Academy Awards

Ghost-Logo

As the week for the academy awards, I thought I would take a step back in time.  In this household we absolutely love classic movies, and tune in to TCM on a regular basis.  Last night they just happened to show one of my very favorite films – The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

the-ghost-and-mrs-muir

 

This black & white romantic fantasy, released in 1947, was nominated for best cinematography in 1948.  In my humble opinion, it should have been nominated for much more.  The music score is (pardon the pun) hauntingly beautiful, the scenery makes you yearn for your own cottage by the sea, and the story is timeless and superbly written.  And, oh yes, the acting is wonderful too, with actress Gene Tierney playing the headstrong beautiful widow Lucy, and Rex Harrison playing the role of ghostly Captain Gregg.  The young daughter is played by a very pretty Natalie Wood.

Cairn-Terrier

 

And then there is the cairn terrier called Rommy in the movie.   According to the website cairnterriermovies, the cairn terrier Rommy was the pup of cairn terrier Terry (aka the famous Toto)!  Cairn terrier dogs on the big screen were extra popular in the 1930-1940’s.

Although this movie is set in Victorian England around the turn of the century (1900), much of it is actually filmed on location in Stillwater Cove Regional Park along coastal highway 1 in Sonoma County, California.  Some sites say filming was also done at Pebble Beach along the 17-mile scenic drive.  Now who would not want a cottage by the sea here?

Coast-B&W

I have the Ghost and Mrs. Muir pinned on my Pinterest board as a favorite movie.  Check out this beautiful tribute to the film…but fair warning, don’t watch unless you want to know how it ends!  Better yet, rent the movie and curl up with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket.  You won’t be disappointed!

 

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Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge – Week 2 – HDR

snappyhappy-galactic

Country-Road-1

My Photo of the Week
County Road 281, Texas Hill Country

 

Country-Road-2

App Challenge Image
Waves in the Sky

Mobile Device: iPhone 4s
App Used:  Snapseed

The Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge (hosted by We Live in a Flat and Firebonnet) this week was altering photos with HDR and saturation.  I think using HDR, or high dynamic range, in photos works especially well with outdoor scenes.  I used the HDR filter in my Snapseed app to get the desired effect with this beautiful Texas hill country back road!  I also did some light cropping (to remove phone pole in front of trees, and the “straighten” feature in Snapseed.  When I initially applied the HDR filter it was a little strong, so I reduced it from the default setting of 85 to 50.  This made for a slightly more subtle effect, but still worked to bring out the grainy texture of the gray road and the lovely soft wave of the clouds in the sky that day.  They were truly rather unusual.

Want to have fun and participate in the photo challenge, or just visit the other entries?  Just click on the Snappy H’appy Logo at the top of this post!

Where’s The Chocolate?

Chocolate-Cookie

My friend at We Live In a Flat had notified me via my Facebook page that something was amiss with my website.  She said, “I went to your home page and it has a bunch of words there that I think shouldn’t be there.”  I took a look at my website both on my laptop computer and via my smart phone, but couldn’t see any problems.  That is until I decided last Friday night that I would also take a look at the site via our desktop computer.

Uh-oh.

There they were, the words that shouldn’t be there, for all the world to see.  Words like Viagra and Cialis, words that have nothing to do with my pet products.   My website had been hacked (but don’t worry, it’s clean now)!

For a moment I felt like I was standing in front of the Lost in Space robot (yes I’m that old).  The accordion limbed metal contraption was wildly swinging it’s arms and yelling danger, danger, just like it did on our 1960’s television set when I was a kid.

Then I did the only reasonable thing I could do in the face of an unforeseen technology disaster –

I searched for chocolate.

After all, it was Valentine’s Day and that is what I was supposed to be doing, right?  Then I did the next most important thing, and phoned IX Web Hosting.  This is the thing I love most about having my WordPress site self-hosted, and that is having a host that’s available 24/7 by phone.  They immediately wrote up a ticket to clean my site and sent it to their security department.

After talking to them I decided my next step was to better educate myself on what had just happened, and to make some suggested changes.   IX Web Hosting  informed me that websites get hacked often (really???), and that typically the “bad guy” gains access through third party plugins or themes that are not secure.  They told me that I could help by making sure WordPress, my themes, and any of my plugins were updated, and that I also needed to go ahead and delete any plugins that were not going to be used.  Don’t just deactivate them, delete them.  And of course I needed to change my passwords.  So I went to work.  Here is an interesting article about WordPress hacks.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a little better about everything, until I received a big red warning message from AVG that my site had been compromised.  Now it was not even accessible, and yet my ticket from my web hosting said my site was clean.

Now where did that chocolate go to?

AVG-Warning-Photo

I made another phone call to my host server folks, who assured me my site was clean, but that it had probably been blacklisted by different web security companies (like AVG, Norton, etc.), and they then sent me an email with instructions on how to verify my site through Google so that I would no longer be blacklisted.  I completed the verification portion of those instructions, but the bold red warning still appeared when I tried to access my site.  So I went on another online educational hunt.  This was after, of course, I-

Found more chocolate.

More-Chocolate

And then I found – eureka! – a company designed just for my current technology nightmare.  The company is Sucuri, and they claim to be the de facto standard in website malware monitoring and cleanup.  And they also remove your reputable site from all the blacklisting that happens after your site has been attacked.  I signed up and had a response from them within 4 minutes.  Seriously.  And they continued to amaze me as we worked through the process together.  Although my host had indeed cleaned my site, these guys helped me get removed from the blacklists (yes, that’s plural, as there are about 7 of them).  They also added their own WordPress plugin, Sucuri Security, to my site.  I also chose to add Wordfence, another great (and free) plugin to assist in protecting my site.

Although I was somewhat reluctant to post this article (don’t want anyone not coming to my site…it’s clean), I also want to help any others who happen to be in this unfortunate situation with their website or personal blog, or who want to strengthen their website against attacks.

Now, I wonder what happened to all that chocolate…

Snappy H’appy Photo Challenge-Week 1-Bokeh

snappyhappy-galactic

Final-NXNW

My Photo of the Week
Photo of local North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

 Final-NXNW-Bokeh

 App Challenge Image
Making the Industrial Sparkle!

Mobile device: iPhone 4s
Apps used: Snapseed, LensLight

My friend at We Live in a Flat describes Bokeh as “Originating from the Japanese word BokeBokeh (which rhymes with okay :P) apparently means blur or haze.”  Glad I finally know how to properly pronounce it!   After completing this challenge, I also have to say that I definitely prefer the photo with the bokeh effect.  How about you?

The app Lens Light is great as it allows you to add effects like lens/flares, bokeh, lights (need a moon in that scene?).  The effect I used was bokeh stars.  The effects can be edited for placement, brightness, and color, and can be layered.  There are also numerous filters than can be applied.  The app does cost $1.99 but I think it’s great, and it is my first “go-to” app  for adding bokeh or special lighting effects to my photos, although I don’t use it often.

Want to have fun and participate in the photo challenge, or just visit the other entries?  Just click on the Snappy H’appy Logo at the top of this post!