Painful Changes

My blog relocation has turned out to be quite an exhilarating experience. On Saturday, I managed to delete all the content and my Movable Type export file. Everything was lost! Oh, it’s a harrowing tale.

Some background: I made the move on Wednesday to pmachinehosting, which a few days later changed its name to EngineHosting. I also moved from Movable Type to ExpressionEngine. I lacked two things: A new design and fix to a troublesome problem, that ExpressionEngine inserted index.php/comments in the path of posts (e.g., 

Because I set up the Weblog before the domain moved, I figured that the path problem related to that. EngineHosting was no help. The “comments” in the path concerned me more than the index.php, which I had an idea how to fix. On Saturday morning, I deleted the Weblog contents, planning to start over, not realizing that late Friday night, I had deleted the Movable Type export with content of all my posts. Without that file, I couldn’t import the posts and repopulate the blog.

The other deletion came from sheer carelessness. In moving my account from LivingDot to EngineHosting, I planned to keep the old account but with another domain. One domain would go out—and all the supporting Movable Type files—and another would come in. A friend of mine has an exchange program called The Gambia Project Side by Side. I obtained domains for her group and set up the WordPress Webhosting under my existing LivingDot account. I downloaded a number of WordPress themes, which littered my desktop. On Friday night, I cleaned up my desktop, a little too well. In the haste of juggling the two Websites and my day job, I had placed the Movable Type export file on my desktop rather than a safe place.

Baseball bat aside the head kind of explains my reaction to accidental deletion of all my Weblog content. It’s not something I do everyday. Because I hadn’t deleted my old TypePad Weblog and I tested Vox, about 75-80 percent of the older content existed somewhere. But what a mess it would be to get it and fix all the links.

Soon after my disastrous blunder, I got a return e-mail from Sadhana Ganapathiraju about doing design work. At that point I was ready to chuck ExpressionEngine and go back to LivingDot-hosted WordPress. I had a bad-looking temporary design, lost content and an unresolved path problem. The path had been a big deal, because I wanted to keep everything the same as before. If not: 1) I would have to manually fix all the links from one post to another and 2) Any links—from other Websites or search engines—would be broken. Sadhana expressed confidence that she could fix the path problem and adapt one of her existing designs to my needs. So we, mostly she, went to work. During the process, EngineHosting answered a request about backups; my Weblog could be recovered.

The result of Sadhana’s work is a nice port of the Bartelme “Fresh” theme—and the restored content. But there were lots of glitches along the way, and the path problem isn’t fully fixed, although I’m resigned to live with it. Right now, I’ve got title links with underscores, which also is the convention used by WordPress, directly off the domain. Several months ago, when I moved from WordPress, Movable Type converted all the underscores to dashes. So, I still have a major mess of broken links throughout the site.

Meanwhile, I’m questioning the move to ExpressionEngine. In setting up The Gambia Project Weblog, I found that the community of sharp-looking themes had grown considerably since I stopped using WordPress. There are lots of themes and plugins that I understand how to use on WordPress. Resources are scarce for ExpressionEngine and my skills far lacking. Ah decisions.

I thank the EngineHosting folks and Sadhana for rescuing me from my own carelessness.

Followup: Some time after recounting this incident, problems moving off ExpressionEngine coupled with the deleted Movable Type file expunged more than six months of posts. Thus there is a huge gap of permanently lost content, starting in Summer 2006 and ending in Spring 2007.

Photo Credit: Chris Burke