Two Years Later

Hello world!

Two years has passed since my last post. Two whole years, filled with so much I hardly know where to begin.

For now, I will settle for saying hello and doing some much needed housework around this website. I have already selected a new theme. I hope you like it. It suits my needs, but I think, in time, I’ll inject some colour into it to liven it up a bit. I will make some tweaks over the next few days, fix links, and some pages that seemed to have gone astray with the long neglect imposed on them.

Later, I will write a post to let you know what I’ve been through and where I’m headed. But not today. Today is the start of my new future. I’m told it can be anything I want it to be. I’m still thinking about it so I’ll let you know soon.

So, again, hello world. I hope you’re well and happy. What’s been happening?

Domain Transferred

Earlier in the year I experienced ongoing problems with bandwidth being used by Google bots–every few days. As a result, the website was constantly offline. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was annoying. Why pay for a website that isn’t even available to readers?

When my hosting came up for renewal, at the end of November, I decided that I really needed a host that provided unlimited bandwidth so that the problem would be eliminated. I initiated the transfer. It took ten days to complete.

Yesterday, I attempted to import my data to the new site and ran into problems. The older data would not import without crashing the website. After much messing around, I allowed the website to remain down and went to the dashboard (thank heavens I still had access to it) and exported the posts and pages only, including any attachments (such as images). Then I deleted everything and started again–a clean install of WordPress and all the plugins. The posts and pages where then imported, and I was pleased to see that the website didn’t crash. However, there are some minor issues. Again, nothing that is considered the end of the world. Some images didn’t come through and I’ve updated the links to fix this problem on the important pages. Nothing in the Preloved Books section came across, so that has to be totally redone. And things like categories have lost their hierarchy, but that is easily fixed. It’s just a matter of making the time to fix these small issues.

Overall, I didn’t lose anything important so I am happy.

Review: WooThemes Extension & Support

Recently, I was looking for ways to sell books and ebooks on a website. When looking at ways to set this up I discovered a WordPress plugin called Woocommerce and decided to install it. However, whilst the plugin is free, it didn’t allow for purchases by weight. So, I went to WooThemes (the developer of Woocommerce) to see if they had anything to solve the problem and found an extension (Australia Post Shipping Method) which, when installed, uses Australia Post API to fetch up-to-date shipping prices. The extension was not free. It cost me $49.00, which I was happy to pay.

But…

It didn’t work!

It would fetch the correct prices if the order contained one paperback book, but would not adjust the shipping fee if multiple of the same book were purchased – 2 books or 200 books; the shipping fee remained the same as it would have been for one book. Also, if a paperback and an ebook were added to the cart, then an error message would be returned instead of a shipping fee for the paperback book.

Naturally, this was not correct. I returned to WooThemes and submitted a support ticket. I’m not a demanding person and I know these things take time, so I was prepared to wait for the help I needed. Besides, there was no urgency.

A week later I received an email confirming that there seemed to be a problem and the issue would be forwarded to one of their developers to have a look at. Two days later another email turned up saying it would be checked to determine if a fix was needed. I continued to wait patiently.

Another week passed and I returned to WooThemes as I hadn’t heard anything and was getting a bit concerned. When I logged into the account and checked on the progress of the support ticket, I discovered it had been closed, but I hadn’t actually received any help.

My patience ran out at this stage. No help had been offered. The extension doesn’t work. It is useless to me. I have paid for the extension and expect more from them than that.

I sent another email. This time I was more demanding. This time I said that if I wasn’t going to receive the help I required to get the extension working properly then I wanted a refund. No response has come back to me in over 8 days. They were happy to take my money, but not so happy to help me get the thing working. I am not happy with their extension or their support.

I do not recommend anyone purchase anything from WooThemes. It doesn’t ‘just work’. And the support is non-existent.

I have since found a free plugin called AWD Weight/Country Shipping, which is simple to use and works like a charm. I wish I’d found it BEFORE throwing $49.00 down the toilet.

Edited on 1 November 2012: Just wanted to say that I didn’t actually ask for a refund, I requested a credit towards another extension called Table Rate Shipping, which reportedly worked out the shipping fee using the total weight in the cart at the time. I have no idea if this extension would have worked or not, but the extension costs $99.00. As I was willing to fork out another $50 it shows I was serious and sincere, in my opinion. However, still no reply and at this stage I wouldn’t spend another cent with them because I simply don’t trust them now.

Edited again on 15 November 2012: Still no reply. I guess that tell me everything we all need to know. Support doesn’t exist over at WooThemes, so be wary of purchasing anything.

Edited on 15 December 2012: Never heard back from them.

Website Problems

In April this year, the website experienced a sudden jump in bandwidth usage. It went from the normal 2gb per month to over 5gb in a couple of hours, which caused the site to go offline. My host gave me some extra bandwidth and two days later I was offline again.

Upon the end of the month, in May, my website came back online. However, ten days later 7gb had been used and I was shoved offline yet again. My host gave me another gigabyte and before the end of the day I was offline until a few days ago.

I don’t expect to be online for long!

My investigations have shown that Googlebot is the culprit. These necessary evils have been coming to my site and, after 100,000 hits in a matter of hours, causing my website to go offline. It really is frustrating.

Research have instructed me to do multiple things to fix the problem, but nothing (yet) has worked. My resolve to fight is waning and now my thoughts are turning to moving my domain to a host that gives me unlimited bandwidth, because that will definitely solve the problem once and for all.

Yes, the host I’m with has such a plan, but it’s expensive. I can move elsewhere and get six years of unlimited bandwidth for the price of one with them. My gut is telling me to start packing!

With six months already paid for, I will wait and see what happens this month. If I do go offline, and I’m 99% sure I will, then I will start the moving process. Because, in all honesty, what’s the point of having a website if it’s not accessible to anyone, including me?

Best Australian Blogs 2011

With nine years of blogging under my belt I thought it was only fitting that I nominate my blog for the “Words” category of the competition. Not only do I use words to construct posts, but a majority of my posts are to do with “words” as in the written word, the craft of writing.

Over the years, many people have visited the site. Some only read my words and left, many wrote encouraging comments and returned several times before disappearing, others became friends. As a blogger I went through many cycles. There were times when I really needed to know people were reading my posts, but as time went on I wrote the posts simply because I wanted to, for my own satisfaction. The blog became my diary and, as a result, a place to document my journey as a writer.

Now, I continue to learn and share…all the while hoping I’m helping other people at the same time. And, when the voting lines open for the People’s Choice Award on Monday 18 April 2011, I hope you will consider taking a moment to vote for my blog (or should I say My Diary). Of course, I will put up a reminder closer to the date. 😀

Feedburner Installed

In an effort to make this website easier to follow for everyone, I’ve installed a Feedburner plugin.  I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I’m sure that will become clearer with time.

Also available is a “subscribe by email”, which is something I’ve wanted to add for a while.  Now it’s here.  🙂

Now I want to figure out how to install feeds onto the home page.

Edit:  Cool, Google Feedburner also has a rss feeds that I can add to the upcoming new home page.

Website: Most Popular Posts of All Time

I used to be obsessed with what people were coming to this website for. In fact, I felt as if I was wasting my time if no one read my posts. I guess a lot of people feel that way. Yet these days, my website is more of a collection of links and data gathered in one spot for my own use. I rarely check statistics and only did so today because I had nothing else to do (actually, I’ve got plenty to do but I’m feeling rather lazy).

Anyway, the statistics gave me quite a surprise. This website is mainly to do with writing – my own writing together with resources and tips as well. But here are the top five posts of all-time (or maybe I should say, since the popular posts plugin was installed, which was about 18 months to two years ago, so “all time” is a bit over the top really):

1. Time Line of the Black Death
2. Laid Lain Lay Lie
3. Scribes Message Board to Close Down
4. The Medieval Village
5. The Medieval Horse

If I were still obsessed, this would be proof that I’m compiling a website about the wrong topic. Medieval times seem to be the favoured topic here – the statistics range from 5,000 views to 8,000 views each.

Out of the next five posts in the list, four of them are also to do with the medieval period. However, item number 10 is to do with writing. Shock of shocks! That post is:

10. How to Plot Your Novel

It received a shameful 1,447 views. Never mind. At least I’m not reporting that no one ever visits the site, except me. Now that would be depressing. 🙂

Website is Up-to-Date

That’s it. All postings made at the other website have been transferred over to here. The only thing missing are the comments, but I don’t have the time to do those as well.

From now on, this will be my main place of residence. I apologise for constantly changing my mind and for any inconvenience I’ve caused, but as the saying goes “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. Luckily, I realised that before it was too late and the website ceased to exist completely.

The other site will remain in place. I will post writing related posts there too, but nothing else.