On getting in over your head

Since transitioning most of my web presence to a WordPress blog two years ago, I’ve greatly increased my frequency of posting my photography and calligraphy work, and have found I’ve been enjoying the process more. The blog is much friendlier in terms of being able to add new material quickly than my old website software (I’ve been needing to re-build the main website for years now). But like most things computer-related, when it works it’s great, and when it stops working, you can quickly find that you’re in way over your head.

I suppose I should have known that the easier way to do all this would have been to simply create a blog on a commercial blogging site like wordpress.com, blogspot.com, or blogger.com. But I’m a basically techno-geek kind of person, and I was already paying a hosting service for web space, so I decided I’d install my own copy of WordPress on my web server. That turned out to be a little bit of a stretch for me, but with the aid of information from wordpress.org, I had my blog running within a couple of days.

All was basically fine for almost two years, and without knowing much of anything about WordPress, or php and MySQL (the underlying software technology of WordPress), I was blithely making posts, customizing my blog, adding feature plugins, and updating my software regularly as new versions became available. Then, sometime around last June (I suspect my update to WordPress 3.4.1), I found I was no longer able to create new posts containing any sort of a graphic. For a blog devoted to graphic design, calligraphy, and photography, that’s somewhat of a drawback.

I spent an unbelievable amount of time trying to fix this problem, probably equivalent to several weeks of full-time work by now. I found lots of references on the web to similar problems to what I was seeing, and thousands of sometimes helpful (and mostly not) suggestions of things to try, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I discovered a workaround that allowed me to alter the way I created my posts, and continue to post new material, albeit less conveniently.

Then, this past week, I discovered I had also lost the ability to upload new custom-designed headers to the blog pages. This was a major setback from my viewpoint, because the custom headers are the main tool I use to make my blog look different from everyone else’s WordPress blog. Another round of searching the web and trying every suggested solution began.

Finally, about 2 AM today, I reluctantly opened the hood of the MySQL database supporting my blog, and discovered the helpful message “Table ‘wp_postmeta’ is marked as Crashed, and needs to be repaired.” Great. How do I do that? It turns out that the magic solution, strangely enough, was an SQL command called “REPAIR.” How cool is that?

Everything is not completely well yet, and I’ll stop boring you with the details of my ongoing repair work, but I have at least been able to upload my new header graphic, which I’ll also show below, so that it will still be in my post archives once the main header changes:

The sunflower photo above, by the way, was taken with my new Nikon D800. Yes, I finally broke down and bought it – I’ll post a full image from the sunflower shoot later. Now, back to calligraphy, graphics, and photography!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I guess…I hope…