How to fix weird characters on WordPress blog after migration?

I use the powerful BackupBuddy plugin by iThemes to take a regular automated backup of all my sites. This plug-in also doubles up as a web host migration tool.  This time when I cloned one of my wordpress based sites to a staging environment, I started seeing lots of weird characters in the article like these  ⠀

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What is a CDN? How to set-up Max CDN in under 10 minutes on wordpress?

Like any other business offline or online, a website is ALL about user experience. Even if you have the best content available on your site, it would be of little use, if you provide poor user experience on it. For anyone in need of better rankings for their site , all major search engines have been stressing this point time-and-again.What is a CDN?

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Here Is Why You Should Enable 2 Factor Authentication (and a list of 9 services)

As our lives are getting increasingly dependent on web based services, they are getting prone to hackers (crackers). There is a recent case of a web based company which was virtually forced to shut down its operation after the hacker was able to gain access to its backend and servers.

A company winding up its operation after a cyber attack

While no one can guarantee 100% safety against a malicious hacker, there are some precautions you can take to protect yourself online. One of the most important among them is 2 Factor Authentication(2FA) and you need not be a geek to enable this. Had the above company been a little prudent and enabled 2FA, I’m sure they would not have met with such a fate.

What is 2 Factor Authentication?

In simple words 2FA provides a 2nd layer of password on top of your regular password for a given web application. This second password is normally either SMS-ed to you at the time of login OR it is configured in an application which is stored on your mobile phone. Except a couple of cases – which involved Social Engineering – I have not really heard some one getting hacked after enabling 2FA.

9 Important Services

Here are some commonly used important services where you can enable 2FA. Check the documentation link for the step-by-step procedure.

  1. Google Services (Gmail, Drive, YouTube): Documentation. If you use Gmail for business purposes, take a backup of Gmail using Spanning backup service.
  2. Yahoo: Documentation
  3. Outlook: Documentation
  4. FaceBook: Documentation
  5. LinkedIn: Documentation
  6. Dropbox: Documentation
  7. Amazon S3: Documentation
  8. Apple: Documentation
  9. PayPal: Documentation (Only available for US based customers)

Also check a comprehensive list by twofactorauth which provides a category wise list of all services providing two factor authentication.

How to book Tatkal tickets super fast?

Till yesterday I had never booked a Tatkal ticket on Indian Railways. A friend of mine was trying to book her tatkal tickets for last 2 days but every time she would try to login at 10:00 AM, the IRCTC site would stop responding.

In anguish she called yesterday to check if I could help. So began my research.

For the uninitiated, here is a primer:

  • Booking for Tatkal tickets can be done only between 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
  • Booking for Tatkal tickets can be done only a day before your travelling date.
  • Under tatkal scheme, you are not offered any concessional fare.
  • You can only book 2 tickets at a time under tatkal.
  • An ID card number is required for all the passengers traveling on tatkal tickets. Unlike normal reservation, tatkal booking form requires this number to be filled at the time of booking.
  • There are several thousand people across the world who try to book tickets at the same time concurrently. Indian Railways site is busiest and slowest at this time.
  • A session on IRCTC site expires after 3 minutes of inactivity.
  • QuickBook feature is not enabled during tatkal booking hours.

As I started reading articles online, it became clear that I need to beat others in form filling time. To semi-automated the process, most of the sites have recommended a utility called Magic Autofill written by Amit Agarwal. I tried it on 3 browsers (Chrome, Firefox and IE) but for some reason, it didn’t work at all.

Enter Roboform. This has been my favorite utility for past several years. It stores and generates passwords for me and help fill long forms at the click of a button. Taking help of this software and a bit of planning I was able to book tickets in a single attempt.

Here is the step-by-step process you can follow:

  1. Download and install a full functional 30 days trial of Roboform. (I would strongly suggest you to buy this inexpensive software once the trial expires, it has saved countless hours for me over the years.). Roboform gets installed as a browser extension.
  2. You basically have 3 forms to fill on IRCTC in the complete process. Do this little exercise, before you actually go on to book tatkal tickets. (This is a one time exercise, it will help you for future bookings as well) Go to IRCTC and login as you would normally do. Roboform will prompt you to save your username/password credentials. Save it using a meaningful name – say irctc. [You have completed automation for Form #1]
  3. Click ‘Proceed for Booking’ on the next page. On the left side, you will see the form shown below. plan-my-journey
  4. Now go to Roboform > identities > New and create a new identity.Give it some name say – IRCTC From and To
  5. Fill in the custom fields marked in Red box exactly as shown below. The fields for green box should be taken from the first image above. Save these fields by clicking on save button on top right side. [You have completed automation for Form #2]irctc-custom-field
  6. Click ‘Submit’ as shown on the first image above. On the right side, choose the train and class of travel as you would normally do. You will get this form. irctc-passenger-details
  7. Again, create a new identity as shown in Step#4. Fill in the custom fields marked in Red box exactly as shown below. The fields for green box should be taken from the image above. Save these fields by clicking on save button on top right side. [You have completed automation for Form #3].custom-passenger-details
  8. It may seem a bit daunting since you are doing this for the first time but I am sure this will help you in the long run. Make sure you do a dry-run before actual tatkal booking.
  9. IRCTC time out is 3 minutes of inactivity. I would suggest you to login around 9:58 AM and keep toggling between various classes of travel to prevent time out.

All the best! Let me know if you need any help.

Note: We are NOT doing anything illegal here. We are just taking help of a simple software to speed up the form filling time.

Complete process for filing TDS on property in India

Since June 1st,  2013, Indian Income Tax dept. has made mandatory to deduct 1% TDS if the property you are buying is more than 50 Lakhs. I see there is a lot of confusion amongst people regarding how and what to fill in the various fields provided in the form of Tax Information Network (TIN) website.

Some points before we start

  1. The online form available on the TIN website for furnishing information regarding TDS on property is termed as Form 26QB. It has been specifically introduced for deducting TDS on property purchase.
  2. According to rules in respect of tax deducted at source, buyer of the property would have to deduct the TDS and deposit the same in Government treasury.
  3. Buyer or Purchaser of the property is NOT required to procure Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN). The Buyer is required quote his or her PAN and sellers PAN.
  4. Frequently Asked Question: If amount of property sold is 70 Lakhs, would TDS be calculated at 20 Lakhs or on 70 Lakhs? TDS is to be deducted on the amount paid/credited to the seller. In this case, the deduction will be on total amount i.e. on 70 Lakhs.
  5. TDS would be calculated on the total value and not just the BSP i.e. you have to include EDC/IDC, parking, service tax.

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