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Author Topic: Site Update  (Read 1015 times)

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genes

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Site Update
« on: January 13, 2022, 09:22:53 AM »

It looks like the site has been restored to working order thanks to Keith.  Keith also added some new features like SSL that will require all forum users to accept the new terms and conditions. During the restoration process it appears some of the latest postings were lost.  If you started a new thread or post, and it disappeared, you may have to restart it.

Peace,
Gene
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Peace



Gene

keith

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Re: Site Update
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2022, 10:36:43 AM »

Thanks, Gene, for checking in on us. This little website we started ~23 years ago just keeps moving along. For some background on what happened  in case anyone's interested...

TL/DR: It was broken. It's fixed. If you notice it's not, let me know.

Our hosting provider changed our backend hosting platform to move us off their legacy systems and onto their modern product. As we'd been around for a long time... not sure exactly how long we've been with them as we initially started with a different host, that was a pretty substantial change. But anyway, when they updated everything, it broke a lot of the settings for the site, mostly related to some explicit folder paths that were no longer correct. I'm sure they sent us plenty of email warnings along the way to get us prepared, but it's not like we have an IT department that could look into it. We're just a couple guys (who happen to be IT guys) that have "real" jobs.

They also moved us off their legacy email hosting, which had been included as part of the hosting fee. They gave us the option of adding a subscription for each mailbox with the Microsoft 365 offering... or just not having the email addresses we'd had for the past 20+ years. So, if you want to email keith@kwyilderness.com or arthur@kywilderness.com, you still can... and we'll still get it the same old way we used to only now we have the privilege of paying a yearly subscription for the honor.

When I was checking things out after Gene reported the error, I noticed the site software itself was out of date. So I upgraded... and upgraded... and upgraded... and well, you get the idea. It took several step upgrades to get to the current version. And finally when that happened, it broke TinyPortal (the mod that makes this more than just a forum and puts the articles and content blocks, etc. on the page) and StopSpammer. I was able to get the new version of TinyPortal installed and seemingly working OK after some manual edits and uninstall of the previous version. But StopSpammer was a different story... and an important one. The StopSpammer mod checks users as they try to register to see if there's bad info on their username, IP address, email, etc. and flags them. As of yesterday, it had stopped 533k spammer registration attempts. Seriously, there's half a million bots that really want to sell you some blue pills on a hiking forum. However, the fix here wasn't so straightforward... or even possible. The newest version of StopSpammer doesn't support the newest version of the forum software (yet?). So without that in place, I had to add some controls to the registration process. There's a CAPTCHA (I know, I hate them, too and they're barely effective), and there are some registration questions. They should be easy for humans that want to join an outdoor forum related to Kentucky, but not so easy for bots.

The additional registration steps are in place and the StopSpammer mod is not. I'm going to keep an eye on their development and hopefully there will be an update soon. And while I had the hood open on the registration process, I figured it was time to update our Privacy Policy and bring it into the modern era. Digital Privacy and Compliance is pretty much my real day job so I couldn't really ignore it.

And, as an InfoSec guy (I have many hats), the fact that we didn't have an SSL cert had bugged me for some time, but our host makes it intentionally difficult (nearly impossible really) to use a third-party provider like LetsEncrypt that would be free. So, since I had the credit card out renewing hosting plans, and adding email plans, why not throw some $$ at an SSL cert, too? So I did. After the redirects were put in place, one of our FB members (Matthew D.) let me know there were still some rendering issues. I wasn't seeing them probably because of my cache. So... I dug in and believe I found some additional paths that weren't updated properly to the new server or weren't properly redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS.

After all of that, I was still fighting redirect issues. If you tried to access the site last night, you may have gotten .... no response, a white screen, a 'too many redirects' message or who knows what else. If you had the site bookmarked and came in that way, it probably wasn't an issue. That took some more time last night before I finally _think_ I got it sorted.

The moral of the story is ... something's probably still broken. If you notice anything out of sorts, send me an email, a PM here on the site, or a message to KYW on our FB page. I can't promise I'll get to it right away, but I'll try to get to it as soon as I can.

Hopefully everyone had a great Christmas and/or any other holidays you celebrate and a Happy New Year. 2022 here we are.

~keith
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