August 2021 work summary

I kept very busy in August, but most of my work was for a well-paying commercial client. I billed them 79.5 hours of work for the month, which was a very tidy chunk of change. I never have to wait long to get paid either as the money appears in my account one business day later.

It feels like we are moving toward the end of the project, but every time I think so there are more things to do. Most of the month working for them was consumed by working on the mobile interface, which needs to closely match the mobile interface for their main site. So this meant replicating their mobile headers for the most part which meant lots of styling the first half of the month and toward the latter half of August lots of scripting: Javascript and jQuery. But there was also some PHP coding in there: tweaks to extensions I had worked on for this project and the like.

Lots of the styling involved testing and tweaking one thing and seeing how it affects other things. There was a lot of switching between desktop and mobile mode. The resulting SCSS is pretty untidy, but it doesn’t seem to matter much to the client. Basically I’m adding styling on top of some legacy and new Bootstrap code. On the Javascript/jQuery side, it meant dynamically moving things around: expanding the size of a search control when it is clicked on, for example, and going back to original sizing when the user clicks out of it. Lots of widgets move around. It’s at time tedious, but mostly engaging work. It’s nice to get paid well for doing more advanced stuff like this. Most of my work is much less interesting but also easier to do.

Anyhow, it’s still not done. There were a few mistakes and some rework required when doing things one way introduced other issues. But I expect the styling will finish this month and that should pretty much end development work, in which case we should move into an internal testing phase.

Both my Digests and Smartfeed extensions were updated this month. Both tried to address an obscure issue introduced in phpBB 3.3. An E_DEPRECATED flag is thrown by Symfony at times, resulting in controllers needing to be coded for these extensions that weren’t needed before. The issues this introduced in the Digests extension were particularly vexing and hard to track down and fix. I think I closed the last one in the 3.3.9 release.

Other work for clients was routine and not too frequent:

  • Upgraded a board from phpBB 3.2.8 to 3.3.4. A table first needed to be repaired to upgrade, but cPanel’s phpMyAdmin wouldn’t accept the board’s database credentials. To work around this, I installed another copy of phpMyAdmin and used that to change the database. The PHP setting allow_url_fopen won’t work even though it was in the php.ini file, so could not get reCaptcha to work. Upgraded Cleantalk from 5.7.1 to 5.7.4. Changed PHP from 7.2 to 7.3. I had to edit stylesheet.css to point to the logo.
  • Upgraded a board from phpBB 3.0.12 to 3.3.4. I kept it generic with the upgrade although, there were a number of mods and a different style on the old board. About 500,000 posts had to be munged, but the upgrade went very quickly due to speedy server. Changed the config.php file to use mysqli driver. Here too I had to install a separate copy of phpMyAdmin to fix database issues. Used phpBB’s Support Toolkit for phpBB 3.0 to clean up database but it left Tapatalk information in the database. Two modules already existed during the database upgrade and had to be manually removed, otherwise is was very quick and uneventful. I removed one errant module that was still around after the upgrade. I gave a default site name as it was missing. I disabled the contact form and set up reCaptcha V3. I changed PHP from 5.6 to 7.4. Client will customize the board from here.
  • Client thought her board was down and lost and wanted me to try to recreate it from a database backup I had. But it turned out is had been moved from the old folder to a different one somehow. I moved it back and it all came back correctly. I provided antispam advice and changed spambot countermeasure to Q&A.
  • Updated a board from phpBB 3.3.0 to 3.3.4. I updated the American English language pack and the Cleantalk extension to version 5.7.4. I think I had the bad FTP password, tried creating my own account, but couldn’t write files to where they were needed. So I had to use the file manager instead, which was very rudimentary. Thus this simple update turned out to be very time consuming and needlessly frustrating because the file manager provided was so lame. A ticket with the web host eventually solved FTP issue. I uploaded all files a second time to make sure they were all in place.
  • Fixed a variety of forum permission issues for groups and users for a client. I changed reCaptcha to V3 using sockets as the communications protocol, downgraded registered users access to Standard Access + Polls, ensure admins had full access to all forums, added one user to admin and moderator groups. Allowed guests to post by putting them in the moderation queue for all forums. But later it turned out the client wanted these things not to happen, so I had to change things again.
  • Installed the prosilver_dark style and attached the old logo to a client’s board.

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. A paper (7.5 x 9.25 inches, $19.99) and an Amazon Kindle version ($9.99) are available. New July 2021 edition covers through phpBB 3.3.4!

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