RetroRoleplaying: The Blog Disappears and (Fortunately) Returns

This blog disappeared from the Internet sometime in the early morning hours of January 2nd. When I tried to log into Blogger that morning, Google said that unusual activity had been detected on my account and required me to get a verification number on my phone to prove who I was. When I finally managed to log in, I discovered that RetroRoleplaying: The Blog was gone — not only from the web, but from my dashboard. Everything else was still there (email, other blogs, Google+ posts, etc.), but this blog was gone. It was like the 600+ posts here had never been. After posting about it on Google+, Christopher Wood mentioned that something like this had happened to him last year and after posting/emailing every support address he could find, his blog reappeared a couple of days later. I politely tried his method. As in his case, I never got any replies, but this blog suddenly reappeared (completely intact as far as I can tell) Friday afternoon — a couple of days after it disappeared — and you are reading it now.

I’ve learned my lesson, however, I’m going to use Google Takeout to backup all my Google data (including this blog) every week or two. I had not been doing so regularly as I discovered when this blog disappeared. I had not done so since late August 2013.

Unfortunately, this blog disappeared a few hours after I had announced that I had released the first public beta of Microlite81 Extended (in this post Microlite81 Extended: Download Public Beta 1 Playtest Version (Free, Of Course)) and knocked a couple of days off the Holiday 2013 Cancer Fund Drive. I’ve had no donations at all since the blog disappeared. Hopefully, with this blog’s return, donations will also resume as January 31st is drawing ever closer.

A couple of people have suggested that I should move this blog off of Blogger. I’ve thought about that — and definitely would have done so if Blogger had not been able to restore the blog. The RetroRoleplaying web site is Drupal-based and Drupal has a blog feature. However, for the time being, I will continue to use Blogger for this blog (because it is convenient) and just be more careful to do regular backups through Google Takeout while I consider what would be best for this blog in the long term.

Now that the “Missing in Action Blog Crisis” is over, I can concentrate on working on Microlite81 Expanded and Complete and my first Sunday game of 2014.

Please Donate imageThe Holiday 2013 Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win one or more of more than 40 non-TSR D&D items published in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Holiday 2013 Cancer Fund Drive (with lots of Third Party D&D Giveaway Items). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. All donations will be used to pay the property taxes on our house as we had to use the money saved for this to pay for more medical treatment for my wife’s cancer and other medical problems treatment related bills (see the linked post above for more info), send a donation in any amount — small or large — to me via Paypal.Thank you!

We need to raise about $3400 by the end of January, as of this post this drive has raised $1302. Thanks to everyone who donates, spreads the word, or thinks positive thoughts for us!

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8 Responses

  1. Rachel Ghoul says:

    Everything I know is right once again! Huzzahs are in order!

  2. Randall says:

    Huzzahs certainly are in order.

  3. Talysman says:

    Not sure if it's the same with Takeout, but using the dashboard backup feature gets you a huge Atom file, which I find mostly useless, since few things other than news readers let you do anything with them. Using the Blogger Backup utility also gets you Atom format backups, but you can specify one file per post, for example, which may give you more manageable file sizes.

    I used the utility and then wrote a crude Perl script that converts Atom XML files to HTML files. Pandoc can then convert these to various other formats like Markdown, which might be easier to deal with. Let me know if that sounds useful.

  4. Randall says:

    Talysman: I can import that huge Atom file into Drupal if I have to (and probably WordPress as well).

    Your program sounds interesting, however. Does it work with the huge Atom XML file or with the one per post version. Either way, it might be useful as I'm starting to play with Pandoc with the idea of writing things in some ascii-only format — like one of the "improved" versions of Markdown — so I could use git to handle versioning instead of many word files with timestamps in their names.

  5. Talysman says:

    It should work with the huge Atom file, too, although I didn't test it. It's just a filter; I didn't try to use any of the Perl modules for XML handling or anything like that; it just loads lines one at a time, drops them if it matches certain Atom elements, and converts them to something usable if it's one of about 8-10 different elements. It will accept input from standard in or a glob pattern, and it creates one .html file for every .xml file.

    I should probably add a filter to get rid of Blogger's template information before trying it on an all-in-one Atom file, Also need to fix it so that it can handle both foo.xml and foo.comments.xml without overwriting the former.

    Thinking about adding a couple other scripts for blog backup twiddling, like one that lets you merge or filter out posts with one or more tags, or one that merges comments with their parent post. Might also need one that fixes file names so they aren't as cumbersome; the backup utility spits out XML files that include date and time of post in the file name, like: 20140104T150000-RetroRoleplaying_ the Blog Disappears and (Fortunately) Returns .xml

  6. Talysman says:

    I should add, though, that the reason I haven't tried the script on the big file is because I used an XSL stylesheet to transform it into an HTML version. I downloaded something called XML Wrench and then found an Atom 2 HTML XSLT … there's a menu option that lets you perform a conversion using that stylesheet.

  7. Randall says:

    Talysman: +++It's just a filter; I didn't try to use any of the Perl modules for XML handling or anything like that; it just loads lines one at a time, drops them if it matches certain Atom elements, and converts them to something usable if it's one of about 8-10 different elements.++++

    Sometimes simple is best. I remember writing a quick awk filter in the late 1990s to allow Aladdin (the offline reader for the GEnie Online Service) to work with another service whose name I forget by dropping everything from the text capture of the session that would mess up Aladdin's parsing of the file and making minor word changes and the like so topic and area name labels matched what Aladdin was expecting. Quick and dirty, but it did the job.

  8. Talysman says:

    Started trying to fix the script so it will handle the huge archive-style Atom XML file you get via Takeout or the dashboard. So far, it's not going too well. I think that huge Blogger template is screwing things up. It's certainly behaving in unexpected ways.