Oh good grief. When it rains, it really pours.

This message is primarily intended for the former members of my VCS community.  I just posted a message there explaining that the site was finally going to have to come down once and for all, and as if to illustrate my point… immediately after publishing the post, WP seems to no longer be able to display ANY blog posts whatsoever.  Unreal.

So… extracted from the WP back-end, here is what I had written:

Howdy all.  I need to let you all know that VCS is going to go away permanently now.  The reason is simple and frankly, kinda pathetic.  The WordPress that it was built on, has been hacked to oblivion.  It’s loaded with malicious files and dangerously outdated plugins that I can’t update because they’ll break other stuff.  The site was my attempt to build a custom WP-based community at a time when many of today’s solutions for such a thing, didn’t really exist yet (or just couldn’t quite do what I had wanted).  Guess I was a little bit ambitious.

The end result is that it’s loaded with old beta plugins, custom code, and products that don’t even exist anymore so will never be updated.  I can’t just repair the damage, as it’s too extensive.  But I can’t leave it up either and risk compromises to the rest of my server and the world (there’s no telling what these nasty bastards are actually doing…).  So, on that unfortunate note… VCS has to come down once and for all.  I’m still pretty unhappy with how it ended up, but not every project works out the way we want it to.

In case anyone actually reads this and is wondering, I’ve just gone back completely “underground” and have never been happier.  I’ve been running traffic on my own and building a system around it (with the help of my team of 4 full time developers) and scaling gradually and steadily.  I miss some things about the whole teaching/coaching/product development space, but I definitely don’t miss a lot of other things.  My workload and stress levels have gone down, my income and happiness have gone up, and in general life is good.

I hope this message finds some of you and that you are also doing great.  I need to pull the site down ASAP but will try to only take down the most critical stuff first (like the forum, which has been badly infected) and not just take everything down in one shot.

Take care!

JVC

Now to clarify the title of this post.  Last week my primary computer started behaving strangely.  Crashes where I didn’t normally get them, random weird glitches, etc.  By this weekend, it was clearly in a bad state so I tried to do a little housecleaning (Mac users will be familiar with the “repair permissions” dance).  This made things much, much worse.  My primary Time Machine backup drive for this computer, died.  Then in trying to repair that, my boot drive followed suit.  The one saving grace here is that my data drives all seemed perfectly fine (knock on wood!!!).  But I had no choice but to wipe my backup drive completely (had to do a low-level format too… it wouldn’t do a basic format.  Took all night.) and then had to do the same to my boot drive and completely reinstall everything.  I’m still in the middle of that nightmare… realizing how many apps I had carefully configured over the years to work just how I want them to work.

I didn’t lose everything, as I also use CrashPlan as a cloud backup provider.  But still, it’s an enormous pain to say the least.  Add to that my iPhone 4s (don’t get me started on all the new stupidly-gigantic phones… the 4s is still the best phone Apple has ever made) dying on me a few weeks back which ended up requiring me to wipe it and upgrade to the latest iOS which is horrible on it and runs like frozen molasses… and let’s just say that so far this has not been a good year for me & my personal technology.

Anyway… hopefully the former VCS members who now can’t see anything at VCS, see this post instead.  I have a bunch of support tickets coming in that I will be responding to shortly with a link to this post.

What a day week month year…

JVC

6 thoughts on “Oh good grief. When it rains, it really pours.

  1. yeah, wordpress core and plugins is sort of a forced death march of upgrades, incompatibilities, backdoors, and wtf? happened to my content too, i stopped actively caring about a long time ago, much happier not trying to support every stupid limited hosting environment out there as a plugin developer.

    going forward with their rewrite into javascript, is likely to be as bad as most people aren’t good enough with javascript, which isn’t particularly secure or great for building big apps anyway.

    • Yep, all too true. WP has the mixed blessing of being so popular that everyone uses it, and therefore so popular for everyone to hack. At this point I maintain a few of my own WP sites and my partner’s blogs, but I’m not actively developing anything under WP either. The only active development I’m currently involved in, is 100% custom code. We briefly considered using WP as the base shell, and in hindsight I’m glad we elected not to.

      Didn’t know WP was going to go all JS… wow, that’s a bit scary for sure!

  2. I’ve just built a new membership site/product on WP.
    Do you have any advice on WP installations for those of us who only know WP,
    or do you think that even with security type plugins, it is still vulnerable?

    • Sadly there will always be vulnerabilities because by their nature, they are unknown until someone finds them. For now though, there are steps you can take, for example I’m now using WordFence on all my WP installs. I made sure that “admin” is not a valid user for any of them, and I’ve taken all of WordFence’s advice on hardening the installation. I figure my sites are probably about as secure as they can be at this point, but still… if you use ANY third party plugin – or code anything yourself – there is always the potential for a simple bug to allow someone a way in. It will never be perfectly secure. =(

  3. Hi Jonathan. Are you planning to bring back VCS if it’s in your backups?
    Just wondering because I really liked the keyword tool.
    Bruce

    • Hey Bruce! Nice to hear from you. I’m afraid I have no plans to bring back VCS. Even if I wanted to attempt it, the backups themselves would contain all the malicious crap that had been injected into them over who knows how long. It was incredibly ugly and way beyond fixable. Also sadly the keyword tool (kwbot.com) is almost completely dead now due to changes at all the sources it scraped for keywords. It’s not something I’ve had any desire to maintain, as playing catch-up with the search engines as they try to prevent scraping, was a full time headache. I’m proud of what it was in its day, but that day has set. There are tons of other good keywords tools around these days though and I know at least a few of them appear to do nearly everything KWBot did (though I believe I was the last tool in existence to have access to the Wonder Wheel results, for several years!) Maybe you can find something that fits the bill.

      Hope you’re doing well!

      JVC

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