New Testing Server 2016

I started this post back in August 2016 when I set my old Mac mini up as a media server and webserver for testing purposes. I never finished it or got back to it, which is a bit of a bummer since it is all just so much gobbledygook to me now. Still, it documents the process I used this time to set up Apache, php and ftp. And, since one of the first purposes of this site was to store and have available various computer processes I had engaged in I guess I will post it for posterity despite its incompleteness.


Set up Server

The Perfect Web Development Environment for Your New Mac

Enable Root user
Directory Utility
Edit–>Enable Root User



sudo apachectl start
sudo apachectl restart



117 LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/

221 AllowOverride none
222 Require all denied

160 LoadModule vhost_alias_module libexec/apache2/
477 Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

httpd-vhosts.conf file in the /private/etc/apache2/extra/
DocumentRoot “/www/home/”
ErrorLog “/private/var/log/apache2/”
CustomLog “/private/var/log/apache2/” common

IP to LocalHost
sudo nano /etc/hosts

Add the Domain and ‘www‘ alias to resolve to the localhost address

sudo apachectl restart

Text Wrangler
Command Line tools

Set up A record for subdomain

FTP Server

sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
sudo -s launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist

Open up router to forward port 80 to localhost


Install wordpress


Modify wp-config

/** sets up ‘direct method for wordpress auto-update without install in ftp **/


$ cd /<wherever>/Sites/<thesite>
$ sudo chown -R _www wordpress

Here’s a simple option that gives you full (read+write) access, lets the webserver read the files, and locks everyone else out of the web folder

$ sudo chown -R “username”:_www /www/home/wp-content

$ chmod -R u=rwX,g=rX,o= /www/home/wp-content


Auto backup iPhone

I am trying to problem solve an issue with photos syncing to my phone and every time I have to test it it backs up the full 50 gig of data making this process extraordinarily long and tedious. But it seems you can disable that feature using terminal. I record it here for posterity …

If you are synchronizing to a Mac:

1. Close iTunes on your Mac.

2. Launch Terminal.

3. Type

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

and press Enter.

4. If you want to re-enable automatic backups, type

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false

and press Enter.

MarsEdit 3: Offline composing

Composing WordPress posts offline is pretty simple: there are lots of tools available including WordPress’s own apps for both iOS and desktop. Unfortunately they all seem to demand you upload media before inserting it into your post. Which means if you are offline you can’t work on adding pictures until you once again have reliable internet.

I searched and found quite few option but 99% of them (including Microsoft Word) seem to be applicable to old versions of the software and haven’t been updated in a number of years. I guess reliable internet is just assumed these days.

MarsEdit 3

The only exception was Red Sweater’s MarsEdit 3. For $39.95 use it apparently allows you to compose and size images and then post them all at once; a much better solution for when we are away from the internet for days at a time. So I downloaded the 30 day demo and am giving it a try with this post.


Here’s a snap of my brother at a recent curling tourney. It’s set to be centered and 800 x 600 pixels.

Some Quick Notes

The <img> tag uses style=”float:left;” instead of class=”alignleft” which WordPress prefers. But you can edit the macro to ad the appropriate class.

The images are also sized to one size; none of WordPress’s fancy multi-size uploads. So if you get it wrong on the initial upload you are out of luck.

You can also upload images separately using the Upload Utility. Not sure why you would want to but nice to have if it becomes necessary.

Testing out a Block Quote

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

—Helen Keller

The interface (adding tags etc.) is menu driven with very few shortcuts or buttons which is a bit antiquated and a bit of a pain, but everything seems to work as promised.

Oh and I just discovered the Rich Text Editor screws up tables. Since I shouldn’t be using tables anyway and the HTML leaves them alone, it’s not a stopper. But again, just a little regressive given the start of online editors these days.

In Conclusion

It’ll work. Kind of like being in a time machine back to the late 90s but it will work. Now I just need to decided if it is worth $50.

Random Text

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Random Head

IMG 0066

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

IMG 3700

Contrary to popular belief, * Lorem Ipsum * is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Making Videos, Animating Graphics

I consider the video below a partial success. I managed to do what I set out to do, but frankly it didn’t end up meeting my minimum standards to call it good. But I have been humming and hawing for days now and finally decided to just post it and move on, because anything else would mean starting from scratch and I think it would be a waste to toss the whole thing. So check out the first of a series of planned sailing itineraries:


The first thing I need was a map. The problem is that maps aren’t free despite what you might think given Google’s presence online. And I wanted something I could manipulate the way I wanted to. So I started with a bunch of base maps that I stitched together and started tracing.

Layer one was the base map that was a not-so-simple outline. Back in my book publishing days, I made a ton of these, oddly enough  mostly of BC. But that was when I was still using Freehand before it disappeared and Illustrator became the de facto standard. And I really hate Illustrator. Well, I don’t so much hate it as resent the fact that all those years of learning Freehand now work against me. But such is life in the design community: move on and keep learning.  At least the hours spent working on this map have helped get my Illustrator skills a little more polished. would have liked to add even more detail but the file was starting to balloon in size and it wasn’t actually necessary to have that much accuracy — so I started to slack a bit in places like the west coast of the Island. 

Then I added in coloured layers, borders, labels and whipped up a quick compass rose. After that was done I started building a series of layers with smaller area maps that I could use later to highlight the cruising grounds.

With that done I saved the file and I fired up a new project in Adobe After Effects, then imported the Illustrator file into it. One of the great things about after Effects is that it imports the files with the layering intact and, even better, maintains a hot link to the original file so if you have to go back and change something it updates automatically (which I did several times). In After Effects I proceeded to divide the project into two main sections: the Salish Sea intro and the first planned itinerary, add some more labels and build in animations. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but no idea of how to do it. YouTube to the rescue. All the graphic animations of the map were done in After Effects including the zooms and the move pathways of the route itself. 

Once those were done I exported it as two videos so I could move on to Premiere. After Effects and Premiere do support the a method of hot linking files but some of the effects I used were not supported so I was forced to render the After Effects files. This just meant that any changes that needed to be done would mean re-rendering the files and updating them in Premiere — a matter of  something like 15 minutes work for each video, each time I did it. So I tried not to do it. And pretty much failed.

In Premiere imported the two videos, a selection of still images from my archives and my intros/outros. Then I proceeded to build the initial text graphics and started breaking the videos down into a rough cut. 

Once the rough cut was done I stared animating the text, fine tuning the timing and playing with the narrative to try and get my point across. Although by this time I was starting to wonder what my point was —which was a huge learning lesson in itself.

Eventually I got it to some place that wasn’t particularly horrible and brought in some music. Originally I wanted to do the project with a scripted voice-over but finally decided that was too much additional work for what it was looking like I was going to be able to produce as a final product. I will likely revisit that decision on the next video (if I go ahead with the project) and be able to better anticipate what I will need to have done in what order to support that sort of narrative. And then I unfortunately got carried away laying the audio track and managed to box myself into a few more corners that would take too much work to back out of. 

Lessons Learned

At this point I essentially gave up on trying to improve deficiencies and focussed on completing something. I’d spent a little over a month on this so far and it was increasingly looking like I would have to go back and start from scratch (well, not quite from scratch, as the Illustrator map was perfect) in order to be able to get the result I was looking for. So I decided to get it to good enough and move on. And that’s what you see here.


I learned a few things about planning such an extensive media project. The first thing —which I already knew, or thought I did — is that eh more pre planning you do the less pain  and problems you  will encounter further down the road. I don’t think I truly appreciated how much I have learned about graphic and print production over the years that has allowed me to work fairly smoothly and problem solve on the fly without excessive documentation. Not so for motion graphics; I have a lot to learn and until I do, working out the kinks before I go into production is going to have to be the rule of the day.

Editing yourself

Again, less is more is a graphic design mantra I have long since internalized but it didn’t manage to make the transition to motion graphics. The amount of time I wasted on fancy-dancy effects that ultimately got left on the digital cutting room floor accounted for a huge percentage of the effort I have put into this. With every iteration I found myself cutting and editing things to try and simply the narrative. And frankly I still think I could have done a lot more.

Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts

Know your tools. I have a personal rule that states if you do a set of actions more than three times in one session then take the time to learn shortcuts. Whether it is keyboard shortcuts, macros or simply a more efficient way of achieving your goal it almost always pays dividends when you take some time to explore your toolkit.

And organization helps a lot. I started out with a free for all of files and eventually found myself making more and more bins and folders to organize image, title bars, video clips and sequences. Next time I will start out with a whole lot of empty folders and keep it tidy as I go.


One of the reasons graphic designers can work alone and filmmakers generally don’t is that it take a huge set of disparate skills and talents to bring together motion graphics. Simply melding the audio and visual components is a massive sideways shift in perspective and I have a renewed respect for those who are auditorially skilled — I’m certainly not. As an audience we experience video differently than we do a static page and there is a whole language I am learning to describe how viewers interact with the screen. A lot of it comes from how we read and view the printed page, but a lot it does not. I am going to have to learn more than a few software programs if if I want to get better at this.

In conclusion

Anyway, I have called this project a wrap and will move on to the next and hopefully do a better job. Because every time I look at this particular video I still want to go in and change something — and I think it’s time to stop looking.

If you have any interest in seeing more sailing related video, my youtube channel can be found here:

Never for Ever YouTube Channel

My First Wikipedia Article

I generally use Wikipedia to look up pub dates for books I am reading and to keep track of series orders etc. Imagine my surprise when I looked up Blake Charlton — who has three books published by Tor — and there was no entry. While I have occasionally edited a Wikipedia article, I have never attempted to write one from scratch so this looked like a good opportunity.

I did a brief bit of research and outlined a brief entry (see below). Then I submitted it without creating an ID. This puts it into a hold queue waiting for review from more senior Wikipedians (Wikipediaites?) to review, approve or reject.

The interface is surprisingly easy to maneuver at first but it becomes increasingly more complex and arcane as you get down to details. Which is as it should be I suppose.

The queued entry can be seen here:

Blake Charlton

Blake Charlton (1979-) is an American science fiction author. He is the author of the Spellbreaker series published by Tor books and currently a cardiology fellow at the University of California San Francisco. As boy Charlton had to deal with severe dyslexia but has he managed to overcome his condition and learned to read fluently by the age of 13.

Blake’s non-fiction has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, The British Medical Journal, and The New York Times. and his science fiction short stories have appeared in the Seeds of Change and the Unfettered anthologies.

Charlton graduated summa cum laude from Yale University studying English Language and Literature and went on to graduate from Stanford Medical School.

The Spellwright trilogy is set in a world where languages for the basis for magic. Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer (similar to Charlton’s own dyslexia), who nonetheless is talented in magical languages. But his disability that causes misspelling in any text he touches.


Series fiction


  • Spellwright (2010, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-8856-8)
  • Spellbound (2011, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-5659-8)
  • Spellbreaker (2016, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-1729-2)



This entry created and uploaded as a part of the Ulysses testing process.

A Test-drive of Ulysses

A writing program

Ulysses is a writing program that I putzed with for about 5 minutes during NaNoWriMo but didn’t look at again. Then it turned out they were offering a few free copies of the software to lucky contestants in a draw. I entered. I won. So now I have my own fully functional copy of Ulysses to play with.

It features iCloud syncing, sheets that can be merged etc, export styles, and attachments. Ulysses is designed to make writing easier. I have generally used IA Writer Classic in the past because I have old version that work on my old first gen iPad. I am not sure yet if I will switch but that’s what this exercise is for.


Ulysses uses Markdown XL for formatting functions. I have previously dabbled in Markdown on the blog but this has a few more bells and whistles. The full list of available definitions is accessible via ?9 or the toolbar’s A| button.

I am writing these all down again as a reminder to myself and to practice getting used to the language.

Heads (preceded by pound symbols — one for each level)

quote: preceded by greater than (>) symbol

emphasis is ?I or a bracketed by single asterisks (*)

Bold is ?B or a bracketed by double asterisks (**)

A divider is 4 dashes



  • unordered lists
  • are preceded
  • by a dash
  • and a space
  1. ordered lists
  2. are preceded by
  3. the numeral,
  4. a period
  5. and the space

Add highlighted text (bracketed by double colons ::) or deletions (bracketed by double vertical bars ||)

Comments are bracketed by double plus symbols ++you can see this comment only because I overrode the code++

…or are paragraphs preceded by double percent signs

%% This is a comment paragraph, again visible 
because I used code to override

Text Objects

A Footnote1 Type (fn), enter your footnote text and hit Cmd-return

To add a link, type square brackets [ ] around a word or phrase (or use the ?K shortcut).

To add an annotation type curly brackets { } around a phrase, It is basically a note added to that phrase. I don’t think it exports.

<a href="sample code> is done by bracketing with the tick mark (found under the tilde). Entire paragraphs can be done by preceding with double single quote marks

code code code code etc

Executable code that won’t show in a pdf but will in a html doc can be made by using Raw Source: bracketing with double tildes or paragraphs preceded by double tildes.

So this ~~<a href="">A link to done manually in html</a>~~ appears as this:

A link to done manually in html
And finally, here’s a link to a pdf which seems to upload the file but not link properly to it when exported direct to WordPress. (Here’s the link since it did upload the pdf: A Test-drive of a Ulysses)

And that’s it for the Markdown portion of Ulysses. More to come…

  1. This is a footnote (it appears at the bottom with an automatic link) ?

Reposts etc.

When I started up I had intended it for a broader audience than my personal blog so that meant making some attempt at promotion was called for. Besides sharing links for each post on Facebook and Twitter, I also answered a call from to provide content for their site aggregator. They would repost the first couple of paragraphs and or images from a post that they thought was appropriate for their readership and then link to my site for the balance. They didn’t pick up every post I made but did contribute significantly to the traffic overall.

But not so long ago I was looking at the site stats and noticed that a whole bunch of viewers —hundreds! — of my post about my trip down to LA had come from the same site — which was actually someone’s e-newsletter. Seems Cruising Compass had picked up the story and republished an excerpt and link in their weekly newsletter and of course also on their home site,, under the heading Website of the Week (A West Coast Journey: Not So Offshore).

Now I in no way mind that they did this, but I do wonder at the lack of permission seeking or even notification. I would never had known about it if I hadn’t investigated the spike in traffic. I originally had thought it was due to my latest post , but quickly realized that it was for a post that was over a month old. That led to discovering the above. But, as they say, any publicity is good publicity…

Movie Time?

Guess who got a new action camera? I picked up a SJ4000 from 6mega for only $120. I decided to go for it after watching a review of different underwater cameras by Gone with the Wynns. It comes with an underwater housing and a bunch of mounts. And hey, for 120 bucks how can you go wrong?

Seriously though, I am hoping it will make getting some good sailing footage much easier. Now I just have to wait for sailing season…



My ride home from buying microSD cards. It’s always something…

A new camera!

In a long-line of new cameras I now present…

My New Camera!

A Nikon L830

My first digital camera was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ1. It died on our trip west in 2007 so I was forced to borrow my Mom’s Canon. I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 because I had been happy with the first one up until it died. One of the things I confirmed was that when travelling I like using regular batteries. Hanging out in campground bathrooms waiting for a battery to charge was not “on.” So when my trusty Panasonic died at the end of our last sailing trip it was time to go shopping again.

But cameras that run on AA batteries are few and far between. I finally landed on the L830 because I figured on the boat that compact was not the biggest concern and the  30X zoom would finally allow me to take a picture of a whale or dolphin that wasn’t just a speck. It takes 4 AAs instead of 2 but the battery life is supposed to be pretty good (another thing I don’t like about the rechargeables).

So I guess we will see; I havent had any opportunity to try it out yet. I got some stunning images with the old Panasonic and I will miss it but that’s what happens in this fast-paced world of ours.

Some favourites from the old camera:

P1010978 P1020183 P1020376

Posting Issues

The latest auto post using SNAP didn’t work. I think it’s a combo of the XMLRPC issue and a new update to WordPress. I filed a ticket with the creators and heard back from them but they are still working on it.

For those who are interested you can read it here: Anchors Away


But as for the SNAP issue, it worked for the first 3 times and then the latest attempt threw up this error:

[Error] [WP - WordPress(Macblaze)] - -=ERROR=- Array ( [pgID] => [isPosted] => 0 [pDate] => 2015-05-05 18:43:20 [Error] => -=ERROR=- transport error - HTTP status code was not 200 - 0 - | HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found Date: Tue, 05 May 2015 18:43:20 GMT Accept-Ranges: bytes Content-Type: text/html X-Varnish: 20178337 Age: 0 X-Cache: MISS Content-Length: 2019 Connection: keep-alive <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" ""&gt; <html> <head> <title>404 Not Found</title> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" /> <style type="text/css"> body { font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color:#367E8E; scrollbar-base-color: #005B70; scrollbar-arrow-color: #F3960B; scrollbar-DarkShadow-Color: #000000; color: #FFFFFF; margin:0; } a { color:#021f25; text-decoration:none} h1 { font-size: 18px; color: #FB9802; padding-bottom: 10px; background-image: url(sys_cpanel/images/bottombody.jpg); background-repeat: repeat-x; padding:5px 0 10px 15px; margin:0; } #body-content p { padding-left: 25px; padding-right: 25px; line-height: 18px; padding-top: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; } h2 { font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; color: #FF9900; padding-left: 15px; } </style> </head> <body> <div id="body-content"> <!-- start content--> <!-- instead of REQUEST_URI, we could show absolute URL via: http://HTTP_HOST/REQUEST_URI but what if its https:// or other protocol? SERVER_PORT_SECURE doesn't seem to be used SERVER_PORT logic would break if they use alternate ports --> <h1>404 Not Found</h1> <p>The server can not find the requested page:</p> <blockquote> (port 80) </blockquote> <p> Please forward this error screen to's <a href=" message [404] 404 Not Found for port 80 on Tuesday, 05-May-2015 14:43:20 EDT"> WebMaster</a>. </p> <hr /> <!-- end content --> </div> </body> </html> ) | PostID: 0 -

I have no idea what it means so I will have to wait and see…