Friday, March 02, 2007

Same as the old boss

For the last few months, every time I went to Blogger to write a new blog entry, I would be presented with the opportunity to switch my blogs to the New! Beta! Version! I just kept saying "no, thanks," and using the old version. One of the things that I have finally figured out in my life is that new isn't always better, and that sometimes it pays to not upgrade, at least for a little while, at least until someone else has figured out all the bugs.

I kept reading about other people's experiences with the new Blogger, and while I didn't read of any outright disasters, I did read of people having things turn out sort of weird, and I felt like I just didn't have time to deal with it.

In addition to the blogs of my own, there are a few that I maintain for clients. I don't write the entries, but I set them up, and I'm available for technical support or problems. These clients would come to me and say that they'd been asked to upgrade Blogger, and should they, and I would always tell them that I didn't see any reason to, and that, in my opinion, they should stick with the known quantity and wait it out.

One day last week one of my clients asked me to help her post a picture on her blog, so I went to Blogger and signed in as her, and posted the picture. The next day I opened up Blogger and signed in as myself, or tried to sign in -- there were two options open to me. One was to proceed to the new Blogger and have all of my blogs converted. Two was to proceed as usual and go to the "old" Blogger, but there was a warning: "You can only do this once!" Ah, I thought. The end is near.

I went ahead and used the "old" Blogger, and was hopeful that as long as I didn't sign out, everything could proceed as normal. Which it did until yesterday, when I no longer had any choices. They were going to force me to convert everything over. So I took a deep breath and clicked "okay."

It was very scary. It was one of those "oh shit" moments when there's nothing you can do except cross your fingers and hold your breath.* Over the past couple of years I had converted all of my sites over to Blogger-based entries. I felt like I had control over them, since I was keeping everything on servers that I controlled rather than being on someone else's (I remember that tragic story of the journal/diary site that had a server crash, had no backups, and ended up losing all of their users' entries--years of them--and eventually closing down and slipping off into the night . . .

Anyway, there's really no dramatic ending here. I have about a dozen "blogs," not all of which are full-blown sites. For instance, the jounal index page is a blog, the journal sidebar is a blog, the journal entries themselves are a blog, etc. But even so, there were a lot of entries. The progress graphic on the conversion page just kept spinning and spinning, and finally said something like, "if you have a large blog, this may take awhile." No kidding. It finally just gave up and said that since it was taking so long, they would just email me when it was finished (never got that email).

I left the window open, and when I went back later there was a note there something to the effect of, "There was template errors, please correct them." I wish I'd taken a screenshot. The grammatical error here is on purpose--I can't remember what the Blogger message was exactly, but there was something grammatically weird about it that surprised me, the kind of thing you see on the emails that purport to come from eBay or Paypal or your bank, but contain so many errors that you'd be a fool to actually believe them. No one's perfect, but when an email asks me to "take a few minutes out of your online experience," I'm pretty sure that's one I can delete.

With no indication which of my templates had (as they say) errors, there wasn't really much I could do, save combing through every one of them, and I have no desire (nor time) to do that right now.

On a cursory examination, everything looks pretty much okay. Nothing blew up, as far as I know nothing disappeared.

I was reminded of all this when I opened up Bloglines this morning and it reported that I'd written about 50 new entries yesterday. Like that's going to happen.

Which reminds me of an old story that I told someone at the office yesterday. I asked him to do something--a change throughout an entire, large, site--and I said I would be hesitant to do a "search and replace." He said that he wouldn't do that, he'd go through and make the changes manually. I asked him if Homesite allows you to "undo" a search and replace, and he said only if the documents that were changed had been open, that if it goes through and changes things and automatically saves them, there's no going back. (I use BBEdit on the Mac, and you can undo search and replace, so it isn't quite as scary, although still scary.

Anyway, the story was about my first web design job. I never met the guy, but there was an apocryphal story about someone who did a wholesale search and replace on a site that he had just finished -- something like replacing every dash with a space, or something like that, that couldn't really be recovered from. He realized after he's started it that it wasn't going to have the desired effect, and there was nothing he could do, and ended up lying on the floor of the programming room, catatonic.

And then there was the other guy who realized a moment too late that his search and replace was going to destroy the whole site, and, in a burst of brilliance, pulled the cord out of the wall. I don't actually remember how that one ended up . . .

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