New SMF Board Coming Soon — Important Stuff to Know

As you probably know, our old vBulletin board died about a week ago during an attempt to upgrade it. We decided to just bite the bullet and replace it with an SMF board. This new board is almost ready to open (we hope). Messages and member accounts made it over.

The most important thing to know about the new board is how to log on. You use your username and password from the old vBulletin board, however, the first time you log in you will be asked to enter your password a second time. Also if you try to log in and receive an “Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again” error, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with “https://ecauldron.com“.  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com” (or “http://www.ecauldron.com“) you will get this error because “www.ecauldron.com” is not technically the same website as “ecauldron.com”. Moving to the more secure “https” means it is more picky about such things.

Here are some other important/interesting things to know about the new SMF board software:

1] Messages from Old Board: We believe almost all messages and threads from the old board made it to the new board. The few that are missing are from the last 24-48 hours on the old board. The backup made just before trying to upgrade the old vBulletin software failed, so we had to use the previous backup to recreate the board on this new software. Some BBCode are slightly different between the two boards which means that sometimes “raw bbcodes” will appear in messages originally posted to the old board.

2] Avatars and Attachments from Old Board: Unfortunately, neither uploaded avatars nor attachments uploaded with messages successfully moved to this new board. The attachments are simply gone — nothing can be done to recover them. You can restore you avatar, however. There are hundreds of “standard” avatars to select from on this board (including all the standard ones that were on the old board). If you used a standard avatar you can just reselect it in your profile settings. If you uploaded one of your own, you can just upload it again (also in your profile settings). To get to your profile settings, hover over on your avatar (which is one auto-generated by the board at the moment) in top menubar, hover over the “Modify Profile…” item in the profile menu, the click on the “Forum Profile” item in the submenu that pops up. You can also just click on your avatar in the top menu and go to the profile area and use the menus there. Note that this top menu “floats” — that is it is always available no matter how far you scroll down a page (assuming you have a modern browser).

3] Visitor Messages: Visitor messages (in your profile area) did not move either as they are not a normal feature of SMF. We’d added a mod with something similar, however. You can enable a “Wall” in your profile area to allow visitor messages on your profile (see the Wall Settings in your profile area). This works something like the status area on Facebook — both you and others can post there. You have some control over who can and you can remove wall posts you do not like, etc. This only appears if you turn it on.

4] Suggested “Layout” Options: We suggest you turn on the following in the Look and Layout section of your Profile (by checking the box next to these items and pressing the “Change Profile” button:
* Return to topics after posting by default.
* Hide messages posted by members on my ignore list.
Others can be set as you wish (as can these two, for that matter).

5] Social Groups: None of the Social Groups from the old board made the transfer. We’ve added a social group mod that allows social groups with many of the features found on the old vBulletin board. You are welcome to start a new social group.

6] Wiki: The wiki did not make the transfer — there is nothing like it for SMF. This means no wiki pages for social groups. All the material that was in the public part of wiki made the transfer — as messages on a hidden board. They are currently hidden from view while we try to figure out how to make it available.

7] Likes Replace Karma: We have replaced the Karma system with a “Like” system where messages on many (but NOT all) boards have a “Like” button (near the bottom of the post (above the signature, if any). Please only like messages that you consider really good. Liking every message as some people do on Facebook is a waste of system resources. This is an experiment. If the system does not work out well, it will be removed.

8] Blogs and Other SMF Board Features: This board has many new/different features — many of which are currently turned off. New features will be activated slowly. One of the new features that currently IS active is the Blogs feature. Members can start their own blog on the forum. Posts to the blog need to follow the same rules as posts to the message board.

Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice 2013

manhattan solstice 3
Manhattan Solstice (Photo credit: Dave Kliman)

Hey, what is this thread? The night beginning at sunset on Saturday, December 21, 2013, is the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. To celebrate the winter solstice (a.k.a. Yule, Midwinter, and probably other things, depending on your tradition), a bunch of us plan to stay up all night and post here in this thread off and on throughout and/or chatter in chat, sharing our experiences or random thoughts…sharing photos or artwork throughout the evening…or just encouraging each other to stay awake!

So if you’re trying to stay up till dawn, or just want to pop in to converse with those of us who are, this is the place! (Or if you’re lucky enough to be in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying the warmth and sun of summer solstice, tell us what we’re missing!)

In that spirit, here it is again, folks–that modest rhyme I composed specifically for our winter solstice efforts. Tradition dictates that I offer it as invocation to kick things off:

A WINTER SOLSTICE REVEILLE

by Altair

Light dwindles, life despairs
A bitter chill is in the air
The sun departs, and with it goes
A fruitful season free of woes
As winter’s icy grip takes hold
The sleeping landscape to enfold
Many hours of dark must pass
Before the sun returns at last
To make its long-awaited climb
With promise of a flowering time

Until that hour, let dark prevail
Greet longest night with strong wassail
Sing and dance, feast and drink
Or solemnly reflect and think
From strange and hidden wells partake
With one rule only: Stay awake!
From dusk till dawn, hear our refrain:
Let the solstice revels reign

[In the last line, swap in the word “vigil” for “revels” if the feeling is more contemplative than festive]

Cauldron’s “Up All Night” Solstice Celebration in About 1 Week

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter sols...
Highworth cemetery at the winter solstice The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere falls between the 20th and 23rd December depending on the year.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This has totally snuck up on me (like the rest of the holiday season). In case it’s snuck up on you, I wanted to remind everybody that Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice, the 2013 edition of what’s become The Cauldron’s annual solstice celebration, is only about a week away!

When it begins: sunset on Saturday, December 21 (whatever time sunset happens in your location; so the thread will become active a little bit before the sun sets in the Australasian region)

When it ends: sunrise on Sunday, December 22 (whatever time that happens in your locale; many of us end up posting summations of our experience well into the next day…after we’ve finally gotten some sleep!)

For those who don’t already know, the idea is simple: A bunch of us stay up all night on the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice to celebrate the longest night of the year and the return of the sun afterwards. So we hang out here in The Cauldron, in a special thread devoted to the night’s festivities and in chat, to keep each other company in a kind of cyber moot. Wackiness ensues (esp. in the wee hours after extensive sleep deprivation)…

All are welcome, whether you’re trying to stay up all night or just dropping by to partake of the fun…whether you’re marking the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere or the summer solstice in the Southern…and no matter what path you may follow, or none at all.

You can see some of the chatter in the run-up to this year’s event here.

This year’s non-theme (a conversation starter that can be freely ignored) is “hot/cold”. Start collecting your thoughts, songs, links, videos, recipes, etc. for sharing, and get ready for “Up All Night”!

The Cauldron’s SIXTEENTH Anniversary

Avery Anniversary Sixteen
(Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the day The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened for posting!

Sixteen years ago today — after three frustrating days when only Elspeth, Ann, and myself could post — The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened its doors to the general public on the Delphi online service. This was before it was known as Delphiforums and back when user forums, then known as “Custom Forums” had a presence on both the paid Delphi Online Service (in wonderful a pure text/command line like environment) and on their new free Web forum version. The forum was an instant success with 60 or 70 messages posted that December and hitting 1000 messages within six months or so. That’s 1000 messages total, not 1000 messages a month.