Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


I’m a dumbass, or why you should upgrade promptly

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On February 6, 2009
At 3:45 pm
Comments : 6

If you checked my blog some time after 9pm on Wednesday evening and before 2pm yesterday, you’d have been met with a bizarre error message with lots of php code on a blank white screen. I don’t think anyone I actually know did that because I feel sure one of you would have sent me an e-mail telling me so. But I don’t blame you. In fact, the new service for which I signed up last week didn’t and that’s their only job, unlike the rest of you. I may have to end my “friendship” with them.

Unless I’m posting or reading comments, I rarely actually go to my own blog. I only went because some time around 10am yesterday morning I realized that I hadn’t had a visitor in over 12 hours. No one. No one asking if Federer is Jewish or Googling for Simpsons jpegs or just wanting to know if I finally got to their Jew & A question. That was strange. So I went and got the weird ass message. That wasn’t good. But, maybe you noticed that last week I had some strange error messages too. Those appeared above my header and were the fault of my web host. They were updating their systems but eventually things got worked out. Either way, at least you could see the actual blog. But the fixes that worked last week didn’t this time so I called them (they’re called Hostgator, should you be interested). They had me actually look at the file in the error message. Oh dear.

It was the file that contains the instructions to make my header appear. It’s kind of like, “and when someone lands on your page, go fetch the file with all the flowers and the logo and the title, please!” But instead it had a lot of gibberish and tons and tons of spam keywords. It turns out the gibberish was code that instructed Google to forward anyone asking if Federer was Jewish who clicked on my link to go to spammy websites selling you stuff I won’t name here for fear of causing that exact same problem. And all the while my blog looked like a giant error message.

I’d been hacked and the hackers changed the files in a way that I couldn’t change them back. It’s like they’re smart or something! And speaking of smart, I’m not. Because how did this happen? I didn’t upgrade my WordPress, which is the back end program that runs the website. And the older versions had vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to get in and hijack my site. See, as you know, I love my theme (that’s the site design) and it’s custom which means there’s no way to tell if it will work with whatever new version WordPress will dream up. And so I watched version after version come and go and stayed mired in 2007. Bad move, Becca!

I do back up my blog regularly but things have been kind of crazy lately and I haven’t done so since January 18th. Aha! you say. That’s why my blog went back to 1/18. Luckily, I was able to gather together all the posts and comments after that and cut and paste them onto my computer for later re-addition. Then I deleted the whole thing and used my back-up. All the bad stuff went poof and the hackers went off to other blogs, presumably to laugh maniacally and drink to evil. Then I stayed up till the wee hours backing everything up file by file and upgrading to the newest WordPress. If you think the fact that I skipped five upgrades meant I could just jump over them, you are sadly mistaken. According to the wise people at WordPress, I needed to do each and every upgrade and make sure my blog didn’t explode before getting to the Grand New Version. Which is safe. Phew. And not only did my blog not explode, the new version is pretty kickin’. You can’t see it because all you see is the blog, but the behind-the-scenes controls are awesome. What kind of dumbass would stick with the tired old version?


Anyway, you can be sure I’ll be changing this little section in the About page of my blog:

Er, indeed. Actually, that was back when I wrote it. Now they’re on 2.7. Yes, kids, I did five upgrades last night. I did skip one. I’m daring like that. And please don’t think it’s like when iTunes upgrades and you push a button, see a progress bar, and wallah, you’re done. No, here you have instructions like, “erase all the files that begin with wp. Except that one. Oh and that one. And this one if you’ve changed it. But not if you’re upgrading from version 1.5. You may need to do ____. Or not.” They’re changing that with this version but it didn’t help me last night.

But who cares, JBall is back and better than before. For me anyway. Although the fact that it’s not directing you to spam is a plus for you, I’m sure. And you would never need any kind of enhancement, anyway. I know. But if you find anything wrong or broken on the site, please do let me know.

The last step of the upgrade, I kid you not, is “Do something nice for yourself. Consider rewarding yourself with a blog post about the upgrade, reading that book or article you’ve been putting off, or simply sitting back for a few moments and let the world pass you by.”

I don’t really think of this post as a reward. It’s more a thwack to my own forehead as well as a PSA to the world (thus the title). And after being up till 3 with this thing, I think sitting back for a few minutes would result in me falling asleep at my desk. But last night for some inexplicable reason I had a song stuck in my head and with all the downloading and uploading of files, I didn’t have enough bandwidth to play it on YouTube. So when it was done, I finally listened to it.


And now you can have it stuck in your head.
Rush – Closer to the Heart


6 Comments for this post

  1. Alfagee says:

    Welcome back, little Jewball.

  2. sarpon says:

    Remember when you didn’t even *have* a blog?

    Me neither.

  3. kb says:

    I just thought you had unfriended me from your blog. 🙂

  4. JF says:

    Once I decided to upgrade the easy way and downloaded a plug in called “automatic worpress upgrade” or something. I installed it and pressed update blog, and the next thing was everything was gone. database error. no more blog… a nightmare.
    Fortunately my host has a thing called “fantastico”, which deserves its name : it upgrades all kinds of scripts automatically. And belive me or not, it worked, I upgraded directly from my host interface and everything went back, latest wp version.

    Still I’m always a little late. I still run 2.6.

    I am glad you are back.

  5. Becca says:

    Thanks, Alfa!

    Sarp, ha! Really, I’ve always had a blog, it’s just that it used to be in my head.

    kb, as if!

    JF, my host has Fantastico too but I’d heard that you could have trouble if you upgraded from it when you hadn’t used it to install in the first place. I’m looking forward to the “1 button upgrade” that 2.7 promises.

    I found some more infected files today. I think it’s finally clean now and I also installed some security plugins.

    And thank you, it’s good to be back.

  6. KP says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about, but welcome back anyway!

Comments are closed.