Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The strange story of an upgrade

I've had Old Blogger / New Blogger woes since January.

I didn't keep track of the dates or copy the exact error and status messages on the pages that Blogger threw up, because I had a family health crisis at its peak all of January, and what little time I had left over was devoted to work.

But here goes. It seems kinda appropriate to put it all down here, on the test blog. (Most of this is excerpted from emails exchanged with folks at Blogger or direct copies of the correspondence.)

Sometime in early to mid-January, I tried to upgrade to the new Blogger. I got a message saying that I could not be upgraded yet, probably because I was on some group blogs with large numbers of posts (which is true).

Late in the month, when I logged in to Blogger, I got a message saying that I would have to upgrade, and that I'd have once chance to skip that message. I went ahead and hit the upgrade option.

Next, I got a message saying that this would take some time, and that I could come back to that window later. Which I did, to be told that it would take longer than expected, and I would get an email notificatio when it was done. Thinking this would be a matter of a few days, I closed the tab and carrried on with life.

Next day, I got the same message - http://www2.blogger.com/in-migration-blogspot - when I tried to log in. And the next. And the next. And so on. During this time, my blogs were not visible. Going to the URL gave me a message that the blog was being miigrated. This went on for a week.

I wrote to a couple of friends, one who works in Google, here in India, and another who has friends in Google in the USA. Both said they'd pass on my messages.

Around this time (about the 4th or the 5th Feb). I noticed that spammers seemed to be able to comment on my blog, though I couldn't see the blog myself. My blog's moderated, so I get notifications everytime someone comments. When I try to follow the link to moderate comments, I got the migration page - http://www2.blogger.com/in-migration-blogspot

On the 6th, I saw a comment notification on caferati.blogspot.com, which I also moderate, which seemed to be a genuine comment. Caferati had been inaccessible all that time, so I wondered. Went across and checked and it was visible. Checked my own blog, and hey, that was accesible too. Tried logging in, and was able to. Only then I saw that some of the blogs I'm on were showing up as inaccessible to me (to post to, that is, not to view) because they had "moved to the new blogger."

None of the others, evidently, have moved the new blogger, despite the 5 day wait.

My blogger user page, when I logged in showed my profile as http://www.blogger.com/profile/1891568 which is what it always was. But from some of the collablogs I was on, in the Contributors section, my userID linked to http://www2.blogger.com/profile/16061386367303982262

The old blogger ID showed all my public blogs:

[Not reproducing that list here]

The new one shows only these:

[Again, not reproducing that list here, but it was a significanty shorter one.]

During this period, via the old Blogger, I logged in and changed contributor settings on my group blogs to make myself sole admin, so as to make the change smoother.

Shortly after, this, I once more began seeing the in-migration page. Until a couple of days later, when I tried logging in, and was redirected to log in with my Google ID, which I did.

I was once more able to log in and update my blog. But here's the mystifying bit. I was still able to log in to the old Blogger. I still got comment moderation notifications in my email (the spam bot type), and was still able to log in to the old Blogger and moderate them. But when I logged in to the new Blogger, guess what? I see different comments lined up, all genuine.

My new Blogger dashboard gave me this:

[These lists includes blogs I'd rather keep private, so no way am I posting these here either. Suffice it to say that it only showed some of my blogs, and not all the collablogs.]

I found, also, that my blogs' time settings have been changed to Pacific time, which is, I guess, Google's default. Sigh.

I was also still able to log in to the old Blogger and see a different dashboard there:

[Ditto reasons for not reproducing. But this list showed the blogs that were inaccessible via the new Blogger]

And yes, still no official email notification to tell me that my upgrade had been completed.

Around this time, since Blogger Help's ID no longer appears in the Help section, and you have to go through a godawful runaround with their automated mailing system only to be ultimately told (if your request doesn't match their packaged questions) to go to the Blogger Help forums on Googlegroups. From what folks have told me, that course is pretty much the equivalent of a Hail Mary Pass, except that it has significantly lower chances of success. Nevertheless, post I did. Checked back on it several times, to see no replies. And eventually lost track of them as they disappeared into the flood of complaints and support requests there. (Evidently, the transition hadn't been smooth for lots of folks.)

Thoroughly frustrated, I asked a a couple of pals—one of them a Google employee, another who has friends there—to check with their contacts if I could get some help. Soon after, on the 9th February, I got mail from, um, a pretty visible Blogger person whose name I don't have permission to reveal.

Hi Peter,

My name is XXXXXX XXXXXX, and I work on Blogger here at Google. I heard that you're having problems migrating to the New Blogger - can you give me a rundown of what you're experiencing, so we can try and get any problems fixed?



I wrote back some time later, on the 17th (I'd missed the mail with the other chaos happening), including most of the text above.

On the 22nd February, I got a reply from X:
Hi Peter,

Ok, this is really weird. There's way too much info for me to parse here though, can you just give me a quick rundown? What we need is:

- your Old Blogger username - is this 'zigzackly' ?
- your New Blogger email login - is this 'zigzackly@gmail.com' ?

Then we can check and see what's up.

Thanks for your patience,


I wrote back the same day:
Correct on both counts. And, by the way, I can log into both separately and simultaneously.

Thank you. Look forward to sorting this out!


A long silence followed.







On the 15th March, I sent out a nudge:
Hello X

Any progress? Or is mine a completely unprecedented case?

Do let me know what the prognosis is.

Many thanks
On the 16th, loud yips were heard emanating from Casa Zig. A reply! A genoowine reply!But alas:
Apologies for the delay - I just emailed our engineers to see what's going on...

Thanks for your patience,

More silence.








By the 20th April, the celebrated Zig patience had run thin. So thin it overcame its usual ally, the legendary Zig laziness, which really deserves the credit for aformentioned rep for forbearance: most of the time, one just can't summon the energy to, um, engage with people. Finger was reluctantly put to keyboard, thus:
Good day, X

I'm a great Blogger and Google fan, and I appreciate that you are all very busy with cutting edge stuff, which is why I have taken great care not to nag more than once a month, but, hey, any news for me?


This is what my dashboard looks like now. Please note the duplications. (Also, I'm unable to do the "Manage.." type stuff on some team blogs I started.)

[List of blogs from dashboard, with many of them showing up twice, in the first showing up as having been upgraded, and in the second instance, as still in old Blogger. Curioser and curioser, no?]

I then went back to post some stuff. (I had, by the way, been posting, albeit infrequently, since early Feb.) Posted once, found some new stuff, wrote second post, and then.. But let my eemail explain it.
Hi X

Sorry to be a pest. But since my mail of a few hours ago, things have got worse.

I was trying to post to my main personal blog - http://zigzackly.blogspot.com - when i got this message:

The blog you were looking for was not found.

Return to Blogger

I had made a post just a little earlier. I got a comment on that post, which I approved. Here's the notification email, with links:
[ABC] has left a new comment on your post " Story time":


Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by [ABC] to zigzackly at Fri Apr 20, 07:13:00 AM IST

I did check that the post was showing up. i.e., a click from Story Time, below, actually opened that post then, but now gives me an error.

When I checked to see if my blog existed, I saw that all my posts after January 27th (which is before all this nonsense started) have disappeared. I shudder to think of what else may have gone wrong with my other blogs.

When I checked back on my dashboard, I see that my zigzackly blog is now only marked as not being on the new version of blogger (unlike in my last mail, where I showed you that it was listed twice, once as under new blogger, the second as not upgraded to new blogger).

Here is what I see in my dashboard now:
[The scenario as described above.]
I am more than a little upset at the way that this alleged upgrade is messing with my blogging. I can't admin my group blogs, I get spam comments I can't moderate, and now my primary personal blog goes belly up. I know that Blogger is free, but I do think I am entitled to an explanation and some help here.

Thank you, and [personal note removed]

On the 23rd, X wrote back:
Hi Peter,

Apologies for the delay and the troubles - I'm putting you in touch with somebody from Blogger Support who'll get this sorted out. If we ever get to meet in person, I'll grovel on the floor then hopefully explain over chai what all the fuss was about. :(

Thanks again for your patience,

And indeed Blogger Support had shown up in me ol' inbox:
Hi there,

Thanks for writing in. Your blogs have been moved to the new version of
Blogger. To continue using them, please sign in to the old version of
Blogger one more time. Then at the prompt, select the Google Account with
which you want to associate your blogs. After that, you should be able to
log in to the new version of Blogger and access your blogs without a
problem. Please let us know if you have further trouble with it.

The Blogger Team
Whoopdidoo, I soliloquised, and went off and followed instructions. But, alas:
Hello Blogger Team (all of you)

Thank you for that. I followed your instructions (logged in to old Blogger once more, re-claimed blogs, etcetera), and that went smoothly.

Most of my posts seem to be okay, but the posts I made on zizgzackly.blogspot.com after my initial attempt to switch to the new Blogger seem to have vanished.

Do please let me know whether this is irreversible.

Hello X

Thank you. I just got mail from Blogger Support. Followed their instructions (logged in to old Blogger once more, re-claimed blogs, etcetera), and while that went smoothly, my posts after January seem to have taken a liking to the cyberlimbo they were consigned to and stayed there. Not that there were that many of them, or that they were deathless prose or anything, but, well, they're mine, dammit -- and I have no back-ups. Fact is, I tend to use a combination of Blogger and del.icio.us as back-ups for my thoughts, such as they are, so it's doubly frustrating to find those posts gone. Any help would be most welcome. The chai's on me (I'm partial to coffee, though).

X wrote back:
Please follow up with Blogger Support about getting the posts recovered - it should definitely be possible.

Thanks again for your patience,
To which I said:
Oh, I did. Was just whining to you as well, on the general principle that a good whine is therapeutic.

If you're ever in these parts, a *genuine* chai -- or three -- awaits you.

~ peter

And there matters stand. One is not posting on the Zig blog for now, since I don't want old posts disappearing, or new posts vanishing when old posts are magicked back into existence.. well, actually, I'm just pissed.

Updates when I have them.

Update, from later on the 24th.

I wrote to Blogger Support again today, after I posted the stuff above and noticed a typo.
Pardon my error, I should have said zigzackly.blogspot.com.

And, by the way, any news for me?

I know, I know, they're smart folks. All those PhDs. They would have worked that themselves. Still, better to be precise. And hey, whaddya know? Prompt reply:
Thanks for your follow-up. So that we can investigate further, please describe the sequence of steps this blog went through in switching between versions. E.g. when did you first try to switch, and if you were able to make posts on the new version, how did you switch back to the old version? Thanks for any details you can provide.

The Blogger Team
Now, this is after quite a few emails between me and X. And X, kind soul, had forwarded the complete mail chain to the Support folks. How do I know this? It was right there below the "- Show quoted text -" bit in their email to me. So perhaps you'll condone the waspish tone of this:
Hello Blogger Help,

Sorry for assuming that you may have actually read the mail chain that XXXX XXXX forwarded to you, which you included in first message to me (and which I leave untouched below). Sigh.

I have just this minute put it all down on my test blog here: http://maabeta.blogspot.com/2007/04/strange-story-of-upgrade.html

If you like, I will forward the exact emails exchanged with XXXX since February, but as they contain exactly the same information as on that post (except that they do not have the lists copied off my dashboard at various times) you may not find that necessary. Do let me know.

Further developements are awaited. Do you think they will consign me to cyberlimbo, reset my Page Rank, and give me an Indiatimes interface? Or will the milk of human kindness ooze, bringing not unmanly tears to their hard-bitten, calloused eyes, as they wave their magic wands and make it all okay for poor Zig? Tune in tomorrow for more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So far so good.

Wish there were stand-alone pages, wordpress style.

And the template editing isn't really drag and drop. You have to first find a template that has the basic structure you want, then mess with that. It is WYSIWYG, though. What I'll probably do is wait for them to enable the editing of the html, then use that to really tweak things.

The widgets. Can't see a gap right now. Will try and mess with that.

Ooh. And the best* bit? No "republish!" Yay!

*Aside from categories, that is. Which has us unabashedly going whoopdidoo and whatnot.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

this should be fun

Let us see what we shall see.