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We’re patched

A number of WordPress plug-ins have been found to have security issues of late, including the WPTouch feature that reformats this blog for mobile devices, reports ZDNet.

I am very aggressive in installing updates and patches on this blog, to maintain the stability of the site and to provide the safest browsing experience I can for my readers. When the story about WPTouch broke today, I had already put on the patch.

BR “begging letter” from Helen Tansey

“The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth, are people with something to hide.”

So rather than begging for money himself, the anonymous Birther Report is letting Helen Tansey, treasurer of the Article II Super PAC1, do it for him–the project: ostensibly to raise funds to move the web site from the hyper-reliable free Google Blogger™ platform to an “independent secure server.” That way, Google can’t take him down again.

Is that a good thing for BR readers? I personally would be grateful if someone took my site down, should I ever start serving malware to visitors. While the clueless BR site owner was running around the Internet saying his site was OK, Google protected BR readers from some nasty malware being passed through from one of BR’s advertisers. Terms of service and acceptable use policies protected BR’s readers the a way that a privately-run server could not.

Tansey paints a picture of someone who started blogging for altruistic purposes, saying:

It is difficult for a blog owner who never weighed into blogging to make money from his readers to now be in the position of having to ask for donations.

That’s an odd description for a heavily-monetized web site like Birther Report. It’s full of aggressive advertising, a fact Tansey glosses over. What I find suspicious is that while asking for donations to move the site, at no time has BR actually stated how much money he needs.2 Tansey claims that it is:

1. To purchase its own web server (not leased) that will more than handle the site’s high traffic load; and 2. Complete the conversion/migration process in order to securely archive4 the thousands of articles documenting Article II eligibility and Obama’s identity document fraud.

Earlier BR had put it this way:

This blog will be moved to a privately owned server [without TOS BS] as soon as possible. It is something that should have been done long ago but lacked the knowledge and resources. More at a later date….

Buying a whole server for a piss-ant web site like Birther Report is massive overkill. But then BR keeps its traffic numbers as secret as it does its expenses and advertising revenue. What are they hiding? This is in contrast to my site, where all that information is public. I listened to BR’s anonymous appearance on the Mike Volin “Where’s Obama’s Birth Certificate?” show and it was clear that he does not have the technical competence to run anything on his own, much less an entire server. That leaves, as I see it, two possibilities:

  1. BR is going to buy a server and have it co-located at a hosting company that will manage it for him.3
  2. He’s going to buy a server and hook it up himself at home and have a good buddy run it for him. He’s talking like 20 minutes before he’s hacked.

Frankly, if I weren’t a computer hobbyist, I would never run my own WordPress installation, much less my own server—it’s just too much trouble and too much risk. I would be running at WordPress.com or Blogger™, like most of the folks who blog on either side of the birther issue. They’re free and easy, and far more reliable :(

In a follow-up article today, Tansey describes reader fundraising response as “awesome” and said they have reached one-third of their goal (still refusing to disclose what that goal is). I would remind them of the tag line from Barack Obama at the beginning of every Birther Report video: “The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth, are people with something to hide.” Birther Report doesn’t disclose the identity of its owner, its traffic figures, its backers, its revenue and its expenses. What do they have to hide?

Update:

In a reply to a question at BR, Helen Tansey sort of answered the cost question:

As for the hard numbers, it is less than $10k and more than $5k.

:shock:


1The Tansey letter further fuels suspicions about the identity of Birther Report being Gary Wilmott. Tansey and Wilmott both serve on the board of the Article II Super PAC.

2I didn’t do any significant research into colocation fees. I found one host that says it has the “Industry’s Lowest Prices” and they want $49 a month after a $99 setup fee for hosting your own rack-mounted server on a 10 Mbps pipe, unlimited bandwidth, 7 IP addresses and 2A power. Add maybe $1,000 one time for a rack-mounted server with a decent processor and a big disk drive. The real wild card is how much the software setup and ongoing maintenance is going to cost. If he hosts a server himself, he will need a business class Internet connection, as pretty much all home plans prohibit servers. Business Internet services have policies, such as this one from AT&T.

3Colocation companies have their own terms of service and acceptable use policies. Here’s a sample from ColoUnlimited.

4Securing the content of a Google Blogger™ blog is no big deal:

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Reorganization

I saw this cool Cold Case Posse timeline over at RC’s blog (compilation by Verbalobe posted in parts at The Fogbow) and I wanted to link to it. That led to some re-thinking about the menu structure on the blog and as I was editing the menu, lots of stuff disappeared, and so right now there are about a dozen items at the end of the menu missing, most notably the Contact Form has been coming and going. The Media Archives are missing along with the Cartoons.

I hope I can get this fixed; it’s a known WordPress problem when one has as many menu entries as I have. If not, I’ll have to simplify the menus somehow.

What used to be the “Docket” is now called “Resources” and it’s exclusively external links now. My stuff has been moved under Features.

Update:

I think everything is back together. I had to remove the individual state ballot challenges from the menu and put them on a page. Also under Resources I have added the “Birther debunkers wiki” which is worthy of notice.

While I was hand-typing the entire menu structure back in, I was struck by the number of ballot challenges filed in 2012, a ridiculous number of redundant, abusive, frivolous, wasteful and ultimately pointless activities. It’s times like that this that I see birthers as petulant children.

No news from Indiana; Orly hacked?

Recovering from the shock of having my social-security number hacked from the South Carolina Department of Revenue database, I tried to get back on track, and went to see if there was any news from Indiana about Orly Taitz’s lawsuit, Taitz v. Elections Commission. Here’s what got I at her web site:

Error establishing a database connection

This message means that the WordPress blog software is active, but that it cannot connect to the content database. That could be hacking, but more likely the database server is down, or perhaps a configuration problem. My experience with this error is that it is typically brief, but Orly’s site has been down at least a couple of hours. I hope it gets up quickly, or Orly will go into withdrawal.

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So far, I haven’t found anything new on the lawsuit, except for a note on the Marion County Superior Court docket dated 10/23:

JACKET ENTRY: ALL PARTIES IN PERSON BY COUNSEL; COURT CONDUCTS HEARING ON FOLLOWING; PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT; PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT; DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO VACATE TRIAL AND DEFE

Notice that the word “trial” used in a previous order has been replaced by “hearing.”

Site stability fixed?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had lots of problems with the site returning partially completed pages, and various page not found and internal server error messages. I think that the problem has been found and corrected.

If you find any instances of the site operating strangely, please post a comment here, or using the Contact link above.