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Chris Hennes

Welcome to eG Forums v4... Again!

521 posts in this topic

Those of you who have visited (or tried to visit) this week have probably noticed that we first upgraded to Invision Community Suite on Monday, Dec. 7. Starting Tuesday we noticed that some errors had cropped up that did not seem to be getting resolved so we contacted Invision, who discovered a flaw in their upgrade process. Unfortunately, correcting this flaw meant that we had to restore the site from Sunday's backup, and then run the upgrader again. This means that anything posted here from about 3am US central time Sunday until now is gone. I'll post some technical details later today for those who are interested in such things. All that said...

 

Welcome (back) to version 4 of the eG Forums! Once again there is still work to be done getting things all in order. Some of this work is automated and ongoing, and some of it is manual and I will get to it as I am able. You can submit bug reports via the new  support system, but keep in mind that in many cases the response is going to be "wait until the automated re-processing is done and check again." This is particularly true for broken images (which right now is most of them) and broken formatting (which right now is most of it). 

 

Please accept my apologies for the lost posts, and for the downtime... my fingers are crossed that we're over the hump now.

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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What's New in Version 4

Invision rewrote their software from the ground up for this release, so there are a lot of new features, and some old ones that are now gone (perhaps to return at a later date). Here is what I think are the most important changes:

  • Mobile site is now usable. In the past we've had to rely on Tapatalk for mobile access because the mobile skin for the forums was... poor. Well, that major shortcoming has been addressed, and I think the small-screen variants of the user interface here work very well now. Give it a try on your tablet and phone and see what you think, and post your feedback in the Moderation and Policy Discussion forum.
  • More customization options in "streams". The current default "View New Content" page is really just a built-in example of a stream. You can now create your own streams to supplement or even replace that one.
  • Unlimited editing time with logged edits. All edits made to posts are now logged, and any edit made more than five minutes after a post was made can be viewed by any interested member. This means that we can now offer an unlimited editing window since any confusion arising from edits can be resolved by reading the log.
  • Unlimited image storage space. We are now able to store our images in Amazon.com's cloud, which will (in the long run) result in faster image loading as well as less expensive storage. We are now happy to be able to completely eliminate any storage space limitation, as well as allow the uploading of any type of file you want to attach to your post.
  • Off-topic discussion forum. With the advent of streams it's easier for people to customize what they see in their "View New Content" stream, so we're more comfortable testing the addition of an off-topic forum now that it's easier for those not interested in such things to ignore. This is only a test, and we will re-evaluate its impact on the forums in May, but have a look, and post all the cute cat photos you can stand.
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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Logging in to v4

 

If you are not able to log in, it may be because your account was originally set up to use a separate Log In Name and Display Name -- v4 has eliminated this feature, and now everyone should log in with either their Display Name or their email address. We have also added a third type of Social Media login: if you have a Facebook, Twitter, and now Google account you can connect it to your eG Forums account and log in using those credentials (this is useful if you keep yourself logged into Gmail, etc. all day).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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What Went Wrong with the First Upgrade

 

Since I know we've got some tech savvy members who will be interested in the technical details of what went wrong, here's the story:

 

Two years ago, Invision announced that when they release v4 it was going to require UTF8 database tables. Because of the age of eG Forums, all of our tables were still Latin1 encoded (in general terms the encoding has to do with how the underlying database stores individual characters -- Latin1 used to be the standard, but it's not very good for non-English languages so most of the world has migrated to UTF8). Well, when they announced this I took it as the impetus I needed to go ahead with that change, and so at that time I ran a converter provided by Invision to re-encode all of our tables. It improved our foreign character searches, and overall was a good modernization of the site.

 

Fast forward to Monday morning: I ran the upgrader, and it inexplicably told me that I needed to convert to UTF8 (even though I had already done so). Well, I figured it was a formality and it would simply skip the tables that were already in UTF8. Nope. It turns out that five tables (out of about 200) had not been converted originally: these tables were for the Calendar app, which we don't even have enabled, so two years ago I didn't care and didn't worry about them. Well, when the converter saw that there were some tables not in UTF8, it figured it would re-convert all of them. Only one problem... you can't "reconvert" like that. So the converter choked on every post that had a non-Latin character in it (accented letters, Mandarin, Arabic, etc.), and truncated the posts at that point. About 0.1% of our posts were affected... that is, twenty thousand posts!

 

Obviously we could not just shrug and say it was OK when the problem was that widespread, so we took the only option available to us to fix the issue and restored from Sunday's backup. I then dropped the offending tables and manually recreated them in UTF8 format (the upgrader really wanted to load the calendar app, just dropping the tables exploded in my face). And here we are today. The actual upgrade process is still ongoing, and will be for about two more days, but things are more or less stable except for post formatting (BBCode is no longer supported, so all old post formatting has to be converted internally to HTML, which is a slow process) and images (the storage location has changed, so every single attachment has to be reindexed before they will show up correctly).


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)
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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Other Changes
We've made a couple of other changes here that, while not actually related to the upgrade per se, were made coincident with it:

  • Encrypted access. All eG Forums pages are now served in encrypted form to protect your privacy. One consequence of this is that any externally-hosted image linked to from the forums is actually copied to our server and the served locally, to avoid any browser warnings about mixed content. 
  • Integrated Google Site Search. The main search box here at the eG Forums now uses a Google Custom Search Engine rather than Invision's built-in search. Give it a try, we think you'll be very happy with the quality of the results.
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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Upgrade Status Update

 

I'd guess that we are still a couple days from completion of the background processes. Here's what I see on my dashboard:

Status.png

 

Based on our experience earlier this week I think we can count on most of those things going very quickly (only a few minutes) once the post rebuild is complete. Rebuilding topic images is the exception, it will probably take the better part of a day.

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Editor Improvements

 

One of the biggest (or at least, most noticeable) changes in v4 is the switch to using CKEditor as the post editor. This brings some much-needed stability, performance, reliability, and mobile-friendliness to the posting process. It also means that we can install plugins designed for the CKEditor to improve its functionality here. For example, I've installed a plugin to the context menu (obtained by Ctrl-right-clicking on an image in the editor) that allows you to rotate your images in 90 degree increments. Double-clicking on an image will also give you some options, including the ability to resize it. If you have other requests for plugins I'm happy to review them, drop us a line in the Moderation and Policy Forum.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Upgrade Status Update

 

Somewhat hilariously, the process that went through and fixed all of the locations of the old images (which should now all be working) broke some of the images posted after the upgrade. I've filed a support ticket with Invision, so hold tight and we'll get those images displaying again. It's probably best if you don't go into the posts and try to edit them at this point.

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The search doesn't seem to work so well...but neither does google itself when searching eGullet.  It may have to do with being logged into the site, not sure.

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The old images now all display as thumbnail-sized images in the posts themselves, at least on my browsers on an iMac on OS 10.10.5.  Is this the intended default?  Previously they were scaled to a larger display size within the posts.

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

The search doesn't seem to work so well...but neither does google itself when searching eGullet.  It may have to do with being logged into the site, not sure.

Can you give an example of what you are trying to search for? I've generally found a Google site search here to be better than the built-in search, but if you've got a counter-example I'll take a look.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I am seeing full images (google chrome) but......am getting odd emails on random posts. I elected no email notifications, Just a few and I do not subscribe or follow any topic so no rhyme or reason to my primitive thinking

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49 minutes ago, huiray said:

The old images now all display as thumbnail-sized images in the posts themselves, at least on my browsers on an iMac on OS 10.10.5.  Is this the intended default?  Previously they were scaled to a larger display size within the posts.

Can you link to an example? I'm not seeing this.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Just now, heidih said:

I am seeing full images (google chrome) but......am getting odd emails on random posts. I elected no email notifications, Just a few and I do not subscribe or follow any topic so no rhyme or reason to my primitive thinking

Can you please forward me one of those unexpected emails?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I forwarded to your personal gmail. Will chek preferences but because not consistent on "Cooking" seems odd...  You poor thing - messy biz

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1 hour ago, huiray said:

The old images now all display as thumbnail-sized images in the posts themselves, at least on my browsers on an iMac on OS 10.10.5.  Is this the intended default?  Previously they were scaled to a larger display size within the posts.

I see what you are talking about now: it's just the attachments, not the images that are linked in from elsewhere. I've submitted a support ticket to Invision, this looks like another snafu in their upgrade process. Hopefully since the original images are still there we can just run a script of some kind to bump the size back up.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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1 hour ago, Chris Hennes said:

Can you give an example of what you are trying to search for? I've generally found a Google site search here to be better than the built-in search, but if you've got a counter-example I'll take a look.

 

Yes, I was searching for alcatra.  The term was not found on the page returned by google search:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/123876-cook-off-1-cassoulet/?page=6

 

As determined by the Windows Explorer find feature and my diligent reading of the page.

 

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In the view new content stream - the last 4 items are from 5 hours ago, then 10 hours ago, then 6, then 7. The one from 10 hours ago was a post about spiralizers that I had already seen last night.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t7b94rc69ryu01t/Screenshot%202015-12-13%2007.45.37.png?dl=0

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Still a problem with the images.  Eg in the Dinner thread from 12/5 there are some large format photos and others that had been large and now are thumbnails.

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and some images don't appear at all eg Dinner thread from Thursday

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2 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Still a problem with the images.  Eg in the Dinner thread from 12/5 there are some large format photos and others that had been large and now are thumbnails.

 

I think the images showing full size are hosted elsewhere. Most of my images are held on my own website and then linked to. They are showing full size.

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3 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

In the view new content stream - the last 4 items are from 5 hours ago, then 10 hours ago, then 6, then 7. The one from 10 hours ago was a post about spiralizers that I had already seen last night.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t7b94rc69ryu01t/Screenshot%202015-12-13%2007.45.37.png?dl=0

 

I also see the spiralizer thread apparently out of order.  I think it's because when gfweb went back to edit the last post in that thread, 13 hrs after the original post, the system recognizes it internally as a new post and sorts the thread in the new content stream by that edit date.  I believe this only happens when it's the last, or most recent post in a thread that is edited.

But that's just a guess and I could be totally wrong :D!

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45 minutes ago, Maison Rustique said:

How do you mark items as read?

 

If you want to mark an entire forum as read, then you can do it from the forum's page:

 

Marking a forum as read.jpg

 

You can also mark an entire forum as read from the Home Page at forums.egullet.org:

 

Marking a forum as read from main page.jpg

 

If you want to mark a specific topic as read (without reading it) you can do so from one of the (warning: new phrase here) Activity Streams.  The "View New Content" link at the upper right of each page shows such a stream.  When you click on "View New Content" you'll see something like this:

 

566d99d61e9d7_Markingatopicasread.jpg.36

 

Topics you haven't read yet will be listed in bold blue.  Click the emblem to the left of each topic to mark it as read.

 

There will be Help articles for all this, but about half the draft files' images have been scrambled.  We're waiting until the dust settles before putting them into public view. 


Edited by Smithy Added image for Home Page forum listing (log)
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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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