Editorial: Tech Monkey Rant

d6ideas_2die4We had our problems with the server and Drupal for quite a while. When we started, I was fresh, hell I was motivated and I thought with the Swiss army knife of Content Management Systems, I could tackle the world. Promises were made that we could go “Final” at the end of the year 2011, the design was a piece of cake and the workflow could be implemented without any problems at all. I was young, I was as naïve as a cheerleader before a date with a jock and had the illusion that there would be jobs with 30 hours a week or less.

We did a ninja-migration back in February because of some problems with Drupal. Since then, we had several issues that resulted in a complete fuckup: The main problem was that we couldn’t establish an SSH-connection to the server and therefore couldn’t do shit on it. Furthermore, our FTP-accounts had – due to security reasons – a chroot (a lock) to our home directories and our important stuff like pictures lay on different parts of the server. To put it bluntly, we were as fucked as a cheerleader on spring break.

Last Friday night I did the only thing I could, after trying out anything possibly imaginable. I secured the recent backups of both Drupal and the discussion board, ignoring the fact that a legion of images we used for the newer posts were inaccessible and could therefore not be saved. I called the powers to be, asked not so nicely if he could download the discussion board’s attachments, then purged our server and reinstalled the operating system.

As a good neophile techmonkey I did an update, installed all the necessary (and not so necessary) components and finally set the recent version of Drupal up. I also implemented the plugins we had grown to love and hate, but when I tried to restore the database I stumbled across the first problem – the new Backup and Migrate module doesn’t like bz2 or gz-compression. A small issue compared to the shit that would hit the fan later and after I solved it with my sheer brainpower (uncompressing and increasing the permitted filesize for uploads – yes, I’m such a genius). BANG, holy SNAFU apeboy, the database could not be restored! I did what any sensible human being would do: I yelled at the screen, kicked against something and eventually got a beer. At this point I was at my girlfriend’s flat and she’s living in something we in Germany love to call “Sozialer Brennpunkt”, it’s an old house with a bathroom straight from the Seventies with moss-green/brownish tiling and bronze fittings. Her telephone line must be one of these experimental things when we still bowed our heads to a “Kaiser” and not the soccer team. This damn thing (the telephone line, not the “Kaiser” or the soccer team) has more disconnects than Instagram has cheesy filters and hipster wannabe models.

When I came back with this chilled bottle of fine Czech beer (never trusted the German “Reinheitsgebot”), the internet connection apparently had a hiccup, my SSH-client disconnected and when I tried to reconnect: “Connection refused by Server”, the old message came back to haunt me. I tried it a few times, purged the keys but nada: the problem persisted like chewing gum on the sole of my favorite pair of sneakers (VANS Hightop Oldskool if you need to know). I did the only reasonable thing, I yelled at my girlfriend, her cats and one time I even yelled at myself. I had enough.

I did the whole reinstall-circus one more time and the outcome was nearly the same. I am a man, known for many things like my hatred for puppies and children, my legendary incapability of getting things done and my rather crude sense of humor, but one thing I lack completely is patience. So I canned the whole Drupal idea, fuck it, let a Belgian computer scientist sort this shit out, it’s not my problem anymore, I went to bed at around six o’clock.

The next day, a dull Saturday, in what we have grown to call summer here in Berlin, I was still at my girlfriend’s. I was tired because she has developed this fetish of getting up at around ten o’clock and although she always tries to let me sleep (my mood when I have less than ten hours of sleep is also legendary), her cats eventually decided that a sleeping Dave is heresy to their supreme rule over creation and so used me as a trampoline and scratching post. While I had a rather frugal breakfast of café au lait, scrambled eggs and crisp bacon, my girlfriend confronted me with several promises I had made in the past. She even had the guts not only to remember them but also wrote a “to-do list”, an enemy of humankind and particularly to half-witted slackers like myself. The end times will be heralded by to-do lists. Heed my words!

On top of this list was her scooter, the poor thing had spent the cold winter months outside and was in a more miserable state than I was after that dreadful evening at an Irish pub when I decided that it would be great if I sang “God save the Queen”. She loves the damn thing even more than me, I guess, for she hates crowds and isn’t particularly fond of the local public transport system. Me neither. But she has a driving license and a scooter while I, poor soul, have only a skateboard which doesn’t do shit if I have to leave my beloved home zone.

So we tried to fix it, when suddenly I realized that we were in desperate need of some tools I have at home, so I said my good-bye and hurried to my place (which is forty-five minutes away with the subway, imagine the sacrifices I make once or twice a week!). At home, I realized that tomorrow would be Sunday, that the crowds expected a new editorial! I was fucked. So I faced the anger of my girlfriend (which is really just like a warm spring breeze, because the poor girl can’t stay mad at me) and went to work.

This time, I even had less of a plan but I was dedicated like a pitbull on a playground. First, I setup the server anew, this time I figured, maybe the whole SSH-affair was due to updates and so I installed an older version of the OS and observed the update process more closely. Suddenly a notification caught my eye. Open-SSH had an update and I was asked if I wanted to apply it. I love to pretend that in the times before, I just said “Update? Yeah sure! Do it! New is better!” but the truth is, I more or less balanced a bottle of beer and repeatedly hit “Confirm” without reading any notifications. But I kept the promise to myself that no Drupal would ever touch my precious server again and instead installed WordPress (which we had planned to do anyway) and phpbb3 (the discussion board software we use since day one). I restarted the server, disconnected my SSH-Client and then reconnected it. For a few seconds, it did nothing, I grew impatient and when I decided that I’m simply too stupid for this job, it eventually could establish a connection. I had done it. I’M THE GOD! I’M THE GOD!

The configuration of WordPress was a piece of cake compared to Drupal; I even installed some plugins we always wanted like a bilingual system and a CMS/Discussion Board-bridge. I also began to manually tale karticles from my local Drupal backup and implemented them (manually – that is the punishment for never paying any attention in the MySQL-class).

A week has passed and I have learned many things. But the most important is the fact that I’m working with a fabulous team. Despite all my broken promises and deadlines, they said “Yeah MAYBE you fucked up, but you’re not alone, mate”. Instead of letting me do all this migration business and solely concentrating on providing you with new articles, they came forward and suggested things, reported issues and offered help in migrating the old articles. So we’re currently working on bringing the old stuff back and discussing new features. One of these new features is to your right: A calendar which shows you what new articles will come and when.

If you have further questions, ideas or insults you like to fling at me, you know where to find me (or at least where to post).

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