September 2017 work summary

September was a very slow month, probably the slowest so far this year. In a way it was good because I was kept hopping preparing for and teaching a website development class, and I needed to focus on that. Here is some of the work I accomplished in September for various clients:

  • A forum’s users were experienced HTTP 500 errors when accessing forum. I downloaded the error log and noticed numerous TWIG errors complaining about a link missing to Viglink in overall_footer.html. I’ve seen this issue before and I’m not sure what’s causing it, but I think it may be due to enabling Viglink, then disabling it without purging the cache, which should not be necessary. I used the web host’s file manager to manually remove files from the /cache/production folder. The forum came up but there was a HTTP 500 error on initial login, which did not recur. Also, I noticed that a folder was missing where the main site images were kept. The client was able to restore these pictures. I suggested and installed the latest Cleantalk extension (not yet on and enabled its SpamFirewall feature because the client was getting hammered by spambots. This solution is working well.
  • Some users reported a white screen after making a post. It seemed to mainly affect Firefox users and seemed to be somehow related to the cookies. I examined error log and found a TWIG error referencing a missing link for Viglink, similar to the last problem. I manually refreshed the cache. No further problems were noted.
  • Troubleshooting. User had installed a security certificate so the forum would use https without changing phpBB’s server settings. I fixed the server settings to use https and to NOT use port 80. I suggested changes to force all links to use HTTPS with a .htaccess hack and to fix WordPress links using a WordPress plugin.
  • Performed a simple upgrade from phpBB 3.0.13-PL1 to phpBB 3.2.1. Used the default prosilver style. Logo is wide at 900×150, suggested that it would flow better if it were smaller. I hid the site title and site description in header so it would look similar to what they had before the upgrade.
  • Troubleshooting trying to figure out why mass emails were not going out to about 80 users. It turned out the new web host has email quotas and that was part of the problem. I tried to connect the forum using SMTP to old mail server where this wasn’t an issue, but discovered that the new web host does not allow outgoing SMTP connections. Based on what the new host said it’s outgoing email policy was, I suggested an email package size of under 25 and setting up a system cron to run every five minutes.
  • The web host complained to the client that her site was getting hit by too many spambots. Similar to the first client, I solved the problem by installing the latest version of the Cleantalk extension and enabling its SpamFirewall feature. I also updated the forum from phpBB 3.2.0 to phpBB 3.2.1.
  • I updated a forum from phpBB 3.1.3 to phpBB 3.1.11 and installed Cleantalk extension 4.7 (a higher version would not work with 3.1) to solve a persistent spam registration problem. Client did not want to upgrade to phpBB 3.2 since a couple of extensions would not work.

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