Using Fail2ban with Nginx and WordPress

Fail2ban is a popular intrusion prevention software written in python that is intended to protect your server from single-source brute force attacks. By default it will watch your SSH service on port 22 but it also does much more.

You can find many filters on the web, or write your own, that match a specific set of rules based on some log. Fail2ban can also be set to block the IP address of people trying to log into your WordPress website.

First, add the following code to functions.php in your WordPress theme. This will return a 403 status for incorrect login attempts.

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Velocity Conference June 2014 Santa Clara, California

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IMG_0065_miniI was fortunate to attend the O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Santa Clara, California on June 25 and 26. The Velocity Conference is the premier annual conference about web performance and operations. People from all over the world attend to hear industry leaders talk and learn how to build faster applications and streamline their operations. It was one of the smartest groups of people I’ve ever been around.  Well over 2,000 developers, engineers, managers, sys admins, programmers, and other industry experts in one convention center.  I also got to know some of the NGINX team from Russia.

The Exhibitor’s Hall was filled with lots and lots of companies in the web performance industry. Exhibitors included companies such as Cedexis, of course NGINX, RackSpace, Fastly, Dropbox, CacheFly,  Akamai, MaxCDN, Linode, New Relic and the list goes on. It was great to recognize many of the companies. I especially enjoyed meeting with some of the leaders at MaxCDN and Cedexis — two companies which sponsor jsDelivr.

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Labor Force Participation Rates in the United States

The Problem: The United States has a low labor participation rate in the 50-64 year old age group compared to other advanced economies. An economy cannot maximize production if capable people opt to not supply labor. Although the unemployment rate in the United States is falling, it is not an effective indicator of economic growth and recovery because it excludes those not actively seeking employment. In order to completely recover from the Great Recession, which continues to plague our nation, the United States Congress must pass policy that will lead to increased labor force participation rate among the 55-64 year old population. Director Douglas Elmendorf from the Congressional Budget Office says that a shrinking labor force matters because it is the “central factor in slowing economic growth.”

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Using Autoptimize Plugin for WordPress Performance

A Genesis WordPress Developer recently suggested the Autoptimize plugin in a Facebook Group. The plugin claims to “speed up your website and helps you save bandwidth by aggregating and minimizing JS, CSS and HTML.” I’ve implemented this plugin on several high-traffic WordPress websites and I’ve not ran into any issues. In all cases I have seen considerable performance improvements. There’s quite a few settings in the plugin so I will go through the options panel step by step.
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2014 State of Poverty and Inequality

Poverty is defined as not being able to afford basic human needs including shelter, clothing, education, health care, food and water. In the United States, poverty for a family of four is defined as a household income of $23,850 (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). Although GDP in the United States is steadily growing, the rate of poverty in the United States is growing too. In 2008, the year after Barrack Obama took office, the poverty rate was 13.2%. Four years later, in 2012, the rate increased to more than 16% (U.S. Census Bureau). This rate has never dropped below the historic low of 11.1% in 1973. Although the decline from 22% since 1959 to today’s 15% is significant, these improvements primarily took place before the early 1970′s. Since this time, the correlation between poverty rates and economic growth in the United States has weakened. Child poverty rates are even more shocking. The level of 21.8% in 2012 was just as high as in the mid-1960′s (Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality).

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Solving Child Obesity with Microeconomics in the USA

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Child obesity is a growing concern in the United States. Children at elementary and middle schools are opting to consume cafeteria foods that result in significant harm to their health and, by extension, their lives. The severity of the child obesity issue in the United States is often disregarded.  According to a 2012 study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, titled “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit Not Fat”, 40% of American children are currently overweight and half of those are considered obese (obese is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above). The report also claims that children in the United States are the least healthy in the world.

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