Guild website access and competition account login

As most Guild members know, this website had a major upgrade on June 1st. This upgrade was not optional. If we wanted to have a website at all, I had to install this upgrade. One of the consequences of this upgrade was that our custom competition upload code that the Guild has used for many years no longer worked. Originally I had intended to try to resurrect this old, obsolete code, all 100,000 lines of it, over the summer. Fortunately (for me at least) Joyce Chew found a WordPress plugin that can do most of what we need in order to allow members to upload their competition images. I have been implementing that plugin for the past number of weeks, and Pierre Guynot de Boismenu (Pedro) has created an Excel template to further process the competition images so that they conform to ClubViewer requirements.

One requirement of this new plugin is that everyone must log in before using it. I have created a new competition account for everyone who requested it and nearly everyone has been able to enter their own passwords to activate their account. Most people tried out the new upload form with a simulated competition. There were some glitches along the way, but I managed to get nearly everyone sorted out.

However, there are a very few people who have never been able to log in, or, in two cases, even access the Guild’s website. I have been working long days trying to find out why. I have tried different options and worked closely with WHATASITE, our website host. I have discovered the problem, and it turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with our website upgrade, our new upload plugin, or anything else directly or indirectly due to the website’s design, features or security settings.

A few months ago WHATASITE moved our website to a new server. Our old one was getting very slow and unreliable. The new server is very fast and up to date. Therein lies the problem. This new server uses current security protocols, namely TLS 1.2 encryption. Note that this protocol, although current, is now 11 years old! Not exactly recent, but our old server never adhered to this protocol.

So, why is this causing a few Guild members to have problems accessing the website or logging in? The answer is simply old computer operating systems. These old OS versions simply do not have the software to support TLS 1.2. Unfortunately, upgrading those computers appears to be the only solution. I have been trying to determine what the minimum OS versions and browsers are that can access the Guild’s website and be able to log in for competitions. This is what I have found, but there may be some errors or exceptions.

Macintosh
Minimum version required: Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan, released in 2015, free)
On earlier versions, if Firefox version 27 or higher can be installed, website access might be possible
Safari must be version 7 or higher

Windows
Minimum version required: Windows 8.1 (released in 2013, US$200)
On earlier versions, if Firefox version 27 or higher can be installed, website access might be possible
Vista can be upgraded with several frameworks and registry changes
(do NOT try this unless you really know what you are doing)
Windows XP and earlier: no solution

Chrome
The Chrome browser version 30 or higher, if it can be installed, may allow website access.

If you are using a compatible system and still have problems accessing the Guild’s website or logging in to your competition account, please let me know. I will be in Calgary the week of July 14 for CAPA CCC2019 so I will not be responding to emails until I get back.

Darryl Robertson
PGNS Webmaster