Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tidying up after the catastrophe

A technical note for anybody out there who understands Blogger:

The other day, when Blogger's software upgraded to a new version, I lost almost all the paragraph breaks from items I posted between the date I started the blog (May 29, 2009) and October 27, 2009. Everything I've posted since last October 27 appears normal. I think -- repeat, I think -- that October 27 was about the time of Blogger's previous update.

I usually compose my posts in Blogger's "Compose" window and generate paragraph breaks typewriter-style, by hitting the Enter key twice. In the posts from which the paragraph breaks disappeared, there was no indication in the "Edit HTML" window that the paragraph breaks had ever existed. However, if I positioned the cursor where a paragraph break once had been and then hit the Enter key, a strange two-step pathology occurred.

The first hit on "Enter" moved the cursor back to the beginning of the paragraph -- that is, in one of the completely consolidated files, all the way back to the beginning of the file. Yes, I said back.

But then a second hit on "Enter" opened a paragraph break where I'd originally placed the cursor and returned the cursor to where it belonged, at the beginning of the new paragraph.

That's the extent of my tech report so far. Last night I trawled the archives of Susan Schultz's and Ron Silliman's Blogspot pages, and everything there looked fine.

But I'll say again that I sure am glad I spent the money on PDFs and paper printouts of my own archive. The company that produces those (with some loss of formatting -- for instance, italics and margins) is called SharedBook.

The PDFs are cheap and the paper books are expensive, but it's all money well spent. I've tried to post the PDFs online, but so far it appears that their filesizes are too big.

Comparative masochism: the H-Net listserv at Michigan State is always having trouble, and the bloggers on Scienceblogs are always complaining about poor technical support. I suppose blogs in general are where TV sets were sixty years ago, with the weekly calls to the serviceman. But how's WordPress? 

Absolute Schadenfreude: reinserting the paragraph breaks kept me up till 7 o'clock this morning.

But go ahead, Comic Book Guy: emit a deep sarcastic sigh and ask, "You mean you compose in the Compose window? Are you sure you aren't using AOL too, or maybe Richard Simmons's website?"

At this point, I can take anything.