This isn’t quite the blog post I intended to write today.
You see, today is the 20th anniversary of me starting my original blog over at roberthampton.me.uk. My first post hit the internet at 10.37am on 22nd March 2003. It seems like a long time ago – not least because that day was a Saturday, and the idea that I would actually be out of bed at that time on a weekend seems fanciful now.
The following decade or so was fruitful, but then there was a gap between 30th December 2015 and 31st August 2017 when I deliberately stopped the blog. Even when I started up again at the new hampo.uk address, there were the two rather barren years of 2020 and 2021, when I hadn’t officially stopped the blog but still didn’t write much at all.
I came back in January 2022 promising to write more, and I hope I mostly lived up to that. It helps that, with lockdown restrictions lifted, and now an actual boyfriend to enjoy social events with, I have been getting out a lot more.
So why isn’t this the blog post I intended to write? Well, towards the end of last year, after a few months where I felt like I was back in the blogging groove, I came up with a grandiose plan to relaunch the blog.
I came up with a new bespoke design, nice and colourful with some fonts from Google Fonts, and translated it into a WordPress theme.
The actual ‘relaunch’ all hinged around the name Hampo, which was my nickname at school. It wasn’t the only name I was called at school, but it was the only one that carried even a small measure of affection. It was derived from the highly creative process of taking the first syllable of my surname and adding ‘o’. I actually hated it, but it stuck.
Fast forward to 2009 and, when I signed up to Twitter, I decided to repurpose my old soubriquet as my account name. Similarly for accounts I set up later at Instagram, Tumblr and Mastodon. I liked it at the time – it felt like I was reclaiming the name for myself.
In the space year 2023, I have grown weary of Hampo again. I’m forty years old now, and using a nickname from a school I left twenty-three years ago seems increasingly inappropriate. Having used it for so long, I do feel stuck with it on social media — yes, I know you can change your handle, but that comes with… complications. On my (slightly) more serious blog, the time felt right to phase it out.
I had that nice roberthampton.me.uk domain sitting there dormant. The logical thing to do seemed to be to merge hampo.uk and roberthampton.me.uk. Instead of two websites with two WordPress installations to maintain, I would have just one, and shut the other down after migrating the content.
22nd March 2023, as the anniversary of my blog, seemed like a perfect date to do this relaunch. I would do all the hard work in the preceding days, then “flick the switch” on the day itself, with a triumphant blog post celebrating my new old home of 20 years. If you did happen to visit roberthampton.me.uk over the past week or so, you may have noticed it was in maintenance mode quite a bit. That’s because, behind the scenes, I was tinkering away.
My fellow computer types will have read that paragraph and recoiled in horror at the idea that I was doing all this on the live server; to which I can only reply… yes, I know.
The first stage was to copy all the data from one blog onto the other. I consulted the online WordPress documentation, which assured me it would be a simple task. So, I exported hampo.uk‘s content to a file, then logged in to roberthampton.me.uk to upload it. It took a few minutes to process and handle the data.
And… it broke.
The blog posts themselves came over fine, but the images failed to import. At first sight this didn’t seem like much of a problem, because I could upload them manually. However, I then discovered that, on posts where I had used WordPress’s image gallery function, the image galleries were either missing, or contained incorrect images. Blog posts about my holiday in Gran Canaria suddenly had Sun and Cloud comic panels interspersed with it.
(As an aside, during this process I also discovered that a blog post I wrote in May 2019 had somehow lost all its images, and even my local backup of my site did not have them. Luckily most of them were saved in the Internet Archive and I was able to restore them. The perils of keeping a website maintained over the long term!)
I started manually adjusting the posts to recreate the broken galleries, but the prospect of doing this for dozens of posts, some of which contained six or seven image galleries, was not appealing.
Then I discovered that my new theme, which I had been so proud of, didn’t correctly display the image galleries anyway. I tried messing around with the CSS but nothing seemed to work. It was getting late, and it soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to get this sorted out in time. I decided to cut my losses, and revert back to the way things were.
Fortunately, I had taken a backup of both sites, so I was able to roll everything back to the way it was. Still, don’t do things like this on the live server, kids.
So, to cut a long story short: the websites are not merged. roberthampton.me.uk and hampo.uk still have their old themes. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s just a date. It’s no big deal.
I like to think this shows a bit of growth on my part. “Hampo” would probably have been really annoyed that he missed the target launch date, and would have beaten himself up about it. However, “Robert Hampton” is completely relaxed about it, has chalked it up to experience, and has just made himself a nice cup of tea.