Post date: January 25, 2019
It was an “exciting” 24 hours here at the 2For66 International Headquarters. Yesterday I was preparing my annual reading summary for the previous year. I’ve always tried to do this with an HTML table listing the Title, Author, Type, and Rating. And I always get frustrated with the limitations of creating HTML tables.
So I explored some options. One option is a WordPress plugin that supports robust tables. (I won’t name it here; I’m sure it works well for expert bloggers.) When I clicked to activate it I got a warning that it would take away some blog functionality – specifically the “Follow” button. I held back and looked at some other options. I found that I could create my own “Subscribe” button – I guess “Subscribe” is the new “Follow”.
It looked like the plugin was the best option so I clicked through the warning thinking “What’s the worst that could happen? I can always remove it and return to the state my blog was in.” I started to wonder what it was doing when it took a while to come back.
I opened a new browser tab to look at the blog and NO PICTURES! NONE! NADA!
Uh oh. I went to my media library and saw my photos were still there just not in the individual posts. That was a huge relief. I looked at the page source to see if I could figure out what happened. I couldn’t (I didn’t look closely enough as you’ll see later). Thank goodness WordPress.com has a good support system. I scheduled a 30 minute concierge system for 8:30 this morning. I installed the meeting software (Zoom) and waited for this morning.
My analyst – Sasha – was fantastic. She shared her screen with me and then went into my blog to track the issue. After about 10 minutes she got in touch with a developer to take a deeper dive. It turns out that when you install a sophisticated plugin that gives the warning I blithely ignored, the infrastructure of the blog gets changed. In addition my blog theme is no longer supported, which makes it more likely to get clobbered.
I’ll try to describe the problem. – this is accomplished behind the scenes. Media such as photos live in a WordPress library. When I drag and drop and a photo in a post, what I’m really doing is adding the image to the library and creating a URL link to the image. There is an HTML “href” tag that points to the photo. In my case the URL (just like the address in the browser bar) is something like
My broken links looked like
Notice the “https://” and the leading “2” in my blog address was gone. No wonder WordPress couldn’t find the images. Sasha didn’t say this but I wonder if the leading “2” in my site name caused part of the problem. Usually these things start with characters. The plugin must have run a comprehensive change to my blog posts.
Sasha also showed me a time machine feature in the blog where you can roll back to an earlier time and date. Beautiful. Let’s just rollback to the morning before I made changes. Nope. Unfortunately, installing the plugin blocked the ability to rollback to a time earlier than the installation.
Manually fixing a link fixed the problem for one picture. But changing links for the thousands of photos on my site would be impossible. Sasha to the rescue. She installed a new find-and-replace plugin then ran it with the developer. She e-mailed when it was done and Voilá! My blog had pictures again.
I also learned how to create a site icon – which you can see on the left part of the browser tab up there ^^^ where the browser tabs are. It’s a little Route 66 highway sign icon.
Tonight I switched to a new supported blog theme. It is “responsive” which means it should work better with mobile devices. In addition, it supports the banded feature image in posts that I’ve come to like. Being an updated theme it brings in many more editing features I’m excited to explore in the coming weeks and months. I’m not sure I’ll stick with this specific theme so be aware that the look may change periodically as I nail down the theme I want and make the customizations – without using nasty plugins.
WordPress support was incredible. Sasha was on the problem immediately and got help when she needed it. I love how the two of them worked the problem to solution without numerous e-mails, call backs and what-not.