2011 :: Changes Are Coming!

Discussion in 'Announcements, Forum Business & Help Desk' started by Rudy, Mar 24, 2011.

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  1. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    Can you believe it? I acquired my first hosting account in 1997, starting up Rudy's Corner, which had its own A&M Corner as a side show. It wasn't long before I split A&M Corner to its own site. I originally hosted an A&M Fan Contact guestbook, but that was too difficult for visitors to use. I located a forum system, WebBBS, and started the first version of the A&M Corner Forum in August (?) of 1997.

    Yes, we have been around that long!

    In 2002, tired of the growing spam, and lack of support for the WebBBS system, the staff and I looked at a couple of different forum systems and settled on phpBB2. Like its popular competitor, vBulletin, it was a clone of the UBB (Ultimate Bulletin Board) system, using a linear style of discussion as opposed to threaded discussions we had in WebBBS. Over the years, phpBB has been hacked into (I helped my friend clean up his Windows support forum after a hacker defaced it...twice within a week!), a target for spammers (ask the staff!), and also sat stagnant for several years as the development team tinkered with an updated version. phpBB3 was eventually released as the replacement, but at best, it was still a few versions behind where other systems like vBulletin were at. vBulletin, by the way, is a paid forum system--site owners need to buy a license in order to run it.

    I have been looking at new forum systems for a few years now. phpBB3 was in the running only due to familiarity. SMF (Simple Machines Forums) seemed a decent free replacement, but the development team has splintered, and they have been releasing beta and "release candidate" versions of the same 2.0 version for the past three or more years now. Safe to say, their development has stalled also. We had even considered vBulletin (vB) for awhile.

    vB has worked out well on a "big board" forum I administer (millions of posts, several hundred online users during peak hours, etc.), with numerous performance tweaks I've had to manually code in by hand. But, they came out with an updated version 4 that has been panned by both end users and forum administrators as being bloated and sluggish. To top it off, their development company, Jelsoft, was acquired by Internet Brands, who raised the price, changed the licensing model, and made other changes that long-time customers did not approve of.

    They also took to suing competitors. Or rather, one specific competitor.

    vBulletin's two lead developers, and long-time "business person," left Internet Brands back in 2009. Just over a year from their departure, they announced they had begun development of a new forum system from the ground up: XenForo (XF). It took off like wildfire. Long-time customers of vB watched it with interest, and when the first beta versions came out, it was already rock solid and stable, and they offered licenses for sale.

    Now you can see where Internet Brands was heading: on the eve of XF announcing sale of their licenses, IB posted two lawsuits, claiming copyright infringement, and breach of contract. This hasn't stopped them; in fact, the lawsuits angered enough vB customers that they have been switching over to XF and selling their vB licenses; vB modification authors showed support by yanking their modifications from the vbulletin.org modification hosting site. Some of them are porting their plugins over to XF now. IB's lawsuits just bit back at them!

    I acquired a license last autumn, and used it to power a new group of sites I'm in the course of launching. Over the past two weeks, the staff and I have been discussing ways to keep the site going and bring in some new traffic, and everyone pitched in to get us our own copy of XenForo for A&M Corner.

    I am in the middle of running some test imports from phpBB2 to XF. Other than an issue with polls, and a few stray characters in thread titles, the imports are going well and we can probably roll out XF next week!

    Along with that, we need to make other changes to the site. The forum currently powers portions of our site's home page and other content, so we will be installing a new system to power the site as well. And even though we are currently shy on content, we are also launching a long-awaited and much needed "encyclopedia" where we will move some of our content, and post other new content as we receive it. This has been a work in progress for a year or two now, but we still need more volunteers to add content; details will be posted when it debuts.

    What you will notice about XenForo: it is very clean and uncluttered. It is modern, leading-edge forum software. It has a lot of "social" aspects to it, giving you ways to share content with others on the internet, "like" others' posts, and post status updates to let your fellow members know what is happening. The interface uses a lot of HTML5 and JQuery, with overlays replacing individual page loads; performance is faster than other forum systems you've used in the past. It offers a lot of features, many of which are hidden on first glance but only a click or two away. I've been using it for several months now and it has been impressive. And I don't impress easy! :D

    The good news on XenForo is that your old user passwords here will still work properly, so you can log in and continue posting. Avatars may or may not make it--I encountered a hitch while trying it last time, but hopefully we can figure out the problem.

    Even better news: it will not happen right away, but I have all but 180 posts from our WebBBS forum that I'm looking to import into the forum! This is a major undertaking in that a lot of cleanup will be needed once we import those posts into a forum system, but it will be a real "blast from the past" for those of you who were here in the early years. (You can see our "special guests" who have posted over the years, like Carol Kaye and the late Julius Wechter.) And stubborn as I am, I'm still trying to locate which one of my hundreds of floppy or Zip disks have those first 180 posts on it. We had an old Off-Topic forum as well, which I'm sure is also lurking on some dusty old disk somewhere.

    We may have some sawdust laying around for a few weeks as we get everything back in order, but I really want to get the new forum and home page up as soon as possible. On behalf of the staff, we all thank you for bearing with us these past 14+ years. And we look forward to some good times ahead!
  2. Good work, sir - I look forward to seeing all of this....
  3. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    Thanks! And if you get insomnia, try reading through that post again. :D
  4. I may not understand what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!

    =Mike A.
  5. I'm glad that the site will continue. I appreciate the efforts of Rudy and the moderators to keep this going--big thumbs up.
  6. Steven J. Gross

    Steven J. Gross Well-Known Member

    Thanks for being so cool Rudy- You Rock!
  7. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    I have read, or at least absorbed, the good news that A&M Corner is here to stay!

    I appreciate an Online haven where I can still discuss my favorite music & freely express my inner-most thoughts... Glad the Forum will continue...

    I commend your efforts, guys! Many thanks!

  8. frankfan1

    frankfan1 New Member

    As a new member, this is indeed good news.
  9. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    I am currently having a problem with converting polls over to the new system. They are stored using two different methods.

    The easy fix is to just not import the polls at all...if that were the case, I would have had us converted already.

    The only other thing I'm looking at is seeing if I can somehow get some phony data into the poll tables so we can at least get the proper vote results showing. (Too technical to get into here.) If I can't get to it with any reasonable amount of work, I'm just going to pass on these polls and move forward with the overhaul.
  10. CherryStreet

    CherryStreet Member

    I'm sure I hear a chant of "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy" growing louder?

    Wait, it seems to be eminating from some ancient shrine in the Mid-west.
    Is that South Bend? Naw, too loud. Gotta be Ann Arbor.

    I'd also like to personally thank all the money men that helped acquire
    our new "Xen Mofo":cool:

    I first stopped by in 1998 and like any great small town, there are still an
    awful lot of great people here.
  11. Nathan Strum

    Nathan Strum Active Member

    That's great news! Thank you for all of your hard work. I don't post here all that frequently, but it's definitely someplace I visit and read every day. I'm grateful that it will be able to not only continue, but move forward!
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Have you taken a look at Fully Modded PhpBB, Rudy? It's here:


    I use it on a couple of sites I use (none particularly heavy in the traffic department though). It appears to be quite stable and updating it when necessary is really simple. Just a thought....

  13. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    We already own a license for XenForo, so we're set.
  14. A million thanks and a tip 'o the hat to Rudy for all his hard work. I read his article, understood very little, but have at least figured out that we're here to stay. Are you going to start a donation drive to help with the costs? If so, count me in.....it's worth its weight in gold :D
  15. lonely bull

    lonely bull Active Member

    Rudy - congratulations on Your hard work and Thanks. Thanks also for keeping us informed! Will there be any changes in the way we access the forum ( I have it bookmarked ) and will there be a new name or is it still A&M Corner? Many Thanks again!

  16. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Please let us know the easiest way to make a financial contribution.
    Thanks for all you do!
  17. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Scroll to the very top of this or any forum screen. Look for the bold-faced link that says, "2010/2011 DONATION DRIVE". Though we eeked out enough for this conversion, there remains yearly web hosting fees that have to be met. The little that this site has earned from Amazon purchases through our links hasn't been enough of late to pay those fees.

    Please-if you can spare a few dollars, please do so.

    ...who scrounged some loose change to help out, online...
  18. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    To keep it simple: same address, same house, but newly redecorated. :D

    No URLs to the major sections will change, but if you have anything bookmarked within the forum (such as a specific thread, or one of the "read new post" links), it will no longer work since those URLs will no longer exist. There is a way to rewrite URLs, but the post and thread numbers will no longer match.
  19. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Here's a tip for everyone regarding avatars. Some of you really like the avatar you're currently using, and though you yourself uploaded it, it might have been a long time ago, and from some older computer.

    It's possible that your avatar doesn't reside on your own computer's hard drive.

    Now might be a good time to "rescue" those avatars of yours. Copy them back to your hard drive, and when the new board is ready, you can re-upload them if you wish, but at least you'll have them available.

    Of course, you're perfectly free to chhose a new avatar or none at all. But I wanted to tip you off to the idea of having your avatars available on your own hard drive so you can re-upload them.

  20. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    In addition, you can upload your avatar to gravatar.com . This is a service that ties into your email address; if you register on any other forum or service that utilizes Gravatars and your email matches, your avatar will show up without having to upload anything. Gravatars are supported in XenForo--it just requires a click or two to activate.

    But like Harry said: save those avatars now. I will not be copying those over to XenForo.
  21. Have switched over to my Gravatar now, thanks. Love the new site!
  22. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Well, this is different. Don't yet know how I feel about it. Color scheme is cool and I'll adjust... I think I like it. I see you also got the avatars copied over. Nicely done... :wink:

  23. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    It's still a work in progress. Rudy's still working on things like color schemes, logos, etc. It's like moving into a new house with the landscapers arriving soon!

  24. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin Thread Starter

    Yep! :thumbsup: I do have the original blue color scheme as an option, which you can choose in your preferences. (Click the drop-down arrow next to your username in the upper right part of the forum screen.)

    I'll have a couple more I'm sure. This color scheme is one I copied from another active forum and still needs to be tweaked more toward A&M colors. Although it almost resembles the really old cream-colored labels A&M used on their earliest releases. :D
  25. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    There's also a color scheme link right down there in the lower left that'll let you change the colors on the fly. That's one feature I always loved about vB and the many color schemes at sh.tv.

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