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.

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.

New EIR on the way!

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that the one thing I can no longer get but really wish I could is Kodak’s discontinued Ektachrome/Aerochrome EIR (especially in 35mm).  There is nothing like it in the digital realm and especially when processed as regular slide film (E6), the results were pretty amazing.  Orange grass.  Milky white skin where you could see the veins underneath.  Good stuff, and sadly no longer produced.  I snagged a few of the last rolls of 110, hand-rolled from some bulk stock that a guy in Germany had, but it’s not really the same as being able to buy it at your local camera store.

It still might not be the same, but the wonderfully strange folks at Lomography started producing their own version called LomoChrome Purple XR.  I honestly don’t know what it will be like but after waiting upwards of 6 months since my order, I just got a tracking number, so I’ll know soon!

Sorry ’bout that

If you tried to hit the blog last night you might have noticed that it wasn’t resolving.  Things have been nice and stable here since I switched hosting providers way back when.  This time I kinda knew this was going to happen.  I’ve been using Godaddy as my domain registrar for as long as I can remember.  They were the upstart kid when register.com was the king of the realm and their service has been fine, but their CEO… is despicable.

A while back I meant to switch when it came out he was a big fan of elephant hunting.  Needless to say, that’s not my thing, but I sort of let myself forget about it because I knew it was going to be  hassle.

What finally pushed me over the edge is his self-defeating and frankly confusing support for SOPA – the bill that would kill the internet.  I’m not sure how much business they’re going to lose over this, but it’s more than none – at very least, it’s mine.  If Reddit is to be believed, it’s probably much more.  So in any case, I’m now using the services of the lovely people at name.com and if you have a domain that Godaddy still hosts, you can do the right thing and find another provider too.  Name.com is even running a promotion and has info on what it takes to make the switch.

My Pictures, but in Real Life

I really appreciate everyone out there who takes the time to stare at the stuff I post here.  I do this mostly for me, but I don’t think I’d do it if it wasn’t for you.  Thanks a million and all that.

As much as I love this here blog, sometimes seeing things printed out and hung on a wall is a whole different experience.  If you’re interested in doing just that, you can come see some of my prints, in real life, at the 2011 Greenwood / Phinney Art Walk.  The Phinneywood Art Walk (aka “The Big One” to distinguish it from the little monthly art walks) takes place this year on Friday, May 13th from 6-9 PM and Saturday May 14th from 12-5 PM.  The art walk is between 60th and 87th streets, centered on Greenwood and Phinney Ave.  My work will be at Lot 49, which is located on 85th st, just west of Gordito’s.  I’ll be there Friday night and maybe Saturday as well, so stop by and say hi!

Obama at the Bakery

So usually when I want to get a loaf of bread at work, I just go to Grand Central Bakery – about 100 feet away.  Today, it got a little more complicated:

It seems when the president is going to hold a meeting with local business leaders at the place where you usually get snacks and pastries, that is somehow more important.  Funny – I usually go through the door, not a security tent.

These nice gentlemen told me that after the president was gone around 1, they’d be happy to serve me coffee, but right now, I couldn’t be closer than 20 feet from the door.  They didn’t tackle me for taking pictures though, so there’s that.


Glad I didn’t drive today.

Please Kill Me Before I Have To Do That Again

I might have told you a few days back that I had migrated the blog to a new host.  That was true, except for one thing.  During the migration, somehow the database that runs the show and makes everything sparkling and magical got a bit borked.  Everything seemed to work, except the plugin I use to show you all the info on each picture couldn’t find things.  I tried all sorts of configuration until I realized it just wasn’t going to happen.  My options were to attempt to edit the database (a really bad idea), manually remove and reupload all my pictures (a super time consuming bad idea), have my great friend Josh try and fix it (a very promising but ultimately unsuccessful bad idea), or figure out what happened and how to fix it.

In the end, I had to delete my whole blog, including the wordpress install and database , which scares the living crap out of me, and rebuild it.  Since the files are all in the same places, after reimporting the XML file I had saved, it mostly came back to life.  I had to rebuild all the pages, reconfigure everything, fix some CSS, blah blah blah.

Along the way, there was a little damage.  If you were subscribed to a post, that went away.  I’m sure I’m more sorry about it than you are and I heartily encourage you to resubscribe if you’d like.  If you made a comment on my last post or two, that’s gone too.  I really like comments.  I miss them already.

Long story short, although there was a bit of damage, I really think we’re back online and relatively trouble-free.  I’m not going to touch anything unless I really have to.  Please tell me if you see anything funny, otherwise, back to doing the photography thing, no more doing the “make it work” thing.

Love,

Ari