Sam Harrelson

Cautionary Tale of Climate Change Prepping from Ancient Egypt and Bronze Age

These agricultural feats managed to extend the life of the Egyptian empire about half a century longer than it might otherwise have lasted, according to the archaeologists. The lesson for our own civilization — which is likely to face increasingly severe droughts as humans change the climate far faster than nature has ever done — is to plan ahead, Dr. Finkelstein said.

— Read on www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/climate/egypt-climate-drought.html



We need to have a conversation about what “godly” means, y’all

A majority of S.C. Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump was “godly.”

— Read on www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article208990104.html



Trump blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional, court decides

What a time to be alive.

It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account.

— Read on www.theverge.com/2018/5/23/17385298/trump-blocking-twitter-unconstitutional-court-ruling



Harrelson Agency is Now a Cloudflare Certified Partner

I’ve spoken at numerous events and conferences on the topic of web hosting and security and I’ve been quoted in the New York Times about that same topic over the years. Website security is something near and dear to my heart and I made sure to bake that into the very essence of every website build I’ve done since 2004 and since the founding of Harrelson Agency back in 2012.

The last few years have presented incredible challenges for website hosting companies and developers (and those that care about online security). Just think… applications like Bleachbit and terms like “private email servers” and “DNS hacks” and “SSL” have gone completely mainstream due to the 2016 Presidential election here in the US and high profile hacking of celebrities’ personal iCloud accounts. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s oversight of American citizens’ online privacy as well as the ongoing drumbeat of news regarding the manipulation of Facebook and Google to sway news consumption around the globe has put online security in the crosshairs of attention.

I didn’t realize just how much Harrelson Agency would grow into a website host when we first fired up the servers six years ago. But over the years, our insistence on ethical website hosting as well as transparent and ultra-secure hosting have become one of our selling points with clients. It’s why we get so many nonprofits and churches and political groups coming to us for both hosting and consulting as well as website design work. We sweat the small details and it’s fun to work with a team that gives a damn about protecting our customers and clients. Seriously, I never thought website hosting would be something that would be a big chunk of our revenue but it’s becoming more and more a larger piece of the pie as groups, companies, politicians, and religious organizations realize the need for quality over something cheap like … well, those “start a free website today!” ads you see during the Super Bowl.

So, I’m proud to announce that we’re now a “Certified Partner” with Cloudflare. I personally trust and use Cloudflare on all of my sites (this one included) as well as our home’s DNS. It’s a fantastic service and I couldn’t be more proud to work with such a great group of people who are as passionate as I am about online security. Plus, their solutions are fast.

Here’s the email I’m sending out to our clients tomorrow in our newsletter with some words from the Cloudflare team:


“Harrelson Agency is excited to announce our partnership with Cloudflare, the website performance and security company.

Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) that increases the performance and security of every website on its network, protecting from a broad range of threats and attacks. Over 7,000,000 websites run on the Cloudflare network—ranging from individual blogs to e-commerce sites to the websites of Fortune 500 companies to national governments. Cloudflare powers almost a trillion monthly page views—more than Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Apple, Bing, eBay, PayPal and Instagram combined—and over 25% of the Internet’s population regularly passes through our network.

Cloudflare increases the speed and security of your website and delivers faster web performance

Cloudflare was designed to take a hosting platform like Harrelson Agency’s and make it more fast, secure, and reliable.

Cloudflare runs 151 data centers strategically located around the world. When you sign up for Cloudflare, we begin routing traffic to the nearest data center.

As your traffic passes through the data centers, we intelligently determine what parts of your website are static versus dynamic. The static portions are cached on our servers for a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours before we check to see if they’ve been updated. By automatically moving the static parts of your site closer to your visitors, the overall performance of your site improves significantly.

Cloudflare’s intelligent caching system also means you save bandwidth, which means saving money and decreases the load on your servers, which means your web application will run faster and more efficiently than ever. On average, Cloudflare customers see a 60% decrease in bandwidth usage and a 65% in total requests to their servers. The overall effect is that Cloudflare will typically cut the load time for pages on your site by 50% which means higher engagement and happier visitors.

Broad web security

At the beginning of 2016, Cloudflare experienced and mitigated against some of the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks ever seen. As attacks like these increase, Cloudflare is stepping up to protect websites.

Cloudflare’s security protections offer a broad range of protections against attacks such as DDoS, hacking or spam submitted to a blog or comment form. What is powerful about our approach is that the system gets smarter the more sites that are part of the Cloudflare community. We analyze the traffic patterns of hundreds of millions of visitors in real time and adapt the security systems to ensure good traffic gets through and bad traffic is stopped.

In time, our goal is nothing short of making attacks against websites a relic of history. And, given our scale and the billions of different attacks we see and adapt to every year, we’re well on our way to achieving that for sites on the Cloudflare network.

We’re proud that every day more than a thousand new sites, including some of the largest on the web, join the Cloudflare community. If you’re looking for a faster, safer website, you’ve got a good start with Harrelson Agency.”



Cautionary Tale of Patheos and Having Your Own Blog

Wow, this is quite something and a good example of why you should always run your own blog instead of relying on a blog network. Same with podcasting.

What a strange turn of events. Patheos was at the center of the Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia stories and now they host Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan. All of the those Patheos links about Mars Hill and GFA are now erased. The content is here and archived elsewhere but admittedly, it will be harder to find.

— Read on www.wthrockmorton.com/2018/05/22/the-blog-at-patheos-is-410-gone/



Ultimate guide to SEO for small businesses (and nonprofits)

There’s some really helpful advice here for small businesses, nonprofits, and / or churches looking to get a start on SEO basics. You can take a course on Lynda.com or watch some YouTube videos to learn more about what SEO can mean for your group, but the fundamentals here are pretty spot on:

SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business, there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

— Read on yoast.com/ultimate-guide-to-small-business-seo/



What Makes “Let’s Dance” Great



Owning your own platform is important, and valuable

I often get the question from clients of why I mostly recommend having your own website on WordPress or a self-hosted platform in the age of Facebook. As companies who built their businesses and traffic flow on the back of Facebook over the years have found out, that can be a very precarious decision. Audience and perceived impact are good, but long-term value is much better. Don’t cheap out and build your house on someone else’s property.

For instance, Medium is an interesting platform for bloggers and writers. We see everyone from politicians to celebrities to tech pundits using it as the place of record for their writings. While there is an audience there, or on Facebook, we’re already seeing Medium making changes to the way it handles its publishers in an attempt to figure out monetization (something which its founder Ev Williams knows about since he also founded Blogger and then went on to co-start Twitter… both of which faced their own monetization issues). This is going to be a constant and something you or your business or your non-profit should take notice of before you let your roots get too deep in a particular platform can change its EULA at any time.

Owen Williams writes the excellent Charged newsletter (you should subscribe) and makes this point about Medium, Facebook, and web presence in general that I highly agree with:

All of this is to say: Medium is great, but be wary! Owning your own platform is important, and valuable, even at this point in the internet’s maturity cycle. It’s a bit more work, but you are no longer at the mercy of the platform, a lesson we can learn from Facebook all too easily.

Source: #167: Medium.com feels like it’s forever. What if it isn’t?



Faster horses

I don’t know… this feels a little like Henry Ford’s “if I had asked what people wanted, they would have said a faster horse” approach to utilizing tech to save humans time…

Like Google, we envision a future that’s based on collaboration between humans and machines. Where we seem to differ is that we believe a human handoff is essential when initiating a conversation between an AI assistant and a human. This human acknowledgement of AI preserves the human to human relationships and makes resuming the non transactional parts of the conversation much more natural. With their policy reversal, it sounds like Google has realized that you need to at least let people know they’re interacting with AI.



Why you should quit blogging

Fun post that highlights many of the concerns I hear from clients and friends when I encourage them to blog.

Blogging and newsletters are still incredibly impactful for businesses, churches, nonprofits… or just sharing what’s on your mind.

Get out there. Be yourself. It’ll be ok.

You think that you are a terrible writer. No one wants to read your blogs, and if you look at the blog posts you wrote a few months ago, you cringe. You have convinced yourself you absolutely cannot write. So put yourself (and all your readers, they’ll thank you) out of their misery. Just quit.

Source: Caroline’s Corner: Why you should quit your blog now • Yoast