Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kombucha with SCOBY

Kombucha SCOBY Timelapse Video

I ran a webcam pointed at a fermentation of Kombucha capturing frames using fswebcam running on a Raspberry Pi server. It ran for a few weeks.

You can see the Kombucha SCOBY’s forming in the video. The setup is behind the PC monitor with a desk lamp and camera pointing towards the back of the desk. This gives fairly steady ambient lighting. I grew a dozen SCOBY’s for the Summer Fermentation Class that was held on June 29th 2015.

SCOBY Timelapse Video AVI Format 8 frames/sec

The video should be viewable most of the time unless I am servicing the Raspberry Pi or I pulled the plug on it during a nasty storm.

PHPList config.php Tweaks

PHPList Config File

PHPList works great for large email lists but, I found out that the configuration file can be tweaked to make certain aspects of it work even better.

The file to modify is config.php located under the PHPList/config folder which should be underneath the public_html folder on most installations.

 Batch Processing Tweak

I have found that I have to frequently hit process queue on PHPList to get the entire email list to process. Recently I found that changing the following settings has made a big improvement in it’s performance. My service provider limits emails to 500 per hour so I set the MAILQUEUE_BATCH_SIZE at 480 and the batch period at 3600. Now it will send out the messages as fast as possible up to the limit of 480. It seems to perform better if it can “get the messages out” fairly quickly. It will send out a bunch with a 2 second spacing that I have set ( see below ) and it seems to get them out most of the time before what ever timing was running out that was making me have hit process queue again.


## if you send the queue using commandline, you can set it to something that complies with the
## limits of your ISP, eg 300 messages an hour would be 

Make sure the MAILQUEUE_BATCH_SIZE and MAILQUEUE_BATCH_PERIOD is commented out, it might conflict with what is done above….

## if you send the queue using your browser, you may want to consider settings like this
## which will send 10 messages and then reload the browser to send the next 10. However, this
## will not restrict the sending to any limits, so there's a good chance you will
## go over the limits of your ISP

So I don’t overload the server by trying to send out messages really fast I have set a slight delay…

# to avoid overloading the server that sends your email, you can add a little delay
# between messages that will spread the load of sending
# you will need to find a good value for your own server
# value is in seconds, and you can use fractions, eg "0.5" is half a second
# (or you can play with the autothrottle below)

Queue Processing Reporting

It is also nice to see the results and know that the message actually went out. So I have it set to report this result…

# after every run of the queue to send out messages, phpList will send a summary to the
 # admin address. If you want to stop this, set this to false or 0


Send Only One Test Email

If you send a lot of test emails to yourself and it is a pain to get a text and HTML every time you can restrict it to just sending one. The one it will send is based on the way the user preferences are set up.

# test emails
 # if you send a test email, phplist will by default send you two emails, one in HTML format
 # and the other in Text format. If you set this to 1, you can override this behaviour
 # and only have a test email sent to you that matches the user record of the user that the
 # test emails are sent to

 Click Tracking

Click tracking is a method of tracking where email recipients go based on the links in the body of the email. You can track a decent amount of information on who goes to what links and even the timing of it. I have found this feature very useful as it can give an idea of how well your email is penetrating the market. To use this feature you have to use the [CLICKTRACK] directive in the message body or in a template.

# Click tracking
# If you set this to 1, all links in your emails will be converted to links that
# go via phplist. This will make sure that clicks are tracked. This is experimental and
# all your findings when using this feature should be reported to mantis
# for now it's off by default until we think it works correctly

# Click track, list detail
# if you enable this, you will get some extra statistics about unique users who have clicked the
# links in your messages, and the breakdown between clicks from text or html messages.
# However, this will slow down the process to view the statistics, so it is
# recommended to leave it off, but if you're very curious, you can enable it



It is worth turning on the attachments feature in PHPList to be able to add attachments to the email. Turning it on creates a new tab in the PHPList menu while you are creating a message that allows you to add an attachment.

# attachments is a new feature and is currently still experimental
# set this to 1 if you want to try it
# caution, message may become very large. it is generally more
# acceptable to send a URL for download to users
# if you try it, it will be appreciated to give feedback to the
# users mailinglist, so we can learn whether it is working ok
# using attachments requires PHP 4.1.0 and up

# if you use the above, how many would you want to add per message (max)
# You can leave this 1, even if you want to attach more files, because
# you will be able to add them sequentially

# when using attachments you can upload them to the server
# if you want to use attachments from the local filesystem (server) set this to 1
# filesystem attachments are attached at real send time of the message, not at
# the time of creating the message

Bounce Processing

I have set the purge and purge unprocessed to 1 that way the mailbox doesn’t fill up. I want it to empty when the bounces are processed every month. I set the unsubscribe threshold to 15 instead of the normal 5. This way it really gives a lot of chances for the person to straighten out their email before it stops sending to them. It is no big deal to let it send mail that will bounce back for a while, in my opinion. But eventually I want the mailing list cleaned of deadwood, even if it takes a year it is OK.

# set this to 0 if you want to keep your messages in the mailbox. this is potentially
 # a problem, because bounces will be counted multiple times, so only do this if you are
 # testing things.
 $bounce_mailbox_purge = 1;
# set this to 0 if you want to keep unprocessed messages in the mailbox. Unprocessed
 # messages are messages that could not be matched with a user in the system
 # messages are still downloaded into PHPlist, so it is safe to delete them from
 # the mailbox and view them in PHPlist
 $bounce_mailbox_purge_unprocessed = 1;
# how many bounces in a row need to have occurred for a user to be marked unconfirmed
 $bounce_unsubscribe_threshold = 15;


I would like to find a way to increase the timeout for PHPList when editing a message. The timeout that I am referring to is the one that occurs if you don’t save the draft message periodically and one hour goes by. Then you wind up losing your work as the PHPList makes you resign in. So if you forget to save or get interrupted and come back later, a lot of work can be lost accidentally. Even if it had a feature such as WordPress where it periodically saved a draft, that would be a big help.

Tux Favicons

While I was setting up and testing one of my servers I noticed that when I access it using Opera on a Kindle, Opera tries to grab a favicon.ico file, which was missing. I noticed the file was missing when I was browsing through the Apache error log on the server. In the log there is a missing file complaint about the favicon.ico whenever I browsed it using Opera.

So I found some graphics of Tux the Penguin and the Raspberry Pi raspberry and made up some quick favicons for the web pages on the Raspberry Pi Server and my main server.

I have loaded them up here in large format and the favicons as well. All the Tux pics come from Linux 2.0 Penguins, see this page for the original art. I used GIMP to edit them which worked well.

Two 300 x 300 pixel examples of the Favicons

Tux Server Favicon
Tux Server Favicon
Tux Raspberry Pi Favicon
Tux Raspberry Pi Favicon


Favicon ICO Files