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Author Topic: Site Software Curiosities
Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 08-11-2000 08:43 AM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Creating this forum was an excellent idea, Brad.

Here are some technical questions about film-tech that don't fit into any of the other forums (don't worry -- I promise to start a fun thread to make up for this one ):

I see that the forums are based on software from infopop. Ever since I discovered film-tech.com, I have been very pleased with the way the software works on this site.

How much effort is required in setting up the software and maintaining it? Does it "run itself" pretty well once setup properly?

What OS are you running it under? Do you have to be the administrator of the machine to run it or can a normal user with permissions to a place in cgi-bin set it up?

At times, I have had done some web work where it would be nice for users to be able to submit feedback and read others' feedback or to provide a place for users to get together and discuss things (a forum). I've thought about writing my own little system (in a language such as Perl), but if something like this software is cheap enough, I would consider just using it.

Is it highly customizable, or do all sites that use the infopop software have the same look and feel? By this I mean, do all sites that use this software look and feel like film-tech (in terms of software operation and cosmetic appearance, not the discussions )?

Evans A Criswell

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Oscar Neundorfer
Master Film Handler

Posts: 275
From: Senoia, GA
Registered: May 2000


 - posted 08-11-2000 10:54 AM      Profile for Oscar Neundorfer   Author's Homepage   Email Oscar Neundorfer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evans,

Here is another forum I check into regularly that uses the same software with perhaps some modifications (not sure of that, but so I have been told):
http://www.avsforum.com/ubbcgi/Ultimate.cgi

Here is another one:
http://www.moviesoundpage.com/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro&BypassCookie=true

I am considering changing the SMART Devices bulletin board to this software. It is not free but if I recall, the price is reasonable. You can download a demo version just to make sure it will run on your server.

I believe that you just need permissions set up to access your cgi-bin in order to load and run this software, but I am sure Brad would know far more than I do in this area.

Best regards,

------------------
Oscar Neundorfer
Chief Engineer
SMART Devices, Inc.

oscar@smartdev.com

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17638
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 08-11-2000 11:29 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
The software is very confusing to set up at first, but once you've done it a few times, is very easy to work with and generally quite stable, provided you know what you are doing when you make updates.

The ubb program has a web based control panel for most options like whether members can edit their posts, places to have your pictures inserted (like the one at the top left hand corner Joe made awhile back), etc. These things are extremely easy to configure. If however you want it to do something that the code was not written for, it's up to you to hack it yourself. A few examples, the various levels of "Film Handlers" is a hack. The "post count" was a hack, but is actually a standard part of the ubb now.

Feel free to email me. I'll be happy to help you set one up.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7929
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-12-2000 05:49 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A few more notes: the forum software is really just a bunch of perl scripts. Once the server is configured to allow cgi-bin execution, the scripts can be installed by a regular user on the system. I don't believe that anything depends on any other special server configuration (SSI, etc.). If Perl isn't installed, you'll have to compile it yourself (which is pretty easy). The current server is running Linux, but the scripts should run fine on anything that remotely resembles Unix. They might even run on a WinNT server.

Note that I'm not particularly familiar with the UBB software. I've looked at the code briefly, but that's about it. Brad is the local "expert" at the ubb stuff.

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 08-14-2000 08:24 AM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's interesting. I've been writing a lot of Perl in the past year and I've found it to be, in many cases, the language to use to get the most work done quickly because it's a lot like C (which I've been writing in since 1986), but with a lot more features.

To me, Perl is the language of choice for taking text data and smashing it into WWW pages, so it isn't much of a surprise to me that the forum software utilizes it.

Its good to know that if I ever decide to tackle setting up this forum software, or something like it, it's in Perl, although I don't consider myself a Perl expert yet, because there are so many features I haven't used, so I still write "baby Perl" in some cases.

I use Perl for everything except CPU-intensive tasks such as number-crunching. Perl would not be a good language for calculating a Mandelbrot set fractal image, for instance, or attempting to find all of the integers that have some strange property. Of course, someday, someone will write a Perl COMPILER and this issue may go away.

The 3rd edition of the O'Reilly "Programming Perl" book is now available! Get that and O'Reilly's "The Perl Cookbook" and you're pretty well set to do some productive Perl work.

It's good to hear that the server for this site is running Linux, a very reliable multi-user, multi-tasking operating system based on the very mature UNIX operating system whose development started in 1969. It's great to have a theatre person who is also a computer geek. Most of the theatre managers in my area don't even use email or the WWW.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7929
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-14-2000 03:49 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, the Perl code is a tad on the inefficient side. Actually, one of Brad's former web hosting providers actually cancelled his account for "excessive CPU time usage" or something like that. I don't know what those crazy people were thinking, but it's really not all _that_ bad:

Of course, this server is serious overkill for what it is doing now (mail/web/ftp service for film-tech)...


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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 08-14-2000 08:00 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, internet service providers seem to have unreasonable ideas about "usage". Perl code that, when handling an interrupt, does no more than read some text data and generate some html and throw it back to the user, like this forum does, uses almost NO CPU time. The most expensive part of the whole thing would be sorting chronologically, since O(n log n) is the limit on efficiency of a sort. If the software uses an inefficient sort that runs O(n squared), then I could see that being a problem as the site grows. I'd think that if an efficient sort is being used (n log n), then I/O is where most of the time is spent. During I/O time, the CPU sits there bored out of its mind, and can do other things if other jobs are running. The biggest usage for this site is disk I/O and network traffic. Every page must be sent over the network to the user. The text from posts must be sent to the film-tech server. Some of the stored data for the forum must be read very often in order to generate the pages that the users see. It is this I/O and network traffic that tends to overload a forum server.

Also, keep in mind that some ISPs have people running their sites that don't really have the technical knowledge they should. If they're getting a lot of network traffic and a huge amount of I/O (which this site could generate with a lot of hits all coming in at once), they claim excessive CPU usage. Unless you're doing a lot of sorting on a tremendous amount of data in memory, or doing intense scientific number crunching, it is difficult to use tremendous amounts of CPU time for any length of time. The most hilarious thing that ever happened was when the ISP I use from home upgraded one of its servers to a faster CPU (much faster clock speed) while leaving everything else the same. It ran MORE SLOWLY! The network bandwidth and I/O portions had to be upgraded to get the speed increase from the CPU to have a positive effect.


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