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PHP and all that jazz

You’d think that having a website built would be the end of it. But no. The platform you build it with – in our case WordPress – keeps tweeking things here and there and we are continually trying to keep up.

Take, for example, this latest in-your-face message that has been annoying anybody from our admin team whenever they try to do their work in our ‘engine room’:

PHP Update Required

What is PHP and how does it affect my site?

PHP is the programming language we use to build and maintain WordPress. Newer versions of PHP are both faster and more secure, so updating will have a positive effect on your site’s performance.

From what I understand, updating a site’s PHP is a simple job. But again, no. Not with The AIMN, as in our case it has to be done by our web host as they maintain the site’s C-Panel. (Don’t worry if this is going over your head, as it went over mine too).

The short story is, that to make the site faster and more secure it needs to be done.

But there is a catch.

Because of the complexity of our site the PHP update may cause us to lose some functionality, or some ‘things’ might stop working all together. All should be fixable, but the scope of the work is unclear as we don’t know what will ‘break’. The likelihood is that nothing will break, but if it does, our web developer will be onto it immediately.

Hence the update starting on Monday morning when all hands are on deck to mop up the spills.

We might not notice them. But you might, so this is where you come in (and the reason for this post). If you notice that something’s not working right, please email us at theaimn@internode.on.net so that we can pass the information onto our web developer.

We thank you in advance, and apologise in advance if you encounter any hiccups.

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  1. Miriam English

    Having been stung by “upgrades” before, I leave updates turned off on the WordPress sites I manage.

    My own homepage is made up entirely of hand-written static HTML. And I try to only use the oldest, original HTML tags, and no javascript or server side scripting in PHP or anything else. However that may have to change a little, as I’ve been wanting to add the ability for people to comment. Nevertheless I will keep to my old ways as it makes everything almost unbreakable.

    I also have dreams of one day running my site from my own little Raspberry Pi computer powered by a solar panel and battery instead of paying a host. Serving simple static pages is easy with a low-powered computer.

    I understand you’re way beyond that with your site’s functionality. Good luck. The changeover seems to be working fine so far. 🙂

  2. Denis Hay

    Use Drupal instead.

  3. Miriam English

    Denis, why? It still runs on PHP.

  4. Michael Taylor

    Miriam, is yours a WordPress.com site or a self-hosted WordPress.org site (like this one)?

    What makes this site a bit more complex is the large number of plug-ins that we use. Some of these are fairly simple, such as the plug-in that gives commenters up to four minutes to edit their comment, while some are massive, such as one called Jetpack which is like an ‘operating system’.

    The major concern from our developer over the PHP upgrade is that some of the plug-ins will no longer be compatible.

    Our web host hasn’t started the upgrade yet. I hope they get under way soon though.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Denis, changing from WordPress now would be futile.

  6. Miriam English

    Michael, most of the ones I manage I’ve bought hosting space on GreenGeeks.net because they’re my preferred hosting service. (When I say I bought hosting space, I mean on behalf of the owners of the sites.) I didn’t even know WordPress would host sites until about a year ago. 🙂

    [sigh] I feel a bit lost sometimes… so much to learn…
    It can be thrilling and energising to surf the wave of knowledge, but sometimes I feel like I’m barely keeping my balance on a smaller crest, with a giant wave looming behind me… 🙂
    Then I get a good sleep and I’m back to enjoying it again. 🙂

    I try to keep the plugins to a minimum on those sites. It makes life much easier. But I understand your dilemma.

  7. MikeW

    The site is certainly running a lot faster than it used to.

    I usually hate change but this is one that seems to work well.

    Recently had to buy a new laptop that runs Windows 10 (was used to Windows 7) what a nightmare, Picture but no sound on Netflix through HDMI cable, tried all sorts of updates and problem solving to no avail. Looks like bye bye Netflix… Oh and also bye bye SBS on demand and ABC iview. I love iview…

  8. Anne Byam

    MikeW ~

    Do you have an iPad ? The iPad will deliver SBS on demand ( that site misbehaves itself occasionally ), and a very good iView ( which I also love ). If set properly it will deliver a whole host of things, via the Safari it uses.

    I know nothing about Netflix though.

    If you have an iPad – then you probably know just how much it can download.

    Cheers – and good luck.

  9. margcal

    Good luck!
    My experience with upgrades – of anything – is that you “always” lose some functionality that worked well.
    The upgrades forced on us are far more numerous than those actually needed.
    We’re just being forced to keep programmers and testers in jobs.

    I’m reminded of years ago when a local bank closed and put a sign on the door “For your convenience we have moved to …..”, being 4-5 km away. Yeah, great.

  10. Michael Taylor

    MikeW, it’s in the backend where we have most of the trouble with slowness, and I find that on an iPad the site takes forever to load. Hopefully these will be fixed with the upgrade.

    Margcal, upgrades remind me of all those meaningless reviews we used to (and they probably still do) in the Public Service. They just went around in circles.

  11. New England Cocky

    Does that mean I can stop blaming the red pencil of the AIMN editor for cutting my contributions and now blame the anonymous and mysterious PHPer rushing to upgrade s system that appears to be working just fine?

    Would it just be plain skeptical of me to consider that this is a matter of making work for the sake of generating work?

  12. aly

    Miriam, have you seen some of the static site builders like Jekyll or Hugo. These are pretty nifty if you want to run a blog or similar as a static site.

  13. Miriam English

    Aly, no I haven’t. I’ll definitely look into those. Thanks for the info. 🙂

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