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Comments April 23, 2015

phpBBDoctor Closing

Filed under: blog, phpBB Doctor — Dave Rathbun @ 11:20 am Comments Off 

I first started working with phpBB2 in June of 2002. Over the years I have met some wonderful people, had an opportunity to travel, brushed up against some famous folks (Richard Pini of “Elfquest” fame) and even made a few dollars based on my interest and involvement with the project. As evidenced by the lack of blog posts, my participation in the phpBB user community has waned quite a bit.

It was a great run, and fun while it lasted, but other interests and family life have become more important. Therefore, as of today, I have decided to close up shop. My blog will remain online as an archive of sorts, but I don’t expect to post new material, and I am no longer accepting php programming / contract work. Comments on existing blog posts have been closed.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. 8-)

Comments December 5, 2014

Checkbox Challenge… Now By Google!

Filed under: Anti-spam — Dave Rathbun @ 9:50 am Comments Off 

Google is releasing an update to their anti-spam reCAPTCHA system that includes – wait for it – a single checkbox. :)


Comments April 18, 2014

My phpBB2 board finally broke

Filed under: Board Management — Dave Rathbun @ 10:38 am CommentsComments (1) 

A few weekends ago I upgraded php to the latest version. I also broke my largest remaining phpBB2 board.

My first (and largest and still active) phpBB2 board was based on the 2.0.4 codebase. Over the years I implemented some (but not all) of the suggested upgrades, because as soon as I got the code I started changing it. That made applying updates a bit more challenging. Anything that was related to security (such as the hole in the search code) was patched, but other items were not necessarily patched.

One of the bits of code that was added later along the line was to check the $_POST array for values and restore everything back into $HTTP_POST_VARS. I never bothered to do that, and until last month everything still worked fine. With the latest version of php, they finally stopped supporting those arrays altogether so I had to update my code accordingly.

The board is functional again, but the writing is on the wall. phpBB2 is probably (finally) on the way out.

Comments July 30, 2013

Using Flood Control To Combat Spam

Filed under: Anti-spam — Dave Rathbun @ 10:34 pm Comments Off 

I have a particularly persistent spammer that has been driving me nuts. They’re coming from Indonesian IP addresses and are clearly human spammers. As a temporary solution I added some code to the flood control code that sends any post they make into the “flood warning” error message.

It’s not a permanent solution, but it’s fun. :twisted:

Tonight I added some code to log their attempts so I can figure out a more permanent solution. Just like with the Checkbox Challenge, if I can capture their behavior I can start to look for patterns, and once I find a pattern I can try to do something more interesting to block them. As a final resort, I may have to finish writing up my Post Approval MOD that I started so many years ago.

I haven’t touched any phpBB2 code in years. It was fun to get back into it, even if only for a little while tonight…

Comments April 24, 2012

Google Summer of Code

Filed under: MOD Writing, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 1:33 pm Comments Off 

I found it interesting to read that phpBB is participating in the Google Summer of Code this year. One of the features that they hope to get out of the process is a post revision history… something that I started designing years ago, and will be releasing into production on my largest board within the next few weeks! Great minds thinking alike and all of that…

Turns out that in this case, phpBB2 was probably easier to work with than phpBB3. With phpBB2 the post text is already separated from most of the other post meta data (such as poster, poster IP address, and so on) which made it very easy to design a way to track post revisions. In phpBB3 they combined the phpbb_posts and phpbb_posts_text tables into a single table. In order to track post revisions in that case, the design would call for splitting the text out into a separate table in order to track the post text revisions without having to duplicate all of the other post meta data.

In any case, I have finished the coding and testing for everything and it’s functional. What’s left is going back and adding in some security checks to make sure people can’t do things they’re not supposed to do…

Comments April 9, 2012

Party Like It’s 1992

Filed under: General — Dave Rathbun @ 10:00 am CommentsComments (3) 

Alternate title for this post was “The Butterfly Effect.” You have have heard about that concept, where a butterfly flapping its wings in New York causes storms in Tokyo or something along those lines. I had a similar moment this weekend when I discovered that a clock being set ahead by one hour resulted in iTunes deleting songs after they were synced to my iPod. It’s a long story, so I’ll start at the beginning. More…

Comments March 21, 2012

More Backup Automation

Filed under: Board Management, Server Management — Dave Rathbun @ 1:34 pm CommentsComments (2) 

Some years back I purchased a couple of NetGear Duo RAID disk enclosures. Each enclosure was loaded up with dual 1TB disk drives from Western Digital. Everything written to one drive was mirrored to the second drive. This helped protect against a single disk failure.

I also had a very old (PIII processor!) computer that was running linux. At one point I was using it as a development environment, but it had long since been retired from that duty. Why was it still around? I had created mount points for each of the RAID arrays on this linux box, and it was responsible for going to my web server (which hosts this blog, among other things) and downloading the nightly database backup files. (My web server runs a hot backup at 1AM each morning using the mysqldump command.) This linux box also had a script (running at 2AM) that would ftp to my web server, retrieve all of the database dumps, download them, add a date stamp to the file name, and then copy the resulting files out to the RAID array. The entire process was automatic, transparent, and for a long time was quite robust.

Until a few weeks ago. More…

Comments January 11, 2012

phpBB3 MODs Domain Names Available

Filed under: phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 4:30 pm Comments Off 

I have posted a topic on phpbb.com letting folks know I’m not going to renew my phpBB3 MODs-related domains. If you’re interested, hop on over to phpbb.com and send me a PM to let me know.

First come, first served.

Comments January 10, 2012

Passwords Matter

Filed under: phpBB Doctor — Dave Rathbun @ 12:53 pm CommentsComments (1) 

Way back in 2009 phpbb.com was hacked via an exposure in the phplist mailing list software. (Just to be very clear, there was no exploit found in the phpBB code used to run the site, only this supplementary program used to run the email notification system.) One of the results of the hack of phpbb.com was that several thousand user passwords were exposed and posted on the Internet. They were exposed, frankly, because they were too simple, and that’s not phpBB’s fault. More…

Comments December 14, 2011

Celebrating The Holidays

Filed under: MOD Writing — Dave Rathbun @ 10:28 am Comments Off 

I’ve seen several phpBB boards over the years that swap out the regular graphic objects for holiday objects at certain times of the year. At phpbb.com they have previously done this for Halloween as well as the year-end holidays. I’ve done the same thing for my biggest board “BOB” by replacing the regular logo:

with one of several holiday logos:

And of course this:

During the American Thanksgiving week we used this:

Over at the phpBB2 Refugees site we’ve swapped our normal refugee tent for one with a more holiday feel for the last several weeks:

Right now this is a manual process, which means I have to remember to edit the php code to invoke the new logo (or alternately use ftp to upload a replacement logo with the same name over the current one). Manual process? for Dave? :lol:

I’m setting up a database table with dates and alternate logo names, and will set up a cron job that every night at midnight checks to see if holiday logos are needed for the following day or not. On BOB we rotate among several logos, so there could be more than one logo at any given time. The logo information is then written to a cache file where it will be used for the following 24 hours.

Easy as pie.

Holiday pie. 8-)

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