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Can we get a search feature that works?

RobS

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Hey Alpha60/Tech Support bot,

Can you fix the atrocious search feature on these boards? I mean sure I can use google but still I want to point out how abysmal it is.

Like I'll search for a few uncommon words by a member's post here and there are no results. Then other times I can find the exact post I'm looking for. It makes no sense.

Actually just give me an ialmisry search option so I can read super old posts of his on the most arcane Orthodox stuff.
 

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If you're trying to use a phrase, as opposed to a single word, as search keyword, putting it in " " will give you results with the phrase exactly as it is, not every word separately. It can make quite a difference.
 

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Yep I've done that too. It does help with results, but not entirely.
 

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I find the search feature pretty unreliable too. Oftentimes I find things via google that for some reason will not show up on the site search feature.
 

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We will be getting improved search if and when we migrate off of the Simple Machines Forum, or alternately, if for some reason we feel the need to stick with it, and I can’t imagine what that reason would be, I could potentially rewrite the search function on the current forum, but that would be a very serious undertaking, much harder than simply upgrading the software, and with none of the added benefits.

My inclination however is just to migrate us to a newer, better, more elegant forum; I have worked with several alternatives to SMF that are almost infinitely better.  It will require migrating the database, which can be tricky, so the process will likely involve selecting a shortlist of replacement candidates, setting up some evaluation candidates, particularly for the forum staff, because we don’t want to make their job radically harder, and then once there exists a warm, fuzzy feeling about a replacement forum, I will carefully compose a set of scripts to automate the database migration, test these during scheduled maintenance windows, and then one night just switch over.  Ultimately the final decision on upgrades will be made by Anastasios, and some of the better forum software does cost money; other specimens are open source.

By the way, on a related note, any member of OCNet is a good graphics designer who knows HTML5 and CSS by the way, who can create an elegant new CSS theme for both the current forum and a possible replacement, such a person would be exceedingly welcome to join me.  I used to do graphics design but have not worked in that field since 2007, when I began transitioning into IT, and I would strongly prefer it if someone else did our new artwork (I tend to favour a modernistic style influenced ny Mondrian and the Swiss typographers who created exquisite fonts like Univers and Helvetica, which is at odds with the concept of OCNet).  I need someone who can do a CSS in the style of the homepage and the forum before the 2015 upgrade, but more modern.  With such a resource in hand, it could potentially accelerate the process of replacing the forum software.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, by the way.  The problem with the search will be addressed as soon as possible, and we do appreciate your patience.
 

Alpha60

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Iconodule said:
I find the search feature pretty unreliable too. Oftentimes I find things via google that for some reason will not show up on the site search feature.
For the time being, this is the best solution.  For users who don’t know how to do it, here is a sample search parameter which I would type or copy paste into the Google search bar to look up whatever (in this case, as an example, I am going to look up the word “monorail”). 

site:eek:rthodoxchristianity.net monorail

And here are the results: https://www.google.com/search?q=site:eek:rthodoxchristianity.net+monorail&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us

You can replace monorail with the desired search term.  To match more than one word in a specific order, put it in quotation marks.  Example:

site:eek:rthodoxchristianity.net “Bulgarian Orthodox”

Here are the results of that search: https://www.google.com/search?q=site:eek:rthodoxchristianity.net+“Bulgarian+Orthodox”&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us

You can enter these site specific search instructions in the address bar of most browsers, or by going to google,com, or by entering the text in the search bar at the top of a page of Google results
 

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Alpha60 said:
We will be getting improved search if and when we migrate off of the Simple Machines Forum, or alternately, if for some reason we feel the need to stick with it, and I can’t imagine what that reason would be, I could potentially rewrite the search function on the current forum, but that would be a very serious undertaking, much harder than simply upgrading the software, and with none of the added benefits.

My inclination however is just to migrate us to a newer, better, more elegant forum; I have worked with several alternatives to SMF that are almost infinitely better.  It will require migrating the database, which can be tricky, so the process will likely involve selecting a shortlist of replacement candidates, setting up some evaluation candidates, particularly for the forum staff, because we don’t want to make their job radically harder, and then once there exists a warm, fuzzy feeling about a replacement forum, I will carefully compose a set of scripts to automate the database migration, test these during scheduled maintenance windows, and then one night just switch over.  Ultimately the final decision on upgrades will be made by Anastasios, and some of the better forum software does cost money; other specimens are open source.

By the way, on a related note, any member of OCNet is a good graphics designer who knows HTML5 and CSS by the way, who can create an elegant new CSS theme for both the current forum and a possible replacement, such a person would be exceedingly welcome to join me.  I used to do graphics design but have not worked in that field since 2007, when I began transitioning into IT, and I would strongly prefer it if someone else did our new artwork (I tend to favour a modernistic style influenced ny Mondrian and the Swiss typographers who created exquisite fonts like Univers and Helvetica, which is at odds with the concept of OCNet).  I need someone who can do a CSS in the style of the homepage and the forum before the 2015 upgrade, but more modern.  With such a resource in hand, it could potentially accelerate the process of replacing the forum software.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, by the way.  The problem with the search will be addressed as soon as possible, and we do appreciate your patience.
It's funny I was actually going to make a thread or PM about site design...

Alpha60, please please PLEASE, I need to say that minimalistic bright UI hurts me and my autistic symptoms. It hurts my eyes. I can't even use Reddit and on the rare occasion I ever do I force the legacy 1.0 design. I'm affected by visual things in ways I can't control, for example LED lights are literally like Kryptonite to me and make the urban night hellish.

Seeing pixels and muted colors and shapes that aren't totally flabby is calming and actually usable for me.

There's a reason you know that imageboards like the various *chans have changed little in their design since the early 2000s. If you take design cues from anywhere, take it from there.

I'm not alone in this and this isn't an idiosyncrasy, I know of many autistics who also vastly prefer old Web and forum designs.

I'm not saying everything has to be stuck in 2007 but my condition makes outside daily life painful enough. If you adopted something like Google's design for this forum I probably wouldn't be able to come here, I'm sorry.


I would prefer this forum stay the same with only backend improvements under the hope, but if it truly needs a new coat of paint please remember what I tell you. :(
 

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A migration to a new forum software worries me in the event you lose posts or data gets corrupted or whatever.

I'd rather just keep the lackluster search function if it meant preserving the database with years of posts.

SMF isn't all that bad. It's miles better than Tapatalk.
 

RobS

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reclusivus said:
stay the same with only backend improvements under the hope, but if it truly needs a new coat of paint please remember what I tell you. :(
Can't you modify the colors and such from your profile? If I recall you can do quite a bit in customaization with the board layout.

I'll have to go back and look.

I like how I have mine now without the huge banner at the top. Its pretty clean
 

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reclusivus said:
Alpha60 said:
We will be getting improved search if and when we migrate off of the Simple Machines Forum, or alternately, if for some reason we feel the need to stick with it, and I can’t imagine what that reason would be, I could potentially rewrite the search function on the current forum, but that would be a very serious undertaking, much harder than simply upgrading the software, and with none of the added benefits.

My inclination however is just to migrate us to a newer, better, more elegant forum; I have worked with several alternatives to SMF that are almost infinitely better.  It will require migrating the database, which can be tricky, so the process will likely involve selecting a shortlist of replacement candidates, setting up some evaluation candidates, particularly for the forum staff, because we don’t want to make their job radically harder, and then once there exists a warm, fuzzy feeling about a replacement forum, I will carefully compose a set of scripts to automate the database migration, test these during scheduled maintenance windows, and then one night just switch over.  Ultimately the final decision on upgrades will be made by Anastasios, and some of the better forum software does cost money; other specimens are open source.

By the way, on a related note, any member of OCNet is a good graphics designer who knows HTML5 and CSS by the way, who can create an elegant new CSS theme for both the current forum and a possible replacement, such a person would be exceedingly welcome to join me.  I used to do graphics design but have not worked in that field since 2007, when I began transitioning into IT, and I would strongly prefer it if someone else did our new artwork (I tend to favour a modernistic style influenced ny Mondrian and the Swiss typographers who created exquisite fonts like Univers and Helvetica, which is at odds with the concept of OCNet).  I need someone who can do a CSS in the style of the homepage and the forum before the 2015 upgrade, but more modern.  With such a resource in hand, it could potentially accelerate the process of replacing the forum software.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, by the way.  The problem with the search will be addressed as soon as possible, and we do appreciate your patience.
It's funny I was actually going to make a thread or PM about site design...

Alpha60, please please PLEASE, I need to say that minimalistic bright UI hurts me and my autistic symptoms. It hurts my eyes. I can't even use Reddit and on the rare occasion I ever do I force the legacy 1.0 design. I'm affected by visual things in ways I can't control, for example LED lights are literally like Kryptonite to me and make the urban night hellish.

Seeing pixels and muted colors and shapes that aren't totally flabby is calming and actually usable for me.

There's a reason you know that imageboards like the various *chans have changed little in their design since the early 2000s. If you take design cues from anywhere, take it from there.

I'm not alone in this and this isn't an idiosyncrasy, I know of many autistics who also vastly prefer old Web and forum designs.

I'm not saying everything has to be stuck in 2007 but my condition makes outside daily life painful enough. If you adopted something like Google's design for this forum I probably wouldn't be able to come here, I'm sorry.


I would prefer this forum stay the same with only backend improvements under the hope, but if it truly needs a new coat of paint please remember what I tell you. :(
Believe me, I hate the current design of the site as much as you do.  One problem we have is that the SMF code changed in 2015, rendering the beautiful code we had in place before then unusable.  And one problem with SMF generally is that it defaults to this ridiculously small font size.
 

Alpha60

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RobS said:
A migration to a new forum software worries me in the event you lose posts or data gets corrupted or whatever.

I'd rather just keep the lackluster search function if it meant preserving the database with years of posts.

SMF isn't all that bad. It's miles better than Tapatalk.
You wound me sir; I am renowned for my ability to migrate anything no matter how obscure.  I once migrated a non-profit's computer system from an ancient IBM AS/400 to a modern web shopping cart system integrated with Quickbooks (which was actually sad; personally, I liked the AS/400 better and would rather have kept one in service, perhaps upgraded to a newer IBM system running i5/OS, the successor to OS/400; OS/400 is kind of fun in that it's like a mainframe but is actually easy to use).  That was a major headache which required extensive automation and coordination with the retired systems programmer on the AS/400, as well as testing on a separate AS/400 in my lab.  The AS/400 does not use ASCII to store character codes if memory serves, although it supports exports to ASCII, and there is also a difference in endianness, so basically the trick was to get it to dump its built in database into a text file a modern server could read.  Which we could have done easily on i5/OS, but again, you're talking non-profits, and there is no way they would have had the $50,000 needed to buy a new System I machine running i5/OS (our consulting fee, which was considerable, was a bargain in comparison).

Compared to that, in fact, compared to everything, migrations between forum systems are ridiculously easy, and people who screw them up are amateurs and n00bs who have no idea what they are doing.  In our case, if we upgrade the software platform, and we're going to have to, because the current platform is fundamentally defective and the patches I have made to protect against security holes are the software equivalent of duct tape, and the system remains fragile, we will of course fully script the migration process so that an automated program will backup the database and then import a copy of that backup into the new system, running on a different server, completely isolated from the production system.  That server will then be evaluated to ensure the backup was a success and no data was lost, and in particular, that things like people's avatars, images they have uploaded, and special characters such as one finds in the foreign languages section, were properly migrated.  If the script made any mistakes, they will be rectified, and the process will be repeated until we can prove that the migration script works.  Then we will switch over to the new software, but we will keep the server running the old software so if the users discover the new software is doing something wrong, we can make an emergency revert.  To use a cliche I find terribly amusing, "this is not my first rodeo."

By the way, I would that I could regale you with details of our new production system.  It's one of the sexiest server systems I've implemented in terms of its elegance and integrated remote monitoring functionality, but alas, confidentiality and all that.  But suffice it to say, the system has been thrilling to implement and just basking in its excellence makes me feel like a UNIX god.  I wish Brian Kernighan could see it.  I think he would approve of the elegance of its implementation.  The only way it could possibly be more awesome would be if I had used the Plan 9 operating system, but alas, there are no widely used Internet forums compatible with Plan9, which is a pity, because Plan9's Venti storage system would be perfect for such an application.

At any rate, rest assured, we won't be using Tapatalk, or any platform worse than SMF, and I have seen a few.  There are some specific platforms which we will be evaluating which are fairly vastly superior to SMF, and there is a safe migration pathway to them.  I can't guarantee that everyone will be happy, but there will be a consultation with the forum staff, and multiple platforms will be evaluated; I have a favored option which I have worked with in the past, but the decision will be made via consensus, and it will be made with a view towards having a greatly improved user experience.
 

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By the way, on the subject of our current intolerable CSS, if there are any graphics designers in our membership who know how to author a CSS who would be willing to help us skin both the current SMF forum and its replacement, I would be delighted to welcome them to the technical team.  We could really use a first rate designer and front end developer.

Ironically I did graphics design at the start of my career, but my work was largely focused on print and typography; I became fascinated with the production servers we used in our workflow and how they integrated with the equipment at our preferred printers, and in the subtleties of PDF and PostScript, and this got me interested into early UNIX, and when I learned about the programming model it employed and read The Art of UNIX Programming, and learned my first programming languages (Ruby and D), there was no going back.  I wound up going into system administration and network engineering rather than software development because, frankly, its more fun; you get to play with cooler toys and you don't have to wrack your brain as much optimizing exotic algorithms.  Not that there aren't brain-wracking problems to solve, and not that I'm a bad programmer; actually I've had the occasion to do far more interesting low level systems programming as a systems and network admin than I ever would have had the occasion to do as a developer, because developers usually get typecast into a specific programming language (because companies look to hire Java developers, or Python developers, or C#/.NET developers, or Objective C developers, et cetera, and I would hate to spend all my time writing one type of program in one language, with the possible exception of exotic operating system kernels and filesystems, which are a hobby of mine).
 

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I'm in the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" group. I don't doubt your competency, I get nervous.
 

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RobS said:
I'm in the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" group. I don't doubt your competency, I get nervous.
Well alas, it is broken, fundamentally.  The only reason why OCNet is actually even running right now at all is due to a series of emergency patches I implemented, but these only address known faults which can be patched without rewriting most of the software

Remember Windows NT 3.1 (not to be confused with Windows 3.0, 3.1 and 3.11, which were primitive but a lot of fun; NT 3.1 was the first release of a Windows NT system, and eventually starting with Windows XP (Windows NT 5.1), it became the default.  NT 3.1 was buggy beyond belief and incredibly slow.  But at least it was well designed, so they were able to rectify the performance problems with NT 3.5 “Daytona” and later NT 4.0, which had a UI like Windows 95 and 98.  Now, 9x, as we call it, was a lot of fun for gaming, but it is a single-user OS, meaning there is only one user on the OS and that user has 100% privileged access to all systems (like MS-DOS, which Win9x used as a bootloader and for some filesystem operations).  Thus, with the Internet, it became ridiculously easy for 9x systems to get pwned.  MS attempted some security measures in Windows ME, but the model was incorrect for an Internet system (you need to have the main user account be deprivileged and to acquire abuse-prone privileges only when needed), and Windows ME was notoriously unstable and vulnerable to malware.  You might recall using it and the remarkable frequency of the Blue Screen of Death as well as the Blue Screen of Near-Death which appeared any time something spooked the kernel, which usually meant you should quickly save your work and reboot while you still had time.

SMF is somewhere between Windows NT 3.1 and Windows ME, in that parts of it I can fix, for example, the bug that was causing us to crash, and other parts would require rewriting the rotten, bloated core, filled with the kind of spaghetti code that gives us nightmares.  Actually I daresay Windows ME was better than SMF, because it lacked some of the epic programming and design errors I have thus far encountered and mitigated.

So if you want to be nervous about anything, be nervous about SMF.  Then, take consolation in the fact that we have an automatic backup regime.  There is no cause for alarm at present, but in the long run, when we finally replace SMF, I expect you will love the new system and not want to go back.  But in the event anything did go wrong, we would retain the ability to switch back to SMF in mere seconds, thanks to the architecture of our new infrastructure.
 

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Bump. Sometimes I search for something I know I posted and nothing comes up.
 

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I noticed that our personal post history only goes back so far, so that the more we post the more our earliest postings seem to vanish. I wonder if this could be a related issue.
 

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I noticed that our personal post history only goes back so far, so that the more we post the more our earliest postings seem to vanish. I wonder if this could be a related issue.
You have to keep clicking "View older results", so it's not as convenient. They don't vanish.
 

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I didn't notice that - thanks!
 

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Does anyone know how to search for topics one has posted?
 

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Does anyone know how to search for topics one has posted?
The 'Find' button above the blue bar on your profile page will show you the topics you have started.
 

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