Secondly, I'm sure you have a million of questions now and you deserve answers to them so I'll loosely organise it in an FAQ form:
Q: WHAT IN THE EVERLOVING FUCK EVEN HAPPENED?
A: Short story is the BBS got pwnd. As far as I could gather not by a malicious targeted attack but by a bot exploiting a vulnerability in our old board software (Invision Power Board). Due to a number of technical and (for a lack of better word) legal reasons it was not practical to patch and fix the old board so we had to ditch it and covert to a new platform (phpBB).
The long story is long and has started before some of the members were born, but this is the gist of it: Many years ago the good folks of the BBS all chipped in some money for the board, with primary goal of buying a legit licence for Invision software which the BBS was running on. They picked the "perpetual/lifetime licence" which IIRC came with some limitations in terms of technical support, but was exactly what it was called, a lifetime licence that would not need to be renewed (ie. paid for again). And it was good for many years, the BBS prospered, the software kept getting regular updates including major version upgrades. Until one day Invision said that well your lifetime licence is no longer lifetime because we said so and what are you going to do about it - thinking that would coerce us into buying essentially a subscription plan. Which is about the shittiest thing a company with any reputation can do (hi, Adobe).
Anyway, the BBS coasted on its then current version of IPB, it kept receiving some more minor updates but eventually those dried up as that version reached EOL. And then it continued coasting like that for another couple of years until - you guessed it - February last year when it got hit with one of the unpatched vulnerabilities and I had to pull the plug. Once again, I don't believe this was an attack targeted at the BBS, but rather someone's automated exploit looking for vulnerable sites. Which sucked, but tbh was also not entirely surprising since running such an old version of software was practically asking for it. But what's done is done.
And this is where phpBB comes in, which, if you've been on the internets for a while, you might have noticed is IPB's main competitor in terms of forum platforms. And this is what you're looking at right now and honestly I think it is pretty slick. And after some touches to make it feel more like the old BBS I'm already used to it. And best of all it's GPL-licenced and free as in freedom so no corporate beancounter will be able to pull the same shit on us now. tl;dr Invision can go choke on a cock.
Q: Why did it have to take a better part of entire year to fix?
A: It didn't have to, but it did. This one is tough to answer, but it was everything between the technical complexity of board conversion, the lack of time, having a two year old kid, having the busiest time at work that I ever had, being pedantically insistent on doing it right instead of setting up a half-assed temporary board, and so on. Those are all real reasons, but at the same time they're a bunch of excuses and you have every right to be pissed off and disappointed. Especially with the lack of regular updates and communication to keep you in the loop - this is on me and I am sorry for that.
To recognize that, each one of you is granted 3 (three) free virtual "Bitch at aine for the BBS downtime" cards which you can play at any time for any reason at your discretion. Once played, I will make a pensive face, respectfully ponder and read your complaint out loud in my head, and you will feel better after getting things off your chest. (Bitching at me for the BBS downtime after you have exhausted your alloted cards will result in administrative action. )
Q: If phpBB is so good, why didn't we switch to it years ago?
A: Also tough to answer without a laundry list of contributing factors, but "don't fix what ain't broken" would be a major one. Plus a good deal of sunken cost fallacy and unwillingness to change - the BBS ran on IPB since its inception and IPB's quirks and idiosyncracies shaped how the BBS felt a lot. Also - years ago phpBB was not so good at all, in fact it was pretty obnoxious and a poor man's choice next to the flagship IPB. I was happy to find out, when forced to research and test many different board software options, that it made a ton of progress and was now a viable and in fact superior product free of corporate bullshit and bloat.
Q: Any downsides of phpBB, and are we losing anything due to the switch?
A: It's not what we've been used to for two decades, but I think you'll be able to get over it really quick and get used to and appreciate the new features and quirks.
- Topic subtitles are gone because they have no equivalent feature. It's a shame, but even in our last IPB version they were already hacked back in as Invision removed them in one of the major (or minor?) updates. If I find a ready-made extension that can do that then I'll consider adding them back in.
- Shoutbox is also gone for now, but I'm determined to bring it back - there are a few solution available, just need to do more testing with them.
- No rich text/WYSIWYG post editor - I'm looking into this too, but phpBB team seems to have an attitude about it (one that I personally share to some extent, though I know many of you don't), so don't hold your breath.
- No separate display names - your login username is how you're seen now! A slight bummer but not critical in the grand scheme. Note - during conversion process the display names were dropped so I hope you remember your user name or registered email address to login. Plus there will be some confusion about who some people are at first. We'll figure it out, and you can change your usernames too (with some limitations).
- This one mostly affects just me, but phpBB's permissions and user roles system is some kind of a deranged, ass-backwards five-dimensional nightmare that makes my brain hurt. I think I finally got it right, but if you think there is something you should (or shouldn't!) be able to see or do, let me know.
- I don't remember anything else really major, though of course there are differences.
A: Sure do! Just a few off the top of my head:
- Finally a responsive, modern mobile theme that does not suck! In fact it's not even a separate skin as it was in IPB, but the main theme (or style as they call it in phpBB) smoothly adapts to your screen/window width and device type.
- Improved multi-quote and selective quote feature.
- Media embedding from a number of popular sites (Bandcamp, BitChute, Dailymotion, Pastebin, SoundCloud, Steam, Twitter, Vimeo). Subject to feedback and complaints of poor performance or abuse.
- Post drafts feature that does not suck.
- A shiny new forum for alt idols, because that's what's been rocking yours truly's boat for a while now. I hope to see you fill it up with a lot of content as you discover the new frontiers (I might move some threads from Music Chat there as I see fit too).
- Japanese UI option so you can embrace your inner weeb even more.
- Security! We're running the latest version of board software using a much newer version of PHP and with full HTTPS support so we're already in an infinitely better position than before. Plus much stricter password requirements - I'm going to be an asshole about this since it also caused us some pain in the past. Your web browser should have a built-in password manager so use that, or rub the two brain cells together and figure out how to set up KeePass(DX) and synchronize it between your devices.
- Lots of messy unconverted HTML leftovers from IPB in posts (mainly broken post quotes) and signatures (formatting etc.). By all means fix your signatures and big sticky posts (sorry PQ!), but don't worry about other stuff. Berry is even more of a data wizard now than she was before so we'll try to fix it for you wholesale over time.
- Old private message threads got broken up into separate messages. Deal with it!
- Some broken smilies, will be ironed out.
- Some mixed up fields in user profiles (AIM handles in Location field, maybe others), we'll fix that later.
- Spoiler tags - will bring the two styles (black hover-over bar and expandable box) back sooner than later.
- Clean up and/or add more custom bbcode as needed.
- Prune dead-weight 0-post accounts.
- Not a bug: remember that time when the BBS' database got messed up and board had to be restarted from scratch (I want to say in 2006 or so, before my time as an admin)? Many users claimed their old post counts from before the reset for that internet cred and they were manually adjusted. This does not fly with phpBB and the first thing it did after recounting and reindexing the posts after conversion was to fix everyone's real post counts in this database. So some of you may not be affected, but some of you may be short up to a few thousand posts. If I ever get that old database back from someone I'll look into merging it back with the current one again, but that's a very long shot.
- We're using the default phpBB theme/style/skin right now, but I'll be customizing it with more cosmetic MM-BBS touches (forum icons, more banners and so on). And in the future open it to your submissions too because I know many of you still love to theme stuff.
- Some other minor things that I don't remember right now.
I may shoot a mass email to all registered users later, but for now please go ahead and tell other BBSers you know on your socialist media (I know you guys are much more into that than me) that we're back in business. Hell, even send some H!O folks this way, we need new blood and it's been a while since we had any entertainment.
Last but not least, very special thanks to those who reached out and kept bugging me about the status and progress of what was going on with the BBS. Even if I took forever to reply (or didn't at all!) it really meant a world to me and kept me going. You'll be the last to get the banhammer!
Enjoy your stay!
This post's motto: you can't say 約束 without saying くそ.