The Model Engine News DVD Collection


Version 3.2, December, 2008.
The Office of Calcification has rated this DVD for Mature Adults, 51 and over.

 

Thanks for supporting Model Engine News through coughing up your hard-earned cash for this disk. As the web site has grown, I was faced with reducing the cookie size to make room for the new content, or requiring Members to download a steadily growing stack of update zips. By issuing the site on DVD, we have room for all the pages for the forseeable future, plus an expanded cookie.

You already know what you have here (you bought it after all—at least I hope so ). This page tells you how to get the most out of it.


   Simple Use    Getting The Most Out Of It
   MS Windows
   Linux
   Apple Mac
   Solaris
   Common
   Testing
   Troubleshooting
   Cookie!

Simple Use

All of the text, pictures, and the Engine Finder will work straight from the DVD. Just click This Link to start browsing through the pages direct from the DVD. This is almost like accessing the site on-line, but not quite.

Many of the pages will contain hyperlinks to web sites on the Internet. Naturally, you must have a connection to the Internet available to access these sites. The Internet is a dynamic, growing thing. As the pages age, bit-rot sets in and links start going "404" on us. I've tried to do a clean-up as of the DVD issue date, but long term continued access cannot be guaranteed. That's life...

There are two features that will not work for you when you access the DVD content direct. These are:

This is because the web server your browser "talks" to when you are on-line to modelenginenews.org dynamically constructs the pages these features display for you. To get them to work as they do when you are on-line, you will need your own local web server. The sections that follow describe one way of doing this, if you choose to give it a try.

A special revision made just for this DVD allows the Engine Finder to run without a web server. Your web browser will need to have Java Script enabled, but it seems that nearly everyone does these days.

Finally, as space is not at such a premium on the DVD as it was on the CD, I've included the XAmpp Win32 installers (version 1.6.8 "Lite", and Perl 5.10.0) which are required. These are located in the bin directory of the disc and have been tested and validated against MS Windows XP and Vista. The adventurous may like to download the latest versions instead as described below.

Supported Browsers

I've tested most pages with IE, Firefox, and Mozilla (Netscape). There are some minor things rendered differently between the two, but nothing too disconcerting. However, if you want to run the
CamCalc program, you will need to have a modern Java Runtime Environment plug-in (JRE) installed. Just Click this link to the Java website and follow their instruction on how to download and install the latest JRE. Anything from 1.2 onwards will do though. Naturally, IE ships with 1.1 for reasons I will not distress myself by relating!

Getting The Most Out Of It

Even if you don't want to set up a web server, I recommend that you copy the contents of the DVD to a hard disk. The copy will take several minutes and consume about 1 GB of disk, but the increase in access speed, and decrease in access noise from the DVD drive are worth it! Just copy the directory named men to some convenient location. Then, to start browsing, double-click the file named index.html in the copy of the men directory and you'll be away.

To make everything work, you need about 1.7 GB of spare disk space to setup a web server, "mod" Perl, and a copy of the DVD's men directory. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. Each presents its own levels of complexity and difficulty, and naturally there are differences depending on your host operating system. After a *lot* of experimentation, I believe a solution has been found that will work for all types of machine, and is about as simple to setup as we can hope for. Even better, it's based on several high quality Open Source components and the guys who have packaged them up have separate installs for Win32, Mac, Linux, and Solaris! For me, the advantage is one set of files will work for all—I hope!

If you don't already have a local HTTP server installed and running, get yourself on-line to the Internet and go to Apache Friends. This page has links to pages for the four operating system environments. Select the one appropriate to you. There are minor differences depending on which you choose. These are noted below. Read the section applicable to you, then proceed to the Common section.

Note: MS Windows users can skip the download and use the versions provided on the DVD as described above.

MS Windows

Apache Friends make life a little complicated for Win32 users by providing a lot of ways to accomplish essentially the same thing. I suggest that you use the following:

  1. The XAMPP Lite 1.6.8 "Selfextracting ZIP archive" (18MB)
  2. The Perl 5.1.0-2.2.9-pl2 "Selfextracting ZIP archive" (8MB)

When you have downloaded them, execute the xampplite "Self-extracting Zip" by double-clicking on it. This will popup a window asking you where you want to extract to. Important: you must extract to a drive identifier, not a directory. I recommend that you don't choose C: unless it's the only hard drive you have. The reason being that even in these days of gigantic disks, so many things install to C: without giving you an option that it tends to fill up all too quickly. So things that can go somewhere else, should!

When the extract is complete—and it will take a while to uncompress everything—you will have a new top-level directory called xampplite on the disk that you chose. If this directory is not a top-level directory, the dynamic stuff won't work (without some tinkering).

Now double-click the Perl selfextracting ZIP exe file. This will open an identical dialog box, but this time instead of entering a drive letter, choose the xampplite directory created by the first install. Click OK to start the extract. You should then get a popup asking if you want to replace some file with another larger one. Click the Yes to All button and wait for the extract to complete.

The Win32 XAMPP Apache setup is very well behaved. It does not make registry entries and can be completely removed, leaving no detritus behind, simply by deleting the xampplite directory. The price for this is it must be setup initially, and started through a DOS shell session. But you can do this by double-clicking batch files if you don't like command prompt shells. I suggest using a shell. Start one by clicking Start|Run... and entering cmd in the entry field.

When the DOS window opens, change disks to the one with the XAMPP installation. Say it is on the "E" drive; you enter E: and press Enter. Now change directories to the XAMPP directory by entering cd xampp. The prompt should echo E:\xampplite> indicating that you are where you need to be. Enter setup_xampp (press Enter, naturally). You'll get a banner and a prompt to "Press any key to continue . . .". Unless your keyboard actually has an Any key (joke), press Enter. Now enter apache_start. After a little while, bi-lingual text will appear telling you that Apache (your web server) is running and reminding you not to close the DOS window as that will kill the server. You can minimise the window to get it out of the way though.

Note! You only need to run the setup_xampp script once. After this has been done, the Apache web server can be started by running apache_start alone.

Linux

The XAMPP distribution for Linux is a tar (tape archive) file. Download it (40MB) and follow the setup instructions.

Apple Mac OS X

Mac users always seem to have the easier time with installs. Just download the XAMPP MacOS X file (48MB) and follow the instructions on the download page to setup the package.

Solaris

You are one sick puppy. If you have a Sun Solaris box at home, you certainly need no guidance from me! You are probably already running Apache and can figure out where to put the DVD contents, and the perl scripts. Oh wait, I just remembered I have two Solaris boxes at home, so what does that meke me?

Common

Regardless of your OS, you now need to copy the files from the DVD into the web server. The directory men and all its subdirectories must be copied into the XAMPP htdocs directory. This can be found inside the xampplite directory created during the installation process.

Finally, you must copy the four CGI files to the \xampplite\cgi-bin directory. Microsoft Windows users must copy the version found in the Win32 directory of the DVD. For everyone else, they are in the Unix directory. The file names are:

  • engcom.pm
  • engsel.pl
  • find.pl
  • mencom.pm

This picture (from a Win32 install) shows the contents of the \xampplite\cgi-bin directory after the files have been copied in. While the actual file sizes and date stamps may vary, these should be close to what you receive on the DVD. The other file names in the directory are part of the "standard" XAMPP and Perl distributions. They do no harm.

Testing

Assuming your Apache server is running and you've copied the files in as noted above, enter the following into your browser's address bar and press Enter: localhost/men. You should get the familiar Model Engine News layout with a Welcome page displayed. To checkout the dynamic operations, click the entry Search This Site on the left-hand navigation bar, then enter the word sugden in the search field and click the "Find" button. After a few seconds, a Search Results page should come back to you with twenty-two hits (currently). You will find that subsequent searches are much faster as mod Perl has now compiled the search program.

The last test is to check that PHP is working. All the buttons that display engine timing diagrams do so by calling a PHP script to generate the diagram, so open the Engine Finder (located under Engines) in the left hand navigation bar) and select the Sugden Special. Near the top of the page is a button labeled "View Timing Diagram". Press this. You should instantly get a nice disgram showin a typical FRV engine with loads of sub-piston induction.

Troubleshooting

Oh dear... There are just *so* many things that can go wrong. If you can't get the Model Engine News Welcome page up, check that the Apache server is alive and well. Just enter localhost into the browser. It should display the XAMPP Logo Page. If you are still getting a Page cannot be displayed message, the server is not running. You should double check the installation steps and consult the various XAMPP forum groups for clues.

One problem users have encountered is the xampp_start script fails with some mysterious technobabble including the words "could not bind to port 0.0.0.0:80". This indicates that something else, probably another HTTP server you did not know about, is already running and has grabbed the default HTTP port, preventing XAMPP from opening it. One cure is to shut down that server. Another is to edit the XAMPP configuration file using a text editor like notepad. You need to change the port XAMPP is using, and disable SSL because the default 443 SSL port has probably been grabbed as well and we don't need SSL. The file to change is \xampplite\apache\conf\httpd.conf. First, change the assigned port to 8080. The line to change starts with "Listen" and after editing will look like this:

Listen 0.0.0.0:8080

After making this change, you need to comment out the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) stuff by inserting a "#" character at the start of two lines. The modified lines are shown below:

#LoadModule ssl_module modules/mod_ssl.so
...
#Include conf/extra/httpd-ssl.conf

Now try starting it again. The change means that you now have to include the port number when you access the site, but if you save it as a "favourite", this will be painless after the first time. The URL you will need to enter in your web browser will be http://localhost:8080 (note the colon and port number) for XAMPP itself, and http://localhost:8080/men for the MEN stuff.

Assuming you can get the XAMPP logo page, but not the MEN Welcome page, it most likely means that the copy of the men directory from the DVD into /xampp/htdocs did not take place correctly. Use a file browser to confirm that men is inside the htdocs directory and that it contains the same set of files and directories as appear on the DVD. In particular, the index.html file that is the default entry point.

If you can get the Welcome page, but the Engine Finder does not work, it's time to consult the log. Use your file browser to locate the file /xampp/apache/logs/access.log and open it up in a text editor. The last line of the file will have the result of trying to execute the Perl script that performs the Site Search. The three digit number at the end is the HTTP result code. It should be "200". If not, lots of things can be wrong. One possibility is that the Perl command is not being found. Linux, Solaris, and maybe MacOS-X users (!) can type whence perl into their command line shell to find where the Perl executable is located. This exact path should be compared against the first line of the following files in the cgi-bin directory:

The first line (often called the "Hash-Bang" line because it starts with "#!") is a comment that tells the well behaved shells and web servers where to find the program that must be used to execute the script itself (naturally, Microsoft products ignore this industry-wide convention). If it is different from what your 'whence' returned, edit the entry to match the location (the line must commence with #! immediately followed by the path to the Perl program. The -w argument after the path is optional, and a good idea as it may give extra warning when other things are wrong.

If you still have no joy, I'm happy to try to guess what may be wrong, but I can make no guarantees. Email me through support@modelenginenews.org. I'm not monitoring this address 24 hours a day, so the response may not be immediate, but I will get back to you. Of course, you can also try consulting your neghborhood 9 year old computer wiz, if you can stand it, or use Google to search for the error message you are getting (that's what I'll be doing if it's not one I know). Even managing to change the error message is a positive step. Perseverance and diligence will generally get you there in the end.

Cookie!

There is a bonus Fortune Cookie included with the DVD, and I'm not going to tell you what it is, nor where it is! Be assured that it's not hard to find. Those who have bought the CD to DVD upgrade will find a few new things that I could not fit on before. This time you DO get the ETW Flash Steam, V8, Gnome rotary, etc... (got you curious yet?) I'm sure you'll get a lot of reading enjoyment from it.

 

All the best, and thanks for being a visitor to my Obsession over all the years!

Ron (Brisbane, Australia, December 2008)