View-Master Model D Part 2

Received the View-Master D today and the only negative I can say about it is that the old batteries were still in it and were on the verge of leaking. No actual damage though and everything else is in great condition. The box itself is worn but I already knew that and wasn’t as interested in the box itself anyway, just a nice bonus. The seller also included more discs than originally expected so that was nice as well. A few of the discs are quite old although I’m still not familiar enough with the various series to estimate exact dates. One of these days I hope to post some photos.

View-Master Model D

Well, “accidentally” purchased a Model D View-Master from eBay yesterday. These seem to be the most sought-after units yet it didn’t cost nearly as much as some of the sites on the ‘Net are selling them for. It was not exactly obvious that it was a Model D at first, although after purchase I noticed the box has Model D on it. Anyway, looking forward to receiving it. Will have to start posting pics of these as well as the various reels I’m accumulating. I expect it will need cleaning, at least eye-pieces and lenses but will remain patient (for at least 2 more days).

View-Master Model C

So, a mistake on my part. The model E and later apparently come apart reasonably easily and can be cleaned that way. However, the earlier models are riveted and require more finesse. Assuming everything is intact and just in need of cleaning, a plastic pry tool can be used to remove the metal “keepers” from the translucent eye-pieces. Once the unit can be blown out and the actual lenses cleaned with a long cotton swab and alcohol. The translucent portions can also be cleaned up and then re-installed.

View-Master Model E

Over the last couple of years I’ve been buying a few View-Master items as time permits. I have one of the old Bakelite types from the 50’s to 60’s and another of the red, white, and blue from the 60’s. The older model E was somewhat grimy so I finally summoned enough courage to disassemble and clean it. While I didn’t find instructions for the older model they apparently hadn’t changed overall mechanical design and the instructions for the later models ( worked pretty much the same. I used an alcohol to clean the windows and eye pieces and you’d be surprised how much crud came off on the q-tips. The difference isn’t really too noticeable on some discs but is hugely noticeable on others, depending mainly on colors and depth. As always, YMMV. Also, if you have one that needs cleaning but you’re nervous about doing it yourself, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

As an addendum, tonight I also cleaned the newer model. It came apart in much the same way. If you are working to open these up to clean them, I recommend separating about 1/16″ maximum at each of 4 corners until the spring-loaded keepers are finally released. Going too far at once will most likely weaken or permanently damage them or the bakelite/plastic, where a little patience would have served much better. Also, use a plastic pry tool; I’ve been using a screwdriver but obviously plastic won’t deform the bodies and would be about 1000% better.

Mac X High Sierra and exfat

So, Mac OS X has exfat file system support built in. I spent about an hour trying to repair and otherwise fix my nearly full 2TB external drives before I decided to simply wait. Turns out if you have lots of files, it takes Mac OS X a long time to parse through them all. After about 20 minutes the drive showed up normally with all files ready to go.

LinApple and Xubuntu 17.10

bzip2 -d to Working folder, followed by tar xvf

switch to Working folder and src folder

make should first return sdl error

sudo apt-get install libsdl1.2-dev (may also need libsdl2-dev)

sudo apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev

sudo apt-get install libzip-dev

Other libraries may be necessary but these seem to fulfill the needs on my system (I allow them to install all dependencies and don’t bother trying to analyze everything).

Hope this helps!

VLC Audio okay but no Video in Xubuntu 17.10 amd64

(this probably applies to various other distros as well)

Reinstalled Xubuntu 17.10 and found that VLC (VideoLAN) playback for at least 1 MKV file was resulting in audio only with no video. One possible resolution:

Go to Tools -> Preferences and enable Advanced. In the resulting tree, go to Video -> Output Modules then select OpenGL or other output. Automatic doesn’t seem to detect right, depending on configuration.

As always, YMMV

CentOS 7 and WebTrees 1.7x

So I finally started getting the new web server up and running with CentOS 7. First step once running was to install a LAMP configuration (php7.1) and to get WebTrees running. Rather than hang WebTrees directly off /var/www/html/webtrees or similar, I chose to place it at /var/www/wt. I basically unzipped it into a working directory in my home folder so I could examine it and then copied the entire folder to my target location.

I ran into three large issues that prevented running the application:

  1. Needed to configure the system properly inside apache’s configuration files to ensure the directory is accessible to the webserver process, and also to create an alias that points to the folder.
  2. Once that part was complete, the web process couldn’t write to /var/www/wt/data folder; apache (httpd) runs with a user/group of apache rather than www-data as found on many other debian-based distros.
  3. Even when correct user/group had been applied to all files, still couldn’t write. Finally dawned on me that SELinux is used on CentOS (and many other distros) and requires some additional permissions to be set. I highly recommend that you do not follow the WebTrees setup wizard advice of assigning 777 (world-read/write) permissions as this bypasses many security things. Also, it won’t work anyway without disabling SELinux, which is an even greater security breach. Read on, do some additional research (not specific to WebTrees) and you’ll see it’s not really that hard. I’ll describe as best I can what the various components mean.

1 – Configure folder access (since it’s not located under /var/www/html)

I normally add this right after the last <Directory> tag found in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf, which for a default installation will probably be your normal /var/www/html access. Please note that this currently does not add SSL as I have the system limited to my local home network. Later, I’ll try to detail how to make this an SSL (https) access instead for additional security.

The Alias directive tells the system that the files found at /var/www/wt should be considered to off /wt on the web server (http://servername/wt). The following Directory entry simply controls whether the files in the directory can be listed, etc.

Alias "/wt" "/var/www/wt"
<Directory "/var/www/wt">
   Options None
   AllowOverride None
   Require all granted

2 – Set correct user/group ownership

This is a relatively simple fix; both 2 and 3 must be done before any noticeable change will occur.

If you use

ls -l /var/www

You’ll see that the default user:group for the wt folder is www-data:www-data. Use the following command to change it to the correct webserver process apache:apache. -R changes everything in the folder not just the folder itself.

sudo chmod -R apache:apache /var/www/wt

3 – Edit SELinux policies to permit proper access control

(Please note that I am definitely not an SELinux expert and have adapted these steps from the description provided by Shane Rainville’s Overview located on I highly recommend reviewing this information yourself as I have summarized it to the steps I utilized only.)

I normally login to my web server as a normal user and then use sudo for any commands that require root/admin access. There are many flame wars about what is best for isolated systems, YMMV. If you login as a normal user, prefix all commands with sudo.

Install the core policy utilities:

yum install -y policycoreutils-python

Also install the SELinux troubleshooting (there is a typo on Shane’s list, should be setroubleshoot, not setroubleshooting):

yum install -y setroubleshoot

The two above steps allow you to manage the SELinux policies, view them, etc. Shane’s page illustrates how to list existing policies in place, which is probably handy when combined with grep, but my system printed more than enough to fill up the scroll-back buffer. Knowing how to do it comes in handy later, though, for troubleshooting your typos, etc.

Shane illustrates the need to create several types of process accesses, including content, logs, and cache. However, for WebTrees all that I currently need is the content access. Therefore, I issued the command:

semanage fcontext -a -t http_sys_content_t "/webapps(/.*)?"

to permit the httpd process to access content within the entire /var/www/wt folder and derivatives. Note that the last bit on the end of the command above makes sure all subfolders, files, etc., are covered within that context. Note that double quotes, forward slashes, etc., are all critical to the command.

Next, you need to permit read/write access to the /var/www/wt/data folder and files in order to get past the server check on the setup wizard. In reality, this permits the system to store multimedia files, etc., within the data structure properly. (Note that there was a typo here and the -t was left off Shane’s page, I’ve added it here)

semanage fcontext -a -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t "/webapps/app1/public_html/uploads(/.*)?"

At this point, you should be able to run the setup wizard successfully and get to the MySQL/MariaDB configuration portion to setup the database itself.

One point to make here is that WebTrees places its configuration file ( within the data directory so a command to allow read/write to that file is not required as it is already covered by the previous command. As Shane points out, though, it could be necessary if setting up an application that stores that file in a more traditional location (which could be anywhere, tradition be damned).

Have fun. No guarantees, warranty, etc.