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S J Birkill
MV Administrator

just a sensible reserve

Posts: 783
Forum FAQ
« : 25.07.04 at 11:59 »

This thread will comprise your FAQs and my attempts at answering them. Please post any new questions in the Tech board.
Q: What is this YaBB that MV runs on? Is it a commercial system we're logging into?
A: No. YaBB ('Yet another Bulletin Board') is an open-source software project. It's been developed by an international community of geeks computer enthusiasts, and the perl source code is available free of charge to Webmasters. The MV Forum resides on our own virtual server at peteatkin.com, and is configured and maintained along with the Smash Flops Website by S J Birkill.
Q: Help! I can't seem to log in to the 'new' MV using my old members' area password.
A: The old global username/password combination is now discontinued. The new forum issues individual passwords to all who sign up to it. Use the Register button on the menu bar, top of this screen, and follow the instructions. See later question for members-only area access.
Q: I filled in the Registration form but got no e-mail in reply. Now when I try to register again I'm told my username already exists. Help!
A: We have (October 2016) removed the automated 'reply to me' response used for verification of registrations, as the messages didn't always reach their target. Instead, registrants must now send an e-mail, as detailed on the Register page, to verify their identity before I can mail them their password. If you haven't received a reply from me within 24 hours, it's possible the e-mail address you entered on registration didn't match that of the e-mail you sent. The Forum will have you logged as a provisional member, but you'll not have received your password. Mail me [sjb (at) peteatkin (dot) com] and I'll amend your details in the database and recover your password. If I don't hear from you I'll assume you no longer wish to join, and your unfulfilled application will be deleted after seven days.
Q: MV has issued me with a password of random numbers and letters. Can I have a more memorable one, please?
A: Yes. Login, then Menu | Profile | Choose Password allows you to input a password of your choice. You can also alter your displayed MV name to be different from your username, if you wish (including replacing underscores with spaces). Long-term MV members might like to use the name everyone knows them by. Further down, under Preferences, you will find a 'Hide Email from public' box, which I recommend you leave checked.
Q: I've been a Voice for seven years, but this forum has tagged me an 'MV Novice' with only one star. Can I be promoted please?
A: Sorry, but you'll have to build up your star status from scratch, according to how many messages you post in this forum -- your loyal support of the old e-mail list is appreciated, but we can't pre-assign Forum star ratings on its strength.
Q: When I try to post, I just get a row of buttons at the top of my screen. And what's wrong with the 'News' bar?
A: The posting form and news fader (along with some other features of MV) use Javascript and Cascading Style Sheets. I admitted these into the Hillside Shop page some time ago, as they are now standard Web browser features. However early versions of Netscape and some MacOS/IE combinations have broken implementations, which will cause these features to display incorrectly. I can only suggest you upgrade your browser to a newer version.  
Q: I prefer to compose my posts off-line using MS Word, but when I paste and preview the text, the punctuation characters get replaced by strings of code. I can edit these out manually, but is there a better way?
A: Yes -- the problem is caused by Word automatically changing the simple versions of such things as quotes and dashes into its own 'smart' versions, and coding them using Unicode, which isn't interpreted when you view the Web page. Use Windows Notepad instead, which by default generates plain text. It may also help if you check the disable smileys box below the text input 'Post' window.
Q: Is it possible to see how text enhancements will appear before I post my message?
A: Yes -- the Preview button below the text entry window gives you the opportunity to see how your post will look on the forum. If you're using at least version 5.5 of Internet Explorer, you can even have a live preview as you type: there are two buttons at the right of the header bar in the text entry window, labelled "IE 5.5 or higher". If you click the left button it opens up the live preview box, which in the newest browsers will echo the text you type, with formatting applied. (The right-hand button brings up a page of instruction on the use of the YaBBC formatting tags).
Q: I've posted a Web-link (url) as part of my message, but when I preview it I notice the Forum has inserted a space towards the end of it. I can't seem to avoid this -- will it still work?
A: Yes. The Forum software inserts a space after any continuous run of 80 characters. This is to force a line break in some browsers which would otherwise fail to wrap the line. But it only affects the display -- the link is still 'whole'. A better way to display your link is to embed it within "[url]" tags using the YaBBC method referred to in the previous answer. Member Kevin Cryan shows you how, in this post.
Q: Can I delete a post or modify it, after posting?
A: To avoid disputes ('but I'm sure you said...'), deletion and modification are limited: you may only ever alter your own posts, and you have 6 minutes after posting during which you may delete ('Remove') your message, or edit ('Modify') it without the fact of modification being indicated; after that, you have a further 25 minutes to make changes, which will be accompanied by a " Last Edit: ... " flag. Beyond this total period of 31 minutes the message becomes permanent -- the 'Remove' and 'Modify' options disappear and only the moderator or administrator can make changes.
Q: I'm afraid I'll not remember to keep abreast of events via the Web. Can't we retain the old e-mail list for important matters?
A: For various reasons, no. The e-mailed MV worked well for seven years, but I'm unhappy with occasional mass e-mailings: members aren't prompted to keep their addresses up to date, messages can be perceived as spam, and someone has to do it (some members haven't realised we're not, and never were, a commercial operation).  
But there is a solution: I have set up a permanent thread, Announcements, which will carry only significant news (gigs, recordings etc.), top of the list in the News board. If you log in, open this thread and read the message(s), you'll find a Notify of replies link. Click this, and you'll be prompted to request an e-mail (to the address in your profile) whenever any new announcement is made there.
You can always find a list of forthcoming events (including tour dates) in the Gigs section of the Website.
Coming soon: Pete has proposed an e-mail broadcast newsletter which he will operate himself on an opt-in basis. See this message and stay tuned for more news.
Update 30.01.11 - New newsletter procedure introduced. See this message.
Q: I'm not sure I like everyone knowing when I'm logged in. Can this be disabled?
A: I considered adding an 'invisibility' option, but decided against it. MV is such a small community that the interest generated by knowing who else (if anyone) is around, is beneficial. If it really bothers you, remember that you can browse the forum in 'Guest' mode quite anonymously: you only need to Login as a 'Member' when you wish to post a message or view the list of members, and you can immediately Logout again.
Q: How can I contact another member off-list, when his e-mail address is hidden?
A: Send him an MV Instant Message, by selecting this option against the member's name in a post, or in his profile. You can then exchange e-mail addresses in private, and communicate off-list. These IMs are the 'new messages' referred to in the 'Hello' line you'll see at the very top of each page when you're logged in.
Q: I like the improved IM display in the Hello line at the top of the page. However I'm still inclined to miss the red 'new messages' display. Is there a way I can be reminded?
A: Yes -- I've revised the IM section: its Preferences now link to your user Profile, where there are several new options, including Notify by e-mail and enable Popup. If you do select e-mails for notification, be aware that their 'FROM' address will be that of the forum, not the originator -- don't just click 'REPLY'.
Q: Sometimes when opening a thread to read the posts, the page stops loading part-way through and waits for up to a minute before completing. Why?
A: This happens when the page includes someone's avatar image hosted on a remote Website. If that site is down, or slow, your browser tries for a while to load the image before giving up and completing the page without it. All: if you have your own image and you think it might be holding things up, contact the admin and ask him to host it on the peteatkin.com server instead.
Q: How does the forum know I'm me before I log in? It tells me how many messages I have before I input my ID.
A: The forum saves its own 'cookie' on your computer's hard drive. This is simply a short text file containing your MV username and a coded version of your password. When you connect, the forum immediately checks your browser for the presence of the cookie, and uses it to recognise you and validate your session.
Q: Will the members-only archive pages survive the change from e-mail to forum?
A: Yes. I have now implemented a system granting access to the archive on a members-only basis, as before. Instead of a separate username/password combination, the new scheme checks for a valid cookie on your computer, before servicing any request for the index, or any text or HTML page in the protected area. So you must be (a) a registered member, and (b) currently logged in to the Forum, before you can view these pages. I have also added an Archive item to the logged-in version of the menu bar.
Q: Is it possible to make an extra level in the category/board/thread structure so we can group threads under sub-headings?
A: No -- this would mean a major change to the forum software. Even if it could be done, I believe it would lead to confusion and disagreement over just where to post a message, as well as complicating navigation.
Q: Why do the red 'new' indicators at board and thread level persist even when I've read all the postings?
A: These are reset only when you follow the links to each board or thread. If you jump in from a message link (for instance from the 'most recent posts' lists), the higher levels are unaware whether you've read all the messages, so the red flags are not reset. You can reset these if you wish by clicking the Mark all posts as Read option at Board Index level.
Q: I'm also finding that threads which haven't been updated for months are being marked as "new". Is this a bug?
A: No. Your 'visited' status for boards and threads is stored in a user file on the server. Initially the data in these files was set to expire after 90 days -- the server forgot visits older than this. But I've elected to retain MV messages permanently on the forum -- hence the change of status for old threads. I've now changed user file expiry to 365 days (I don't want the files to become unmanageably large), so once the current 90-day period has elapsed you'll not see the reappearance of the 'new' flags on old messages for another 9 months. If they annoy you, remember you can always reset them using Mark All Posts as Read or Mark Threads as Read, as appropriate -- see previous answer.
Update 30.01.11 - I have removed the 'new' flags in the threads listing.
« Last Edit: 29.10.16 at 03:24 by S J Birkill »    share

Stephen J Birkill
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