StormChat Web 0.2.1 Release

StormChat Web 0.2.1, released on 6/2/2011

Changes include:

  • Many fixes in the SMF FALs.
  • Fixed up access to the admin console in the various FALs, in order to work on expanding the admin console (#3).
  • Abstracted the showModeratorGroups function into the various FALs instead of trying to code support for multiple FALs into the room library.
  • Add the ability to set debug level in the database, which will eventually be part of the admin console.
  • Log backtraces with each log message, for fine-grained detail of what’s going on.
  • Add filtering to the logging code, so you can tag log messages with a debug level (long overdue).
  • Enable/disable plugins via the admin console (#3).
  • Adjust timeout values via the admin console (#3).
  • Adjust general settings via the admin console (#3).
  • Modify/remove front page announcement value via the admin console (#3).
  • Adjust cron settings (which will generate crontab syntax for the user to use) via the admin console (#3).
  • Add link in the submit panel to the Admin Console if the user is a moderator.
  • Add idle/limbo/warning code to the script-based session handler.
  • Fixed (hopefully) the issue with ghosting sessions (#15).
  • Disable timing out of moderators. That was annoying.
  • Add a social network filter plugin for twitter:username and fb:username expansion. More to come, perhaps.
  • Add a StormChat Bug filter plugin to expand bug:id to be a link to the issue tracker.
  • Implement chat font face and size options directly (#26).
  • Implement the ability to control the frame layout values. This allows people to do things like hide the avatar pane when they are using chat in the Firefox sidebar (#24).

You can check out the code via Subversion, or download one of the following files:

NOTE: Please note that when upgrading from 0.2.0 to 0.2.1, you must run update.php (go to http://yourserver.com/yourchat/update.php in your browser) to update your database schema to work properly with the code changes. Annoying things will happen if you do not!

StormChat Web 0.2.0 Release

StormChat Web 0.2.0, released on 5/30/2011

Changes include:

  • Database migration updater that handles schema updates transparently.
  • Removal of the need to run the server to handle session timeouts and event timers with the addition of two standalone scripts to be run via cron (#5).
  • Initial support for phpBB 3.x added (phpbb3 FAL — #21).
  • Fixed several FALs to support updating the user_lastvisit_chat column in the prefs table when a user logins. It had been missing from several of the FALs (and incorrect in the phpBB FAL).

You can check out the code via Subversion, or download one of the following files:

StormChat Web 0.1.5 Release

StormChat Web 0.1.5, released on 5/15/2011

Changes include:

  • Support for the new PHPPass password system used in newer versions of WordPress.
  • Support for SMF 2.x added (smf2 FAL).
  • Errors when logging in are now more prominent (#17).
  • Fixed "call_user_func_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, string given" error when submitting a message (#13).
  • Fixed issues with scrolling in Google Chrome and Safari (#14).
  • Fixed the pastebox not working (#16).
  • Fixed issues with avatars not displaying in SMF 1.x and 2.x (#9).

You can check out the code via Subversion, or download one of the following files:

General Tech Update

I’ve been really bad about keeping this blog up to date, but I’m going to try to post a little bit more frequently. Originally I started it as just a place for me to post things that I was coding, but I’d like to expand that to various different tech-related things that I’m working on or working against.

One of the things that I’ve been playing with lately is the Roku. I picked up one of these (an XD model) on sale at Amazon for around $60, and it’s been great. See, a while back I looked at how much I was paying Comcast and TiVo and the headaches involved, and determined that it wasn’t worth keeping the cable subscription. With the advent of iTunes and Amazon Unbox, I don’t see any need to pay for regular cable service when I can just buy the episodes I want instead. Especially with Netflix to fill in the gaps. The Roku works perfectly with Unbox and Netflix, which are the two primary ways I get content now (I occasionally buy something via iTunes, but in general I try to avoid them– their policy to not allow redownloading is something I don’t like. Video takes up a lot of space, and I’d much rather stream it than have to deal with storing it and backing it up myself. Word on the street is that Apple is looking to change that policy, but they need buy-in from the industry, so we’ll see what happens there.)

However, I do have some local content that I like to play on the TV, and I’ve been looking at the best ways to do that. Before I used to hook up my laptop and play files that way; it worked but now the HDMI port is used by the Roku and I don’t want to deal with plugging and unplugging equipment all the time. Enter two solutions: Gabby and Plex. Both have you set up a local media server and add a channel on the Roku which streams content from the media server. Both Gabby and Plex do transcoding (I believe both use ffmpeg behind the scenes; I know Plex does) so that you can play more than the few media formats the Roku directly supports. This has been an interesting experience as neither is really stable yet. The Plex Media Server for Windows is pretty new, but seems pretty stable; Gabby’s media server has had more than a few glitches and crashes (and I can’t get it to reliably start at boot time due the way it’s implemented in .NET). The Gabby devs are also the devs behind the Gabby Roku channel, since that’s the prime focus for them, whereas the Plex channel is actually developed by someone outside of the core Plex dev team. So I’ve been using both, and liking both, but so far I’m leaning a little bit more towards the Plex camp. Especially since they just announced the availability of the Plex Media Server for Linux. I got it up and running under my dual-boot box (Win Vista / Ubuntu 11.04), but it’s not working properly with the Roku channel. Not sure if that’s a Linux server issue or a Roku channel issue, but I’m sure it’ll get sorted out in a little bit. That gives me one less reason to boot into Windows. 🙂

Speaking of that, I’ve been spending a bit more under Linux in general of late. I find it’s a lot easier on the days that I’m working from home to have a full Linux environment at my fingertips than to run countless PuTTY sessions. Maybe it’s just in my head, but that’s the way it feels to me. I upgraded to Ubuntu Natty Narwhal a while back, which has the upside of Vim 7.3. The downside is that VPN connections seem to make my entire networking stack act weird. I opened a bug on it during the beta, but it’s lingering in limbo at this point. I definitely notice a difference between that system and my laptop, which is a Win Vista / Ubuntu 10.10 dual-boot.

After seeing a presentation on it at LinuxFest NorthWest, I finally buckled down and configured BackupPC on my NAS box (which runs Ubuntu 10.10). I just used the default Ubuntu packages for it, and spent some time configuring all my various machines to work with it. On the Linux side I just use rsync over ssh, and for the Windows boxes I use rsync via DeltaCopy. (The two things I’ll mention about the latter: you need to specifically allow port 873, aka rsyncd, in Windows Firewall. You also need to enable pings in Win Vista/Win7, which can be done via the command “netsh firewall set icmpsetting 8 enable”. Otherwise, even if DeltaCopy is working and the firewall allows it through, BackupPC won’t connect to the host because it’ll think it’s offline.) I’m still fine-tuning things, but it’s backing up around 350GB or so of data for me across like 8-10 machines. I thought for a bit about how to handle my dual-booting computers, and decided to just give them different names and identities between the different OSes. So my main machine is storm under Win Vista and lightning under Ubuntu; my laptop is typhoon under Vista and whirlwind under Ubuntu. I’ll have to figure out something for my netbook once I get the partitions straightened out on that so I can dual-boot that between 7 and Ubuntu.

I’ve also been doing some coding lately, specifically on StormChat. I’ve been working on it for years, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I have someone else running it on their servers, instead of the only people running it being the people that I maintain it for. Granted, I did install it for Ad Astra, but still… it’s the first install not sitting on my servers. I’m working through the bug list, trying to triage it a bit and get things rolling again. There’s a lot left to be done; right now I wouldn’t really recommend it for anyone that’s not very adventurous or without direct access to me to troubleshoot the things about it that only I know how to fix. I need to work on getting rid of the need for the server, fix/revamp the installer, and fix/revamp the admin console. Those are the three big-ticket items on that project.

I know that my WordPress plugins are really out of date at this point. Some people have reported that some of them still work, which is great to hear. I hope to find the time to sit down in the future and revisit each of them and determine if they need updates or if they can be retired.

I’ve also been playing around with RIFT lately; WoW just hasn’t been grabbing me lately. I tried getting it to run under Wine, but haven’t had much luck yet. If I do get it running, I’ll post how I did so.

State of the Hacker…

WordPress 2.1 changed how the links were stored in the database so the drop-down links widget will not work with WP 2.1. I’ll be rolling a new version soon. Things have been pretty busy for me lately (see my LiveJournal for more information) but I’ll try to get this going as soon as possible. I’m really digging WP 2.1, so I’m looking to get all my widgets updated for it.

I’m also going to be branching out into developing some pure WP plugins, rather than just sticking to widgets. I’m going to take some of the writer’s tools I’ve developed for Evolution Writers and make them into WP plugins (like the WIP manager, the progress meters, etc.). They’ll support WP-MU as well, and I’ll be installing them over on my MU install at Authors Abode.

I’ve also been developing a LUA add-on for World of Warcraft called UFActionBars (Unit Frame Action Bars) which is basically a replacement for the defunct Group Buttons mod that died– along with a slew of so very many others– with the launch of 2.0.

I’m also working on StormChat again. Now that the server move has been completed I’ve moved the CVS repository over and started work on cleaning up the code (again). I’ve written a quick, off-the-cuff FAL to get it to work with WordPress for the wife and will be expanding it to work nicely with WP-MU so I can install it on Authors Abode as well.

I still haven’t had a chance to dig up documentation on how to localize widgets/plugins in WordPress. If any readers happen to have a bookmark they can toss me, that’d be much appreciated. Thanks!