Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Hate Change

For months now, a storm has been brewing behind the scenes of Cake Wrecks. This weekend it all came to a head.

Wait. Do those analogies even work together? Does a storm come to a head?

This may or may not be a storm head.

Anyway, it all started when I let John win an argument.

In a nutshell, it's probably really dark.

But, getting back to that argument: John has wanted for ages and ages to move the blog off of Blogger and on to, and I quote, a "real" server.

I, however, being a curmudgeonly curmudgeon who, once comfortable, will guard against change with the kind of ferocity normally associated with maternally crazed bears, did not want to move the blog.

Now, John and I don't fight much. Fact is, we're fairly similar in temperament, food preferences, and shoe-shopping tactics (clearance first, then work your way forward), so we don't really have much to fight over. But this? This was a sticking point. Every few weeks, or any time Blogger had a hiccup, John would start up again.

"Do you see any other big blogs on Blogger?" he'd ask. "No."

"We're on Blogger," I would point out.

"They just randomly deleted a bunch of our comments!"

"A glitch."

"Moderation is locked up again!"

"They're working on it."

"What about the time they locked you out of your own account for nearly a week?"

"That only happened once."

Then John pulled his trump card:

"Look, with your new redesign, some people can't see the blog anymore. Don't you want people to be able to read the blog?"

Aw, dang it.

See, in order to get the custom design template we have on CW, our designer extraordinaire Aric had to do a lot of hacks. Blogger, as some of you know, doesn't do well with hacks. Or more accurately: certain browsers (*cough cough* IE6 *cough*) don't do well reading Blogger hacks. When we started getting e-mails saying that the site wasn't loading right for some people, we had Aric go through the code line-by-line to fix any glitches, remove unnecessary Java, etc. I was sure that would fix any problems, and then we could stay on Blogger and everyone would be happy.

Instead, the code clean-up and refresh quadrupled our problems: over night we lost about 8% of our readers - we're pretty sure because they just couldn't load the site properly any more. (That, or I really ticked a lot of people off with my "master baster" crack.) We also had plenty of e-mails to confirm that formatting and/or load errors were among the culprits.

Our design wasn't the only problem, though: some of the Picasa servers which host Blogger's photos have been flagged by company firewalls as containing "inappropriate content," and are therefore blocked. When this happens, any photo stored on the offending server - about one in five in our case - won't load. And since the vast majority of our readers read at work (yay, productivity!), having a company firewall block any or all of our images meant no more readers at that company.

Unfortunately, the only fix for all of these and other issues seemed to be a move to a private server.

Which is why I finally let John win the argument.

Dang it.

This roughly translates to both John's and my reactions.
I'll let you figure out which cat is who.

Don't worry; I'll spare you most of the gory details, mostly because I don't understand them. In fact, I'm starting to suspect that all the technical jargon John and Aric are throwing around is really just an elaborate prank to see how dumb they can make me feel.

John: "So we're waiting for the name servers to propagate."

Me: "A-HA! I knew you were making up words! 'Propagate.' Puh-lease. What are they going to do, have little baby servers? Yeah. Nice try, dude."

Matters only got worse when our first attempted move from Blogger went horribly wrong: the host we'd hired went all wonky, throwing up its own firewalls and giving everyone a big ol' "Server not found" error. John and Aric back-pedaled madly, and after a long weekend of hard work, we were back where we started on Blogger again.

This weekend we're trying again - only with a different host.

Of course, for you the reader, nothing will have changed. (Well, unless you couldn't see the site before; hopefully now you can.) For me the writer, EVERYTHING has changed. And, in case you've forgotten the title of this post, I HATE change. Hate it hate it hate it. I've been cruising along for years now with Blogger, and I know every quirk and trick it has up its sleeve.

Now, I have to learn WordPress.

And don't even try and tell me how fabulous WordPress is, WordPressers. I get it: it's awesome. Whatever. Just let me relish my grumpiness for a little while; I'm sure I'll drink the Kool-Aid eventually.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I'm grumpy, allow me to describe my first writing experience in WP, which occurred just a few hours ago.

Me: "Ok, I'll just cut and paste this section..." [click click clickety click]

" cut, so why isn't it pasting? [clickclick]



At this point I had just deleted a photo and its corresponding text and hyperlink. Since the "undo" wouldn't work, I now had to replace them. Ok, fine. First, the photo.

I actually got the thing uploaded on the first try (woo!), but it was the size of my entire screen (whoah). I tried editing the photo to make it smaller. The edits wouldn't update. So, I deleted the photo and re-uploaded it as a smaller size. Now it was too small. So, I grabbed the corner of the photo and dragged the box to make it larger. This worked, but now it was pixelated.

I finally "fixed" the problem by deleting the photo again and re-uploading it again several sizes too big (because your only upload options are either around 300 wide or 1200 wide - because yeah, THAT makes sense) and then dragging the box to make it smaller.

Next I couldn't put more than one line of space between the photo and the text. I don't know why. I gave up ("Um, one space is probably fine.."), and moved on.

Then I tried to insert a hyperlink. Highlight the text, open the hyperlink box, insert the link, and...nada. Didn't work. I tried again. Nothing. And then again. Still no hyperlink. I was doing everything correctly, but it just. wouldn't. work.

At this point I was literally sobbing with frustration. Maybe it's the newness. Maybe it's the loss of control. Maybe it's that I hate feeling stupid. Maybe it's my anger at Blogger for causing so many issues that we had to leave in the first place, or at WordPress for not being exactly like Blogger. Maybe it's the fact that CW was once just MY blog: my goofy little cake blog that I knew backwards and forwards and learned how to hack into a 3-column Minima template *all by myself* and I was so proud because it was all my work and I didn't need anyone's help to do it - and now it's this big unwieldy behemoth requiring people smarter (and far more expensive) than I just to log into.

Or maybe I'm just PMS'ing.

Whatever it is, you'll note that I'm currently writing this in Blogger. (Epbot is not moving.) I decided a tactical retreat was in order. Plus some good ol' fashioned venting. John has since told me that the post I was working on had to be saved, closed, and re-opened, and so now some of those issues are fixed. So that's something. And I guess I do feel a little better now, so...

Cover me. I'm goin' in.

Oh, and if Sunday Sweets isn't up by 9:30 tomorrow morning, send chocolate.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Show n' Tell: Display Yer Goods!

Way back after my Show and Tell post, several of you sent in pics of your own geeky projects and displays. This was such a treat for me that I figured I'd show them off, in the hopes of getting the rest of you to send in your stuff. Because I like seeing your stuff. And I'm SELFISH. Yeah, I said it. (Don't tell John.)

First up, Diana Laurence made this amazing "stitchpunk" doll, inspired by the movie 9:

Check out Diana's blog for fantastic progress pics and descriptions.

When you're done swooning over the 'punky cuteness, check out her ingenious method of attaching his feet to the base:


These snaps are just like you'd use in a purse or bag. How clever is that?!? (I'll tell you: Really, really clever.)

In fact, I've been brainstorming projects just so I can steal this idea. I envision myself dramatically sweeping a sculpture off the shelf and popping it off its custom base to the amazement and awe of all my friends. Of course, to do that I'd need 1) a sculpture 2) a base 3) magnets, and 4) friends. So, you know, that's all still a work in progress. (Speaking of which...Any of you free this weekend? Yes? No? If it helps, I found my Animaniacs dolls.)

Next up is Debbie Goard, the famous Debbie of Debbie Does Cakes. (DebbieDebbieDebbie. Ok. I'm done. DebbieDebbie. No, really.) She collects vintage lunchboxes, and after seeing her super-cool display wall, now I'm tempted to as well:

It looks like a modern art gallery, doesn't it? Love it. Also, what a perfect use of space! Most folks would never think to display collectibles on a stairwell wall (at least, I think that's what this is.)

Wendy K. sent in several pictures of her dad's ├╝ber geeky office displays. After looking at these pics, I think I can safely say that Wendy's dad doesn't own any cats.

That, or everything is glued down with Museum Putty. :)

John was especially enamored with the Marvin the Martian shelf:

I always did love Marvin.

This next one is absolutely hilarious, because it has an awesome story to go with it. Back in 1981, through means only slightly nefarious, Julie M. managed to get her mitts on a bottle of hotel shampoo used by Billy Idol. (Yes, really.) Naturally, such a relic deserved a worthy display/shrine:

C'mon, that's frickin' hilarious. She even added glue drops to the tiles to look like water. And she still has it. That kind of fangirl geekery deserves a big ol' gold star.

Ok, the rest of you, your turn! Send me your photos or links to your own geektacular goodies. Have a clever display idea? Custom stand/case/dust dome? Share! (Jen [at] Epbot [dot] com.)

Or, if you just have a fun project or craft that you think I'd enjoy, send that along! I'm planning a post of fun geek crafts, so I'll include the best of what you guys send in.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Friends Are Such Geeks...

...and I couldn't be more proud.

Yes, I'm actually friends with these people. JEALOUS? Of course you are.

Actually, a few of you may remember John & Abby Gjertsen, or their first son, Sweet Baby James, from some of my posts on CW. If you don't know their story, check out their blog; they're pretty amazing. Anyway, this vid feature their new, healthy baby boy, Valor.

And then there's Ray & Julianne, aka Baby Ninja's parents. Why Baby Ninja? Because John and I convinced Ray & Julianne to let us do THIS to their nursery:

If these photos look familiar, it's because they were also posted on Super Punch. I sent them to John soon after we finished the room.

The ninjas started out as small pencil sketches by Ray, who is a graphic designer, and then John and I designed and painted the whole room to incorporate them. Aren't they cute?

And speaking of cute, here's the Baby Ninja himself, Isaiah:

...wearing his "I am NINJA!" onesie.

And now a ninja punch, just for cute's sake:

Isn't it nice to see Geeks: The Next Generation in good hands? :D

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why I Otter...

Ok, forget the sloth.

Now I'll take a baby otter, if you please.

Watch 'til the end, because believe me, it just keeps getting better. I think I had a religious experience at 1:35; suddenly my Monday grumpies were replaced with soft, squishy feelings of love. And double rainbows. Yeah. You heard me.

More pics of this little fur ball over at Zoo Borns, the blog that makes me increasingly dissatisfied with the cuteness quotient of my cats. Why can't you look like this, cat? WHY?!?