As of right now, I can finally proclaim that the great restoration effort of the galleries on Anna Plays Skyrim is now COMPLETE.
All galleries that were impacted by the downgrade of my gallery plugin have now been reconstructed–which basically meant, every single gallery for Merawen’s playthrough forward. This was a total of 576 galleries reviewed. One of them I actually deleted because I didn’t see it actually used anywhere on the site, which leaves me with a total of 575 galleries.
Since I had to do a sweep through most of those galleries anyway, I also took the time to do some tweaking of metadata, and did the following things:
- Since I discovered that the metadata for all the pics could take HTML, where I spotted it, I changed use of underscores to actual italics tags. I don’t think I got them all but I did get a lot of them.
- One gallery was missing captions entirely so I wrote some up for those pics on the spot. Every single gallery of screenshots should now have title and caption text.
- For one of Gyllerah’s galleries, I saw that two pics were in the wrong gallery, so I moved them over to the correct one.
- And for the most recent gallery for Finds-The-Way, a pic from those play sessions was actually left out, so I added that in.
Also, since all of this work involved pulling each and every screenshot into the site’s media library in WordPress, I now know exactly how many graphics I have total on the site. Answer: 5,761. (Including screenshots of Vortex and other tools on my Steam Deck or VM, as well as pics resulting from manipulation of screenshots to get character pics or page headers.) This number will, of course, start going up again once I resume active play.
So now I can get back to posting actual content on this site–and get caught up on playthrough posts! I do have a backlog of playthrough notes I want to work through before I resume actually playing stuff. Stand by for at least one new post for Kendeshel to go up today!
And once again, shoutout to folks on Mastodon who gave me pointers about how to use WP-CLI to do WordPress administrative tasks at the command line, and also some ideas about how to process my metadata JSON files in scripts. This whole effort has taught me how to use WP-CLI and also a tool called jq, to process JSON in a Linux command line! Which might even be a useful thing to know for JSON purposes.
I spent a good chunk of today trying to figure out if I could automate some of the work of rebuilding my galleries. Answer: yes, though it took some research to learn how to do!
Because here’s the thing y’all: I had several elements in place that would allow for at least some of the restoration work to be done in a scripted fashion rather than manually.
- A known directory structure
- One or more screenshot files in each directory in the structure
- A known file called metadata.json in each directory, which contained the metadata for all of the screenshots in the same directory, and which contained a known structure that I should be able to parse
And here’s the process I’ve been following to rebuild the galleries:
- Work my way forward in chronological order through the broken galleries
- For each one, find the corresponding directory on the server
- Manually import each screenshot in that directory into the WordPress media library
- Review contents of metadata.json, and copy and paste all of the relevant data out of that file onto the files added to the media library
- Using the FileBird plugin, create a new folder in the media library to contain the added files
- Using the FooGallery plugin, create a new gallery using the files in the new FileBird folder
- Add the newly created gallery to the relevant album of galleries, and remove the broken one
- Update the gallery shortcode in the relevant playthrough post from the broken gallery to the new replacement
So, a lot of steps here, right?
The problem I wanted to solve was automating steps 3 and 4, because the most time-consuming part of this process has been adding hundreds and hundreds of files into my media library, and copy and pasting the metadata in for them. (And as a reminder: these files weren’t in the media library already, because the broken galleries had been previously reading all the relevant files and data right off the server file structure. Since I can’t do that now, I have to pull all of this stuff directly into the WordPress media library.)
And solving this problem required doing these major things:
- Installing wp-cli, the command line tool for managing WordPress installations
- Learning how to use the wp media import command, including how to make it work with a multi-site installation, which is what I have; Anna Plays Skyrim is part of a multi-site WordPress network
- Learning how to use jq, which is a command line JSON parser
I threw some threads out on Mastodon today on the WordPress hashtag, asking for recommendations on how to accomplish what I wanted to do. So now I have a two-command solution to do steps 3 and 4 above, like so.
For step 3, I’m running this scary-looking thing which basically chugs through metadata.json in the current working directory, and spits out a full “wp media import” command for every file covered in the JSON file. Then it saves that list into temp.sh.
jq -r '.items | @sh "wp media import \(.file) --caption=\(.caption) --title=\(.caption) --desc=\(.description) --alt=\(.alt) --url=https://skyrim.annathepiper.org/"' metadata.json > temp.sh
Then I need to run those commands:
Lastly, I pop into the media library and confirm that:
- All the files in the working directory now appear in the media library
- All the metadata on the files is correct (and I’m correcting typos where I spot them)
Then I can proceed to making the FileBird directories and the new galleries.
So this is still taking some effort; it’s not just a matter of doing a mass import of the entire directory structure. Which I’m actually okay with, on the grounds that having to go through each directory is letting me doublecheck that the files and their metadata are getting imported okay. And look for any typos I want to fix as well.
Galleries now in active progress of being fixed are the ones for Gyllerah, Tembriel, Harrowhark, and Kendis.
More on this tomorrow. And thanks to everybody on Mastodon who offered advice!
I reached the point of overlapping playthroughs, so I haven’t finished up another complete set of playthrough galleries yet. So today’s work has gone into:
- Skyrim: Faanshi, Shenner, and the Skyrim Together playthrough
- Morrowind: Tembriel
- ESO: Gyllerah
I am close to being done with Faanshi and Shenner but still have a few left of each of those playthroughs to finish off before I swing over into Harrowhark.
Still pending to begin: Ganniwer in Oblivion, and the current playthroughs in Skyrim, Finds-The-Way, Elessir, and Kendeshel.
I currently have a total of 576 galleries, of which 355 are now functional again. Which works out to about 62 percent complete.
Next update tomorrow night. If I continue at this rate I should finish up the gallery repair work some time this weekend, and can then start getting caught up on posting backlogged playthrough posts. I have a bunch waiting for you, y’all!
I currently have 576 total galleries (because BOY HOWDY do I have a lot of screenshots for Skyrim, as well as Morrowind, Oblivion, and ESO). Of these, 227 are now confirmed functional. (Alarrah’s galleries never broke as I had never converted hers over to the gallery type I lost access to, but I’m counting hers in this count.)
Which means my galleries currently stand at about 40 percent restored.
For the time being I’m putting a pause on playing anything else, while I focus on restoring all these galleries and then working on writing backlogged posts. So it’ll be probably at least another week or so before I put up new content. Stand by, y’all!
The next round of updates will start working on three playthroughs at once, Faanshi’s, Shenner’s, and Tembriel’s. Because I’m working my way forward in chronological order through all the galleries as previously created, just because that seems the most orderly way to me to proceed.
And oh yes, one more aspect of interest to this:
When I started converting the impacted galleries back to the gallery type that pulls directly out of the WordPress media library, I had a non-zero level of worry that I’d repro the same problem that broke the galleries back in the middle of Delga’s playthrough. That issue was basically causing older galleries to lose track of their assigned screenshots.
I was worried, once I made it into Delga’s screenshots, that I’d repro that same issue. But as of this post I’ve just finished Ysani’s restoration, and I’m now well past the point (in terms of number of active galleries) at which the previous issue showed up.
So so far it looks like I’ll no longer reproduce the issue, which is good. Though I’m still a little nervous about this because I don’t know what caused the issue in the first place. And as a person whose career is software testing, a problem I don’t have a root cause for always makes me nervous.
Any number of things could have fixed it, though. Because all of these apply since the original problem occurred:
- We had a change in internet provider
- Operating system updates on the server
- Multiple updates to WordPress
- Multiple updates to the FooGallery code
- I just installed a plugin called FileBird to help me manage the media library for this site, because I have a few thousand screenshots at this point and this makes for a very large and unwieldy library to manage without some help
Any one of these, or any combination of these, could have stabilized things enough that I no longer reproduce the earlier issue. What’ll also be interesting is whether a different issue I’ve been seeing on the site lately starts reproducing again–where galleries on older posts would render badly and I’d have to clear the site’s cached CSS data to make them work again.
Let’s hope things stay stable, anyway! Onward!
Work continues on restoring the missing galleries. As of this writing, I have now finished restoring all the ones for Delga’s playthrough.
While doing so, I added a bunch of play date and session number markers to her posts, similar to the practice I picked up in later playthroughs. This is to add better consistency of post format across all my playthroughs.
I also corrected a couple of discrepancies in session numbers, which means that Delga’s playthrough finished off at a total of 84 sessions.
Onward to working on Ysani!
The work to restore the missing screenshots of the Anna Plays Skyrim site is still in progress. But now at least I’ve finished fully restoring the galleries for Merawen’s playthrough.
While doing so, I took the time to fix a numbering discrepancy in her various galleries, and also added session numbers to all of her posts. This was a thing I started doing only after I played her. So retroactively adding session numbers to her various posts helps make them more in line format-wise with the later ones.
I found at least two instances of incorrect captions on her screenshots as well, mis-identifying things in the picture. So I fixed those too.
Onward. Next up: fixing all of Delga’s screenshots. I’ll post another checkpoint when that’s done.
Y’all, I had to downgrade the subscription plan I’m using on FooGallery, the plugin that manages to my screenshot galleries. The reason for this is, I’m still unemployed, and my unemployment benefits run out in January. So Dara and I had to start instituting some cost-cutting measures, and one of them was the subscription I’m paying for FooGallery.
I did not eliminate FooGallery completely from this site, but I downgraded to the cheapest option available for use on 5 sites.
But here’s the problem: I had forgotten that that tier of subscription removes a core piece of functionality I was using. Namely, creating galleries that read files directly off my server file structure and use a JSON file to get the metadata for them. I’d started using this functionality, longtime readers of this blog may recall, because I started running into issues with FooGallery being able to handle the huge media library this site uses by definition.
Now, though, I’m having to punt back to that previous functionality. Which is requiring me to manually recreate every single screenshot gallery from Merawen’s playthrough forward.
This, as you might imagine, is tedious as fuck. But it’s doable. It’ll just take me a while to fix.
Until I’m done with that, I’m putting a temporary hold on putting up new playthrough posts. I have not lost any actual screenshots or their associated data, but I will need to recreate all the galleries, and I want to do it in the same order they were originally created in. Which means not making any new galleries until that’s done.
And that by extension also means not putting up any new playthrough posts for a bit, just because I don’t want to put up posts and then forget which ones are missing their screenshots. It’ll be easier on me organization-wise if I do it this way.
One more thing: this does also raise the risk of my reproducing the earlier behavior of FooGallery breaking if I try to make it handle too large of a media library in WordPress. I’m going to try to fix this problem by seeing if I can save out a bunch of these files in smaller sizes, and maybe reduce the load on the library. Plus, I know the plugin’s gone through a bunch of revision since the last time I saw that issue. So the issue may or may not repro anyway.
I will post an all clear when I’ve fixed all the galleries and regular playthrough posts can resume.
The tag cloud I have on the homepage of this site was starting to get quite enormous, what with it representing three different games’ worth of tags now, as well as tags that aren’t directly related to any of the three Elder Scrolls games I’m currently playing.
So I did a bit of cleanup work on the site. Each game I’m actively playing right now now has its own landing page, like so:
Each of those pages shows its own playthrough and screenshot links, as well as its own tag cloud.
The tag cloud remains in place on the home page, but now it’s for tags that aren’t specifically related to any given game.
I’ve updated the site menus to reflect all of this. If you click on the Skyrim, Morrowind, or ESO menus now, you can go directly to the game landing pages from those menu items. Or you can use the actual menus below them.
I’ve also added a dropdown menu underneath Posts off the main menu as well, to include the “Modding”, “Other Commentary”, and “Site Updates” categories of posts, which I periodically do outside the context of game playthroughs. So if you want to see my modding commentary, such as for Steam Deck or in my Windows VM on my new Mac, or any other non-game-specific posts, that’ll be the place to look.
Any questions, let me know!
I’d already called out in my pages for the Anna Play Skyrim site that I’d been planning to upgrade my primary laptop and get an M1 version of the MacBook Pro. Dara’s also recently upgraded her laptop, but I wanted one with the fancier M1 Pro Max chip, because I knew for sure that I wanted to game on it. And I also wanted 32GB of RAM.
The surprising part that comes in here is this: Apple dropping a bunch of security updates and Catalina, the version of the operating system my prior machine has, not receiving any. Apple never actually announces these things to the public, but that round of security updates strongly suggested to Dara and me that Catalina had fallen off their official support matrix.
Which meant that that machine, Aroree, is probably now unpatchable. Which is not acceptable for any machine actively talking to the Internet.
So I’d been setting aside some funds already intending to save up for the new machine. The security update situation, though, accelerated my and Dara’s timetable for when we were willing to get me a machine, too. I went ahead and ordered one a couple of weeks ago.
And now Apple actually shipped it to me this week, a whole week earlier than expected. 😀
I’ve gotten it set up now, including with a Windows 11 VM. Which means that this new machine–dubbed Lydia–is now in play as a thing I can game on.
I’d hoped to try to run Elder Scrolls Online on this machine, but that’s proving problematic. (More on this in my next post.)
So for now my primary gaming intentions on this machine are going to be Skyrim-focused. Primarily, that’s going to be Skyrim Together Reborn. I have STR functional on the Deck now, but doing it on the laptop will actually be better, because I’ll have a bigger screen and a full keyboard at the same time. And can plug in headphones for voice chat purposes.
That said, it’s also pretty much guaranteed that I will experiment with mods on this machine as well! It may be even better for modded playthroughs than the Deck, I dunno yet. It’ll be fun to find out!
I’ll be updating relevant Anna Plays Skyrim site pages to include this new addition to my gaming-capable electronics! And I’ll have plenty to say about the machine in general over on the main annathepiper.org blog soon.
After spending many months writing up Skyrim playthrough posts for my main site of annathepiper.org, I finally decided I had enough content that it really warranted its own dedicated site. With this post, I’m pleased to announce that site is now live.
Its official title is Anna Plays Skyrim, and its official address is
All of the same content posted to my primary site related to Skyrim has been copied over to this new site. All the prior playthrough posts for Alarrah, Merawen, Delga, and Ysani are here, rearranged quite a bit to clean up the organization.
Notably, with the following changes:
- Since Alarrah’s playthrough was partially documented on Twitter before I started writing regularly WordPress posts about her, I created a bunch of backdated posts that link off to those Twitter threads. Which let me use the same tags on them that I did on all later posts for Alarrah and the playthroughs since. It also let me format Alarrah’s page the same way the others are done.
- All playthrough pages now have character pics, and a bit more information about each character, such as their backstories and where their names came from.
- All screenshot galleries are now moved off to their own standalone pages, for the sake of cutting down on general page length for any given page.
- This site has its own WordPress theme. The one I’m using is called Ashe Pro, which I liked well enough to pay for, since it has a lot of nifty customization options.
All future playthrough posts will be posted to this site rather than to annathepiper.org.
I have also set up this site to crosspost to Dreamwidth, so Dreamwidth friends, you should still see my posts coming over. Please let me know if they look weird.
I hope you all like this setup!