by Caleb Jaffa

Archive for April, 2008

Recommending Engine Yard

Not too long ago a friend asked me for some input on a project he was going to be bidding on. He laid out how he was going to tackle it and was looking for someone to bounce ideas off of. He has one Ruby on Rails project under his belt, and wants to develop in it. Even though it may not be as comfortable as PHP, the framework does make a lot of things easier. Especially things that this project was probably going to need, like agility to change, fast development time and ease of iterative development.

Then he asked about hosting. His previous project was sitting happily on Media Temple’s grid server. However this project would require more gusto up front and potentially could need help in scaling things up. I suggested he look at Engine Yard. I’ve never personally had the pleasure of doing business with them, since all my projects have been with companies that already have their hosting structure in place. However I do know that they support the ruby community. They are paying to have some important projects developed and their hosting appears to be grade A all around. My brain is fuzzy on all the sources of anecdotes, but blog posts are probably the dominating influence. People have been in the same boat as my friend with this project and Engine Yard has delivered spectacular results. You don’t just get hosting, you also get brains to pick and experienced system administrators for a fraction of the price it would cost you to get them any other way.

Engine Yard has endeared me to them even more though. They have proven that they aren’t afraid to go the extra mile. Before my friend finished off his bid he called up Engine Yard to get some technical questions answered. He was impressed with the caliber of Vivek Sharma whom he spoke with on the phone. He was asked how he heard about them, word of mouth, and whom that person was, me. Vivek then took my name and I’m guessing googled it, found this blog, figured I was probably the same guy (there aren’t many Caleb Jaffa’s on the internet) and emailed me to thank me for the referring them. He also sent me a $50 iTunes gift certificate.

Even if I never see another dime from referring people to Engine Yard that’s okay. I believe that what I recommend to people comes back to reflect on me, and Engine Yard has proven to me that they are a quality organization.

Upgrading PHPBB from version 2 to 3

Recently I took over hosting duties for a phpbb forum for a group of friends, and friends of friends. It’s not a large forum, but it isn’t small either. The database with search index was about half a gig.

Thankfully the conversion process can be run alongside the existing forum. Granted you should disable the old forum when you are upgrading, but to test the process out it is handy to not have to take the board down. Unfortunately for me the conversion process that comes with PHPBB 3.0.1 was consistently failing. Turning on all the php error reporting resulted in nothing as to why the script was failing. After some searching I read some people having problems with 3.0.1’s conversion had success upgrading to 3.0.0. The process wasn’t flawless, needing to be babysat for the occasional 500 error that thankfully can be overcome with a simple reload of the script. After a couple of hours it could at least complete the process.

I did try immediately upgrading to 3.0.1, but the update package didn’t like something and ended up leaving the board in an unusable state. Attempts to manually update things couldn’t save it. So the process was started over again and left at version 3.0.0 for the time being.

This information might be useful to someone else having problems upgrading a version 2 phpbb forum to a version 3. Good luck, dealing with their update process is a painful reminder of how much nicer it is to migrate a Rails app to a newer version.