Monday, 13 June 2011

Gargants and a rant

You might remember I was hoping to post an expansion this weekend for that hive interior supplement I put together for the Heroes of Armagedon project, a set of homebrew rules for games inside gargants. Exciting idea, right? For me, for sure. I was very happy with the result, all the more so because it took me right back to the early '90s and the Epic system, with power fields, boilers and fires, even escaped squigs.

Trouble is, I'm not in the habit of backing up drafts. Can you guess where this is going?

If you're a Blogger blogger you probably can. When I came back to the draft to make the final changes I found it was down to the introduction only. All the mood and rules text was gone. As far as I can see, except for that failure on my part - trusting the software - the fault lies entirely with Blogger. I've waited and it hasn't returned. Does anyone believe it ever will? I do have an earlier version I can build back from, but I don't want to think how long that will take. I may well do it, and feel I should, but not right now.

The next paragraph is a rant, so feel free to take your leave here.

What is it with Blogger? It may be free for most of us - if not necessarily a labour of love for Blogger's owners - but there are certain minimums we might expect with the service offered. That near-day outage with so little info was pretty rough, as was the vanishing of posts and comments and odd returns. The problems many bloggers have been having with commenting is arguably worse. A solution was doing the rounds a long time ago (uncheck the 'stay signed in' box at login), but why do we need to spread the word on that? How often do we have comments eaten? The first and possibly only time I tried using the post timer, it ended in loss of a past post and the hard work of others in the comments. This past few days my and other bloggers' stats have been highly unusual, and based on the discussions I've seen and had, they look in large part to be junk. In my view it's a mess. Well done Von, and anyone else who moved away.

I've already taken steps towards independence. It's all but ready to go, but I don't want to jump just yet. There's a lot more to do at the Expanse. When I leave I want it to be much more than just a switching of platforms, more than a step forward only for me; I'd like to offer an open door to many. I'll talk about that another time.

To borrow a metaphor, gargants may be reduced to scrap, but that's building material.


The Angry Lurker said...

Awaiting developments within the Expanse, Blogger has eaten my pictures on past posts and fails to regurgitate them but lately it's giving me real arseache with posting.

Andy said...

Your Expanse is not alone in it's suffering, my Corridor and blogger have had problems too! From missing comments to problems with saving changes to my layout to not able to post ... the list goes on!

For example:
My last wordplay post was "eaten" by blogger and I'm still working up the motivation to write it again.

Looking for a way to "blog" independant, but as a "computer noob" taking that step is daunting to say the least!

Porky said...

We can only hope it's temporary and that when the scaffolding falls away there'll be a solid and beautiful architecture.

Re going indy, there was a discussion on platforms at Warp Signal a few weeks back, here, and GDMNW made an interesting offer.

Going the own website route is simple in theory. You need a domain and a host, and the host ought to be able to explain the ins and outs of setting up and updating, and may even have templates available to start you off.

In this part of the blogosphere, the blog-fu series at Wargaming Tradecraft is a good place to learn about the technical aspects of blogging.

NetherWerks said...

Blogger seems to have gone through a lot of changes since we were forced offline by a crashed hard-drive and illness. Huh. The new interface is spiffy, once you get used to it. the outages have apparently been kind of nasty and disruptive, so we're glad to have missed them.

We've been revising our main blog at Blogger and investigating other options that can supplement/integrate into it so that we're working across a distributed network, not leaving all our blog-eggs in one digital basket.

Leaving Blogger is one way to go, but frankly, you could just end up swapping different limitations and problems. that's why we're still looking into options. We want more than just a cookie-cutter blog, but the process of working with blogger and Wordpress both has been very interesting and educational. Time well spent. The thing we've noticed is that we really need to learn more CSS and build what we want from scratch.

But then not everyone wants to do that, do they?

Jennie said...

I'm with you, Porky. Blogger ate most of the extended post I had promised you weeks ago, and I haven't been able to reconstruct it all yet with everything else that has been going on.

I know that is my own fault for not composing in an external word processor and then copying over, but even that solution does nothing to stop vanishing comments.

I'm almost at the point of emulating NetherWerks and sitting down to learn CSS, but I fear that would take even more time away from the three to five minutes a day I have now to actually write.

Keep us posted on any ideas for novel resolutions to this dilemma.

Jennie said...

@ Andy - I'm very sorry to hear about Blogger eating your wordplay! I wondered what had happened. I hope you find the motivation and the time to return soon. Save a copy before you post! We miss you, and we want to see how the story turns out.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

Nether makes a good point that anyone you go with will have its flaws.

In my industry, we use very specific software and there aren't many options to buy from - there's a lot of money riding on it, so we tend to take the "devil you know" approach when deciding what to buy and when to patch.

I offer a possible solution though: I've lost some work here and there, but never anything major. When writing an involved post, I usually use either Word or OneNote. Something else I've noticed is that when Blogger doesn't save, it's not actually Googles fault, it's due to a dropped internet/network connection on my end.

OneNote is an often overlooked part of Microsoft Office that actually provides excellent organization. Anything you write in it is instantly saved... there's no save button. Images and PDFs you import into it are automatically OCR'd so when you search through your notes, it will even search your pictures. Another nice feature is pressing [Windows Key] + [S] will let you draw a box around a portion of your screen to copy.

maybe I'll do a Blog-Fu on it sometime in the future.

NetherWerks said...

Have you considered software like blogjet?

It costs a bit, but it could help eliminate a lot of your headaches without having to leave blogger.

We're looking at a few other options, but they all have limitations or restrictions that keep them mostly possible adjuncts to blogger, not real alternatives.

Like Nplusplus said above--a lot of the time it is your internet connection that is the real culprit.

Whatever you decide, best of luck and keep on blogging!

Porky said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm sure they've been useful to more than just me.

I see the thinking on CSS and evaluating and spreading the risk, and BlogJet looks useful. I'm definitely one of those who overlooks OneNote, although I've heard its praises sung before. I've been looking at various options, and I can see myself following up one or two.

I usually use a word processor to get drafts to quite a late stage, save in .txt for purity and then format and tinker in the Blogger editor. The problem this time could simply have been the size and complexity of the idea, that the proportion of work in the editor was unusually large in real terms.

We'll see how things develop; I'll cover my plans here as they solidify.

DocStout said...

I've heard about so much lost work and goofy errors in blogger that I am glad that I do all my article first drafts in a word processor. If I lose images, though, they're gone.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

One benefit to using OneNote for all your posts is that you then always have a backup of all your notes and creativity.

Cursed13 said...

I was wondering why I was getting so many views. I've gotten a month's worth in a week. I'm glad I always make a backup copy of the text in Word, and all the pictures saved in Hobby folders in my hard drive. But I haven't noticed anything wrong on my blog.

Porky said...

My stats look finally to be back to normal, whether accurate or not. After the wackiness of this week comments seem the only way to be sure someone was actually here.