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Breaking change in CF2021, new date format mask of D may be serious problem for old code

Wow. Beware of this subtle breaking change in CF2021, something discovered since its release (was not documented as one of the "new" things, nor was it documented at all in the beta). It can be a devastating problem that might lurk for days or weeks, corrupting your data.

In this post, I discuss the problem, as well as two solutions you can choose between: a) finding and changing the incompatible code, or (new since Dec 2020) b) implementing a new JVM arg that Adobe offered to revert this behavior back to how things worked before CF2021. You must do one or the other of these things, if you are affected by this issue. The update does not REVERT the behavior.

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How and why your sites may break, and what to do, after applying March 2020 update to CF2018 or 2016

This is a critical warning to anyone who may apply the recent CF2018 Update 8 or CF2016 Update 14, released Tuesday of this week (on Mar 20, 2020). And readers in the future should note it will apply if and as you may update CF from any update BEFORE this one to any update AFTER this one.

To be clear, I do not mean with this warning to suggest that you should NOT apply the update! It implements an important security fix.

Instead, it's that after applying it, your CF web sites served via IIS or Apache WILL likely break initially, until you take one at least and perhaps two extra steps. The good news is that these steps are both easy and documented by Adobe in the update technotes, but they do require that someone do them, if needed. Let me explain.

[Update: I did an abbreviated version of this post on the Adobe CF portal: Three reasons your sites may break, and how to fix them, after applying March 2020 update to CF2018 or 2016. Note I also titled it differently. Just trying many ways to get people's attention. That post may interest some, either to read first (but my TLDR below also tries to abbreviate things also), or especially if you may prefer to give others a link to a post on this matter that is not as "dense" as this one. :-) I do point to this post from there, of course, for the many additional details that some may appreciate.]

Sadly, because many people don't bother to read the CF update technotes (linked to below), and they just apply the CF updates, they are not noticing this issue until they or their users start screaming because their sites are down. There's also a fair bit of "screaming" in the CF community, and folks responding may not know the info that I (or Adobe) have shared, to get things "working again", so I hope this helps bring some calm, and most important the clear solution/s needed.

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Solving metaspace errors, once and for all

I have a really simple solution to offer here, for a problem that has been nagging people running ColdFusion for the past few years. (I've also just filed a bug report asking Adobe to address this.) This post may also benefit those NOT running CF, especially if they have found confusing/conflicting information about the Java metaspace error and jvm argument that relates to it.

Perhaps you're getting errors referring to "metaspace" or "OutOfMemoryError: Metaspace", whether in your web sites, error logs, or even the CF Admin, and you wonder "what to do". Or you may be getting odd occurrences of blank pages, and if you look in your coldfusion-error.log you are finding such metaspace errors.

TLDR; In all these cases, the solution is simple (and may seem contrarian to some ears): REMOVE the maxmetaspace element from your JVM arguments. Indeed, I would go so far as to say everyone should simply remove it, even BEFORE you may get errors.

In the post that follows, I will explain how to remove it, including how you need to be VERY careful when doing that. You may also wonder why I recommend removing it, versus raising it. I cover that, as well as that bug report, below.

Update: I also created an abbreviated version of this post, on the Adobe CF portal, if that may interest some readers.

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When and how to upgrade CF web server connector, easier since CF2016

Did you know that when you update ColdFusion, there is often a need to also update the web server connector (for IIS and/or Apache)? In this post, I discuss how you can know when to do it (Adobe makes that easier since CF2016), as well as how to do it (also easier since CF2016), and why it's important.

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Come speak on the CFMeetup (online CFUG). A FAQ for prospective speakers

Do you have a presentation you've given or would like to offer to a CF/CFML audience?

There is a waiting audience of a couple thousand members of the Online ColdFusion Meetup, the online CF user group which I host, who would love to see your talk and/or its recording that we'd make. This post is a FAQ for such prospective speakers.

TLDR: We'd love to have you present. Anyone can. You don't need to have a webcam: it's just your presentation and/or demos, via screenshare. We can meet about any week. Let me know if you're interested. See the first bullet below.

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Adobe should consider a different model for handling ColdFusion security fixes

I would like to publicly propose a new model that Adobe should consider following for handling CF updates, specifically allowing for one to implement security fixes as soon as possible, without being ill-effected by possible problems introduced by other bug fixes/new features.

There is precedent for the proposal I am making, in the way Oracle has in the past handled this problem with Java updates. Let me explain.

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"Charlie, we'd like to buy CF. Are you an Adobe reseller?"

I've had clients ask the above question over the years, including today. The short answer is "no", but I do have a recommendation of who you should consider buying CF from, at a discount, and with other benefits.

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Looking for CF people, or CF work? What can you do?

Note: This blog post is from 2017. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
I'm often asked by clients or folks in the community about whether I know anyone who could do some CF development work (or how they can find someone), or whether I know of any jobs/gigs available (or how they can find them).

I do have a pretty standard answer, and it's not what most would expect to hear.

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How to solve common problems with applying ColdFusion updates (in 10 and above)

Note: This blog post is from 2016. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
While ColdFusion 10 and later releases add a new automated update installation mechanism, what do you do if the update doesn't work? The answer may be simple on the surface, but not obvious to most. (And you'll likely be in panic mode.)

Many find after applying a ColdFusion update that either CF won't start at all, or they can't access the ColdFusion Admin, or some part of CF or their app doesn't work. The problem may be simply that there was an error in the update process CF did, and it may be rather easily confirmed and resolved.

In this post, I share several tips and observations to help resolve this, based on my years of providing remote CF troubleshooting support.

The TLDR version:
  • Check the ColdFusion update log--not logs in the normal CF "logs" folder, but the update's "install" log, and a specific table of successes and errors there. More detail below.
  • And if there ARE errors, try stopping CF (and its related services) yourself, and then try the update again. Again, more below.
  • Finally, if that still fails, then manually apply the update from the command line. I share more on that below also.

If that's enough to get you going, great--especially if you ARE in panic mode! (If the "problem" you need to solve, instead, is that you can't get CF to show you updates because you're behind a firewall preventing outbound internet access, I help with that also, toward the end.)

For most people, though, even those "simple things to do" can prove challenging (and understandably so). And you may find different resources on the web offering perhaps truncated discussions of the topics, which is why I elaborate on things in this post.

And even if you're in a panic, it may take only about 10 minutes to read this whole post. (You can also hire me to help instead, of course. See the links above or below.) Hope the info to follow is helpful for you.

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Tending the SQL Server garden: tuning and maintenance resources (updated and useful)

Note: This blog post is from 2016. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Often in my role as an independent consultant providing ColdFusion server troubleshooting services, I find myself helping folks determine whether or that a problem is in their database.

And though it may surprise many, I generally do not find the problem to be very often with the SQL they are running. More often it's about configuration issues. For instance, it may be that they have not been keeping their indexes or statistics updated, or it may be that they need indexes that they don't have, or have too many that they don't really need. Or it may be that they have not done any tuning at all and the default settings for their database server are not be well suited to them.

And though such problems are common to any database server (MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and so on), I find that an awful lot of my clients (for whatever reason) do run on Windows and do use SQL Server (and that doesn't make them stupid or lazy. Different strokes for different folks).

So in this post I want to focus on some SQL Server resources, related to such matters, which I find that I refer folks to often. Some are blog posts, some are code you can run, and some are tools (mostly free).

People using other DBs would do well to read along and could find corresponding resources/tools for the same problems in their respective DB servers.

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