August 2015 work summary

  • Upgraded a new forum installed via a web host control panel which had version 3.0.12 to 3.1.5. Installed Share On extension. Cropped and reduced user’s logo by 25% and made it the new logo for the forum.
  • Fixed a problem a user was having uploading pictures to his forum. Upon investigation the problem turned out to be with PHP, not phpBB. PHP requires a folder with temporary space, and it was filled on his IIS web server. Deleting the 60,000+ files solved the problem.
  • Provided continued ad-hoc support for a client. Installed a favicon.ico file and linked it to their site. Provided guidance on how not to password protect a new forum. Answered a question about AirDrop and phpBB. Referred client to various developers skilled at creating extensions, as client wanted an extension built more quickly than I could accommodate him. Fixed an issue so that first name would appear in the list of members.
  • A client’s phpBB forum stopped working when GoDaddy changed the server name of his database server without informing him. Client made a few unsuccessful attempts to upgrade his phpBB 2 forum in hoping it would fix the problem. It made the problem worse and numerous databases were created with incomplete data. Worked with GoDaddy to recover the tables from his old database server, but their copy contained data from 2012. Client found a copy he made a few days earlier that looked intact. Successfully loaded it into the new database. Determined it was running phpBB 3.0.7-PL1. Installed that version of phpBB and got the forum back up. His export though marked numerous columns typically created as VARCHAR as BLOB and these BLOB columns did not have default values. This made it impossible to create new posts, post a new topic or update the user control panel. I fixed these individually by altering these columns in the database to match the schema in a standard MySQL instance of phpBB 3.0 which included default values on insert. Customer is now in stable mode and will let the forum run for a week or two to see if there are additional instances before upgrading to phpBB 3.1.
  • Client upgraded his forum to 3.0.14 and in doing so overwrote file changes for my Digests mod. I reapplied the file changes and upgraded his version of digests from 2.2.23 to 2.2.26.
  • Completed a long upgrade from phpBB 2.0.15 to phpBB 3.1.5 for a huge forum with close to a million posts. Tried various conversions by moving it to my local machine but there were always issues during the conversion program that even with my dedicated machine caused the conversion program to crash. Did this on OS/X using XAMPP, a virtualized instance of Windows also running XAMPP and on the client’s shared server hosted by Hostgator. I used all my tricks that had worked in the past and nothing worked at converting the posts. I investigated the issue on phpbb.com but there was no similar case. I wrote debug code in the conversion program. It always hung in a block of 20 posts after converting about 300,000 posts. I examined the data in these posts to see if there was a SQL injection issue in the post text but found no issues. Examining the Apache error log and my Mac console, the error appeared to occur because an Apache mod ran out of memory, but it was unclear what mod or data triggered the memory condition. I advised the client a highly qualified Linux system administrator might be able to figure out and solve the cause of the crash, but since it happened in various operating systems it would be expensive to solve. Client opted to make the old phpBB 2 database read only, and stand up a phpBB 3.1 instance instead. I was able to get the conversion program to complete if I emptied the posts and topics table. The user was glad to be able to carry over all the users, forum names, avatars, etc on the new instance. This is the first time I was unable to migrate all the posts from a phpBB 2 instance to a phpBB 3 instance.
  • Upgraded forum from 3.1.4 to 3.1.5. Added new style SE Square left, shrunk and placed logo, added an ad on the top that is linked to website.
  • Upgraded forum from 3.0.11 to 3.1.5. Installed subsilver2 style and made numerous changes to match old colors, font sizes, etc. Had to upgrade PHP to 5.4 first. Enabled a question on registration feature to reduce spam. Changed config.php file permissions to 640 per request. There was lots of back and forth with the client figuring out where the cPanel was and the proper authorization credentials.
  • Helped consultant integrate a WordPress wrapper around a phpBB 3.1.5 forum. we_universal style was installed. I partially installed the social login extension for phpBB 3.1. Integrated some ads. Made some tweaks based on customer feedback.
  • Upgraded forum with no special requirements and few posts from 3.0.12 to 3.1.5.
  • Upgraded forum from 3.0.12 to 3.1.5 and rehosted it as well on a server that supported PHP 5.3.3+. Added Cleantalk extension and added user’s Cleantalk key. Integrated their logo. Added a home link. Added shrunk logo when screen width dropped below 700px. Final conversion took 5 hours of effort due to issues associated with running database_update.php against a newest version of the database, previous version had worked fine, but it kept erroring out. Client had installed a clean copy of phpBB 3.1 and what appeared to be a clean database, but there were issues anyhow during the conversion. I had to work around some issues, fix bad module_basename values in modules table, add some rows to config table before it was stable and acting normally.
  • Eight hours of work to make numerous small styling changes that the client wanted and to make various dashboard images show based on various screen widths.
  • At an editor’s request, expanded a previously submitted article about data security to include topics they wanted discussed.

If you administer a phpBB board, you should find my book Mastering phpBB Administration invaluable. Learn lots of tips, tricks and secrets I learned from serving over 400 clients. A paper (7.5 x 9.68 inches) and an ePub version are available.

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