

Thought I would drop a short post in and ask the question, how much is enough? The new flavor of the day in photography at the moment seems to be the photo sharing sight 500px and in social networking Google+ is talked about constantly.

I have not become a user/member/participant in either one of these new sites yet, don’t know for sure if I will anytime soon. Not that I think they are bad I have rather liked what I’ve seen of both so far. My question is, how much more time do I want to spend setting here in front of the computer keeping more things up to date. I’m a firm believer that if your going to participate in something or have an online presence for others to visit and view you need to have new material on a regular basis. Sure these may not take time like say, maintaining a blog but it’s still time that needs to be devoted so people will want to pay attention. So I ponder the question, do I want to add a new online presence to what is already a blog, facebook, twitter, flickr (which I neglect terribly), gallery site. This along with emails, software updates, image processing, image management, reading blogs, keeping up to date on trends and opportunities, etc…

Seems like there are days when I can spend hours on the computer and walk away feeling like I have accomplished nothing. Would this add to that? Priorities must be followed but at times that is easier said than done. So here I am setting on the fence again, wondering.

© Brad Mangas


Social Media & the Photographer

I’m not a big fan of watermarking images, I admit I may be a little to trusting in this area. It’s just a personal thing with me but do fully understand the need to do so. When writing this post a previous one came to mind dealing with watermarks, it can be read here.

Starting about a year ago I decided to pick up the pace of using social media. I have primarily stuck with the big 2 that being facebook and twitter with facebook getting many more post than twitter. For some reason it just seems more useful to post an image on facebook than a link to one on twitter, might be because of the feedback that is made know on facebook through the “Like” button and being able to add a comment directly to a post. I do believe twitter has many benefits over big brother facebook due to it’s simplistic approach to post and being able to quickly read comments. I always wonder about the content of quick post on twitter and the relevance to the message I want to get across. Again I may be way over thinking this and probably should just post regularly.

There has been much written about the pros and cons of social media, the distancing of humans from each other, fewer and fewer personal interactions in exchange for using ones computer or smart phone to interact. Personally I agree this is not beneficial to human personal development but we aren’t going back so learning to use it in a positive way is the path we should choose.

I’m not necessarily writing about the pros and cons, rather the reason I use it and the results expected. I have been posting an image on facebook 4-5 days a week for a while and believe it has helped in getting others to view what I do and possibly interact through a comment, Like or a visit to this blog or website. All sounds rather beneficial doesn’t it. I came across an article today that was written back in 2008 about the terms and conditions of facebook and their rights with content you post there. That got me thinking. Have I ever actual read the terms and conditions on facebook? Uh, no, who reads that stuff anyway. So I found the terms and conditions page and starting reading it, it was somewhat shorter than I expected with paragraphs number out explaining each condition. Well I didn’t have to read far to find something that can effect any photographer and not in a positive way. Under item 2 which reads; “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:” Oh the dreaded “In addition” part, item 2.2 states the following. “When you publish content or information using the “everyone” setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture)”. Well that’s just great, now people not even on facebook have the right to use our work. What part of that makes sense?

Using social media, our new age way of communicating, many benefits with many pitfalls along the way. As I mentioned earlier learning to use it in a positive way sure does get harder when everyone has the right to use your content apparently however they want. I’m not a paranoid type of person really I’m not and don’t plan on doing anything much differently than the way I have been. I just thought it an interesting and note worthy bit of information that’s good to keep in mind whenever participating in today’s new way of doing things.

Kansas nature photography

© Brad Mangas