Wherein I Accidentally Delete My Own Blog

Recently I moved from a hosted provider to running WordPress on my Synology NAS at home.  It was surprisingly not problematic and all was well… or so I thought.  A few days ago I basically deleted my own blog.  I was fairly upset about it!  All is now right with the world, but it’s pretty easy to do, so here’s what happened and what I learned:

  • I had the Beta Apps enabled on Synology, and I had Auto-Update turned on, so I ended up with beta versions of both WordPress and the MariaDB I use underneath the covers.
  • At some point things went south.  As it turns out, I think it was unrelated – it was probably as easy as repointing Web Station to the right directories, but you know, panic and all, I missed it.  All I know is you couldn’t access any content on my site.

The obvious thing to do at that point is back things up, think rationally, and not move from the most likely culprit until you’re SURE that isn’t it.  I didn’t do any of those things.  Seeing that I had beta versions of the apps installed and figuring I could downgrade them, I turned off beta access, then removed and reinstalled those apps.  Along the way, MariaDB needed my DB password which I couldn’t remember, so I reset it, likely breaking things further.  At this point I figured the damage was done so I got a little bit looser with my thought process.

I backed up everything in the www/wordpress directory, wiped it, and attempted to restore it from backup.  Would that work?  I’m honestly not sure if it’s even plausible but it didn’t!

Around this time I realized the only way I was going to get out of this was to re-import my recently migrated site (only missing one post) and start from scratch.  Except, of course, I’d not preserved the migration file.  Luckily I hadn’t fully deleted it so it was found and reimported and I’m back.

What have I learned?  First of all, even for a low-volume site, I really need a plausibly automated backup running.  It would probably take me 30 minutes to configure.  Second, if you’re pretty sure that something is wrong, even if you’re desperate, don’t do it.  Third, maybe make sure you’re not auto-updating things you care about if you’re not sure your backup strategy is sound!

Migrating hosting to Synology

Hey Crew – the TL;DR here is that I’m now hosting this blog myself at home, which is to say if it’s harder to reach or you find anything broken, let me know.

The details are that if you are paying for hosting on a low-volume blog, you know that the cost/benefit ratio can be a bit skewed – it’s great that I could do all kinds of things but I didn’t need 80% of them, so when my previous host (bluehost – no ill will) decided to deprecate my plan and move me to a tier that would be more expensive I finally got around to migrating elsewhere.  I’ve resisted doing this because if you do it wrong, you can break your blog, ruin your SEO, and find yourself in a good mess.

I use a Synology NAS at home for various things and the best part about it is that when you have a little server on tap, you can find other things to use it for.  There were only a few steps that are mostly covered elsewhere, but I did hit a few issues that I’ll cover here.

The things everyone knows:

The general steps to move things are:

The things nobody told me:

It actually worked pretty well, but there are a few caveats.  The biggest is that my site was too big – the free AiO Migration plugin will only let you import an archive that is 520 megs, max.  Mine was clocking in at 650, so I did a few things:

  • Deleted the 17,000 spam users that my blog had accumulated over the years with the User Spam Remover plugin
  • Delete all the images that were uploaded to my site but not linked to using the DNUI plugin.  I believe these were generated by a previous version of a plugin that pre-rendered a bunch of sizes of images I wasn’t using.
  • Deleted all the themes and plugins I didn’t need.

After all that, the size of the site came down below the max, so I was good to go… except after all was said and done, I realized that somewhere along the way, all previous references to http://www.aribrownest.com… were now links to http://www.aribrownest.com/….  This was the internal IP I’d been using to test things out, but now they were cascaded through the entire site!  I was a bit unhappy to discover this after the cutover and right before I was headed to bed.  Luckily, people have done this once or twice before, so of course, another plugin!  This time I used the Better Search Replace plugin, and just like that, I was done!

Having said all that…

Let me know if you find anything weird.  I’m sure Google will when my SEO tanks, but so it goes.

Manhattan Sunset

New York City skyline at sunset taken from Brooklyn

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Panoramas and sunsets always look right to me.  Silhouettes are nice, but if you get some interesting clouds, you’re all set.  This shot looks back at Manhattan from North 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I took this with my trusty old S90 (showing it’s age) and composited in Photoshop.

A New Sort of Infrared

I never stop bemoaning the loss of my favorite Aerochrome EIR that Kodak stopped making while I wasn’t looking.  Even though I found a little left, it was super spendy, hand-rolled, and only in a larger format.  Folks like Lomo have stepped up with some similar films, but nothing is exactly what I wanted – nothing is Aerochrome.

But these days, what I really wish I had was a digital version.  When one of my friends got the hotfilter on his digital camera removed (making it sensitive to IR light), I started looking into it and after making the mistake of buying a Canon 5D (which we won’t talk about), the good folks at Kolari Vision sent me out for a Sigma DP2x – a “pro-grade” point and shoot with a 2.8 fixed lens and a Foveon sensor.  It’s one of the easiest cameras to convert and they told me it gave a very Aerochrome-like look when it was done.

So how did it turn out?  Well I’m still figuring it out.

Infrared Tree

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The camera wasn’t built for this, and it’s not sure how to meter, so I’m back to bracketing and then composing into HDR to get things right.  This one is still a bit blown out.  I’m also trying to figure out just what the characteristics of the color shift are, and it will take a little time to do that.

Infrared Columns Park

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That’s more what I was looking for.  I still miss my Aerochrome, but this sure is easier.

 

Night Shooting in Seattle

I keep a list of photo ideas on my phone.  Since my daughter was born and I’ve been not-unemployed, I find time for none of them.  Recently a friend asked about taking some pictures at night, and I remembered my list.  At the top for the longest time has been going down to the Jose Rizal Bridge to shoot the traffic coming into downtown.

Traffic into Seattle at night, from the Jose Rizal Bridge

 

Winter nights are great, because it’s always dark, and a cloudy backdrop is fine.  Rain actually makes the reflections better, but you’ve got to want to stand in the rain to take the pictures – probably not the best idea, but right after a storm would be great.  This was good enough for me.

Seattle Stadium Night Traffic

 

You’ve also got a great shot of the 90 ramps headed toward Bellevue from up here, and I just love watching the lights blur – the headlights in white and the taillights in red.  Letting the camera see things I can’t see.

Bus at Night from Jose Rizal Bridge

The biggest issues shooting from here, other than a few sketchy folks walking by when you’ve got a bunch of camera equipment out is the bridge itself – cars and buses share it, and you can absolutely feel the vibrations when buses go buy or even when big trucks go underneath it.  If you’re looking for a sharp long exposure, a good tripod is a must, but when the ground shakes, there is only so much you can do.  Along with Kerry Park, the Sculpture Garden, and a few more, this is one of the places I always knew I wanted to take some pictures from.  Glad I had the chance.

I’m (basically not) famous!

If any Seattle-folk went to see Rachel Bukey read from her new novel Leap of Faith at the Elliott Bay Book Company last week, and if you happen to be huge fans of the blog, and also I suppose just ridiculously eagle-eyed, you might have noticed a certain similarity of the cover (shown here):

Leap of Faith Cover

And some of the pictures that I took of the George Washington Memorial Bridge (aka the Aurora bridge, aka the Suicide Bridge) here.  Well, as you might have guessed, that’s no coincidence.  The graphic artist who did the cover work reached out to me to ask my permission to adapt one of my shots for the cover here.  As I say, I’m happy to oblige and love working out little deals like this.  Happy to see a Seattle author work with a Seattle graphic artist to use the work of a Seattle photographer to make something new.

Is the book any good?  My copy is in the mail.  I’ll tell you later.

Arboretum Offramps to Nowhere

Engineering megaprojects often seem unstoppable.  With the notable exception of the current attempt to dig a tunnel under the Seattle waterfront, these things usually progress in a pretty visible and inexorable way.  Turns out this is not always the case.

In 1972, voters backed the City Council’s plan to cancel the R.H. Thompson expressway, which was to be a third north-south freeway link cutting through the heart of Seattle.  Planning for this freeway started in the 1950s and by the time of the vote, concrete had already been laid in places.  With the cancelation, all work stopped but some elements of the freeway that never was were never removed.

Offramp Edge

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Three ramps still dot the Washington Park Arboretum, mixing with the trees and the edge of Lake Washington as a sort of monument to what was.  For years they’ve been there, hiding in plain sight of the active bits of Highway 520 that pass nearby, but as I found out from The Stranger, the upcoming Highway 520 replacement project will finally see these ramps removed.

I’ve always known these things were here – in the summer, people dive off them into the lake.  Driving by, you can often see their barricaded lanes and abrupt endings, but I’d never taken the time or figured out how exactly one gets atop these fantom spans.  It turns out it’s not so hard.  Parking at the edge of the Arboretum, you hike down a foot-warn path and into the shade of some overhanging trees and brambles.  The edge of the construction is abrupt – you’re scrambling up five feet of solid concrete, to stand atop several lanes of proto-freeway.

Arboretum Offramp Entrance

Once atop, only a few barricades and an overhanging tree block you way.  The part that surprised me most was that I always assumed that these things were forbidden – I mean – they’re bits of freeway, not hiking trails, but the upside of the fact that nobody ever planned to just *leave a piece of freeway in a park* is that nobody ever planned to leave a piece of freeway in a park.  There are no signs and no fences.  You just do, or don’t do, what you want.  Clearly people have been doing what they want for a long time.

 

 

Glass shards in the gutter

 

Beer bottles and cans lay thick.  Without any sort of cleaning, the smashed glass in the gutter almost looks like beach sand.  People have been drinking here for a real long time.

Bottles and cans on the freeway

 

Arboretum Offramp Seattle

As you hike up the hill, the road bends and you’ve got a view across the Montlake Cut toward the back of Husky Stadium and the University District.  Something feels very wrong about being up here, but at the same time, the view is great.  Looking down toward the lake, it’s all peace and tranquility.   Probably the best part of the ramps is that at the end of the day, they’re surrounded by the Arboretum.  I’m glad they never built the thing – that they would have cut a swath freeway-wide through these parts of Seattle seems completely ridiculous in retrospect.

Lilypads from the Freeway

Turning around, it’s back down into the darkness.  I’m glad I saw it – they won’t be there much longer.

Tree Covered Offramp

Experimenting with LomoChrome Purple

purple pine needles in Carkeek Park shot with LomoChrome Purple

I’ve made my love for the Infra-red films of old pretty clear around here.  There’s just one problem – you can’t buy them anymore.  Thanks Kodak, and, I suppose economic reality.

There’s another issue though – that film was hard to use.  You had to load it in complete darkness.  It had to be unloaded and processed in complete darkness.  Neither the camera nor the processor could have an infrared detector to read the film codes, which most do.  It was expensive.  You had to process it E-6 – it was slide film.  Don’t get me wrong – if I found some new 35mm stock, I’d immediately buy a ton, but it’s not without issues.

Freight train in Carkeek park, shot with LomoChrome Purple

Enter LomoChrome Purple.  To be clear, this isn’t infrared.  It’s a color-shifting print film.  Ignore the chrome part of the name – it’s print, not slide.  Ignore the implication of infrared – it does some of the same stuff, but it isn’t.  That makes it less cool, but much easier and cheaper to work with.  Although the film isn’t cheap or readily available, you can get it processed the “normal” way at your corner drug store.  And how does it work?

Red tree leaves using pseudo-infrared LomoChrome Purple film

Fiery red leaves on a spring day – color shift courtesy of LomoChrome Purple film

Pretty darn well in the same places that EktaChrome EIR worked best – trees and foliage.  I took it out for a day at the beach in Carkeek Park, and I was happy with the tree shots, fairly happy with the broad panoramas, and a little less happy with people.  Things get a little weird with a green tint on skin, which is too bad – when your jacket turns from purple to green it’s neat.  When your skin turns from tan to green, it’s a little creepy.  The grain is pretty pronounced as well, but the effect is nice.  I’ve left these pictures more or less how they scanned.  You can also shoot and process the film anywhere between 100 and 400 ISO – these I shot at 200.  I’ve got a bunch more so I’ll see what else I can do, now that I know how these came out.