February 2016 work summary

A fair amount of work in February. Here are the highlights:

  • A client complained that some users were not receiving digests. I first upgraded digests from 2.2.24 to 2.2.26, hoping that the issue was one of the bugs that had been fixed in 2.2.25 or 2.2.26. One odd factor with the site is that the Joomla content management system is used, but it didn’t seem to affect phpBB except you needed log into Joomla to get into the forum. Later in the month I back ported bugs I found in the digests mod when creating the digests extension into a new version of the digests mod, 2.2.27. This included a fix that likely solved the issue the user was complaining about, since the time window for weekly and daily digests was going out based on GMT, and not server time. I upgraded the client to version 2.2.27 of digests with these bug fixes at no charge.
  • Upgraded a client with a standard prosilver style based forum from 3.0.12 to 3.1.6. Had to move it to my server to do the work as shared hosting had timeouts.
  • Continued work for an existing client. The user agreed to move the forum database from SQLServer to MySQL on a Windows server as a more permanent workaround for bugs I uncovered in phpBB working with large files and a SQLServer database. Based on my research, it looked like MySQL Workbench would work to port the data from SQLServer into MySQL. After much playing with MySQL Workbench, I found that while it worked with some tables it wouldn’t with others, at least not unless I let the tool recreate the tables. I didn’t want to do this because experience suggested it’s a bad thing to change table column types and table constraints from the reference MySQL implementation laid down by phpBB. I was able to get MySQL running on the IIS web server and was able to install phpBB attached to the MySQL database. After much trial and error with MySQL Workbench, I looked at other tools for porting data and discovered SQLYog. Its import tool did the job nicely. Waiting for client approval to turn this database into a production database.
  • Continued work for an existing client. I had set up a copy of the database on new hosting. The test subdomain pointed to the new hosting, the full domain pointed to the old hosting. There were issues of being unable to login to the test forum on the new hosting. I eventually figured out that the issue was cookie related, since the same cookie name was used for both test and production. Changing the board cookie name for the test instance allowed logins to succeed. I answered questions from client in a Skype session. I fixed an error that occurred while saving group permissions, which turned out to be due to the Apache mod_security module being enabled. I disabled it. Client was concerned that search engines not pick up any content. I did some research and discovered that while humans got a “no forums” message, phpBB robot permissions allowed read content to all forums! This is the default setting that the previous consultant hadn’t fixed. Fixed this on both the production and test forums. Changed the appropriate robots.txt file to disallow search engines and robots.
  • Client accidentally overwrote the forum’s config.php and style, making the forum wholly inaccessible. I got the forum working again and reinstalled the old style which I found with an internet search. I had to rename folder with ACP programs to adm, was given a non-standard folder name and upgrades would miss this change. I upgraded the forum from 3.1.6 to 3.1.7-pl1. I installed color rank images in /images/ranks. Installed 3 extensions: national flags, advanced BB codes box and scroll to up and bottom.
  • Upgraded a forum from phpBB 3.1.6 to 3.1.7-pl1.
  • Attempted a rehost a client to hostgator.com but it ultimately failed because shared hosting on Hostgator has a limit of 250,000 inodes per account and the user has over 700,000 inodes. Also by any standards he uses a lot of web space, more than 100GB! I discussed revised hosting advice with client. His problem is not the forum, but PHP Gallery as his users contribute hundreds of thousands of images. I said I was concerned about PHP Gallery software because it’s not being maintained and the eventual cost for him to host all these images in his own space when he has so many files that he will need a dedicated server instead of his current virtual private server. WHM control panel sent him warnings about his MySQL 5.1 database not being supported much longer, so I upgraded him to MySQL 5.5.
  • A client needed help ensuring that only certain groups have private message privileges. After looking at which groups currently had the privilege, I realized he just needed it added for those in the Newly Registered group. This was done in the advanced settings of group forum permissions.
  • Upgraded forum from phpBB 3.0.14 to 3.1.7-pl1 using a colorizit.com black style tweaked and provided by customer. There were issues during upgrade. It seemed to hang. The search tables were huge and seemed to be corrupt. I had to remove a duplicative index for a search table before retrying. Since the search table was huge and it seemed to be where things were hanging, I truncated the search tables and repaired all tables. Then I was able to complete the upgrade. I uploaded and replaced default logo. I recreated search index. All is well.
  • I upgraded digests from 2.2.26 to 2.2.27 on a phpBB 3.0.12 forum.
  • Got involved in a long project to upgrade a forum from 3.0.10 to 3.0.14 integrated with Coppermine photo gallery and a custom app that shows latest posts on a sidebar on the index. It eventually worked without losing any functionality or styling. I moved the test database into production. Client is very happy as he has had a number of other developers try to do this and I’m the only one to succeed.
  • I resized and changed transparent logo on the forum header per the client’s request. I also upgraded the forum from phpBB 3.1.6 to 3.1.8.
  • I removed two ad images from the overall_header.html template and added a new one, which was very large so I resized it to fit and put it by itself in the top row, centered. Moved others to keep them alphabetical.