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Some days, I wake up in the morning, drink my tea, and ponder the question "What shall I do with my day today?"

This is usually a pleasant quandary. I could do something in my shop, or do something DIY around the house, or add some new, fun feature to MV, or maybe even something completely crazy like leaving the house!

Other days, I peruse my email and discover something that isn't nearly as interesting but needs attention. Yesterday, it was a missive from Amazon AWS informing me of upcoming bulk email sender requirements at Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

Exciting.

So yesterday was largely spent on the vastly uninteresting details of bulk email sending requirements. And I don't even think the requirements really apply to Modern Vespa, as we don't send anywhere near 5000 emails per day. Still, being compliant now means I maybe won't have to deal with it as an emergency at some point in the future.

The upshot of all of this is that any topic reply email notification or PM reply email notification that you receive in your inbox now has an automatic one-click-unsubscribe option built into the header. This is different from the unsubscribe link that I've already been including at the bottom. That one brings you to a landing page and lets you select what you want to unsubscribe from (there are now a few options).

The new one-click-unsubscribe link would be executed by your email reader (at your request) and doesn't present you with any options -- it just sends the command to MV and MV is expected to comply with it. And since (for a topic replay notification) it's not entirely clear exactly what the user wants to unsubscribe from at that point -- we only know that the user wants to unsubscribe from something -- we play it safe and unsubscribe them from all topic reply email notifications across the board.

Fun.
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Gack.
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jimc wrote:
Gack.
Indeed.
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Continuing with the email topic, I took a good hard look at how much it's currently costing per month to host the non-automated portion of Modern Vespa's email service.

Let me back up and explain: the automated emails that some of you receive (e.g. for topic reply notifications or password reset operations) is handled by an email service at AWS called Simple Email Service, or SES.

Regular emails -- to and from my Modern Vespa email account, for instance -- are handled by a different service. Up until today, that was also through AWS, but a separate service called Workmail. And it has been costing me $8/month ($4/month per email address).

The two services aren't related, except that they both use modernvespa.com and, well, sort of look like they are entangled if you aren't paying close attention.

But the Workmail service is just meh, and seems overpriced for such a no-frills service that is based on Microsoft Exchange (bleh!)

So today I moved it. My personal email address is through a paid service from HEY.com, which is not at all cheap but definitely an improvement over traditional email services (IMHO). They have a related service called HEY for Domains which will handle an entire domain with multiple email addresses. And again, still not cheap, though about the same amount of $ I was paying to Amazon for a much better product.

But wait! How much would you pay now?

As it turns out, HEY has a "combo discount" for people with early HEY.com personal accounts (mine is) linked with a HEY for Domains account.

So for only $2/mo extra over what I was paying for my personal email account, I can now have HEY handle modernvespa.com email as well.

Sold.

NOTE: This is not a paid advertisement for HEY! I am merely a long-time happy customer.
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Any way to let us tag users in our posts, like greasy125 or whatnot?

Currently the equivalent is to quote them, I guess. But being able to do it direct would be cool.
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sdjohn wrote:
Any way to let us tag users in our posts, like greasy125 or whatnot?

Currently the equivalent is to quote them, I guess. But being able to do it direct would be cool.
It's on my list. The current obstacle is that usernames can have spaces in them, which completely tanks it.
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jess wrote:
It's on my list. The current obstacle is that usernames can have spaces in them, which completely tanks it.
Looking forward to it!
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jess wrote:
It's on my list. The current obstacle is that usernames can have spaces in them, which completely tanks it.
I'd take the space out of my username if it would be helpful.
I'mprettysurenoonewouldbeconfusedatallifitwentmissing.
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jess wrote:
It's on my list. The current obstacle is that usernames can have spaces in them, which completely tanks it.
If you implement it, please also implement an option in one's user profile so you *can't* be tagged. Ta Muchly in advance...
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jimc wrote:
If you implement it, please also implement an option in one's user profile so you *can't* be tagged. Ta Muchly in advance...
Hrmpf.
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jimc wrote:
If you implement it, please also implement an option in one's user profile so you *can't* be tagged. Ta Muchly in advance...
Okay, so I've pondered this for the last 10 minutes or so.

If tagging is something that can be switched off per-user, then that introduces a good deal of uncertainty to tags -- it won't be clear to the person tagging someone whether or not the tag will do anything.

To me, that uncertainty makes the whole feature pointless.
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New Feature!

One of the repeatedly-requested features (by adri and sdjohn, among others) is tagging of users, i.e. "mentions". And though jimc has stated his opposition to this feature (or at least implied it) I have spent the morning implementing Phase I of member tags.

Just type an at sign in front of someone's username and after posting, it will be automatically transformed into a user link, like so:
@jess
Becomes: jess

And, of course, when you actually submit the post, any and all users you mentioned in that post will receive a notification.

The basis of member tags are the shortened lowercase usernames that MV already maintains for use in URLs (e.g. in the path of member uploads). By prefixing an @ to this short username, you get the member tag.

For most members, the public display name and member tag should be the same (except for the @). For members with uppercase letters in their public display, the member tag is the lowercase version of that name.

For members with spaces in their public display name, however, their member tag will generally have an underscore where a space would be.

If you want to know any member's tag, it's listed in their public profile. Even easier, though, on desktop browsers you can just hover your mouse pointer over their username anywhere it appears, and their member tag will show up after a short pause.

--

I expect some of you will probably over-use this feature. And there will probably be a period of adjustment where we develop a general sense of site-wide etiquette for the contexts that are appropriate to use this feature.

If it becomes a problem, I will honor jimc's request for a way to turn off this specific type of notification. However, as stated above, I think that will effectively ruin the feature.

Additionally, it would be nice if there was an autocomplete mechanism to find member tags as you type them. This was beyond the scope of today's work, though, and really gets into the bowels of the editor that will eventually be replaced. So that will be a future project. In the meantime, hovering over usernames will have to suffice to find out what someone's member tag is.

I hope this actually works!
⚠️ Last edited by jess on UTC; edited 1 time
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I very much hope my disquiet proves unfounded, as it's evident several users would really like this feature.

And I applaud all the work that's gone into all of this.
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Seems to have worked for me jess !
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jimc wrote:
I very much hope my disquiet proves unfounded,
Must...resist...urge...to...tag....Jimc...
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znomit wrote:
Must...resist...urge...to...tag....Jimc...
Yes. Let's not ruin it for everyone, mkay?
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hmmm...

External inline image provided by member with no explanatory text

what's going on here?
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greasy125 wrote:
hmmm...

what's going on here?
Was that earlier today? I was tagging various moderators before all the software pieces were in place.
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Thanks for doing this jess!
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sdjohn wrote:
Thanks for doing this jess!
It's been on the list for a long time. This morning I actually sat down with my morning tea and started coding. I scaled back the scope a little bit -- autocomplete being the biggest item -- but the rest of the code was more straightforward than I had imagined.

I'm happy with the results. It seems to be working well.
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jess wrote:
Was that earlier today? I was tagging various moderators before all the software pieces were in place.
yes.

I thought it was odd that there was no link thru and that the notification disappeared.

good to know that I'm not insane!
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greasy125 wrote:
good to know that I'm not insane!
Umm ...
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jess wrote:
If it becomes a problem, I will honor jimc's request for a way to turn off this specific type of notification. However, as stated above, I think that will effectively ruin the feature.
Maybe have it as an available preference option, "Turn Off Tag email Notifications," for example.

I don't expect you'd want to get as granular as another forum I belong to does it:
Another Forum Notification Preferences
Another Forum Notification Preferences
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monogodo wrote:
Maybe have it as an available preference option, "Turn Off Tag email Notifications," for example.
As it happens, there aren't any tag email notifications. It's strictly an in-forum notification, like thumbs-ups.
monogodo wrote:
I don't expect you'd want to get as granular as another forum I belong to does it:
Yeah. That's exactly the kind of thing that I strive to avoid. I'll go farther: whoever put that preference form together was an idiot that doesn't know anything about option fatigue.
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If anyone was curious why we were down this evening, the graphs below tell the story. Over the last year+, the free storage space available on the MV database has dropped by over 10 gigabytes, in a very steady manner.

"But of course it has! We're all posting gibberish 24/7, of course it is using more space!" said no one, probably.

Not so fast. The total size of our entire database -- all the posts accumulated over the past 18 years -- is only around 6 gigabytes. and yet, we're clearly using more and more storage every day. So what gives?

Well, nobody seems to have a straight answer for that. The best I can come up with, after much googling, is that InnoDB (this is probably too much detail now -- InnoDB is the storage engine that runs most of the tables in our database) gets fragmented over time and wastes a significant amount of disk space. Or something. The answers are really murky.

But optimizing the tables -- literally recreating them and writing them back to disk in the actual record order -- seems to free up a bunch of disk space.

The second graph is a close-up (time-wise) of what happened immediately after I optimized every single table in the database (about 100 of them). The free storage space jumped up dramatically.

And as a side benefit, optimizing the tables improves query time as well. So the site should be a little faster. Probably not enough to notice, though.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled scooter (hah, sometimes) programming.
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I've been threatening for about a month (more?) to start rewriting big chunks of the forum. I've been procrastinating on that task, but only because there were large pieces of infrastructure that needed to be invented to make the new architecture really work well. So I've been doing bits and pieces of new infrastructure, incorporating some of them into the older pages where it makes sense.

But I haven't really created rewritten any new public-facing pages along the way. I did create a few pages that are strictly administrative tools, which gave me a good sense of what it was like to actually work with the new infrastructure. And there were a few aspects I didn't like, so had the luxury of adjusting those things until it felt right and covered all the use cases that I could anticipate.

Today, though, I've pushed an actual public-facing set of pages to the main server. Effective immediately, all of the "synthetic" forums (favorites, watched, started, replied, and new) are rendered by the new forum architecture. You really can't tell the difference between the old and the new (there is one tell, but I'll leave it up to the excessively curious to find the difference in page layout).

Unless I've broken something. Which, of course, is a strong possibility. If any of you want to check out the synthetic forums and see if their contents seem legitimate, please be my guest. Report back here with any issues you see.
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jess, I just flicked through each of the synthetic forums and they seem to reflect my activity accurately.

Can't thank you enough for the terrific work you do on this forum, it's the only one I visit almost daily. Also the Moderators. Firm but fair. I love it.
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pigletpilot wrote:
jess, I just flicked through each of the synthetic forums and they seem to reflect my activity accurately.
Excellent! Thanks much for doing that.
pigletpilot wrote:
Can't thank you enough for the terrific work you do on this forum, it's the only one I visit almost daily. Also the Moderators. Firm but fair. I love it.
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jess wrote:
Unless I've broken something. Which, of course, is a strong possibility. If any of you want to check out the synthetic forums and see if their contents seem legitimate, please be my guest. Report back here with any issues you see.
I use the synthetic forums all the time. I'd even say they're the main way I interact with the site. I thought I was imagining things, but it seemed to me the icons changed subtly a few days back. Other than than, I didn't notice any difference at all. In short: all looks good to me!
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berto wrote:
I use the synthetic forums all the time. I'd even say they're the main way I interact with the site.
That's good feedback -- it's not always clear to me exactly how people prefer to interact with the site. Understanding those subtleties is really important for me.

It turns out that the synthetic forums use a different topic layout than the "regular" forums -- the two layouts have evolved separately. The synthetic forums don't have avatars, for instance, and it condenses differently as you go from desktop to tablet to phone.

This is a bit of a problem as I work toward changing everything over to the new architecture. I need to unify these two layouts. And that's what I'm working on right this moment, so change is on the way.
berto wrote:
I thought I was imagining things, but it seemed to me the icons changed subtly a few days back.
You're not wrong, though that was an unrelated change -- I flattened the icons for the synthetic forums that show up on the home page. I also made them clickable, so you can hit either the title of the synthetic forum or its icon.
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Another update to Synthetic Forums. And actually Search as well, but to a lesser degree.

I've just completely re-written the (supposedly already modern) topic list module that renders a list of topics into a useable, clickable form. The synthetic forums didn't have avatars or quite as adaptive of a mobile layout prior to this change -- but the behavior and appearance are now on par with the regular forums. Ironically, the regular forums are still running with an ancient architecture.

Getting the modern topic list module in-line with the regular forums (e.g. General Discussion) is actually a precursor to rewriting that ancient part of forum as well. Which is ostensibly my next step.

This change is arguably more involved (and more likely to break in subtle ways) than the previous change. Careful examination of the finer details of the synthetic forums -- making sure links work as expected, in particular -- would be greatly appreciated.
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jess wrote:
Another update to Synthetic Forums. And actually Search as well, but to a lesser degree.

I've just completely re-written the (supposedly already modern) topic list module that renders a list of topics into a useable, clickable form. The synthetic forums didn't have avatars or quite as adaptive of a mobile layout prior to this change -- but the behavior and appearance are now on par with the regular forums. Ironically, the regular forums are still running with an ancient architecture.

Getting the modern topic list module in-line with the regular forums (e.g. General Discussion) is actually a precursor to rewriting that ancient part of forum as well. Which is ostensibly my next step.

This change is arguably more involved (and more likely to break in subtle ways) than the previous change. Careful examination of the finer details of the synthetic forums -- making sure links work as expected, in particular -- would be greatly appreciated.
Appreciated
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Two quick updates:

• The regular forum indexes -- General Discussion, NSM, etc -- are now rendered by the newer code architecture. Stickyfrog already caught one bug, and I quickly patched it. Hopefully, nobody else will notice a difference.

• As of a few minutes ago, we're running on a new server. I needed to do some reconfiguration of a few things in linux, and it was complicated enough that I thought bringing up a new instance of the server was probably the right choice. We lose some ephemeral information -- statistics, various session cache states -- but for the most part one server can step in and do the same job the previous server was with very little interruption.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
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adri wrote:
Not a fix request, but I always had two questions:

Bottom of the page says

[ Time: 0.0329s ][ Queries: 12 (0.0116s) ][ Debug on ][ 299 ][ Thing Two ]

I just always wondered what is Thing Two, and does anyone know if Thing One is okay?
Thing One says hi!
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I've noticed that favorite threads are grouped correctly, in the sense that they appear in my favorites synthetic subforum. But the favorites "star" isn't highlighted/ yellowed inside these threads. Is this a bug?
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@jess avatar
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berto wrote:
I've noticed that favorite threads are grouped correctly, in the sense that they appear in my favorites synthetic subforum. But the favorites "star" isn't highlighted/ yellowed inside these threads. Is this a bug?
Well spotted! It looks like some topics have the buttons lit up correctly, and some don't. The determining factor seems to be whether or not you've replied to the thread -- there's another button in the group that is only there if you've replied, and that is probably interfering with the favorite logic.

Let me go poke at that code.
OP
@jess avatar
UTC

Petty Tyrant
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Location: Bay Area, California
 
Petty Tyrant
@jess avatar
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Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
UTC quote
berto wrote:
I've noticed that favorite threads are grouped correctly, in the sense that they appear in my favorites synthetic subforum. But the favorites "star" isn't highlighted/ yellowed inside these threads. Is this a bug?
This should be fixed now. It was in fact dependent on whether or not you had replied to the topic, which itself was the result of my status as a rank amateur in the field of SQL.

Full Anorak Dissertation Follows:

The status buttons at the top (and bottom) of a topic are dependent on two different tables, each with different functions:
(A) a table of which user has replied to which topics
(B) a table of topic preferences for each topic and each user that has ever
expressed a preference for that topic.
I had recently refactored how those buttons are populated, and naively joined the two tables together (since they share in common a user_id and topic_id) in an attempt to eliminate two separate queries, and thus speed up topic rendering times across the board for all registered users.

However, I made the rookie mistake of using a straight INNER JOIN, which means we would only get meaningful results for table B if table A was also present. Otherwise we would get nothing.

Sensing that there was a solution to be had with various exotic forms of SQL JOIN variations, I turned to an article I have read many times in the past, each time learning just enough to get past whatever hurdle I am facing.

Reading through Jeff Atwood's excellent article, I came to the conclusion that what this task actually required was a FULL OUTER JOIN between table A and table B, such that if either table had appropriate records for a given topic and a given user, then that information would be returned.

But since I'm a rank amateur, and have never actually needed to use a FULL OUTER JOIN before, I was somewhat amusingly surprised to find that MySQL/MariaDB does not in fact support FULL OUTER JOIN.

@#$%

So then I had to read this entire article to find out how to accomplish that in MySQL/MariaDB. And after much fiddling and fussing with variations on how to structure the query, I eventually ended up with a fairly bulky query that manages to return all the information I need in one go.

Is it any faster than just doing two queries? That's a fine question. And one that I'm not going to try to answer at this moment.

TL;DR: It should be fixed now. Please do let me know if you find some edge case that I've still managed to miss.

And thanks again for finding and reporting this bug!
OP
@jess avatar
UTC

Petty Tyrant
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Location: Bay Area, California
 
Petty Tyrant
@jess avatar
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
UTC quote
Speaking of bugs, I neglected an award!

stickyfrog, for finding and reporting a forum bug, I hereby award you the MV Entomologist badge. Wear it with pride.
@berto avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
2006 LX150 (carbed) | 2007 GT200
Joined: UTC
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Location: Toronto
 
Molto Verboso
@berto avatar
2006 LX150 (carbed) | 2007 GT200
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1921
Location: Toronto
UTC quote
jess wrote:
This should be fixed now. It was in fact dependent on whether or not you had replied to the topic, which itself was the result of my status as a rank amateur in the field of SQL.
Thanks for the fix (and for the detailed explanation, which I genuinely read with interest)!

I can confirm that on first glance it now appears to be working as expected.
Forum member supplied image with no explanatory text
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Addicted
2019 Honda - The Monkey
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Posts: 645
Location: Somerset England
 
Addicted
@somerset avatar
2019 Honda - The Monkey
Joined: UTC
Posts: 645
Location: Somerset England
UTC quote
It's probably just me but the search members posts facility seems to have stopped on 29 January.

Apologies if this has already been mentioned.

somerset
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