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Blog Coding WAR!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Quote of the Day: “Desire, ask, believe, receive.”

- Stella Terrill Mann

I had the best of intentions. In hindsight, I can honestly say, I went into what I’m about to explain with nothing but the best of intentions.

And what did I get for my troubles? Well, I bet you know the answer to that.

Here is the setup: I had noticed some time ago that a certain blog post of mine was cut off. Was this an important blog post in the big scheme of things?

No. In fact, I count it as one of the posts on my blog that has resulted in more than my share of ridicule.

But that is beside the point, I had a post that was messed up and whether it be from a source of pride, OCD, or just plain challenge, the fact remained that it worked before and then it didn’t.

I suspected the latest WordPress blog software update but that isn’t important. Fixing it was important and that is what I tried to do.

Silly blogger.

The blog post in question is this one.

Somehow, someway, without me knowing exactly how, I’ve become the Music Man.

OK, yeah, I have the largest mp3 collection of anyone I know that numbers over 3000 but does that mean I have to load up every single iPod I come across?

Apparently so.

Over the years I’ve offered my collection to just about anyone who asked but when it started taking 15 CDs to burn, my offering became very selective. Now with iPods floating around like pirated mp3s (ahem…), it makes it a little easier to hook people up.

Except for the fact that CrApple works against me. I haven’t quite cracked the code on exactly how to work with iPods and it seems each one interacts with my system a little differently. Like my wife’s Shuffle, I just threw the mp3s she wanted on there in the outermost file structure and it worked like a champ.

The next one I tried, a friend’s Nano from work, well, didn’t go so well. I had to actually install iTunes (moaning sound of bile flushing into my gagging throat) and wipe her entire structure (man, that sounds dirty) in order to put the songs on there.

The next one, yet another friend’s Shuffle, didn’t want to play. I tried to put on the songs in the outermost file structure just like Carrie’s but it wouldn’t work. So I wiped it clean and copied Carrie’s files EXACTLY over and still, no music.

Fuckers.

I had to reload iTunes (wretch) once again (of course I had stripped it off after the first go-around with the other iPod and washed down Dellzilla with Lysol) and with a little magic and a lot of trial, error, and cussing, I got it to work.

As Pam put it when I gave the Shuffle to her fully loaded, it was like 250 little Christmas presents waiting to be opened. She was on Cloud 9 for days until she plugged it into her boyfriend’s system and iTunes proceeded to strip off every song. Gotta love iTunes like you gotta love wiping your ass with sandpaper.

Good thing I took hours last weekend to get all those songs on there. Now she wants me to burn the songs on a CD so she can load it up to HER iTunes.

Sure, no problem, I AM the Music Man after all.

(The entry then went on to list thousands of songs)

For some reason in the past, I thought it prudent to include in that post an entire list of every mp3 I had on my computer at the time. The ridicule came rolling in because, well, let’s just say that there were some songs on there that are the equivalent of me wearing a two-piece bikini with a tampon wrapper sticking out the back.

All that is left when you go to the entry now are the comments (the examples of the ridicule I endured), as you can see here.

The blog entry not showing up; we will call this Problem ZERO because it morphed into a bigger, nastier problem after I foolishly tried to fix it. I won’t go into the details but after a few unsuccessful tweaks, I dived into the database which is basically dealing with the internal workings that run my blog.

Suddenly, Problem ZERO was inconsequential and I had a whole other level of unhappiness. I don’t KNOW if what I did worked or not because THE ENTIRE BLOG WENT UP IN FLAMES!!!!

When I went there online, it wouldn’t even do anything, just a blank page. The rest of my site worked so I suspected the database (I use WordPress) that has all my blog data in it was assed up like only I can manage.

Well, I thought, there goes my night’s sleep. I rolled up my sleeves and set in for a long night. I was going to be awhile and nothing on the earth or elsewhere was as important as getting this fixed. I would forego sleep, food, sanity, whatever, just to get this fixed and I knew I was in for an all-nighter.

I will try to keep it nontechnical but I promise nothing….

I tried a variety of approaches such as creating a new blog folder (twice!) and uploading pristine versions of the latest WordPress software. I also learned a lot about creating SQL databases, linking them to WP software, and destroying them.

My biggest challenge was copying the blog entry data in the original database (yes, the entire file was there, thank God) because it was too big for the tools that my space provider provides me to let me do copy and paste over the net.

POWWEB, my space provider does not help out with third-party software so, yeah, teets on a boarhog there.

WordPress is free and the only support you can get is in the form of user forum SOS’s which did me little to no good.

Many hours were spent but in the end, I had to copy the database, destroy every shred of the blog directory, install a clean software package of WordPress, link it to the new database, and finally I got it to work.

Then I spent a couple of hours using back up files for my theme and fixing all the formatting and options to what it was before.

And installing addons.

At 0600, I crawled in bed a bitter, broken man but I fixed the mother #%^&$*&^%!!!!!!!

There were a few times I thought I had lost everything.

In hindsight, here were my “wins.”

- I wasted a lot of time trying to fix the existing database and WordPress files. Whatever happened was insidious and I should have moved on to “replacement” a lot sooner instead of chasing “repair.”

- My big concern was that the database was corrupted so any copy would also be corrupted and no amount of installing new versions of the WordPress software would cure the disease.

- I then wasted a lot of time trying to make a new instance of the blog in a newly named blog folder (/blog5) instead of the /blog3 folder (something in the blog3 folder was really fucked up because even when I deleted everything, it still wouldn’t work. Some kind of leftover artifact files or something) . It wouldn’t work and after hours of wondering why, I found myself in this situation:

When I created a new blog folder, I had to install the WordPress software there and it wanted to create the required subfolders from scratch. If there were the other databases in there, it wouldn’t install so I had to let it create empty databases there.

But once I installed it into blank folder, I couldn’t import the data into the newly created, empty databases because of the size limitation of manipulating (importing/exporting) such a large database.

#^%$^ chicken and egg situation!

At some point I realized (after looking into the actual data) all my 1000+ entries had a GUID field that referenced a path with “blog3” in it. So in my hazy state, I assumed that since all the entries were created in the “blog3” path, that path was intertwined in the data so I would never get a “blog5” to work with that data, unless I wanted to do some SQL hocus pocus and try to do a search and replace which, I have no doubt, would have imploded the time/space continuum and rendered my blog a steaming mass of baked shit.

I hadn’t even got it to work at all so that was another layer of “maybe this will fix it” on top of getting it to actually run at all.

I discovered that I could get around the size limitation by exporting 500 rows of data at a time. But then when I imported them, it created a table with that name, such as wp_posts. If I tried to import the next 500, it would tell me the table already existed.

I realized I had to export the next 500 to a table called wp_posts 2 and then combine all the tables into one. Then it was a matter of scouring the net to find the SQL syntax to import rows from one table into another. I know this is deceptively simple but I was scared shitless but found the code and the mySQL program allowed me to use SQL statements.

It actually worked so after doing this a few times, I copied all the data and recreated an exact copy of my original database.

By morning, it was working and as a final safety measure, I copied ALL of the online blog files to my computer, downloaded a backup copy of the database, and ran a local backup to an external harddrive.

I still don’t know what caused it all but after staying up all night, I’m back to having it pretty much the same as it was before.

I think it’s amazing how I would try an option and if it didn’t work, I went another route. Then another. And another and so on. I felt like a rat in a maze but at the end, I was impressed with my ability to come up with new options.

This is what I found most profound: I was always sure that I had another trick up my sleeve and never got to the point where I was just absolutely trapped with no options. It was just a matter of time and yeah, I was probably going to be like Little Billy in The Family Circus wandering all over Hell and Creation along a dashed line to find the end but I was never in doubt that I would get there.

I know what you are asking. Did Problem ZERO get fixed in the end. Doth the music playeth?

No. Which brings me to the final analysis:

Good: I guess it’s not that my blog went tits up, it’s more important that I fixed it and I think says something about me that I stayed up all night to explore areas I had never treaded in order to fix it. And that I fixed the mother ^%$&%$. It’s just the way I am.

Bad: When I finally got everything back to normal, it seemed like such a monumental accomplishment that, in comparison, the fact that I never got that blog entry to work was chump change.

In other words, I was too scared to try it again and gamble on another blog implosion. I have to live with the bitter taste of failure for fear of a bigger dose of disaster.

It’s not in my makeup to take that lightly or comfortably.

Free Advice for Today: “Count you blessings.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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