Tuesday, January 08, 2008

When Computers Go Crazy

This photo is unrelated to the topic of this entry.

!---begin rant

I have not been having fun this evening. Belatedly realizing that I never updated the AOL version of my Madeleine L'Engle bibliography after her death in September, I attempted to do so using the mavarin.com version as a starting point, which I'd finally updated, oh, perhaps a week ago. I knew it was likely to be a pain to do (hence the procrastination), but I was not prepared for the variety and severity of the problems I encountered:

  • The recent version of the site was not immediately in evidence, having neither a bookmark in Firefox nor a link from the mavarin.com main page. At some point I had apparently replaced the Welcome to Mâvarin page with an older version that didn't have the link.
  • When I got to the page by typing the URL, I found it was dated April 2006, even though it mentioned L'Engle's death in September 2007. Clearly I had not updated very thoroughly.
  • Using a Yahoo online HTML editor to update the page properly, I discovered that many of the headers were now a) small and b) light brown. A small table enclosed nothing. A gif of the word "Contents" was a red x.
  • When I tried to save my edits in Yahoo (which hosts my domain), I was directed to an AOL Hometown "not found" page. Repeatedly. Even after I deleted lots and lots of AOL adware and branding from the HTML.
  • At some point I started using WordPad to edit the HTML I cribbed from the Yahoo "View Source" page. I uploaded that to AOL, updated it again, and finally deleted all my caches because it kept insisting on the 2006 date at the bottom.
  • One more upload, and the bottom was correct! I pasted the whole WordPad into the Yahoo editor and saved it. After another edit or two, I discovered that WordPad had trucated the document, deleting the entire first half! By now the half page version was online on AOL and Yahoo/Mavarin.com and saved on my hard drive - with no cache to go back to!
  • Okay, so I went to my backup copy on my G drive. It was from before her death, but it was a start, right? I pasted it into the WordPad doc and started updating and deleting. There was a lot of old material that didn't need to be there any more. I mean, how many health updates do we need for someone who is dead?
  • Wait a sec! I forgot the ultimate cache! Google! Grabbed their cached version of the page. Of course, it wasn't entirely compatible with my new edit of the older page, so I had a lot of tedious work ahead of me, merging and updating and tweaking. For hours.
  • Several times after I uploaded updated versions of the page, AOL insisted that it wasn't online. At one point it was right. Instead of updating the page, the clunky old FTP had deleted it.
  • My laboriously updated WordPad doc did not show as having been updated in an hour, either on the C drive or the G drive. Where had it saved? Probably it didn't. Fortunately it was on mavarin.com by then. An hour after that, I managed to replace it with a current version by saving from Firefox.
Good grief! But I got it done. Finally.

Now, some of what I went through tonight makes a certain amount of sense. There was human error (mine) involved in outdated text, my cache was probably too full to refresh properly, Yahoo timed out, AOL timed out, and there was weird code on the page from Microsoft and AOL. Still, I have a hard time understanding how Yahoo can redirect to AOL, how AOL could lose the page entirely, where the first half of the page went in WordPad and why the WordPad save didn't save. Nothing this bad ever happened when I still had Netscape Composer! I've tried a number of HTML editors since then (including OpenOffice, which wrecked a couple of pages by replacing valid links with links to my hard drive), and they've all been ugly or glitchy or hard to use, or some combination thereof. Phooey!

And I'm not the only one tonight having online issues. One of the Robins emailed that her browser currently insists on giving her the Blogger comment box in Spanish, and won't let her log in with her AOL ID. Reminds me of a few times over the years when Google decided I was French. Ce nais pas vrai!

Tomorrow, if I can stand the aggravation, I will update the St. Michael's Seasons page, which is currently set on Ordinary Time (summer). If I open all of the seasons pages (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time), I should be able to consolidate them and add info on when they are (somehow; they're highly variable). That way I won't have to switch them every two weeks to six months, depending on the time of year.


/end rant---!
This photo is also unrelated to the topic of this entry.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Ouch! I feel your pain. Reminds me of some of the compatibility hoops I used to jump through when I was doing websites on a regular basis. I always used MS FrontPage. I had that local link (changed links from web to hard drive) problem with FrontPage too. Turns out there was an option you can set so that links are preserved and not auto-updated. What a pain!