Secret origins of the Higgaion reboot

Welcome (back), dear reader, to the Higgaion blog. If you haven’t visited before, let me take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Chris Heard, an associate professor of religion at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. I specialize in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), equivalent in content to the Protestant Old Testament (some other Christian groups have larger Old Testaments that include material not found in the Tanakh). I focus my research primarily on the book of Genesis, though I’ve also published on (various portions of) the books of Habakkuk, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Chronicles. Methodologically, my work runs primarily in the veins of narrative criticism and reception history. Like all faculty in Pepperdine’s Religion Division, I identify myself with the Churches of Christ (not to be confused with the United Church of Christ or the Latter-Day Saints, but closely related to the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and the Christian Church [Disciples of Christ]); my own affiliation with Churches of Christ began at birth and will extend, as far as I can foresee, until my death. My college sweetheart and I married each other almost 22 years ago as of this writing, and our two sons are now 14 and eight years old. You wouldn’t go far wrong if you characterized me as a nerd; I watched the first season of Star Trek while I was in utero, and have greatly enjoyed sci-fi, fantasy, comics, and all sorts of games ever since.

Many of you didn’t need that introduction, but you do need the rest of the story to learn why I’ve completely rebooted Higgaion. I didn’t especially want to reboot Higgaion, but I didn’t really have much choice. You see, the service that previously hosted Higgaion fell victim to mischief, and all of my blogs began to suffer from malicious code injection, resulting in a brief stint for some of them on Googles safe browsing blacklist. After much effort on my part to stamp out the problem by myself, and after an echoing silence from my web host’s tech support department (at the end of which they marked the matter resolved, despite recurrent malware injections), I found it necessary to simply start over from scratch. As a result, Higgaion new resides in a new webspace on a new host, with stronger security measures.

But what about your favorite posts of old? Where have they all gone? Well, right now they reside in an XML file on my hard drive, but many of them are full of gobbledygook resulting from misadventures in text encoding. WordPress does have an export/import feature, which I had planned to use to restore all of Higgaion’s previous content. However, the export process for some reason (I suspect a problem with the database itself, not with WordPresss export/import features) converted my Unicode text to a different text encoding, resulting in weird strings like יש where one should see ישׁ and אין ל where one should see אין, for example. Diacriticals, certain punctuation marks, and other sojourners from the Unicode Extended Latin range suffered a similar fate. Fixing all of that would prove ridiculously tedious, and I havent yet found an automated solution (especially one that handles the Hebrew text properly). Therefore, a complete reboot commends itself as the path of least resistance. Should you happen to have a favorite post that you’d like to see come back, please let me know, either in the comments to this post or via e-mail, and Ill consider cleaning it up and reposting it. I offer no promises on this score, but I do intend to save the garbled text and mine it for gems if it seems worthwhile to do so.

And now you know, my friends, what has transpired with Higgaion of late. Leaving the former posts behind, I press forward to whatever lies ahead for you, me, and robust online discussion of biblical studies.

שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם

17 thoughts on “Secret origins of the Higgaion reboot

    1. Chris Heard Post author

      Lewis, I think that should be fairly easy. Maybe it will even motivate me to finish my multipart discussion of the book!

  1. Tim Bulkeley

    Welcome back. What a pain! This low level hacking is a real nuisance. I’ve had code added to posts, and random downloading of one file (that last always from IPs in China) that has led me to block several IP ranges.

    In general WordPress seems fussy in its handling of fonts encodings (I still have not managed to get Unicode working after restoring 5 Mnute Bible).

  2. Doug Chaplin

    Hi Chris, sorry to hear about the blog troubles.

    I remember ages ago when I had problems with Unicode Greek being converted to garbled strings after I rebooted into a later version of WordPress. I have no idea whether a similar process will help you, or whether you need something completely different. All I’m saying is I found an automated solution and there may still be some out there worth looking for.

  3. Brooke

    Really, really sorry to hear about your troubles! The reboot looks great. I love the masthead(s), and the overall impression is very clean. Sometime (here or by other channels), I’d love to hear more about your new set-up.

    I pretty regularly send students and friends to look at your Exodus Decoded debunking series. If that could find a home here, I’d be sure to keep sending people over to read it.

    Welcome back home!

    1. Chris Heard Post author

      Brooke, I know that the Exodus Decoded series remains popular, and it’s pretty high on my list of things to restore. As for the new setup, it’s really just a fresh installation of WordPress, using the default twentyeleven theme, with my own modifications tacked on as a child theme. Pretty straightforward stuff, really.

  4. Kelly Brown

    Dear Professor Heard,

    I am very sorry to see that your old blog posts are not available. I found some of your commentary very helpful in my teaching through the book of Genesis. I teach at Lighthouse C.C. in Oceanside, CA. I split the book into three parts: 1 – 11, 12 – 28, and 29 – 50. For a “break” we studied Daniel between the first and second parts of Genesis and Luke between the second and third. Having begun Genesis 1:1 in June of 2007, I pray the Lord will keep me on this side of the Jordan at least until Genesis 50:26!

    I was hoping to glean some insight from you on Genesis 30:34 – ff by searching your blog. Oh, well.

    I encourage you to restore your posts, if at all possible.

    yours, in Christ


  5. Quine

    Hi Chris,

    I had not followed the old blog very much in recent years so I don’t know what I missed. However, I am glad to see that you are back on-line and hope that nothing ends up being lost from ultimate recovery. I hope no further such problems happen to you, again. Best of luck, and I look forward to reading new posts.



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