S J Birkill
just a sensible reserve
« : 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 a venerable open-source software project. It's was developed many years ago by an international community of computer enthusiasts, and the customisable perl source code was made 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: 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: As an anti-spam measure introduced in 2016, we now require new registrants to 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: 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, like other word-processing applications, 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 always interpreted correctly when you view the Web page. Use a simple text editor (e.g. Windows Notepad, 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. There's also a live preview option which will echo the text you type, with formatting applied -- use the second button of the cluster of four, top right in the message composition window.
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 our first seven years, but a majority of members saw their daily updates as 'spam', and urged us to switch to this Web-based forum.
For urgent messages of interest to all, 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 Gig Guide section of the Website.
In 2001, Pete launched an e-mail broadcast newsletter which he operates himself on an opt-in basis. See this message. The Smash Flops website maintains an archive of all Newsletter messages here.
Q: How can I contact another member off-list, when his e-mail address is hidden?
A: Send him an MV Personal 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 PMs 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 PM 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 -- Your user Profile, lists several PM 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. We now offer to host your own avatar image on the peteatkin.com server -- see this thread.
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: Did the members-only archive pages survive the change from e-mail to forum?
A: Yes. I 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: 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 a member of a related Facebook group (The Pete Atkin and Clive James Appreciation Society), and occasionally I post there to direct members to an MV message of interest. But when I post the page URL into Facebook as a link, Facebook changes it so it no longer points to the correct MV page. How can I fix this?
A: In the past I've advised members to use a URL shortening service such as 'bit.ly', but this has recently (October 2022) become unreliable. To get around this I have created a new unique page URL for each post on MV. Clicking the green 'COPY' button at bottom right of the desired post will copy its Facebook-friendly address to your Clipboard. It's then a simple matter to paste it (<CTRL-V>) into Facebook, resulting in a link that does exactly what it should.