You’re never too experienced to make a boneheaded mistake, especially when the action that initiates it looks extremely benign

A big scary warning message

That warning bar doesn’t exist. But if it did, I maybe wouldn’t have made the stupid mistake I made on Sunday morning.

The big mistake was actually the result of my hasty efforts to patch up a much smaller mistake. As it goes.

I had mistakenly deleted a bunch of WordPress themes on a multisite (but not Multisite; the difference is worth discussing in more detail at a later time) installation that Sara and I use for all of our blogs — including this one.

I didn’t want Sara to see that her themes had been trashed, so I quickly logged into my Digital Ocean account and attempted to restore a copy of the latest backup of the server. My intention was to spin up a new copy of the server, from the most recent backup, go in there to grab the theme files I had accidentally deleted, copy them into the live server, then destroy that temporary copy of the server.

Here are the options I was presented with:

Given that menu, what would you do? Never mind the fact that I’ve been a Digital Ocean client for over a decade and have dealt with this exact menu numerous times before. I should have known better. But I was in a hurry and not thinking clearly.

Did you select Restore Droplet? Congratulations. Just like me, you have now destroyed the live server.

Maybe all of this wouldn’t have been so bad, but the weekly backups on this particular server take place on Monday nights. Which means we were working from a 6-day-old backup. And wouldn’t you know it, both Sara and I (but especially Sara) had been unusually active on our blogs this past week.

So yeah, I clicked Restore Droplet, which immediately, without any additional warning or confirmation, completely and permanently wiped out the live version of the server and replaced it with the contents of that 6-day-old backup. A week’s worth of blog posts and site edits, vaporized with absolutely no possibility of recovery.

What was the correct action? As I already knew, it was to select Convert to snapshot, then navigate in the side menu to Snapshots and from there, create a new “Droplet” (Digital Ocean’s term for a virtual private server) from the snapshot. As I said, I’ve done this exact process many times over the past several years, when a client accidentally deleted something and I needed to help them recover it.


Anyway… if this blog happens to have any keen observers, you/they may have noticed that the two most recent blog posts had disappeared. No, this was not intentional. And they are gone forever. Fun.

Update: According to Digital Ocean support, the Restore Droplet option does present an additional warning before continuing, but (in my opinion) it is not nearly aggressive enough to make you stop what you’re doing if you’re being hasty like I was.

140 characters

Picking up where the last post left off, this morning SLP and I were discussing the frustrations some people have with Twitter, and their frequent inclination to dismiss it wholesale as a result. One of the biggest complaints always seems to be that you “can’t say anything” in 140 characters. That the brevity of a tweet naturally leads to flippant, ill-considered, 2 short & hvly abbrvtd, or just plain pointless missives fired into the vast, chaotic fray of similar voices, loudly saying nothing.

As I usually do at this point (although maybe she beat me to it this time), I brought up haiku. Most haiku poems could easily fit within the 140-character confines of a tweet, but few people dismiss the haiku form as too brief to convey meaning. In fact, I was inspired to compose a haiku on the topic of Twitter itself, which I subsequently tweeted, of course:

Twitter, like haiku,
Is brief, but you can still say
Something meaningful.

Of course Twitter, like all forms of communication, has limitations. And of course some of what ends up on Twitter is pointless babble. Just because someone gives you the tools doesn’t mean you know how to use them. But to dismiss the entire platform simply because it has constraints or because you don’t like the way certain other people are using it is as silly as dismissing haiku because you can’t write a dissertation in 17 syllables.

But sometimes that’s all you need. Is this 262-word blog post really more effective at communicating the merits of Twitter than my (as SLP called it) twaiku?

The Internet President

As a “web guy,” I now have even more reason to like Barack Obama as a soon-to-be-president than I did already. His website was no small part of his extremely effective and well-organized campaign, and I am pleased to see that he plans to continue to use the Internet as a core component of his approach to governing once he takes office. To wit:, the official site of the “Obama-Biden Transition Project.”

As I’ve been saying for the past couple weeks, in a to-the-point if less-than-genteel way, he’s got his shit together. And as they say in Australia, “good on him.” 2009 is going to be an interesting year.

’70s flashback (literally)

Even though I’ve never dropped acid, looking back on the children’s television I absorbed like a sponge in the late ’70s, I think I got enough of the experience. Case in point:

I’m lazily linking over to this on YouTube, but I actually watched it again for the first time in 30 years earlier today on the Sesame Street Old School 1974-1979 DVD set I just bought at Target. Which is not — at all — to say that I hadn’t thought of it countless times in those intervening 30 years. The “plastic house” and the freaky yo-yo dude in particular are burned eternally into my memory.

Now, I know a lot of people my age are going to have a nostalgic recollection of clips like this, but I wonder how many are as deeply imprinted with these iconic images as myself. Back in 1978, when this clip actually aired, I was at my absolute peak of Sesame Street viewing and on most days I spent at least 3 1/2 hours watching the show. (We got two PBS stations; one aired it at 8:00, 11:30 and 4:30, and the other at noon and 3:00.) I saw many of these segments more times than I can count. And speaking of counting, fortunately, I didn’t need, at that age, to learn to do so in Russian:

The first time I watched this I was so in awe of the ambitious yet failed effort to squeeze the copious syllables of the Russian numbers into the fast rhythm of the song, I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that the entire “12” segment consists of U.S. landmarks (Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, etc.). I wonder when exactly this clip aired on Russian television, and whether anyone involved in putting it on the air realized what it was depicting wasn’t just drugged out hallucinations. (Well, it was, but not just.)

You can’t spell “Democrat” without “rat”…

I know where you think this is going. No, I haven’t “flip-flopped” (in supposedly classic “Democrat” fashion) and become a “red-stater.” What I’m speaking of is the Republican Party’s (and, by extension, the right-wing media’s) recent penchant for referring not to the “Democratic Party,” but rather to the “Democrat Party.”

I was getting ready to forget this little bit of GOP annoyance until I spotted it once again in a quote from George W. Bush in an article on the MSNBC website.

Not familiar with this obscure little issue? Hendrik Hertzberg had a great article on it in the New Yorker a few months back. It’s a great example of the Republican strategy of death by 1000 cuts. Maybe it doesn’t matter now, but it’s still just so… well, so stupid and petty. The only thing as stupid and petty is actually getting bothered by it.

Yes, I’m bothered by it.

(For what it’s worth, so is Hertzberg: “There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. ‘Democrat Party’ is a slur, or intended to be — a handy way to express contempt.”)