An apology

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More astute observers may have noticed that GarfNet has changed a bit lately. You may also have observed that some features are missing and some don’t work at all. We’re really sorry about this. Trouble is that Garfnet is currently upgrading its main CMS (content management system) from Joomla 1.0.x to Joomla 1.5.x. This task has proven to be an absolute nightmare. Whilst Joomla 1.5 is potentially a very good product, its documentation leaves a lot to be desired and despite being released over a year ago, it still suffers from an alarming number of bugs and omissions. Despite these issues, the Joomla development team has decided to discontinue support for the old and reliable Joomla version 1.0.x in July 2009. This means no more security patches for the old version. Therefore, we had little choice but to upgrade.

The site is now running Joomla 1.5 and after a heck of a fight we’ve got most things working reasonably well. However you may still find broken links or strange anomalies. The main things still missing or under construction are:-

  1. Google Maps – the old plugin written by David Pollack won’t work under Joomla 1.5. We have replaced it with an alternative, written by Jan Sangill, Implementation is almost completed. Click Google Maps in the main menu to see it.
  2. FAQ – the SimpleFAQ extension we used with Joomla 1.0.x doesn’t work with Joomla 1.5.x. However, we have created an alternative using Joomla’s own content management system. This just needs some tidying up. It is available from FAQ on the main menu.
  3. Google search. We have created a new module called GoogleBox for this. It also includes Moonclock – a moon phase indicator and the NOAA solar activity indicator. This is located at the top of the screen in the where many sites place advertising banners. We felt this was much more useful than silly adverts!
  4. Joomla Radio. This was never very popular and was always a bit flaky. It probably will not be replaced. However, we may install a much better radio system in the future.
  5. URL translator. Many of the old supposedly “search engine friendly” URLs we used with Joomla 1.0.x will not work with version 1.5.x. This means that many other pages that link to us are reporting error 404’s (page not found). There is no easy fix to this – though we are making changes to our site’s htaccess to redrect the more popular pages.

The main problem we have encountered with Joomla 1.5.x is that at time of writing, it does not work properly behind a reverse proxy server, such as the one used by our ISP. Whereas the old version 1.0.x worked fine. You will notice that some features here on GarfNet just hang and that an IP address will appear in your browser’s status bar. When it does, just hit your browser’s “Back” button and play with something else instead. This IP address is assigned by our ISP’s reverse proxy server and is not an internet IP address. Hence the page will never load.

The Joomla development team has made several attempts at fixing this problem. We are trying to persuade its developers to investigate our concerns so that the issue can be fixed, patched or even kludged with an untidy hack! We are Joomla fans & we really hope we don’t have to abandon Joomla. But we might have if this issue cannot be resolved pretty soon. Consequently all other developments on GarfNet will be mothballed until this issue is resolved. More details about this bug can be found at:-

And some of the many other Joomla users affected by this issue can be found with a simple Google search for “$live_site” joomla behind reverse proxy:-

We’ll keep you posted. Best wishes, G.

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