Cloud Confusing

Explaining hosting, AWS, Wordpress, static sites, and all manner of cloud solutions.

Google Tag Manager (GTM) has a lot of built-in variables, but the list is by no means complete. And what’s annoying about the built-in variables is that they are not fully customizable, so sometimes you need to build off of them. This can only be done by digging into GTM a little and writing some custom JavaScript.

One of these circumstances is when you want to store the query string parameter from a clicked URL. This is a slightly strange request because the UTM or query string parameter are generally for the downstream site, but you might want to store it nonetheless. This should be easy because:

  • GTM lets you easily store a query string parameter of the URL of the page you are on.
  • GTM also makes it easy to store the full URL of the destination page of a URL that get clicked.

… but if you want a param from a clicked URL? Time for a custom Javascript variable.

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June 21st, 2019

Posted In: Google Cloud Platform

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Ever wonder: when does AWS CloudWatch run rate events? I had this same question when I started using CloudWatch as a trigger for the Lambda job that backups my Lightsail instances.

Basically I had created a few events an told them to run once a day. That’s great, but when would that be? Rate events are not like cron events where you set a time and they run at (or very close to) when you specify. After all, you are simply saying “run once a day” not “run exactly at 01:14 UTC every day.”

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June 10th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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Amazon’s Lightsail is a great option if you want affordable hosting and the power of a virtual private server (VPS), but the lack of cost means a lack of convenient features. One of the most glaring of these missing features if Lightsail’s complete lack of automated backups. This is a glaring oversight for Lightsail and it’s especially odd given that Lightsail has a built in — and very easy to use — snapshot tool.

How to: Cheap WordPress Hosting with Lightsail

Lightsail snapshots are one-click backups of your entire instance, which are better than simple backups, but there is no way to automate them through the Lightsail UI.

Using Amazon Web Service’s API and AWS Lambda you can automate Lightsail snapshots without much difficulty. In fact, thanks to a good web Samaritan the code is already done, so you just need to do the setup on your AWS account.

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May 16th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

Tags: , ,

One of the best things (OK, the best thing) about development with WordPress is piggybacking on the available plugins. If you are doing custom development chances are that a plugin probably wasn’t made with your specific use case in mind, so it’s often necessary to some work to get the plugin’s functionality and your goal to match. With that in mind, you have probably recently asked yourself, “Can I use a WordPress shortcode in my theme, as opposed to just inserting it into the text body?”

Good news,: you definitely can.

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May 3rd, 2019

Posted In: Web Development

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Amazon’s Lightsail is affordable and easy-to-use, but it comes with some serious limitations. Hidden away in the middle of an FAQ page Amazon notes that Lightsail accounts are limited to:

  • 20 Lightsail instances
  • 5 static IPs
  • 3 DNS zones
  • 20 TB of attached block storage
  • 5 load balancers

Which one of these is probably going to be the most immediate problem? That’s right, the 3 DNS Zones. Don’t worry, this is easy to fix.

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April 18th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

Tags: ,

It’s been said many times that you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. It’s not exactly clear that this is true of computing but a little bit of context never heard anyone. Plus, let’s face it, knowing a thing or two about history makes you seem smart.

So, without further justification or caveats, here are some highly recommended books about the history of computing.

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April 12th, 2019

Posted In: Leisure

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Dark Mode

Lighting of your computer and workspace is an important topic but not one that comes up very often. It’s something I’ve been increasingly spending time thinking about so I wanted to write down some notes and thoughts on what can be done to improve your lighting situation.

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April 2nd, 2019

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

Tags: ,

Having trouble getting Brackets’ Live Preview tool to work? Brackets is an excellent text editor and the price is right (free!) but live preview can sure be fickle. Here are some things to try if your live preview tool seems broken.

It’s worth noting that there are three main issues here that might need fixing:

  • Live Preview Editing (primary browser)
  • Live Preview Editing (multi-browser)
  • Live Preview Editing and Live Preview Highlighting break independently of one another. That is, you could have editing but no CSS selector highlighting. This is annoying, but generally less of a problem.

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March 22nd, 2019

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

Tags: ,

If you are new to Google’s BigQuery, it can be a steep (and expensive) learning curve. Here are some helpful tips and facts that will get you started a whole lot more quickly than search through and for docs or learning as you go.

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January 21st, 2019

Posted In: Google Cloud Platform

Tags: , ,

Recently, while working on the next version of the Post Expiration Date WP plugin, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring WordPress’ handling of dates and time. This has been an interesting, often frustrating time but I’ve learned a lot and found a number of great resources on the subject. Here are some of the top ones.

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January 21st, 2019

Posted In: Web Development

Tags: ,

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