Author Topic: The Purpose of The Arimecibo Island Forum  (Read 876 times)

Offline noquiexis

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The Purpose of The Arimecibo Island Forum
« on: December 12, 2016, 05:17:57 PM »
     Up until early December of 2016, the Arimecibo Island Forum existed solely on my home computer (localhost) and was not accessible from the internet. Situations developed that spurred me into going "live" on the World Wide Web, also mistakenly referred to as "the Internet". This may be thought of as "Part 2" of that story. For "Part 1",  look here:
   A History Lesson

     Note: Some editing has been done to fit this post from Our Doll Community (ODC) to the Arimecibo Island Forum. Links to the original posts have been provided. If you cannot follow any link to ODC, it means that you are not a registered member there. You will just have to trust me! (Yeah, riiiiiight!)


First things first - The History and Myth of Arimecibo Island

     Arimecibo Island started out as a place in my 20 year old, as-yet-unfinished novel, "Starship". It is located at 12º 43' 51" North latitude by 135º 27' 12" West longitude. I got the bug to look it up on some sailing website and discovered that there really is an island there. However, at high tide, the entire island is submerged. It is only marked because it is a hazard to navigation. It was never even named until I came along! :)

     Since that island is unlikely to ever have any human inhabitants, I continue to use it for doll photo shoots and stories. Luckily for me, part of  The Doll Light Zone overlaps the island, and that is where my forum exists!

     And that, as Paul Harvey would say, is "the rest of the story!"

     I originally posted this at the Arimecibo Island Forum (edit: on my localhost) on 25 July 2010 as a diary of how I came to set up my own forum. The Arimecibo Island Forum exists solely on my home computer and is not accessible from the internet.

     I began this project because of problems that the Our Doll Community (ODC) website had with its forum and chat. At the time, ODC did not have a server (edit: website) administrator. I started out not knowing anything about web servers other than that they are big, heavy, and expensive. I had heard of databases, but never understood what a database server program was, or where to get one.
     Our Doll Community upgraded their chat from FlashChat version 5.0.11 to version 6.0.7, but that version of chat crashed sometime on or before 1 June 2010. After giving it some thought, I decided to attempt to install a web server on my home computer, load the Simple Machines Forum (SMF) and FlashChat software on it, and use it to simulate a live forum with chat on the internet. ODC now uses Ajax chat.
     As I mentioned above I knew almost nothing about web servers and the programs that they can use. What I did not know was that all of these programs are free except FlashChat ($5 USD), but getting them all to work together is an Odyssey! Here is some of what I downloaded for the forum:

               Apache web server version 2.2.15
      5.76 Mb

               MySQL database server version 5.1.48
      104 Mb (with manual)

               PHP Hypertext Preprocessor version 5.3.3
      27.8 Mb

               phpMyAdmin database manager version 5.3.3
      27.8 Mb

     My setup is on Microsoft Windows (Vista Home Basic (32 bit) version 6.0), and is called a WAMP for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Just getting these to run together was more work than I ever imagined. Although there are tools to verify that these programs actually do work together, they do not come with any of the installation packages. I found them after spending hours on the user forums for these programs.

     (Edit: There are prepackaged installations for all of this software in one bundle, but I did not know that at the time. Not having one of these packages had the side benefit of forcing me to learn how to make them work together.)

     I also installed these, because they were the crux of this whole operation:

               Simple Machines Forum version 2.0 rc3
      2.3 Mb

               FlashChat version 6.0.8
      20.7 Mb

     The SMF documentation suggests downloading and installing a couple of support programs, so I also picked up

               Gnu Aspell version
      2.31 Mb

               GD Graphics Library version 2.0.34
      569 Mb

     The newer versions of PHP no longer support the Gnu Aspell spell checker, so that annoys me considerably. If anyone out there (like ODC) is using Gnu Aspell and upgrades their PHP, they are in for a rude awakening! (Edit: Not only is this incorrect, it is also largely unnecessary. Most modern web browsers have some form of spell checking built in.)

     I do have pictures on the Arimecibo Island Forum, but I am not sure if SMF displays those pictures itself, or if the GD Graphics Library is doing anything to help. Not all of the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) commands work with BB (Bulletin Board) code.

     (Edit: When I installed Coppermine Photo Gallery (CPG) to the online website, it detected both GD Graphics Library and ImageMagick (Wikipedia) their website on the server. Since ODC uses ImageMagick, and since it seems to be the preferred image processor, I selected it for my CPG installation.)

*** Updated 31 May 2015 ***
     Because ODC uses the Coppermine Photo Gallery, I downloaded that too. Coppermine strongly advises against using their software if you are self-hosting, which is what I am doing here. They back this up by providing absolutely no support for the end user as a self-hosting agent. (Edit: They do have documentation and a forum for those who install and maintain CPG on a web host.)

               Coppermine Photo Gallery version 1.5.36
      18.1 Mb
*** end of update ***

     I spent hundreds of hours downloading hundreds of megabytes of programs and online manuals, reading those manuals, and trying to teach myself how to be a web server administrator and a database administrator. Needless to say, the learning curve at this point was, and still is, straight up.
     I had the forum set up around 14 July 2010, but I only saw the chat room for the first time on 21 July 2010. Some bug kept me from seeing it, and I wanted to see if I could find and squash that bug.

     The online documentation for SMF version 2.0 was poorly generated and is almost never maintained. Version 2.0 of that program is in the "release candidate" beta testing stage. The "rc3" designation means that this is the third attempt to find something 'stable' to release to the general public. Hopefully, once they go "gold", they will get the documentation up to speed. (Edit: SMF documentation has improved since I wrote this.)

     I had to go to the SMF Community Forum to get advice from other users on how to set up the chat button.  There is a mod online to show who is in the chat rooms for the bottom of the forum index page. The mod directs the webmaster to manually edit some of the files, and even that is for the earlier versions of SMF.

     I downloaded and installed a modification for animated smileys, and discovered why the angel and police smileys never showed up. There is also an afro smiley which I have never seen. Two other smileys were hidden by default. I guess they wanted you to find out how to display them. A useless, blank circle was out in the open, so I hid that one and freed the other three. (Edit: I freed the blank circle, too. No point in discriminating now!)

     ODC uses an animated smiley set that was downloaded and installed separately from the SMF installation. The afro, angel, and police smileys were not part of that set, so I copied their gifs from another directory and got them ready to use.

     I set up the Arimecibo Island Forum with the same categories and boards as ODC. Somewhere along the line, I messed up the way that posts are laid out on some of the boards, so I needed to look into that. As it turns out, I chose the "Core" theme for some of the boards when I added them. All of the other boards had the default "Curve" theme. I reset all of the boards to the default theme.

     Since I had the forum and chat programs running, I have managed to FUBAR them both. (FUBAR = Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition). The chat program was muffed up through the Admin Panel, and the only way I could get it back was to re-install the program.

     The forum went south because of the way I use it. I never logged out when I was finished. I just closed the window. That saved me the trouble of logging back in again. While I was off the forum (closed window), I upgraded my PHP installation and moved the session files to a different directory.

     I ran into a problem with session verification. Session data is stored in the database tables. I started a new session when I tried to log into the Admin Panel. I could neither get into Admin Panel nor log out of the forum properly.

     A search of the SMF Community Forum revealed 1000 posted topics on this one error. After thoroughly researching these posts, I posted a request for a tool in PHP code to correct these types of errors. These errors are present in every version of SMF software.

     Messing up my forum and chat are not bad things, because they teach me how to get them back online. Mostly I try to work within the limitations that the ODC moderators and administrators will experience on the live website. Although I have direct access to the files, they do not. Any advice I give them will have to come from the same Admin panels that they have to go through.

     If anyone has bothered to read this far, you just earned yourself a free drink at The Tipsy Barstool Inn! Stop in for a cold one, and say hello to Adam, my new bartender!

*** Updated 17 Mar 2013 - Screenshots added: ***

(Edit: Screenshots removed. You are looking at a live website!)

Software Updates
     Some later posts were combined into this original post in order to make it a more cohesive read.

     The Arimecibo Island Forum was upgraded from SMF 2.0.5 to SMF 2.0.6 on 26 Oct 2013. The upgrade went smoothly and no complications are expected.

     The Arimecibo Island Forum was upgraded from SMF 2.0.6 to SMF 2.0.7 on 24 Jan 2014. The upgrade went smoothly and no complications are expected.

Update  4 May 2015
from: « Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 10:51:42 PM »

     I have done regular upgrades to the The Arimecibo Island Forum since I posted this topic. Lately I have been a bit lazy and did not keep up with regular upgrades. I did those today.

     The Arimecibo Island Forum was upgraded from SMF 2.0.7 to SMF 2.0.10 on 4 May 2015. The upgrade had to be done in steps to SMF 2.0.8 and SMF 2.0.9, but an error was reported in the themes (language) during the upgrade from SMF 2.0.9 to SMF 2.0.10. I upgraded the language pack to by extracting this file from the forum root directory. Further complications are not expected.

Update  7 July 2015
from: « Reply #6 on: July 07, 2015, 10:59:58 PM »

Installed New Themes

     I installed a few themes on the Arimecibo Island Forum to evaluate their effectiveness. Here are the themes that I installed and any noteworthy observations:

Alba an Aigh
"Alba an Aigh" translates to "Scotland The Brave".

     The "Profile -> Modify Profile -> Look and Layout -> Current Theme: Beltane (change)" link was impossible to see without highlighting the area. Other page links may also be hidden in the background. I only looked at this page.

     The Pagan theme significantly changed the layout of the index page. The "Show unread posts since last visit." and "Show new replies to your posts." links were both missing, as well as the user's avatar.

     The thumbnail for the "Choose a theme" page was in the wrong format and did not show up on that page. I opened the file "thumbnail.gif" in the ...\Simple_Machines\Themes\Thanksgiving\images directory (folder) in Windows Paint and saved it as "thumbnail.png" to make it appear on the "Choose a theme" page.

     All of these themes were at "Themes for your version of SMF" under "SMF 2.0.10". They are all compatible with SMF versions 2.0.5 (Our Doll Community current version through 2.0.10, which is the Arimecibo Island Forum current version.

     Notes: The "Chat" and "Gallery" buttons had to be manually edited into the language files. Since those files are located in the ...\Simple_Machines\Themes\default\languages directory (folder), no other editing had to be done to the newly added themes. Both the "Chat" and "Gallery" buttons showed up on all of the themes as I cycled through the lot. If I update the language packs again, I will have to manually re-edit these changes into those files. SMF 2.1 is currently "in development". I will upgrade my software when that version is complete.

     If anyone wants to try a different theme that is already installed here at ODC, follow your navigation buttons (top of every page) to the "Choose a theme" page:

Profile -> Modify Profile -> Look and Layout -> Current Theme: {name of the theme that you are using} (change)

     Right-click the "Home" button on the navigation bar and choose "Open in new tab" or "Open in new window", you can check out the features of any theme without having to navigate back to the "Choose a theme" page again. The only time that the ODC mods do a global theme change is during the Christmas holiday.

     Reminder: The Arimecibo Island Forum only exists on my home computer. It is NOT accessible on the World Wide Web (often mistakenly referred to as "The Internet"). Only KA (ourdoll1) can install new themes here at ODC, as one needs access to the files in the website root directory.

Picture credit: Picture by Camp, used with permission

     Camp's picture showed what we really do here all day! ;)

Update  22 Sep 2015

     The Arimecibo Island Forum was upgraded to 2.0.11 with security patch on 22 Sep 2015. I also downloaded and installed the English utf8 ( and British English utf8 ( language packs by extracting the files from the forum root directory.

     When I upgraded the language packs, my Gallery link was still there (just an empty space), but the button disappeared. I could see the link when I hovered my mouse over the empty spot. A simple text edit of the language files brought it back.

     I edited these files in \htdocs\public_html\Simple_Machines\Themes\default\languages:


     I had other languages installed when I first set up the forum, but I have not bothered to upgrade them. No complications are expected.

Update  13 Oct 2015

     The Coppermine Photo Gallery for the  Arimecibo Island Forum (not for Our Doll Community) was upgraded to version 1.5.38
From Coppermine: "2015-08-13: cpg1.5.38 has been released. It's a maintenance release which fixes various issues."

     A maintenance release differs from a security release in that it fixes a few bugs and other small problems that do not affect the safety or security of the program. This is not a "required" update, but I did it anyway. No complications are expected.


WAMP Upgrade
August 8 to August 17, 2016

     Although I have done regular upgrades for the Simple Machines Forum (SMF) software and the Coppermine Photo Gallery (CPG)  software, I have not done regular upgrades to the WAMP software (Windows, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL Server {relational database}, and PHP Hypertext Preprocessor.) Since I have a lot of time on my hands and little to exercise my brain, I decided to do the updates for these programs.

     I have Windows Vista 32 bit and Windows 7 64 bit on two partitions of my primary (1 Tb) internal hard drive. (I keep Vista around to play my old DOS-based video games.) I have Windows 10 on a 500 Gb internal hard drive. I do not particularly care for Windows 10, but it makes a good alternate testing platform. It does present some problems that do not bother me with Windows 7.

     To get Windows 10, I cloned the Windows 7 partition to the smaller hard drive. Then I let Windows Update do the Windows 10 free upgrade (July 2015). Some of the programs that I use on Windows 7, like Windows Mail1, do not work on Windows 10. There are a couple of work-arounds online, but I could not get any of them to work for me.

     I started on the Windows 10 hard drive so as to keep from messing up the working programs on the Windows 7 hard drive. Both hard drives also have phpMyAdmin (to administer MySQL), the GD Graphics Library (for Coppermine) and Gnu Aspell (a spell checker). Since files for these packages are already there (from when it was Windows 7), mostly I just had to make sure they were in the right directories for the new Apache and PHP installations. The GD Graphics Library and Gnu Aspell have not been updated much (or so it seems) from what I installed years ago.

     Windows 10 likes to steal port 80, which is what most people configure for the Apache web server (Edit: on their localhost). There are other ports I could use, but that takes more tinkering than I want to do. I can only get a web page to show up sporadically. Windows 10 also marks every file in the Program Files directory as 'read only', which is a major pain in the ass. There are scripts online to "Take Ownership" of files and directories, but it is still a nuisance.

     Since I upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7, the WAMP, forum, and gallery software was already there and (mostly) working. MySQL has an upgrader that does all the heavy lifting, but the other programs do not. I just installed the upgraded versions side-by-side with the originals and re-named the directories any time I wanted to convert from one to the other. Changing versions mostly requires an Apache Server restart, but sometimes I had to reboot the computer.

     The "index.html" file in my localhost creates a web page that has links to all of the setup, upgrade, repair, and local manuals for all of the software that I installed on the WAMP. I can change this with any text editor, just like writing this post. I also have links on that page to start the Arimecibo Island Forum (SMF), the Arimecibo Island Gallery (CPG), and the support programs for these. Having links available for all of the versions of software made it easier for comparison and troubleshooting. Mostly.

     Once I was satisfied that the Windows 10 WAMP was running smoothly, I started on the Windows 7 hard drive. Everything went according to plan until I started the phpMyAdmin upgrade (on Windows 7, but not on Windows 10.) I kept my original installation (version 4.2.2) and put the newer version in a directory that I named "phpMyAdmin 4_6_3".

     At first, version 4.6.3 did not want to run. I had version 4.2.2 set for "cookie" authorization (a login type). I changed version 4.6.3 form "cookie" to "config" authorization. This is not recommended because the username and password are stored in a file called "", which is a text file. The only major benefit is that you do not have to log in to the server.

     I could log in, but everything I clicked on gave me an error. I could not log out, because the logout button had the wrong hyperlink. So I changed the 'auth_type' back to "cookie" and it still would not run. To save time (or so I thought), I renamed my original install "phpMyAdmin 4_2_2". Now I could not get either of them to run. I was already tired, which is a bad time to solve any problem, and then I panicked on top of it.

     Three days and a few choice cuss words later, I discovered that I was trying to run the new version from the directory named "phpMyAdmin 4_6_3". Web browsers convert a space (like between 'phpMyAdmin' and '4_6_3') to "%20". The code "20" (two zero) is the hexadecimal equivalent of ASCII 32, which is what you get when you press the space bar. The login cookie did not match what the web browser saw, so I never got past the phpMyAdmin home page. I had actually read the forum post that told about this quirk, but I had not read far enough into the text to see that part. Once I got my head out of my ass, I started to pay more attention to the 'minor details'.

     I could not get AJAX Chat to run on my WAMP. Either Apache or PHP is not properly configured. I shelved that problem for another time. Here is what I had originally, and the versions that I have as of this writing 18 Aug 2016:

Software                      Original installed version Current version

Apache HTTP Server           2.2.15                      2.4.23
MySQL Server                    5.1.48            
PHP                                  5.3.3               (I also have version 7.0.9 installed)
phpMyAdmin                     3.3.4                        4.6.3
GD Graphics Library           2.0.33                      2.0.33
Gnu Aspell                         0.50-2-3                  0.50-2-3
Simple Machines Forum      2-0-rc33                   2.0.11                   
Coppermine Photo Gallery   1.5.36                      1.5.42
TuFat FlashChat                 6.0.8                        6.0.8
Ajax Chat                          0.8.6                        0.8.8 (installed, but not working)

     Some of these packages have source files for higher versions, but they must be compiled with another program. What I am showing here are the Windows versions. (Edit: Some websites call these install packages "Windows Binaries".)

     I installed WordPress version 4.5.3 on August 16, 2016. As soon as I got it up and running, it informed me that a new version (4.6) was released that day, so I did an immediate upgrade.

1 Windows Mail is on my hard drive. It is not the same as the online version.
2 Version is "Recommended" because a lot of web applications need to be upgraded for v7.0.9
3 "rc" is "Release Candidate" -  not a finished version suitable for a production environment (live online)

8)  C:-) 8)


     An e-mail from Simple Machines Forum datemarked "Tuesday, September 27, 2016 12:33 PM" announced
Simple Machines Forum has released a new patch to the 2.0.x line, bringing our latest release version to 2.0.12.

This patch is a security and maintenance release, which focuses on fixing a couple of minor bugs, while adding some enhancements and a patch to a security vulnerability reported in the software. Therefore, it is important that you install this patch in a timely manner.

     I did the upgrade for The Arimecibo Island Forum (on my localhost) to SMF version to 2.0.12 through Package Manager (from within the forum software). No complications are expected. I also upgraded the following Language packs for both regular and UTF-8 versions:

English, British English, French, German, German Informal, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish Estonia, and Spanish Latin. All I really needed is the smf_2-0-12_english-utf8 pack. The other languages are just something for me to play with in my spare time.

     As it turns out, I had not upgraded my localhost database for some time. the file upgrade.php generates a security warning. The update script automatically deletes the upgrade files when it is done with them. The file that did the upgrade for me does not include the files needed to upgrade the database.

     I extracted all of the upgrade files from (Large upgrade) in my Archives directory, copied them to my forum directory, did the upgrade, then let the upgrade script delete the upgrade files when it was finished.

     I should point out that the Our Doll Community forum cannot be updated the easy way. The SMF files would have to be re-installed with the new version. This would not affect the database (the forum content), but it would require about a half hour of forum downtime. I have a guide ready if KA (ourdoll1) wants to do this.

     SMF as says, "SMF 2.1 is in development {beta testing}, we do not recommend running SMF 2.1 on a production site." We should definitely upgrade when this version is ready.


     Coppermine Photo Gallery had this in the news section:
"2016-09-23: cpg1.5.44 has been released. It's a security update for Coppermine in order to counter recently discovered vulnerabilities. It is important that all users who run version cpg1.5.42 or older update to this latest version as soon as possible."

     I downloaded the archive (18.1Mb) and extracted it to a temporary folder. I did not back up the database this time. After backing up the albums directory and the include/ file, I deleted all of the other files and directories. I do not show the anycontent.php block1 on the Arimecibo Island Photo Gallery gallery, so I just let the new version take its place. I then copied all of the files and directories (except those backed up) to the Coppermine directory for my localhost. The entire process took about fifteen minutes. A quick look proved that everything was still working as it should.

     See Upgrading for more information about the process.

1To show this block on your gallery, go to the configuration panel under "Album List View", then "content of the main page".

:) :) :)
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 01:04:46 PM by noquiexis »
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