November 2016 work summary

Here is some of the work I did for clients in November. I also released version 3.0.7 of my digests extension that involved a considerable amount of time and effort during November.

  • Some non-phpBB work. I worked on refining a WordPress widget to show a picture of current snow conditions for a client’s WordPress site. Since the client has a retinal device and found the picture uploaded a bit fuzzy, I found and installed a WordPress plugin that creates retinal images and intelligently serves them if it detects the device supports retinal images. I also edited the widget’s stylesheet to reduce the margins so it fits the sizing of other content. I also changed media library medium image setting to 332 pixels width to fit the image container optimally. I also provided instructions on how the client can do this himself in the future so images can be swapped in and out based on current conditions.
  • Digest troubleshooting. Digests stopped going out for a client that had version 3.0.6 of my digests extension installed. It appears this was due to incorrectly programming a system cron. After testing I used my “shared hosting” approach for doing a system cron which recognizes that on shared hosting where cron’s with multiple commands don’t work. This involved changing the cron to call curl instead and turning off the system cron capability inside phpBB. I filed a bug report on about what I think is insufficient explanation text for the system cron control in the ACP.
  • A client upgraded his forum to phpBB 3.1 but there were dead modules in the ACP. Installed us_en language pack to fix certain issues. I deleted bad module links for digests mod and the advanced block mod. I installed Digests 3.0.6 but had to manually change the database to get it to install on 3.1.10. I installed Cleantalk but waiting on activation key. I manually tested digests and it worked. Client chose to defer the cron installation until after rehosting. Days later I ended up redoing the work due to the client moving to a new host running Linux, not Windows. I upgraded forum from 3.0.12 to 3.1.10. I changed email settings to turn off SMTP since client is not on Windows anymore. To get the forum to come up I had to edit the config.php file and change the value of $dbms and $acm_type, which had namespace syntax in it that was triggering an error. I installed the American English language pack again. I installed the Cleantalk extension again. I installed and tested the digests extension. This took quite a bit of time because of known issues with the 3.1.10 migrator. I had to make a number of database changes manually. I then did a manual test of the mailer and it worked. I then created a cron job and verified that it sent digests. I found a peculiar quirk: clicking on the extensions tab generates a HTTP 500 error if debug is not turned on in the config.php file.
  • I programmed a scheduled cron for digests because users like to receive digests in hour requested. As with the other client, I ended up with a scheduled phpBB cron due to shared hosting issues not allowing multiple statement in a cron.
  • I replaced an ad at top of the page with one provided that had slightly different dimensions.
  • I moved a forum from to shared hosting. I upgraded the forum from 3.0.14 to 3.1.10. I installed Cleantalk. Later I patched a bug in 3.1.10 that didn’t allow custom profile fields or search engine settings to be changed.
  • I fixed a malware issue for a client. Most directories had a new .php file in it, consisting of six random letters, with an eval statement likely injecting malware. A routing error occurred when accessing the forum. I eventually figured out a bad .htaccess file was the reason the forum did not come up, so I copied in a standard .htaccess file. I then compared his software with 3.1.5 and saw the malware problem by comparing client’s files with a reference. I carefully removed all software files, uploaded a referenced version of these files and manually deleted malware files in some directories that should not be deleted. It solved the problem. I then upgraded the forum to 3.1.10.
  • Client attempted upgrade from 3.1.7-PL1 and it failed with a HTTP 500 error. I puzzled through it but eventually deleted all files but the files, images, store directories and config.php and uploaded 3.1.10. I then ran install/database_update.php and upgrade completed. I re-uploaded the backup I had of his black style and the forum came up. However, I couldn’t login with his old credentials. So I created my own account and gave myself founder permissions in the database. Client could not login either. I provided instructions to use the lost password link.
  • Client with my digest extension said it was sending out duplicate digests. I upgraded digests from 3.0.5 to 3.0.6 but that did not solve the problem. After some debugging I determined this was due to digest exception being thrown if there are no bookmarked topics. This stops remaining digests from going out for the hour and the hour will not mark as completed. I fixed this bug in version 3.0.7 and didn’t charge the client for my work.
  • Client was concerned that the public saw a “no forums” message. His new forum was created without using the copy permissions function. I added these permissions so public could see forums.
  • Issue with using advanced BBCode extension and creating and editing BBCodes so that tables, table rows and table columns could appear in a post. I fixed client’s BBCodes to substitute the correct HTML when creating tables, table rows, table columns and to properly align text.

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