Tag Archives: Blog

Chiriquí Chatter Hacked

If you enter CC by the root address chiriquichatter.net, than you may have received a page saying that the site had been hacked.

Indeed, the root index had been changed. Also they had removed  my Akismet plugin that prevents spam comments. I first noticed that and reinstalled the plugin?

I thought all was OK until I received a comment from a CC reader alerting me that the site was hacked. Thanks to the reader for a heads up.

I removed the hack and am back on the air. Those that enter the site via chiriquichatter.net/blog may not have noticed anything. I need to do a little more investigation to see if the hackers did anything else.

PASSWORDS: This might be a good time to remind everyone to use strong passwords. I had a strong password and stilll got hacked. If you use simple passwords, such as your name, blackcat, birthday, other special dates, etc, you are extremely vulnerable.

A strong password shoud be at least 10 chars long and contain upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters.

Now you may say, I can’t remember a password that long with those features. Well, you can. It is easy. Here is how to build one. Start with a simple phrase without spaces like the following


then start replacing letters with numbers and symbols.

BigBlu3D0g$ for example. I capitalized the first letter of each word, changed e to 3, o to 0 and s to $.  The phrase is still easy to remember and the letter substitution is intuitive.

Be safe out there. The Internet has sharks swimming in it.

Chiriqui Chatter Outage

When I got up this morning, I found the CC site down. I also had an email from a CC reader telling me that he had found it down several morning in the past few days. I guess that was before I got up. Normally I am an early riser, but for the last week, my schedule has been disrupted.

When I know about an outage, I update the Chiriqui Chatter Status site. It appears that this is the first significant outage in six months.

Normally there will be no current post on the status site. However, if there is, it is because there is some hosting problem or a problem with my site’s database.

I have added an email subscription to this status site and if you subscribe, you will know when the site is having problems, assuming I know about it and have access to the Internet.

2012 – The Best Is Yet To Come

It always amazes me to watch the fireworks that are set off during the holidays in Panama. Typically they are set off by ordinary individuals and the cost of some of the displays is staggering.

From our vantage point in David, I could look in a 360 degree circle and see fireworks going off everywhere. Random firecrackers have been going off for days, but as midnight approached the real show began.

We did get a frightened visitor during the festivities. A bird flew in the back door to get away from all the explosions and bright lights. He flew to every room trying to figure out how to exit. He finally became tired enough that I was able to pick him up. I could feel his small heart beating rapidly.

When the fireworks subsided I set him free. He entered the new year with a little anxiety and a hope that 2012 would be better than the year that had driven him into the apartment.

I guess he shares a lot of the hopes that many of us have. 2011 was a pretty tremulous year. The economy sucked, many retirement visions were put on hold, new worries arose for many of our grandchildren. We saw world rulers die, get treated for cancer, toppled or killed. We saw Panama’s previous dictator return to Panama to a residence in prison. We saw many U.S. troops return home from various world locations. Continue reading 2012 – The Best Is Yet To Come

CC Moved to WordPress 3.3

I was more worried about this WordPress update because it was a larger product change than many of the previous updates. I was worried enough to invest in a new Back-Up plugin to back up everything before I made the upgrade.

My old backup program had not received positive comments on 3,3 and I didn’t want to take a chance. In the past I have lost the blog once and had to reload the posts by hand. Now that Chiriqui Chatter has over 6 years of history, that is not possible anymore.

After some research, I settled in on the Backup Buddy Plugin.

This plugin required me to purchase it. Where most WordPress plugins are free this one isn’t. However, after looking at all it does and the simplicity with which it does it, I decided the price was a small price to pay for a little piece of mind. Its retail price is $75 for one year of updates.

I purchased it yesterday, backup up the site this morning and upgraded to WordPress 3.3 after the backup was completed.

I now have a few more publishing capabilities I can use and some may start appearing as I understand the need and find an appropriate use for them.

I did make a couple more changes to the sidebar today. I added a list of current posts and also added the Categories and Archives to the sidebar. Since the Archives and Categories are now drop downs, I saw no reason not to duplicate them in the sidebar as well as the footer.

I have found one thing that is not working in the new theme. For some reason the Google translate no longer translates the comments. In fact, it a post is selected it is no longer translated. Only the front page of the blog. That is a real disappointment. Lilliam pointed that fact out and I hope it is a solvable problem.

Let me know if you find other past features that no longer work or you can’t find something. The current format should now be pretty stable. I am not planning on making any more changes unless problems crop up.

UPDATE Dec 30 @ 13:50: I think I have fixed the translation Problem. I am not sure why it works, but it does. I added the translation widget in the sidebar and in the footer as well. For some reason this forces the translation to continue when you leave the front page and it didn’t before.

Caution – Blog Remodeling

WordPress has put out a new release 3.3. It has many new features and I am unable to use them because I am still on WordPress 3.2.1. I have a couple Plugins that quit functioning when I moved to 3.2.1 and I am in the process of looking for a new theme that is compatible with 3.3.

This is a little heads up that some remodeling will probably begin and with all remodeling there can be disruptions. If I am lucky, the changes will not affect most of the blog, but I can’t guarantee that. The look and feel may change.

I try to stay pretty current with system upgrades. Not only do they add features, but they also fix old bugs and close security holes.

If you have any suggestions as to how I can make Chiriqui Chatter more easy to navigate or problems you have run into, drop me a note. I will take suggestions into consideration.

2012 is coming and I might as well put some new paint on this aging blog. I wish that I could give myself some upgrades as well, but will be content with updating the blog.

UPDATE: 5:00 P.M – I think the theme change is now close to complete. It was a little more painful than I expected. I think I am satisfied with the Twenty Eleven Default theme. I had a few snags and things aren’t exactly as I want them, but maybe I can smooth out a few rough edges in the coming days.

Differences –

  • I moved the sidebar back to the right side. It just seemed to look better to me, but it can be on either side.
  • The name of the blog is no longer in the header photo.
  • The “Pages Titles” that appear below the header photo no longer contains a page for Links. For some reason, with the move to the new theme, the Links page was messed up. Important links are now at the bottom of the page on the right side. If I can figure out how to build a Links Page, I will re-install it. Until then, look below the posts for the Links Area.
  • There was no Contact template on this theme, so I added email contact information to the About Page.
  • I did add an Email subscription capability in the sidebar. I have avoided that in the past, because I think RSS is more efficient, but I have had several requests for it, so it is now there.
  • I changed the header photo. It is still in Parque Cervantez, but it now features some traditional Panamanian dress as opposed to the fountain.
  • Obviously the display colors are different. It is now white with a gray background. I played with a Black based background and it can be done if it is preferred. To see what that might look like you can go HERE. Feel free to give me feed back if the darker scheme is better in your opinion.
  • This theme makes reading the blog on a mobile device or an iPad a little easier. It puts the sidebar below all of the current posts. If you use an iPad, do you think it is better?
That is all for the moment. I think I will let this settle in a bit before I do anything else. I am tired and will postpone the upgrade to 3.3 of WordPress for another day.


Still Transitioning to Apple

I know that there have been fewer posts than has been my norm and I have had a few people write and ask if I am sick or if there is a problem. I even had a good friend call and ask if I was all right.

I really appreciate the interest and concern. Everything is fine. This technology transition is slowing things down some. My small MacMini requires a direct cable connection with my camera to receive the photos. I really prefer to use the SD card and there is no SD slot on the Mini. The PC that is coming has a SD slot and that will solve that problem.

Next, even when I have photos, such as the ones Tom McCormack sent me, processing them with GIMP is slow. GIMP requires more memory than I have on the Mini and I am postponing adding memory. I may even want to get some new photo and video software and if I do, that will be on the new PC.

I did get a new external backup drive and now have all files backed up with Time Machine. I hope this makes moving to the new iMac a little easier. I am impressed with the device. It is from San Digital and is TOWERSTOR TS2CT.

The case design is all aluminum and matches the Apple equipment. I had a couple 1 TB drives and put them in last night. I set it up to run in Raid 1, which mirrors the data on both drives. It basically turns the two drives into one drive of 1TB. The benefit is that if one of of the drives fails, the other can still be read. When the failing drive is replaced, the new drive will receive a copy of the other drive and you are back in a totally protected state.

It cost me $40 to have it shipped to me at Multiservicios International De chiriquí. I thought that was pretty good, considering the size of the box that Amazon put it in.

I expect to be on the new iMac by the end of the month. At least that is my hope. Maybe with that, I will be back to a more normal posting capability. I still continue to learn more about OSX Lion. I am still happy to be making the move. While Windows 7 was extremely good, I am enjoying Lion more.

At any rate, this is to notify you, that my health is not a reason for less posts. I am more busy than ever and have several projects running. I should be back to normal in a few months.

The weather is great. Life is good. I am enjoying both.

Up On The MacMini

I am about 95% up and configured on the MacMini. Considering that I made the move due to a PC failure, I am in pretty good shape. I also have updated the iPad to IOS5 with no problems.

It appears that all files are recovered. I have moved my address book and calendar over to iCloud and find it much better than syncing with Windows Live.

One thing I hated about my calendar on Windows was that the alert for a scheduled appointment came in via an email. If I was not connected to the Internet I missed the alert. Now I get my alerts if the Internet is connected or not.

I have merged all my address books and think I have more things in order than before.

I use LibreOffice currently for my office suite. I had used it before and for my needs it works well and being free doesn’t hurt either. One thing that is different on the Mac is that I can’t save a new document in a specific folder. It wants to save it in Documents. I hope that is a learning curve problem.

The only real annoyance I have is that I lost all my bookmarks. Had I been more prepared I would have had a saved copy, but compared to what could have happened, I am in good shape. Spotify is playing my favorite music and I am a happy camper.

With a little more time I will have a more complete feeling about my likes and dislikes on the differences between OSX and Windows7. However, for the moment I think the move has been a good change.

The word for the day is “Progress”.

What a Morning


I went to bed last night without water and this morning we still don’t have water. Hope it returns today. Talked to some walkers this morning and they were without water as well.

I turned on the TV and cable was out. Luckily it came back in about 30 minutes.

I signed onto Chiriquí Chatter and found out it had been down since about 10 PM last night. I submitted a trouble ticket. As always, I keep a log of known outages at my Chiriquí Chatter Status Site.

CC came up for a few minutes and then went back down. Most likely the host’s servers take a beating when all sites on a server have been down and then all come up and there is a large amount of traffic waiting. As I write this, CC is back up.

Hope the week smooths out a little. It is starting off a little shaky.

The water returned about 1:30 AM August 9.

Chiriquí Chatter Statistics

I really don’t spend much time thinking about or being concerned with the statistics of Chiriquí Chatter. Since Chiriquí Chatter remains non-commercial, it has never been important to me for anything other than curiosity.

I really don’t think I have looked at any stats since early last year. This morning, I decided to see if much had changed.

Here are the statistics as gathered by AWSTATS which is a free statistics gatherer provided by most web-hosts.

Following are the statistics for the first half of 2011. It actually shows growth over 2010.

Here are the stats for 2005, when Chiriquí Chatter had its rebirth.

Thanks to everyone who follows my blog and is kind enough to provide comments. The comments are extremely important to a blog such as Chiriquí Chatter because they keep it fresh and balance the spectrum of thoughts about Panama.

I am also especially happy that I have a large amount of native Panamanians and Chiracanos that read Chiriquí Chatter. They also help to balance the views between we foreigners and the citizens of Panama. I have received emails from Panamanians and Chiracanos from all over the world saying thanks for giving them some view of what is happening in Chiriquí.

The Internet has made the world much smaller. I am happy that I am still a part of it.