Negative - Welcome Arch in 'Back to Nhill' Celebrations, Nhill, Victoria, Mar 1929

I’ve been away from this blog for some time – in fact so much time that I lost the domain name and all my content. I’ve been writing for other people the last few years and whilst it has been enjoyable to don the character of whichever employer I had at the time, I feel like it’s now time for me to get back to writing for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll continue to lend my mind to people who want to pay me for it, but I will be using this place to write (and play) with the stuff that I’m interested in.

Also, please be kind to my UX! As I said, I lost the domain and being an organised and regular backer-up of content, I am not. So I used the Way Back Machine to find some of my old stuff that was written on the old version of the website.

What is the Way Back Machine?

The Wayback Machine is an online digital archive that preserves versions of websites as they existed in the past. It was launched in 1996 by the Internet Archive, and since then, it has been an invaluable resource for researchers, historians, and casual internet users alike. The Wayback Machine allows users to view a website as it looked at a given point in time, allowing them to see how a website evolved over the years.#

For example, if you wanted to see what looked like in 2001, you could search for it on the Wayback Machine and it would show you a version of the website as it was then (above). Similarly, if you wanted to see what your favorite website looked like in the mid-2000s, you could do the same. The Wayback Machine also allows users to view deleted websites, and thereby uncover forgotten history. It is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to explore the past of the internet, and it is the most comprehensive digital archive of websites available. Include a URL to an image of what looked like in 2001

So with that, I thought it might be useful to others to walk you through how I restored my old blog posts using the Way Back Machine, Ruby on Rails and WordPress.

Step 1: Install Ruby

If you haven’t got Ruby you will need to install it. The easiest way to check if you have Ruby installed is to go to the Command Prompt in Windows – Start menu – search “CMD” and Command Prompt should appear.

TB. For installing Ruby on Apple; for installing Ruby on Chromebook.

When you have the command prompt open type “ruby -v” meaning Ruby is the program and “-v” is you asking the version of Ruby.

This is what you likely see. If so, you are in the right place. Because now we are going to install it.

Go to RubyInstaller

And select the most recent version. For me, that was Ruby+Devkit 3.2.1-1 (x64). Download the file and click install.

You will be greeted with the Ruby Installer screen:

If you are anything like me you wont understand all the options so I followed the path of least resistance and hit enter to install it all.

You will then be hit with a whole bunch of automatic text staying stuff is being installed. Eventually you’ll get to something like this:

Close your Command Prompt window and re-open it. Then type “ruby -v” again and you should see this:

And just to be super-duper anal type “gem” and you should see this:

(Gem is the package used by Ruby for installing plug-ins).

Step 2: Install a plug-in

Plug-ins are great. You have to do a bit of research to find them but invariably someone with good coding skills has already solved the problem for you and can use their solution (usually) for free. So this means of course, you should give a big shout out to the person who’s created the plug-in we are going to use and Tobias on SuperUser who told me about it.

The plug-in is called Way Back Machine Downloader by Hartator.

In the Command Prompt type “gem install wayback_machine_downloader” and the package will be installed.

Step 3: Using the Wayback Downloader plug-in

Once the package has been installed it couldn’t use easier to use it. Simply type in the following the command (with being replaced by the URL of the site you are looking to download) “wayback_machine_downloader”.

The package will take a second looking for the archive of that URL and then when it finds it, it will start downloading all the URLs that Wayback Machine has stored.

Warning: Check for viruses

So, I was downloading blog posts from an old WordPress installation from years ago!! There were SQL injections and Trojan Horse attempts.

I just wanted to download the pages for the copy (read through some of the old stuff and you will see it tragically devoid of images). I did get a telling off from my Virus Scanner (Avast) so as long as you don’t open any of the virus pages (or do it through Notepad, etc) to see the source code then you should be fine.

Step 4: Manual stuff

I know a pain, right? As the downloader is bringing all your files from Wayback Machine you will start to see them appearing on your computer.

The downloader respects the file structure of now Wayback Machine found the content in the first place. In my case this was date-based: /year/month blog post.

In Windows the folder structure looks like this:

Now I have to go through the folder structure and pull out all of the relevant stuff before I try to put it back into WordPress.

As I said this is a manual process, I did search around for a plug-in to take the HTML and folder structure and import it into WordPress but it either a) looked like it wasn’t going to work or b) looked like it would kill my install of WordPress.

The process is simple:

  1. Put some music on
  2. Pick a page
  3. Add a new post on WordPress
  4. Copy the title and the body copy
  5. Preview for clarity
  6. Change the date posted to the original date
  7. And publish.

There I go, I have my old blog posts back… and I new-found respect for people who back-up.

Anyway, Welcome back. I will be posted more of the stuff I like and I’ve interested in.

Need anything from me, you can contact me here.

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