Sunday, February 05, 2006

this is totally unnecessary. therefore, i must share.

blogger has apparently been having some problems for the past two days. i couldn't get my post up on friday, then posted it on saturday but it timestamped as friday, and then last night i couldn't access blogspot blogs. hmmm. it also looks like jayne's blog is having "technical difficulties" - don't go there, though, she wants us to stay! away! - and i hope she hasn't lost stuff.

this makes me realize that i haven't really backed up any of the posts i have here - and i'm coming up on 200 posts, so it's becoming a not inconsequential amount of writing that i stand to lose. how do others deal with this? should i just print everything out (at the office, naturally) to have hard copies? copy everything to word and take up disk space? what's the standard industry practice here?

anyway, on to the totally unnecessary stuff. did you hear sheryl crow and lance armstrong broke up? i know, i really don't care either. however, look at the picture that goes along with this article. holy shit, she looks awful! and not just bad hair day awful, but like eating disorder awful! what happened there? and why have i heard nothing about the fact that sheryl crow suddenly resembles a drowned cat?

oh, right, because i don't read Us Weekly. shoot. well, i guess we all make compromises in life.


Dark Wraith said...

Good morning, kate.d.

This is a very nice blog, and you are entirely right to want to back up your work product.

When you use the Blogger servers to hold your files, there are two ways you can do this, and they are all rather painful. The one I suggest is this.

Go to your Edit Posts screen. Starting with your very first post, click the "Edit" button. In the text screen that appears, right-click your mouse, then click "Select All"; from there, right-click again and click "Copy."

Now open Notepad (the old, plain-text word processor in the Accessories menu of Windows). When the Notepad opens, right-click anywhere in the white screen area, and then click "Paste." The post will appear. You'll probably want to go back to copy and paste the title of the post, too, at the top of that text file.

(And for God's sake, don't use Word as the alternative to Notepad! If you want to word process the document later, you can open the Notepad text file in Word, but you don't want Word being the native save format for what is just plain, ASCII text from an HTML file.)

Now, save that Notepad file with an informative name, probably with the date or something like that: Blog04-23-05.txt, for example. (Notepad will take care of the .txt part of the name.)

Once that article is saved, just click the "Edit Posts" link again in Blogger, go to your next article, and repeat the process.

You noted that you have 200 posts, so this is obviously going to be a project to do over several days, at the very least. It is, however, worthwhile. For one thing, Blogger servers suffer numerous failures, and a meltdown could eventually destroy stuff you really care about. For another thing, although Google (which runs the Blogger service) talks all about freedom of speech, its recent actions make me entirely suspicious. Another service called Tripod actually deleted one fairly prominent blogger's entire work product because she allegedly violated their "terms of service" by posting timelines about the 9/11 attacks that implicated the Bush Administration in the catastrophe. Whether or not her conspiracy theory was reasonable or not is beside the point: Tripod destroyed her work.

Yes, you should definitely back up what you have written, if for no other reason than for your own peace of mind.

The Dark Wraith has offered some advice to take or leave.

Toast said...

This is one of the reasons I'm happy doing straight-up hand coding and FTP'ing my stuff to my domain host. They're never down. I don't have to deal with random glitches in somebody's software. I have absolute control over what I can do with my page. And since I write everthing in TextPad, I've got local copies on both my PC's at home.

Dark Wraith said...

Good evening, Toast.

Yes, I have my own server as well. I use Blogger only for publishing the posts and comments, since it's an easy enough interface for that purpose. I still publish everything else via ftp, most of it to AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) files I then pump into the index file.

The problem I face is server-level attacks. The bot swarms, distributed network attacks, and assorted other nonsense is enough to turn me into a Presbyterian at times. I've been able to track some of the activity back, but a lot of it is pretty good at concealing its source; and even the tracks back don't promise me the real source: servers in China and Eastern Europe are so weak on security that they can end up being the surrogates for stuff they have no idea they're moving into the main backbones around the world.

It was easier when we had clubs and hunted mastadon. Big animals might stomp you to death, but at least they don't nibble away at you until you become a Presbyterian.

The Dark Wraith needs to find a more primal line of work.

Jared Goralnick said...

It's really not that bad to backup your blog, Kate. The method blogger recommends is documented here

Essentially they're recommending that you temporarily change your settings to publish all of your posts to one file and then save that file. Then you change your settings back to the original ones. We can sit down one night and do this if you're not comfortable doing it.

There are other options, such as using a tool that will crawl your site and backup the whole thing in the format that it's in. This method is outlined here.

If you ever wanted to switch to another tool and host it yourself, other tools also are able to migrate all your data. But personally I wouldn't worry that Google/Blogger are going to lose all your data. It's not in their interest, and believe me they have backups.

So in short there are a lot of easy ways to backup your data or get it back. Life is good for Kate, no worries.

Dark Wraith said...

Good morning, Jared.

Your tool suggestions are very good. The only exception I would take to your comment is the one concerning Blogger losing data.

Actually, that has happened, and it can be catastrophic, as I found out the hard way. Specifically, Blogger has a bad habit of disrupting the index page: first, it can lose a large part of the code during the re-publication of the template. This can happen when a change has been made to the template and the publication upload goes awry, and it can even happen during the simple publication of a comment. I had it happen to me on at least a dozen occasions: all of a sudden, only part of the blog was loading, and all kinds of errors were being flagged. When I went to look at the template, a substantial part of it was simply gone. Trying to get a human to communicate with you from Blogger central is an exercise in futility: they're handling millions of blogs, and almost invariably, any complaint or question you have will get picked up by their "knowledge base," which means you'll get useless answers to unrelated questions.

The other part of this is that I had two incidents recently where Blogger went in to my own server and just deleted the index page. The page just vanished completely, and my logs showed that it was a Blogger event. I had to write a policy at the server level to ensure that Blogger can under no circumstances do that kind of nonsense. Again, when I wrote a support "ticket" to inform the Blogger administrators of this unwarranted deletion, I received a nice, knowledge-base automatated response offering help on deleting posts I no longer want.

Anyway, backing up is always prudent policy, and I make a big thing about this in computer courses I teach. I will pass along to other interested people the tools you suggested.

The Dark Wraith should now go and do a back-up on his own blog.

Jared Goralnick said...

you bring up some valid points, and backing up is always a good idea.

I no longer use Blogger to publish my blogs, but I had had mostly positive experiences with them in the past.

Usually what I'd found is that things get messed up in the process of posting:
a) A post times out before the submit (thus one ought to copy to the clipboard just in case the post is lost)
b) Something goes wrong with the template (thus one has lost template settings but not the actual content of the blog)

But you are absolutely correct that no matter what a backup is prudent. Fortunately my blog is on WordPress and I can do a backup of my MySQL database with the click of a button :-).