Who’s this guy?

recipeswap mascot

It all started when I was a young lad in the ’70s.  I was one of the original latchkey kids.   I walked 7 miles each way to school and back, barefoot no less, and in the icy tundra of Sonoma County California U.S.A.  It was heroic and my own kids will never understand just how good they have it…

That really has nothing to do with anything (and may be slightly exaggerated) but we can fast forward to late 2020.  We were all in the middle of turmoil, world-wide chaos and pandemic.  After over a decade of keeping the Recipe Swap forum alive and kicking by sheer will and through hacks and code equivalents to band-aids on broken femurs, it somehow managed to keep chugging along.   But it all came tumbling down.  The demise arrived not with a crash, but surreptitiously. I discovered just how bad things had turned, when a member asked for help with her account.  In attempting the fix, I made the gruesome discovery.

I won’t go into the details but the code had been compromised.  This is what had kept me up at night.   This is what had probably taken a few years off of my life from the daily anxiety always lurking in my 24/7 world of web servers.  Knowing that this mad experiment of running an ancient bit of unsupported code on a decades-old-and-many-versions-surpassed, web server – was a fool’s errand, and the inevitable, had happened!  The ancient code had been exploited by a bad guy.  And he was trying to keep it a secret while he enacted his evil plans on my server spreading his villainy to the world with me as his dupe…

At first it looked like a few hours or less of work.  But as I realized what had happened, it was clear that the Recipe Swap had finally gone critical and was beyond saving.

Fast forward over two months.  There were way too many late nights, software to purchase and learn, and a parade of individuals and organizations to vet, hire and get up to speed, all promising to be the Solution!  But the years of “fixes” had taken their toll on the data.  I had more than a few ‘how the heck was this still running when this data is so hosed‘ moments.  One of the guys hired gave initial promises and

no problem” and “this is 100% done, I just need to fix one thing so give me three more days

TO (7 days later) “I need two more months.” 

no way!,‘ I say. 

50 days minimum,” he says.

 ‘No can do bud‘  ‘We’ve already extended this multiple times and you told me it was done…‘ I say.  

It got more fun from there but you get the idea.  Finally I just hacked some importer code, sql queries and started editing thousands of database records manually, as my last ditch effort.  After a bunch more failures including one point discovering a major hosing to the data records that had occurred before all this started (and another major how the heck… was still running moment) that finally got us over the finish line with some reasonable semblance of migrating the old recipe swap data to the new system…

All of this meant migrating to a new system.  The goal is hopefully saving the years of great recipes and the chronicle of the camaraderie of a lot of good people.  Going through this envisioned migration means, a new platform.  This also means a new look and feel and all of the design and graphical elements being redone to work within the framework of the new platform.  You don’t just magically move images over any more than you just cut and paste code.  Reverse engineering the new thing to fit the old, is super complicated and almost never worth it, so better to start from scratch.

So who’s this smiley guy?  Well with the new platform, I figured let’s do it right and setup a new home with an easy to remember address.  That’s where “RecipeSwap.org” comes in.  “FinerKitchens” as some of you may recall, was originally a retail site that hosted the Recipe Swap when a lot of the original members were looking for a new home.  So we put this new, custom recipe swap on the existing website.  The Swap was sort of adopted and later became known as the Finerkitchens Recipe Swap.  Some years later when the company running finerkitchens.com stopped operating, we kept the Recipe Swap going and for a few years we even moved the Swap to a new domain (eat.at)

But moving forward, the Recipe Swap is its own, dedicated sitehttps://recipeswap.org
For all this “newness” we have of course, a new logo.  In the process of creating the new Logo design; after a couple dozen iterations, I came up with this guy emphasizing the “.org” :

280x80recipe swap logo

Then in the midst of the uber-frustrating and seemingly endless failures and delays, I started playing around with that design and adopted this guy from it, as the site mascot…  (yes I’ve definitely lost it)
So you’ll see him pop up a lot and probably in random places e.g. your browser tab…

At least I haven’t named him/her?    Should I / we?

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  1. Also, seriously, we all need to reinforce to all users that our webmaster can & should do WHATEVER is necessary to keep the site safe, regardless of some user’s personal preferences.

  2. I work in IT. Holy crap. Thank you thank you thank you for keeping this alive.
    And you MUST either put back up the Donate a cup of coffee (or something stronger based on what you went through) or Venmo or paypal or something so that we can regularly donate.

  3. This is only the 2nd time I’ve logged onto our new site, and I and was very interested to read your recent exploits over the past 3 months, Paul, as you’ve worked to bring our swap site into the 21st century. MANY, MANY thanks for all your travail and midnight toil!