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Offline Phil

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About this Forum
« March 10, 2017, 06:40:51 PM »
This "forum" which you are using is free software from Simple Machines, and is known as "SMF". It was originally installed in June 2016 as version 2.0.11, and has been updated as new releases are issued.

A replacement "theme" has been installed, "Exodus" from SMFTricks (available through the SMF library). I wanted something that behaved well on phones and tablets. The stock "curve" theme has been disabled, at least for now.

When you register, you will need to provide a legit email address so that the registration may be completed and your new ID may be enabled. Please see the Privacy page at https://www.catskilltech.com/Privacy.html for information on our use of your email address. After completing registration, you may wish to click on your "Forum Profile" link to update your avatar image, set a signature, and adjust other settings to your liking. If the clock time shown (US Eastern Time, GMT-5) does not match up with your local time, feel free to set your correct time zone in Forum Profile > Modify Profile > Look and Layout > Your Time Zone. Click "Change Profile" when you are done. The default is "not set", which shows US Eastern Time (like guests see). The default "time offset" is 0, but normally doesn't need to be changed if you have set your time zone.

CAUTION: results are unpredictable if you leave SMF (the forum) to go to another page on this site, or offsite. You may lose your "session" (login), and with it, any unsaved work, so be careful! SMF is more or less a standalone installation, and doesn't know about other stuff going on in the site, and may not play nice with others.

This is not a "stock" or "vanilla" SMF installation. It has several "mods" (modifications) installed from the SMF mods library, as well as some custom coding:.

Available Themes:
  • Exodus -- from SMF Theme library, a responsive (mobile-friendly) theme.
Mods installed:
  • #636 Pretty URLs to present most URLs as "Search Engine Friendly", rather than dynamic with Query Strings. Actually, it's been a long time since search engines couldn't handle dynamic URLs, but people tend to like seeing SEF URLs instead, so I oblige.

    Note that if you move a topic (thread), say, from Open Bugs to Closed Bugs, Pretty URLs' database entries don't update very well. The cache will still have the old (Open Bugs) path, so it needs to be manually updated in phpMyAdmin. Renaming of a topic title has the same problem… it doesn't update in the cache.
  • #1443 Redirect on Login and/or Logout to return you to the page you left from (entered SMF) on the rest of the site. According to my notes, this had to be manually installed, and sometimes it may do some odd things, but generally it seems to work.
  • #1343 The Rules to give a page where the agreement text (forum use rules) may be viewed at any time.
  • #2267 Entity Tag to permit entry of HTML entities, either by name ( ) or number (& #160;). This is a real lifesaver to let me enter any character that's not on my keyboard, such as required spaces (nbsp) and em-dashes (mdash). It's the "&" and "& #" buttons above the message edit area.
  • #3393 SEO Sitemap and XML Sitemap (heavily modified) to produce an XML sitemap file of this forum for Google to feast upon. [work in progress]
Custom Modifications:
  • Since ancient times, SMF has had one whopping big flaw: it logs the timestamp of the last database error by overwriting the Settings.php file! Well, you can't store it in the database if the database isn't working correctly, now can you? The problem is, if there's one DB error, there are likely to be many others around the same time, right? And with multiple sessions all attempting to rewrite one file at the same time, a "race condition" often occurs, and Settings.php gets emptied out. Since this contains all sorts of critical information for configuring your forum, I thought that this situation was intolerable. I actually got kicked off the SMF discussion area for arguing that this should be fixed — the official response is "these forum owners should get better hosting so they don't get database errors". Really. Sigh. Anyway, I split out the timestamp into its own one-line file, which is included into Settings.php. It's no big deal if this little file gets stepped on; it can be easily re-created automatically if found to be empty. I didn't feel like putting the effort into restructuring the whole DB error recording business.
  • Stock SMF has the forum owner pick a standard time zone for the "default" offset from GMT and Daylight Saving Time rules. This is the time you see as a guest (not logged in) . Each member may define a "time offset" in decimal hours to add to GMT before the default time zone formatting is done. The main problem with this is that the member is locked into the DST rules for the selected time zone (US Eastern Time in this forum), and their clock may be off by an hour for part of the year. It wasn't a tremendous effort to add a DB field and display/editing code to allow each member to select their appropriate time zone, so their displayed time should always be correct. I'm astounded that the official SMF has never had this ability. Note that the default is "not set" (along with a "time offset" of 0 hours), meaning your forum dates and times will show US Eastern Time (with DST, most of the year) unless you do something about it. It is still possible to enter a decimal hour offset from the forum time, if that's your thing.
  • Removed "index" from page titles — just a little cleaner looking.
  • Changed white background in many places with the Exodus theme to yellow, to better match the background wallpaper. This is in CSS. You may have noticed some bits and pieces of the screen that are still white. I think these are <div> margins or something similar, and I'll get around to tracking them down and fixing them some day. Also set overall background to same parchment as rest of site, and increase font-size in quote and code blocks from x-small to small.
  • Limit the agreement text to display 50ems wide. A single column should be no wider than somewhere around 50 to 70 characters, for best readability. An "em" is a little wider than an average character, so 45 or 50 ems seems a good CSS max-width for text.

    Extended CSS changes to the rest of the forum (li, p tags, .inner class) to restrict line length. During post (message) editing, sometimes lines are still full width, but for display, it seems to work well.
  • In the Exodus theme, changed the root of the breadcrumb trail from the forum home page to the site home page.
  • In several places in the language files, I changed the greeting from "Hey" to "Hello". I felt "Hey" was a little too breezily informal.
  • Where a link is into the rest of the site (outside the forum), adjustment may be needed to the URL to point to the correct area. This is internal and should not be noticed by either the author or by readers.
  • Add beginning and current year to copyright line (forum name &copy; is now forum name &copy; Y1 - Y2) in Exodus theme.
  • Guests (not logged in) may go to the Contact Us page to submit an anonymous post. These posts are first reviewed, and spam or inappropriate content will not be posted (and you may be banned by IP address)! We would prefer that people register and log in to post, but someone with something useful to say may not feel it worthwhile to go through all the pain and agony (yes I'm being sarcastic) of registering. Needless to say, if this feature leads to major spamming or abuse attempts, it will go away.
  • Extend page title and meta description for home page from Catskill Tech to Catskill Tech discussion forum home. Google was dinging the page for having too short a description.
  • Change text (English) from "User" to "Member" in most places (where it's referring to logged in users) -- it looks better.
  • In Pretty URLs, remove () [] {} ! ~ * ' " and $ from characters permitted in a SEF URL (seemed to be upsetting Google a bit).
  • Add explicit meta tag for robots, to "index, follow" on most pages.
  • Add upper-greek list style, although most browsers don't yet support it.
  • Tweak meta description tag to differentiate it from the page title (hopefully Google will use it now).
  • Exodus theme had a couple instances of role="menu"". This has been fixed.
  • Remove "on" part of date/time stamps, because we use Yesterday and Today feature, and "on Today" etc. looks stupid.
  • Trying to find why Firefox considers content to be mixed (SSL and non-SSL), found that Pretty URLs seems to change https: to http: whenever topic= is not the first item in the URL Query String. Changed Exodus theme, but not (yet) the others, due to the large number of changes needed. Also changed <html>'s xmlns URL from http to https. Now only some external <a> links are http: (and no images, .js, or .css), but Firefox still reports content as mixed. Still looking at it.

Update: add 9th custom modification.
Update: add 10th custom modification.
Update: add larger font size in 4th custom modification.
Update: add 11th custom modification.
Update: add 12th custom modification.
Update: add 13th custom modification.
Update: add 14th and 15th custom modifications.
Update: add 16th custom modification.
Update: add 17th custom modification.
Update: add 18th custom modification.
Update: add 19th custom modification.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:08:54 AM by Phil »

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Offline Phil

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Re: About this Forum
« Reply #1: August 14, 2017, 10:37:15 AM »
SMF has a lot of list capability, but it's not well documented. Here is a summary:

Making an Unordered (bulleted) list

This is the default list.
Code: [Select]
[list]
[li]Item 1
[list]
[li]item 1a[/li]
[li]item 1b[/li]
[/list][/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
giving you:
  • Item 1
    • item 1a
    • item 1b
  • item 2

You can specify the "bullet" used in the list, with type=bullet:
  • disc, *, or @ gives a dot (filled circle) bullet
  • circle, o, O, or 0 gives an open circle bullet
  • square, +, x, or #  gives a solid (filled) square bullet

Code: [Select]
[list type=square]
[li]Item 1
[list type=circle]
[li]item 1a
[list type=disc]
[li]item 1aI[/li]
[li]item 1aII[/li]
[/list][/li]
[li]item 1b[/li]
[/list][/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
    • item 1a
      • item 1aI
      • item 1aII
    • item 1b
  • item 2

Making an Ordered list

The bullet (list marker) is a sequence of numbers in some format, starting at 1. It is actually output as an unordered list (<ul>) with the appropriate CSS list-style-type:
  • decimal or decimal-leading-zero gives a (Hindu-Arabic)  decimal number marker 1, 2,... or 01, 02,...
  • lower-roman gives lower case Roman numerals i, ii,...
  • upper-roman gives upper case Roman numerals I, II,...
  • lower-alpha or lower-latin gives lower case Latin letters a, b,...
  • upper-alpha or upper-latin gives upper case Latin letters A, B,...
  • lower-greek gives lower case Greek letters α, β, γ,...
  •    There does not appear to be an upper-greek style (upper case Greek letters Α, Β, Γ,...) available in CSS! Or, at least, it is not widely implemented in browsers.
  • hebrew gives Hebrew letters א, ב,...
  • armenian gives Armenian letters Ա, Բ,...
  • georgian gives Georgian letters ა, ბ,...
  • CJK alphabets cjk-ideographic, hiragana, katakana, hiragana-iroha, and katakana-iroha are also available.
Code: [Select]
[list type=decimal]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=decimal-leading-zero]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=lower-roman]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=upper-roman]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=lower-alpha]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=upper-alpha]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=lower-greek]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[li]item 3[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
  • item 3
Code: [Select]
[list type=upper-greek]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[li]item 3[/li]
[/list]
This is not implemented on many browsers!
  • Item 1
  • item 2
  • item 3
Code: [Select]
[list type=hebrew]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=armenian]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=georgian]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=cjk-ideographic]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=hiragana]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=katakana]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=hiragana-iroha]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2
Code: [Select]
[list type=katakana-iroha]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
  • Item 1
  • item 2

Making a Simple list

If you want a "simple" list, that is, an unordered list without any bullets, simply define your list as type = none:
Code: [Select]
[list type=none]
[li]Item 1[/li]
[li]item 2[/li]
[/list]
giving you:
  • Item 1
  • item 2

Making a Definition list

If you want a "definition" list, that is, an unordered list with a highlighted term, simply define your list as type = none, and bold your term:
Code: [Select]
[list type=none]
[li][b]animal[/b]  a landlocked quadruped[/li]
[li][b]bird[/b]  a feathered flyer[/li]
[/list]
giving you:
  • animal  a landlocked quadruped
  • bird  a feathered flyer

This effect is similar to a basic HTML definition list of
Code: [Select]
<dl>
  <dt>animal</dt>
    <dd>a landlocked quadruped</dd>
  <dt>bird</dt>
    <dd>a feathered flyer</dd>
</dl>
but unfortunately, the fine-tuning of a DL (how and when to break between term and definition, how much to indent the definition, etc.) is not easily done.

<Modified to add list, unordered list, and ordered list>
<Modified to add CJK list examples>
<Modified to add upper-greek list style>
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 09:48:35 AM by Phil »

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Offline Phil

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Re: About this Forum
« Reply #2: December 25, 2017, 04:58:33 PM »
SMF appears to have some problems handling tables. It's not even clear whether it can handle a basic table.

  • The supported tags are [table]...[/table], [tr]...[/tr], and [td]...[/td].
  • There are no [th]...[/th] tags for marking up column headings, but you can use [center][b]heading[/b][/center] to approximate the effect.
  • Nor are there [thead]...[/thead], [tbody]...[/tbody], and [tfoot]...[/tfoot] tags for controlling tables split across pages (not terribly relevant on a browser, but important for printing).
  • There do not appear to be any controls or attributes for internal rules, external borders, padding, spacing, or specified cell widths, nor for row spans or column spans.

I'll think about adding some of these capabilities as time permits.

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Offline Phil

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Re: About this Forum
« Reply #3: December 26, 2017, 11:43:53 AM »
It appears that you can put a [quote] inside a list item ([li]), but you can't put a [code] block inside a list item. It breaks the table and ends it.