TonyZeoli.com Posts

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For the past three months, I’ve tried my best not to have a mini meltdown over the fact that a number of my domains in a WordPress multisite network using Cloudflare’s free Universal SSL would not serve up a green padlock over HTTPS. When I first heard Cloudflare was offering free Universal SSL, I was very excited to take advantage of it. For some reason, it just wouldn’t work and for months, I couldn’t figure out why.

Now that Google is using HTTPS as a (minor) ranking signal, I want to make sure all my domains are using SSL. But even after enabling Universal SSL on Cloudflare for each domain, the one’s using the new service were void of the green padlock that tells the world each domain in my little network could be trusted. After struggling with it a bit to no avail, I thought I’d better buy a three site SSL certificate from my preferred domain name seller, Namecheap.com, for three of my most important domains. A temporary fix for 3 domains in an 11 domain multisite network.

After WP Engine installed the Commodo certificate for me, all three sites were instantly padlocked after. Since the others were not as much of a priority, I continued to ignore no green padlocks on them, but it just kept on nagging at me they weren’t locked.

It’s in my nature to incessantly focus on problems until resolved. While others might not care as much as I do or they pass the buck to someone else, I always go to the end of the earth (despite my better judgment) to figure it out myself. I don’t know why I’m like this. It’s a blessing in some ways, because I actually get things done–no matter what. It’s a curse in others, because I do it all myself and am so focused that it can take hours and hours of painstaking work to figure out the solution. In that, I’ve let the world go by while I’m trying to solve a problem I should pay someone to solve for me. But, then I’d have to give them all the passwords and account access to both my network install, Cloudflare, and WP Engine. Without a clear path to resolution, who knows how many hours someone could take to figure it out. And, who knows if you’re even talking to the right person who can figure it out.

Night after night, I would go back through my Cloudflare install and make sure all domains were set to Flexible SSL. Then I’d dump my cache at Cloudflare and in my WordPress WP Engine network admin. I tried a various plugins to see if the URLs did would not redirect and cause a loop. Nothing worked.

I made sure to get the Cloudflare plugin to connect my multisite network to the service, but I was getting some errors and I needed to research how to make sure the Cloudflare plugin connected via their API to my account. I turned off my Cloudflare service for all the domains that had no green padlocks. Of course, the API wouldn’t connect if they were off. I turned them all back on and made sure they were all set to Flexible SSL again. Once I solved that, I thought: “Great! Problem solved. My padlocks should be green!”

Nope, that didn’t happen.

After some lengthy discussions with WP Engine support on this matter, I learned I was getting a lot of mixed content and insecure content warnings on some of my domains in the network. Why? Because somehow my URLs had gotten rewritten either in the original migration from Linode to WP Engine or by some process or plugin. I’ll never know how that happened. Two of my sites were missing all of their content and their URLs were rewritten incorrectly for posts and pages in the database as “netmix-co.netmix.co” instead of “primarydomain.com/sitename.

Tasked with figuring out the underlying problem, I went in and performed search and replace surgery on all my domains using phpMyAdmin. I was able to go into my posts and post meta tables for each site in the network and find the incorrect rewritten paths. I simply replaced the incorrect ones with the correct domain names of each site in the network. That solved a ton of insecure content warnings and brought back all my missing content while also fixing redirection issues.

Now that I’d solved a number of problems using search and replace, some were still lingering. My JavaScript console reported affiliate network URLs I was using from organizations like Shareasale were http, not https. Fortunately, Shareasale provides secure URLs, but other affiliate partners did not. I had to remove their banner codes until they update their URLs to https.

Having done all this, I was pretty confident I’d see the green padlocks, but when I checked whynopadlock.com, all the sites with Cloudflare Flexible SSL turned on were hard redirecting to http. I thought, “geez, now how do I solve this?”

Earlier that week, WP Engine had helped write some html post processing logic that is set in my multi-site’s WP Engine admin area. Could that be the culprit? I removed those rules to see if anything changed.

Nope, that didn’t work either.

In the middle of all of this, let’s throw in the fact that WP Engine had to move my web services to another IP address last week after their provider was hit with a DDOS attack. I was tasked with updating all 11 sites A Records in the network. I did and learned that one of my sites had no DNS records at all (Oy!), but was still resolving. Go figure.

I went back to WP Engine again to explain my dilemma again. Fortunately, I got in at 3 minutes to 9 pm Eastern time, just minutes before chat support closed up for the night. I gave one of WP Engine’s techs, Brian F., all the earlier detail. His head must have been spinning. But, he finally figured out that they had to manually force https on their end to enable the green padlock on all sites in my network.

Finally, it was over. After months of starts and stops and weeks of going back to it, getting distracted by family stuff and client work, I was able to sit down and go through everything once and for all. Problem solved.

While all the abovementioned things I did were important, Cloudflare did tell me in one response they were seeing WP Engine had the ability to do something on their end to fix this, but they didn’t say exactly what that was. With Universal SSL, WP Engine does not have to install a certificate. It’s a one-way call to WP Engine who do not have to confirm the request with an installed cert. What they didn’t say was that WP Engine has to manually force HTTPS. It wasn’t until Brian F. figured this out that the curse was finally over.

I did not use a Force HTTPS plugin, because I think WP Engine disallows a few of them. I don’t know that they would have worked anyway. I’m was happy to have WP Engine manually write that rule every for this instance and in the future. At any rate, the problem is resolved. On to the next issue.

I hope this helps someone not have to go through weeks of pain like I did to finally figure out that all WP Engine had to do was force HTTPS manually. That’s it. Problem solved.

Wordpress

For the past few weeks, I’ve been suffering from what is called “insecure” or “mixed content” issues on my WordPress multisite network, which I’m hosting over at WP Engine. The goal has been to use the new free Flexible SSL from CloudFlare on a number of sites in my multisite, but leaving three of those sites as Full a as designated in CloudFlare, because I purchased a 3-domain certificate from Commodo, through my domain name registrar, NameCheap.

Somehow, someway, something did a search and replace across my entire multisite and changed the domain from the origin domain to “netmix-co.netmix.co.” The network’s primary site is netmix.co, but I don’t use it for anything. After contacting WP Engine, they pointed out the issue with the URLs rewriting. I’m not sure if it was one of the insecure content plugins that are freely downloadable or JetPack’s Photon service, because not only was I in JavaScript console rewritten primary URLs for post content and images, I was also seeing URls from wp.com, which after turning off JetPack, those URLs disappeared – despite being served over https anyway.

It was a very strange situation, but after doing a search and replace on post and post meta in my databases, I was able to fix all my URLs and content. There was one more thing I didn’t know. An old plugin called Bad Behavior I used to use has an “http headers” table. There I found some of my domains in the multisite with a ton of incorrect URLs rewritten in the http headers table. I decided to fix those with a search and replace across all sites with the issue of rewritten URLs and that ended up clearing more JavaScript console errors.

While I’ve done all of this…I’m still not seeing my free, Flexible SSL locks on the site in the network that are SSL enabled at CloudFlare. I’m not sure if it’s going to take 24-hours to possibly resolve all those mixed content errors, which will finally unshackle me from a plain grey file looking icon up there in the URL bar of some sites in my network (not this one, as this one has a paid cert from Commodo).

Tech

  Last night I clocked out at 1 am after working on a WordPress DNS setup for Comfort Theory, trying to figure out why my Flexible SSL locks from CloudFlare aren’t fully green on my WordPress multisite network, and figuring out how to get a custom URL for another client, Youth Mission Co here in Asheville.

On my multisite, I’m getting a bunch of mixed content errors on my Digital Strategy Works domain, despite the Chrome JavaScript console showing me that all error URLs start with https! Sigh. More research needed.
Today was quite busy too. Between caring for Hudson, our 13-month old, all morning while my wife continues to work on her health, fitting in the configuration of Modern Tribes’s Event Calendar ticketing system with Woo Commerce checkout and PayPal IPN for CQResults.com, as well as having a late afternoon dinner with wife and son, the day is still not over.
I just launched a new coupon campaign for All In One SEO Pack Pro and cleared some social media posts tonight in Sprout Social and I still haven’t figured out my issue with my multisite. I have yet to run by another client’s restaurant, East Village Grille, to show him his new restaurant menu system I implemented using OpenMenu.com.

Ah ha! I just now finished the battle with YouTube on merging two channels. Learning something new everyday! Verification was a little difficult as well, but enduring leads to success! Just gotta work the issues.

I’ll probably be in bed tonight again at 1 am.

My Life

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Now that WordPress has released its new desktop app for Mac, it incentivizes lazy bloggers like myself to keep the app open and do what we’re supposed to be doing – blogging.

The desktop app is pretty sweet and much faster than logging into your WordPress admin. Since it’s always there are the ready and you can switch sites easily (as long as you’ve connected all your self-hosted sites using WordPress.com username and password connected through JetPack), this new app for both Mac, which is what I’m using, and PC should increase your blogging output.

It’s a New Year and with this great new tool from WordPress, I should be able to churn out my thoughts on my blog, before I publish to a Facebook feed or a Twitter status update.

I’m going to try and be more dilligent about using the new WordPress desktop app to increase my blogging output, for sure.

Wordpress

15-years after my stint as Senior Producer at MetroTV in New York City, I’ve finally uploaded and posted my old reel, which features Rachel Perry, a popular TV host who started her early career at MetroTV and went on to work for many major entertainment networks. In this video, you’ll see an interview with Meres, the curator of 5ptz, a graffiti art space in Long Island City, Queens. Rachel also hosts The New York Music Rundown from the original Halcyon space on Smith Street in Brooklyn. There are also interviews with Nas, Brian McKnight, and the Roots and appearances by Groove Armada, Paul Van Dyk, Boy George, and Deep Dish. My good friend, DJ Madsol Desar was on the wheels, as well.

I really enjoyed my early stint producing television programming and probably should have stuck with it. After my layoff from MetroTV due to reduction in staff at Cablevision after 9/11, it was difficult to find a job in New York City. I ended up focusing on streaming media and worked for two big banks and MLB Advanced Media, before landing a gig developing a contextual commerce music platform for StarStyle.

This video is really a throwback and reminds me of one the best jobs I ever had in New York City. I enjoyed using my music connections to book artists on The Daily Beat or feature my friends, like DJ Madsol Desar, on one of the show. The New York Music Rundown ended up winning a Communicator Award for Best New Cable Product.

Let me know what you think of this video by leaving a comment below.

My Life Video

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On February 8, I launched my new radio mixshow, the Asheville House Music Society, on local Asheville, NC-based community radio station, AshevilleFM.org. Airing on Saturdays, late-night from 12 midnight to 2 am Sunday mornings, the show’s music format is comprised of live and pre-recorded DJ mixes in the various sub genres of house music, including deep house, tech house, indie dance/nu-disco, and techno. I’ll be announcing upcoming gigs around the city, as well as interviewing local DJs, artists, and promoters who fuel the house music scene here in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

When I arrived in Asheville in January of 2014, I learned the city’s house music community was sorely in need of a shot in the arm. While there’s a very small scene here mostly led by a few collectives like the venerable and long-lasting Earthtone Soundsystem (Deep House, Indie Dance/Nu-Disco) and Iffy and Rob’s crew, In Plain Sight (Techno), the city’s local venues and promoters generally book avant-garde live acts or drum’n’bass and EDM DJs. DJ Mark Farina, internationally known for his Mushroom Jazz series, is insanely popular here, drawing over 300 people to his shows. The local crews draw far fewer on a regular basis, unless there’s a specific event like Trasformus, which is Asheville’s forest-dwelling, rain-soaked alternative to the hot desert sun of Burning Man.

After reading about AshevilleFM.org and its open format programming strategy, as well as its push to launch a low-power FM alternative in Asheville, I knew hosting a show on the station could be the toehold house music in Asheville needs to increase visibility. While live and on-demand streaming DJ mixes on the Internet are popular, terrestrial radio continues to maintain its hold on the listening public–especially in the car. I would argue, to grow a house music scene in a major city, there needs to be a house music mix show on the radio, so people have a reliable and easy-to-access point of presence for this is kind of music. I knew AshevilleFM would be the perfect vehicle for a DJ mix show airing house music that wouldn’t make the playlist of the city’s mainstream pop music station, Star 104.3.

An Internet-only outlet since 2009, AshevilleFM.org launched a successful crowdfunding campaign last year, raising over $40,000 for operations and its FCC application for a low-power FM license to broadcast over the public airwaves. The FCC awarded AshevilleFM a license and assigned the station the call letters: WSFM-LP, and its frequency: 103.3 on the FM radio dial. With 52 shows and an all-volunteer staff, AshevilleFM is truly community-powered radio shaped by the city’s residents.  The station’s engineers recently installed a 100-watt transmitter and broadcast antennae atop the Indigo Hotel in downtown Asheville, one of the highest points in the city center.

At 100-watts, the station’s broadcast footprint is approximately 10 miles and the signal is expected to reach about 100,000 people living and working in Buncombe County. In preliminary testing, the station reports its broadcast could be heard as far south as the Asheville airport, as far north as Weaverville, and as far east as Warren Wilson College. It could also be heard to the west in Candler and Canton. This certainly bodes well for the Asheville House Music Society, which will serve the local community over the public airwaves, while reaching an international audience on the web.

UPDATE: As of Monday, May 18th at 10 am, AshevilleFM activated its 100-watt transmitter and began broadcasting at 103.3 LP-FM.

Record labels and artists may send music to the show by submitting new releases encoded at 320kbps as.mp3 files via DropBox or HighTail to djtonyz [at] ashevillefm dot org. If the .mp3 file does not include identifying metadata, it’s always best to compress the .mp3 and include an accompanying text (.txt) file containing artist, song title, album title (if applicable), record label, and release date. The station does report its playlists to performing rights organizations, so it’s important to include accurate song information to ensure copyright owners receive their performance royalties.

If you miss the live stream of the Asheville House Music Society, you can always find an archive the next morning, complete with show playlist, on the Asheville House Music Society show page on the Asheville.org website here: http://www.ashevillefm.org/asheville-house-music-society. Currently, the website uses a HTML5 player for the live audio stream, making the show available on most mobile handsets. But the archived shows use an Adobe Flash audio player. Adobe Flash does not work on iPhone and most Android devices, which means for the time being, you’ll need listen to archives in a desktop browser with the latest version of Flash plugin.

For those of you with radio aggregator apps, AshevilleFM is available through the TuneIn app, or you can time-shift the broadcast on Dar.fm. You can also follow the Asheville House Music Society on Twitter (@avlhms) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ashevillehousemusicsociety?fref=ts).

 

Radio

Loved this video with SNL guest and comedian, Kevin Hart, mocking the gentrification of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Favorite lines:

  • “Said the garlic truffle was a must try.”
  • “Did they have any cheeses. What else are you gonna pair wine with…air?”
  • “Word, acting like somebody put gluten in your muffin or something.”

This is absolutely hilarious!

Opinion

Missy & Tony with Baby Hudson
Missy & Tony with Baby Hudson

On this Christmas Day 2014, I am a father at 48-years of age.

My wife and I started trying to have kids in 2007, but we were unsuccessful. We kept at it, even trying the science route of fertility treatments for a while. The toxins in the treatments hit Missy hard. She has a hard time dealing with toxins in medication as a result of a condition related to a prior mold exposure. We decided it was time to look into adoption and sought out an agency in Raleigh, NC to help us start our search.

Since we began our search, we’ve moved a few times. In the world of adoption, with every move comes the necessity of a new home study and updated criminal background checks–county, state, and federal. The adoption process is extremely thorough and meant to weed out couples that may have colorful pasts.

After spending two months in Ecuador over the winter, we settled into our new apartment in Asheville, NC. We thought it was important to start marketing ourselves locally, so we printed out postcard size flyers and tacked them up in coffee shops and cafés around the city.  We also re-engaged on the web, updating our Facebook Open Adoption page, our MissyandTony.com website, and our agency adoption page. Those efforts paid off when we were discovered by a local adoption attorney here in Asheville, Christopher Craig (of Craig Associates). Fortuitously, Chris connected with a local birth mother who was almost to term at 8-months at an adoption workshop held at the Pack Library in the city center.

Chris set up a meeting with the birth mom and she selected us! It was then 3 short weeks attending ultrasounds and quickly getting to know her and her own parents, who were super supportive of her on this journey. On December 7 at 2:42 am, Missy was with the birth mother in the delivery room and witnessed the birth of our son. Just like that, we became parents almost overnight.

It was definitely not as simple as it sounds. There were some legal hurdles we needed to clear up between birth mom and a prior relationship, as well as an issue the hospital’s risk management department wanted us to resolve. The week of the 7th was a busy time getting those details taken care of from our tiny overnight room in the NICU at Mission Hospital, also here in Asheville. Little Hudson David Antonio Zeoli needed just a bit of extra care, because he wasn’t feeling well after the delivery. It was nothing serious. The hospital was just being cautious. That day, our lives changed forever.

It’s an odd feeling going through the adoption process. I think adoption, while common, is not necessarily top of mind for most people who can conceive. It’s a different kind of waiting. When you’re in a search for an adoptive child, it can get monotonous and it can become a seemingly never-ending journey. There’s all the calls with the agency for guidance, education, and support. Then there’s the marketing of yourselves and your story to prospective birth moms. Of course, there’s the hours of filling out paperwork and more paperwork to go through the red tape that is there for the child’s safety, but sometimes seems so redundant. Lastly, there’s the waiting for something…anything to happen. It’s hit or miss. You might connect with a birth mother who isn’t ready. Or, in some cases, you are contacted by people trying to sell babies illegally and women who aren’t pregnant with mental health issues that can’t control their behavior. You have to be able to read between the lines. If you’ve never gone through the adoption process, it is a challenge to recognize when something is real or when it’s not.

I never, ever would have thought I would be here adopting a child at this point in my life. But somehow, this is where I am. I’m doing something I never, ever thought I’d do. I’m not going to say that I was 100% on board with adoption in the first place. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea, but I went along with it, because it was important to Missy and we really did need to start our family. I’d been building a business and knew how important it was to stay engaged in and relevant in my field. Looking for a child seemed like a distant possibility. Really? Someone is going to give us their child? Just like that? OK.

It’s like waiting for that trip to Disney World your parents had promised you after they’d postponed it a few years in a row. Sure, Disney World seemed like a great place, but with each passing year it felt so far away–like it was never going to happen.  And to get there, you couldn’t go on your own. You needed someone to help you. As the waiting game commenced, there were times it just seemed like the Disney trip might never come. You began to treat waiting like it was something you wanted to look forward to, but without firm plans, you shift it back of mind, hoping for the day, but never fully investing in the idea.

Fortunately, we finally made it to the proverbial Disney World! Like all adoptions, it took some time. Weeks into months and months into years. But, now we are adoptive parents to this little amazing young man who we call, Hudson.

Our child, Hudson
Hudson David Antonio Zeoli | Born 12/7

He’s here. After all the waiting and wishing, Missy and I finally get to realize what comes a little easier to so many people I’ve known over the years who were able to have kids. Many of my friends have kids graduating from college or in the workforce. Time went by. Not so fast, but just as fast as time goes by. Tick-tock, tick-tock, and the calendar flips to the next day after the last.  Another year goes by and you wonder, “where did the time go?” You can’t really grasp what you’re not experiencing, because it’s hard to know what parenting is like unless you’re a parent.

BOOM! Now, we’re parents. Whoa! The whole world just stopped on a dime when someone said, “here you go…here’s your son.” We’ve arrived and are embracing this little man with all the love we have to give. With our hearts, minds, and spirit. We know that everyday he’s with us is a gift of immeasurable proportions. For this gift, we are incredibly grateful. It seems so surreal. We know adoptions happen everyday, but when they happen to you, it’s an experience one cannot really explain. Someone has made a plan for you to adopt their child and you begin a new journey without that same 9-months others have to plan. I’m now on my first ride at Disney World aka the “Interstellar Galactic World of the Marvelous (and Gassy) Hudson David Antonio Zeoli.” It’s just as fun now as it was back then.

I don’t much believe in Christmas miracles. I’m a pragmatist. I know Christmas is a man-made holiday that has become the most commercial holiday of them all. We make up these things to make sense of the world and create days to stop and celebrate for celebration’s sake. I know we had done the work to put ourselves in a place where we would be found, and we were. Yes, lightning does strike and people say magic does happen. I’m going to say that the universe felt the energy from our hearts and found a way for all that love to bring Hudson to us. The spirit of many warm and kind people looking out for us – all aligned for the same common purpose – to give Hudson an opportunity he might not have otherwise had out of the gate, most likely contributed to our celebration today.

Image of Tony Zeoli with his son, Hudson
Tony Zeoli & his son, Hudson

On this Christmas Day, I am so grateful for my wife and so grateful for my son. I now have a family to call my own. Something many men aspire to have, because it’s innate in all of us to procreate, sustain and propel human existence. While it did not happen naturally, it happened the way it was meant to. We were given the gift of caring for a child who did not come from us, but is now with us forever. He is us and we are him, brought together as one family unit through the love, support, and recognition of others.

While I have faith there is a higher power, I find that power one of energy connecting everyone’s worlds. If that is God in some people’s minds, then God is the one to thank for providing the energy and connective tissue to bring this story to a wonderful close.

Thank you for reading. Good night and Merry Christmas.

My Life

Here’s a follow-up Facebook comment I made to my Tim Cook post in October.

Today I made a comment about my wonderful gay friends, which was inspired by Tim Cook’s coming out post. While many in Cook’s circles knew that he is openly gay, it seems as if it was important to let America know.  I just want to make sure that no one misunderstands me and thinks my post is directed at them and their views. I mention “gay marriage,” simply because it’s now overturned in North Carolina and Tim Cook’s recent post.

However, just as much as I support the right for gay (LGBT) people to marry, I also wholeheartedly support the right for anyone who disagrees with gay (LGBT) marriage to have their position and their opinion, as long as it is not Federal Law. If your religious beliefs dictate to you that marriage is between a man and a woman, then you have every right to that belief. I cannot say that my belief is any different than yours. We agree to believe different views, and that’s okay.

While we may disagree on the precept that “gay marriage” is legal and that gay’s (LGBT)  have the right to marry, we will do so as friends who understand that not everyone agrees on everything. I can have my beliefs and you can have yours. I welcome the opportunity to discuss those beliefs and tell you why I feel the way I do, just as much as I would expect you to tell me why you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.

We are all on this planet together. Not everyone is going to agree. But we can work together to understand why we believe the things we do and peacefully coexist, because as brothers and sisters on this planet, when push comes to shove, we need each others help regardless of who is married and who is not. Who is this religion or that religion. Or, who is this color or that color.

When put in a room together like those kidnapped by ISIS in Syria, it all becomes meaningless. The only thing that then matters is cooperation and survival.

Opinion