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somerset wrote:
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.
No, hadn't heard that. I will investigate.

Thanks!
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somerset wrote:
It's probably just me but the search members posts facility seems to have stopped on 29 January.
This should now be fixed. When I switched to a new server a few days ago, I neglected to nominate the new server to be in charge of indexing posts for the search index -- which is a background process that happens outside of web processing. I switched it back on and it has now caught up with the thousands (and thousands!) of posts over the last few days.

Additionally, somerset, for finding and reporting this forum bug, I hereby award you the MV Entomologist badge. Wear it with pride.
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Wow. Firstly thank you for the quickest response in solving a problem that I have come across on the Internet.

It's a useful tool that I use to keep up to date with my 'favourite' posters in particular.

Secondly, the last time I won an award of any description was for winning a darts competition about 25 years ago.

I feel privileged.

somerset
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Things are afoot.
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Side note, unrelated to above post:

While doing some testing using a copy of the real database and a newly-registered user account, I noticed a performance problem that only seems to occur for new-ish accounts. Trying to load a forum index (e.g. General Discussion) is several orders of magnitude slower for a new account than an established account (e.g. my own).

This is something of a surprise to me -- I would have expected the opposite to be true, given the large number of cross-referenced database entries that an established user has.

Digging a little deeper, I did some SQL EXPLAINs on the queries, and the database is using significantly different optimized plans to carry out the queries for me vs. a new user. Which is really odd, because the queries are identical.

The sticking point seems to be related to the "replied topics" table, the one that tracks every single reply in every single topic for every single user. This is what allows the forum to show the visual clue that you've replied to a topic -- the little dog-ear mark near the delta button to the left of the topic name. When building a list of topics to show on any give page of a forum, we cross-reference the list with the "replied topics" table in order to show that mark.

Which is apparently a bridge too far. For new users. Or something. I don't really know why at this point, only that the performance is abominable -- something like 25 seconds to load the page. Egads!

So I'm probably going to push a change later today to turn off that little dog-ear, at least until I figure out what's going on.

Sorry for the service degradation.
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I just pushed another new piece of the forum rewrite to the main server. Today it's the Login page, which gets a new look and an entirely new foundation.

This was a gnarly change, and touched much more of the forum than I would have expected. I've tested it extensively, and yet... there are still probably some edge cases I haven't considered.

I'm especially concerned about legacy usernames with ampersands and apostrophes, but those users should be able to use their email addresses instead.
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The little corner tab denoting "replied to" is gone from the main page.
It's still on the replied to page which isn't that helpful.

Also… does search work for attachment names?
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znomit wrote:
The little corner tab denoting "replied to" is gone from the main page.
See: [MVFR] POLL: What should Jess fix next? (Post 2662635)
znomit wrote:
Also… does search work for attachment names?
No.
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jess wrote:
Side note, unrelated to above post:

While doing some testing using a copy of the real database and a newly-registered user account, I noticed a performance problem that only seems to occur for new-ish accounts. Trying to load a forum index (e.g. General Discussion) is several orders of magnitude slower for a new account than an established account (e.g. my own).

This is something of a surprise to me -- I would have expected the opposite to be true, given the large number of cross-referenced database entries that an established user has.

Digging a little deeper, I did some SQL EXPLAINs on the queries, and the database is using significantly different optimized plans to carry out the queries for me vs. a new user. Which is really odd, because the queries are identical.

The sticking point seems to be related to the "replied topics" table, the one that tracks every single reply in every single topic for every single user. This is what allows the forum to show the visual clue that you've replied to a topic -- the little dog-ear mark near the delta button to the left of the topic name. When building a list of topics to show on any give page of a forum, we cross-reference the list with the "replied topics" table in order to show that mark.

Which is apparently a bridge too far. For new users. Or something. I don't really know why at this point, only that the performance is abominable -- something like 25 seconds to load the page. Egads!

So I'm probably going to push a change later today to turn off that little dog-ear, at least until I figure out what's going on.

Sorry for the service degradation.
Came here to point out that the "replied to" thingy went away, but wisely read through the posts here first.

If it could make a comeback, I'd greatly appreciate it. I use it to keep up with the threads/topics that I participate the most in. Without it, I have to actually read every topic title to see if I want to read it. Lazy of me, I know.
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^^^^ This!!! I miss it.
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monogodo wrote:
If it could make a comeback, I'd greatly appreciate it. I use it to keep up with the threads/topics that I participate the most in. Without it, I have to actually read every topic title to see if I want to read it. Lazy of me, I know.
jimc wrote:
^^^^ This!!! I miss it.
Understood. I haven't attempted to figure it out yet, though it's been simmering on a back burner in the back of my head.

The main problem I think is that the replied table is just far too large. It currently has 1,330,125 records in it, and it has to search that entire table every time you pull up a list of topics. For contrast, there are only 174,313 topics in the entire database.

My own synthetic Replied forum is extra slow, just because of how many replies I have made and how many entries it has to sift through. I suspect Jim's Replied synthetic forum is similarly sluggish.

One approach would be to prune records of replies after some amount of time -- a year? two years? That would greatly reduce the size of the table. This has some significant downsides, though -- the record of who has replied to what topics is what allows the Replied synthetic forum to be useful, and I'd hate to give that up.

Another approach would be to remove records of replies of any member who hasn't logged in for some amount of time. Again, a year? Two years? At some point, it's fairly likely that a user won't be back. I like this idea a little more, but I also still hate to lose valuable data that could be put to better use in the future.

And finally, there's the enduring mystery of why the database uses a different plan to perform the queries. I believe that it is choosing not to use the table index for new users, but I have no idea why this would be the case.

Further investigation is probably needed.
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So I thought I'd Favorite the topics that I always check, but I can't find where that list of Favorite Topics is, so that I can check it.

While looking for that list, I did find the Replied list, which does seem to work for me to see the topics I always look for. I can check that list for activity, participate if necessary, then go to the General forum and check new topics. Not too much additional work on my part, but it will work for now.
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A thought on this - does it go through every reply? I would hope that once it spots I (for example) have made a reply to a topic, it would move onto the next topic, not look for any extra replies from me in that topic. But perhaps it doesn't work anything like that anyway.
(It took nearly 11 seconds for my replied-to synthetic topic - which is why I've never bothered to use it).

For the main page in say GD, I only want to see if I have replied to a topic where there are new posts since I last 'marked all read'. This should be very speedy to accomplish. Perhaps the 'flag' can be restricted to just those topics? Rarely more than 40 of them.
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monogodo wrote:
So I thought I'd Favorite the topics that I always check, but I can't find where that list of Favorite Topics is, so that I can check it.
It should be on the same line as Replied. (See below).
monogodo wrote:
While looking for that list, I did find the Replied list, which does seem to work for me to see the topics I always look for. I can check that list for activity, participate if necessary, then go to the General forum and check new topics. Not too much additional work on my part, but it will work for now.
👍
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jimc wrote:
A thought on this - does it go through every reply? I would hope that once it spots I (for example) have made a reply to a topic, it would move onto the next topic, not look for any extra replies from me in that topic. But perhaps it doesn't work anything like that anyway.
(It took nearly 11 seconds for my replied-to synthetic topic - which is why I've never bothered to use it).
There is only one entry in the table per user per topic. It doesn't record every reply, just who has replied to a given topic. So once the query has matched a given topic and user, it moves on.

For new users, the database chooses to scan the entire table looking for matches. I'm not sure why.
jimc wrote:
For the main page in say GD, I only want to see if I have replied to a topic where there are new posts since I last 'marked all read'. This should be very speedy to accomplish. Perhaps the 'flag' can be restricted to just those topics? Rarely more than 40 of them.
That's an interesting variation on the feature. I'll have to have a think about whether it's feasible.
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jess wrote:
I just pushed another new piece of the forum rewrite to the main server. Today it's the Login page, which gets a new look and an entirely new foundation.

This was a gnarly change, and touched much more of the forum than I would have expected. I've tested it extensively, and yet... there are still probably some edge cases I haven't considered.

I'm especially concerned about legacy usernames with ampersands and apostrophes, but those users should be able to use their email addresses instead.
works just fine
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monogodo, jimc, and anyone else that cares.

I have a potential solution to the missing replied-to dogear feature.

(The following exists on a test server -- I haven't changed anything on the main server yet)

I've rewritten the SQL query to get a "bare" list of topics first -- without reference to which user is querying -- and this does in fact prove to be highly performant for both new users (with no post history) and established users (with lots of post history). Only then does it join that list of topics with all the other tables (including the dreaded replied-to table) to finish out all the bits of information needed to render a forum index.

But, naturally, there's a problem.

In order to structure the query this way, I have to omit any query conditions that involve the time of the last post, since the topic record itself does not actually contain the time of the last post -- that's a function of the last post itself, which we can only use if we join the posts table to the topic table, which we deliberately are not doing in that first-pass attempt of retrieving the "bare" topic list.

Which means the "Display topics from previous N days" feature would be kaput.

I have opinions about whether this is a fair tradeoff or not, but I'll let others speak their own opinions before I bias them with mine.

Thoughts?
Doomed
Doomed
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I guess the thundering silence is a sign that nobody cares about the doomed control mentioned above.

Doomed.
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jess wrote:
I guess the thundering silence is a sign that nobody cares about the doomed control mentioned above.

Doomed.
Still trying to wrap my head around what it is that is happening.
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jess wrote:
I guess the thundering silence is a sign that nobody cares about the doomed control mentioned above.

Doomed.
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monogodo wrote:
Still trying to wrap my head around what it is that is happening.
I don't know that you need to wrap your head around the SQL problem. I mean, it's SQL, invented by sadists, or possibly proselytizing masochists.

The central question is really just: is the ability to see only topics in the last N days a useful feature (or not)? It's actually one of the original features of phpBB, upon which this forum was (once) based.
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jess wrote:
I guess the thundering silence is a sign that nobody cares about the doomed control mentioned above.

Doomed.
I assume you are referring to the "dog ear" on the left column of a topic when a sub-forum is displayed, and whether an N time is useful in order to have the dog ear as opposed to not having the dog ear at all any longer? If this is the correct dog ear, I do miss it, but I can click on the replies icon to check as well.

I am obviously not a frequent poster. That said, if the N days is short, the juice may not be worth the squeeze.

If I am misunderstanding, well then feel free to disregard.

I am thankful for all you do to maintain the site, even more with the number of aggravations.
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jess wrote:
I don't know that you need to wrap your head around the SQL problem. I mean, it's SQL, invented by sadists, or possibly proselytizing masochists.

The central question is really just: is the ability to see only topics in the last N days a useful feature (or not)? It's actually one of the original features of phpBB, upon which this forum was (once) based.
Meaning only topics in the last N days in general, not ones I've interacted with specifically?

If that's the case, then nah, I don't see how it would be useful. The topics are already sorted chronologically (at least, they are for me), so it's easy enough to simply stop scrolling.
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marret wrote:
I assume you are referring to the "dog ear" on the left column of a topic when a sub-forum is displayed, and whether an N time is useful in order to have the dog ear as opposed to not having the dog ear at all any longer? If this is the correct dog ear, I do miss it, but I can click on the replies icon to check as well.\
Not quite. You're crossing the beams of two different features, though to be fair we are discussing them both because they are probably mutually exclusive.

The dog-ear visual reply cue is currently turned off because it causes major delays for new users (for reasons that I'm not entirely sure of). I have a fix that will allow me to turn the dog-ear feature back on, but it means sacrificing a different feature -- the control I attached in a post a few up from here.
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jess wrote:
Not quite. You're crossing the beams of two different features, though to be fair we are discussing them both because they are probably mutually exclusive.

The dog-ear visual reply cue is currently turned off because it causes major delays for new users (for reasons that I'm not entirely sure of). I have a fix that will allow me to turn the dog-ear feature back on, but it means sacrificing a different feature -- the control I attached in a post a few up from here.
Ok, got it now, my opinion would be to sacrifice the N-day control feature that you attached in the above post.
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jess wrote:
Not quite. You're crossing the beams of two different features, though to be fair we are discussing them both because they are probably mutually exclusive.

The dog-ear visual reply cue is currently turned off because it causes major delays for new users (for reasons that I'm not entirely sure of). I have a fix that will allow me to turn the dog-ear feature back on, but it means sacrificing a different feature -- the control I attached in a post a few up from here.
Ok, I think I understand what's going on now.

The dog-ear (which I absolutely LOVE) slows things down for new users.
By removing the "Show Posts from N Days" feature, the dog-ear can come back and work properly.

The thing is, the General Forum, for example, currently shows 50 topics, in reverse chronological order. The oldest topic is from 3 days ago. To me, it makes no sense to have the Show Posts from N Days feature, because we'd be limited to what can fit on the page anyway, which in my case is 3 days. If I want to only check posts from the last 1 day, I can simply stop reading when I reach "2 days ago" on the list.
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monogodo wrote:
The thing is, the General Forum, for example, currently shows 50 topics, in reverse chronological order. The oldest topic is from 3 days ago. To me, it makes no sense to have the Show Posts from N Days feature, because we'd be limited to what can fit on the page anyway, which in my case is 3 days. If I want to only check posts from the last 1 day, I can simply stop reading when I reach "2 days ago" on the list.
I never said it was a good feature. But one thing I've learned about software is that people rarely use it as it was intended to be used by the people that designed it. I've been repeatedly surprised to find people being adversely affected by changes that I didn't think were significant. Which is why I'm treading carefully this time.
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jess wrote:
I never said it was a good feature. But one thing I've learned about software is that people rarely use it as it was intended to be used by the people that designed it. I've been repeatedly surprised to find people being adversely affected by changes that I didn't think were significant. Which is why I'm treading carefully this time.
I understand.

I wasn't aware of the "Show posts from last N Days" feature before yesterday.

I only really access MV from work. So I generally miss all of the activity on the weekends. When I check it on Monday, I click on the General forum, then go to page 3, and check to see if the most recent topic on that page is at least 3 days old. If it is, I scroll down until I see 4 days old, and start checking topic titles to see if I want to read them, working my way back to the top. Then I check page 2, starting from the bottom, then on to page 1. If the topics on page 3 are older than 3 days, I go to page 2. It works for me, but I understand that not everyone functions the way I do.
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monogodo wrote:
I only really access MV from work. So I generally miss all of the activity on the weekends. When I check it on Monday, I click on the General forum, then go to page 3, and check to see if the most recent topic on that page is at least 3 days old. If it is, I scroll down until I see 4 days old, and start checking topic titles to see if I want to read them, working my way back to the top. Then I check page 2, starting from the bottom, then on to page 1. If the topics on page 3 are older than 3 days, I go to page 2. It works for me, but I understand that not everyone functions the way I do.
See, this is a prime example of "using the software in unintended ways". Not that it's wrong, it's just kind of an odd way of finding what you need.

May I introduce you to the wonders of the "New" synthetic forum?
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The dog-ear reply cue has been restored.

Also, I've substantially rewritten the password reset process to incorporate it into the new Login module.
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Oi jess, another one that's more of a suggestion than a 'fix'

Making links more noob friendly, or just, human-friendly in general. I spend a lot of time on here and still had to scratch my head to remember how to turn text into a link.

The buttons up top work quite well for highlighting a text to modify it, but maybe there's something that could be done to make linking more intuitive?

No idea if this is an easy job or PITA not worth the effort, but, food for thought:
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adri wrote:
No idea if this is an easy job or PITA not worth the effort, but, food for thought:
The entire posting page is going to get a complete overhaul and modernization. But yes, it's a giant PITA, which is why it hasn't happened yet. I've been building up a lot of surrounding infrastructure to make it a bit easier, but it's still going to be a slog.

I am currently re-writing large parts of the forum -- mostly invisibly. The posting page will probably be the most obvious change.
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Atypical Canadian
2009 Vespa S50(LX150 motor swap), 2006 Vespa GTS250ie
Joined: UTC
Posts: 2311
Location: Toronto, Canada
 
Atypical Canadian
@adri avatar
2009 Vespa S50(LX150 motor swap), 2006 Vespa GTS250ie
Joined: UTC
Posts: 2311
Location: Toronto, Canada
UTC quote
Figured as much 👍🏻
@syd avatar
UTC

Ossessionato
GTS300 Super (Heinz) GTS250 Super (Bulger)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 4732
Location: Tempe, AZ
 
Ossessionato
@syd avatar
GTS300 Super (Heinz) GTS250 Super (Bulger)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 4732
Location: Tempe, AZ
UTC quote
Thanks, Jess, for the 'Start of unread posts' thing, but I have also noticed the RIP flags for those who have passed. That is a nice reminder.
@madison_sully avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
MP3 500, GTS 250 (both 2008 MY), 2013 Piaggio BV 350, 2014 Can Am Spyder RT
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7550
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@madison_sully avatar
MP3 500, GTS 250 (both 2008 MY), 2013 Piaggio BV 350, 2014 Can Am Spyder RT
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7550
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
UTC quote
I just went to the Corona Virus topic, clicking on the widget at the left end to bring me to the most recent read, and it put me on page ~85 of 137.

Turns out I had made one of the comments on page 137. Facepalm emoticon
OP
@jess avatar
UTC

Petty Tyrant
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
 
Petty Tyrant
@jess avatar
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
UTC quote
Madison Sully wrote:
I just went to the Corona Virus topic, clicking on the widget at the left end to bring me to the most recent read, and it put me on page ~85 of 137.

Turns out I had made one of the comments on page 137. Facepalm emoticon
Wait, how did that happen?
@madison_sully avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
MP3 500, GTS 250 (both 2008 MY), 2013 Piaggio BV 350, 2014 Can Am Spyder RT
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7550
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@madison_sully avatar
MP3 500, GTS 250 (both 2008 MY), 2013 Piaggio BV 350, 2014 Can Am Spyder RT
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7550
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
UTC quote
jess wrote:
Wait, how did that happen?
I have no idea. And unfortunately cannot replicate.
OP
@jess avatar
UTC

Petty Tyrant
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
 
Petty Tyrant
@jess avatar
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
UTC quote
Madison Sully wrote:
I have no idea. And unfortunately cannot replicate.
I think there might be an edge case in the code, then. Topic tracking data (which post each user has read up to in any given thread) is removed after one year in order to keep the table size manageable. Simultaneously, there is per-user-per-forum "marked all read" value that is mixed into the formula.

There is also a forum-wide line-in-the-sand that represents the one-year pruning mark, and any posts older than that mark are considered already read by default.

It might be that the tracking data for that topic had been pruned (since it was old) but the "marked all read" value was still in effect, giving you the appearance of a partially-read topic that you had in fact read (and posted to) further along than the forum was representing.

I will have to revisit the pruning logic to see if I still agree with it all these dozen or so years later.
@shebalba avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
2009 GTS250, Ducati Monster M900, KTM 390 Adventure, Honda CR125
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1485
Location: Oceanside, CA
 
Molto Verboso
@shebalba avatar
2009 GTS250, Ducati Monster M900, KTM 390 Adventure, Honda CR125
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1485
Location: Oceanside, CA
UTC quote
jess wrote:
Things are afoot.
Your handwriting (in the notebook photo) is just like how my dad wrote. I always tried to copy it as a kid, but it was never the same.

Easily could have posted this in the 'what's cheering you up today' section.'
OP
@jess avatar
UTC

Petty Tyrant
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
 
Petty Tyrant
@jess avatar
0:7 And counting
Joined: UTC
Posts: 37033
Location: Bay Area, California
UTC quote
Shebalba wrote:
Your handwriting (in the notebook photo) is just like how my dad wrote. I always tried to copy it as a kid, but it was never the same.

Easily could have posted this in the 'what's cheering you up today' section.'
Hah. I got that handwriting style from my dad, as it turns out. I've long since abandoned the actual handwriting style I was taught in elementary school.

Years later, I discovered that the typography people call this "small caps".

(And that photo is an especially untidy version, written hastily and at a bad angle).
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