Introducing Glaring Notebook: Pressed For Words

7 years, 8 months and 18 days after, I finally change my blog skin again, this time not at all even to a new blog skin but to a new blog system!

I coded my previous blog engine from scratch, and used the ideas as a base to build the blogs – having cool widget-insertion features like <BlogFriends /> and <BlogCalendar /> for your skins, and Xanga-style following, and Livejournal-inspired history navigation. Or at least that’s how I remember it. Many famous Malaysian bloggers started on URLs like – wouldn’t you like to know who? is now defunct, but the true stories are beyond my earshot.

Anyway, what brought about this change, to WordPress? Well, my blog was no longer accessible, with a HTTP 500 (and previously I’d find the hosting company to be not very helpful – but then I understand well why a HTTP 500’s detailed error isn’t shown publicly.) So I downloaded the MDB (Microsoft Access file) and used MDB Viewer Plus to export the tables to CSV files.

My blog entries and titles had commas, so you could tell there would be a problem splitting the text. Fortunately, as I am a Grammar Nazi, I tend to type spaces after commas, so I could replace the “, ” with intermediate text e.g. “@@@@@” and then split the CSV file, then replacing it back.

The decision for WordPress was simple – the most plugins and the most ubiquitous blog system. I needed to get the fuss out and had no time for the kind of Content Management Systems where you’d have to build parts yourself. I had no time to code myself. Heck, my blog was down for a week and nobody cared to ask.

So then there were a few ways to get the CSV in – an outdated plugin, or convert the CSV to RSS, and then import. However, I found the most native would be WordPress’ own Import and Export functions. It would export a WXR (WordPress eXtended RSS) file with an XML extension, including blog entries, comments, authors, categories and the like.

I then made a simple Android app (I tend to write utilities in my mostly-used language, whichever is convenient) to read the blog entry and blog comment CSVs and write them out as a WXR file. I should’ve validated the XML earlier and saved many hours trying to figure out what was wrong when it would not import my custom WXR file!

And so, you’ll see my blog posts and comments mostly carried over, intact, with redirects for /default.asp?id=### going to /?p=###. The older blog entries reference /oldlinks.asp but heck with that, and there are some mislinks, but I’ll see what I can sort out when I have the time. I pulled an all-nighter and only finished importing at 2pm so I won’t be working on this for a while.

I also ported the old subpages (Guestbook, Jokes, Modified Lyrics, Plugin Player Models, Quotes) as posts with those categories. Thus my main navigation has been downsized to categories. I can’t seem to hack the dates though, so Plugin Player Models and Quotes are within the first page of entries for now.

Maybe someday I’ll put something in an About Me on a widget on the right. A *gasp* Facebook widget or Twitter feed or Instagram feed?

I also hacked the Twenty Twelve theme that came default with WordPress. Blog entry fonts are 125% scaled and there is a familiar tint in the background. Oh, and the theme promises mobile layouts, and you get RSS as WordPress gives you. ShaolinTiger, this is for you, more than 6 years after the Nikon D3 debuted (I think I said I’d implement RSS when Nikon comes out with a full-frame digital SLR.)

I still do this, though, because it is my preferred way of archiving and being all historian, especially with the music scene. If you want your pictures immediately, we could always come to a agreeable stipend – otherwise for those on a budget of zero, you can wait.

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