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Joomla! CMS Security Advisory

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Hi everyone!

There have been several new security vulnerabilities reported for the popular Joomla! CMS system. These are very serious security issues that could allow an attacker to gain unauthorized control of your web hosting account. More information can be found here:

http://developer.joomla.org/security/593-20140901-core-xss-vulnerability.html
http://developer.joomla.org/security/594-20140902-core-unauthorised-logins.html
http://developer.joomla.org/security.html

We strongly encourage every Joomla! installation to be upgraded to the latest available version immediately. The latest stable and secure versions are 2.5.26, 3.2.6, and 3.3.5.

Additionally, a wealth of security-related Joomla! documentation can be found at http://docs.joomla.org/Security. We strongly suggest getting familiar with it and looking into further securing your Joomla! CMS installations to protect your account from compromise. The Joomla! Security Center is also suggested to be regularly checked for any vulnerability reports or security patches.

As always, feel free to contact our Support Team if you have any questions or need help!

State of Site5: September 2014

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Hi there!

Wow, where did summer go? Much of the Northern Hemisphere has cooled down dramatically compared to normal temperatures this time of year. Autumn is certainly coming quickly, and things keep ticking right along here at Site5. Here is what we have been working on over the past month:

  • Our new account management system is pretty close to feature parity with our existing system. Some new features have been introduced as well that make things much easier to assist customers, and we are all looking forward to the migration.
  • We deployed an outbound spam filtering solution to a good portion of our servers that has dramatically cut down on the number of spam blacklists our servers end up on for a variety of reasons. We are very happy with the results so far, and we hope that, over time, you will notice the improvement too.
  • Site5 has agreed to be a sponsor for the 2015 GIANT conference, which is a conference for designers and builders of the web happening in Charleston, SC, USA.
  • Site5 is also sponsoring NEPA Blogcon, which is a convention about blogging, social media, marketing and Internet culture in Dallas, PA, USA.
  • Our new account migration tool is currently in beta testing, and it shouldn’t be long before it is live!
  • We still have multiple job openings available, including multiple Customer Support Specialist and Technical Support Specialist positions! If you, or anyone you know, are a good fit for any of the positions, please apply now!

And that’s all for now! Until October, I leave you with this:

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
– Dr. Seuss

Site5 Urges You To Take Action Today to Protect Net Neutrality

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Back in May we posted a guest post from Christian Dawson, the Chairman and co-founder of i2Coalition (Internet Infrastructure Coalition) where he outlined for us some of the basic tenants of Net Neutrality and why it’s important that we protect it. He did a great job and we appreciate him taking the time to do that for us. We would be hard pressed to do a better job explaining why this is such an important issue – so we won’t try.

What we do want to do is urge you to take action. Of all the worthy causes that come across our screens on a daily basis, this one directly impacts every person reading this post. We can safely say that because to see this post you had to connect to the Internet and download the contents of the page to read it. That ability, at its core, is what is at stake if we fail to act. We apologize if that sounds overly dramatic, but it is the truth – and you, the individual, have an opportunity to directly impact the future of the Internet, as we know it today.

Taking action to prevent a handful of companies from wrenching control of the Internet, the content that exists on it and the creativity and innovation that inherently exists as a result of it, only takes a few minutes, can be done immediately after reading this post, and doesn’t require you to dump freezing water on your head.

First, we strongly encourage everyone to comment on the FCC’s comment page letting them know that you want them to protect the equal access to the Internet, for this and future generations, and maintain Net Neutrality. Commenting closes September 15th.

What do I do?
Click proceeding 14-28. It should be near the top. Fill in your information.
 
What do I say?
“I want internet service providers classified as common carriers.”

In addition, if you own a website, there is a large movement to bring awareness to this issue on September 10, 2014 at the BattleForTheNet.com website. There you can download a snippet of code to insert into your website to display a message letting your visitors know they can also take action to protect Net Neutrality.

Don’t wait! Join us and take action today.

State of Site5: August 2014

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Hello Everyone!

August has been a busy month so far, which explains why this post is slightly late to get posted this month (and sorry for the delay too!). Without further ado, let me jump straight into the updates on everything that we have been working on:

  • Our CRM backend is almost ready and is actively being tested by staff. A lot of improvements were made by our engineering team based on feedback and feature requests from staff.
  • Meanwhile, Our current CRM backend (that powers Backstage) received a major upgrade to its underlying hardware. We’re very happy with its performance since the upgrade!
  • We are developing a new account migration tool internally that aims to greatly improve the way we migrate accounts from server to server.
  • We continue to have several job openings, including two new positions on our Marketing team, so if you know of anyone who could be a good fit for any of the advertised positions, please do have them apply!
  • As we had mentioned back in July, we are testing a good outbound spam filtering solution to significantly reduce incidences of servers getting blacklisted. We have made good progress on that front and the solution will be fully tested soon.
  • We have started collecting a lot of customer service statistics and metrics to help gauge support performance and identify where we need improve. Over the long term this will hopefully improve your support experience significantly!

That’s it for now. If you have one more minute to spare, I would invite you to check out this cool project that we sponsored on Kickstarter to Revolutionize Website Design Curriculum in High Schools. We’re quite proud of this initiative!

See you in the comments!

State of Site5: July 2014

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Hello everyone!

It’s July and where I live is hot and humid now, but I’m not complaining after the winter I had! Beach weather is here and the skies are clear. But that won’t stop me from getting you up-to-date on what Site5 has been up to over the last month, like:

  • Work has begun on finding ways to make backups and restores quicker. Disk sizes are getting larger, and customer disk usage is increasing as well. So we are starting to look for ways to improve our backup and restore times to make sure we can recover from major failures if they occur.
  • Another important issue we are addressing is improving outbound mail reliability. We are looking for ways to prevent servers from ending up on blacklists, reducing mail downtime and delivery delays. We expect to make significant improvements to this problem this month and next.
  • Testing is underway on a new system that will allow us to build VPS templates automatically. This will allow us to better test and offer new VPS templates more quickly, especially for Unmanaged VPS!
  • Work on our new CRM backend continues at a good pace. There has been more testing, some feature requests from staff, and more bugfixes. We are taking our time because we really want this to be a flawless experience for everyone – our customers and staff.
  • Don’t forget we are sponsoring Joomla Day Minnesota! It’s happening on July 19, 2014.
  • We currently have seven job openings, including both Customer Service Specialist and Technical Support Specialist positions! If you are reading this, then I’m confident you have what it takes to work here. Apply today!

As you can see, we are still hard at work on behind-the-scenes items that will make the customer experience smoother and faster. Until next month, I leave you with this:

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Site5 Sponsors the First Annual Joomla Day Minnesota

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If you have never been to the Midwestern region of the United States, a trip to Minnesota should be on your agenda this summer. On July 19, 2014, Minnesota will be hosting one of the largest Joomla events in the industry. Joomla Day Minnesota is an entire day dedicated to learning, teaching and networking with Joomla professionals.

Joomla Day Minnesota will feature lectures made by leading Joomla experts in the industry. In addition to these lectures on Joomla and future Joomla improvements, Joomla Day will also offer workshops for learners of all experience levels. Duke Speer, the Master of Ceremonies for the Joomla Day event is known to the Joomla community as a passionate website designer and advocate for not-for-profit organizations. Also joining Duke for lectures at Joomla Day are Keynote Speakers, Rod Martin, Luke Summerfield, and Victor Dover.

Joomla has established itself as a leading content management system. Built as a framework for the creation of powerful websites and online applications, Joomla has become a popular choice amongst many developers in the tech industry. Joomla has been participating in such programs as the Google Summer of Code program every summer, and has been expanding into more cities to provide more Joomla events for designers, developers and businesses.

Joomla Day hopes to encourage web developers and coders of all ages to network, learn and share ideas about the Joomla framework. Joomla has one of the largest brand communities and followings in the open source community. Members of this community share articles, techniques and current events in Joomla magazine, one of the only open source magazines in the industry. Joomla Day Minnesota is one of the newer venues for the Joomla Day community meetups, but will certainly not be the last.

Staff Interview: Joshua Priddle

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This week we get to talk to Joshua Priddle, one of the wonderful Software Developers here at Site5.

Where are you from?

I’m from a small town called Galway in upstate New York.

Where do you currently live?

I currently live about 30 minutes south of where I grew up in a larger town called Clifton Park. I’m about a 5 minute drive from everything I need, which is really convenient.

What’s your position with Site5 and how have you found it so far?

I’m a software developer. I’ve been with the development team here for 3 years, and I absolutely love it! The team is really diverse, especially when it comes to their programming experience and opinions on tools and technology. We all help each other learn and grow as developers, which is one of my favorite aspects of my job.

Tell us how your typical day goes!

I’m not an early morning person. I usually wake up around 9am, clean up, then have a little caffeine and a small breakfast while I read email and Hacker News. I start my shift at 10am and spend the day working on bug fixes or new features for one of our various projects. This can vary a bit depending on the task. Sometimes I have to research new tools or work with staff/customers to isolate the cause of a bug.

When I feel a piece of work is ready to deliver, I open a pull request on GitHub and ask the rest of the team to review and offer any suggestions on how it could be improved. Once that is done the changes are accepted (or merged in developer parlance) and uploaded to the appropriate website.

Since the other people on the team are more or less following the same process, I also take time to review their work and offer any suggestions I might have. Peer review is one of our best tools to prevent bugs and help each other learn.

After I’m done for the day I like to leave my office for at least an hour to unwind, then I usually end up back there working on my own projects or gaming.

How do you approach your job?

Before I write any code, I always try to clearly understand what problem a feature or bug fix is solving. Without a clear objective, it can be very easy to add code that is out of scope, not yet necessary, or doesn’t adequately solve the problem at hand.

Once I’ve determined what my objective should be, I try to implement a feature or bug fix with the simplest possible solution. Complicated code is harder to maintain and incurs a higher maintenance cost in the long run. Every line of code we add has a certain maintenance cost, so I always try to keep that in mind when I am working.

Requirements can change and other developers on the team might have different ideas on the best way to accomplish a task. It’s important to keep an open mind and not take offense if code has to be abandoned or changed after receiving feedback.

How did you come to be a software developer?

I started designing simple websites about 15 years ago when I was still in high school. In 2006 I started working at a local VoIP company as a technical support representative and got really into Linux and systems administration. I eventually learned how to work on the VoIP platform and billing system. From there I realized I enjoyed programming more than designing, and I continued learning as much as I could.

Do you have any spare time to work on your own projects?

I have a fair amount of free time to work on my own projects. Programming also happens to be one of my favorite hobbies, so I tend to work on things that are useful to other developers or help me with my job. Some of my projects end up being used in our software, and I often get to work on those during my normal shift.

What’s your most satisfying experience at work?

Helping people is the most satisfying part of my job. The software I work on reaches all of our staff and our customers, and I enjoy fixing bugs or working on new features that make their lives easier.

We use a lot of open source software and maintain a fair bit of our own. It’s always great to contribute to a project we rely on or to hear that one of our projects has helped another developer.

How do you like working remotely?

I love working remotely, especially in the winter months! We can get a lot of snow where I live, and it is awesome not having to shovel a car out early in the morning when it snows. I usually listen to music while I’m working and I’m able to listen at any volume without worrying about distracting coworkers. I do sometimes miss the social interactions from working in an office environment, but overall I find I am able to focus better without the distractions of an office.

Advice for people aspiring to your role?

Never stop learning! Technology moves fast, and you really have to make a habit of learning new things in order to keep up, especially in the software world. At the same time, never be afraid to admit you don’t know something. There are always people who can help you if you are willing to learn.

Any trends at the moment worth following?

I’m a huge Apple fan. Until now software for Macs and iPhones/iPads has been written in Objective-C, which can be difficult to learn. They’ve just released a new, simpler language for developing apps, Swift. I’m really looking forward to trying it out myself and seeing what other developers make with it.

Site5 Sponsors “Rails Girls Summer of Code”

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Photo by Anika Lindtner

Photo by Anika Lindtner

Due to the increasing trend of open source projects and programs for coders of all ages, many economic experts have called this decade, the “Decade of the Nerd”. Many open source projects now hold events that have become a yearly tradition. Many of these events are held to encourage young adults to learn how to code. These programs are purely educational, allowing students of all ages to learn to code and spend hands on time playing with and learning new technologies.

This summer, Site5 is teaming up with one of these programs, the Rails Girls Summer of Code. Similar to Google’s Summer of Code program, the Rails Girls Summer of Code is dedicated to promoting diversity in the open source community and teaching girls of all ages programming skills. Site5 is proud to be a sponsor of this program because it’s such an important global initiative that promotes diversity in the open source community.

The Rails Girls Summer of Code Program promotes the “learning by doing” philosophy, and encourages girls of all ages and experience levels to learn how to code and pursue something they are passionate about. The program runs for three months and is made up of teams who are offered the chance to work on an open source project of their choosing. Each team is funded by a wide array of tech sponsors such as Site5, Github, Google, Envato, New Relic and Honey Badger. Each sponsored team has three months to work on any open source project of their choosing with the help and support of talented and highly technical volunteers. Sponsors who choose to support the Rails Girls initiative can help the teams in many different ways. From offering office space, or sponsoring a team as a whole, these business can all be very helpful and inspiring.

Rails Girls has taken to various social media platforms, such as Twitter, to promote the Rails Girls initiative and to spread the love for open source programming. It is here that the Rails Girls team have found individual sponsors as well as many business sponsors. By promoting the Rails Girls program and featuring well known women in the open source community, the Rails Girls team hope to inspire and encourage young women to pursue their dreams in the tech world. The cultural dynamic seems to be changing for the better. Many young girls are becoming confident in showing their peers how smart they are and how working hard and pursuing your interests can lead you to live a successful and fulfilling life. The Economist said it best, “Those square pegs may not have an easy time in school. They may be mocked by jocks and ignored at parties. But these days no serious organisation can prosper without them. As Kiran Malhotra, a Silicon Valley networker, puts it: “It’s actually cool to be a geek.”

Like many of the businesses that support the Rails Girls coding program, Site5 is on the hunt for potential employees. Women tend to be a minority in the coding community. The passion and the knowledge of these young girls can open many doors for them here at Site5 and other well known tech companies. Many students have benefitted from the connections they have made during the Rails Girls program. Laura, who was featured on the Rails Girls Summer of Code blog, found herself to be a college graduate with a dream job, “Last summer changed my life. I never expected this and now I’m moving to Hamburg to work as a graduate developer at ThoughtWorks. I couldn’t have done it without the Rails Girls Summer of Code and my mentors.” Hearing stories like this is exactly why Site5 takes an interest in these types of educational programs.

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