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  #1  
Old 01-12-2017, 11:50 PM
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estación seca estación seca is offline
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Default We users hope to keep Orchid Board updated

I don't know much about the workings of Orchid Board, but I know a little about how software works. From most any Web browser it is possible to look at the underlying HTML code of the page you are viewing. Often the command is Ctrl-U.

When I do this on an Orchid Board page I see
meta name="generator" content="vBulletin 3.8.1"

Orchid Board runs on vBulletin software
vBulletin 5 Connect, The World's Leading Community Software
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VBulletin

The current version of vBulletin is 5.0. Version 3.x is only receiving security patches, and we are behind in this:
https://www.vbulletin.com/forum/foru...hen-is-vb4-eol
"Wed 30th Sep '15, 11:00pm
Both vB3 and vB4 are still supported. There is no active development on either branch, however they are still updated with security fixes, and both have recently been updated for compatibility with the latest versions of php and MySQL.
The supported versions are 4.2.3 and 3.8.9. Anyone on earlier versions should upgrade to those."

At some point in the future support will be dropped for version 3.x. It is possible to upgrade from 3.8.7 to 5.0. We would need to upgrade from 3.8.1 to 3.8.7 before upgrading to 5.0:
vBulletin FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

However, we could still be current with security updates if we stayed with version 3.x and upgraded to version 3.8.9. It would require research to determine whether it would be better/cheaper to upgrade to 3.8.9 or switch to 5.0.

As far as I can tell by following tiny print at the bottoms of pages, Orchid Board uses plug-in software modules from DragonByte Tech
https://www.dragonbyte-tech.com/?utm...m_content=Lite

and perhaps also
http://www.drivethruonline.com/

We are hosted on Hivelocity
https://www.hivelocity.net/?utm_sour...%2BIain%2BKidd
I didn't try to contact them about Orchid Board speed issues; I'm sure they won't respond to anybody but their contracted customer.

This is all very good news; it means there is an upgrade path to be current, and all it would take would be money, time and the involvement of somebody who can be shown what to do.

***

Marty posted here in January 2014 that health issues were going to prevent him from being much involved with Orchid Board.

In September 2014 he posted that OB was migrated to a new server, and was now hosted by "...a company that specializes in forums and has their machines optimized for our purposes. We shouldn't have to deal with stuff like before." He also posted in this thread that the forum software would be upgraded soon:
New Server !
I don't see a later post stating that the forum software was updated. Does anybody know whether I missed it, and it did happen?

Marty introduced new moderator Pat (Silken) in October 2014. He mentioned that between family, health and MistKing he had too much to do:
New Moderator


Marty posted that updates to plugins were made April 20 2015:
What changed? I had 237 notifications for "new post thanks"?

As far as I can tell that was his last post to Orchid Board.

Eventually, the software Orchid Board runs on will not be compatible with future-current operating systems, server software or browsers, and it will not work at all. So eventually upgrading will have to be done. This will depend on which version of vBulletin still works, and still works on our hosting site. But it seems like it would be best to upgrade to vBulletin 3.8.9 or 5 in the near future.

The bottom line is:
- Orchid Board could have our software brought up to date and functional for the indefinite future.

- It would take work and money to do the upgrade. Very likely a lot of coordination would be needed between an administrator, vBulletin and the hosting company.

- The cost of running Orchid Board may be a lot more than people think, or a lot less than I think. I don't know Canadian tax laws, but it is likely considered a normal business expense in the form of advertising, and MistKing has been willing to support the forum.

- Upgrading the software will cost some money as a one-time outlay. Then the cost going forward will probably be somewhat higher per month. I see vBulletin has options for lifetime licenses, rather than month-to-month or year-to-year.

- We could probably have a more responsive server. Buying a faster server would cost more money per month.

- Other discussion groups have folded because software became incompatible with new systems, and also because users were unwilling to commit enough money to upgrade.

- Somebody or a committee could investigate these things.

- But, to do so would require permission from Marty, which means contact with Marty.

- E-mail has not proved effective.

That is why I suggested somebody go to a reptile show and start talking.
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Last edited by estación seca; 01-13-2017 at 12:31 AM..
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2017, 11:59 PM
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Excellent research! Thank you.
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Old 01-13-2017, 12:02 AM
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Not so crazy about reptiles,...maybe turtles and lizards only! Amphibians more my speed..
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Old 01-13-2017, 01:27 AM
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estación seca estación seca is offline
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If an upgrade doesn't happen, and this forum becomes obsolete and disappears, it would be a huge loss of information.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to archive stuff like this board. I'll try to explain why.

The content in Orchid Board consists mostly of individual posts, individual photos, and user ID information. There is also something called a cascading style sheet (CSS) that is information about what each page should look like.

The initial administrator (Marty) wrote or directed the writing of the CSS. This provides the "look" of Orchid Board, from the layout on the page, colors chosen, where the ads appear - everything you see on the page.

The information itself - individual posts, photos - isn't stored in any organized layout. Each individual piece of information is stored in a vast hopper full of individual information chunks in near-random order, tagged by the server with information showing its post date, the kind of information it is and the thread to which it was posted, if any. There is a table of contents the server can use to find each individual chunk of information when it needs them. If a human tried to read this hopper of posts, it would be a mess of posts in random order, and it would be impossible to make any sense of it. It would be like looking for the closest 25 pieces in a ten million piece jigsaw puzzle scattered in a huge warehouse.

The pages you see when you look at a thread or edit your user ID aren't sitting on a server waiting for you to request them. Every Web page you see is generated automatically by the vBulletin software when you request it. For example, when you click on a thread, the server software searches for all the posts tagged with that thread. It pulls up the cascading style sheet. It sorts the individual posts by date and time posted, and plugs them into the style sheet. Then it sends that to your browser. The common term is the page is "generated on the fly." It is done this way because a Web site stored this way takes up much less space on the server, and pages can be sent to the user much faster than the old-style static pages that were hard-coded.

For this reason something like Orchid Board can only be saved easily if you have a computer system that has vBulletin installed and running. There isn't anything you can save like a book with a series of pages in order.

It would be incredibly cumbersome, but a person could go back to the beginning of each forum in Orchid Board, pull up each thread, and save that thread to their own local disk. This would save all the text information. The thumbnails would be saved, too, but the big photos probably wouldn't be saved unless you saved them separately. And the threads would only be current as of the time you saved them; new posts wouldn't be there.

One problem saving pages manually like this is that there would be no index of all the threads, so it would be impossible to find things. There would be no search function. Another problem is the total number of pages is so great it would take a large to huge disk to store, and there is no way of knowing in advance how much space is needed to do this. The person paying for hosting knows how much space is being used by what exists now, but storing it as individual downloaded pages would take up very much more space.

There is software available that sucks up entire Web sites and stores them on disk. The person doing this would have the whole site, with all the links clickable. (The search function would not work, because that is done by the Orchid Board server software vBulletin.) An example of site vacuum software is wget. This uses a lot of bandwidth and can lead to trouble between the hosting service and the site owner. It can also use up all the bandwidth and prevent other users from accessing the site while the vacuuming is happening. Many Web sites have a line near the top preventing robots from doing this. This is the reason the Antec Slipper Talk forum is unavailable. archive.org didn't download it because the robots.txt file on slippertalk forbade it. The problem of disk space still exists when vacuuming sites.

So, it's a huge job to manually download all the pages from a forum like Orchid Board. It can be done automatically by somebody who knows how to use vacuuming software, but then it is only usable by that one person.

The only way to keep information like Orchid Board available is to continue upgrading existing technology, which means paying for it and keeping humans involved with running it.

It seems currently to be a business expense somebody is willing to pay, but that might change. It could be moved to another business, or to a non-profit organization if the current business owner agreed. But then other people would have to undertake funding and maintaining it.

I've been willing to pay for Orchid Board. If I put myself into Marty's position, it is much easier not to pull the plug on Orchid Board if other people are covering most or all the cost to keep it running, and it doesn't take much of my time.

We just missed this opportunity, which I see on the MistKing Facebook page:

MistKing.com by Jungle Hobbies Ltd.
January 6 at 7:53am ·
Be sure to visit MistKing at the Reptile Super Show in California this weekend !
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  #5  
Old 01-13-2017, 02:20 AM
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I hella like this forum, so I'm up for doing whatever I can to keep this place running. I joined when I was 15, and probably still am the youngest regular contributor. I'm not necessarily tech savvy, but I don't have a pressing life and often check in on the forum multiple times a day.
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Last edited by FairyInTheFlowers; 01-13-2017 at 02:22 AM..
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2017, 02:28 AM
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The irony is I almost went to that reptile show! shucks...

Seems we have to
-get access into OB from Marty
-figure out costs to upgrade + monthly costs
-then pool for money or find a funder (a business interested in taking/sharing expenses)
-then figure out who wants to do the administration
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Old 01-13-2017, 02:36 AM
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I would first just talk to Marty. He owns it. If he's happy leaving things as they are there is more time.
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Old 01-13-2017, 02:59 AM
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E. Seca, you are a saint! Can I "Like" your posts multiple times each?

Anyway, as a total non-techie, I am only good for money, but I will be in for that. As I posted somewhere in the many threads on this topic, I find it disturbing to "donate" when I don't have any idea how the money is used. But I am more than willing to give if that is what is needed to keep the site going and there is some transparency about expenses.

I checked for reptile shows in my area, but there is nothing in the immediate future. Too bad we missed the one in SoCal.
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Old 01-13-2017, 03:34 PM
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Page loading bombed out twice trying to post this. Here's hoping third time's the charm...

Thanks for your efforts and explanation, estacion seca. There will be another Reptile Super Show in San Diego in July, though it is not yet clear if MistKing will be represented or if Marty would be there himself, and contact much sooner than that would be better.

I would find it much easier to contribute financial support if it were clear that upgrades and safeguards as you describe would be ongoing. I would probably be able to take a part in administration or moderation of the board under those circumstances too, if it was helpful. I feel like there is some urgency to this because I think OrchidBoard will die sooner rather than later without some intervention, but I don't know what I can do but cheer on your efforts for the moment.
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Old 01-13-2017, 04:20 PM
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jkofferdahl jkofferdahl is offline
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I'm a Forum Supporter, in part because I just feel it's the right thing to do but also in part because I use this place and want it to remain. To that end, then, I'm in. At one time I considered withdrawing my financial support in protest of the issues here but realize that doing so would only hasten the OB's demise.

Whatever actions may be taken, it's then important to me that I contribute as I am able (which is quite modestly). I'm not a programmer and so can't help in that regard. What I see, regardless of how a fix should occur, is that there will be an expense involved. Here, then, is where I feel I may be able to take further part. If Marty is found and wants to remain in ownership but could use financial assistance to make needed fixes then I'd be happy to contribute. If Marty is found and wants out, he'll obviously want to sell his stake; perhaps we could form a small group and raise the money together. In one way or another there could be a relatively high financial amount involved to ensure the future of the OB and I certainly feel that this place is valuable enough to me that my financial contribution would gladly be provided.

Thanks, again, ES, for starting this. Your research is invaluable! I hope we can keep pursuing this, and move forward in a positive spirit!
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