E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Knowledge Snippets

6 Things I Learned While Being Banned from Google Search

You may have noticed how, over the last couple of days, things have been relatively quiet over at one of my Internet blogs: http://www.elsua.net. Well, things have gone quiet a little bit there on the front side of things, but on the background it has been one of the most intensive weeks I have had ever since I started blogging nearly 5 years ago! Yes, indeed, and that is not an understatement. And here is why…

A couple of weeks back I got an e-mail from the Google Quality Search Team where I got told that my site, i.e. http://www.elsua.net may have been compromised and that I needed to look into it or it would get banned from Google Search. Of course, with the limited amount of technical knowledge I have for these things I contacted my hosting provider folks, who told me that it was a spoof e-mail & that I could ignore it. So I did.

Big mistake!!

A couple of days later, and, while I was reading through the blog post from one of my colleagues, and good friend, Luis Benitez, (Yes, people confuse us quite a lot, too!) on the topic of his new business card I noticed that I could no longer find http://www.elsua.net through Google Search. Oh oh. No, that can’t be right! My comment in Luis’ blog post was going to be along the lines of "I hardly ever use business cards any longer. I normally just tell people "Hi, my name is Luis Suarez. Google me! #1 on the list of results!"". But apparently, not any longer! I could no longer find a single reference to my blog site.

I was banned! (Fun, fun, fun … NOT!!!)

From there onwards I went down into a spiral of frenetic activity, behind the scenes all along, except for my twitterings on the whole thing, sharing my views on what it is like being banned by such a powerful traffic driver as Google Search is and how to overcome the problem. So I contact my hosting provider once more and I mentioned that I was eventually banned, so it wasn’t so much of an spoof e-mail, was it? No, it wasn’t. Very real!

From there onwards, the interactions with the hosting provider have been rather sporadic from the perspective where they first tried to identify the problem as something to do with Bloglines, but Ben Lowery, came through to me on Twitter and mentioned there was no way it was a problem with Bloglines since the javascript I was using is not crawled by search engines. So second time I am being let down by the hosting provider. The search for the root of the cause continued…

It was then suggested that the problem had to do with http://www.elsua.net running a very back level version of WordPress, v 2.0.2, to be more precise, and that I needed to upgrade to the latest version, v2.6, as soon as possible in order to start addressing some of the issues. Yes, I already knew I was running a very back level version of WordPress, but given my limited technical skills in that area I procrastinated long enough to, apparently run into these problems. So I had to manage a way out of it and, again, with very little help from the hosting provider. Just a single URL link of where to get help! And it would take days before it could be actioned! Nice!

And here is where I got started with some more frenetic activities, because in no time I had to learn how to make the upgrade with the least disruption possible and get back in business soon enough. So, oh the irony of things, I used Google to find my way around and found the super nifty InstantUpgrade WordPress plugin and I made use of the 1.0-beta2 version.

The upgrade of the blog went by rather smooth and in less than 5 minutes! I tell you, if you would need a quick, clean, comprehensible (Even for non techies!) & easy to use plugin InstantUpgrade would be it! Yes, I know that you also have WordPress Automatic Upgrade, but that gave me errors that the former didn’t. Probably because I was running such a back level version of WordPress. Either way, I was getting, slowly, back on track. Or so I thought!

Once the upgrade was completed I noticed how everything seemed to be in place with the new 2.6 release, which is a fantastic upgrade, by the way, with plenty of great new features!, but there was a minor glitch. My entire list of categories was gone! Yes! GONE! All of them! By this time I was pretty much running into panic mode, not knowing what to do next! So I used Google again and I found the wonderful tutorial post from David Cumps (Thanks ever so much, David! Great giveback to the WordPress community!), where he explained, step by step, how to get them back! A bit of a labour intensive job, but since I only have 30 categories it wasn’t too bad.

I still needed to shape up my technical skills on how to get it all done, so I had to get a crash course, over the course of a few minutes, from another good friend of mine, and fellow IBM colleague: Brian Olore, who was patient enough to explain to me how to work and operate things with the SQL database (That was fun, once I got the hang out of it!)  and came to my rescue! Many many thanks, Brian! Appreciated the time and the just in time tutorial!

From there onwards I spent some time re-populating my categories back into the blog and despite some initial glitches here and there things worked out in the end rather smooth and there I was: fully upgraded to 2.6, categories all back to normal and with a huge sense of achievement for something that earlier on in the week I didn’t have a clue where to get started!

But that was step #1, I was still banned from Google. Still am, by the way. But thanks to various different folks, mainly through Twitter with the superb help from Laura Fitton, a.k.a @pistachio, and various folks behind StopBadware, I managed to find the way a couple of good links to follow to try to get me back in shape (Thanks much for that, folks! Great tips coming through all along!).

And just coincidentally another good friend of mine, and fellow IBM colleague, put together a blog post sharing some further details on a common problem we partially shared. Yes, indeed, Rob Smart (Thanks a million, by the way!), over at Google Ate My Blog, explained with screen shots, and step by step, how to get your Web site back into Google’s Search Index through Google’s Webmaster Tools (Yes, I know most folks out there would be familiar with those, but it was the first time for me taking a serious look into them, specially now that I was banned from Google).

Thus earlier on this morning, and after a rather hectic week with lots of activity behind the scenes on http://www.elsua.net, to try to get things back to normal, I have submitted a request for re-consideration by the Google Search Quality team and, hopefully, (Keeping my fingers crossed at this point in time!) I will be back into Google’s Search Index rather soon. Rob told me it took him a couple of days to have the request processed, so I am hoping the same would happen with my own blog as well. We shall see.

For now, I feel like I am at the end of the roller-coaster ride, and what a ride!!!, having had an exhilarating time experiencing what it is like not being indexed by Google. I have learnt lots and lots about managing your blog out there in the wild open Web, but at the same time here are a few other things I have learned along the way:

1. I need to find a new hosting provider… I wasn’t too particularly happy with the one I have got now, given their reaction & involvement with the problem(s) I had. Looking for one here in Europe, reasonably priced, too. Suggestions welcome!

2. http://www.elsua.net is going to go through a major facelift in the next few weeks. It would be about time! So if you see weird things on the main site itself, hang in there, will try to keep the disruption to a minimum (May want to subscribe to the RSS feed for the time being)

3. WordPress is an amazing CMS & blogging platform, but without the community around it of incredibly smart and talented people it would be … nothing! Yes, I just said that! How can you release a full upgrade, v 2.6, which you know is going to create a massive set of issues with missing categories, and don’t inform people about it ahead of time?!?! I had only 30 of them, but folks who have several more dozens, I am sure they weren’t happy. And a fix, v. 2.6.1 or v 2.7, is not going to help much. The harm is done! Long life to the WordPress community!!! (Thanks, David and the folks behind the InstantUpgrade plugin!). Oh, mind you, I still *heart* WordPress. Still think it is one of the most powerful blogging engines available out there! But, take the community with it, please!

4. I have got an amazing network of friends, both inside and outside of the company I work for, who went the extra mile to help out and they surely did! Many many thanks to Brian, Laura (And her network!), Rob and the folks behind StopBadware! Next time we meet up face to face drinks are on me! 😀

5. I should not procrastinate any further with WordPress releases and jump into the latest one at a reasonable time, instead of waiting for far too long! And you shouldn’t either! Dive in, the waters are not too bad & trust your network(s)!

6. Google may still be my friend. After all, a good bunch of the pointers I have mentioned above were provided by Google’s Search engine. Would have been incredibly more difficult having to use any of the others, I can imagine.

Hopefully, I will be back into it over the next few days, so that when folks search for Luis Suarez, a.k.a. elsua, they would find who they were looking for in the first place: yours truly!

Now you know why things have been rather quiet over here this week… Have a good one, everyone!

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IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac and Lotus Sametime 8 – Full Integration Nirvana

Last couple of days from last week have been incredibly busy at work and didn’t give me much of a chance to go ahead and create a blog post over here. I guess that being featured on the corporate Intranet Web site to share your story on how you have moved away from e-mail can surely be a hit for various different folks! Well, that’s just what happened last week and still going on this week. Not to worry, I shall be blogging shortly on my take of what has happened last week as far as my new adventure of re-purposing e-mail is concerned.

However, for this blog post I just wanted to share one more thing towards what I call integration nirvana on the Mac! Yes, that is right, if not long ago I mentioned how I was actually quite happy with having Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac up and running and how a few days later I managed to get working as well IBM’s Lotus Sametime 8 standalone on the Mac, here we go with the next achievement in that integration nirvana on the Mac!

Yes, that is right! That is a screen shot of my Lotus Notes 8.5 beta for the Mac, fully integrated with the embedded version of IBM’s Lotus Sametime 8 and all of that connected to through the main Messaging server we use at IBM. I know that for most folks this may sound like "Well, big deal! So what?", but to me, this surely confirms the commitment that I can now kiss good-bye my Windows environment and welcome the Mac as my new productivity tool to get the job done at work, just as effectively as I could have done it on Windows, or, better, said, ever so much more effectively!

And it works beautifully, too without hindering my machine to a haul whenever I have multiple applications open. In this case the MacBook Pro is rather happy to allow me to keep working without having to go through innumerous issues.

Next challenge? Getting Lotus Sametime Unyte to work on the Mac from a presenter’s perspective to do seamless screen / file sharing! Wooohooo! Full integration nirvana coming through!!

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IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac – As Usual, It Works!

Remember when not long ago I created a blog post where I was mentioning that one of the things I was really looking forward to from the IBM Lotusphere 2008 event was getting my hands on the new Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for the Mac? Well, things have moved on from the time where I was mentioning I was having a couple of issues with it and over the weekend I have just managed to fix them by simply doing a replace of the mail file template with the latest release of the v8 mail file template. And now… it works!!

Actually, it rocks, because, as you would be able to see from the screen shot, I have reached Inbox zero on top of it and it surely looks rather nice being able to play with a very solid release, even though it is still beta, and getting rid of all of the e-mail that may have come over the weekend. Oh, and at the same time check out some of the nifty features that are coming along, like the embedded RSS / Atom feed reader client that, although simplistic, it sees to be the only one keeping up with the heavy update of Web sites like Twitter.

W00t!! Yes, indeed, can you imagine? My mail box running hand in hand next to my Twitter feed? How cool is that? And that is just the beginning, because I am surely going to enjoy this beta release before we move into the next one. First, time now to explore all of the different capabilities, like installing plugins, hacking the Welcome / Home page, etc. etc.

Who said that Mondays couldn’t be fun? Well, mine is so far…

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IBM Lotusphere 2008 – On One of My Favourite Announcements Thus Far…

Like I have mentioned in another blog post yesterday, this surely was one of the major announcements I was actually really looking forward to during the IBM Lotusphere event… And now that I am back at work, I am just this close to having it fully operational, and running pretty smooth, too, … on the Mac!!

Like someone I know would say … W00t!!!

(I can’t wait to have those issues sorted out and start using Notes 8.5 on the Mac running faster than anything I have seen so far, both on Windows and the Mac!!)

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Time Machine – The Power to Save You Numerous Headaches on the Mac

What happens when you find out that your Internet connection has been down for two days in a row and with very little you can do about it to try to fix it? I guess some people would take a couple of days off, others would get some stuff done around the house and, finally, some others would be anxiously waiting for it to come back to life as soon as possible and therefore would keep playing around in front of their computers for hours and hours no end. Well, in my case it was different. Yes, that is right. The last couple of days my Internet connection has been down. Again. Something that I couldn’t do anything about, or so I was told. Since Saturday afternoon till Monday late noon I haven’t been able to do anything other than watching the magic screen hoping it would pop up a message when ready to go. But nothing came through till a few hours ago after two painful days without being connected. I guess you tend to appreciate what you have, when you don’t have it any longer, right?

Now this was happening right after I came back from holidays and it was probably the last thing I wanted to go through, specially contemplating the massive catchup I had to go through. Still, it happened. So after the massive catastrophe I’ve been experiencing with the loss of loads and loads of feed reading materials with Omea Pro, I thought about taking a much more proactive approach towards things and, finally, decided to venture into trying out what I think is one of the most impressive applications from the new Mac Leopard system: Time Machine.

You would remember how in the past I mentioned how I have successfully upgraded my MacBook Pro to Leopard in just a few simple-enough-to-follow steps. Ever since I did it I have been enjoying some of the really nifty new features put together, but I never thought I would be trying out Time Machine so soon. Yet with the huge mess I’ve just been through with Omea Pro I thought what a better way of getting things going with Time Machine today, now that I cannot really do much work without being connected to the Internet? WOW!! What an experience!!

During the Christmas holiday, I actually got two external hard drives as presents and after having moved all of the information away from my Windows machine, I thought I would engage further with the next challenge: making use of Time Machine on the Mac. Well, I am using the word challenge here, but must say that it has been everything but that! In just a few very easy to follow steps I have been able to put one of the hard drives to good use and start backing up my essential Mac files. And all of that within a matter of seconds!!

Then a couple of hours later to finish off doing all of the backups and before I knew it everything was ready to go!! As easy as that! I have now got all of my Windows and Mac stuff fully backed up with Time Machine and I surely feel much much better! Backing your stuff in real time should be as effective and efficient as this particular application does. And the way to navigate through it to find your stuff? Goodness! That is even better!!! I am surely loving it!

And now that I come to think about it, having lost over three years of Web feed readings may have been a good thing, after all, because thanks to that unfortunate incident I decided to take the plunge and start making use of Time Machine, way before I was even thinking about giving it a try. And so far it is looking incredibly better than whatever I would have expected in the past! Just brilliant! If backing up stuff from your computer was ever designed to be elegant, smart, graceful and effective then Time Machine is your solution! And without a single doubt!!

I just wished that such an option would have been available for my Windows notebook. Unfortunately, the two backups I had didn’t work and therefore lost it all. Hopefully, now that I got everything sorted out to work with Time Machine I may no longer be running into the different issues I’ve gone through the end of last year and beginning of this one.

If you haven’t tried out Time Machine just yet and you are using Leopard on a Mac, let me take this opportunity to encourage you all to get yourself an external hard drive and start making use of it. It will all just as easy as plug and play, select a couple of options and start backing up! Nothing else needed! Oh and all of that taking place in the background, while you may be working on something else, and without taking a huge amount of resources! Another big plus!! Once again, just getting stuff done! Because that’s how computers were designed to work in the first place, right? … And I am surely glad that someone has taken that task and provide us with an application that, if anything, is state of the art, unprecedented and a must-have at all costs. Just the way I want it: stuff that works! And beautifully!

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Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Me

While still trying to digest some of the fantastic, overwhelming and exciting reactions to the initial blog post on Next Generation Knowledge Sharing & Learning Online Conference Event – In Spring 2008? and while I am still trying to figure out a couple of things before I comment further back into that particular blog entry on further steps, I thought I would go ahead and do some light blogging on a topic that I seem to have been tagged from a couple of folks already, who I read on a regular basis and who have been participating in a couple of different memes on a very similar topic: Seven things you didn’t know about me by Martin Koser and Gullible about Work / Blog Balance by Reasonable Robinson.

Yes, that is right. It is another meme where the rules seem to be pretty straight forward:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.

2. List EIGHT random facts about yourself.

3. Tag EIGHT people at the end of your post and list their names.

4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

And although Martin’s meme post seems to be slightly different I thought about combining both of them since the overall outcome seems to be pretty similar. So here we go with the meme post and here you have eight random facts about myself that you may not have heard / read elsewhere:

1. I was born and raised in a very small village in León, which is where I have spent a good chunk of my life. Another good chunk is spread around The Netherlands (Where I lived 7 years) and, finally, Gran Canaria, where I have been living for nearly four years now.

2. I first got exposed to the world of computers in high school (Yes, I was one of the folks who owned an Amstrad CPC 464!) and back then my marks on computer lessons were really bad, which gave me the impression I would never, ever, work with computers. Fast forward to today … Already 10 years in the IT world and still going strong! 🙂

3. After I graduated from University, I spent one year working in Thale, Germany, where I got to experience one of the most severe winters in my life thus far with up to -30C. for several days!! But I must say I loved the overall experience quite a bit!!

4. First time I came to Gran Canaria was in 1996 (For a very short period of time) and back then I knew I would be coming back at some point. It took me only 8 years to make that happen 🙂

5. I actually got my job at IBM while I was spending a two week holiday in The Netherlands in 1997. Probably the longest two weeks I’ve ever known!! (Already heading for my 11th year in the company!)

6. While working for IBM, I spent another year of my life in Dublin, Ireland, where there is very little I would need to explain, if you ever have been there. Yes, I know, I need to get back there for a short visit and catch up some time soon!

7. I was first exposed to Knowledge Management by the end of 1999 and during that time I already sensed it was going to be the field / discipline I would be developing my skills & expertise over the course of the years. Two years later I was working, full time, in a Knowledge Management team. Till today. (And, yes, still going strong, in case you are wondering…)

8. And, finally, I initially got started with my blogging experience back in 2003, as a way to prove to myself how I could work smarter, not necessarily harder, relying on the community and my social networks to get the job done versus having to do the job myself re-inventing the wheel over and over again. Four years later, and just a couple of days after the 10th year anniversary of the word "Weblog", I still feel the same way. Blogs, and plenty of the various different social networks where I hang out, still make me work smarter. Much smarter! Not harder.

And that would be it. Next on this blog post is to actually tag another 8 people who would be willing, hopefully, to take the challenge and share with us 8 factoids about themselves that we may not have heard elsewhere. So here is my list of folks I would love to hear some more from on this particular topic. In random order: Jasmin Tragas (a.k.a. Jazzydee), Thomas van der Wal (a.k.a. wanderwal), David Stephenson (a.k.a. DavidStephenson), Susan Scrupski (a.k.a. ITSinsider), Dennis McDonald (a.k.a. ddmcd), Stuart Henshall (a.k.a. stuarthenshall), Andy Piper (a.k.a. andypiper) and Jon Husband (a.k.a. jonhusband).

I am sure that I could have included a whole bunch of the folks I get to interact with on a daily basis, so feel tagged as well if you would want to chime in a well. Why not, right?

Either way, I am sure that with this particular blog post you actually got to find out about stuff on me that you probably haven’t seen / read elsewhere. Hope you have found it just as entertaining as it was for me to put it up going through that trip down the memory lane.

Now time to go ahead and digest some of the wonderful discussions going on Next Generation Knowledge Sharing & Learning Online Conference Event – In Spring 2008? and see where it would take us all… Fancy joining us on that wild ride, too?

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