Thanks for the reply.
i do have it integrated with vbulletin 3.5.4 (http://www.wvbbts.org/forum/index.php
i've checked the rights since this is on a hosted server and who knows what they do. they all check out fine.
i installed 5.3 this morning, hoping that would take care of any corrupted files which may have been there.
if you look at the forum, i have (had) photopost thumbnails that used to show up; even when the photopost link was showing nothing. since the upgrade, i now get black boxes where the pictures used to be. it is still finding the users that posted the files, so some linking is going on.
i used imagemagic, could my hosting site have moved that on me? if they did, would this be the result?
i'm sending you copies of my config-inc and config.int files in case they shed any light on the problem.