Its a long way back – Part 2

So, I had a site up and running, I entered my first post, and then had a look around to see what was new. I had installed an older version of WordPress, and a new version was on offer – 4.9.8, and it could be downloaded and installed automatically. Well, that I had to try, and sure enough, it worked fine. So now I had to come to terms with the changes in the new version – some of them quite surprising, I don’t find anywhere to log in, for example.

In addition to that, there is a new editor being touted – Gutenberg, they call it. I decided to give that a try, (the last post was written with that), and hurriedly went back to the old system. When I looked at the result of Gutenberg, I was rather disappointed. Every block has a label round it defining its start and finish. We don’t need the labels – we can see if a piece of text is a paragraph or not, the same as we can see if a picture is a picture. A lot of extra work to learn a new system that doesn’t make life easier than before, and bloated files as a result.

Gutenberg? – No thank you!

I had downloaded Gutenberg as an optional editor, but after deciding not to use it, and downloading the standard editor as an option, Gutenberg was no longer to be found!

Back to the saga. I was really unhappy about the password for MySql, and tried to change it. There seemed to be a way of doing it via WordPress itself, but unfortunately the communication failed because of a setup problem. I haven’t found what that is yet. In the meantime, I found another way of changing the password directly via the PHP control for MySql. Although that appeared to work for a short time, it wasn’t long before I could no longer access the site at all.

If I couldn’t access it, why did I need it? Obviously I didn’t, so I decided to delete it and start again. This involved removing one database from MySql, and making another new one available for a new installation. Apart from a hiccup where I forgot to update the database name in wp-config.php, everything went smoothly. It is called the “5-minute Installation, but in fact takes far less time than that with an empty site to load.

Its taken about a year and a half, but I am now back to the state that I was in early last year. I have my site at home for experimental work, and can refine any posts I want to put on my blog before they actually go anywhere.

Welcome back, WordPress

Its a long way back – Part 1.

The problems started last year, when my motherboard eventually bit the dust. It had been a long time coming, having shown intermittent errors that couldn’t be pin-pointed for about a year. As a result of that, I lost a lot of programs, including my own copy of WordPress.

Worse still, of course, was saying goodbye to Windows 7, which had become such a familiar friend over the years. The only replacement I could get with the new motherboard was Windows 10, and we all know what a disaster that is.

I tried various ways to replace my WordPress installation, but kept hitting roadblocks which thwarted me completely. Because I choose not to update WIndows 10, some programs that are required for Wamp to run for example, are just not available. If you don’t have the right version of Microsoft C++ Redistributable, you may not be able to get it, and you can forget Wamp altogether.

I recently came across an alternative that showed promise, as the package claimed to contain everything necessary to run Apache – and this was the server I wanted. It was Bitnami Wampstack-7.1.23-0, which was a download of some 243 Mb.

When I ran the file, it gave me a warning about my Antivirus program possibly causing some interference. I chose to ignore the warning, and left my Antivirus running. Needless to say, the installation got to about 95% complete. and then stopped – never to continue. What to do now?

The Antivirus had shown no sign of distress so far, so I decided to clean everything out, and rerun the installation with Antivirus switched off. That’s where I hit the first problem:- I couldn’t delete all the files!

A bunch of files were effectively being held prisoner by “httpd.exe”, (which itself wasn’t running), as they were all classified as “in use”, and couldn’t be deleted. Nor could I delete “httpd.exe” itself, even after a system restart. I could, however, use a trick, or in fact a couple of them.

First I changed the name of “httpd.exe” to “httpd.e”, and restarted the machine. The files were still held captive, so I then opened “httpd.e” and deleted its contents. Then I restarted again, and lo and behold the files I wanted to get rid of were no longer captive, and soon deleted.

Now I reran the installation for Bitnami Wampstack with the Antivirus switched off. There were some sticky points towards the end, where it said it had stopped working, but it managed to recover from them itself, and the thing was finally done. I now had a viable Apache server again.

The next item was to set up a database for your WordPress site in Mysql. There are many good descriptions of how to do this out there on the Internet – here is one, for example:-, and another:- https://Installing From a Zip File – Make WordPress Core.htm

Ok, so I had my database set up, and I was ready to do the “5-minute install” that WordPress is renowned for, but I had made an error. I had accepted the password generated by MySql, and it was a real horror. Judge for yourself:- %gyg@IELn3q9hQNWSe. How the hell is anyone supposed to remember something like that? Ok, so I put little files all over my computer so I would not be likely to be locked out of the system.

The next item is to configure wp-config.php, which you will find at local disk (C), Bitnami, wampstack-7.1.23-0, apache2, htdocs, mysite (or whatever you have called your installation), wp-config.php. The following data must be added.

Once you have done that, point your browser to, or ‘Localhost’ if you have set your ‘Hosts” file up already, and your WordPress installation should commence.

To be continued!

Staying Healthy!

I am by no means what you would call a “health nut”, but I am careful about what I eat, as I want to keep my body in as near as possible the same shape as it always has been. I am certainly not convinced that “Middle-aged spread” is at all unavoidable, and have managed so far to avoid most of the problems that people incur when they put on weight.

After watching “Sugar – The Bitter Truth”, which is an .avi file by Robert H. Lustig, and reading “Pure, White, and Deadly” (PDF) by John Yudkin, I was even more determined to restrict my sugar intake to an absolute minimum.

Sugar, however, is not the only source of unwanted body fat, and now Robert H. Lustig has come out with a new publication called Fat Chance_ Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. This I downloaded from , where it was available in “Mobi” format. I don’t use this format on my computer, but I can convert it to “Epub” using the “Calibre” program.

Unfortunately, when I loaded it into “Calibre” to start the conversion, the file was unreadable, so I searched around for an alternative. It was available as a torrent from the following source:-
and this had the advantage of already being in “Epub” format, and so would not require any conversion. I did check the “Mobi” file in “Calibre”, however, and it loads without any problem.

You might think that the material is as “dry as dust”, but this is not strictly true. Robert Lustig does try to liven things up a little at times. In fact, before the contents, he writes –

“This book is written only for those of you who eat food.
The rest of you are off the hook.”

If you need any further proof that doctors can be funny, try this:-

Warning! Make sure your bladder is nearly empty before reading this – or there could be accidents! It really is a scream in places.

This book is available as a free download from

And don’t forget:- “Laughter is the best medicine!”

Wheels within wheels!

It’s very strange how one thing leads to another.

I had an email message to say that “Limitless” liked a post on my blog. Well, I was curious about that, and went to look at his blog to see what he was doing. He really is doing some amazing things with graphics, and I would certainly recommend a visit to anyone else. The address is

While I was there, I looked at some of the comments people were making about his work, and they were all very appreciative. One of these was from a young lady called “rue202”, who lives in Australia, and who also runs a blog at

This blog I found very interesting, for Rachael, as her name turns out to be, has a rather different way of doing things – she posts chapters of her books on her blog! Seriously, she has already completed two parts of a trilogy, and is heavily into the third book already.

I read a couple of chapters, and thought to myself – “this is just what I need!” I had found a project that I could really get my teeth into, metaphorically speaking, of course. I downloaded all of Rachael’s chapters, and copied them into Open Office Writer. I ended up with three large files – one for each of Rachael’s books. The third one is the largest, and is not yet complete, as she hasn’t finished writing it yet.

The reason for using Open Office Writer I explained in a previous article “Electronic Publications”,
The “Writer2epub” extension to the Open Office Writer makes short work of converting a long string of text into a conveniently paged document. However, “Writer2epub” cannot handle everything you throw at it, as I found out in the course of the last 2 weeks.

It doesn’t like hyperlinks in documents, and it doesn’t handle graphics properly. The answer is to take all the links and graphics out of the material before you create the Open Office Writer document. They can be put back into the Epub file later, when you are tidying it up with “Sigil”. If you are at all into Epub, you must have “Sigil” available – it really is magic!.

Still not sold on EPUB? Grab the Epub Reader Extension to Firefox, subscribe to and download a few books for free. Most are available in both PDF and Epub formats, some only PDF. One that I particularly wanted, “Fat Chance”, by Robert H. Lustig, was only available in Mobi. No problem – I can use Calibre to convert that!

Just think of the bandwith you can save by downloading a book instead of a video. Fifty Shades of Grey, for example:- the video – 1.47 Gb, the PDF file – 2,133 Kb, and an Epub file would be smaller than that!

Are you convinced yet?

Dead, but it won’t lay down!

Microsoft 10 rears its ugly head periodically and still causes problems. Although I thought I had successfully killed the updates, I sometimes find that unexpectedly large volumes of data are being downloaded, and there is no indication of where this data is going at all.

All I see is that my prepaid load is disappearing much faster than I think it should, and unless I have picked up some unwanted virus, there is one most likely suspect – Windows Update has been switched on again.

It is easy enough to find out!

Go first to the Control Panel, and select Administrative Tools.

From the available tools, select Services.

And in Services, scroll down until you can see Windows Update.

If you don’t want updates, this service must be set to “Disabled”. If it is set to anything else, right-click on Windows Update, and select “Properties”. This will take you to a further panel where you can set the service to the state you wish.

Even though you set this service to “Disabled”, you may switch on your computer in a weeks time and find that something has set it back to “Manual”, and that it is running again after all.

Note 1. Microsoft does not like this service to be switched off, and may ignore your attempts to change its status. If you insist, however, it will eventually give in.

Note 2. Microsoft doesn’t want everything to be easily available if it means that their program is not going to be used as they intended. For example, the program I use to provide Screen Captures is Paint Shop Pro. Capturing the pictures above produced some strange results. The first two were completely normal, and no problem. The second two, however, could not be captured as a Window, or as an area – I had to use Full Screen, and then cut the pictures to size.

Just another example of Microsoft being difficult!

Your computer should now be behaving itself, and no longer have this voracious thirst for data as before.

Be aware, however, that this could change back at any time, as there are hidden mechanisms within Windows 10 to restore the status quo. You could just wait for the next incident to happen, or you could take a pro-active approach, in that you may a check on the state of the Windows Update service every couple of days.

Electronic Publications

There are various forms of electronic publication, some suitable for specific display devices only. My main concern, however, is with those suitable for an ordinary desktop computer, which leaves basically two formats – PDF and EPUB.

Of the two, although PDF was first available, and is in widespread use, it is not so easy to use as EPUB. The PDF file is treated initially as one long scroll, with all the attendant problems of getting from one part to another. Using books with pages makes much more sense, and the EPUB format goes one better, normally displaying 3 pages at a time. A single click of the “Right Arrow” key takes us to the next batch of 3 pages, and the “Left Arrow” takes us 3 pages back

Furthermore, the file size for an EPUB document is about 1/3rd the size of the same file in PDF, as the EPUB format is compressed. Saving disk space and download times are both excellent ideas, and good reasons for choosing EPUB over PDF.

To view EPUB documents, I normally use the Epub Reader extension to the Firefox browser.

It is possible to change from one format to another using special programs. Calibre will convert PDF format to EPUB, but doesn’t do a clean job of it. Although Calibre is excellent for making small corrections – correcting spelling errors in an existing EPUB document, for example – it is not particularly suited for correcting a complete document if the layout is not as desired.

An alternative program, Sigil, does not currently have the ability to convert from PDF to EPUB, but it will accept the output from Calibre when already converted, and is easier to use than Calibre, in my opinion. Sigil uses the F2 key to switch from the code display to the text display. Calibre, on the other hand, uses the same screen area to display both the code and the text.

As far as writing EPUB files from scratch is concerned, I first thought of using Calibre, but that would have been too cumbersome. When you are writing, it is better to use a text program for simplicity. Looking around, I found that there is a “Writer2epub” extension to the Open Office Writer, and that is what I am currently trying out.

After a little experimentation, it is beginning to look quite good. The first attempt produced a document with every single line of text on a new page, but this is easily altered. Select the Metadata button, (the center button of the W2E controls), go to “Document Preferences” and turn off all file splitting. An alternative would be to merge html files using Calibre, but turning off file splitting keeps the number of files to a minimum, and is certainly preferable.

I was so impressed by one book – How Not To Die, by Michael Greger M.D. – that I really put in a lot of effort to convert it. It was only available in PDF format, and I wanted a nice clean copy in EPUB. After I had converted it in Calibre, I was left with a massive clean-up job, as almost every line required attention for one reason or another. It took me about a week!

I also found that some of my attempts to clean up were actually making matters worse. In both programs, Calibre and Sigil, you have the chance to make changes in either the code or the text display. Experience shows that making changes in the text display can lead to “code bloat”, and your file sizes become significantly larger to no useful purpose.

For example, where text is in italics, you may find the instruction for italic has been duplicated for different parts of the same word. This happens where the text that is affected by the instruction is moved, and the part that is moved requires the instruction to be added separately.

Similarly, problems can and do occur with Span. When moving text in text display mode, the Span instruction, and all sorts of unnecessary text control codes, may be added. If you are working in text display mode, you will not see this happen, and your file sizes may increase dramatically.

As a matter of policy, it pays to check the part of the document you are working on in code display mode, and then you can see where “Search and Replace” can be put to good use.

Is it worth the effort?

That very much depends on whether you have the time to spare, or not. I have lots of time, being retired, and am always looking for things to do. I also like a challenge, and since I started this conversion process have become quite proficient at it.

Your situation will probably be very different, so if you have better things to do with your time, use PDF!

Video File Conversion

It is not always possible to use video files on all devices. Although modern mobile phones do a grand job with most formats, sometimes it is necessary to convert to another format they can handle better. There are a number of programs available to do this, some of them paid, some of them free. Some will do the conversion on your own computer, while others require you to upload the file to the Internet, (or at least provide the url.), for the processing to be done elsewhere, and the result downloaded.

My personal preference is always to work on my own computer. Having downloaded the video once already, I fail to see why I should pay for the bandwidth to download it a second time in converted form.

One of the programs I normally use for this purpose became unusable for some reason, and I was able to recover it, so I looked for an alternative.

Movavi offered a 7-day trial, with the restriction that it would periodically show adverts for Movavi during the replay. I tried this out, and threw it away – it was hideous.

I looked for recommendations on the Internet, and came up with a program called “Any Video Converter”, (AVC). This was free, and easy to download, so I decided to try it out.

A few minutes and 49,6 mb later, I was ready install. The installation was straightforward enough, and so was loading the program to be converted, but then came the tricky part – selecting the output format. These people have really gone overboard on options. For example, for Samsung mobile phones, there is a choice of 18 versions, another 4 for Samsung tablets, 10 for android phones, 19 for android tablets, etc., etc. So you make a choice, and get started.

One of the things that puzzled me was the slow reaction time of the program after it had already been started. It was several minutes before an indication of 1% completion was indicated, and the next change was certainly not going to happen very quickly. I had almost decided that the program was a failure and was about to kill it when the first indication of movement indicated that it was actually alive and doing something.

This type of behaviour is very unusual in my experience, and I wondered what could be the cause. A quick look at the computer loading in Task Manager showed the problem immediately. AVC was loading the computer up to 100% continuously! This one program was using 2 Intel Pentium cores running at 3.3 Ghz almost completely, and was taking over 41/2 hours to convert a video file of 1.39 Gb.

I was already aware that video conversions were time-consuming, but not to this extent! I’ll see what the result is before passing final judgement,.

The final file size is 5.76 Gb, more than 4 times the size of the original file. Considering that a conversion targeting a mobile phone with correspondingly small screen size compared to a desktop computer, the final file should have been considerably smaller than the original 1.39Gb. The file is too big to fit in the target phone!

On balance, I think that AVC fails, and I need a new converter!