The short explanation is that my incredibly incompetent host 24hostingnow culminated many years of highly unsatisfactory service by descending into a massive downtime lasting several days, after which they were of course unable to restore my site to anything other than an error-filled shitfest. Since their backups were ridiculously outdated, the site eventually had to be restored from my relatively less outdated backup – which still means I’ve lost almost every post since the redesign.

I am obviously rather bummed by this, but in the context of eight years of blog content, 1.5 months is not a tragedy. It’s my own fault for not backing up more regularly, given that I already knew my hosts were nimrods. I guess I’d never got into the habit before because with Movable Type my content always survived server problems. Yet another way WordPress makes my life way more troublesome than Movable Type ever did, but what’s done is done.

I’m not sure whether to try and recreate the lost posts or just move on. There’s a lot of background work I will definitely have to do (because I’d done a lot of category resorting and tagging which was probably lost as well), but hopefully that shouldn’t affect the surface functioning of the site. But anyway, I’m just glad I could finally tell you guys I’m not dead, just technically incapacitated. In the meantime, anyone got a good, affordable web host to recommend?

Update: Praise the Lord, Krishna, Guan Yin, Xenu and above all, GOOGLE! Have recovered a fair amount of stuff from Google’s cache, and will reinstate it soon. Yay!

Female Mechanic Now On Duty

Hello! If you see this, that means I have escaped a big kaboom! The redesign’s more or less done, give or take a bunch of borked permalinks, incomplete side pages and probably some inexplicable error messages. I just wanted to stop being such a bloody perfectionist and fling it out there, or else I knew I’d get stuck with the old template for five more years. I figured showing the new thingy to all of you would motivate me to finish tying up all the loose ends faster, rather than keep tinkering with it indefinitely.

Please let me know if you encounter stuff that’s broken, and I’ll make myself a stiff drink and dive back in to fix it. But please bear in mind that I’m neither visually creative nor highly knowledgeable about web design, so what you see here really does represent the limits of my ability. Anyway, enough blathering for now – further boffiny details will go on a side page if I bother to write it, but in the meantime I’ll just mention that major credit goes to WordPress, K2, Google, Absolut Pear, the swear words kan ni na and chee bye, and you, wonderful readers, in whose patience and indulgence I continue to trust.

Phat Pharm

(Short update: Decided Movable Type was crap. Tried to migrate entries to WordPress. Numerous problems. Decided WordPress was crap. Cussed a lot. Considered quitting blogging. Solved the numerous problems. Whooped and cheered a lot. Crowned myself supergenius. For the moment, finalizing new WordPress design but maintaining old Movable Type installations just in case.)

While gremlin-fighting continues, I’m resorting to lazy linkblogging. Check out these hip-hop animals at the Animal Pharm. (Thanks to brother-in-law James for sending me the link.) My favourite is the animal formerly known as ?uestlove.

Movable Type Misery

Due to an extended period of Movable Type related chaos involving a perfectly good MT 3.2 installation suddenly refusing to work, deceptively simple MT 4.1 upgrade instructions totally divorced from the horrible reality of the process, error messages in several different fruit flavours, lousy support documentation by Movable Type all round (you get the feeling they’re trying to conceal the sheer multitude of problems that can arise – all the solutions to my problems were not found in their documentation but in blogs or contributed by users in the Movable Type forum), and much swearing, Googling and cgi patching by me, the nuts and bolts of this blog might be a bit fucked up while I sort out all the things broken by the upgrade.

For example, search doesn’t work and the category archives that used to list in the sidebar have gone fishing. Also, comments don’t work if you click the “Comments” link at the bottom of an entry, but they will if you click the permalink (i.e. the time of posting) and write your comment into the form there instead. Feel free to mention anything else you’ve noticed.

Why not just use WordPress, you wonder? Damn good question, and I’m considering it seriously. I even installed WordPress on my server in the midst of my frustrations last week and have been tinkering round – I’m not sold on it yet, but where I was previously too lazy to switch over because I didn’t feel like having to recode my templates, I’m now sufficiently pissed off at Movable Type to see it as a matter of principle. So perhaps change gon’ come, depending on whether my principled outrage manages to trump my congenital laziness. We’ll see.

Three Reasons Why I Rock

(Bearing in mind, of course, that after reading them it is rather unlikely that you will share my view.)

1. I decided that enough was finally enough, and sorted out the multiple electrical devices that had been uglifying my desk all these months. I unplugged, untangled, rearranged, cleaned and dusted, and at the end of a sweaty hour or two, modem, router, printer, speakers, laptop, phone, desk lighting, broadband cable and ALL THEIR BLOODY ASSORTED PLUGS AND WIRES were living in harmony and beauty while taking up very little space. I now have more space on my desk, the massive multiplug has been artfully concealed, and the wires are no longer a gnarled mess. I can now abandon all the DIY solutions I had been considering before, which would have involved drilling. I rock.

2. (WARNING: geeky.) Since the site conversion to PHP seems to have gone fine, I decided to plunge right into implementing the features which had motivated the conversion. After squinting at code for a couple of hours, I now have:

  • Category archives which automatically paginate themselves, courtesy of the Paginate plugin for Movable Type. Particularly useful for my ever-expanding Music Geekery category (currently 80 posts and counting).
  • A right side menu coded as a separate MT template and pulled into the page using PHP Include. It won’t look any different to you, but it’ll save me updating time and server load.
  • Gzip-optimized pages, which will hopefully load faster for you guys.
  • A drop-down box menu to replace the long list of monthly archives previously on the sidebar.

I knew almost nothing about any of the above possibilities before today. More changes are on the way. Google rocks. I rock.

3. On Singapore’s Brainiest Kids, one question was “What is the name of the first book in the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton?” and I knew the answer in a split-second. Later, the question was something to the effect of “In Calvin and Hobbes, how many babysitters did Calvin’s parents ask to babysit Calvin, out of which only Rosalyn agreed?” I yelled “EIGHT!” triumphantly and my mum reeled back in shock. I astound myself with my memory for useless childhood trivia. I rock.