The last few days have been devoted to crawling out from under the weight of a massive hack across all my websites. That is something that I dislike even writing, but it happened and that needs to be acknowledged. Somehow via a plugin somebody was able to get in and populate links to terrible cheap websites on every page and post within my entire WordPress ecosystem. Just that type of action alone would have been annoying enough to create extreme frustration, but somehow the folks who perpetrated the hack managed to break every website as well. Restoration required some extreme measures. I had to trigger on the backend a fall forward or fail backward WordPress version change. That just unpackaged a new set of clean files over the ones that had been corrupted. Part of the hack was actually dropped code on some core pages. I had to go back in and by hand remove those pages within the filesystem and replace them with the latest version from the WordPress GitHub. All of that took about 30 minutes per site and was frustrating.
To end the year, I have switched over to writing within Microsoft Word Online instead of using Google Docs. At the moment, the new setup is working out well enough for me to get some writing done. Yesterday I spent so much time reading code and making updates to things. The one really good thing that came out of the whole debacle was that for the first time in year I reduced the number of domains that I own and operate. Some domains were literally just released into the wind and they are back in the pool of domains that people can buy. For this point forward, I am not going to camp out on any domains. I’m only going to work with active websites. Anything that is just sitting around and collecting digital dust is going to be combined into something else and deprecated. The rest of the day is going to be spent watching college football and relaxing. Tonight, on Fox the Kansas Jayhawks will be playing the Oklahoma Sooners. It may not be a very competitive game, but I plan on watching it via the over the air broadcast Fox provides me.
Over the years my weblog has seen a reasonable amount of technical problems. Some of them were caused by intrusions into the website. Some of them were probably self-inflicted coding errors. It has been some time since something like that has happened. This time around it appears they came in via the help of a plugin which has since been removed. It was a plugin designed to help reduce SPAM. Instead it allowed somebody to tag a link at the end over every single one of my posts. I had to get really deep into the code remove some plugins, do a reinstallation of WordPress, and find/replace a link that had been embedded on every single page I had ever written. Seriously, somebody bothered to hack every post on my entire weblog. Exactly why somebody thought that merited their time I have no idea.
You can imagine my first thought was to back up my data and start over with a clean installation. That was probably a good first thought. However, that seemed like a lot of work. Instead of taking that path it seemed easier to remove the offending code and clean up my database. All of that is now done. Two hours of my time were spent cleaning up something done for malicious reasons. My efforts to write and produce prose are really for my own satisfaction. Most of the time my writing is simply done to fulfill the act of writing. For me purposes WordPress is a platform for creation. It is a means to an end and really should not be talking up so much of my time. Maybe the time has come to switch over and use some other writing forum, but at this point that seems like a lot of work without any real payoff.
After opening Google docs today it seemed like a good idea to use the Spearmint letter template to write todays post. Even now it still appears to be a good idea. Over the years, this forum for stream of consciousness writing has produced a mix of insightful or banal commentary. Bimodal as that might be it does appear to be true. Creative forces may produce novel results, but that does not guarantee them to be interesting.
Academically my mind has been wandering to the ultimate question of what is my next line of inquiry. Figuring out what is next defines entire industries. For me it remains a simple framework of time chasing a problem. Armed with a true belief in the power of potential time chasing a problem of sufficient magnitude can be daunting. Many academic questions seem trivial in the context of evaluating life, the universe, and well everything. Picking the right problem to go after therefore is highly important.
Currently, the trajectory I have been on is leading me down a road that involves understanding the intersection of big data and artificial intelligence. It may not be as elegant as breaking down the intersection of technology and modernity, but it may end up being comparable.
Maybe Mark Cuban is right about online content having a shelf life. Content could have a set expiration and disappear. Obviously, that is not something that I have ascribed to over the years. My digital footprint has always been a little out of control. Digital content sometimes takes off on social media. Some content has a much longer shelf-life. Thinking about the longevity of content is an important consideration. Huge streams of content exist. Even by conservation standards the stream of content has grown exponentially. The number of books that could be stored in a library has gone up dramatically. That number has grown faster than the number of library shelves.
2017 snuck up on us pretty quickly. I realized something important today. I need to get back into the habit of daily writing. It has been a few days. Naturally, I elected to write about a weblog update. Consider for a moment that the act of switching weblog themes was pretty easy. The change pretty much involved a few clicks. I have used the Magazine Premium theme for the last few years. It worked well. The new 2017 theme looked pretty interesting. Configuring it took a bit of effort. The layout was pretty different.