Back to previous post: Restoration drama

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Open thread 107

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

May 5, 2008

What’s still broken?
Posted by Patrick at 07:32 AM *

Overnight, Michael Roberts has restored the missing posts. As he says, restoring the comments will be a more challenging job, albeit one helped considerably by the work of Chris Sullins, who converted the missing threads into a form that will be easier to inject back into the database. Both Michael and Chris are hereby awarded the Hero of the Revolution Medal with matching epaulets, bandolier, cape, toga, sombrero, flippers, and other accoutrements of the well-dressed Making Light regular. More awards will be given before our recovery is complete.

I’ve gone over the restored posts and fixed the glitches I noticed. Apostrophes in headlines had turned into underscores: fixed. A few random words were colorfully highlighted, reflecting the fact that the HTML came from search-engine caches: fixed. The Little Brother cover had gone missing: fixed. Etc.

Lots still to do. The blogroll and commonplaces need to be updated to reflect various small changes over the last couple of months. We need to re-create the “all comments in all threads” RSS feed and put the link to it back underneath the “recent comments” sidebar. The missing Particles and Sidelights need to be restored. The page needs to be brought back up to date. I need to restore the unedited version of Teresa’s recent Observer piece and the recently-posted HTML version of her 1983 essay “The Big Z.”

What else? Use this thread to point out what we’re forgetting and what still doesn’t work.

Comments on What's still broken?:
#1 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Suggestion: make sure you're creating multiple backups of the site as your surgery progresses: one before any major change, one after any major change, and one after any group of small changes that you don't want to have to repeat. Keeping the backups in separate folders with incremental names means you can go back to whichever one you need to, even if you don't spot a problem until a couple iterations onward.

Also, it's a good idea to zip some of those backups and toss them onto someone else's server for safekeeping -- even if the new server is rock-steady and RAIDed.

Bravo, all.

#2 ::: Tau Wedel ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:52 AM:

Here's two glitches that apparently went unnoticed:

The photograph that terrorized London: The word "March" in the first sentence is highlighted.
Greyhawk's flags at half-staff: The apostrophe in the title has turned into an underscore.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:04 AM:

Mary Dell: right you are.

Fulll-site rebuilds are still failing four times out of five.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:07 AM:

But we have the data. I think we very nearly have it all. It's retting and hackling and spinning it that's wearing me out.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Xopher, did anyone mention that your comments got found and saved? I know Nancy Cribbin found them. I'd have to check to see whether anyone else did as well.

#6 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:20 AM:

I hadn't heard anything about the trouble until now, though I had noticed the lack of new comments in my feed reader.

I have cached copies of comment RSS feeds for the following post numbers; if you still have use for them, let me know and I'll upload them.

8696 8724 8735 8751 8756 8759 8772 8777 8786 8804 8806 8810 8811 8833 8839 8843 8844 8845 8851 8856 8858 8859 8860 8862 8867 8868 8883 8884 8890 8893 8901 8902 8912 8913 8914 8929 8931 8932 8934 8936 8938 8948 8949 8951 8952 8953 8966 8991 9015 9017 9020 9023 9025 9027 9034 9050 9052 9062 9072 9076 9077 9081 9082 9083 9084 9086 9087 9090 9092 9093 9095 9096 9105 9107 9116 9117 9132 9137 9143 9144 9148 9150 9156 9165 9170 9176 9180 9186 9187 9200 9201 9203 9211 9215 9220 9221 9226 9233 9234 9238 9239 9245 9256 9262 9263 9268 9273 9274 9280 9283 9286 9289 9290 9291 9295 9302 9304 9305 9322 9323 9327 9328 9329 9333 9334 9335 9337 9339 9342 9360 9378 9381 9387 9390 9401 9402 9409 9418 9421 9426 9434 9435 9436 9437 9446 9448 9454 9460 9461 9470 9474 9478 9479 9484 9493 9494 9501 9511 9519 9524 9527 9528 9534 9536 9537 9542 9544 9546 9559 9593 9595 9615 9620 9648 9653 9654 9665 9673 9676 9679 9680 9682 9689 9690 9694 9743 9746 9747 9755 9756 9759 9791 9801 9803 9804 9805 9806 9808 9819 9820 9821 9822 9823 9826 9832 9835 9837 9843 9852 9857 9863 9872 9881 9883 9884 9885 9886 9890 9892 9893 9897 9900 9901 9904 9905 9906 9910 9914 9918 9931 9932 9933 9935 9938 9941 9942 9951 9953 9957 9966 9967 9971 9980 9982 9983 9988 9994 9995 9997 9999 10002 10003 10010 10012 10025 10028 10044 10046 10066 10069 10077 10097 10101 10104 10108 10113 10115 10123 10125 10129 10133 10134 10142 10143 10146 10151 10154 10157 10173 10174 10175 10176 10177 10178 10184 10186

#7 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:21 AM:

Tau Wedel, #2: Thanks! Fixed.

Mary Dell, #1: You're absolutely right. Indeed, no sooner did I read your comment than I went into the other room and performed a MySQL database export. Now the desktop machine is, via sftp, making a complete copy of the home directory.

(We are all clear that although the Nielsen Haydens live in Brooklyn, Making Light lives on a server at a NOC in Jacksonville, Florida? Right then.)

Someone was mentioning that it's reasonably simple to set up a MySQL database so that changes to the DB (such as, in our case, adding a new post, comment, etc) are automatically made to a copy of the DB hosted elsewhere. This seems like an awfully good idea and I'd like to get something like that set up. Along with, of course, automated daily backups of the site itself.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Kevin Reid, thanks. By now we probably have nearly all of the comments from the missing two months, but thanks to quick cache-mining by dozens of readers, we now have a deep well of backup resources from which to fill in gaps as they become evident.

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:25 AM:

(Incidentally, only after I wrote the post on top of this thread did I notice that, oddly enough, the post with the Clay Shirky video hadn't been restored. I've put it back up manually; as with all the others, comments will soon be restored as well.)

#10 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:39 AM:


Sorry, I'm not certain how to read that. Do you want the data? I find "probably" and "nearly all" rather alarming, and I'd like to help.

Assuming no bizarre glitches, I have complete copies of these threads up to some time at most 24 hours (my update frequency) before the failure. I have a comment dated Fri, 02 May 2008 15:54:27 -0500.

#11 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Actually, having the RSS feeds for everything would simplify matters greatly -- only one format to worry about. Then we can rescue any last-minute comments in a more ad-hoc manner.

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

@ Patrick, are you still missing the narcolepsy piece? It's in Google cache here:

#13 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Does anybody know what the original ID of the Clay Shirkey one was? If they don't match, it will irritating when restoring comments ... oh, wait. The comments will tell me. Never mind.

#14 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:12 AM:

And the cached "Big Z":

(I'm just

#15 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Nothing to add. I just wanted to express appreciation for all the work that goes into the blog and all the work that goes into restoring it. You're a public service, youse all, and I value how careful you are with it all.

#16 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:33 AM:

#11: Here you go. Let me know when you've got it. Hope it's useful.

#17 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Patrick @7: excellent, glad you're ftp'ing it to your local system, particularly given that the server is in Fla*. Replicating the DB to a mirror is definitely the best strategy to protect the data from a hardware failure, and regular backups will protect it from DB corruption. I'd suggest more than once a day for those, however (once the current storm has passed), based on how many hours of data you're willing to risk.

Also, if your server is 3rd-party hosted, they should be backing it up as well, and should have a doc stating exactly what they do and what kind of turnaround you can expect, blah blah. Not all ISP's do that, though, obviously.

(mentioned in one of the trillion emails I've flooded you with: if you want me to vet out your options & choices for data protection & service continuity, I'd be happy to)

*Florida's not necessarily a bad location for servers, but depending on where the NOC is and how their power is handled, there may be more power outages than would occur in a less storm-prone location.

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 11:01 AM:

Irene: Thank you, and it's a good thought, but Virginia Stoll already saved the narcolepsy articles -- a lucky thing, since neither Patrick nor I remembered them.

Want to hear the really funny one? While Patrick and Abi and I were working so intensively on saving everything else, saving our own comments completely slipped our minds. Jim Macdonald foresaw that and saved them all for us, and Avram Grumer's as well.

#19 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 11:52 AM:

If you've got the backup religion--evil is inherent in the system, save often--I hope you will spread it around & do some off-site backups.

I miss the old net.practice of mirroring.

#20 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:00 PM:

Teresa @ 18: That is funny, because I figured Jim would cover you folks, so I covered him.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Randolph Fritz @ 19...

"We ain't got no backups. We don't need no backups. I don't have to show you any stinking backups!"

That reminds me of the big 1991 fire in the Oakland Hills, and reading about how a writer (Maxine Hong Kingston?) lost a novel because she had no backup. I back up my wife's stuff every evening. Probably a wise decision, what with her HP Pavilion's reliability having become a tad erratic.

That being said, my felicitations to all of the people who worked to recover ML's threads and comments.

#22 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:22 PM:

I have a cron job running on my machine every night that mails the database dumps to my gmail account.

Not terribly secure, but it's pretty much all public data anyhoo.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:22 PM:

I don't have any backups of anything, and Teresa, thanks about my comments and so on. Can we also use this thread for volunteering to do any of the cleanup scutwork that can be done remotely? I'm not sure what I can do, since I don't have a server or a Mac (or relevant skills), but on the off chance that another pair of hands could help, I thought I'd offer.

#24 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Got them, Kevin -- but argh; the comment feeds don't include the email (i.e. unique ID) for commenters. Which is the same with Chris's data. Ah well. I could hope.

I can still use these, though, as well as Chris's data -- if there are comments not included in our many HTML copies of threads, we can take whatever leftovers are there, and make an educated guess on the identity of the poster. In most cases, of course, that'll be sufficient.

I'll be doing comments over the course of the day. They're not hard, just tedious. And copious.

In re supposed glitches -- I thought the Google highlighting gave the restored posts a general air of world-weary character, as though they'd been around the block a couple of times and were happy to be home.

#25 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:38 PM:

I'll repeat my offer from the restoration thread, in case you are collecting offers of help here:

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

Contact info is the lj name in the link, at

#26 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:51 PM:

I, too, can do scut work.

#27 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Michael Roberts @#24: this is an excel file with a list of recent comments--Basically it's a couple of caches of "view last n comments" as of 4-30 and 4-25 put into a possible useful format. No comments, no email addresses, so only semi-useful...

#28 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 12:57 PM:

A suggestion: the next time Google and Microsoft send their spiders out they'll pick up the current commentless or up-to-March-1 pages and wipe out their previous caches, which may not yet be a Good Thing. I'm not a web coder but it looks to me that one can block this on the whole site by a configuration option in robots.txt.

#29 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:10 PM:

I kind of hope the perl script I wrote to extract the threads into a more injectable form and that I posted to Evilrooster Crows was part of all that.

But the site is back up, which is more than enough.

robots.txt: stick in root directory of webserver, with the contents:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

More info at:

#30 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:17 PM:

I'm just catching up with 'home,' so to speak.

I'm in awe, jaw-dropped awe, at what you have accomplished, and in such a short time, in terms of this site catastrophe. What brilliant commentators you all have (so NOT including moi in that category!).

I can only imagine. Upon arriving 'home' I went directly to the NYPL "Books and Materials for Checkout" OPAC -- and it was GONE. No explanation either, unlike you guys.

Love, C.

#31 ::: robert west ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:25 PM:

In the not-yet-working-category: the electrolite link still raises a page from the past.

#32 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 01:31 PM:

Jon @28

The realization of that fact is part of what sent me on my quest late Saturday--wanting to work ahead of the spiders, or the little blue workmen of Google (obsftv: 'Matter of Minutes').

And that was fun.

I hadn't been in a state of Mihaly-Vingean Flowcus for a while, and having a brief Algernon-peak-experience about here--all the people, all the poems--was nifty.

#33 ::: Jim Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:10 PM:

I'm still looking for the particle or sidelight noting the old fanzines up for sale on eBay. Or did I see that somewhere else?

#34 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:19 PM:

The uncut version of Teresa's article in the Observer seems to be missing and/or a broken link, at this point.

#35 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Jim, it was here.

#36 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Re Robots.txt.

It's my impression that if you disallow all, it will drop you from the caches instead of overwriting with older data.

It seems to me that there should be a best practices set of guidelines for what to do to your site while trying to recover things from various internet caches. -- Old stuff: bad, overwrites caches. Robots.txt: bad, clears caches. ??? good, tells google that there are problems and come back later.

I'm thinking that a 4xx series response of internal server error - content missing may be appropriate, It's a temporary error, indicating that a retry is appropriate at a later date.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:53 PM:

I found this lying around. Not sure where it goes:


#38 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:54 PM:

It is dark. Your post has been eaten by a grue.

(I replied to Jim but it seems to have vanished, so a rewording:)

You did see that there; that database isn't reloaded yet. I caught a cache of the Particles and Sidelights through 4/30, which I believe was the last update, and sent it to P & T.

#39 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 02:56 PM:

Another random thought:

Hey look, it's people on the Internet spontaneously ordering themselves into productive labor! Eat your heart out, Clay Shirkey!

#40 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:20 PM:

In honor of Clay Shirkey, I restored comments on his post first.

#41 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:22 PM:

Important technical question about Movable Type:

Is the HTML "anchor" used on individual posts, i.e. the part after the '#' in the URL, a simple unique identifier incrementing per-post across all threads? It looks to me like it is, but I can't definitively tell.

This would be very important to know, if so.

The reasons are several:

  1. it would provide a handy key for identifying duplicate copies of the same post from different collaborators when reassembling the database.
  2. it would let us put back each post in its correct relative place;
  3. it would let us tell whether posts are missing and where in sequence;
  4. it would let us know where placeholders might be needed for missing posts, and what we should be searching for.

If the anchor does act as a unique global key, this (not hexapodia!) might be an important insight to eliminate most of the work of retting, hackling, and spinning, as Teresa said. Eli's cotton gin, here we come!

#42 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:22 PM:

Teresa #4 @9:07 -- Presumably that's why it keeps braking. (Sorry -- but such an unexpected pang of pleasure to see the language of my people. Not that I'm any good at spinning the wretched stuff, but still.)

#43 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Wow Michael, I just saw you crossposted with me. Congratulations, amazing work!

#44 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:39 PM:

Clifton, I have a bunch of different threads saved from various points over the last several years. It's a big enough sample that I should be able to give you an answer ... in a couple or three hours from now, after I get home.

#45 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:46 PM:

I am just too short on sleep to get these details right. Can someone take a look at this:

and the current page:

and confirm to me that there are posts missing in the middle of the page currently online?

#46 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Clifton -- unfortunately, the numbers are just sequentially spun out as the publisher works through the list of comments. If you delete a comment, the numbers close rank.

However, comments are always attached to their time of posting, and that preserves order (to within a minute -- not a second, as I mistakenly posted elsewhere.)

So what I'm doing is looking at email-plus-posting-time as a "key" and refusing to load comments that would collide on that basis. But on 007399 (the first post I've tried this on) this is giving me confusing results. It didn't help that I was originally looking at 00740something for some reason. (The damage I could do if I ever had enough sleep! I blame the kids.)

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:00 PM:

Michael Roberts @45:
The cached page ( contains not only comments on the page currently online (, but later comments as well.

Note that the page went dead from April 10, 2007 (comment 223) to April 21, 2008 (comment 224).

I see no evidence that the cached page is missing any comments.

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:01 PM:

Even if the comment numbers are autogenerated, comment 223 is the same on both copies of the thread.

#49 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Michael Roberts @#45:

Nope, it looks to me* like you have a good solid run in the currently-online page, that ends at #223. The missing parts come after that.

It also appears that a random sampling of posts from the currently-online page and the cached page shows the same comment numbering for both - eg, Jim's phrase "A naïve T-cell or B-cell" appears in post #218 in both versions; Teresa's "I capitalize Creationist the same way I would the name of any other religious cult" is #109 in both, etc.

*(based on skim-n-sample, not a line-by-line check)

#50 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:14 PM:

I continued collecting data longer than necessary because I was looking at Abi's blog for updates. (No problem, and I'm sure that it's better to dump extra data than scramble with not enough.)

It might not be a bad idea to put a note there, saying that the crisis is over, and directing people back here.

#51 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:16 PM:

The first comment should be Teresa's Claude Degler comment. The ones currently before that look like they belong in the thread but are out of order.

#52 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Michael, because I have an obsessive compulsive streak, and am a speed reader I scrolled through both versions of that entire page, side by side. It is a perfect match up to #223 where the rebuilt version cuts off; good work. The new posts on the cached version are Creationist-nutbar drivebys (and responses) from April 2008.

#53 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Suggestion: as threads get re-constituted, you can assign the job of checking them against the cached versions to your commentors. One thread to a volunteer would be easy enough to do and to track - we can do a thorough check* of each thread and make sure no posts are missing, and report back to the rescue crew.

#54 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Jon @ #51: You're right on the Clay Shirkey thread. The first 59 posts need to be swapped to the end of the thread. Serge's comment right before Teresa's post is the one I remember as having been last, when I last looked at that thread.

The first few having the "December, 0, 12: AM" dates suggests that perhaps some script misparsed the date strings on some of the cached posts, and that threw off the sequence.

#55 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Yeah, Jon, I'm screwing up some of the dates somehow and they're coming out year 0. Still not sure exactly what I'm doing wrong there, but presently all will be clear. Thanks for the insight, Abi -- indeed those comments are not all from March and April this year (duh). And that was my problem. Sheesh.

#56 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Juli @50:
I've added a post to Evilrooster Crows to direct traffic back here. Thanks for the suggestion.

#57 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:31 PM:

I guess it's year 12 instead of year 0. Christ was a young boy instead of in the manger. Who knew we were already making light?

#58 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Bwahaha. This is my comeuppance for rolling my own date conversion instead of looking up the CPAN functionality -- all times between midnight and 1:00 AM came out as 24:nn o'clock, thus causing an invalid date. That's hilarious! I love computers; they just always keep you guessing.

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Michael @58:

Computers always do exactly what you tell them to do; the trick is figuring out whatintheheck it was you told them.

You know we are all fallen at your feet in awe at what you've achieved, don't you? Just sayin'.

#60 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:05 PM:

By Jove, I think I've got it! Teresa is starting out the Shirkey thread with Claude Degler, and Open Thread 106 is also in the proper order with no duplicates.

Sorry it took so long; there was a sudden and traumatic discovery of a forgotten sack of mangoes on the balcony -- I knew I was smelling vinegar over there yesterday -- with a concomitantly large population of Drosophilia melanogaster. What really made it exciting is that they had been stacked on top of a box of photos. (A plastic box, fortunately -- but still...)

No damage, fortunately. Except to the D. melanogaster, I'm sad to say.

Abi: aw, shucks, 'tweren't nothin. And would have all gone much faster if I'd used Arachne's code in the first place -- ah, well.

Two threads down. Many to go.

#61 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:15 PM:

The thread, I said, no longer causes dread. By George, I think he's got it!

#62 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Argh, I still didn't have it. But now I have it. (I was still getting confused between noon and midnight.)

A friend of mine and I, who were in business together doing technical stuff, used to joke that programming and sysadmin work is the only field where we could definitely imagine what it might be like to be smarter.

Just the variation between better days and offer days is enough to make that clear.

#63 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:23 PM:

Now I've done 7399 for real. The online version should now match the cached version -- any of you see any discrepancies now?

#64 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Also, I think someone posted to Open Thread 106 and I clobbered them. Sorry, anonymous person, assuming that actually happened. I've been trying to be very careful about deleting only restored comments to whatever thread.

There's a happily unused column called "created_by", into which I've written the value "fiat" for the restored posts. This is a handy flag for seeing which ones should be deemed suspicious. But I forgot to specify "fiat" when removing comments for 106. Sorry.

#65 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 07:59 PM:

Michael #62:

It always seemed like the hardest part of anything involving MySQL was making sure it and any associated programs were using the same notion of time; just negotiating the differences between GMT, CST and CDT appeared sometimes to be almost insuperable. So forgetting noon vs midnight looks almost quotidian by comparison. It's not smarts, it's just keeping track. Totally else different thing.

(I once deliberately raised a colony of D. melanogaster in my bedroom. The problem arose when they escaped to the kitchen. My mother was not best pleased.)

#66 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:01 PM:

I just nabbed the current version (4-30) of the folksongs thread, and I'm going to pull stuff for January per instructions.

I've got some of the posters who mostly stayed on the salwar kameez thread (which may have been saved anyway), and a variety of other stuff.

These are the posters I have on the salwar kameez thread, and their dates:
lois, 3-29
anne bremser 3-22
maggie 4-7
star 2-28
litlnemo 2-15 already there
dee 4-4

These are other random posters I have saved, and their dates:
nicole j leboeuf-little 4-26
nicole twn 4-15
nicole the wondernerd 4-15
lois fundis 4-25
carrieS 4-30
susan dancing 5-2
albatross 5-2

#67 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:43 PM:

In January of this year, these posts are missing a link or a picture or something:
links missing
Republicans in Trouble
Just Testing
Cloverfield (with Spoilers)
Open Thread 99
Get It on Ebay
Happy New Year
Old-time Snowmobiles (December 31, 2007)

If you want to pick up where I left off, checking old threads for new posts, start here:
Feed that link into the search engine at:
Click on "cached page" and look at the date of the last comment of the thread. If it is after February 29, 2008, save the page as a "web page, complete," compress it, and mail it to Patrick.
Click on the previous post link of the page you just examined, and repeat for the new post!

I need to take a break, and attend to some physical life things. If you decide to do this, please post that, and when you stop, the link you leave off at, so that I can pick up when I get back.

#68 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:57 PM:


I has lolcatz thred. Ask if want. kthnxbai!

#69 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 08:58 PM:

(Which is to say, it had a post in April, which I have)

#70 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:02 PM:

OK, I've restored all the comments for the threads Abi had saved (basically, for all the posts in March and April, after Who's Not Surprised and including OT 106.) There are probably additional threads which have late posts missing; can people at this point go through the lists of data and figure out what's what?

#71 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Michael Roberts @#64: Probably me, but don't sweat it -- my comment was to the effect of "hey, is this thing on?"

However, it's now been replaced by a Dina Shunra's comment, which actually continues the thread's discussion!

#72 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Ah, OK. I noticed after the delete that the count of records deleted was one too many. D'oh!

This is fun! I've never done data work in a fishbowl before -- it's totally cool being able to ask, hey fluorosphere, does this look right? It's like ... like ... the Singularity or something.

I'm going to be scarce for a couple of days. Tomorrow we're driving up to San Juan to stay overnight (my daughter is representing Puerto Rico at the national Mathcounts competition in Denver this weekend -- and going alone with the team! Yikes! At 13!) So she'll fly out bright and early Wednesday, after which we'll take our son to El Yunque (the only tropical rainforest in the national parks system.) And then it's back home again and back to work on Thursday.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:16 PM:

FWIW, the comments appear to be numbered as they are posted, regardless of thread. So any given number should be unique. (I checked an old thread: the numbers are increasing but not continuous. They're also all smaller numbers that the more recent comments.)

#74 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 09:27 PM:

Oh, the ID numbers, six-digit ones? Yes, those are unique. But anything from the first few days of May has now been clobbered by spammers and legitimate new posts, so I can't reuse them. I guess I could have used them to check for identity in threads where older posts exist. If there's a problem, I'll try that. Thanks!

#75 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:32 AM:

Yeah, those were the numbers I was talking about, the ones which show up in the anchor tag or after the "#" in the URL. Seems like you've got it all sorted out anyway.

Various posters (mostly A-C) plus some random others whose posts I saved last night and the dates:

adam ek through 4-28-08
adamsj through 5-1-08
ajay through 4-30-08
alan bostick through 4-1-08
alan braggins through 4-16-08
alan yee through 3-29-08
albatross through 4-28-08
alex-cohen through 4-25-08
anna feruglio through 4-14-08
bill higgins through 5-1-2008
bob rossney through 5-1-2008
bruce cohen (speakertomanagers) through 5-2-2008
cajunfj40 through 4-30-2008
carol kimball through 4-30-2008
carrie s through 4-30-2008
chris quinones through 4-29-2008
chris turkel through 4-18-08
clifton royston through 5-2-2008
connie h through 4-28-2008
cory doctorow through 4-24-2008
dena shunra through 4-23-2008
heresiarch through 4-30-2008
jo walton through 4-16-08
linkmeister through 4-23-08
marilee through 4-30-2008
mary dell through 5-2-2008
susan (de g) through 5-2-08

#76 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 01:05 AM:

*worries about Michael Roberts' sleep*

You're doing quite awesome work!

Don't die!

#77 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:34 AM:

The "" mirror of Making Light is still stuck at March 1st, which is potentially confusing to people who still have it in their bookmarks. (If the intent is to get me these peculiar folks to update their bookmarks, replacing it with static HTML saying "update your bookmarks" would probably work better than the status quo.)

#78 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Dear sweet Lord, if lack of sleep could kill me, I'd have been cold and dead lo these many years.

#79 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 12:17 PM:

OK, ciao, y'all, I'm off until Thursday. Click those Submit buttons gently for a while.

#80 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 06:34 PM:

I have been absolutely useless in this entire escapade - no tabs open, no caches, no RSS subscriptions, and not a lot of free time to volunteer as a scutter - so I felt all the more indebted when I saw Nancy C. Mittens's list of salvaged comments and saw my name among them.

Hearts and flowers!

#81 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 08:49 PM:

I know what you mean, Nicole. I didn't stumble on the discussion on abi's blog until after things were starting to come up here, and when I went over there and saw several people say they'd saved a cache of my postings... well, I feel really appreciated. [insert Sally Struthers impression.] I also feel a little guilty that I didn't manage to do a more thorough job and save more postings than I did.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:34 PM:

Clifton 81: Do you maybe mean Sally Field? She's the one who said "you like me, you really like me!" at the Oscars.

#83 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Ummmm, yes. I mean, it was obviously a typo. I mean, my fingers slipped. On a banana peel - which was lying atop an icy keyboard.

#84 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:31 AM:

What Nicole said. I'm in my last 24 hours of grad school right now, and I didn't have anything that hadn't already been saved. I hope to be of service in the future...

Now, back to work for me. I'll be more participatory next week.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:22 AM:

Tania @ 84... I also was unhappy about being unable either, considering that ML's backstage was probably like this, with MovableType's part being played by Ricardo Montalban.

#86 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:40 AM:

From MySQL's heart I stab at thee ...

#87 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:42 AM:

So, what you're saying is, the Genesis Project is inherently flawed, and ML will only break down over time?

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:43 AM:

Let them eat static.

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 09:48 AM:

Ginger... I hope not. I hope it doesn't turn out to be like the Excelsior's transwarp drive, about which Scotty said "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

#90 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Serge @89: As long as they don't put James B. Sikking in charge of ML, I think they'll be safe from Excelsior-like failures.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 12:26 PM:


Excelsior First Officer: [over intercom] Yellow Alert! Yellow Alert!
Captain Styles: Bridge, this is the captain, how can you have a yellow alert in spacedock?
Excelsior First Officer: Sir, someone is stealing the Enterprise!

#92 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:41 PM:

FYI, in my work machine's cache, yesterday, I found and saved cached versions of the following threads, which have some not-yet-restored posts:
* 007450 Barbara Bauer through 5-2
* 009050 abi/Lolcatz through 5-2
* 010175 sfwa election results through 5-2
(plus some others which seem to have been fully restored.)
+ a view-all-by for Diatryma through 5-2

Sending the zip to PNH this morning.

#93 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 02:55 PM:

ML's backstage was more like this. Our memories crumbled around us, till only the name itself remained. And then that, too, went away.

More seriously, I'm here to mention the prevalence of line break characters in some of the threads, particularly "Teresa in the Observer". I haven't checked others, but I suspect that some of the restored comments will have them in.

Back to cataloging.

#94 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Particles and Sidelights herewith attached.

#95 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Oh yay!

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!
- The Jerk

#96 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 01:00 AM:

I think that this post of Terry Karney's may have ended up in the wrong thread. It's in the "Future of Publishing" but I think it might really belong in "Could Lead to Goose-Stepping."

Is posting this sort of thing here helpful?

#97 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 02:52 AM:

Teresa at the Observer -- uncut version -- is still broken as of 1:50 AM CDT Thursday 05/08/2008.

Hope this isn't a repeat catch -- just flying through and wanted to read the original version.

#98 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:13 AM:

#96, B.Loppe -

Nope, that was a mis-post originally. (He reposted it in the right thread a few minutes later, and that post is in place.)

Well spotted, though.

#99 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 08:57 AM:

Uncut version?

#100 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:37 AM:

Very odd -- I just had a single refresh bring up the ML front page, but completely right-justified! There were also oddities with sentence periods and the like being moved to the beginning of the line, hwich makes me think "locale issues".

Also, Charlie Stross noted at OT107 that "strikeout" fell out of the allowed HTML tags in comments. While on that topic, could we have a a complete list of the allowed tags? It wouldn't take much space if done like this:

<strong>Strong<strong>, <b>Bold<b>, <em>Emphasized<em>, <i>Italic<i>, <s>Strikeout<s> <blockquote>Blockquote<blockquote> ...

Hmm, you're apparently not permitting "big", "small", or "q)uote" styles. The "quote" style might be worthwhile to allow along with "blockquote". Small-caps might be cool too, if only for Pratchett riffs.

#101 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Dave @#100: You could fake small caps with font sizes, I should think. Also strikeout has to be done with "strike" rather than "s".

#102 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Just to check if comments allow: <sup>Superscript<sup>, <sub>Subscript<sub>, <del>Deleted<del>.

Looks like "none of the above". And on further reading, it seems <del> is the currently-preferred way to get the strikeout effect.

#103 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Hmm... <strike>Strikeout</strike>. Okay, that works, but that especially should be on the cheat-sheet!

#104 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 10:08 AM:

And now I see where all the end-tag slashes fell out of the visible parts of my examples!

Hmm... < foo > Foo < / foo > vs. <foo>Foo</foo>

No, that works... bah, iduno.

#105 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2008, 12:21 PM:

R.M. Koske @ #98:

Aha. Well then I guess it's just where it ought to be, eh?

#106 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2008, 10:12 AM:

If you go to instead of you get the March 1, 2008 particle-and-sidelight-free site.

(I got there following a link from an ancient BB post)

#107 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:14 AM:

All of the electrolite archives seem to be missing. (I checked the first, July 2000, the most recent, May 2005, and a random half dozen in between.) Also, the earliest few Making Light archives, everything before Sept 11, 2001, are missing.

#108 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2008, 11:14 PM:

That's because 9/11 changed everything.

#109 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Last week I found a couple of threads (these two) in my browser cache with comments on the end that hadn't reappeared on the site, and emailed them to what I understood to be the appropriate address.

They still haven't reappeared on the site. Is this a sign that I did something wrong, that I need to have more patience, or what?

#110 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Last I heard, Patrick and Teresa and Abi were cataloging the various comment troves.

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

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.