Posts Tagged ‘WordPress’

New home for Yet Another Dance Addict

Friday, July 9th, 2010

On Monday evening I discovered that for reasons known only to themselves you-know-whoogle had disabled my gmail account and deleted my blog. The first sign of trouble was a cryptic error code (bX-7rzuia) when I tried to refresh the dashboard in my blogger account. I found a couple of hits for the message that suggested it was related to a gmail account problem.

So I tried to login to gmail and got an error screen saying my account was temporarily disabled –

It looks a bit fuzzy but if you click on the image it should be much more legible. Note the confusion in this screen about whether they’re going to send an SMS text message or make a voice call. I tried both a landline and mobile number. Neither phone rang. So I tried the contact support link and got this –

So now there’s a clue as to what’s happening. Most likely someone or something perceived a violation of the terms of service. But there is no way at all of finding out what the perceived violation is. Or even if that is the reason. I’m pretty confident none of the content on my blog contravenes the terms of service; there is no adult content, no hateful content, no use of adsense. I only use gmail as my key to other services like blogger, maps, docs, youtube, reader. I don’t send messages from it and receive almost no messages in it. I check it about once a month, most recently about a couple of weeks ago.

I believe my account was disabled in error. So I tried the contact us link which offers this –

It’s pretty obvious that whatever goes in this form promptly drops into a black hole. There is no way to contact a real person, no tracking of issues, no way to escalate an issue,  and absolutely no feedback of any kind unless they decide they made a mistake.

A quick search shows gmail accounts get disabled quite frequently, and there is almost never a good outcome. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it because the terms of service explicitly say they can disable or delete accounts without notice for any reason.

I’m luckier than most people in this situation. Like I said, I don’t use gmail as anything except a key to other services. So I haven’t lost any essential email messages, or my contacts or my primary email facility. But all of the content in those other services is now inaccessible/gone. I’ve never really trusted cloud services so I make regular backups of my blog and have copies of all the information in docs, calendar, picasa and youtube on media I phsyically own. I’ve lost my customised maps, my list of feeds in reader and parts of the latest blog update but nothing I can’t live without. And I still have working email.

After 24 hours I started making alternative arrangements for the blog. I could host it at wordpress.com for free with a name like walkjivefly.wordpress.com. I could register a domain name (for a fee) and for an additional fee redirect it to wordpress.com and have it appear as walkjivefly.com. There’s nothing to stop the same thing happening again with wordpress.com hosted blogs though. So the safer option is to self-host the blog. I don’t have a machine I can personally host the blog on, so I’m using a hosting service. Which could itself go away for some reason but so long as I own the domain name and have a full backup of the content the blog can be transparently resurrected anywhere.

Yesterday afternoon I imported all of the content into my new wordpress blog on a hosted server. Although wordpress can import directly from a live blogger blog, it can’t directly handle the xml export files that blogger produces. There are tools available on the web to convert from blogger format to wordpress wxr format but they can’t do anything about broken links inside the posts. Broken links that result from missing resources because they were hosted on blogger. So I had to manually fix up all the links and provide the missing content that isn’t included in the blogger exports.

Blogger has a nice simple interface, wordpress has a lot more bells and whistles. It also has hundreds of themes but they’re not as easily customisable as the blogger equivalents and there are some things it is possible to do in blogger for which I have found no ready made alternative in wordpress. The one I want most is for the blogroll to show the title of the last post on each listed blog, and to order the list by most recently updated. If you know how to do this please let me know.

There is still a bit of customisation to do to make the new blog look the way I want it to, but 48 hours after it disappeared the important stuff – the content – was all back online and accessible. Whether they eventually re-enable my gmail account, and restore the blog or not, you-know-whoogle can stuff their cloud up their backside and take a running jump.

I apologise to anyone who had linked to my old content for those links not working any more. If you care to fix your links I’ll be very grateful. To do so you would need to replace links of the form

walkjivefly.blogspot.com/2010/mm/page-name.html
by
walkjivefly.com/2010/mm/page-name/

They might need a slight further tweak because blogger strips out short prepositions and adjectives when converting the post title to the page name. I’ll be even more grateful if you update your blogroll to include the new, shorter walkjivefly.com URL.

And anyone who hosts their blog on blogger – you do take regular backups, don’t you?