Wednesday, May 5, 2010

0 Blog 2.0: Baby's Got A Brand New Blog ...But the URL is the Same. :)

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To the several GoogleConnect Followers (who were following at the old blog), please read this post (i.e.,click blue link) to view an important update about your subscription to "Cooking with Corey." It might explain why you are no longer seeing any of this blog's content from within Google Reader. :)


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Just a heads up to non-technical people, the remainder of this post gets "deep into the geek," and is in no way, shape, or form related to recipes or food. This post is primary about the latest improvements made to this blog and related technical commentary, including troubleshooting details and related fixes. So if techie talk isn't your thing or you could care less, please feel free to skip this post. :)

However, if you do enjoy reading technical posts about social media platforms (i.e., Blogger in particular!), you are welcome to continue.... Either way, you have been duly warned. Haha. :)

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Due to Blogger template corruption issues and code limitations within the older template versions, I've had to completely rebuild this blog from scratch. Of course, I tried all of the usual tricks to fix the blog before I resorted to this step, but as it turns out there are actually several additional benefits to the upgrade.

First of all, I was able to fix all the glitches that I'd just tried to ignore before, mostly because they were honestly a very low priority and didn't affect the blog's essential functionality, and furthermore, I'd been too busy to fix them. :)

However, over time, it got to a point where the glitches had accumulated (into a big snowball - Haha!) until I could no longer ignore them anymore; they were really starting to put a crimp in my style, & I just couldn't take it any longer. :) Plus, I wanted to be able to include the newer features, many of which weren't working properly within the existing blog's code structure. So, finally (after almost two years!), I somehow magically "found" the time to address these issues. :) Funny how that works, eh?! Haha.

So, this also explains why this blog not only looks a bit different now but also functions a whole lot better too. :)

Here's a short inventory of some of these improvements:

--"Reactions" checkboxes: You might notice that the "Reactions" checkboxes now appear at the bottom of each post, (like it does for almost all of my other blogs), as well as the AdRoll square for sponsors on the right-most sidebar. Neither of these features had been showing up in the old blog version, even though the corresponding HMTL/CSS code for both entities had been clearly visible in Blogger's editing tools. [And, in the former case, I could even configure the "Reactions" settings from within the "Post" page element (in the "Layout" view), but then nothing would display on the blog itself!]

--A tighter, neater-looking layout: I edited the new blog's template code for better readability & access, taking into account the situation, sizing, & spacing of various page elements (posts, headers, footers, sidebars, etc.). This is why you will see two sidebar columns instead of just one; the two column sidebar format was actually the original configuration of this blog in the early days, but template corruption had temporarily forced me to switch back to one until I could find the time to fix this issue. :) Additionally, I've switched some of the basic blog settings as well to reflect previous blog feature updates I'd apparently overlooked: For example, the blog comment form is now embedded below each post, instead of appearing as a full page or as a separate pop-up window.

--Easier future upgrades: Now that the blog code has been completely revamped, it looks like it'll be easier to do future upgrades, as well as fix template corruption issues should they happen in future (fingers crossed!). It looks like there are enough significant changes in the current code to make the next transition easier. Or, at least one can hope. :) It'd be great to finally put those upgrade issues behind me, as I'd had some technical difficulties when transferring data from the previous blog to the current one. The format of the code is so fundamentally different from one version to the next that it made the transition tricky. So, if you yourself will be transitioning from the old Blogger version to the new one, please note that the data transfer (for the blog posts) has to be done first, and then, and only then, can the layout be converted into multiple columns, etc. Otherwise, the transfer will fail and Blogger will spit back some "bx" type error code. 

Speaking of which, the reason I'm bothering with writing all of this down and sharing it with you is that I'm hoping to help those of you who are considering a blog upgrade from previous code formats.That way, you won't have to go about things the hard way, like I did. :)

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Having dealt with similar issues to those mentioned above, I immediately knew that the aforementioned technical glitches were due to a template corruption issue. However, unlike previous instances, in which I was able to fix template corruption problems by simply backing up the blog content and the template itself, selecting a new template, & then restoring the content (via importing), I soon realized that this time around I wouldn't be able to get the features to fully work until I created a brand new blog, due to existing code limitations. By creating a new blog, I would be accessing a complete reworking of the code, versus just switching back and forth within the older, existing forms of the template from within the blog's current code structure.

At long last, I bit the bullet and created a new blog, which would automatically contain this new, condensed & updated CSS code, as well as several completely new pieces of CSS code. The new blog template's code is much improved, and contains several new features, thanks to the updated code contained in the latest Blogger templates.

While it seems that the folks at Google did make an earnest attempt to integrate the new features into the old template, there were just some things that got left out of that equation. ;) I've found that several new Blogger features just didn't transition over very smoothly to the older/legacy environment. It's really not all that surprising. The plain fact of the matter is that only so much of the code could be tweaked in the existing structure without doing a complete overhaul and impacting the other existing code. Of course, I'd tried various hacks, but it seemed that an upgrade was the only way I could get the new features to work!

As most tech-savvy people already know, sometimes it's easier to upgrade than to manually try to fix each and every little glitch. :)

And finally, no matter how good the software or the software engineer is, sometimes these things just happen; it's next to impossible to foresee every possible scenario or technical issue. Sometimes a bug passes by unnoticed and needs to be patched as an afterthought. That's just the way it is.

You can often tell who codes and who doesn't just by the way they respond to these types of issues. :) The nice thing about software engineers, sys admins, and other technical folks is that they are solutions-focused. Instead of complaining about their technical problems, they hone right in and try to fix them. :) They also know that sometimes there are no instant solutions or immediate answers.

I always find it funny when users think that a technical person should immediately know the answer without first examining the issue at hand.  We technical folks are no different than anyone else that way: We typically need to see what's going on up close and analyze the situation, unless the problem described to us is one that we've seen a hundred times before.  In this way, we are no different from anyone else.

Try coding or fixing a computer sometime and you'll gain a better appreciation for the process. :)

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