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May 4, 2008

Restoration drama
Posted by Patrick at 07:18 PM *

Our story so far, as documented over the last day and a half: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Short version: Our server fell over hard. Smoke came out. Disks and motherboard did what all hardware eventually does. Which was a great time to discover that the backups I’d been making were, ahem, flawed. The last good backup—home directory and MySQL database—was made on March 1; thus the antiquity of the posts below.

With amazing help from Abi Sutherland, who hosted emergency discussions on her own blog—and with an enormous amount of help from dozens of Making Light readers who scoured Google, MSN Search, Yahoo Search, their own browser caches, and in some cases even their own open tabs—we appear to have collected almost the entire two months’ worth of lost posts and comments. What remains is to get it all wedged back into the MySQL database so that it shows up properly on the site. Plus a miscellany of small tasks, like figuring out why the particles, sidelights, blogroll, commonplaces, etc., aren’t appearing in our sidebars. And setting up a proper cron-based regular backup strategy like we should have done years ago. And, quite possibly, moving to WordPress. We’re going to need a bunch of help with all of this.

Our thanks also to Annette and the other helpful people at Hosting Matters, who have been everything one could want from a hosting service at a moment like this.

More after we’ve had a bite to eat. Simply sorting through and processing the torrent of stuff we’ve been emailed in the last 36 hours has us pretty much exhausted. But thank you. And you can probably take a break at this point—we’ll let everyone know when (and if) we find we’re still missing some piece of the Lost Months.

Comments on Restoration drama:
#1 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:06 PM:

First post!

I mean...

I have made
the first post
that that was available
on your blog

and which
you were probably
saving
for for something relevant.

Forgive me
it was exciting
so texual
and so gratifying.

#2 ::: Elaine ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:14 PM:

I imagine you will get lots of volunteers, but I am reasonably experienced with Wordpress and would be glad to help.

#3 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:19 PM:

One of the first of many volunteers with respect to WordPress.

If you do go with WordPress, I suggest BackupWordPress, which uses WP's cron mechanism to schedule daily and full backups, which it can then email to somewhere, anywhere.

And you're just in time to catch the first major version change in WP that makes the interface on the backend much friendlier.

And it checks for updates & stuff.

#4 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:33 PM:

PNH - Do I recall correctly that the next Whisperado gig is only a day away? The (presumably, recovered from backup) NH homepage still lists the Feb date and place, while up-above-here's a blank -- perhaps you could just drop a quick message to the world for the benefit of potential audience members? :-)

#5 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:45 PM:

So, Patrick, are you rethinking the wisdom of publishing Little Brother? Ever since we picked up our copy today, I've noticed my laptop seems to be running a bit hot.

#6 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:48 PM:

Did someone order sidelights with a side of particles?

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:55 PM:

So as I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by the server melting: "Well, thanks loads, Patrick -- I followed your link to Jo Walton's fantasy name generation tips, and the code Muse struck, and I wrote the damn thing in Perl before I even knew what I was doing. Now how am I going to finish the paying work on time? Huh? I blame you. And the Bush Administration, of course (goes without sayin.)"

Now, of course, I have even less time to finish the paying work, but fortunately it's going well today. So maybe doom is not inevitable, yet.

So Don -- you got first post, but I'm pretty sure I had last post!

#8 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Wow--I'm so madly impressed by all the people who contributed to saving ML. I was too slow on the uptake to contribute myself, so I'll have to be satisfied by donating cheers and huzzahs to those hard-working souls who did! Go team ML! Here, have some cake, and win.

(It's weirdly ironic that the last post on ML before the disaster was on Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, which is about the power of internet-enabled collaborative projects.)

#9 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 08:59 PM:

By the time I'd sorted out the individual threads in google reader's cache, most of the work had been done.

But I'll volunteer to help with the mySQL coding, as needed.

#10 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:05 PM:

I looked for anything I had cached, but I didn't have anything...my computer restarted itself during the night, thank you MicroSoft. :-(

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Thanks _very_ much to Michael Roberts, who has been up to his elbows in Making Light's tangle of backstage code today.

Now Teresa and I are going to enjoy a large drink, and we commend the rest of you to the equivalent self-indulgence of your choice.

#12 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:11 PM:

Most excellent... At this, you're already looking to made a much better recovery than many forums do. Last I heard, CustomersSuck.com was still lamenting stuff lost during their own Big Disaster (apparently a few years ago).

Regarding WordPress, some folks seem less enthused about that new interface. (via Amanda Baggs who got knocked offline for about a week by the upgrade.)

#13 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:12 PM:

My few, and distressingly spotty, downloads were not quite as up-to-date as those listed on Abi's spreadsheet, so I wasn't able to help with anything. *sigh*.

Perhaps an occasional Emergency is Good For Us, keeping the adrenal glands in good fettle and the various juices flowing, but there's also much to be said for keeping frequent and complete unflawed BackUps and living a more tranquil life. Indeed, this is something I should do with my own computer, Real Soon Now.

Best Wishes for getting a perfect restoration of the Making Light Archives.

#14 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:14 PM:

You mean I get to buy *another* guitar? I haven't even dinged up the last one yet.

(But seriously--having Making Light go missing felt something like the times our cats would go walkabout. I worried and kept waiting for the scratching at the door. Should I offer you some tuna?)

#15 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:19 PM:

David @12, yes, a few people are upset about the new WP interface.

But speaking as someone who actually played around with the new interface instead of getting all crybaby upset when it was suddenly *different*, there were no bad changes.

Indeed, from a UI perspective, just about all the changes were good.

I think the folks complaining mostly hate change. I can do a lot more a lot quicker in the new UI, which is also faster and more limber. And if you're new to WordPress, there's no better time than now to start.

And yes---I f'in HATED WordPress a year ago and thought it was the suck. I have since learned differently. For instance, their plugin system has a better clue than most others out there I know of.

#16 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:25 PM:

I missed almost all of this, and am sorry that it happened and that I wasn't able to help.

I don't know MT in detail or WordPress at all, but I am aware that MT 4 at least natively aggregates multiple blogs together, and may well have other features that you all are currently kludging together by hand. If the stability problem has to do with the complexity of your MT install, it's possible that an upgrade to MT 4 might be easier than converting to WordPress.

Perhaps BoingBoing's sysadmin could give you some advice? If they're running even a modified version of something available out of the box, that would seem like a good place to start for a stable system.

(I know that ScienceBlogs runs on MT, and they have quite a lot of traffic. OTOH they also have, you know, staff.)

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:27 PM:

Holy Toledo, I hope I never get that upset about a piece of software changing its interface. Okay, I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but...

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Teresa is well-acquainted with Boing Boing's sysadmin and with Boing Boing's experiences with Movable Type.

#19 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Patrick @17, I never trust a rant in white on black in the blogosphere. :)

It was rather like that piece of hate-mail making its rounds of the writing/agenting/publishing world.

But I'd be happy with anything you guys use as long as you didn't have to deal with complexity and the backups could be automated. Anything else is gravy, with WP or without it.

#20 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:34 PM:

I assume by this time it's irrelevant, but I do have the front page page with posts etc. through April 27 (Where Do People Find the Time) and Open Thread 106 with 288 comments through 3am on May 3rd. I'm not going to try sorting through all the rescue comments, so if it is relevant someone can just let me know.

#21 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:35 PM:

Boing Boing is different, by my understa(nding|tement).

For instance, I believe they're set up to serve static pages due to their heavy load. I'm sure their experiences are instructive, but I don't know that they'd be directly applicable.

#22 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:42 PM:

Well, I'm glad to see ML back; and have fun going through all the emails and archive files. I know my approach was "mail it all and let the sysgods sort it out", because who knows how long those caches were going to last. (What surprised me was that Microsoft has it all over Google in site spidering and caching; maybe there is life left in Redmond)

#23 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:44 PM:

And here I figured this was the first step of the Emergent/Qeng Ho combined fleet's attempt to take over our civilization by controlling the global computer networks....

Seriously, it's nice to see ML back in something like its normal form, even with a bit of hopefully temporary amnesia.

#24 ::: Twirlip of the Mists ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Hello?

My only gateway onto MakingLight is very expensive, and I miss many important postings ...

#25 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Eww, I have perl on my shirt! (Do you know how hard it is to get out?)

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Hexapodia! Hexapodia is the key insight!

#27 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Yay! Welcome back to home base!

#28 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:03 PM:

Why am I suddenly thinking about hexapodia?

#29 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:04 PM:

I was so happy to see how much people did, and how much people talked and shared and collaborated, to help out. It's like reading the brtn thread and realizing that yes, these are good people to have around.

#30 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:04 PM:

Well that was an inopportune moment to go get another Coke.

#31 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:09 PM:

regarding WordPress:

Out of the box, it's supposed to be a CPU hog, for even moderately popular sites. There are at least three decent plugins for caching that work pretty darn well--Scalzi uses one for Whatever. Jeff Atwood, of Coding Horror, had an excellent post titled Behold WordPress, Destroyer of CPUs that explores the problem in some depth. The comments there, as with MakingLight are instructive, though sadly lacking poetry and humor.

Especially worthy of note is an addendum to the article referring to Matt Mullenweg's MySQL tuning tweaks and a reference to a Google-Summer-Of-Code project designed to add caching to WP.

While I have enjoyed using WP and it's plugin ecosystem in the past, I am not a platform fanboy, and whatever you decide to do won't materially affect my ego ;)

#32 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Diatrama #29: To steal a phrase from someone describing Wikipedia in another ML thread, reading the brtn thread was like watching entropy running in reverse.

#33 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Patrick @ #18: duh, of course she would be--sorry for stating the obvious. (Though I hadn't been sure that BoingBoing was on Movable Type; I didn't spot any obvious system information on a quick glance at the site.)

John A Arkansawyer @ #21, I was thinking about a long-term solution, not recovery.

#34 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:18 PM:

don (#1) To begin at the beginning — with poetry!

So much thanks to all who have all lit (or held up) candles and made light rather than cursing the darkness.

Thanks specially from me to Epacris for checking on my stuff. I'm not in the best of states for organising or keeping track of things. Soon will need to lie down for a while after being up and on the 'pooter.

And thanks in advance to those who'll do it for all the work that will be done to restore things to a happy future equilibrium.

#35 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:19 PM:

Hi, wow, so I'm gone for a couple of weeks and this is what happens? Talk about your solipsistic re-enforcement!

Actually, though, I am really glad you guys got it all sorted out. Also, let me add my regrets that I was completely useless in the crisis.
Sorry about that.

#36 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:22 PM:

#26: There were times today posting to Abi's blog when I really felt like Twirlip.

#37 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:25 PM:

Albatross, if that was entropy running in reverse, what was this?

#38 ::: Jackie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:38 PM:

The back up battery caught fire (first time I ever knew they could do that) and well, toasted my server. Because of incompatibilities of the old back up system with any equipment made in this century, my small business lost everything. Like 10 years worth of data. But we survived. And finally, like a year later, we may actually be thriving. I will sit shiva for your server as I did for mine.

#39 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:41 PM:

Missing stuff: I could swear we had Particles and Sidelights for March, with their underlying links, but I can't seem to find them. Anyone have them?

#40 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Arachne, i tried to post a comment to that and got tossed.

I think the poster is mad, and if any mail with their address ever comes again to that agent (or whatever) I'm guessing it will get returned as a turn-around mail. Like, who needs that kind of grief.

For that matter, what would happen if they got published but bad reviews? Double yikes.

IF I get something written, polished, etc until I think it's ready to go out, out it goes, I'm on to the next thing and there you are. I'm surely not going to complain about rejection that's just part of the job. And I had Marion Zimmer Bradley as an editor, so I got used to being thick-skinned about comments...

Just saying.

#41 ::: Schadenjoy ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 11:06 PM:

PNH,

I just sent the March Sidelights & Particles. Took me three tries to get the ones with live links. Sigh.

Glad to see the Light again. G'night,
joy

#42 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 11:52 PM:

I don't post much,if any, but I come here nearly every day, and it's amazing how much of my ability to concentrate depends on making the habitual rounds.
Log on, comic strips, Tribes, Makingli---aaaaack!
How 'bout now?
*click*
Now?
*click*
Surely now.
*whimper*

#43 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 11:54 PM:

I've got a copy of the March 31st Deep Value thread with 394 comments (up to April 7th) if it's of any use to anyone.

#44 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Good night, NIelsen Haydens. Parting angels sing thee to thy rest, preferably after a few drinks.

#45 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Et voilà. Let there be posts. Comments, now -- comments will take some work.

#46 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:11 AM:

Actions and reactions, over the weekend:

1. Visited Making Light

2. Read first post on top, i.e. Open thread 102, i.e. Abi's delightful mashup involving brain-eating zombies and our hostess's Voice

3. Wondered at the feeling of déjà vu

4. Realized, it's Making Light, déjà vu and other paranormal experiences are par for the course

Made sense to me!

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:32 AM:

Awww. I thought this thread was going to be about a theatrical production set in England between 1660 and 1688.

#48 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:32 AM:

Kate @ 33: When it comes to high-performance websites, I'm really out of my league. I was dredging up from memory and not doing much real thought.

In other news, I just finished Little Brother, and it's awfully fine. I think I'll loan it to someone at work tomorrow--maybe our network security officer. That might be fun.

No, wait a minute. The wife gets first crack at it. What was I thinking?

Anyway, I have three things to say, any of which might be spoilers, so:

Cntr 256 jnf gur bayl cynpr V gubhtug V jnf tbvat gb pel.

V'z fb tynq V jnf jebat gung Znfun jnf Qneely. He set that possibility up at one point.

Jura bar bs gur svefg unpxf va lbhe obbx vf yvsgrq sebz Qbhoyr Fgne naq Oehpr Fpuarvre gura ersreraprf vg, lbh ernyyl bhtug gb zragvba gur byq zna.

Oh, and my laptop seems to be cooling off. False alarm. I think.

#49 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:35 AM:

@47 Stefan -- the night is young.

#50 ::: Deb G. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Welcome back, Making Light. I read your Live Journal post with dismay, Patrick, but since I would be absolutely useless in this situation, offering my "help" would have been pretty vapid. (On the other hand, I'll offer sweetrolls, if you like.)

#51 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:59 AM:

It sounded like there was still a problem finding the Particles and Sidelights? I just fired off to Patrick and Teresa a cache of both of those through 4/30/08, found via MS Live Search.

Is there anyone whose posts are known still to be missing who I should look for?

#52 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:01 AM:

I am, unfortunately, not Web-savvy enough to have been of any help during Making Light's hour(s) of need...but many kudos and much applause to the Nielsen Haydens, Abi, the hosting service and all the savvy Fluorospherians who've been working hard to restore the site.

Y'all rock. Now, please excuse me while I back up my laptop...

#53 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:07 AM:

<sigh> and the spammers are starting to pound on the site as soon as it's back up. Shpxvat shpxref, if you'll pardon my Ratyvfu.

#54 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:11 AM:

See, I don't want to comment too much right away because I don't want to stress anything. Not putting any weight on the broken website, as it were...

#55 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:16 AM:

Michael @45 - That's great work you've been doing. Good luck on the comment progress.

#56 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:58 AM:

Oh, I've never been so happy to see a blog before, lurker that I am. Thank you for all your hard work getting this back up and running. May your rest be sweet and your backups sweeter.

#57 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 03:17 AM:

Wow, I go away for two days and this happens? When I tell everyone to stop posting until I get back, I'm kidding. Jeez.

Good work reconstructing things thus far, everyone. Sorry I wasn't around to help, although I bet lots of you are quicker and better at it than I would have been.

#58 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:06 AM:

In response/ sympathy/ action item after this event, I suggest we ought to have a day of backup* for our personal stuff and computers.

If thoughts of a full backup cause stress, then perhaps start with a minimal backup, just for practice.

For example, take a 128MB compact flash card and a 128MB USB thumb drive. Both should cost just a couple of bucks at most**.

With the CF card and a (borrowed or owned) digital camera, spend 10-20 minutes to go around your place and take pictures of important things--all rooms, clothes in the closet, the book collection, important documents. One good rule for photos for insurance--have the camera on a steady surface, not handheld.

With the thumb drive, spend another 10 minutues copying important files and the thumbnail pictures of your digital photo collection onto it. Drag and dropping is fairly fast w/ USB. Include an export of your bookmark files.

Take both memory devices and bring them to a trusted someone's house to be your interim backup until you can do a more complete one.


-----------
* something like a Backup Amnesty Day

** considering that 4GB+ is $10, 128MB and under seems like it should almost be free... i.e. small drives forgotten about in the back of drawers.

#59 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:15 AM:

Welcome back! That was an amazingly swift recovery. I wish I'd been able to unearth something useful from my not all that large Firefox cache. The realization that Oh My God MAKING LIGHT Is Down was oddly disturbing, and I clearly wasn't the only one to wonder if, perhaps, Barbara Bauer had ...

May your nerves now have time to become unjangled.

#60 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:15 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnydale, that's a great idea. I don't normally think of photographing possessions as part of the backup project, but it really should be. I wish I'd thought to take pictures of the last apartment while we were living there. We've had conflicts with the landlord over the return of our security deposit, and if we had pictures we'd be in a much better position to protest.

(Also, I've taken this opportunity to disguise my email address. My previous "view all by" email address doesn't include the capitalized bit.)

#61 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:22 AM:

Mostly to Michael, but for general viewing:

I was thinking about the best way to get the comments back, without having to do an elaborate reconciliation of "who's sent in which post with whose emails as of which date", which seems kind of crazy-making just from looking at the spreadsheet.

I saw up there aways in some of the posts on abi's site that somebody's already written a Perl script to parse the HTML for either a thread page or the "view all by" pages out into the individual ocmments, and get the relevant fields out. (Thread name, poster name, URL, email, date/time.) Ok, great. Then you also have a ton of overlapping sources for various versions of the posts.

I think what I'd go with at this point is to invent a simple rule for munging all the above into one key, which should uniquely identify a specific post. Use that as a Unix filename (or possibly subdir + filename) per post.

Tweak the Perl scripts to take input of either a view-all-by page or thread page, skip any cache header, digest it into the posts, and spit each post out into a unique file named by the unique key. If the file already exists, just skip it! Wherever it came from, it should be the same content modulo whitespace. (If you want to get real fancy, if it does exist compare the new version to the old version, and write something to an error file if they differ.) Special case: if the file appears to be truncated, don't save the last thing in it, as that might be corrupt.

Now on your Unix box, just pour every HTML file TNH & PNH have been mailed into this script. Don't worry about dups or which ends latest or which is the best source, just shovel it all in. At the end, you should have all the individual posts the hivemind has collectively been able to recover, each in its own file, and keyed on its critical attributes; now you can just write one last quick script to dump all the resulting files into the database.

This trades off some waste of CPU cycles to avoid wasting a lot more brain cycles, which is the thing to do. (Also should be way cheaper to do this reconciliation of dups in the file system rather than the database.)

#62 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:56 AM:

Rymenhild @60,

Especially if you drop the resolution down just a bit, you can fit 100 or 200 pictures onto a CF card that costs less than one roll of film (and/or 1 roll processed).

Why not use that cheap CF device for backup or a preliminary backup--it's a nice gift to your future self to take care of that now.

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:09 AM:

"And there was much rejoicing."

Oh well, back to the cooking.

not ur cheezeburger

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:11 AM:

With this title, I confess to disappointment thast nobody has mentioned Nell Gwynne yet.

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:31 AM:

I wish I could have helped. Alas, of the two computers I use the most for posting on ML, one is the desktop provided 2 weeks ago by my employer, which was 15 miles away, at the office. As for my employer-provided laptop, it too was unavailable, being with the tech-support people because it kicked the bucket, which is why I was given the desktop.

As for Patrick's comment that
Our server fell over hard. Smoke came out,
that brings up fond memories.
Not.

Luckily, there were plenty who stepped into the breach.

Congratulations, all of you.

#66 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:44 AM:

I'm glad to see that ML is back up and in good shape.

#67 ::: Janet ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:47 AM:

'Twas lovely to find you here this morning. Good luck with the rest of the restoration.

#68 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:53 AM:

Welcome back cauterized ML.

Lemme know if there is any grunt-work that needs doing. Happy to help.

#69 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:10 AM:

#53: and the spammers are starting to pound on the site

Death to vermin.

#70 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:53 AM:

Another offer for help with a WP transition.

I'm running several different WP blogs (albeit low-volume ones), including my URL one. I have a bunch of experience with PHP, Web programming, programming in general and computers in general, including the Stockholm University Latin 101 webcourse (http://primalatina.klassiska.su.se), and I really, really want Making Light to stay around and thrive.

#72 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Diatryma @ 37

This was entropy on a Harley V-Twin with bored cylinders, running on nitro. There's nothing that looks less like information than the contents of a dead hard disk after the fire's been put out. That there are people who make a living resurrecting the contents of disks after immolation is a tribute to the ability of humans to learn how to ride such beasts.

#73 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:08 AM:

Thoughts on backing up:

I started running Time Machine on my laptop a month or so ago, archiving to a hard disk attached to my wireless base. It was originally supposed to be a RAID 500 Gig mirror, but it turns out that the Airport Extreme can't see a RAID disk for some reason or other, so I fell back to a single 500. Time Machine has a great UI to the restoration of files; it's basically the Finder with a big slider to set the date and time you're looking at. And getting an incremental backup every hour automatically, and a graceful termination if I walk out of the house with the computer during the backup is just great.

But, of course, it's when things fall over dead that you find out all the things that aren't right. When I saw the news about ML, I went looking for my Firefox cache files (my tabs were clear; I'd recently restarted Firefox because it gets into memory suck mode if left up with a lot of tabs for more than a week). Guess what? No cache files at all! Firefox got into some sort of mode where it was only caching in memory, even though disk was enabled and I'd allowed 200 Mb of disk cache. Still trying to figure out what's going on; about:cache doesn't even list memory as a possibility.

I'm impressed with how quickly it all came back here; a lot of us worked very hard on this. Now that success is in sight (I'm looking at it), I'll relate a much worse experience. Last January I was put back on the project I had been hired to work on a year and a half before: an internal webapp for manufacturing in a musical instrument company (a subsidiary of Roland that makes pipe and church organs). It had been running in production* for year and everyone figured it was all good. Famous last words. A few weeks later the database lost about 90% of its contents, so I asked the sysadmin responsible for databases to restore from backup. His reply: "I don't do backups for that system." "So who does?" "No one." For a year.

It was MySQL, but it hadn't been setup properly, and wasn't storing to binary log files, so the internal files on the disk were toast. I spent three days trying to reconstruct the data, but couldn't get more than about 20% of it; the rest had been overwritten during the crash. Needless to say we now do backups every night, and we test them every month. Where'd the data come from? It's a relatively small database, so it was possible to re-enter everything manually. Not that it was fun.


* Nah, it was a really kludged-together prototype that was pressed into service when management decided they didn't want to put any R&D money into it for a year or so.

#74 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:11 AM:

I've been reading A Fire Upon the Deep, and seeing posts like #24, #26, etc. is quite surreal just now... XD

#75 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:13 AM:

I go away to a conference for a few days, come back and discover I've missed the whole crash etc.

Sympathies, and congratulations to all whose work has restored the site.

As someone who has suffered two laptop hard drive "sudden deaths", I already back up my on-going work on a daily basis, and periodically do large backups. I will reiterate what others (e.g. Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 58 ) have already said: backup, backup, backup.

Remember that if thieves come in they will probably grab your backup external hard drives as well as your laptop (and both will get ruined in event of a fire), so an additional set of backups on DVD, kept at another location and kept up to date, is a good idea.

I just wish it had been possible to keep a "backup" of my folding bicycle - which got stolen last week.

#76 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:16 AM:

This is where I find my policy of having Firefox clean its cache and everything upon exit a not very useful one.

#77 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:50 AM:

This whole mess offers more than sufficient proof that sites like ML are *not* idle time-wasters (as debated on the "Find the Time" thread)! Almost as bad as the weekend when husband and I, impoverished dial-up users, didn't have a phone line. Good luck on getting those comments back.

#78 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 11:17 AM:

dcb, 75
Remember that if thieves come in they will probably grab your backup external hard drives as well as your laptop (and both will get ruined in event of a fire), so an additional set of backups on DVD, kept at another location and kept up to date, is a good idea.

This is a very good point. I think that having a second external drive that you keep at [work|mom's|friend's] that you swap for the one at your desk is more effective. Data on harddrives like to be refreshed and verified by reads*. Data on DVDs is harder (more time consuming) to verify manually.**

*apparently this is handled in the background by the harddrive controller and modern file systems like NTFS and HFS. Who knew?‡
**there are some programs that create parity data that can automagically check to see if these are the droids files you are looking for, but I don't understand them or how to configure and use them. I do understand plugging in external harddrives.
‡ I'm amenable to correction here. Bruce, or Greg, what do you think?

#79 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Of course we have the fine tradition of Restoration Drama here on Making Light -- we "adjust" Master Shakespere on a regular basis.

With server shadowed, thought darkened in night
a click repeated, page refreshed once more
hope returns, the minds of the web make light
the work of hours finds a memory's core
And here we give thanks for our gracious hosts
and the host of others who gave of time,
life, who searched for hours so that we have most
of the pithy commments and lolcatz rhymes
Again we refresh and this time are bless'd
to see again the hushed murmur of crowds.
I am making a note here, huge success
A working of code of which to be proud
The haven returns, the light is restored
celebrate day and the net overlords!

please excuse the first attempt-- there's a reason I don't try and play this game, but it seemed appropriate.

#80 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Discussions of appropriate backup strategies always have a kind of Four Yorkshiremen potential--"Aye, that're nothing. Our office, when we arrive in the morning, our brain patterns is scanned and sent at 3 the previous morning via optical fiber to offsite storage in the Southern Hemisphere." That said, both Teresa and I are pretty assiduous about our personal data. My main machine these days is a black MacBook, used for both personal and Tor work, and owned by me, not Tor. When it's on a desk at home (as opposed to sitting in my actual lap), it's backing up hourly to an external Time Machine drive; when it's on my desk at work, it's backing up to a different Time Machine drive. In addition, I run an hourly ChronoSync script on my home desktop machine which syncs everything between my notebook and my desktop except for the several hundred gigabytes of music and video on the desktop; that stuff, however, gets backed up hourly to yet a third Time Machine drive, that one a terabyte in size.

Teresa has a similar method, which is why, in the order of the last week's various crises, the fact that her work-provided MacBook dropped dead on Monday barely made third place. We unplugged the Time Machine drive and had her up and running in less than an hour with a completely restored system in her own account on the desktop Mac. The next day, we dropped the afflicted notebook off at Tekserve and rented a temporary replacement; the only real delay lay in figuring out that if you're restoring from a Time Machine backup to a machine that originally ran Tiger, use Migration Assistant rather than booting from the Leopard system disk. Once we got that sorted, everything worked pretty much perfectly.

So, yes, we're pretty backup-conscious with our personal data, which makes it even more inexcusable that we let our Making Light backup strategies fray so much.

#81 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Put me down as willing to do some grunt-work. I am reasonably computer proficient, and can execute specific instructions very well.

Contact info is the lj name in the link, at juno.com

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Patrick @ 80... Would you or anybody else have recommendations for how to archive one's complete LiveJournal?

#83 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Serge, I know ljbook saves comments, unlike the post-saving feature built into lj.

#84 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:27 PM:

http://fawx.com/software/ljarchive is LJ Archive, and what I use to back up my LJ. I should do that again when I get home...it's been awhile.

#85 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Apologies for using Making Light as messenging service, however--

Susan, email Tracie, Emily or I please?

#86 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:38 PM:

Clifton @61 - I thought about this, and thanks for helping think (that's always the hardest part.) But it seems to me that unless somebody is posting really, really prolifically, the time of posting plus their name should serve to identify the post well enough. Those of you posting more than once per second per thread are out of luck, though. If you must post more often than once per second, please load-balance over multiple threads.

Fortunately, we shouldn't be missing too many comments to start with, and those we are missing are at the ends of threads; otherwise, our @nn system for followups would be pretty beat up.

In re general backup-ing -- I'm crap with backing up. I really am. Every few years it bites me, but I regard it as a sort of diet for the soul. Pining for the missing data makes it far more poignant than any amount of actual data could have. And then occasionally I'll find something on some forgotten disk -- nowadays that usually means building specialized equipment to read it -- and there is much rejoicing.

#87 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Susan to the white courtesy phone, please. Susan to the white courtesy phone.

#88 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Shouldn't the white courtesy phone be slowly transfering to the white courtesy keyboard? ;)

Appropos of such- Please cue pre-k'zoo panic.

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Nancy Mitten and Sisuile... Thanks, both of you. It's not that my LJ deserves Immortality, but I wouldn't want the ML photo gallery to be lost.

#90 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 86

I didn't used to be very good at backing up. The first sudden, catastrophic, hard drive failure encouraged better backing up. The second one (oh, that dreadful gr-gr-grinding sound of hard drive reducing your data to bits (pun intended)) less than six months later really made me pretty paranoid. Nowadays, if I've had a really productive morning, I'll save to an external drive then, not wait for my regular evening backup.

#91 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Well, on Saturday night I did do some searching for comment threads and such, but none of my finds ended up being the most complete. Oh well, it was a better reason than most to procrastinate writing my thesis. Although, now I've begun having dreams where my advisor is asking me for pages, I think I'd better get cracking.

#92 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Michael @ 86:

If we had time-to-the-second, as it goes into the database, yes. However, AFAICT, only the nearest minute ends up visible in the HTML, and occasionally people do post twice in the same minute. (Usually the second is something like "Oh hell, I know how to spell that word correctly" but occasionally it's more than that.) I don't know if keying on just poster+minute would lose anything from the last two months, but it's not impossible.

I just realized, though, that the HTML anchors such as 010011.html#253523 should work OK for a unique working key, and they appear both in the thread and author views.

I sent a note to Patrick & Teresa, but I'll offer to you too: let me know if you need more Perl hackery. I know nothing about MT, but I've written teeny scripts to large systems in Perl.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:53 PM:

While we're at it, and considering that my wife's laptop may need to be replaced... What would you recommend that runs Windows XP, for someone who uses her machine mostly for writing?

#94 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 03:05 PM:

For personal backups against hardware failure: I realize this is a lot harder to do on Windows machines, but software RAID1 (aka mirroring) beats mere backups for hardware failures. I lost one drive on my homebuilt file server, after I had about half my music collection (many months of labor ripping CDs) and a lot of our personal files copied onto it.

As it was set up using FreeBSD's gmirror on the drive level, I lost zero data. It took me a little while to figure out how to go back to running it from one drive while I ordered a new drive to rebuild the mirror because I had not done some of the setup ideally, but I got it up again, and then remirrored it to the fresh drive. No data loss whatsoever, despite an unreadable HD.

Drives are cheap now; using two in place of one is better than a backup strategy. Despite this, backups are great against software failures, where you (or your computer) does something which corrupts or wipes out all your data.

#95 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:09 PM:

One of the bits of drama we get from the restoration is the people who see old posts as if they were new.

And sadly I couldn't resist the urge to reply.

I am, however gladdened, amazed and awestruck at how much this piece of the inellectual landscape means to so many of us, and how much talent and expertise could be; and was, brought to bear.

I'm sorry that I didn't have much to offer in the recovery.

#96 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Serge, 93,
While we're at it, and considering that my wife's laptop may need to be replaced... What would you recommend that runs Windows XP, for someone who uses her machine mostly for writing?

I'm writing this on a Lenovo 3000 c100, now out of print. Good touchpad, good 'mouse' buttons (though too loud for use in bed with a sleeping spouse, which is not a problem unless you need to right click.) Matte finish non-widescreen, enough single cpu/core power to play divx/youtube at standard def. Perfectly adequate, and comes with only a handful of easily uninstallable trial versions. (Excepting for a full version of WordPerfect, which is easily installable, but not a trial version at all.)

OTOH, I would recommend getting a Dell with Ubuntu, and then running winXP in a virtual machine. [infodump warning] As you know Bob Serge, a virutal machine is a snapshot of your computer stored as a file on a harddrive, making it possible to have an easily archived copy of your current windows install that you can recover to when the latest update/malware/exploit hoses your operating system. (A "small" XP install takes about 6 gigs, so you can't save your machine's state every couple of minutes - at least for a few more years.)

Why would that be useful to a writer? 1. It would enable you to keep your work "computer" isolated from your "need to install this buggy application" computer. 2. More importantly, if you get xp set up just the way you want it, you can easily migrate it to another box just by copying a file. There's nothing like working with a completely familiar environment when you are writing. 3.Long after the world has moved on to using hyperintelligent space jellies interfaced with the medulla oblongata for word processing, you can still run WordPerfect 5.1 in a dos box if you want.* More realistically, you can drag that virtual machine file onto, say, a MacBook**, or another computer running XP if you want to switch platforms. [end infodump]

I don't have anything meaningful to say about the ASUS Eeepc or MacBooks that hasn't been said better, elsewhere. By all that's holy, I'd love either one, and I want to believe that the Eee would be <blink> the perfect </blink> laptop for a writer, but I have no empirical evidence that this is the case.

*the adventurous could run a VM of a DEC quad alpha with a vt-220 terminal simulator to run WordPerfect 5.1
**or iPhone mark IV.

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Anyone feeling like a quest, see Brooks Moses' comments on Evilrooster Crows and continue the track back into the past. Save as html, zip, and send to me, Patrick and Teresa.

(Crossposted in the Buckley thread that has highlighted this issue.)

#98 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:33 PM:

As has been noted in the Buckley thread, any thread that was active on March 1st could well have comments after that date; and those threads weren't on the master list posted on Abi's blog. Has anyone recovered that data? I just downloaded a batch of threads from the Microsoft cache (those posted in February, plus the ever-popular "Salwar kameez") and can email them if they haven't already been sent in. I suspect that the various literary agent scam threads also had March and April postings.

#99 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:35 PM:

I see my posting crossed with Abi's. Threads about to be emailed.

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:37 PM:

don delny @ 96... Thanks for both recommendations.

#101 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Oh, Jon, thanks for saving Salwar Kameez - the denizens of that particular walled garden won't know what hit them!

#102 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:43 PM:

Jon @99: I got everything posted in February off the MSN caches last night, and gave up at that point due to excessive sleepiness. Good on you for thinking of some earlier ones to check on!

#103 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:45 PM:

#101: Just wait until the next time Barbara Whatsername googles herself ...

#104 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 04:50 PM:

So, is anyone interested in doing January? It will probably be just the open threads and the over-500-posting topics that need saving ...

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:08 PM:

I have some threads saved in their entirety. They're at home, but I think they already were inactive before the server went west.

#106 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:37 PM:

Serge #89: Are you sure you don't have an intrusive 't' in there somewhere? ;-)

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:09 PM:

Fragano @ 106... Wise guy, eh?

#108 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Here very late; been offline for most of the last two months. So by the time I caught up with the news, most of the work had been done. Applause to all who assisted.

Reading the threads at abi's site was an experience, initially gut-wrenching (I got that sinking stomach feeling on reading of the (potential) loss of the last two months) but eventually, triumphant.

Bravo!

#109 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:35 PM:

Serge, 100,
you're welcome. Glad that was helpful. (I think the desire to do meaningful work like this is one of the motivations for Clay Shirkey type work that is different from more passive sorts of entertainment.)

Mez, 34,
If only it had been better poetry ;)

Clifton Royston, 94,
RAID 1 is great and all, but it doesn't protect you against user error, particularly ones where bad data is faithfully copied to the second disk.
[are you sure you want to delete]
[NO] I want to delete
[YES] I want to delete
[CANCEL] I don't want to save anything before shutdown
It also doesn't protect against power supply failures that can take both disks with it.

At the risk of continuing to be a Forth Yorkshireman, a cheap UPS unit* does usefully remove one of the single points of failure: dirty or non-existent power reaching those precious precious disks. Handy, when your flatmate's antique air conditioner dims the lights. (An hourly occurrence, now that spring has arrived.)

*47$-63$

#110 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, #58, I swap thumb drives into my safe deposit box every Monday. Cheap off-site storage.

#111 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:52 AM:

I am relieved to see ML is back! I wish I could have helped. I tried, but my cache is tiny, and Google cache is blocked from China and can't be accessed even with proxies (I think it's mainly that Google cache blocks proxies, while China without the proxy blocks the cache. It may be that China blocks Google cache even with proxies. Not certain.)

Anyway, I gnashed my teeth and wailed and I'm glad I can stop now.

As regards Patrick's
Our server fell over hard. Smoke came out

Alas, once let out, the magic smoke cannot be put back in.

#112 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 05:56 AM:

Er, and those of you who use Wordpress and like it: How the heck do you get it to make the right number of line breaks in anything? Sometimes I have to go in and edit the HTML in a post manually five times before it agrees to let me post it with the formatting I put in, instead of adding and removing stuff at random. I wish I were kidding.

Is this something that is fixed by the upgrade?

#113 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 07:04 AM:

Regarding wordpress and linebreaks: I have given up on editing html manually in wordpress, mostly because of this issue. The GUI interface seems to work intelligently, while the html interface is continually screwing up on me. (And, even worse, the bugs are not reproducible.) This may be something that was fixed during the upgrade, I don't know.

Oddly, it seems to me that I get fewer errors with Firefox than Safari. I've been wondering if Safari caches the content of forms and is interacting badly with wordpress, although that doesn't make sense to me.

My blog is linked from my name if you are curious, although it is mostly aimed at other mathematicians.

#114 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:14 AM:

DavidS @#113: Your blog link was a bit mangled--here's a working link to it. The mathematically-inclined around here will definitely want to have a look at it. (I'm mostly innumerate, alas)

#115 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:22 AM:

Is Open Thread 106 complete, in terms of all messages recovered? Because I have a copy of it current to May 2 at 9am open on my work machine, apparently...

#116 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:28 PM:

DavidS: Regarding wordpress and linebreaks: I have given up on editing html manually in wordpress, mostly because of this issue. The GUI interface seems to work intelligently, while the html interface is continually screwing up on me.

GUI interface! Like ATM machine?

Sorry, just crowing at acronym drift. (This isn't a jab: language changes, acronyms get de-acronymized, and I can't help but feel wonder at the birth of a new error/non-error usage chimaera.)

Unfortunately, the GUI seems to mess up worse than the HTML on mine, which is why I have to edit it manually in the first place.

I seem to have less trouble with it on Internet Explorer than with Firefox, usually. Different computers create different line break issues, as I discovered on my vacation -- one internet cafe made every line break show up as triple or quadruple, my home computer usually makes it show up as a single carriage return, and ... etcetera.

I think I will try that upgrade. It can't make things worse at least.

#117 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 11:08 PM:

A.J. Luxton@# 116: It can't make things worse at least.

Don't say that! Uh oh, too late... now you've done it! :-)

#118 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:43 AM:

I suspect I'm signing in as the first Yorkshireman here, but I did spend ten years as a professional computer backup person (and an occasional computer restorer).

If I had to distill ten years of experience down to a few points -

1. DO the damn backups.

2. Check that the damn backups actually ran. Check what was backed up.

3. Test your damn backups. This doesn't mean restoring an eensy-meensy .txt file. This means restoring something large - comparable to your main database. Do this once a month.

4. Store the most recent damn backups off-site. Yes, it's inconvenient when the server crashes, but much better that than losing both your main drive and your backup if your house burns.

5. Have more than one damn set of backups if at all possible. At least, backup up your work files twice - your unfinished novel, the family photos, etc.

6. Label your damn backups so that you (or someone) can tell what's on them without a computer. Feeding 32 discs/tapes/whatever into a drive so you can find your latest backup is not fun.

I escaped that job nearly a decade ago, and I haven't kept up with the latest tech - but I have no doubts whatsoever that the principals remain the same.

Thanks and sympathies to Patrick and everyone who helped put Humpty Dumpty together again - it's an ugly bit of work to have land in your lap.

#119 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 07:33 AM:

A.J. Luxton @116: Odd that you should gripe about linguistic redundancy in a thread that is, in part, about mechanical redundancy. I can't see that there's anything wrong with saying "HIV virus", for example, just redundant. And it's a redundancy that reduces confusion that spelling out only part of the initialisation would increase; saying "AT machine" would leave people wondering what you were talking about, as AT is not a common initialisation. Like it or not, the common initialisation is treated as a word that loses information when it's broken up.

#120 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:06 AM:

#112: I use a Markdown plugin, which I think came with the standard WordPress installation, though I don't recall at this point--if so, it was probably deactivated by default. This translates plain text markup into HTML (so that *this*, for example, becomes this). Two line breaks make an HTML paragraph.

In the rare case that WordPress/Markdown misbehaves, I translate everything to HTML outside the WordPress interface (I write most blog posts in a text editor which can run the Markdown script, so this is simple for me) and strip out all the line breaks (also simple, since the text editor also has a lot of text manipulation options).

#121 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 08:33 AM:

NelC @ 119: If only there were a cool pronunciation for CLI! CLUI? Then it wouldn't be GUI interface and command line interface, but gooey and cluey (he said, letting his biases show).

#122 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 01:15 AM:

Sometimes, in any blog, you're screwed over by the stylesheet of your theme. I usually figure out how to fix it, but then again, I like CSS. Most people don't.

(Sounds like another HTML for Dummies post though: fixing the spacing in your d*man Blogger|Wordpress|Typepad|MoveableType|LiveJournal theme.)

Anyways, the new WordPress's GUI editor has been upgraded and is mostly sane. But having it turned on in prior WordPress's did tend to screw up HTML, even if you weren't using it. Gods know why.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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