Solving error 500 when activating a Wordpress Theme

Recently I was tasked of moving a web portal from an old architecture onto a more up to date accommodation.

My platform of choice to manage content is Wordpress nowadays. The reason is mostly due to the huge popularity of the software, the freedom from license costs and the painless upgrade/expansion of features.

It was required to preserve the same look & feel from the old portal (based on OpenCMS). So one of my first tasks was hiring a designer to replicate the same theme onto the new portal.

This was done in a satisfactory manner, the only problem occurred when moving from a test machine (my windows worstation running on xampp) to the pre-production machine (suse linux).

Wordpress would be running but every time I would try to activate the theme it would simply crash the whole software application and reply with a ERROR 500 message.

I've looked around the web and many people were pointing as culprit a badly written .htaccess file that halted apache from serving the page, some others advocated a lack of appropriate permissions and however, none of these cases helped my situation in concrete: permissions were correct, .htaccess was empty.

I needed information, to know more than a simple "ERROR 500" and get details. Apache provides a nifty reporting log that can be activated through .htaccess. At least in theory this would have helped me, however in practice I simply saw no log being generated where I wanted one.

The machine had been specially tailored to provide no details whatsoever, in order to prevent attackers from exploiting potential vulnerabilities (it's all about security by obscurity I guess..)

So, different approaches needed to be taken.

I remembered that PHP can be run from the command line too. And if it runs from the command line, we get output. Turns out that my instinct was correct.

When doing something as simple as "php index.php" from the SSH window, I was capable to see why and where the error was occurring. It was complaining about mb_substring(), this reminded me that I might be using a PHP version different from the one on the server and that was the correct situation.

To solve, I just remembered that "mb_" stands for multibyte and that previous PHP versions come shipped without that feature. This could be solved by simply removing the "mb_" from the conflicting commands and the legacy command would still be valid.

This solved the matter. After some ten edits I was seeing the intended template working on the new portal at the new server.

Talk about troubles.. I am just writing this here so that more people in future can keep some sanity if they ever stumble in similar situation.

Good luck!

I'm very happy to have finally discovered support of Beanshell script files inside Netbeans.

For the readers not aware of Beanshell, it is literally speaking a PHP version of Java. Consists on scripts written in Java-like language that are interpreted at run time:

Beanshell is not one of those hype things that you hear about and then vanishes the next day, the project is just as old as Java itself and still rocks today!

I'm a big fan of Beanshell as you can see. It was added as the scripting framework for the Remedium project. My only sorrow was not being able to use the Netbeans IDE to edit these files. Ok, you can edit any text file inside the IDE.

However, I missed the nice syntax highlighting and polished/familiar features provided by Netbeans and had been using Notepad plus since the past year.

Right now, everyone can include beanshell scripts inside their Java projects. Head out to the project from Thomas Werner at sourceforge: and install it on your IDE.

If you like this plugin, don't forget to vote at the sourceforge page.

One piece of advice, you will need to install the latest Netbeans (version 7.1.1 at the time of this writing) to get it running without any fuss.

I was very happy to see this plugin installed, now I can finally work with Netbeans again... :)

CPanel support on

We've done a server overhaul this weekend and thanks to the generous sponsoring from R1Soft we are now making available CPanel to our forum members.

In practice, this means that we started making available the opportunity for our members to register by themselves a subdomain on and use it for hosting web pages and sites such as Wordpress, MyBB and so forth.

Even nicer since we also had the means to acquire the lifetime license of Installatron that allows our community members to install these software packages without worries about setting up any MySQL databases or uploading files.

As for the server overhaul by itself, we gave a serious leap to reinforce the server security which had been under serious attack over the past two weeks. A lot of work to complete a smooth transition, credits go to Mikorist that made most of the heavy work, found a good backup server and did all this in record time so that we could did not place any forum site offline.

Hope you enjoy the new work conditions, more details can be read at

ACE or Codemirror?

Recently I wanted to implement a way of directly editing script files from my server on a browser window.

Looking around for prospective projects, the most prominent one looked as ACE: from the Cloud9 IDE. Looked nice and I gave it a go for a day. Unfortunately, I found myself struggling to make it work as required for my purposes and it was not working under Internet Explorer.

A bit disappointed, I looked around the wikipedia article: and decided to try out CodeMirror:

Interesting enough, I got it working as intended under 30 minutes and it was working fine under IE as well as other browsers. As far as I'm concerned, CodeMirror has gained me as a fan of their project.

Breaking the 50 000 barrier on Alexa

Today we broke through a milestone in mainstream popularity. The community is scoring on the top 50 000 web sites on earth.

Little by little we are moving up the charts. We started using the new in early 2010 and the results are positive so far:

The next milestone is reaching the top 30 000. The value is not far from reach if the current trend continues for more two months. Plenty of changes are being introduced to improve usability and provided services, this means more work to get changes implemented however it is certainly worth the time and effort.

We are building a site to stand the test of time and gather quality knowledge for future generations. Albeit the current Alexa score is a good motivator, our main aim is to bring better quality in the art of booting computers.

The next challenge is to preserve our community small, friendly and personal as always, despite the masses of daily visitors/users that we get nowadays. Lots of fun for sure, lots of reboot going on.