Wells Fargo Phising Scam

Thought I would let my readers know of a Wells Fargo Phishing Scam text I got on my phone this morning.  I knew immediately it was fake as I do not have an account with Wells Fargo but I know a lot of people that do.  It came from the email address – xitidj@wells1.com – and this was the text.

[Wells Fargo Bank] We regret to inform you that your Wells Fargo account is suspended. Update Your Personal information at: http://wellsfargoalert.net/login

I did not click on the link but I assume it takes you to a page and asks you to enter in your Wells Fargo account login information or other sensitive bank data.  Obviously if you are reading this post right now and are a Wells Fargo banking customer DO NOT click on the link and enter your account or login information.  It's clearly a phishing scam designed to prey on the unsuspecting.

With regards to the domain name – wellsfargoalert.net – it was registered just yesterday.  I can't seem to find out who owns it but the domain isn't even 24 hours old at the time of this writing.  Probably even in that short amount of time I bet many people have fallen for this Wells Fargo Phishing scam, unfortunately.

The Wells1.com domain name seems to be a legitimate business, Wells Printing Company, that's been in operation since 1997 and the website doesn't seem to be anything malicious, at least from what I can tell.  Likely the scammer gained access to the hosting account or domain name registrar for Wells Printing and can control the email of this domain.  They could also be using a dead end domain coming from another server but I didn't research it enough to figure it out.  I mean… Wells Fargo doesn't pay my bills. 🙂

While I don't like phishing scams this is a pretty smart honestly.  The Verizon “Your Past Due”  I wrote about was better constructed but I imagine a lot of people think this is real anyway.  Just a good reminder to be aware, careful, and cautious online.

If you got this Wells Fargo Phishing Scam and this article helped you realize what it was, please leave a comment below.

Also Read

Apple “Verify Your Account” Phishing Scam Email

Twitter Invitation Email Scam

Text Spam? No, Just a Really Bad Domain Name


2014 State of the Word with Matt Mullenweg

state of the word

What's more important than the State of the Union address?  The annual State of the Word address given by Matt Mullenweg, created of WordPress, at WordCamp San Francisco.  This is if you like open source software and are a fan and user of WordPress. 🙂

You might have read my 2013 State of the Word round-up last year or my WordPress 10th Anniversary post which summarized the 2012 State of the Word.  Well since WordPress gets better each year so will this State of the Word summary.

2014 State of the Word

[wpvideo GmPDhkyi]


Notably for this year's State of the Word Mullenweg is wearing tie and plaid jacket perhaps showing that him and WordPress are growing up?  Also he has cut his hair.

Whether or not Automattic is “growing up” WordCamp San Francisco is getting bigger and better too.  The last year WordCamp San Francisco is going to be held at the Mission Bay conference center since the venue is too small, “We are literally bursting at the seems here.” said Mullenweg.  For next year's WordCamp they will move to a new location and rename it.  A date, time, and location will be announced but they are going to do something along the lines of WordCamp Europe.

One of the things Mullenweg talked about during the 2014 State of the Word was making WordPress more internationalized for users who do no speak English. Language Packs will be coming in 2015 which will allow plugin and theme developers to automatically get their WP products translated.  This means you do not have to speak other languages to make a WP contribution available to the world.  This is potentially a huge development with the introduction of full International Domain Names (IDNs) this year. I assume these IDNs will have a much wider adoption worldwide if WordPress can be easily used in non-English and Roman based languages.

Automattic is working on making searches within WordPress more localized experience for those that speak other languages as well.  What does that mean?  If you speak Spanish you can see plugin and theme reviews in Spanish and search in Spanish in addition to other languages.  This will make it easier for non-native English speakers to use WordPress.

Mullenweg also talked about how people making a living with WordPress.  “People pay their mortgages, feed their families, send their kids to school with WordPress.” he commented proudly.

Something Mullenweg attempted was to get a new post for 39 days everyday.  I've wanted to do this too… but failed… life. 🙂

Better Stats for plugin and theme authors will be introduced.  I assume these improved stats will help authors figure out and understand who actually uses their plugins rather than who just downloads it.

Updates  will be getting major improvements soon.   “Work like Chrome” is something Mullenweg said this year and he even said he was “Jealous” of the way Chrome worked at the 2013 State of the Word.  Basically they want to make updates more of a backend thing rather than attaching numeric versions to them.  He mentioned competitors, if you can even call them that, such as SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly.  (You should definitely switch from Blogger to WordPress by the way.)

“The hosts have been pioneers at this.” said Mullenweg regarding automatic WordPress updates.  He emphasized help keep web hosting companies servers secure and make it so that less WordPress sites can get hacked.  Mullenweg pointed out it is a PIA if you do get hacked and that you need coding skills to really clean it up.  Automattic is going to use their relationship with hosts to get more people upgraded to the latest version of PHP, the coding language WordPress is written in, which will help with compatibility.

The new default Worpdress theme, 2015, looks pretty slick. “Book like typographer, book like feel.” commented Mullenweg about the themes look and feel.

Automattic will not be using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) as a primary communication method.  They are moving to using Slack since it is easier to search old conversations and it works on multiple devices.  Also anyone will be able to sign-up to Slack and see what's going on with WordPress chats.  Visit – chat.wordpress.org – to get an idea of what's happening with Slack and WordPress .

Mullenweg is encouraging “Five for the Future” which means they are encouraging 5% of their time to the core WordPress community.  This means Wordcamps, meetups, or contributing in the forum.

There was a lot of discussion about mobile developments.  Mullenweg pointed out that there are more mobile phones on the planet now than people.  Kind of scary but show you just how much people love their phones.  “The web capabilites of these devices are getting better, and better, and better each year.”  He believes WordPress not only need to ride the wave but be active contributing to mobile.

There were 33,378 responses to the WordPress survey this year from 179 countries. “We don't promote it that much, we just put a link to it on WordPress.org” said Mullenweg at the beginning of the 2014 State of the Word.

For those that don't want to spend the 45 minutes watching the State of the Word address I've summarized some important stats.  (You should watch the State of the Word if you are interested in WordPress or web development though.)

2014 WordPress Stats

  • 23% of respondents from US
  • 77% of respondents from outside the US
  • 2014 – first year that non English downloads surpassed English downloads of WordPress.
  • 87% of people said that used WordPress “Mostly as a CMS”
  • WordPress usage as a Content Management System (CMS) has declined since 2012.
  • 20% of respondents said they used WordPress “Mostly as a blog”
  • 6% stated they used WordPress “Mostly as an Application Framework”
  • 25% of respondents to the survey make a full-time living from WordPress.  That is 7,539 people.
  • Those who make a living from WordPress make up over 1 billion dollars in economic activity per year.
  • The Good about WP – 1. Easy 2. Plugin 3. Community
  • The Bad about WP – 1. Plugins 2. Themes 3. Updates
  • Almost 1,100,000 sites have been built on WordPress from survey respondents
  • 6% said they had only built 1 site with WordPress
  • 91% of these sites took less than 200 hours (4-5 weeks) to build
  • Since the last Wordcamp San Francisco there have been 5 major WordPress releases (3.6 Oscar3.7 Basie – , 3.8 Parker – 3.9 Smith – 4.0 Benny)
  • 785 contributors over the 5 major WordPress releases
  • 23% of the Web runs on WordPress
  • 6,459 plugins were added to the WordPress plugin repository, a 26.5% increase since last year.
  • There are now 34,061 available WordPress plugins in the repository.
  • 684 themes were added, a 36.5% increase
  • 2,781 themes are now available for free on WordPress.org
  • 1,000,000 WordPress VIP commits
  • The WordPress Android app received 2 updates
  • The iOS app received 5 updates
  • 100 meetup and Wordcamp organizers at Wordcamp San Francisco, 21 different countries represented, 105 meetup groups active
  • Only 25% of people are currently using the latest version of WordPress, 4.0
  • All mobile apps are developed on GitHub now

Pretty impressive huh?  The WordPress goal to “Democratize Publishing” becomes more of a reality each year.

Also watch this Question and Answer session that Matt Mullenweg conducted after his State of the Word address.

WordCamp San Francisco Q&A – Matt Mullenweg

[wpvideo WmCl2kwS]


If you have any opinions about these WordPress stats, the 2014 State of the Word, or WordPress in general please leave a comment below.  Answer this, how has WordPress changed your life and made it better?  I'd love to hear answers to this as I know it's made my web experience better.

Best Free Forum Software to Start a Community

Looking to start an online discussion forum?  What is the best free forum software though?  There are a lot of software and script options out there that are free and open source (FOSS) but these are the 4 that I would recommend to a friend.  Since all my readers are my friends, these list should help you, my reader friend. 🙂


best free forum softwareOut of the box MyBB, My Bulletin Board, has many great features. This includes calendars and events, user promotions, mass email newsletter, moderation tools, reputation management, and more.  It also allows users to easily correspond via private messages. There are also a healthy amount of plugins to help you extend the functionality of your MyBB forum.

While MyBB is my first choice for free forum software there are some drawbacks.  The developers will claim it is “easy to use” but I'm going to tell you from experience it is not.  The disadvantage to MyBB is that it has a somewhat steep learning curve.  I personally do not find the administration interface and backend intuitive.  If you decide to use MyBB you will have to spend time reading the documentation and figuring out how to do a lot of things.

Luckily what makes MyBB the most ideal choice is what makes forums great, the community around it.  If you have questions or issues about MyBB you'll get them answered in the support forums in one day or a few hours most of the time.  You will find people are helpful and eager to answer questions to help out fellow MyBB administrators having trouble and needing advice.

If you want to see what you can do with MyBB go visit HaraJuJu, a community for Japanese fashion.  While the site has an extreme amount of customization it is still built on MyBB.  It is absolutely mind blowing how good HaraJuJu looks and it is one of the best designed forums I've ever seen.

MyBB is quite stable, has been around for a long time, is actively developed, and should be a top consideration if you are looking at free forum software.


Probably the oldest and best known free and open source software out there is PhpBB, php Bulletin Board, which seems like it's been around forever.  That's mainly because it has been and likely if you've joined any forums out on the net, at least one of them was running on phpBB.

PhpBB is powerful and has nice features but it is somewhat tricky to learn to use.  Ideally you should have someone help you setup the forum and help maintain and upgrade it when needed.  PhpBB upgrades from what I've read can be tricky especially when there is a lot of customization with plugins and modifications.  If you are completely new to building a website, I don't think PhpBB is ideal.  If you love coding in php, then you'll probably no issues.

Other issues regarding PhpBB is that spammers delight in hitting forums running on PhpBB.  Attempting to deter forum spam is quite hard but doable if you are diligent.  MyBB suffers from some of the same problems but I hear with PhpBB it is worse.  I've also read there are some security issues with PhpBB but I'm really not sure what they are as I've never run a phpBB forum.

The advantage to phpbb is that it's been around forever and it is easy to find people that know the ins-and-outs of this forum software.  There are also tons of modifications and hacks that people have built over the years for this forum software.  In addition phpBB can handle incredibly large communities like the Ars Technica board and the Joomla community. If you check out Gaia that is another extremely large forum community and its probably one of the better designed phpBB forums I've seen.

Overall I'm not a fan of phpBB because of it's complexity in terms of administration and upgrading but lots of sites use it.  Likely lots of sites will continue to use it until the internet dies.

Simple Machines

Simple Machines (SMF for short) is a another good choice on this list of best free forum software.  What's good about SMF is that the administration panel is easier to use out of all the forum software on this list.  It's intuitive and those new to the platform shouldn't have any issues with it.

Even though SMF is nice for beginners it doesn't seem to be as actively developed as phpBB and MyBB.  While installing plugins is easy and they are some great free ones available, I just don't see a lot of the plugins as actively maintained by developers.  Some Simple Machines modifications are kind of tricky or the plugins I wanted to use were too outdated.  So when I considered building a SMF board, I searched for a forum web designer to build it out this with the features I wanted.  Too build this SMF forum with all the features I wanted the quotes I was getting back were so high due to the customization and modification work it would have made more sense to buy an IPBoard or XenForo license honestly.

You could probably live with having some issues with SMF since the backend is better than phpBB or MyBB but help with in the SMF community can be sparse.  If more developers maintained plugins, they were easier to implement and there was more active support, I'd prefer to use SMF.

The largest scale SMF board I've seen is run by the Czech security software company, Avast, for technical support.  It's not well designed but it works flawlessly and handles lots of posts and users well.


Want a forum that is lightweight?  Does not have a lot of added bloated code?  Is extremely light on server resources?  FluxBB, Flux Bulletin Board, is your most ideal option.

Designed to have unfeatures FluxBB is good for those that need a forum without having to worry about something not working.  Obviously the more cool features the more likely something will go wrong.  (Any web developer will tell you this.)  Still there are many FluxBB modifications if you want to add functionality to a forum.  Just the idea here is that are not included in general installs and you the majority of features you want yourself.

FluxBB is not nearly as popular as the MyBB, phpBB, or SMF, which are consider the main three open source forum software options available.  There is still a strong dedicated FluxBB community though.

FluxBB won't win design awards but if you just need something simple this will work.  Keep in mind standard FluxBB forums look much better than a lot of the other lightweight options out there.  The best FluxBB forum I've seen goes to TextPattern, an open source content management system (like WordPress), by a far mile.

Choosing Forum Software

One of the issues I've seen with choosing forum software is that is it hard to know what you like, or don't, about any of the above mentioned forum software options until you have built an active and engaged community.  Only after you have used the software for awhile do you truly know if it fits your needs. For anyone that has tried to start a discussion forum from scratch you know it is not easy to build a critical mass and that's why most people don't do boards.  Also I showcased what the best examples of what you can with MyBB, phpBB, Simple Machines, and FluxBB.  Those examples took a lot of work and take a lot of upkeep.

If you go with one of these and you are not happy, you can always switch between forum software.  Luckily all the forum software I've talked about in this article is written in PHP and uses a MySQL database.  Since all these forum software uses the same underlying technology switching is easier between SMF, MyBB, phpBB, and FluxBB if needed.  Still dealing with moves can cause headaches and issues depending on the size of the forum and complexity of add-ons.  Somebody might have experience dealing with thees problems. 🙂

The “best free forum software” is a misnomer as it depends on your goals and what you need out of a discussion forum.  Also keep in mind that fans of these forum software still have issues and complaints with them too.  The guy who runs HaraJuJu believes that MyBB is in desperate need of a “humanization project” meaning it needs to built for regular people.  I totally agree with this.

Like I said above I prefer MyBB even though it's not entirely intuitive as it at least I feel I can ask questions and get them answered when needed.  Others have different preferences for different reasons.  A lot of these scripts can be installed via 1-click auto installer by the way.  It depends on what web hosting company you use but this allows you to easily give them ‘test run' to see what you like.

Don't let anyone tell you that forums are dead because they are not.  (These are the same people that say email marketing is dead, which is also not true.)  Forums can be better than social media if done properly and they can earn revenue which is always good.  Hopefully whatever you choose it will allow you to culminate in having the best forum possible.

If you feel I've missed mentioning a feature or want to add your opinion about what you feel the best free forum software is, please leave a comment below.  What do you like or don't like in the open source community?  Can you explain why?

Shutting a Website Down

shutting a website downShutting a website down is never easy but recently I went through this process.  I downloaded all the files for this site, zipped them, and then deleted them from the server on my web hosting account.  I recommend anyone who is going to shut down a website do this since if you have all the files backed up, you can put them up again.

It was kind of sad for me to shutdown the site honestly.  Why?  As a web developer you essentially feel like a failure that your project, which you invested a lot into, did not work.  I sort of blamed others for the fact it didn't work.  However it really was my fault and there is not anyone else to blame.

I could have tried to redesign the site and make sure to keep adding new content everyday but deep down I knew the niche wasn't going to work and it was a waste of time.  By that I mean it wasn't going to make any money and my original monetization plan was misguided. Even if it the site had made money and had worked I wouldn't have made enough to cover the investment into running and maintain the site.

Checking the stats I could see that it still the site still had traffic from long tail keywords.  When I closed it down a few days ago I actually was contacted by someone who liked the site asking what happened.  I explained the issue, like most web projects is, resources.  I can't invest time into websites that won't produce decent revenue.  I wish I could see everything through till a project works but hey life just doesn't work that way.

I decided for now to keep the domain name if I want to revisit this niche in the future.  I just renewed the domain but I doubt that I will have the time, energy, or to tackle this niche again.  I guess we will see once I'm an internet millionaire. 🙂

If you have gone through the process of shutting a website down, how did you feel about it?  Relieved, bad, angry, or did you just accept it was the right thing to do?

Forums are Dead, So Why are you Still on a Forum?

forums are dead

Forums are dead… soooo why are you still on a forum?

I had this question the other day when I was posting on a webmaster and SEO discussion forum because some smart ass dropped this bomb into a thread;

Forums are dead! Everyone and everything is moving to social and social media.

I will concede that online discussion forums have lost some of their luster over the years.  Social media is definitely the “new kid on the block” and this doesn't seem to be slowing down.

I see these types of comments a lot on bulletin boards all over the web.  Since I was an active member of this particular forum I did what any rational person would do, I quoted him in my reply and said:

Get of this ____ forum then.

The reply I got one day later was;

Oh no, I don't mean these forums!

Come on, people… really?  Why would you post this statement on a forum and then say you obviously don't mean this particular forum is dying?  What I find odd is this user had far more posts than I did and was still quite active in the community.  While a lot of his posts and reputation took years to build-up there was no indication he was interested in abandoning his place in this webmaster community.

On this website I once asked, “Are forums better than Social Media?” If you see the study by Social Media Explorer shows they are.  I assume social media gurus like Dave Kerpen might tell you otherwise I still believe online discussion forums have a market and will stay.  Does anyone think text messaging is going anywhere?

While my foray into building online forums and communities hasn't gone that well, I still don't think that means there is no interested in them.  (My wide fucking open niche didn't work out that well.)  Gaming and tech forums are still popular and active.   Hey, I even see some social media marketing forums out there.

Derek Mueller showed us the disadvantage of platforms in his Facebook Fraud video.  On social media you aren't sure if you are getting bots or real people.  With forums, as long as the spam stays off, you know you are actively engaging in meaningful discussions.

Probably people who believe forums are dead are the same people who think email marketing is dead.  It's not in case you were wondering and email newsletters have seen a resurgence in the past couple of months.

Anyway I'm unsure where this rhetoric comes from, but what are your thoughts? Are forums dead?  Is social media taking the place of these outlets?  Will some other technology or type of site replace forums?

Crowdfunding Campaigns are Not Easy

crowdfunding campaignsCrowdfunding campaigns are all the rage nowadays.  Who doesn't need money for their business or entrepreneurial venture?  I mean the whole concept sounds like a dream, post your great idea or product and watch the money pour in and rack up.   Of course… it's not that easy.

Lately I've been getting more questions and crowdfunding and the best way to go about setting up and promoting campaigns.  I think crowdsourcing and crowdfunding and amazing and show the power of the internet, but the majority of these crowdfunding platforms and sites have painted a fair rosier picture than what reality is.  Honestly, raising money on these sites is much harder than it used to be as it's getting more and more crowded everyday.  Keep in mind we only hear about the success stories and not about all the failures on these crowdfunding sites.  There are a lot of crowdfunding campaigns that might have been executed extremely well that failed or ones that were basically were not even worth running.

In my article suggesting tips for running a successful Kickstarter campaign check out #3 on the list, getting people to write about you campaign.  This has become much more important since I wrote that article.

A couple months ago I was contacted by someone who had a business-to-business product for the music and tradeshow industry.  He wanted, or needed, to raise money for his company so that he could take product manufacturing to the next level.  His plan was to run a Kickstarter campaign to get the money as he already had poured quite a bit of his own savings into launching this product.

As I talked with this potential client more about this lighting system and doing a crowdfunding campaign it became apparent he wasn't sure of a lot of things.  This gentleman had yet to setup a website and was going to launch it along with the campaign.  (The main sales platform for had used was eBay.)  This was a really bad idea.   I started to grill him more about all his plans for the website, the design, and if he wanted to sell products directly on there.   He claimed he had ecommerce experience but wasn't really aware of options like WordPress (with Woocommerce), Magneto, or OScommerce.  On top of this the reward system he had for contributing money was wacky.  This was a bad way to get started and it sort of felt like he was trying to get to first place in a car race with a faulty transmission and engine.

Bottom line, he was seriously underestimating how hard this was going to be and the time commitment he needed to invest.  (You have to invest a lot of your time to do crowdfunding successfully.)  Also business products typically don't do well on crowdfunding platforms.  Really consumer oriented products do better since people want to find things they can use in their everyday lives.

My biggest issue though was I couldn't think of any colleagues, sites, or bloggers we could approach to write about this product.  Therefore I knew it was “dead on arrival” since if we couldn't create buzz on from any websites, it would be hard to gain a critical mass to reach the funding goal.  People think social media creates web buzz but often it works the other way.  Also generally the most successful campaigns are for companies and people that already have a reputation.

Even though the guy had a clear idea of why he needed the money and what he would do with it, it was still completely impractical to do a crowdfunding campaign for this product.  He hadn't thought through a lot of his business plans and people will see through this.  I took apart most of his plans in 5 minutes and I couldn't rewrite his material to make this sound better.  More importantly journalists, like myself, are great at sniffing out BS pitches or half-truths from PR agencies and reps regarding crowdfunding campaigns.  I get a lot from PR firms contacting me regarding crowdfunding campaigns but usually it's not presented in this way.  They really try to make it seem like the product is already available.  If he isn't clear, I can't be serious about pitching this to anyone.

I advised this guy to;

  1. Consider other funding options, if they are available.
  2. Forgot the crowdfunding thing altogether.
  3. Get a website up, gather testimonials, build his web reputation.
  4. Reconsider his options 1-2 years down the road when he has proven sales.
  5. He he is serious choose another crowdfunding platform that is less crowded.

It would have been easy for me to take this guy's money but since I knew he wouldn't have a good experience running any crowdfunding campaigns with me, I wasn't going to work with him.  Besides if he didn't fulfill his promises this would leave a black mark on his company.  Not a good way to get started.

If you have thought of running any crowdfunding campaigns or have done one yourself, what are thoughts?  I am right that crowdfunding isn't as easy as these platforms make out?  Do we too often hear of the success stories?