I have managed to transfer and restore the original URL https://gadgeteer.co.za across to the new site so all old links should connect fine now. I'm still checking for any minor bugs or issues but everything seems to be working fine and site is fully functional with Disqus comments etc.
This is the first time I have ever lost site data in over 10 years. Even when I migrated from WordPress to Drupal I managed to bring all my pages and posts over.
The outage happened on 19 May 2019 in the evening when I updated composer for Drupal and regardless of what actually went wrong, normally you can roll back to a previous backup. I asked my hosting provider to do this a day later but it also did not work (probably because the problem was with the underlying PHP and not the site data or database. I then requested a full cPanel restore by Wednesday but this then broke everything. It seems the hoster did not have very complete backups as I also requested an older one but the site remained down.
In the meantime, I had started that week to manually rebuild my site on my new hosting at Digital Ocean that I was planning to migrate to later in 2019. The challenge I had was that as my original hoster kept deleting my Softaculous backups (yes really!) I had no new backup. I tried initially with what was on the hosting site but it was broken and I had struggled for days with it. Eventually, I used a March backup that I had offline and this restored fine BUT I have lost about two months of posts which is really sad.
But stability is important, as is getting back on track, so let's get this site live again. I will redirect any calls to https://gadgeteer.co.za to this site but cannot forward the full URL's, even though the site URL's here are identical (domain name differs).
However, if you used a link say like https://gadgeteer.co.za/blog it will work identically as https://drupal.gadgeteerza.co.za/blog here.
Last night was not a good night... just after I had finished putting the last touches to adding Disqus comments (I'm still trying to remember how I restricted them to only certain pages) I made the big error of disabling two aggregator feed content systems I was no longer using and then also deleted (I should have disabled and backed up) a "feed" item which I thought I was not using. Then it all fell apart as I'd made so many tweaks that the more I tried to re-add the feed item I broke my RSS importer and things went from bad to worse.
I made the call eventually at 4am to rather restore a backup from 24 hours ago but as luck has it that backup failed with an error and had broken the whole site. Try as I could I could not get the backup to restore and eventually logged a fault with my ISP at 05:24 to assist with the restore as even the cPanel restore only resulted in an empty database.
My ISP struggled during the day and eventually tried a full hosting restore (rolling all my sites back to 7th January) but it still left the Drupal with an empty database. After shifts changed at the ISP I thought I'd have one more try to restore the Softaculous backup... and this time it just went through without errors and bang the site was back. All I can think is that there was some corruption that prevented the restore last night, and the other restores today had set that right.
So as I sit here now I've been awake for 33,5 hours... actually feeling good so will probably sleep well tonight at least!
For a number of years, I have been publishing all my posts to my own hosted blog (first WordPress and then I migrated it all to Drupal) as insurance against social networks disappearing (which they all will eventually) so I have a good 15,000 to 20,000 posts now which are searchable in one place.
Commenting has been a bit difficult for followers there though as I had to enable registration and later anti-spam measures to keep the spam out. No-one wants to register to make a once-off comment on a site they may not come back to later.
So I'm trialling out Disqus now which will give commenters the following advantages now:
1. It's universal so if you have ever registered once elsewhere with Disqus you just continue here without a new registration.
2. Easily authenticate with social logins such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
3. You can vote others' comments up or down.
4. You can easily reshare the post or even an individual comment to the social network you logged in with.
5. You can sort comments.
6. You can like a discussion.
7. Going to Disqus itself at any time with show you all comments you have made across various websites and you can tailor notifications (or stop them) there.
Comments will work on any posts I see (even older ones) but you have to click on the post title to open it and comment. The newest post I see is displaying the Disqus comments in the list view, but for some reason, the other posts in the list view are not showing the comments until you open the post (a teething issue I will need to sort out). This is a bit annoying and I'm trying to find a fix for it. The idea is you should be able to scroll down the list view of blog posts and see whether there are comments or not.
With Google+ soon set to shut down I don't expect many people will be physically visiting my blog site every day to keep up with any posts if you are not on social media (such as MeWe, Facebook, Mastodon, Twitter, Diaspora, Friendica, Tumblr, Hubzilla, Blogger, SocialHome, Minds) then you can try the following to just get headlines:
1. E-mail subscription at https://mailchi.mp/8e13efeb48c4/gadgeteerza.
2. RSS Feed at https://gadgeteer.co.za/rss.xml - there are also free Android and iOS RSS apps that will allow you to track updates from various sites like this without having to visit them.
See my blog at https://gadgeteer.co.za/blog
#disqus #blog #gadgeteerza
Unfortunately an .htaccess file update yesterday evening broke the SSL loading for my address at https://gadgeteer. Whilst fixing this and checking the SSL I noticed three pages (including Home, Open Source Software, and Reading) that were loading some mixed content (non-https) content and this slowed the loading down a bit and could have popper up warnings on some browsers. I have fixed these so loading should be clean and a bit quicker now.
On the My Blog page I have added an option to subscribe to a daily e-mail with a excerpts of my blog posts for the prior 24 hours. This may be preferable to some followers who don't want to check the site daily or who do not use a RSS reader.
With Opcache enabled on PHP 7.2 the site should now navigate much faster.
I have created a dedicated room on Riot.im at https://chat.librenet.co.za/#/room/#gadgeteerza:librenet.co.za where my blog posts will also be appearing, and anyone can comment or post there.
Riot.im is an opensource alternative to Slack, and can also be used for team / company chats, communication, voice calls, file sharing, etc.
I have set Viewport settings on my site for mobile devices so hope this will improve page scaling and rendering for mobile devices.
Note though that images are rendered to fit on the screens, so if you are viewing in portrait mode and the photo is a landscape photo, it may appear a bit skewed or squashed to fit. What I find works well for this (as a workaround unless I can find a better solution) is to rotate the mobile device to landscape mode which renders the photo fine. I will anyway try and use a squarer format for photos in future which should render much better.