Instructions that make me laugh

Okay, before I go about doing funky changes to my WordPress to try to get rid of those evil comment spammers, I figured that it’d be a good idea to finally upgrade from WordPress 1.2 to WordPress 1.2.1. After all, if I’m going to change file names or something, might as well be sure that the latest are installed.

Except that there are a few funny things in the instructions for doing so. Instructions that make me laugh. Instructions that (truth be told) make me gnash. Instructions that bring out my little character defect as noted by the patient and unflappable Doc M when I recently got all bent outta shape because it took me at least three tries to power down a computer that I don’t use all that often (Two nearly identical unmarked buttons, each of which could possibly be power buttons, the results of pressing each resulted in a reboot; this really should not be happening. Turns out I wasn’t pressing the power button–that’s the button on the upper right— forcefully enough, so it went into reboot mode, not power off mode; canya believe it?!?) and began to experience a slight tizzy fit. “For someone who works with technology so much, you don’t have much patience when things go wrong.” True. And astute. One would think that pressing a power button would do the trick, though, and I’m unaccountably vexed by it.

And am vexed by the seemingly simple “no trouble at all” instructions for upgrading WordPress from 1.2 to 1.2.1 (a very minor upgrade indeed). To wit:

On the DevBog (Oct 6, 2004 entry) comes this breezy self-assured snippet of instructions:

  1. Download 1.2.1
  2. Unzip
  3. Upload the new files to your site, taking care not to overwrite anything you may have modified like index.php [emphasis mine]

Um, okay, what did I modify before? Uh, um, do I remember if I modified anything? How can I find that out? Hmmm… well, maybe I can figure it out after downloading the zipped files. I download. Then I look at the readme.html that accompanies the new install of WordPress 1.2.1. Under the “Upgrading to 1.2” section is this helpful instruction:

Upload the new files, and be careful not to overwrite anything important

We leave it as an exercise to the blogger to determine exactly what might, in fact, be important.

Notice how the instructions for the initial install of WordPress —for those who are starting from scratch—begins with this hopeful promise of slam-dunk-ease:

Installation: Famous 5-minute install

First, you get the easy 5-minute install. But after that, you’d better keep detailed records of each and every change you make to any of your WordPress php files, because the time’ll come that an upgrade happens, and those writers of breezy upgrade instructions will assume you know which is old, which is new, which are important and which are unimportant files in your install. Otherwise, you’ll be spending anywhere from 50 minutes to 5 hours figuring out what the hell you are going to do.

Oh, and how’d you figure out that you’d better keep those detailed records of each change? No one told you that. That’s the life experience you get from parsing those lovely instructions. (in some circles, they call it Wisdom.) That’s what you spend the 50-minutes/5 hours doing, a retrospective notetaking as you carefully go through each of the 154 items that come with a WordPress install, and you painstakingly note the contents and disposition of each.

I must laugh. Else I’d cry.

3 responses to “Instructions that make me laugh”

  1. 2020 Hindsight » 757 miles later: Bloggercon report

    […] well. Meeting (Photo)Matt of WordPress fame. Giving him the elevator pitch version of my upgrade rant and finding him kind and wonderfully receptive. Excellent! […]

  2. samzuni

    I too was initially thrilled by the wonderful “5-minute install” since I know next to nothing about PHP, and about the same with MySQL. So, two days later, I finally got the thing working. 🙂 But it only took 5 minutes. Let’s see 5 x 48 = only 240 5-minute sessions. I ended up having to install several additional modules and upgrades to PHP, including one all-important file called “php-mysql” which didn’t come with my distribution… 😐
    However, after figuring out the rudiments of CSS and how they tied into the index.php file, I am having a ball !!! And still learning interesting PHP and MySQL and CSS tricks I didn’t know before tackling this “5-minute” project.
    All this was after attempting GeekLog with resounding failure. Now I’m glad GL didn’t work and WP did. Have Fun. 🙂

  3. Susan Kitchens

    Thanks for your story. 240 5-min sessions. wow! (it adds up, groan) Interesting about GeekLog. I’ve a friend who created a GeekLog site and is doing well with it. I’d been working on product docs for a proprietary-based system that’s similar in ways to GeekLog (based on 4D database and 4D webserver technology). So I sorta knew what was part of GeekLog’s abilities.