Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blogger Meetup - Elizabeth; and Protecting your Blog

If you usually skip meetup posts, but have a blog of your own, please read below about how to protect your blog.

Yesterday, the first day of Labor Day weekend, included a meetup with Elizabeth of SEWN. Elizabeth recently moved from New York city, where she got to hang out with some of my favorite bloggers, Carolyn and Claudine, to southern California, and she planned a mini getaway to the Bay.

When planning our outing, Elizabeth deferred to me to select our shopping destination. Recently my favorite SF fabric store (Fabrix) has been a bit lackluster, so I suggested we meet at Stone Mountain and Daughter in the east bay, followed by a visit to Piedmonth Fabrics, less than 3 miles away.

It was so great to meet Elizabeth and her host friends! Stephanie, of The Dashing Eccentric, had seen my mention of the meetup yesterday and was quickly able to join us. Then, who should recognize my laugh across the store, but Jillian, who was serendipitously visiting her local fabric store, not yet having seen my post. Jillian was wearing a gorgeous Nikko jacket I had never seen in person and I am sorry we didn't get photos as she didn't follow us to Piedmont.

Elizabeth scored some wonderful goodies, which she has blogged about. (I didn't buy anything, other than a piece of fabric on behalf of Margy.)

After Piedmont, Elizabeth, her two host friends, and I retired to Barneys for some light refreshment. For me, it was an Oreo milkshake, a rare treat.

Now that Elizabeth is on the west coast, I hope to see her more often!

How to Protect Your Blog

Last night, Dixie (an incredibly creative blogger, btw) let me know that my blog had "disappeared". I ran to log in and discovered that, due to suspicious activity, blogger had shut it down. Meaning that some troll hacked my password and attempted some nefarious activity, probably attempting to hijack the blog.

This is a scary thing to a blogger who has put a lot of work into a blog. But I was saved from disaster and I want to share a few tips on how to protect your own work.

First, I have to thank Carolyn of HandmadeByCarolyn. A similar thing happened to her blog last December. When she managed to recover it, she shared that she had heightened her blog's security using her smart phone. You can tie your account to authentication software on your smart phone, at least in Blogger. (I don't know about Wordpress or other blog software, but they probably have something similar.)

After reading about Carolyn's experience, I immediately set this up for my own blog using my iPhone. It's a bit of a pain because I do have to periodically use a code provided by the authentication app on my phone in order to log in, but I can tell you that it's worth the minor inconvenience. Upon entering the code, my blog was immediately restored and nothing was lost, not even recent comments.

So, here are my tips for protecting your blog. If you have other tips to share, please mention them in the comments.

  • Use a strong password on the account connected to your blog. It should include lowercase and uppercase characters, numbers and punctuation. My password is now much stronger. An example of a strong password, which is still easy to remember: whenD0weEat?At8?
  • If your blog software supports it, tie your account to authentication software on your cell phone.
  • Backup your blog. I back mine up periodically and I backed it up again last night. In Blogger, go to your blog's dashboard, and then Settings -> Other. Click the Export Blog button, which brings up a dialog to save a copy of your blog to your hard drive, as an XML file. If you plan to migrate your blog elsewhere, you would use this file, but it also serves as a backup. (The XML file is human readable, which is an advantage if you want to extract a specific posting.)

Thanks again, Carolyn!! I owe you! If you ever come to SF, I'll drive you anywhere you want to go.

What are my vegetables trying to tell me? (By the way, I did cook a couple weeks ago, the first time this year!)


  1. I'm so glad that you had a good time! And thanks for the security info...I knew the first part about the authentication code and implemented it months ago when the same thing happened to the blogger, KidMD. But I didn't realize that I needed to back up my blog, so I've now done that too and will periodically back it up. I so understand what you mean about having put all this work into a blog to find it missing!

  2. agony! my blog has been removed and I have posted to a use forum at Google, but no answers yet.

    1. Your blog IS there, Robin, I just looked. I sent you email, but this happened to me yesterday, too. When Dixie alerted me, I tried to open my blog and it did not come up. I then tried Safari and was able to see my blog log-in screen.

      I restarted Firefox and was able to see it there. But of course I could not see my blog until I entered the verification code. I was able to get my blog back online in seconds. However, I can see your blog right now.

  3. Thanks for the security info and also for mentioning several good blogs I hadn't know about. Glad you are relaxing and I love the red top---has it been written about?

    1. Thanks, Peggy! That red sweater is purchased and is a cotton knit. :D

  4. Thanks for this Shams - will do a back-up of mine now. I sometimes get spam comments but that's about it (mine isn't as interesting as your's I guess) lol.....

  5. Thanks so much for the security info Shams. I had always just assumed that I'm too small of a blog to attract something like this, but I guess it's better to be prepared for the unthinkable. I was aware of the code thing but had no idea it could be backed up. Learn something new every day!

  6. I've had an authentication process set up on my cell phone (it doesn't need to be a smart phone btw) for awhile now. It can be a bit of a pain to re-enter it every time you clear your cache, or want to get into google from some other source, and I was thinking about disabling the feature. Now I won't! Thanks for reminding me that this is a good idea :)

  7. I think your carrots are telling you "thank you Shams we love you b/c you did not cook us or eat us!!"

  8. Glad it all worked out in the end - it would be terrible to lose something that you have put in so many hours in - and a blog is also such a wonderful way to record your creative achievements and other moments.
    However the same thing happened to me and I had a nothing blog so these people just don`t hack the more popular blogs

  9. Piedmont Fabrics, my favorite fabric store on earth! I go there every week or two, usually just for thread or a notion but you know how that goes. StoneMountain is also nice, especially for buttons, but Piedmont Fabrics is the first place I go whenever I'm looking for fabric.

    What did you buy?

    PS I'm not a blogger, but I'd love to join up sometime if you have room.

    Marie-Louise from Stitcher's Guild

  10. I'm wondering if there was an issue with Blogger recently. Activity was way down on Reader, and both my husband and I were unable to post pics unless we used HTML. Then pics capabilities were restored, but I was alerted that there was suspicious activity on my blog. Thank goodness I had initiated the cell phone retrieval process awhile back.

    All is good now.

    Hope the weather is a bit warmer in the Bay Area. We are having fall weather already here, and poplar leaves have started to fall.

  11. I'm too much of a lady to write what I think should be done to those who put bad things in computers. The authentication code is not the best way for me to go, but Google also gives an option to put in your home phone number which I did. How awful that must have been to go to your blog and not be able to bring it up. Yikes!

  12. You are so fortunate to live in an area where it's convenient to meet up with so many other bloggers. As for hackers, my blog was hacked. My daughter was able to restore it. I don't know what they get out of doing that. There is nothing to gain.