Radio Frustration!

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Blogging
May 20th, 2003 • 4:47 am

It seems that, every week, Radio finds some new way to cause me grief. Today, I wanted to find out why my local backup had not been updated since Saturday. (Today’s Monday.) There is absolutely no control in Radio’s prefs over when the backups take place and no way to force a backup manually now.

I did a search on the Radio web site and found this page that mentions a new backup and restore feature for Radio UserLand. It instructs me to “update Radio.root” first and provides a link to the local page to do so.

I clicked on the link… and nothing happened. After 60 seconds, I got an error message in Safari telling me that the server could not be found! This is my local server at that we are talking about here!

I remembered reading about another way to UPDATE Radio.root, so I went to the Radio application itself and found the “Update Radio.root…” command in the “File” menu. I selected that, I saw a message in the Radio status window about Radio trying to connect to the UserLand server to download stuff, and I waited. And waited. And waited. I was getting the good old “busy” wheel turning, and nothing happening. MenuMeters indicated that there was next to no traffic on my connection. Obviously nothing was happening. I clicked on the status window, and… Radio simply stopped the “busy” wheel and reverted to the default status line that I get when it’s idle! Grrr…

Then all of a sudden a minute later I see the status window message changing again, to something about downloading pieces of stuff. Unfortunately, the counter of downloaded pieces stayed stuck on “0”. And I waited. And waited. Still nothing happening. After a while, I got a dialog box telling me gleefully that “0 pieces have been downloaded” (or something to that effect). Great. Does this mean my Radio.root is up-to-date? How can it be if I haven’t updated it since that new backup and restore tool was released?

Of course, I checked the “Events” page to see if Radio had logged anything. Nada. It’s as if I had not even attempted to UPDATE Radio.root.

This is intensely frustrating. We are talking about User Interface 101 here. The least that the software could do is let you know if an UPDATE has succeeded or not. And why the local backup thing is not happening. Bloody hell. We are in 2003. And that’s tomorrow’s technology? Welcome to the early 80s! No thanks.

I simply do not have much more patience for such user-hostile software. The thing is, I dread the thought of HAVING to move to another piece of software now. I already have nearly 300 blog entries, and I don’t fancy HAVING to move all this to another system with, inevitably, different URL naming conventions, a different look, etc.


PS: It turns out that somehow my Radio.root must have been updated earlier on, because I do have the new backup and restore feature as described on the above-mentioned page. So now I’ve clicked on “Back up now” and Radio has started doing its full backup thing, which will probably take half an hour… The thing is, I don’t want a full backup, I just want the existing backup to be up-to-date and to stop its nasty habit of forgetting to UPDATE itself for 2 or 3 days in a row, for no apparent reason. I need an up-to-date local backup because my modem connection is so slow that checking out my own weblog on the Web takes too long. Grrr…

The more I think about it, the more it looks like I have two options: setting up my own web server somewhere here instead of renting web space half a world away, or trying to control a full-blown web server with Perl scripts and all kinds of stuff remotely through my pokey modem connection. The first option is hardly realistic when we don’t even have high-speed Internet access, and the second option is, well, not an encouraging prospect. I realize that web software is usually fairly lightweight and modular, which should make it easier to manage remotely, but it’s still a daunting prospect to have to manage a dynamic web server environment — as opposed to the static web pages that I have currently — from so far away using such a slow connection. Not to mention the fact that I’d probably have to learn a thing or two about Perl, etc.

No easy solution in sight, then. For now, I’m stuck with Radio.

PPS: Double bloody hell. The whole “Back up now” process is now complete and… my local HTML backup is still not up-to-date! What the hell did this “Back up now” process actually back up? Obviously, there must be backup and backup in Radio, and I have no idea which one it is talking about. So let’s see…

I’m looking at Radio’s “Prefs” page, and I see four items: “Archiving in XML”, “Archives”, “Nightly Backups”, and “Keep local backup?”. “Archiving in XML” is the only one that I can understand from its title. It keeps an archive of the XML version of my blog (which is normally an ever-changing thing with only the last 10 posts or so). Cool. Now what are the other three?

Archives” says “By default, Radio generates weblog archive pages on a daily basis. Radio can also generate weekly and monthly archive pages, which display all posts for a given week or month on a single page. [] CHECK this box to enable monthly archives. [] Check this box to enable weekly archives.” Mmm. Archives of what weblog pages? XML? HTML? .txt? No idea. Next.

Nightly Backups” says “Radio can keep a backup of your weblog posts, stories, templates and preference settings. Every night, Radio will back up new or changed data, and optionally upstream it to the public server. You can use the backup files to restore your DATA using a fresh installation of Radio. [] CHECK this box to have Radio back up new or changed DATA every night. [] Check this box if you want to upstream your backup files to the public server.” Ugh. OK. The path used here is the one that leads to my Radio Backup folder, which I created on a separate volume when I first installed Radio. The stuff in there is a mix of .xml and .txt files. No HTML in sight. This one must the one that I’ve just updated manually again. The “Date Modified” flag is today, which appears to confirm this. The latest time is one hour ago, though, so I’m not so sure… I wasn’t even sitting at my desk an hour ago. Since I have no idea when “Nightly” actually is, it could have been an hour ago, it could be in 5 hours, when my computer is fast asleep (in deep sleep), for all I know. No way to tell. Next.

Keep local backup?” (why the question mark?) says “As Radio UserLand upstreams your files you can retain a local copy of all files — for backup, archiving on CD, or distributing on disk. These are the rendered versions of the files as readers of your public website would see them. By default this feature is turned off. [] Check this box if you want Radio UserLand to retain a copy of all files it renders on your local system.” That one is the one whose path leads to my local HTML backup. But, again, there’s no indication of when this backup gets updated, and why it hasn’t been updated in the past 72 hours.

The bottom-line is that I haven’t learnt anything nor made any progress. I still don’t know what’s going on (or, to be precise, what is not going on). And I’m starting to get mightily frustrated.


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