Home » Troubleshooting (Page 3)

Category Archives: Troubleshooting

Fundamental Website Setup Links

Language Display issues in WordPress

I’ve had a few reports come in that people using the AWSOM News Announcement plugin or Pixgallery have been having some issues displaying different language types, most notably Asian or other non-English based character sets. The fix for these issues with AWSOM plugins, or any other plugins displaying this phenomenon, is within the WordPress database. When a database is set up in MySQL one of the things you can assign to it is the language encoding type. In addition, all of it’s fields and tables can also be assigned a language encoding type. By default MySQL utilizes Swedish as it’s encoding type (MySQL was developed in Sweden). WordPress typically tries to set up it’s database as UTF-8. In some cases this doesn’t work right, especially if the admin has updated their version of WordPress continually from a version previous to WordPress 2.1.x where this wasn’t defined.

So, the fix is to go to the database directly though phpmyadmin or another database editor and change the language type for the affected Tables and fields to the language type that you need to display. For AWSOM plugins it’s pretty obvious which tables are for what plugin by their name (I make great pains to place the plugin name as the table name)

In extreme cases you can contact me to help you out, but the best bet is to do a google search for how to use phpmyadmin.

Spam Hack in Progress across WordPress sites

There is currently a large scale spam attack on WordPress sites that is ongoing and affects primarily WordPress versions 2.1.x and 2.2.x (it’s not clear if 2.3.x or 2.0.x are affected, but it seems likely they aren’t). The attack results in a large number of spam listings injected into either posts or theme files which are then set to be hidden through css. Your will typically find that you’ve been affected when Google contacts you to say you are being de-listed due to a high number of spam links on your site. It is also typical for the attackers to delete all of your pages from your site for some reason, so if you load your site and all of your pages are gone you may have been hacked.

It’s not entirely clear what method the hackers are using to get admin access to the affected sites, but from my observation it may be a privilege escalation attack using the comment system. In some cases a random user account was created right before the attack. It was also noted that the comments.php theme file was altered to add in a console access applet which allowed for low level server access. If you get hacked make sure you check every theme file to make sure no malicious code was added–or better yet, reload your theme files from a backed up or fresh copy, and delete out any suspect user registrations.

WordPress 2.5 is apparently not affected by this problem, so an upgrade should help. I have upgraded my sites to 2.5 and have managed to mostly get things working (though my archive page on this site is currently non-functional). It looks like this is the unfortunate little push that will force most people to upgrade, though I strongly suggest making sure first that there are updated plugins that work with 2.5.

As Expected, Many Upgrade Issues with WordPress 2.5

As I expected, the WordPress.org forums are filled with issues in regard to upgrading and using WordPress 2.5. I would highly suggest most people wait a bit on upgrading until the issues with plugins and themes are dealt with by either new versions of the plugins becoming available, or a new version of WordPress comes out that handles memory a bit better. I’m definitely seeing many people having issues with the “Server 500” error which I believe has much to do with the 8mb php default memory limit. So unless you have to upgrade, you might want to wait awhile.

AWSOM Plugins updated for WordPress 2.5 compatibility

I have just released new versions of the AWSOM Pixgallery(4.5.3), AWSOM News Announcement(1.4.2), and AWSOM Uninstaller (1.0.2) plugins for WordPress that have been made specifically compatible with the upcoming WordPress 2.5 release (the AWSOM Archive plugin was already fully 2.5 compatible with version 1.4.0). This means that they will install properly and work as they currently do. AWSOM plugin versions previous to these new releases will NOT install properly on WordPress 2.5 due to a major change in their plugin protocol (though I believe that already installed plugins will not stop working, I can’t guarantee that–especially if you deactivate/reactivate them during the WordPress upgrade process).

I will probably come out with another minor release of the plugins after WordPress 2.5 is officially released that does some cosmetic changes to my admin pages for the plugins, but this will have to wait until they finalize the CSS they are using for their admin pages (right now they all look fine, but don’t really match the new look of the admin area in 2.5). For the moment though everything will work properly, so you at least have one less worry if you plan on upgrading to WordPress 2.5 :)

The Coming Flamestorm of WordPress 2.5

Hi everyone, A preview version of WordPress 2.5 has been posted at the WordPress.org website and from what I see after trying it out I expect to see a major flameup of epic proportions on their forum after it gets released. The most obvious and major issue is any plugin that adds fields to the database will almost certainly fail to work right in the new version unless updated specifically for it. They have altered the way plugin activation works–developers, you will need to specifically declare any global variables used in your activation function during table activation and creation to be global outside of the function (not just within it). This is not normally required and I highly doubt any current plugins do this–so they will all most likely fail to install their tables properly.

This points to one major issue I see with the WordPress development team–they have a very limited acceptance of the idea of backward compatibility. Starting with version 2.2 they have released new major versions that actively break backward compatibility on a wide range of plugins and themes. While I understand that this is sometimes needed for security reasons, in these cases it was simply because they redesigned the way something worked. This is where a “compatibility mode” or some other backward compatibility mode is really required.

In my plugin AWSOM Pixgallery I recently released a new version (4.5.x) that also saw a redesign of the way something works: image and gallery captions. What did I do? I added in a new setting called “Legacy Mode” that can be turned on to display captions in the old manner. It’s a crutch until people who are upgrading have time to update their captions to the new system. Actually, you don’t HAVE to ever update your captions, but in some cases some new features will require the new system to be operating to work–but that’s an option for the admin, not a requirement.

The real problem with this system of forced change is that it actively pushes people to NOT upgrade. Many WordPress users are not technical people. They don’t know, and don’t have time or want to know, how to go in and edit their theme files or plugins. In a perfect world every plugin writer would upgrade their stuff immediately, but in some cases plugins are no longer being developed, so they won’t get upgrades. This becomes a major issue when security upgrades are also involved, since many users who won’t upgrade now get left with insecure older versions of WordPress in place. If your site works now, but you try to upgrade and it bombs and you don’t know how to fix it, you are stuck and will probably just revert to the older one.

A “you should learn how to code” response to people will not work. A “Find another plugin/theme” response will not work. People like what they have and just want it to work.

I really like WordPress. I’m pretty much unaffected by these changes because I know how to program and make the changes necessary to get things to work right. But I also expect to get a huge amount of support requests because of changes to the way plugins now work. I’ll be updating my plugins to work, and will release new versions in the next day or so. But I suggest any developers out there get ready for the storm, cause it’s on the way.

AWSOM Powered