The VPME Track Of The Day – MØ – ‘New Year’s Eve’

Not really fans of New Year Eve here to be honest. It always seems to be a time when people spend too much time wallowing in what could have been rather than looking forward to what might be. Factor in vast quantities of weapons grade strength alcohol, the realisation that the festive season is almost over… and it can often end in disaster..which is why we tend to stay in these days … And any song that references New Year’s Eve really should be a bittersweet affair, gentle, contemplative and perhaps slightly sentimental.

Danish electro pop sensation  (Karen Marie Ørsted to her family) perfectly captures the mood and that certain kind of beautiful faded nostalgic emptiness that comes when one thing ends and another begins, with a sad reflective, lament in the form of ‘New Years Eve.’ It’s a new song which she states via her facebook page is  a thanks to all of you who’ve been supporting me in 2014″.

The original intent seems to have been to give the song away as a free download, however at the time of writing the link appears to be functioning in a similair fashion to Iain Duncan Smith’s empathy ie/ not at all – https://soundcloud.com/momomoyouth/mo-new-years-eve 

 Facebook | Tumblr | YouTube | SoundCloud | Twitter

from The VPME http://www.thevpme.com/2014/12/31/track-of-the-day-mo-new-years-eve/

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The Oldspeak Journal Extinction Rate Rivals That of Dinosaurs

2014.12.8.Jamail.main

Polar bears, already an endangered species, are seeing their numbers continue to drop as Arctic sea ice continues its dramatic decline due to climate disruption.

Oldspeak: For several thousand years, we have been obsessed with a false humility – on the one hand, putting ourselves down as mere ‘creatures’ who came into this world by the whim of God of the fluke of blind forces, and on the other, conceiving ourselves separate personal egos fighting to control the physical world. We have lacked the real humility of recognizing that we are members of the biosphere, the “harmony of contained conflicts” in which we cannot exist at all without the cooperation of plants, insects, fish, cattle and bacteria. In the same measure, we have lacked the proper self-respect of recognizing that I, the individual organism, am a structure of such fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being. In the act of putting everything at a distance so as to describe and control it, we have orphaned ourselves from the surrounding world and from our own bodies – leaving “I” as a discontented and alienated spook, anxious, guilty, unrelated and alone.” –Alan Watts, “The Book”

“Obsession with illusions has brought us to this point. Earth’s 6th mass extinction. Control, domination insignificance, separation, insecurity, competition, conflict, civilization, progress, success, personalization- all illusory constructs that imprison and confound us. Our obsessions with the unreal, have led us to led us to unknow basic and fundamental truths. All is Self. All is One.  When you tug on a single thing in the Universe, you find it’s attached to everything else. Every tiny atom of this vast universe is a creative manifestation of cosmic consciousness. The world of duality emanates from oneness and to oneness returns. What is joined separates and comes together again. Our Great Mother is constantly speaking to us, and we are ignoring her voice. Our willful ignorance of these truths have driven the extractive and acquisitive madness that animates this ‘civilization’. Abrupt climate change is underway and shows no signs of slowing.  Dahr Jamail’s latest dispatch details the ever intensifying consequences of our suicidal actions. Unsurprisingly, the news continues to go from bad to worse.” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

“The supreme reality of our time is … the vulnerability of our planet.”
– John F. Kennedy

Recent studies show that current animal extinction rates from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) now rival the extinction that annihilated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

“If that rate continues unchanged, the earth’s sixth mass extinction is a certainty,” said Anthony Barnosky, a biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Certainly there are no signs of our planetary ACD trajectory changing, aside from continuing to ramp up further into abrupt runaway change.

In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently updated its authoritative Red List to include more than 22,000 species on the list of the world’s most threatened animals. Species like the Pacific bluefin tuna and the American eel are now on the Red List.

NASA data showed that this October was the globe’s warmest on record, and for the third month in a row, global temperatures broke records, which kept 2014 on track to become the hottest year ever recorded. Bear in mind that the 10 warmest years ever recorded have all occurred since 1998. Recent data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the first 10 months of 2014 were the hottest since record keeping began.

November’s record-breaking snowfall in New York is just a precursor of things to come as runaway ACD continues to intensify, and as studies reveal that these types of extreme weather events are now part of a long-term pattern that is the new normal.

The World Bank, not exactly a bastion of environmentalism, released a new report that claims that without dramatic action, the planet will experience at least 4 degrees Celsius warming by the time current teenagers turn 80.

Even though the planet is currently only .85 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial baseline temperatures, the effects of ACD continue to be dramatic.

New data from the American Geophysical Union show that a West Antarctic ice sheet that is approximately the size of Texas is melting three times faster than previously believed. This means that the area’s melt rate has tripled in just the last decade and is losing the amount of ice equivalent to Mount Everest every other year.

Ocean researchers recently announced that people living in the United States could expect spring to arrive earlier and fall to arrive later, the new normal since ocean temperatures in the northeastern Atlantic are increasing.

The International Energy Agency’s 2014 World Energy Outlook was released recently, and said that at the current rate of emissions, the world has to cease all carbon emissions by 2040 in order to stay under the arbitrary 2-degree Celsius political target of temperature rise. It is worth noting that James Hansen has come out and said that even a 1-degree Celsius temperature increase above the pre-industrial baseline would have disastrous consequences.

Is it already too late to turn things around?

A recent Google analysis seems to think so: “So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others.”

To get an idea of how rapidly we’ve warmed the planet, have a look at this short NASA tracking map.

This month’s survey of the planet and ACD-related studies, once again, shows clearly how things are only continuing to speed up and intensify.

Earth

A recent Austrian report on ACD showed that the country’s temperatures have already risen twice as fast as the global average since 1880, causing less snow, shorter ski seasons, and more landslides and forest fires. It also is causing villages to move, ski lifts to be dismantled, and people to have to find ways to adapt to their new environments.

In Africa, Senegal has been struggling to hold off the Sahara desert, but that battle is clearly not a sustainable one given the water crisis in the area.

Canberra, Australia, is experiencing a dramatic change due to ACD, as a series of dramatic environmental consequences like massive numbers of wasps, growing lake algae, and dramatically increasing wildfires are projected to become the new norm for the area.

The recent Ebola scare in the United States is something that could become more common, thanks to ACD. Other tropical diseases, spread by insects and not humans, now pose a growing threat to the United States.

Scientists along the West Coast of the United States gravely monitored a large-scale die-off of small seabirds, whose breeding grounds included a colony in the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. Dramatic increases in ocean temperatures and feeding conditions, both due to ACD, are among the reasons being investigated as the cause.

A recent study published in Ecological Applications showed a stunning decline in the number of polar bears, and illustrated how ACD impacts are rapidly pushing the bears toward extinction. The study said that polar bear populations in eastern Alaska and western Canada have declined by 40 percent recently.

Of this, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Sarah Uhlemann said, “Global warming has put Alaska’s polar bears in a deadly downward spiral. It’s happening now, it’s killing polar bears now, and if we don’t act now, we will lose polar bears in Alaska.” The population of polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea area has now dropped to only 900 bears, which is a severe decline from the 2006 estimate, which logged more than 1,500.

In addition, only two out of 80 polar bear cubs tracked by the study team between 2004 and 2007 had survived, when normally about half of the cubs survive.

Lastly in this section, ACD is in the process of stripping away the identity of Glacier National Park in Montana. One hundred years ago, there were 150 ice sheets in the park, and today that number is down to 25. Within 30 years, there will likely be none.

Water

Water continues to amplify the impacts of runaway ACD across the globe.

In California, where record-setting drought continues despite some recent rains, three years on, farmers and ranchers have to sell off large portions of their herds, work longer hours and take other jobs. This is particularly worrisome, given that half of all the fresh food eaten in the United States is produced in California.

In the mountains above the Central Valley in California, ski areas up and down the Sierra Nevada have less snow than ever, and are having to ramp up human-made snow to remain open. Their futures appear bleak indeed.

It’s well known now, and has been for quite some time, that California is literally running out of water, and the massive infrastructure changes needed to cope with this fact haven’t even begun to be constructed.

The ongoing record drought in the southwestern United States has revealed shocking changes along the Colorado River, which has further raised alarms about the growing lack of water across the region, which climate models predict will become increasingly water-starved as we move into the future.

The drought in Brazil is bad enough that Sao Paulo, the megacity of 20 million that is being wracked by relentless water shortages, has only two months of guaranteed water supply remaining, according to local officials. The city might have to “get water from mud” if the drought persists.

Meanwhile up in the Andes, the high-altitude glaciers in Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru are melting at breakneck speed, causing scientists to worry that many of them will disappear long before anything can be done to save them. This phenomenon also threatens the freshwater supplies of many cities in these countries.

Across the Atlantic and on the other end of the water spectrum that is becoming increasingly amplified by ACD, Britain, reeling from the first onslaught of floods and winter storms, was warned it could face one of the wettest winters in three decades.

In November, a mega-snowstorm dumped a years’ worth of snow in a four-day period in New York, broke records and left at least 13 people dead.

Also in that region of the United States, ice began forming on the Great Lakes faster this year than ever before, as Lake Superior saw areas freezing on November 15, according to Great Lakes Environmental Research data.

Rising sea levels continue to take their toll.

In the United States, a recent estimate revealed that approximately $1.4 trillion worth of coastal property could be threatened by 2100.

The coastal village of Shishmaref, Alaska, faces an existential threat, as the 600 residents on the sinking barrier island are watching their land erode into the Chukchi Sea while the federal government has yet to produce a new location for them to relocate.

Off the western coast of Canada, a recent report showed that record-breaking temperatures in the North Pacific Ocean are threatening marine species there.

Further south along the coast, California’s drought now threatens to extinguish the last of the Muir Woods coho salmon that typically make their way from the ocean to spawn in a freshwater creek through the redwoods near San Francisco, according to state officials.

On the East Coast of the United States, a Maine state commission is urging action toward increasing research and monitoring the risk of increasingly acidic ocean waters harming the state’s commercial fisheries and lobsters, in addition to urging action toward reducing local pollution that is impacting the chemistry of the water.

As sea levels continue to rise globally, major river deltas where more than 500 million people live “could be drowned,” according to a new study.

Lastly in this section, the Republic of Kiribati, the most remote inhabited location on the planet, has become the first country on the planet to surrender to ACD. It will no longer exist by 2050, at the very latest.

Air

As temperatures continue to increase around the planet, warmer air is making it more difficult for airplanes to take off, according to a recent study. Higher temperatures cause the air to become less dense, which then reduces the lift force on airplane wings. This means tighter restrictions on luggage, as well as how many people are allowed on board planes.

In Brisbane, Australia, leaders at the recent G20 summit were met with a wake-up call from nature to pay attention to ACD, as temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and a heat wave rolled through eastern Australia.

Australia has always struggled with hot weather, but the intensity and length of its heat waves are on the rise, enough so that the entire country is being forced to rethink how it lives, works and recreates.

Over Thanksgiving, California saw many new record high temperatures in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside, Escondido, Oakland, Santa Maria, Sandberg, Oceanside, Alpine and other cities and areas.

A new project is tracking the fate of ancient carbon in the Siberian Arctic, where the amount of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is estimated to be more than double the amount that is currently in our atmosphere, and four times as much as is in all the forests on the planet. As Arctic temperatures continue to increase, the permafrost is thawing and its carbon, largely in the form of methane, is being released at ever increasing rates.

The Arctic methane situation is dire, and Truthout will soon be releasing an investigative report on the matter.

Fire

A recent study published in Nature, titled “Learning to coexist with wildfire,” urges us to find “a more sustainable coexistence with wildfire,” because “Without a more integrated framework, fire will never operate as a natural ecosystem process, and the impact on society will continue to grow.”

The report recommends “a more coordinated approach” geared toward risk management and “land-use planning” in an effort aimed at mitigating fire damage and minimizing property loss.

Denial and Reality

A recent report on theology and ACD revealed that half of the people living in the United States believed that ACD is a “sign of the apocalypse.” For these true believers then, the apocalypse is preferable to taking responsibility for the anthropogenic origins of climate disruption.

Another recent study, this one published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that the extreme weather events and record-breaking temperatures that have both become the new normal do little to nothing to convince people that ACD is real. The study also revealed that people’s political ideology has much more impact on their beliefs about ACD than do things like reality and facts.

Yet, despite the ongoing denial about ACD, even lifelong Republican George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state and Bechtel mogul, is embracing adaptation measures like using more solar and taking other measures to mitigate ACD.

Similarly, ex-BP chief Lord Browne, who is also one of the energy world’s most influential voices, recently said that ACD poses an “existential threat” to the existence of energy and mining companies, thereby acknowledging ADC’s reality.

A recently released map of the globe illustrates the results of surveys and polls from around the world since 2009, and shows what people think about ACD. For example, 84 percent of Argentinians believe ACD is real, and 83 percent of US citizens believe their country should be making efforts at mitigating ACD, “even if it comes with economic costs.”

The largest reinsurance firm in the world, Munich Re America, conducted a poll in the United States and found that 83 percent of Americans at least believe the climate is changing.

Another reality check comes from a new set of scientific studies that show how geoengineering, the plan of people like Bill Gates and other billionaires to use technological fixes to correct what technology caused in the first place, “could harm billions” of people around the world.

Even a geoengineering scientist recently admitted that he is “terrified” of his own technology.

Nevertheless, plans to take the planet further off the cliff continue apace, as actions to cool the earth using geoengineering are scheduled to begin in just two years, as reported in the New Scientist.

The World Bank recently admitted that some ACD impacts are now “unavoidable,” even if governments acted quickly to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In the aforementioned report, the group also said that earth is on track to reach an unavoidable 1.5-degree Celsius temperature increase by 2050, but could also reach a 4-degree Celsius increase by 2100.

This is a significant statement from a conservative entity like the World Bank, given that humans have never lived on a planet warmer than 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial baseline temperatures.

Meanwhile, the signs of runaway ACD abound.

Forecasters in Britain announced that this year could be the UK’s warmest for nearly 250 years, as measured by the world’s oldest record of temperature.

A study published in the October 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters revealed that all of the previous estimates of sea-level rise are wrong, and instead of a maximum sea level rise of one meter by 2100, the maximum is nearly two meters rise by then. Incredibly, this study has been ignored by virtually all of the media, not just the corporate press.

The results of a very important study published in Environmental Research Letters show that carbon dioxide brings its peak heat impact within a decade of being emitted, with its effects then lingering for 100 years, or more, into the future.

“The way we talk about climate change is often, ‘oh, we’re really making emissions cuts for the sake of our children or grandchildren’ because the effects won’t be felt for decades,” said Katharine Ricke, a research fellow from Stanford who led the study. “But the implications are that there’s certainly benefits that can be reaped by people making decisions today.”

NASA recently produced an unsettling video that shows what the planetary atmosphere looks like on carbon dioxide, and also announced recently, that the Arctic sea ice extent is still well below normal, and continuing along its years-long downward trend (which is historically steep).

This is troubling for obvious reasons, but also because a study published in Nature in August 2014 showed how even small fluctuations in the sizes of ice sheets during the most recent ice age were enough to “trigger abrupt climate change.”

Abrupt climate change has been a key factor in all of the planet’s previous mass extinction events.

via The Oldspeak Journal http://theoldspeakjournal.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/extinction-rate-rivals-that-of-dinosaurs/

The VPME The VPME – Song, Video and Gig Of 2014

We’ve finally roused ourselves from our post Christmas torpor, to briefly reflect back one last time on 2014.  We’ve already listed our albums of the year HERE and HERE, as well as our musical hopes for 2015 HERE, but now it’s time for our song and our  gig of the year.

SONG OF 2014

wolfaliceneww970

WOLF ALICE – 1. ‘Storms’

This year in order to keep track of our favourite songs we actually kept a spreadsheet, sad we know, but perhaps essential now given the sheer volume of music out there.  We tipped Wolf Alice back in 2012 and they have gone from strength to strength this year. They’ve yet to release a tune that even verges on average and to us ‘Storms’  sums up all that is great about this young band. There’s raging guitars, Ellie Rowsell’s soaring melodic vocals and a rumbling bass line that makes Killing Joke’s explosive percussive exertions sound somewhat insubstantial.  Since tipping the band in 2012 we’ve seen them live on numerous occasions, seen them grown in confidence as musicians and become assured performers on stage. We’ve also seen their fanbase grow hugely and it was perhaps this years Liverpool Sound City festival performance when you really sensed that they’d become ‘next level’ and that your were in the presence of  very special, pivotal performance. They then went on to play a fabulous set at Glastonbury and also featured on the BBC’s “Sound Of list”.  2015  promises to be massive for the band with headline shows and their debut album being readied for release… it really should prove to be…. the year of the wolf.

They also provided our fave video of the Year

GIG OF THE YEAR

Well, it was an odd year gig wise, we probably attended less gigs during 2014 than in previous years due to a myriad of dull reasons, but we did catch some marvellous performances. Coves, Howling Bells and The Fauns came to Liverpool and were hugely impressive, Liverpool Sound City again provided some hugely memorable moments. EMA in Manchester was superb and dealt with a heckler with the sort of uber cool no nonsense style you’d perhaps expect from her… However, the gig of the year had to b e…

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN – Manchester Academy

Psychocandy

You can read our reviews HERE and HERE.  The second gig of the JAMC’s Psychocandy tour probably just pipped the opening night at London’s Troxy as the sound was near perfect  – and of course it was huge, all encompassing and mind blowing.  Moreover, we cannot recall when the band have sounded this good, perhaps even better than in their heyday.  Everything we could have asked for and more and we will yield to no-one in our belief that the JAMC are still the greatest band to emerge from the UK in the last thirty years  And there’s more Mary Chain gigs to come in 2015.

 Have a great new year, stay off the absinthe and see y’all next year, when we hope this album finally gets made

chuckle

from The VPME http://www.thevpme.com/2014/12/29/the-vpme-song-video-and-gig-of-2014/

Owen Jones: The year the grassroots took on the powerful – and won | Owen Jones

Ignored communities have forced the elites to listen by getting organised. They offer hope for democracy

Injustice is sustained by many things. One is a sense of inevitability: that it’s just one of those ugly, painful things life throws at you. Another is resignation: the mantra of “there is no alternative”, a general lack of hope that things could be different. And then there’s intimidation: that the powerful are too strong to be overcome, that resistance is more likely to end in even more suffering rather than positive change.

That life is often busy and stressful enough without attending protests and meetings, with children to raise and bills to pay, similarly complicates attempts to challenge the status quo. But if the past 12 months taught us anything, it’s that the otherwise faceless or ignored can organise against power, and win.

Continue reading…

John Naughton: Meet tech’s new concierge economy, where serfs deliver stuff to rich folk | John Naughton

The rise of Uber and possible Amazon deliveries by drone typify our regrettable need for instant gratification

In a way, the name of the company – Uber – gives the game away. It has connotations of elevation, superiority, authority – as in Nietzsche’s coinage, Übermensch, to describe the higher state to which men might aspire. Although it’s only been around since 2009, Uber, the smartphone-enabled minicab company, is probably the only startup of recent times to have achieved the same level of name recognition as the established internet giants.

This is partly because Uber is arguably the most aggressive tech startup in recent history and partly because it has attracted a lot of bad press. But mainly it’s because a colossal pile of American venture capital is riding on it. Its most recent investment round valued the company at about $40bn, which is why every MBA graduate in California is currently clutching a PowerPoint presentation arguing that his/her daft idea is “Uber for X” – where X is any industry you care to mention.

Continue reading…

John Naughton: 2014: the year the internet finally came of age

Twenty-one years after it went mainstream, we are finally getting a picture of just what the internet means to us

The best we can say about 2014 is that it was the year when we finally began to have a glimmer of what the internet might mean for society. Not the internet that we fantasised about in the early years, but the network as it has evolved from an exotic curiosity into the mundane underpinning of our lives – a general-purpose technology or GPT.

And, in a way, the timescale is about right. The internet that we use today was switched on in January 1983, but it didn’t really become a mainstream medium until the web began to explode in 1993. So we’re about 21 years into the revolution. And what we know from the history of other GPTs is that it generally takes at least two decades before they form the unremarked-upon backdrops to everyday life.

Continue reading…

Digital Inspiration Technology Blog Things You Should Do After Installing WordPress

It takes two easy steps to install WordPress but you should tweak some of the default settings to further optimize the performance and also improve the security of your WordPress website.

Wordpress Optimization Guide

Optimize your WordPress Installation

These suggestions are only applicable to self-hosted WordPress.org sites and not WordPress.com blogs. Also, I assume that you are running WordPress on Apache under Linux. Let’s get started:

1. Move out the media upload folder

WordPress store all your uploaded images and files in the wp-content/uploads folder. You should however move this folder outside the main WordPress folder, preferably on a sub-domain. Thus your WordPress backups will be more manageable (the uploaded files and themes can be backed up separately) and, most important, serving images from a different domain will allow parallel downloads in the browser improving the page loading time.

Open your wp-config.php file and add the following lines to change the location of the wp-content folder. You may also deselect the option – “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders.”

define( 'WP_CONTENT_URL', 'http://ift.tt/1AW3u7u' );
define( 'WP_CONTENT_DIR', $_SERVER['HOME'] . '/http://ift.tt/1AW3u7u' );

2. Remove unnecessary meta tags from WordPress header

If you look at the HTML source code of your WordPress site, you will find a couple of meta tags in the header that aren’t really required. For instance, the version of WordPress software running on your server can be easily retrieved by looking at your source header.

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 4.1" />

This information is a good hint to WordPress hackers who are looking to target blogs that are using the older and less secure versions of WordPress software. To completely remove the version number and other non-essential meta-data from your WordPress header, add this snippet to the functions.php file found in your WordPress themes folder.

  remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_generator' ) ;
  remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wlwmanifest_link' ) ;
  remove_action( 'wp_head', 'rsd_link' ) ;

3. Prevent people from browsing your folders

Since you would not like anyone to browse your WordPress files and folders using the explorer view in web browsers, add the following line to your .htaccess file that exists in your WordPress installation directory.

Options All -Indexes

Also make sure that there’s a blank index.php in the wp-content/themes and wp-content/plugins folder of your WordPress directory.

4. Disable HTML in WordPress comments

The comment box in WordPress allows commenters to use HTML tags and they can even add hyperlinks in their comment. The comments have rel=nofollow but if you would like to completely disallow HTML in WordPress comments, add this snippet to your functions.php file.

add_filter( 'pre_comment_content', 'wp_specialchars' );

5. Turn off Post Revisions in WordPress

WordPress includes a helpful document revisions feature to help you track changes to post edits and you can also revert to any previous version of your blog posts. Post revisions do however increase the size of your WordPress wp_posts table as each revision means an additional row.

To disable post revisions in WordPress, open the wp-config.php file in your WordPress directory and add the following line:

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', false);

Alternatively, if you would like to retain the Post Revisions functionality, you may just limit the number of posts revisions that WordPress stores in the MySQL database. Add this line to the wp-config file to only store the recent 3 edits.

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3);

6. Change the Post Auto-Save Interval

When you are editing a blog post inside the WordPress editor, it will auto-save your drafts as-you-type and this will help in recovering your work in case the browser crashes. The drafts are saved every minute but you can change the default duration to say 120 seconds (or 2 minutes) by adding a line to your wp-config.php file.

define( 'AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 120 );

7. Hide the non-essential WordPress RSS Feeds

Your WordPress installation generates multiple RSS Feeds – the blog feed, article feeds, comments feed, category feeds, archive feeds, etc. – and these are auto-discoverable as they are included in the HTML header of your blog pages using the <link> meta tag. If you just want to publicize your main RSS feed and remove the other feeds from the , add a line to your functions.php file:

remove_action( 'wp_head', 'feed_links', 2 );
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'feed_links_extra', 3 );

8. Maintain a Single RSS Feed, Redirect Others

In the previous step, we simply removed the RSS feeds from printing inside the site header but the RSS feeds still exist. If you would like to have only one RSS feed served through FeedBurner and disable all the other feeds, add this to your .htaccess file. Do remember to replace the feed URL with your own.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
 RewriteEngine on
 RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !^.*(FeedBurner|FeedValidator) [NC]
 RewriteRule ^feed/?.*$ http://ift.tt/kgpVyL [L,NC,R=301]
</IfModule>

9. Disable WordPress Login Hints

When you type a non-existent username or an incorrect password while logging into WordPress, it will provide a very detailed error message telling you exactly whether your username is wrong or the password doesn’t match. That could offer an hint to people who are trying to break into your WordPress blog but, fortunately, we can disable the login warnings.

function no_wordpress_errors(){
  return 'GET OFF MY LAWN !! RIGHT NOW !!';
}
add_filter( 'login_errors', 'no_wordpress_errors' );

10. Enable 2-factor Authentication

This is highly recommended. If someone gets hold of your WordPress credentials, they will still need your mobile phone to get into your WordPress dashboard.

Unlike Dropbox or Google, 2-step authentication isn’t part of WordPress but you can always use the Authy plugin to enable 2-factor authentication.

11. Change the Permalink Structure

Do not use the default Permalink structure of WordPress since it is bad for SEO. Go to Options -> Permalinks inside your WordPress dashboard and change your WordPress Permalink structure to something like:

Option 1. /%post_id%/%postname%
Option 2. /%category%/%postname%/%post_id%/

12. Add Favicon and Touch Icons

Your WordPress theme may not even include references to the favicon (favicon.ico) or the Apple touch icons but web browsers and feed readers may still request them from your server. It’s always better to serve a file than returning a 404.

First, create a 16×16 favicon.ico and a 144×144 apple-touch.png file and upload them to the home directory of your blog. Then add this line to your .htaccess to redirect all apple touch icon requests to that particular file.

RedirectMatch 301 /apple-touch-icon(.*)?.png http://ift.tt/TuSxcZ

13. Disallow Indexing of WordPress scripts

You want Google and other search engines to crawl and index your blog pages but not the various PHP files of your WordPress installation. Open the robots.txt file in your WordPress home directory and add these lines to block the bots from indexing the backend stuff of WordPress.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-content/themes/
Disallow: /feed/
Disallow: */feed/

14. Make the Admin a Subscriber

If your WordPress username is “admin,” create a new user and grant them administrator privileges. Now logout out of WordPress, log in as the new user and change the privilege of the user “admin” from Administrator to Subscriber.

You may even consider deleting the user “admin” and transfer any existing posts /pages to the new user. This is important for security reasons because you don’t want anyone to guess the username that has administrator privileges to your WordPress installation.

15. Hide XML Sitemaps from Search Engines

XML Sitemaps will help search engines better crawl your site but you don’t want search engines to actually show your sitemap in search results pages. Add this to your .htaccess to prevent indexing of XML sitemaps.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
 <Files sitemap.xml>
  Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex"
 </Files>
</IfModule>

16. Do Not Use WordPress search

Make sure your site search is powered by Google Custom Search and do not use the built-in search feature of WordPress. WordPress search returns less relevant results and the other advantage is that it will reduce strain on your WordPress server /database since the search queries will be handled through Google.

Alternatively, if you plan to continue with WordPress built-in search, use the Nice Search plugin. It creates better permalinks for your WordPress search pages (/search/tutorials vs /?s=tutorials).

17. Password Protect the wp-admin Directory

You can easily add another layer of security to your WordPress installation by password protecting the wp-admin directory. You’ll however have to remember two sets of credentials for logging into WordPress – your WordPress password and the password that is protecting the wp-admin directory.

18. Log 404 Errors in Google Analytics

404 errors are a missed opportunity. You can use events in Google Analytics to log your 404 errors including details about the referring site that is pointing to that 404 page of your site. Add this snippet in your 404.php file.

<? if (is_404()) { ?>
 _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', '404',
              document.location.pathname + document.location.search,
              document.referrer, 0, true]);
<? } ?>

19. Delete Unused Themes & WordPress plugins

The unused plugins and themes won’t affect the performance of your WordPress website but the aim should be to have as little executable code as possible on our server. Thus deactivate and delete the stuff that you no longer need.

20. Stop WordPress from Guessing URLs

WordPress has a strange habit of guessing URLs and it does make mistakes in most cases. Let me explain. If a user request labnol.org/hello URL but if that page doesn’t exist, WordPress may redirect that user to http://ift.tt/1t6HDeB just because the URLs have some common words.

If you would like WordPress to stop guessing URLs and instead issue a 404 Not Found error for missing pages, put this snippet in the functions.php file:

add_filter('redirect_canonical', 'stop_guessing');
function stop_guessing($url) {
 if (is_404()) {
   return false;
 }
 return $url;
}

21. Set Expiry Headers for Static Content

The static files hosted on your WordPress website – like images, CSS and JavaScript- won’t change often and thus you may set Expire Headers for them so that the files get cached on the user’s browser. Thus, on subsequent visits, your site will load relatively faster as the JS and CSS files would be fetched from the local cache.

Refer to the HTML5 Boilerplate for details on setting up expiry and compression headers for performance. If you are using a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache, the cache control is managed by the plugin itself.

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 1 week"

23. Improve WordPress Security

I have discussed WordPress security in detail earlier. The gist is that you should add secret keys to your wp_config.php file, install a file monitoring plugin (like Sucuri or WordFence), change the WordPress table prefix and also limit login attempts to prevent brute force attacks.

24. Disable File Editing inside WordPress

When you are logged into your WordPress dashboard as an admin, you can easily edit any of the PHP files associated with your WordPress plugins and themes. If you would like to remove the file editing functionality (one missing semicolon can take down your WordPress site), add this line to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );

25. Remove extra Query Parameters from URLs

If the web address of your WordPress site is abc.com, people can still reach your site if they add a few query parameters to the URL. For instance, abc.com/?utm=ga or abc.com/?ref=feedly are, technically speaking, completely different URLs but will work just fine.

This is bad because it dilutes your link equity (SEO) and, in an ideal situation, you would like all URLs to point to the canonical version. Add this little snippet to your .htaccess file and it will strip the unnecessary query parameters from all incoming requests.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
 RewriteEngine On
 RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !=""
 RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !^p=.*
 RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !^s=.*
 RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/wp-admin.*
 RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /$1? [R=301,L]
</IfModule>

26. Remove the Admin Bar

This is an annoying feature of WordPress – it adds an admin bar on top of all pages and that is visible to all users who are logged into their WordPress.com accounts. This can however be removed by adding a line to your functions.php file.

add_filter('show_admin_bar', '__return_false');

27. Deal with Ad Blockers

Some of your blog readers may be using ad-blocking software to block ad serving from your site. You can serve alternate content like a list of your popular WordPress posts or embed a YouTube video instead.

28. Add Branding to your RSS Feed

You can easily add your brand logo to all articles in the RSS feed. And since these are served from your server, you can serve a different image for sites that are plagairising your content by republishing your feed. Add this to your functions.php file.

function add_rss_logo($content) {
  if(is_feed()) {
    $content .= "<hr><a href='blog_url'><img src='logo_url'/></a>";
  }
  return $content;
}
add_filter('the_content', 'add_rss_logo');
add_filter('the_excerpt_rss', 'add_rss_logo');

29. Install the Essential Plugins

Here’s a comprehensive list of WordPress plugins that I use and recommend.

30. Stay logged in for a longer period

If you check the “Remember Me” option, WordPress will keep you logged in for 2 week. If you are only logging into WordPress from a personal computer, you can easily extend the expiry date of the authorization login cookie by adding this to your functions.php file.

add_filter( 'auth_cookie_expiration', 'stay_logged_in_for_1_year' );
function stay_logged_in_for_1_year( $expire ) {
  return 31556926; // 1 year in seconds
}

Also see: Linux Commands for WordPress 


The story, Things You Should Do After Installing WordPress, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 23/12/2014 under WordPress, Internet.

Owen Jones: Heroes of 2014: Mike Jackson of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners | Owen Jones

Thanks to the film Pride, we have been reminded of the huge contribution one man made to LGBT rights in Britain

Who’d imagine that a film about gay people, trade unionists and socialists could ever become a mainstream hit with an all-star cast? Pride told the superficially unlikely story of how radical LGBT activists struck up an alliance with south Wales miners during the 1984/85 miners’ strike.

The strike is generally portrayed as a colossal defeat, for the miners, their communities and the trade union movement as a whole. It was. But one outcome that is less well known is the boost for LGBT rights in Britain. One of the co-founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was Accrington-born Mike Jackson. My generation all too often take for granted rights which were won because of the huge effort – and indeed sacrifice – of those before us.

Continue reading…

God Is In The TV: VIDEO PREMIERE: Rosenthal – “Heart”

Rosenthal Press02Jeppe Kiel Revsbech is Rosenthal and under this name he is set to release his debut EP ‘Heart’ early next year. In eager anticipation of its arrival the Copenhagen-based musician and producer unveils the record’s title track and its accompanying video.

With its glistening guitar and the shimmering sweep of its keyboards, ‘Heart’ is a lighter, modern counterpart to much of the darker introspection that can be found on The Cure’s Disintegration. And whilst Jeppe Kiel Revsbech is also able to immerse himself in similar waves of misery, the optimism of the song’s melody is able to lift him above and beyond any lingering sense of despair.

Directed by Oliver Gormsen and Anna Søgaard, the video for ‘Heart’ also deals in such dichotomy as it drifts between a gentle rural tranquillity and industrialised urban desolation, its contrasting images etched into the pale features of Revsbech’s face as he wrestles with the song’s inherent emotional tension.

Recorded at Feedback Studio in Aarhus, Denmark, and produced by Magnus Vad, the ‘Heart’ EP by Rosenthal will be released on 24th February 2015 through the AfterImages label.

‘Heart’ can be pre-ordered here

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God Is In The TV: RIP Joe Cocker

Joe_Cocker-With_a_Little_Help_from_My_Friends_(album_cover)In a year when the world of music has already had to bid sad farewells to Phil Everly, who was one half of The Everly Brothers; the American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger; DEVO’s guitarist and keyboardist Bob Casale; DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles; the last surviving original Ramone, Tommy Ramone; another original band member, former Primal Scream guitarist Robert “Throb” Young; legendary bass guitarist Jack Bruce; the great soul singers Jimmy Ruffin and Bobby Womack; Nick Talbot, aka Gravenhurst, who left us at the desperately young age of 37 and Ian McLagan of Small Faces fame, we are now mourning the loss of one Joe Cocker.

For many he will mostly be remembered for that saccharine AOR ballad ‘Up Where We Belong’. Taken from the 1982 hit film An Officer and a Gentleman, this duet with Jennifer Warnes garnered him a Grammy award and a particular place in musical history. But to hear the real Joe Cocker you really have to step back in time some thirteen years before then to the Woodstock festival and bear witness to his absolutely incendiary reading of Lennon and McCartney’s ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. Captured on film, it is one of the most memorable moments of an event that defined an entire generation. Watch him as he twists, turns and strains every single sinew of his body and sweats each individual ounce of emotion out of a song that espouses togetherness, a musical symbol of a magical, unified moment in time.

Joe Cocker’s first two albums – With a Little Help from My Friends and Joe Cocker! – both released in that same year similarly show his unerring ability to interpret the music of others. Working with a stellar cast of musicians including Jimmy Page (on the first of these records), The Grease Band‘s vastly underrated guitarist Henry McCullough, Stevie Winwood, bass player Chris Stainton and Leon Russell (on the second of these albums and who also appeared to even greater effect on the following year’s live offering, the magnificent Mad Dogs & Englishmen), the gravel-voiced former gas-fitter from Sheffield just let rip and cast his incredible, indelible vocal stamp on every single one of these songs. Listen to these albums once more and hear Joe Cocker in full flight as he soars all the way from Traffic’s ‘Feelin’ Alright’ to Russell’s ‘Delta Lady’, imbuing the material with his very own brand of blues, rock and pure soul and immortalising his place in the pantheon of modern music.

John Robert “Joe” Cocker (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014)

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