March 2016 work summary

I did lots of upgrades for clients in March. Of course, client information has been anonymized:

  • I upgraded my digests mod installed on a client’s site from Digests 2.2.26 to 2.2.27 with the latest patches to address probable error of posts missing on a phpBB 3.0.12 board. phpBB was integrated inside a Joomla content management system, but there were no issues.
  • Troubleshooting. User was running out of quota again for physical volume. I deleted some archived error logs to give him some breathing room. I also deleted two unused databases that were triggering errors. Two days later I setup a cron job to remove error log archives monthly, hoping this would not trigger future quota emails. I also set client’s Web Host Manager (WHM) to give disk warnings at 90% and critical warnings at 95%.
  • Converted a forum from vBulletin 3.8.9 to phpBB 3.1.8 on new hosting. There were issues due to shared hosting limitations that triggered a MySQL max_questions limit error. When I ran the conversion program for vBulletin, I discovered some bugs in conversion program as well that I had to work around. I commented out code for populating the phpbb_banlist and phpbb_log tables, and some code that caused a HTTP 500 error on last=7 in the final step. None of these issues were critical to the integrity of the database.
  • I upgraded a forum from phpBB 3.0.12 to 3.1.8 applying the elegance style, the Board 3 portal extension and the Tapatalk extension. I integrated the old logo. To make the Administration Control Panel look like a new board, I had to manually remove many dead modules that were used for old phpBB 3.0 modifications. I also had to change the user_style to prosilver (user_style_id=1) for all users, add a row in the styles table for prosilver and remove the old bogus style from the database. The Board 3 portal had to have modules added and blocks added manually.
  • For an existing client who was going through the process of moving their phpBB3 database from SQL Server to MySQL, I continued work started in February. After the client approved the integrity of the data in MySQL, I made the test forum I created to hold the MySQL database the production forum. I archived the old forum’s files and database. Once on the new database, I upgraded phpBB from 3.1.6 to 3.1.8. I placed the logo on the new files. I then went through all the user groups and made sure they had no forum access. Group forum permissions are to be reset in a subsequent task.
  • Upgraded forum from phpBB 2.0.22 to 3.1.8. I installed the Blue Turtle style and Pages extension. I rebuilt the search index. I redirected content to the forum folder. Later I installed proformell style the user decided he liked better and added user’s logo to it.
  • Upgraded phpBB from 3.0.12 to 3.0.14 and my digests mod from 2.2.25 to 2.2.27 for an existing client. The user complained of missing poster names in digests. I upgraded digests hoping upgrade will solve that problem that curiously no one else had reported. Scoped out the customer for an upgrade to phpBB 3.1. However, he had me integrate some custom code for 3.0 to send out emails for every post made, so this functionality would be lost with an upgrade to 3.1 so will not be done now. Later, I upgraded the Tapatalk modification to the latest version. I removed modifications for ForumRunner and mChat since they are unused.
  • Upgraded a forum from phpBB 3.0.14 to 3.1.8. Installed “basic” style. Added a home page link. Enabled contact page. Modified overall_header.html to show a different logo. Installed a SCSS compiler extension if needed. Created 3 logos for various screen widths but in the end used the largest logo and letting it resize for all devices. I changed text on home link. I padded to area the left of the category image to make it look even. I had to resolve issues with FTP not working properly, which went away when I used the IP for the server name. The domain apparently pointed to Brilliant Directories for client’s eCommerce purposes.
  • Upgraded a forum from 3.0.14 to 3.1.8. Installed we_universal style. Installed beta advertising management extension, and tweaked templates so ad placements looked better to accommodate the style. I changed the overall_header.html template to add the logo, remove the background image and constrain header height. Added the Advanced BBCode extensions.
  • Upgraded a forum from phpBB 3.1.7pl1 to 3.1.8.
  • Consulting. A client asked for hosting recommendations based on his usage. I suggested MediaTemple Managed VPS at $55/month.
  • Client had a forum that blew up in the middle of an upgrade from 3.0.11 to 3.1.8. He had backups of database and files. Since the upgrade was likely due to server resource limitations, I moved them to my machine, converted them there and uploaded them. Some images were missing from the files folder, but the client restored them from a backup. Installed a logo.
  • Client had tens of thousands of forum spam posts and hundreds of bogus forum users. I removed some users in the ACP using prune users and certain topics using prune topics, but certain topics had to be removed via a database backend to avoid removing legitimate topics. Since the forum is in Spanish, the Q&A spambot countermeasure would could not be enable until I created a Spanish question. The main index counts were off after this backend cleanup, so these had to be reset manually via phpMyAdmin. To avoid another spam plague, I changed the spambot countermeasure to Q&A and changed the registration to require user respond to a link in an email to complete registration.

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. Paper and Kindle versions available.

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