Photoshop version upgrade wrangling

The other day I upgraded my Photoshop installation from version 24 to 25. For some reason, my Creative Cloud subscription didn’t offer me an automatic upgrade, which it usually does. It did list the new version as one that I could install, but there was no option to “update” the version over the top of my existing installation like it usually does. So I tried hitting the “install” button and let it install the new version in parallel.

Normally when updating, the new version imports all of my settings and customisations – and for Photoshop there are a lot of these, including things like graphic styles, palette colours, macro actions, keyboard shortcut assignments, new document defaults, tool defaults and styles, and so on. But the new version didn’t have any of these, and I had to spend some time copying them all across from the older version.

When I was finally happy, I tried making a new Darths & Droids comic using the new version. It mostly worked okay, until I got to adding a drop shadow to some of the comic panels. The way I do this is: (a) select the panel layer, (b) hit the custom drop shadow style that I have defined on the styles palette. Done. But even though I’d imported my custom style palette into the new version, the drop shadow style was defined differently! The shading angle and sizes were different! It took me some time to actually notice this – the difference was fairly subtle, but I definitely noticed something was wrong. It took some time to figure out exactly what was wrong, as I had to open comics in the old Photoshop version and examine the style details and compare the numbers, to find they didn’t match.

So even though I imported the styles across version, the details of the styles were different! This was a pain. I had to redefine the drop shadow style from scratch in the new version. And then… well, there must be some larger bug with the styles, because it worked for the document I had open, but when I started a new document and applied the same style that I’d just defined, it produced the wrong result! I don’t see how this could happen, unless the styles are actually buggy. I’m now hoping they’ll fix them in the next point release, because until they do I’m going to basically have to define all the drop shadow panels manually, rather than use a one-click style.


In other events today… well, I didn’t do all that much else. Drove my wife and Scully to a lunch that she’d organised with some of her friends. I had some lunch nearby by myself and drove back home, while my wife walked Scully home from there. We played a couple of games of Kingdomino this afternoon, winning one game each. I suggested best of three, but she had other things to do by that time. And this evening three more ethics classes.

Last night I watched Renfield on Netflix. I saw this movie advertised when it was released a few weeks ago, but avoided it because it looked a bit cheesy. But last night I felt like something lighter and watched it, and I’m glad I did. It’s a sort of genre-defying Dracula/gangster/rom-com. Nicolas Cage was excellent as Dracula – a real scenery chewing performance that was hilarious and fun. Honestly, the only thing I can think that would improve this movie is if the young-Hugh-Grant-wannabe lead was actually somehow played by a young Hugh Grant.

New content today:

Swapping my mother’s email

This morning I was home alone with Scully because my wife went to the community garden again. She brought home more green leafy vegetables, and celery and coriander.

After a quick lunch we headed out for the drive to my mother’s place, a bit over an hour away up the coast. I’d set up a new Gmail account for her and now I had to go up there to set up a mail client on their machine and port across all their email. This turned out to be a lot easier than I expected for two reasons: (1) they were using a webmail client, so I just showed them how to use Gmail from the browser. And (2) they didn’t have the expected hundreds of emails saved that required porting across. It seems they have an old-fashioned approach of deleting everything once it’s read, so I only had to transfer less than 10 messages. The simplest thing was simply to forward them to the new address. Then I set up a bookmark for Gmail, and gave them the password on a piece of paper, and we were done.

We had an afternoon tea with some pastries that my mother had bought from a shop nearby. We didn’t stay long though, and headed back home so we could catch the final Matildas game in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 3rd place playoff match.

In between all this I typed up the adventure log notes from last week’s Dungeons & Dragons session. I forgot the sequence of events in a couple of places, but was saved by the detailed notes that one of my players took, which he photographed and sent to me.

For dinner tonight we made pizza. With community garden leafy greens. And pumpkin and walnuts.

New content today:

Another big software upgrade

Today I tackled another big task on my to-do list: Upgrading phpBB for my Irregular Webcomic! (and other comic) forums. The forums have been acting up in minor ways lately, and I think it’s more symptoms of the server upgrade from PHP version 7 to 8. So I thought it was time to upgrade phpBB again to make sure it was up to date and fully compatible with PHP 8.

I downloaded the file package, unzipped it, backed up my database and previous installation files, and then copied the new files into the installation directory. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. When it came time to run the database upgrade script, it failed spectacularly, both from the PHP web page, and from the command line, with ridiculously arcane error messages that I had no hope of deciphering.

After despairing for a few minutes that I might have utterly broken the forums with no hope of recovery, I realised that I’d installed the new files into a temporary directory where I’d placed files the last time I upgraded phpBB, and not into the actual installation directory. Redoing all of the file copying steps into the actual directory, I held my breath as I attempted to run the database update…. and it worked! Phew.

As a friend of mine put it when I mentioned what I’d done:

That feeling where you realise “oh I did something stupid” is a massive relief because the alternative is that you did everything right but it doesn’t work… Is that unique to working with technology? I can’t see why it should be but it feels much more common than anywhere else.

Another friend thought of something:

I think there’s a similar thing where you get a medical test and you’re relieved that it’s positive because the alternative is that you don’t know what the hell is wrong with you.

Anyway, the job is done. I’m not sure if it’s fixed those intermittent bugs with the forum or not, but hopefully we’ll find that they no longer occur.

In other tasks done, I finally transferred all the photos that I took in Japan on my phone onto my computer, so I can go through them. And I burnt a big audiobook onto CDs for my mother.

I took Scully for a long walk at lunchtime, to one of the bakeries. I felt like the richest chocolatiest treat they had, so got a slab of chocolate brownie to eat after my lunch. It was good, but I felt a bit off for an hour or two afterwards – probably because it was full of coconut oil or something, as it was a gluten-free version, and they tend to have a lot more oil in them. Honestly I vastly prefer my sweet treats to have regular gluten-rich flour in them, because, if I’m being brutally honest, they taste much better and are less queasiness inducing. But it’s so hard to actually find a regular gluten-containing brownie around here these days.

New content today:

Dealing with ISP issues

Not my own, fortunately, but my mother’s which is essentially almost as bad, because I’m the one who has to fix it.

My mother called me this morning to say she’d received an email from her ISP (which is different to mine), saying that she had to do something with her email or it would stop working. I did some investigating and discovered that her ISP is indeed ending all support for email services, as of next month. When I set her up with an ISP some years ago, I chose the simplest option to have her email address @[ISPname]. Now they’re discontinuing it, and I’m going to have to help her migrate her email to somewhere else.

The ISP has “kindly” provided an option with a third party hosting company to continue hosting her email at the same address. They say this continued hosting by the third party company will be free until at least September 2024. Which of course means that beginning September 2024 they’re going to start charging for it.

So the next option would be to move my mother to a Gmail account, which will involve telling all her contacts that she’s changing email address. And I’ll have to do all the migration work, since my mother has no comprehension of the technical details of how email works. So, great. Another task on my list.

New content today:

The great MediaWiki upgrade

I ticked off a major to-do task today!

I finished porting to Obsidian the major chunks of my private wiki that I wanted to be absolutely sure I had backups of. That took most of the morning.

At lunchtime I took Scully for a long walk. I had a couple of things to do that could be combined into a single walk in the same direction. Firstly, a friend had reported that the hospital near me had large bins of COVID rapid antigen tests available, for anyone to come and take, free of charge. Another friend recently caught COVID and is in the recovery stage, but still testing positive, and has run out of tests. I said I could walk up to the hospital and get some, and he asked if he could arrange a contactless pick-up from my place, so he didn’t have to go into the hospital while infected.

The second thing was that the main light in my kitchen had been on the blink. It’s a fluorescent tube light and was starting to do that annoying thing where it takes 30 seconds or more to turn off after you flip the switch. I’ve replaced the tube before, but this time I wanted to actually remove the fluorescent fitting and install an LED replacement light. I thought I’d have to get an electrician in to replace the entire light fitting – but recently I discovered that a company makes an LED “tube” that fits into the fluorescent fitting, with no rewiring required. So I wanted to go to the hardware store to buy one of those.

Fortunately, the hospital and hardware store are near each other, so I took the chance today to go on an expedition to both. And as it happens that walk takes me past a decent pie shop that I don’t go to normally, so I took the opportunity to grab a vegetable curry pie and a spinach/feta roll for lunch. My friend was right about the COVID tests – there were three large tubs full of them, boxes containing single RATs. I was a bit self-consciously grabbing a half dozen when a nurse came out and said, “Get a bag, fill it up, take as many as you want.” So I grabbed another ten or so. They expire in a couple of months, so there’s no real use taking dozens of them, but I certainly now have enough for my friend and some spare in case we feel sick in the next couple of months.

And on the way home from the hardware store I popped into the nearby electrical appliance store to book a site inspection for my kitchen, to get a quote for installation of an electric induction cooktop. We currently have a gas cooktop and I’ve been thinking for a while of replacing it with induction. The store needs to do an inspection to make sure our fuse box and power supply are adequate, and also check out the details of removing the gas line for the cooktop and wiring in the induction cooker. So they’re coming next week to take a look at that. Once we have a quote for the installation, I can go ahead and start looking at models and select a new cooktop (assuming the installation quote is reasonable).

Back home after the lunch walk, I launched headlong into the main task of the day: Upgrading MediaWiki. The installed version was 1.24.1. The latest version is 1.40.0. But the upgrade documentation said you can’t upgrade directly from versions lower than 1.35. So I had to do it in two steps: upgrade 1.24.1 to 1.35.11, and then upgrade 1.35.11 to 1.40.0. I was a bit daunted before I began, but the steps were fairly straightforward, and there was no real difficulty at any stage. It was just a matter of doing all of the steps carefully. I started with dumping the wiki pages to XML, and also backing up the entire database, before changing anything. From there it wasn’t too bad, and I was pleased when the update script ran successfully (on the second try – I had to add a configuration line to the settings file) and the 1.35.11 version seemed to be working. Then I repeated the whole thing with version 1.40.0, which went a bit quicker because I knew what I was doing this time.

It took most of the afternoon, but I did it! And the reason was so I could upgrade my web server from PHP 7 to PHP 8, hopefully without breaking MediaWiki. The 1.24.1 version had broken when I tried switching the server to PHP 8, which was the whole reason why I needed to do this upgrade. So the last step was switching it over to PHP 8… and it works! Phew!

And I was done in time before my three ethics classes tonight, on the new topic of “Media Bubbles”. They went pretty well. It’s a complex topic for 10-12 year old kids, but they all did really well with it.

New content today:

Prepping for server upgrade

This morning I had the first class in the older kids’ ethics with the Privacy topic. That went pretty well. And then a younger class on the Heroes and Villains topic. This class used to have three students in it, but all three have left, and today three brand new students had joined! So it was a new experience for all of them. They all got into it well and I think they liked it, so hopefully they’ll all be back.

I decided some fish & chips was due, so I took Scully up to the fish & chip shop for lunch. I took the order to the small park on the hill overlooking the harbour to eat it. There was an older couple there sitting and enjoying the view too. After a while they got up to leave, and they stopped to ask me where they were! They’d come on an exploratory walk from the nearest train station and basically stumbled upon this place. I asked them which way they’d come, and they indicated along the creek and up the hill, so I showed them the other way back to the station along the streets, and they thanked me and set off.

Something else I noticed while walking Scully the other day: There’s a large house we walk past regularly, and since we got back from Japan I’ve seen that the brick wall around it has been partially destroyed. It looks like a car went out of control at the adjacent intersection, mounted the kerb, and smashed into the wall. Today there was a builder there starting to work on fixing up the damaged brickwork. Presumably it happened while we were overseas.

This afternoon I began working on a task that I have to get done. Remember the web server upgrade that broke my MediaWiki installation? Well, I downgraded PHP back to a working version, but now I have a deadline to re-upgrade before the webhost starts charging me monthly for running an unsupported legacy version. But before I can upgrade PHP, I need to upgrade MediaWiki so it will (hopefully) work with the new PHP. And if it doesn’t, I need to have a full readable backup of all the data on my private wiki, so I don’t lose it.

So I’ve been porting wiki pages to Obsidian all afternoon. Fortunately I don’t have hundreds of them – it’s a tractable task, but it will need to be spread out over a few days.

New content today: