March 2017 work summary

I was on vacation or unavailable for ten days in March, so my work in March was slimmer than normal. Here’s some of the work that I did do, along with a lot of work for teaching a Javascript class locally. All client information has been anonymized.

  • First, I helped rehost a forum running phpBB 3.0.8 to a new host. As part of rehosting I had to upgrade the site’s Wiki (MediaWiki) which took some puzzling through. I also moved a second domain into the new web space. I then upgraded the forum from phpBB 3.0.8 to 3.1.10, adding a custom style the client purchased. I added the Stop Forum Spam extension. The spambot I added for the Wiki though would not work after the Wiki was upgraded, so I installed a different Wiki extension (basically a Cleantalk extension) that would work with the new version. I moved and integrated a news database for the Wiki, changed the DNS to point to the new hosting and installed and configured a SSL certificate for the site too. Later I disabled stop forum spam extension as it wasn’t working correctly. Installed Cleantalk extension for phpBB instead. I cleared out large numbers of IP and email address bans that were preventing some users from creating accounts. 
  • I have complained about Aabaco web hosting before. For once though I was able to move a client off this miserable host, where he had an old phpBB 2 forum. phpMyAdmin was available and I discovered I could export certain tables in small chunks to get a complete export and without encountering timeouts. I was able to update the forum from phpBB 2.0.22 to phpBB 3.2.0 by moving everything to my local computer and doing the conversion there. Two issues were noted during upgrade: missed exporting the ranks table and default_lang row was missing from phpbb_config table and had to be added manually. Once I worked around issues these the conversion was able to finish. Installed the Stop Forum Spam extension. Placed the old logo on the prosilver style. Made sure “No access” permissions were set for guests and robots as the site is very private. Client asked me to install a black and white style but the result didn’t look good (probably because the version of the style was not yet approved for phpbb 3.2) so we went with prosilver. Moved database and files to Siteground hosting. Changed the nameservers to point to the new hosting. Later, the client discovered that some button images were not showing. This was because at the time the 3.2 version of the style was not official. Installing the officially approved style made the problem go away. I then installed my digests extension for phpBB 3.2.0 on the client’s site. I configured a cron job so digests would be sent hourly without fail. There was an issue because phpBB’s cron was locked, so I unlocked it via a database query. I also created a digest stylesheet since black background of the default style was an issue in rendering a readable digest.
  • I provided some advice on developing a WordPress plugin that would facilitate logging into phpBB from WordPress, basically by reading phpBB’s cookies that were normally present for the domain. User decided to write the plugin himself.
  • For an established customer, I swapped an advertising logo at top of his site after first resizing the new image.
  • A client could not upgrade his forum from phpBB 3.1.10 to 3.2.0. Doing so generated a HTTP 500 error. There were no logs with clues pointing to the problem, so I referred him to his web host. I turned out there was a syntax error in functions.php that caused the issue, which is very strange as it suggests that FTP did not move the file correctly, something so unusual I didn’t bother to look for it! The FTP protocol has error checking built in and will retransmit the file automatically if it detects a problem.
  • I upgraded a forum from phpBB 3.1.9 to 3.2.0. I installed a 3.2 version of prosilver_se style. I integrated the logo again. I added code to use his TrueType scalable fonts. I also upgraded his Tapatalk extension to the latest version and installed the latest Danish and German language packs. I added the NavBar Search extension to move search bar to the navigation bar so it did not overwrite his logo.
  • I installed my digest 3.2.0 extension on a phpBB 3.2.0 site. During installation some sort of MySQL error occurred causing host went away error messages. Lots and back and forth with tech support followed, which was of no use. Eventually I got SSH access, connected to the database via command line, was able to drop the phpbb_users table (error occurred when altering table), restored the table from client’s backup copy, then tried to install the extension again and it worked. Created a cron to make sure digests go out hourly.

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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