I have set the blog to require registration before you can comment. Apologies. It’s an experiment to see if this will help me manage the egregious amounts of spam I’m getting (even with akismet’s help). If it doesn’t help I’ll turn it off again, but to give you some context, in 12 hours I received 17 pages of spam!


I decided I wanted to be able to log in and post from outside my home network, and using vanilla http to do that while running on unencrypted wifi at the coffee shop was just asking for trouble.

Thankfully, Let’s Encrypt has made setting up https on your site both easy and, more importantly, free!

The “wonders” of how my old install of WP was set up has meant that older posts may still have bogus links in them, but on the front page (and going forward) at least, you now see:


GCW gets a new home

After many years of running Great Castle Wilson on some flavour of Mac, I’ve finally decided to give it dedicated hardware of its own. In part, this is because I enjoy proving to myself that I can still set up and configure a webserver and all the other required accoutrements — yes, I’m weird like that — but mostly it’s because I’m fairly confident that macOS Catalina is going to break my current configuration anyway, so it seemed like a good time to make a change.

For those who aren’t aware, Catalina is the first version of macOS that only supports 64-bit applications. There are some fairly significant changes under the covers, and the odds are low that my personal mix of random open source software and existing Mac tech is going to continue to work.

So without further ado, here is the brand new GCW:

Yep, it’s a Pi 🙂


So far the setup process has been relatively painless, but I did learn that WordPress does *not* like it when its API URL points at a different instance of WordPress than the one that’s making the request — that took a couple of hours to debug. 🙂

Anyway, if you can read this, then we’re live. The site seems quite responsive and the only posts that aren’t displaying properly are ones where some of the original content they linked to no longer exists


Some history…

I don’t post to NfGCW very often any more, but I love the fact that there’s years of history from our family here. I’ve blogged about many topics over the years, including the site itself. Here are some previous posts about the hardware GCW ran on.

WP Upgrade Blues

*Whew*. That’s what I get for blithely doing what I usually do when upgrading between wordpress versions. This time I was left with a very messed up page, and more than half of my plugins and themes reporting errors. Ugh. There were even error messages when updating the mysql db. Double ugh.

I’ve bashed it back into an approximation of working for now, using the included “twentyten” theme. Now I have to see if I can figure out whether anything else got wrecked.

What do you mean mysql can’t find my wp database?

Well, that was more excitement than I was expecting.

Tonight, Deb wandered into my downstairs office and said, “Are you playing with the server? I can’t get to my blog”. I naturally assumed it was the normal problem of my dynamic dns address changing and the associated delay before catches up. So I tried connecting to my blog and what did I see: “WordPress can’t find your database”. What!!! That would be bad; very very bad.

Well, after about an hour of messing around, I realized it wasn’t quite that bad. MySQL and all my data really were still there, but it turns out they had been masked by some misguided hacking I had been doing with MacPorts.


Well, in honour of the near miss, I promptly did a full backup of my entire website (as apposed to the incremental nightlies) and the mysql database, and then upgraded to WordPress 2.5.

So far, everything looks good. The upgrade went painlessly, as it has for me since I started using WP. Man, I wish all software was that easy to deal with.

Reason 4.0

I picked up the Reason 4.0 upgrade this week. If you’re looking to do this, and you live in Ottawa, I heartily recommend ordering it directly from the Propellerhead store: I saw it on sale at one Ottawa music store for $299, but I got mine direct from Propellerhead for US$142, including shipping. That’s a particularly good deal given the current strength of the Canadian dollar. It also took less than a week to get here.

In honour of the upgrade, here’s a little piece I pulled together from several copies of the new-for-Reason-4.0 “Thor” synthesizer, a couple of Rex loops and a little help from my friend Alex 😉 …

Zero Hours

(It’s what my G5 says to me at midnight.)

SplashBlog and GCW

I know this isn’t new, but now that I have a Treo 680, I have been playing around with SplashBlog. SplashBlog is basically a photo sharing site (a la Flickr), but with the added twist that it supports PDA/smartphone synchronization. Here’s what Six Apart says:

SplashBlog lets you instantly publish photos from your smartphone to an online photo album (photoblog) to share with others. SplashBlog includes everything you need to share your photos, including software for your smartphone and a free online photoblog account at Just install the FREE software on your smartphone, create your free account and start photoblogging!

At some level, this is the killer app for a smartphone. Wherever you are, whenever something cool happens, you can snap a picture and push it to the web in about 30 seconds. You don’t even have to describe the picture before posting it, because you can go back afterwards (either on the phone or via their web client) and fill in the details. Of course, it eats data charges faster than Lucky can eat his supper, but it’s still very cool.

Once I could upload pictures effortlessly, I wanted to make it equally easy to share them with my friends, so I started looking around for a way to display them at NfGCW. I figured I was on the right track when I found “district 30″‘s Photo Sidebar widget but, unfortunately, this doesn’t support SplashBlog out of the box. It was trivial to add the support, however, by including…

elseif (strpos($item["link"], "") >= 0) {
	$item_url = $item["description"];
	$start_pos = strpos($item_url , "<img src=")+10;
    	$end_pos = strpos($item_url , """, $start_pos);
	$item_url = substr($item_url, $start_pos, $end_pos-$start_pos);

… in the code that decides how to pull out the picture URL (i.e. $item_url) based on the different feed types. I also bashed the code to remove the randomization of the order that the pictures are returned. Given the way SplashBlog works, it seems like showing the most recent photos is more interesting.

All in all, a fun bit of hacking for a Saturday morning. If you haven’t noticed already, you can check the side bar of the main page to see my latest images. Apologies for the portrait shots being displayed sideways. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to fix them at SplashBlog, so I’ll just have to remember not to hold the Treo sideways when I take them.

Btw, if you do want to check out all the pictures on my SplashBlog site, you can go to:

McQ’s Treo Shots