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PatronusCharm appears to be down

Discussion in 'PatronusCharm' started by slickrcbd, May 5, 2020.

  1. slickrcbd

    slickrcbd First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    I tried to follow an old bookmark to PatronusCharm.net, only to get the following error:
    This happens with every webpage on the site I have bookmarked as well as the basic http://www.patronuscharm.net

    I noticed that there doesn't appear to be any activity in this subforum for about 8 years, so I'm not sure if this is the right place to report the problem.

    **EDIT**Somehow I thought I was in the "support" subforum but something seems to have moved me up one level. I'm not sure what happened there. Please move me to the appropriate subforum.
     
  2. Lord Ravenclaw

    Lord Ravenclaw DLP Overlord Admin DLP Supporter

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    Denver, CO
    I haven't really bothered keeping PC up to date, but I'll spend a little time getting it back up and going.
     
  3. Lord Ravenclaw

    Lord Ravenclaw DLP Overlord Admin DLP Supporter

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    PatronusCharm was well and dead, the version of PHP it was written for has long since passed end of life, updating it for PHP7+ would be a fairly large effort for such a dead website written in an era of poor security.

    I spent a few hours and rewrote the story display element at least in a stable+safer language, such that existing links to stories should continue working.

    Notably, you can't yet list stories or look at reviews, but I'll be working on those next. But, it'll continue to be a read-only service going forward. Use FFN or AO3.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  4. slickrcbd

    slickrcbd First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    I'm completely ignorant of PHP, and while I took some programming classes back in college (1 semester Visual BASIC 6, 1 year ANSI C and C++ in the fall and spring respectively, oh and a flow charting class that used QBASIC in high school) at the end of the '90s I haven't done more than some simple batch files, or editing some game or Greasemonkey scripts I don't fully understand in the last 15-20 years.
    That said, I never understood the need to rewrite from scratch just to use the latest and greatest coding features. Isn't the PHP backwards compatible with existing code? A C# or C++ compiler will accept stuff using regular C, and QBASIC accepted GW-BASIC/BASICA code. COBOL-2002 compilers accepted COBOL-85 or COBOL-74 code. If the PHP server had big security flaws (like Windows XP) I could see the need to upgrade, but for the code itself, why do you need to rewrite?
     
  5. Lord Ravenclaw

    Lord Ravenclaw DLP Overlord Admin DLP Supporter

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    PHP does not attempt to maintain backwards compatibility as strictly as say, Java or C++. It also doesn't emit an executable binary which is ~usable forever (modulo shared library or ISA changes), it's an interpreter, therefore your need an interpreter which understands your code in perpetuity

    So, here's the thought process:
    • PatronusCharm was written in 2005. It hasn't materially changed since then.
    • It doesn't run on PHP7. I could install PHP5, but given that it's at its end of life, that makes PatronusCharm an extra security risk. This is in addition to the numerous security vulnerabilities I've found just looking over the source with the addition of 15 more years of programming experience.
    • Multiple libraries (not insignificant ones) provided by PECL don't work on PHP7. This means I need to rewrite or fix those too.
    • PatronusCharm has a grand total of 377 stories on it. It was clearly well-loved.
    • It's been down for almost a year and I haven't bothered fixing it. It took til May for anyone to even notice. The search function was down for years.
    With so little usage, it isn't worth maintaining. Therefore I am not "rewriting it", I'm putting it on life support. The new binary will continue to safely serve read-only pages of the existing content without my need to maintain code to fit newer PHP versions. The attack surface will be incredibly minimal, which makes it more attractive for long-term support.

    Beyond that, I don't write PHP anymore (and haven't for more than a decade now). It's not a language or an ecosystem I enjoy. I've chosen to write the read only archive in a language with those properties (it's a compiled binary, the language commits to backward compatibility) that I can "set and forget", given it's otherwise not worth my time to even manage. My effort was justified, it only took a few hours to build what's available now and apart from the initial investment will otherwise be entirely forgettable.

    However, if you disagree, you're more than welcome to take on the project yourself.
     
  6. slickrcbd

    slickrcbd First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    My apologies for my ignorance. I'm not a programmer, and know nothing of PHP coding. I'm sorry if I was coming across as demanding. I just assumed something glitched with the site and it could simply be brought back online, with no need to rewrite it save for things like the old security methods being cracked and made insecure. All the languages I'm familiar with are more or less backwards compatible, so I committed the crime of assuming PHP would be the same way. I barely know what PHP is, let alone those kinds of details.

    I changed track from programming to tech support and networking back in college as I had little talent for intuitive GUI design. I was "functional but bland". All my programming classes were in my first year of community college. I don't pretend to be one, though I have some understanding of programming.
     
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