So a funny thing happened on the way to the forum…or some such quote.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been kicking up a little dust in the old website, uploading a whack of galleries from Flickr and embedding them on my website. I did one yesterday evening, which basically involves about 11 steps:
- Sorting all the photos into the respective groupings like one person’s wedding or a picnic on the river;
- Weeding out the duplicates, which for 2004 has been a nightmare, as I mentioned earlier, with 5-6 copies of photos in different resolutions and formats since I’ve uploaded them to other sites in the past, but all I want now is the best version of each photo to get it down to “one set”;
- Filtering out the bad photos and curating the good ones;
- Merging them into “monthly” folders or big “event” folders;
- Letting my software do facial recognition on them;
- Adding labels to each photo;
- Uploading it all to Flickr, including videos if necessary;
- Setting some variables on the Flickr albums, including cover photo;
- Creating a new gallery on my website;
- Updating the gallery index; and,
- Moving the folder on my hard drive to the final structure where it gets auto-saved and backed up several different ways.
However, yesterday evening, I made a new gallery (step 9) on my website early evening and it all went fine. Things I had written the night before and updated in the morning were being “shared” automatically by my media tools; everything was working.
Then about 9:30 p.m., I did a new gallery, copying over an old one to a new template and then going in to change the links. I have done the same thing about 50 times in the last 3 weeks. Except I had noticed the night before that some of them weren’t showing right, spent about an hour fixing that glitch (a problem in a setting that was being ignored), and yet last night, when I went to save it, everything looked good. Until it wasn’t.
Since my restructuring of the site a few years ago after a huge meltdown, things have worked relatively smoothly on my site. Yeah, I’d like this tool to work faster, I’d like more power with that one, but I like keeping the cost down, too, as it is, after all, just a personal site. I’m not selling anything through it. Yet. (Dun dun dun! Stay tuned for the long future!)
So adding a new gallery is easy peasy. I add it in, I click save, and the website says “no”.
Well, technically, it threw an error saying my JSON wasn’t valid, but it meant it didn’t save. It has been working perfectly, nothing changed for the settings, everything looks fine on the front end, but it wouldn’t let me create new posts. Hmmm.
So, I’ve had an error like this before, forgot what it means, looked it up, oh, that’s right. My permalinks aren’t saving properly. Instead of a URL address being “ThePolyBlog.ca/?P=923” or “ThePolyBlog.ca/2023/09/20/Wedding_gallery”, I like my structure to look like “ThePolyBlog.ca/Alex_and_Jacobs_wedding”. In other words, the title of the page shows up in the URL itself, like prose. If I was running a shoe blog, I couldn’t use the title “New shoes” 10 or 12 times a month with that structure, but I vary my titles. So that is the default. When you get a JSON error, it usually means that, for some reason, WordPress has forgotten the structure of that setting.
The primary solution is to click on it, resave it, and all good. In the past, it has always worked. Did it this time? Nope, couldn’t save still. Huh. Tried a few different settings and discovered if I went to the vanilla format, it worked just fine. The “hard code default” would work, my set default would not. Huh? A little odd, but potentially a clue if I could figure out what it meant. Off to google my favourite WP help sites.
It could have also been a problem with my certificate, but it was working fine (if it wasn’t, my front end would have blown up — it was showing fine). Tried a few other things.
Then it hit me…wait, I have a backup that gets run nightly, dodo bird that I am. I reset it to the night before when it CLEARLY had been working fine, and voila! It still didn’t work. Time travel was not the answer, apparently. By reverting my site back a day, I had wiped out two posts, but I had copies of those in my email that I could repost once the problem was solved. But it had not worked, it still wouldn’t let me save.
The BIG solution to try is to deactivate just about everything. I really HATE doing it. Not because I don’t like the deactivation, it’s the part where you have to reactivate things slowly, one by one, until you find something that conflicts. But it’s the standard “self-solve” step — turn off all the bells and whistles to a plain site that works before adding each bell or whistle back in. Okay, all deactivated, and the theme switched to a basic theme. One of my reluctances here was that a couple of my plugins do NOT keep the data for their settings when they’re deactivated, so when you reactivate them, you have to go through all the settings again. Blech.
But with everything off, no bells, no whistles, the site … still didn’t work! WTF? That is NOT possible…is it? Apparently so. If you’ve eliminated all those pieces, one of the higher solutions was to see if a certain mandatory file still exists. WP needs it. I checked, and gone. WTF? How in hell did that file “disappear”? There’s nothing that I have done to get rid of it. Could the host have done something? No clue.
Anyway, I was manually putting each bell and whistle back in when a small lightbulb went off. Wait a minute…if the problem is with the structure, then all of my backup is perfectly fine. It SHOULD work, except for that other problem. It wasn’t my posts, or my plugins, or my theme. I could scrap the manual rebuild process and simply restore again from the backup with all the plugins and settings back to my version of normal. Which I did. Nothing would let me save, but all my plugins were back to normal.
I submitted a support ticket, asked a couple of questions, and left it.
During my lunch hour today, I also realized that I had restored from my backup from Sept 19th, two days ago, when I knew things were working. But I had also done a backup on Sept 20th at 9:00 p.m. or so, not too long before I found the new error. If there was nothing wrong with my settings, I might as well go with the full latest backup, one day later and with the two missing posts restored. Done. Earlier tonight, I reposted them.
I checked a bunch of other online settings at lunch, all looked normal. Tweaked a couple of things, went into my website, did a test NEW POST, and it saved just fine. Umm…that wasn’t working last night, I swear.
So. my website is back to normal, but I don’t think I fixed anything. And my support ticket is sitting there unopened. I won’t be surprised if someone already saw it, found something they did and fixed it, but hasn’t told me yet. It’s not great service, but it can happen. And in the end, everything is back where it should be. I think.
From the front-end, I didn’t think anyone would notice. But I missed something. I had posted a blog about my mental health, and it was one of the ones that got rolled back temporarily. So I had posted it, my social media app had shared it on FB and Twitter, and a few people read it. Then I rolled the website back and those posts disappeared temporarily — from the WEBSITE. I planned to republish them later, but I forgot that they were still showing as posts on FB, for example. People could see the post link, see a short preview so they knew it was “live”, etc. But after the initial roll-back, if they clicked on it, the links went nowhere. A friend flagged it on FB that the links weren’t working. Oh, right. So I temporarily deleted the links, eventually republished the posts and created new “updates” for FB and Twitter as a repost. But that was minor compared to the website glitch.
But this is the second of two new posts that I’ve written today. Plus, I reposted the other two posts that I deleted and restored during the backup, so I think it’s working again.
Just a glitch, I guess.