A Fresh Coat of… Code

You’ve probably noticed the new look-and-feel here at the House of Rapp. What do you think?

There are still a few kinks to be worked out here and there, but hopefully you’ll find it a refreshing improvement and not a step backward. It’s surprisingly difficult finding a design which is suggesting of flying or even remotely aviation-themed.

Re-doing the joint took some time — and that’s not something I have in abundance these days, so despite the fact that I was getting tired of looking at the old design, I was going to just let it slide. But then suddenly I didn’t. My thought process boiled down to the idea that perhaps if the site looked better, it would inspire me to write more often.

Also, a good friend and former college roommate of mine, Rich Manning, recently launched a site of his own, Foodie-A-Go-Go, and looking at it made me think it was time to put a fresh coat of paint (or should that be “code”?) on the walls. I’m certainly not in his league when it comes to writing, but at least I can look the part in my attempt to keep up with the Jonses.

Speaking of Foodie-A-Go-Go, be sure to check it out if you’re a Southern California-based lover of vittles and vino. I remember when Rich’s idea of fine dining — and mine, for that matter — was a midnight Del Taco run to pick up a ninety-nine cent bean burrito… or three. Hey, it was college for Pete’s sake! Anyway, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve all come from those simpler times.

Another reason for a redesign is that I was already knee deep in code anyway. I’d received an email from a reader who said viewing the site with Internet Explorer would occasionally bring up one of those fake virus pages where they offer to “scan” your computer for you and eradicate it. I can assure you I’ve put nothing like that on the site, and have no idea where it’s came from. In fact, I was convinced it must be something on his computer, not my web site. But sure enough, when I looked at the site using IE, the same thing happened. Not repeatedly. Just once.

It was a bear to figure out where the malicious code was hiding. I finally found it in some of the WordPress system files. They’d been modified through a hole somewhere in a plug-in or a remnant of code from a previous version of the WP software. Things should be secured now, but if you encounter any issues, would you drop me a line about it? Thanks!

Changes

Well, my friends, it’s 2009, and with it I’ve made a few changes to the House of Rapp.

For one thing, you’ll notice a new theme. Let me know how you like it!

I wanted something a little more up-to-date than the 2005-era code I had cobbled together before integrated themes became popular for WordPress. The background image I’m currently using is a photo of my Pitts S-2B on a vertical upline over the old El Toro MCAS base here in Orange County.

Second, I’ve password-protected the photos section. For some reason, a lot of my site statistics and referral logs were showing huge traffic coming from sites like Myspace. Thousands of hits per day! Turns out people there were using my photos as background images. While I’m glad they enjoy my photography, they were also using a lot of bandwidth by simply linking to my files. It’s considered rude to use another person’s bandwidth to serve images to your own web site, and my requests to stop doing that were met with silence. So, a password, a few changes to the .htaccess file, and problem solved.

I also got to thinking that there are a lot of other people in my photos, and they might not want every Tom, Dick, and Harry looking at their mug on my web site. But the photos are all there, and if you’re someone I know, drop me a line and I’ll give you the username/password combo.

I hope your holidays were safe and restful, because I have a feeling we’ll be needing all the strength we can muster to endure the goodies that 2009 has to offer.

Eh — I’ll write more about that in a future post. This isn’t an economics/finance blog, of course, but that happens to be one of my interests — money also comes in handy when your aviation is your avocation! — and I don’t mind saying that I predicted the fall of the housing market right here on this blog back in 2003. So the way I see it, I should be running the Fed, Treasury, or Council of Economic Advisers!

Alas, life is not fair. So until the phone rings with that Big Offer from the Obama administration, I’ll just have to make due with the great flying, perfect weather, and unbeatable friends and family I have here in Southern California.