WP Maintenance Nightmare

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Any time it upgrades, this gets thrown up during the process. However, it goes away once the process is completed. It showing is not an error so much as a notification and should as it says go away in a minute. The problem is that if the upgrade hangs, it does not go away.

To manually fix it, go to the directory on the server with the files and remove the .maintenance file. (I rename them to .maintenance_YYYYMMDD so as to track how often they happen.)

I noticed that a particular plugin stated it needed an update. Even better, that plugin was set to automatically update, which suggested it was the cause. Kicking off the update hung the site again. Deleting the plugin also failed.

Eventually, I found myself looking at the wp-content/upgrade folder and noticed there was a folder named for the plugin that was the only content of the folder. I renamed that folder to prepend the name with zzz- and tried the upgrade again. The upgrade worked this time.

My guess is something was bad with the contents of the downloaded plugin upgrade temporary folder, but instead of deleting the contents of the folder as the first step the upgrade process, it just used the existing folder and hit the error each time until I removed it. Weird.

Facebook Feature Request: Privacy and Tags

This is essentially the issue of the Friends of Friends post. In this case, I am not really interested in expanding the audience.

Say I publish a friends only post. Victor, my friend, makes a comment tagging Roberta, not my friend, and asks a question directed at her. She is not notified about the tag. Nor can she see the comment or post.

Therefore, in my mind, allowing the tag to be done is counterproductive. Facebook should warn Victor that Roberta cannot see it. Ideally it would be ahead of time and prevent it. Less acceptable, but I would be happier is after the fact having a “Roberta cannot see this” notice. (The “Who can see this?” thing is vague and not generally very helpful clarifying exactly who can see it.)

Search Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) worked together to create standards for the technology that powers web sites. Acronyms dear to my heart like CSS, HTML, and HTTP came from their defining how web browsers and web servers should behave in various situations. It made the Web a better place.

Every time I find myself extremely frustrated searching for something and failing because the methods I know are not working really annoy me. I wish the W3C or companies that specialize in search would come together and establish minimum standards.

That said, I think 97% of my searching would be successful if places would consistently honor:

  1. Double quotes: The ” symbol surrounding a phrase should make the interior honored as a single phrase. We use it because the terms individually are relatively common and bring up false positives. Combining them in this way narrows the search to what we seek. In my opinion, this is a must have feature.
  2. Boolean: The AND, OR, and NOT commands along with parentheses () are powerful means of finding relevant results. Searching Twitter is easy because the search company they bought did such a great job leveraging Boolean.

Confuzzled Exchange

I check accounts from two different Exchange domains with Outlook. Check might be a bit of an overstatement for one as it is maybe once a month and more like every couple. Both require me to periodically change the passwords. And both send daily email warnings leading up to the deadline.

Because I might miss the week of daily warnings for one, I set up a rule in Outlook to forward the message to myself. Thankfully I set it up to send to more than one email account. I got the warnings in just one place which bothered me.

The missing messages had bounced. The address listed in the error looks nothing like the address in the rule. (I would post it, but I have no idea if that would compromise the account.) My guess is Outlook does not firewall the contacts in rules. So if I enter an address for the cross domain and it recognizes the address, then it shows me in the UI the human friendly but the backend uses the Exchange friendly one.

My solution ironically was to leverage a third party. My web hosting provider allows me to create unlimited email addresses, which I use to set forwarding accounts. I created one for this purpose and replaced the problem one in the rule. It works now.

Also: CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS!!

Troll Facebook Button

Sometimes I want to leave a comment but not actually enter the Facebook conversation. For that, I want a “Facebook Troll” comment browser extension.

The idea is that it could allow me to post the comment and automatically turn off notifications for that post.

Pretty sure replies would still notify me.

Ironically enough, the same feature would be useful for engagements, death announcements, marriages, and other posts where I just want to leave a comment but not have to deal with notifications about anyone else leaving a comment. So 90% of use cases could be a “Congrats!” button or a “Sorry for your loss.” button.

WIRED and Ad Blockers

I get it,  the site makes its money off the ads. I rarely read their articles anymore. When I see something interesting, it surprises me that I do not read it anymore, so I click the link. Then they interrupt me reading to complain about having the ad blocker enabled. Trying to be a good person, I change the settings to allow the ads like they want.

Here is the kicker, though, they interrupt me again to say “Thank you.” That… That makes me so angry that I revert the settings to block the ads and close the tab. At that point I remember why I no longer read the site. I came to read not get prevented from reading. Just let me read.

If in doubt; then delete

The title is a joke. I hate deleting things. A digital packrat, it takes knowing that deleting something will likely fix an actual problem to delete it. And my delete is to move it out of the way not actually destroy the file.

Anyway, I discovered this blog was hosed. I had noticed Gotcha Jerks Part II was missing from various social media sites. So, I went to post it and found the whole blog hozered. It just displayed a Fatal PHP Error for class.jetpack-tracks.php and so I started to look on the WordPress.Org support page when I decided to move the whole Jetpack plugin directory to jetpack.bad and “see what happens.” Well, that restored the blog. The plugin claimed it needed an upgrade, so I ran that. All is well.

Easier than my initial resignation.

I went to “diff -r jetpack.bad jetpack” to get a comparison of the differences between the bad one and the good one, but the bad no longer exists. Thus the title. I am considering deleting and reinstalling Jetpack to ensure what I have is pristine. I have a nagging feeling that the upgrade moved jetpack.bad to jetpack then updated some files. Delete and rebuild would give me more confidence I purged lingering bad code from the plugin. Additionally, the lingering issue from WordPress and SSL a month ago might be related? In sum, I suspect there are subtle issues lingering and a clean sweep is in order.

Buffer Feature Requests

Dual Window

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have significantly different character number restrictions than Twitter. Naturally, Twitter limits posts to their notorious 140 characters. LinkedIn allows 700, and Google+ / Facebook allow about five thousand.

I like to post things with a quote from the articles I share that captures what I found most interesting about it. Generally, they fall between 200 to 200 characters. Too long for Twitter, which means I editorialize it to make it fit.

Something amazing about the Pocket tool to share to Buffer is it provides two different textareas. One for Facebook and one for everything else. Brilliant! So much so, that I am tempted to completely change my workflow to push anything I want to share to Pocket just so I can share it with Buffer in a way that makes sense. On Facebook the preview URL appears to Pocket rather than the actual destination which slightly bothers me because I’d prefer the source to get attribution.

Tumblr

It would be nice to be able to share to Tumblr through Buffer. It seems odd that Buffer would support App.net who has been dying for years and will finally be gone in 6 weeks yet not one of the larger social networks?

WordPress and SSL

For a while my self-hosted WordPress has been a royal pain in the ass. Trying to compose through the WordPress.com interface through Jetpack would show occasional errors that “Saving of draft failed” or an inability to communicate. Sometimes it was usable, sometimes there were so many errors I gave up and used the site. The site admin interface sometimes made me login every hour or every couple minutes.

I reinstalled Jetpack a couple times. I poked around on the WordPress support forums which I apparently could not search.

So I searched via Google and ran across this How to Fix WordPress Keeps Logging Out Problem article. It dawned on me that I had let my hosting provider setup SSL for the site. The WordPress Address and Site Address fields were using http. So I changed them to https. That seems to have solved the login issues.

I am writing this through the WordPress.com interface and got a failure on saving the draft. So there is something else to make it all better.

Facebook Comment Chat Box Pop-ups

Well, it came true for me. Facebook pushed to me the new feature of comment threads appearing in a chat box.

I hate the chat box on Facebook. I keep an open tab for messages for ongoing conversations specifically because that seems to suppress the chat box. I do not mind the notifications at the top right, but ruining screen real estate by blocking what I am reading that makes me have to close the box in order to finish? No thanks. That is an unnecessary interruption to what I was doing. It makes me more likely to ignore the message because I am determined to finish what I was doing.

The comments chat box keeps a count of how many unread have come through it. So, basically, in the top right I get a notification AND a second notification at the bottom for the. Same. Exact. Thing. Fortunately, it does appear if I check the chat box comments, then they simultaneously disappear from the top. But, if I make the mistake of checking new comments via the top in a new tab as is my normal operation, then I still have to read them in the chat box. Closing the chat box does not clear the unread.

Even when I have closed all the conversations, if I navigate to another page, then it returns and I have to close the open one just to be able to read the page. Again, my normal method of reading is to open notifications in new tabs. Then close the tab when I have consumed the new content. That basically opens a bunch of these chat boxes I have to close. Essentially, Facebook only wants us reading comments in these chat boxes and not by opening new tabs.

There is a “Hide this tab” option which asks if I want to also disable notifications for that post. I was initially confused and hit disable which means I no longer get anything about that conversation. I now hit keep. That does get me back to where I want to be with only having the single notification for comments. But, only for posts I have already handled. I will have to go through this process again for every single conversation on Facebook which is ridiculous. I may have to just not comment on anything new or post anything else until I have a permanent fix. OK, that is hyperbolic, but I will limit engagements with others until it is solved.

I tried to disable this new feature in the user interface, but naturally Facebook is on to us and did not provide a way to do so. They want us to have to become used to it before we are given the ability to restore our now bad habits. People turned off chat back when they introduced it. The help page on it is full of people complaining about this new feature.

F.B.Purity has not yet caught up to this feature. The “Hide Chat Box” gets rid of the Messenger box not the comment one.