Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

internetarchiveContinuing in our series on the Internet Archive, we have the one thing it might be known best for, the Wayback Machine! There are over 462 billion web pages saved in the Wayback Machine, which leads to some powerful options.

The Wayback Machine is named for the WABAC time machine from the Peabody’s Improbable History segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and like a time machine, everyone has played around with the most basic usage of the Wayback Machine. Want to know what WordPress.org looked like in 2003? No problem, the Wayback Machine has it. How about what Apple.com looked like in 1997, or what Mozilla.org looked like in 1998? The Wayback Machine will be hours of fun if that’s what you’re looking for, but what else does it offer?

The power of the Wayback Machine is in what it stores: everything. The entire source of the page, along with any available media, is stored. First of all, you might be thinking, “I’d better block that immediately!” Don’t. No one is going to purposefully visit your site through the Wayback Machine instead of just normally visiting your site, that’s silly. Allow your site to be archived for history, there’s no reason not to.

So, what does this “everything” get you? Quite a bit actually. Ever wonder what would happen to your site if you found out your backups were bad? The Wayback Machine is here for you to copy and paste whatever text you need to, and to re-upload any media it was able to archive. Does something seem odd in your site lately, something you can’t quite identify? Instead of fully restoring an old backup, compare your site to last month’s archive on the Wayback Machine. If you can identify what’s different, you can even view the source like you would on any normal web page to dig into the deep details.

As a true story of its power, we use the Wayback Machine almost every day in Jetpack support. When you connect Jetpack with your blog, it ties everything to your blog’s URL, and assigns that URL a unique blog ID. If you’re running the Stats module, you can find that ID in the source output towards the bottom. Just look in the source for “blog:’number'” and that number is the blog ID. Sometimes people move their blog to a new domain, and Jetpack will get confused and think it’s a new site (we’re working on ways to improve that). If we can find the old site in the Wayback Machine, we can find the old blog ID in the source, and then we can fix everything.

The Wayback Machine has a lot to offer, and you only need to start digging to get a good grasp of just how much there is. Storing so much data isn’t cheap though, and the Internet Archive needs your donations to keep it running. Dive into history with the Wayback Machine and see what you can uncover! Next time? Smart 404 handler!

Internet Archive: Software

internetarchiveContinuing in our series on the Internet Archive, we have one of their newest sections, Software. This is definitely something your local library doesn’t have … unless it has an arcade, I suppose.

The Internet Archive has over 1 hundred-thousand software titles, including older abandoned applications and educational titles, but the real stars are the Internet Arcade and Console Living Room. Between both the Internet Arcade and Console Living Room, you’ll find over 2 thousand older arcade and console titles that you can play right in your browser!

From Defender to an Asteroids clone, you’ll be able to experience your favorite arcade classics without spending a single quarter. Looking for more nostalgic hits from your DOS or console gaming days? From Atari’s Star Wars to Rebel Assault, from Oregon Trail to Dune 2, from Super Street Fighter 2 to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, you’ll find it on the Internet Archive, ready to relive your past in your browser for free.

Take some time to explore what’s available there. You’re sure to bring back some great memories, and don’t forget, they take donations to keep everything freely available. Next time? The Wayback Machine!

Internet Archive: Free Media

internetarchiveContinuing our series on the Internet Archive, I figured we’d start with the obvious bits. At the Internet Archive, you have access to a wide variety of public domain or owner-donated texts, audio, videos, and photos. That’s right, it’s just a like a library online, because that’s exactly what it is!

There are over 8 million texts available to browse or download in eBook formats on the Internet Archive, anything from text books for higher education to US government studies into UFO sightings. If what you’re looking for isn’t freely available for download at the Internet Archive, stop by its side-project, the Open Library for even more titles available to check out in eBook formats.

There are almost 3 million audio files available to stream or download, including voice recordings, radio shows, music, whole albums, audio books, and almost 2 hundred-thousand full live concerts. You’ll never need to buy an album or pay for a streaming music service again, unless you wanted to hear recently released music of course.

There are just over 2 million videos available to stream or download, including movies and television. If you’re feeling nostalgic, stop by the Perlinger Archives for over 6 thousand public service announcements and educational films, or perhaps almost 1 million TV news clips.

There are over 1 million images available to browse and download. From NASA Images to 16th Century artwork, it’s your history stored digitally in so many ways.

Take some time to tour the Internet Archive and see what you can find, and don’t forget, they take donations to keep everything freely available. Next time? Software!

The Internet Archive

internetarchiveThe Internet Archive has been one of my favorite sites for quite a few years, and many of its hidden powers are not that obvious at first glance, so I figured I might as well write up a few posts. With that said, this is part 1 of a 5 part series.

What is the Internet Archive? According to their about page:

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. … Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software, as well as archived web pages in our collections.

That sure is a lot to take in, and from a non-profit organization too! In short, the Internet Archive is dedicating to digitally preserving both our physical and digital history, and making it all freely available to the world, in many ways more than any other library or museum out there. Besides its core offerings, the Internet Archive has a large number of fascinating connected projects, including Open Library and most recently Political TV Ad Archive which collects this year’s political ads and reports some fascinating data.

There sure is a lot going on at the Internet Archive, and that’s why they’re always open to donations. There are quite a few things I couldn’t do without the Internet Archive, and over the next few days (weeks?) I hope to share some of the far less obvious ones with you. For now, browse around it and see what you can discover!

Happy New Year! the 2016 edition

2016 begins today, so it’s a great time to make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, setup two factor authentication wherever you can, start a blog with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

MacManX.com had a great 2015, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2016!

MacManX.com in 2015

2015statsAccording to this report from the good folks at Jetpack, 2015 was another big year for MacManX.com. Along with some interesting stats, the report sums it up best:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2015 was a bit slower for MacManX.com than last year, so I’ll see what I can do about publishing a bit more content in 2016. 🙂

WordPress 4.4 Released

2016ipadWordPress 4.4 has been released! This release introduces the new default theme Twenty Sixteen, responsive images, post embeds, the basic infrastructure for the upcoming REST API, and more.

466 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Scott Taylor. That’s a new record for WordPress, almost doubling the last release! At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.4 has been out for only 30 minutes, and has already been downloaded 58,192 times!

All users can now safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

The WordPress.com Desktop App

wpappThere’s a new desktop app for WordPress blogs, this time from the good folks at Automattic, the people behind WordPress.com. I know many of you have heard me say that WordPress.com and WordPress are two entirely separate entities, so let me clear this up right now. You can use this app with both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress(.org) blogs! Despite the app’s name, you can connect your self-hosted WordPress blog to WordPress.com with Jetpack and it’s Manage module, allowing you to work with your self-hosted WordPress blog in both WordPress.com and the app.

The new desktop app is mostly a wrapper for Calypso, the new WordPress.com interface packed full of the latest web technology. Calypso is where the real fun lies, conceived as an answer to “What if we rebuilt WordPress from scratch today?” It’s fast, responsive, and open source, with real-time notifications, the ability to work with multiple sites through the same interface, and a thoroughly re-built editor.

The desktop app brings Calypso to you in a browser-free app, free of occasionally troublesome browser extensions and poor support of the latest web technologies from certain browsers I dare not name, leveraging the processing power and local storage of your computer. It’s a whole new way to experience WordPress, packed into one convenient application.

Try the new WordPress.com Desktop App today, or even just Calypso at WordPress.com itself, you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

WordPress Security and Auto-Updates

autoupdatesWordPress 4.3.1 was released six days ago and included three security fixes. If you haven’t done anything silly to disable auto-updates, you would have been automatically updated within an hour of the announcement (and in some cases even before the announcement). If you have disabled auto-updates, your site was publicly at risk until you manually updated, and if you still haven’t updated, you had better do so now.

Auto-updates are not only crucial, they are almost quite literally the least you can do to protect your site. When a security update is announced, along with the vulnerabilities being made public, you could trust your site to update itself quickly and efficiently with no effort on your part, or you could disable all of that and keep your site vulnerable until you got around to doing it yourself. Sure, there is a very slim possibility that a feature of a plugin on your site may momentarily break until its developer fixes it, but such a thing is insignificant compared to recovering a hacked site, or losing an unrecoverable hacked site, just because you decided to let it live with publicly known vulnerabilities.

This doesn’t just extend to WordPress core. Plugins and themes get occasional security updates too. While WordPress doesn’t automatically update those by default, you can make it do so by modifying wp-config.php, using a plugin, or a service like Jetpack Manage. Just like with WordPress core, the updates will be applied within an hour of the release. And, if you’re worried about losing theme modifications, make sure that you’re using a child theme or a plugin like Jetpack Custom CSS so that you can modify your theme in a way that still allows you to safely update the parent theme.

When it comes to securing WordPress, there’s a lot you can do, but allowing auto-updates to function is by far the best way to keep your site secure, and almost quite literally the least you can do. Enjoy the freedom and security that auto-updates afford to you and your site.

WordPress 4.3 Released

si600WordPress 4.3 has been released! This release introduces menu and site icon controls to the customizer, formatting shortcuts to the editor, stronger password enforcement, and more.

246 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Konstantin Obenland. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.3 has been out for a bit over 2 hours and has already been downloaded 373,399 times!

All users can now safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.