Categories
Burningbird

Lessons learned from the Wayback Machine

I’ve learned many lessons from recovering weblog posts from the Wayback Machine.

If you feel the need to freshen your site, you really don’t need a new domain or subdomain, and most of the time you don’t need a new site redesign. All you need, is a break.

It’s OK to mix content types. So what if your techie stuff is side by side with your poetry? People can skip what they don’t like.

Don’t ever embed a dependency on a third-party web site for anything. So many of my recovered posts referenced photos in an account on Flickr that I no longer have. I recovered most images, but not all.

If you’re going to embed a tweet, embed a screenshot of the tweet and then provide a direct link to it. That way if the account is gone, you don’t end up with gibberish in your page.

For your own media, be wary of using the weblogging software add media functionality. In the process of recovering my writings, I decided to go from a WordPress multisite to a single site installation. It wasn’t a complicated task—export site’s content, install a fresh WordPress installation, and import the site—but the export/import munged the media I had added using the WP Add Media functionality.

(Thankfully, there’s a plugin, Broken Link Checker, that helped me find the broken image links and get them fixed.)

Don’t use excerpts on the front page, or the category page, or archive. I lost some writing because the Wayback Machine had a post in the main page, but hadn’t captured the actual post page, itself. When I displayed the full contents on the main page, I was able to recover the writing. When I didn’t…well, that writing was lost.

Lastly, even when recovering old posts I still left internal links to the Wayback Machine. So much of the older stuff is gone but still preserved in the Wayback Machine.

And if the post had comments, I included a link to the Wayback Machine entry at the top of my posts so that folks can see it, and the discussion, in its original form.

 

Categories
Burningbird Just Shelley

Weblog Penance

How many times have I written about this change or that to my site? Not enough, it seems.

I’m in the process of using that wonderful, magnificent site The Wayback Machine to recover posts from all my various incarnations of weblogs and whatnot sites. Yes, I do have backups from recent sites, but not the ones from 1998, or 2003, or 2015, and so on. And certainly not all the posts for all variations of weblogs I’ve had.

I estimate now that I’ve had a weblog, split or singular, on 83 domains and subdomains. Does anyone remember Thank the NRA? Bad Kitty? Missouri Green? Practical RDF? BB Gun? Script Teaser?

I split my weblog and combined it dozens of times, utilizing 23 different domains, and probably twice that many subdomains.

Even my main site, my weblog, this thing here…it’s been accessed as http://weblog.burningbird.net http://yasd.com, http://burningbird.net/weblog, and http://just.shelleypowers.com, in addition to the burningbird.net location.

To make things even more interesting, sometimes the article URIs would be listed as ‘fires’, other times as ‘nodes’, sometimes as the full date, and finally, just the post title.

I was on Blogger, and on Graymatter, on Movable Type and Drupal, on Radio, and now on WordPress. I began with manually coded static web pages, back before weblogs and weblogging software were things. I even tried my hand at creating my own weblogging software: Wordform, a  fork of the early WordPress software.

And not since the very earliest days have I had all of my writings in one single site.

So, I’m recovering each writing/post/article, one at a time, either from my own backups, or mostly from the Wayback Machine. I’ve already recovered over 1300 posts, but I estimate I have about 4000 or so to go.

I think it was Tim Bray who spoke out, decades ago, about the wrongness of missing webpages—the 404s we have come to know and dislike. That’s the beauty of The Wayback Machine: web pages aren’t gone for good, they’re just finding a comfortable niche to settle into for a good sleep.

Thanks to Internet Archive for providing The Wayback Machine, I’ll be able to restore most of my writing. However, I shouldn’t use the word ‘restore’ to describe what I’m doing. After all, ‘restoring’ sounds somewhat noble—as if I’m taking a fine old web site and returning it to its glory.

I’m really not restoring my web sites: I’m doing penance for not being able to sit still for 26 years.

Categories
Burningbird

Drupal to WordPress…and Donald Trump

I’m migrating this site from Drupal to WordPress. WordPress makes more sense for my needs. And it’s not as complicated to make a static archive of a Drupal site as it used to be.

There, I said it. I’m moving from Drupal to WordPress. It used to be when we made these pronouncements in the past, there’d be great debate about the political implications of choosing one CMS over another. Now, saying we’re moving from one CMS to another is right up there with, “I’m switching from mint flavored toothpaste to bubblegum.”

Drupal fans won’t be offended, and WordPress folk won’t rejoice. It just is. A bit of tedious work, most likely some broken links no one will notice, and what is is, and continues, because we find stories now via Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Or Google, and Google doesn’t care as long as you’re using HTML5 and proper mobile technologies so it doesn’t drop you from search engine results. (“Please, Mr. Google. Please don’t drop me from mobile search results!”)

I’m moving from Drupal to WordPress. No excitement. Well, not unless I mention “Donald Trump”.

Maybe that’s the key.

I’m moving my site from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders.

Now, I’ve done it. I just offended the Drupal people.

Categories
Burningbird Smart stuff

Hack your home

I am very interested in Internet of Things, DIY, and smart home gadgets. I recently created a new web site, Hack Your Home, both because I wanted to grab a .space domain, and because I wanted to record my new home ownership experiences in one place.

My most recent writing, SmartThings Hub and Samsung SmartCam for Security (with a little Google OnHub action thrown in) covers the set up I have to secure our basement entrance. Let’s just say if anyone enters our home via the basement door or window, they won’t do so unnoticed.

I’m also fascinated by the new microcomputers and microcontrollers such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Over time, I plan on incorporating them into the fun, and providing associated how-tos.

The site won’t only be about gadgets. I’m also covering experiences with contractors, aided and abetted by the contractor web sites such as Angie’s List, as well as search engines. The latter has changed home ownership to a remarkable degree: no longer are we neophytes, tender bait for less than scrupulous electricians, concrete companies, and landscapers. Knowledge is still the most powerful tool we have.

Oh and pictures. Thanks to my Nikon P900, I have discovered my back yard is a jungle

Categories
Burningbird Technology

Server is moved

Moving to a new VPN (Virtual Private Network) was as simple as signing up for a second Linode instance, and then building it to my specs. Eliminating half the cruft I had on my old system saved about 40GB of space. Now I have room for all new cruft.

I decided to stay with Drupal for this site. Frankly, I just don’t want to muck with content systems anymore. I have a couple of new sites on WordPress, this on Drupal, and that gives me a foot in two worlds. I was reading that the Drupal 8 upgrade should be button-press easy, especially if you haven’t customized your site. Sure sounds simpler than fighting to get it into WordPress.

Linode’s new billing system made the move a whole lot easier, and cheaper. I was only charged for the double VPN until I dropped the original once the move was finished. I think I’ll take this approach the next time there’s a major Ubuntu upgrade. Not only can I cleanly upgrade, this approach gives me a chance to clean my system.