Setting up 64bit WAMP Server under Windows 8 Using Latest Builds

Setting up WAMP Server can be tricky depending on your configuration.  This post is going to walk you through some of the tougher steps to get your local machine up and running so you can get back to development.

Keep in mind this is not a newbies guide to WAMP.  Look elsewhere if you can’t get the basics working.  What we are trying to tackle here are more advanced problems that you may experience.

A couple of snags I hit were WAMP running slowly, APC refusing to install, and getting cURL working.

At the time of writing this, the current bleeding edge WAMP Bundle has the following specs:

Apache 2.4.2 – Mysql 5.5.24 – PHP 5.4.3 XDebug 2.1.2 XDC 1.5 PhpMyadmin 3.4.10.1 SQLBuddy 1.3.3 webGrind 1.0

In my particular case, I opted to run 64bit code but I do not see any benefits other than making things more difficult. You may want to stick with 32bit.

Initial Steps

Installing WAMP at the start is easy and I am going to assume you can handle clicking next on the install screen and get the basics working.  Since you are using Windows 7/8 it is important that you install the latest runtimes for your setup:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=8328 x86 (32-bit)

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=13523 x64 (64-bit)

It is also extremely important to make sure IIS is not running on your computer.  To do that go to: “Turn Windows Feature On and Off” and disable IIS, otherwise it will take up Port 80 and waste resources.

After a few reboots you should be at the point where you can configure PHP/Apache and add additional extensions.

Apache Configuration

This is where the fun begins.  To get to the Apache configuration file Left Click on WAMP Server systray and browse to Apache -> httpd.conf.  I am not going to go through the entire process, but will add some useful code snippets.

If you have any subdomains then this is the time to set those up and it looks something like this:

##########################
NameVirtualHost *:80

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot “G:\wamp\www\FantasySP”
ServerName localhost
</VirtualHost>

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot “G:\wamp\www\reddit-ama”
ServerName rlocalhost
</VirtualHost>

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot “G:\wamp\www\FantasySP\m”
ServerName m.localhost
ErrorLog logs/subdomain_error.log
</VirtualHost>

As you can see, I have two separate projects FantasySP and Top IAmA, one running on localhost and the other on rlocalhost.  Most of you will have your DocumentRoot as \www\ and can probably skip this bit.  (Also, don’t forget to update your Windows HOSTS file.)

One of the snags you may encounter at this point might be getting Apache to recognize .htaccess files.  I modified my rules to look like this:

<Files “.ht*”>
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
Satisfy All
</Files>

Another snag might be the fact you can’t access the server at all.  By default it may “Order Deny,Allow”, then specify a specific IP that has access.  You can either update your localhost IP or just use “Allow from all”.

By default Apache has a few modules disabled that should be enabled.  Left Click on WAMP Server systray and browse to Apache -> Apache Modules.  You will want to enable deflate_module and rewrite_module.  Without the rewrite module your clean URLs won’t load.  Without deflate enabling gzip compression will cause a configuration error.  If you have expires rules in your htaccess file then include the expires_module.

If Apache is still having errors then chances are you need another missing module or you screwed up your httpd.conf file.  Make sure you back this up before you start fiddling around.

Configuring PHP

Now that Apache is up to snuff, it’s time to add missing PHP extensions and configurations.

Immediately you may want to enable the PHP short open tag.  Left Click LAMP Systray -> PHP -> PHP Settings.  Otherwise things like <? and ?> will cause errors.

(However, as septor in the comments pointed out, the short open tags will affect XML documents.)

Next up is making sure the cURL is working (assuming you want this).  In my case, cURL would not work with the included extension so I had to find an updated version that would work on my PC.

Grab the latest cURL extension that fits your OS.  Overwrite php_curl.dll in your WAMP folder similar to this: C:\wamp\bin\php\php5.4.3\ext

Restart Apache and run <? phpinfo(); ?> to see if cURL shows up this time.  If it doesn’t then try a different DLL file until it does show up.

The biggest pain in the ass will be to get APC working.  After a bit of frustration I finally figured out the easiest way to get it working.

In your php.ini file add the following line at the end to first DISABLE APC.  apc.enabled=0.  It is important APC is disabled first because it will make debugging a lot easier.

Find the correct php_apc.dll file that will work for your setup. You can find that on this handy page full of modules.

You can either try each one and restart apache if you’re lazy.  Or you can look at your phpinfo output to see what version you need.  TS stands for thread safe.  VC9 stands for the runtime library it was compiled with. (Remember when you installed those runtimes a bit earlier?).

Copy the .dll into the ext folder and restart apache.  If you picked the wrong one then Apache will crash.  Otherwise the systray icon will turn Green.  Once it appears in phpinfo output then you’ve found the right one.

Go back to your php.ini configuration and change apc.enabled=1.  There is a good chance Apache will crash once APC is enabled.  I think this has to do with the fact Serialization Support shows as Disabled (or broken).  That value should show up as “php”.

After dealing with this problem for a day or so I read that you had to copy the php_apc.dll file into one of your Windows System folders.

If you are running 64bit WAMP then copy php_apc.dll into C:\Windows\SysWOW64. For 32bit copy into C:\Windows\System32.

Only do that last step if Apache errors when APC is enabled.  I have no idea why these files need to be copied there, so if you know the reason then feel free to post in the comments.

At this point you can specify your own advanced APC configurations if you want.

Fixing Slow Performance

Right after I started testing FantasySP on localhost I quickly realized that it was much slower under this configuration than my last configuration.

Last time I was running PHP 5.3 with Apache 2.2.x.  So either the new Apache was slow or PHP.

As of this writing WAMP comes with Apache 2.4.2.  The latest version right now is Apache 2.4.4.   Apparently Apache 2.4.4 uses VC10 runtimes instead of VC9 to enhance performance under Windows.

I figured it might be best to update Apache to see if that would improve the speeds.  I got the latest Apache Build and created a new directory in wamp/bin/apache/apache2.4.4.

I coped over wampserver.conf from the apache2.4.2 directory and my httpd config file.  I also re-enabled my PHP extensions.  You can now specify which version of Apache you would like by Left Clicking the WAMP systray -> Apache -> Version.

Once WAMP Restarted using the newer version of Apache it was much faster. Though there was still something slowing it down.

I watched task manager in Windows 8 to see which applications were using a lot of CPU.  (A great reason to upgrade to Windows 7+ is the improved task manager).  Anyways, I noticed that Windows Defender was using a lot of CPU when httpd.exe or mysqld.exe would run.

As it turns out, real-time spyware protection was slowing things down!  Open up Windows Defender (or whatever you use for spyware/virus protection) and exclude real-time protection for httpd.exe and mysqld.exe.

It also makes sense to disable Windows Indexer from indexing C:/Wamp/*.

Final Thoughts

Phew.  After all of those configurations and changes, localhost runs as fast as my previous setup under Apache 2.2 and PHP 5.3.  As long as you take the time to set things up properly then things should run smooth under Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Even though you will experience growing pains by updating your WAMP environment I highly suggest taking a weekend to do so to make sure your applications run well on an updated stack.

Hopefully this post has proved useful to easing your pain during the WAMP setup process.  I have a strong feeling that I will be consulting this very blog post 3 years down the road when I have to do it all over again…

My Summer Side Project

Last year, around the same time, I decided to create a summer side project to give my brain a rest from the same old.  I love working on FantasySP, but even I have to take a break from the 24/7 grind.

So I decided to set aside some time for a fun side project called Top IAmA.  Basically, it collects IAmA’s from Reddit and repurposes them in a more readable format.  You can also browse these IAmA’s by category.

It’s been growing ever since with a nice loyal fanbase. I was thinking of redesigning Top IAmA this summer and base it on Boostrap so the mobile/tablet experience is more enjoyable.  I probably still will at some point.

But for now, I have a new Summer Project idea.

This summer project is more involved and a lot more challenging. The domain has been bought as of 20 minutes ago.  I can’t say specifically what the project will be, but I will say that it involves a very popular Google service.

My hope is that it will go live at some point this Summer or early Fall.  Stay Tuned.

Your Hate for Google is Misguided

I read the announcement today that Google Checkout has been discontinued.  It was also featured on HackerNews.

The most popular comment right now is by ChrisNorstrom:

“Google is making the same mistakes Microsoft made. Trying to enter into every industry it can thinking it can use it’s monopoly power to take over the world. Reality: Doing 20 things mediocrely is not as profitable of doing 2 things very very well.”

The comments vary, but I tend to see this line of thinking quite often nowadays.

Why exactly can’t Google try new things and then discontinue them if they don’t gain enough traction?  Why is trying new services out a bad thing? Are they supposed to be perfect?

Here are a few Google experiments off the top of my head that turned out alright:

  • gmail
  • chrome
  • google reader
  • google maps
  • google fiber
  • google glass
  • google drive
  • google docs
  • google news
  • google play
  • google music
  • Android
  • Chromebook
  • google trends
  • google+
  • google voice
  • code.google.com
  • Nexus 7

I don’t think people realize how many products Google has at any given time.  Not every product that google makes is going to be successful.  

So just because they won’t be successful every time means that they should not try because it makes them look bad to fail?  

Do you really think that is a healthy thought process? How will anyone ever innovate with that state of mind?  Google is a massive company and they still act like a startup.  It’s absolutely incredible and takes a lot of guts to start products like Google+ so late in the game.

Did they ram Google+ down our throats?  Absolutely.  But you know what?  They are making waves by innovating the space.

Is the consumer going to lose faith in Google because they discontinued one of their free services like Google Reader?  People want Google to spend resources and money on developing tools for them to use for free or for a low cost.  Then be the first ones to complain when it’s discontinued.  It’s ridiculous.  

Google is the ONE company that you should want to invade a new market and try to innovate.  They are the ONE company that has the resources to decide one day to get into X Market and you should be excited at the thought.  They are the one company that can invest millions of dollars in a new endeavor and make billion dollar companies take notice.  (Think Google Fiber).

Would you rather still be using MapQuest than Google Maps for navigation?

What is it, exactly, that makes you want to hate a company like Google, Facebook, or Yahoo so much?

Why is it, that when Facebook bought Instagram it’s the worst thing to ever happen.  Why is it that when Google unified its terms of service it was inherently evil.  I don’t hear anyone complaining about Google Now?

I get it, everyone wants to hate the biggest companies because it’s the cool thing to do. I could make an argument that Google has done more for the web in the past 5 years than any company.

Again, I’m not saying they are perfect.  What I am saying is that they seem to be one of the few that has the balls to innovate and don’t care if they fail.

Do you?

Bloomberg Front Office Discontinued?

According to various users of FantasySP, it appears that the Bloomberg Front Office product is no longer offered to consumers.

One user emails me:

I don’t think Bloomberg sent out an email about FO (at least I didn’t get one), but I contacted them when it was getting close to the season and nothing showed up on their site.  They wrote back that it had been discontinued but offered no explanation.

If you know more about the decision to discontinue the Front Office product, then please comment below or email me.

It seems as though Bloomberg now focuses on draft related tools instead of in-season management.  Since when are draft tools more important than in-season team management?

In any case, I encourage all Bloomberg Front Office users to switch to the Fantasy Assistant.  A free seven day trial is available for all new users.

The Fantasy Assistant provides a multitude of features including:

  • High Risk and Low Risk waiver wire suggestions.
  • Category based waiver wire suggestions (perfect for roto leagues)
  • Position based team analysis.
  • Daily team ratings and rankings with charts.
  • Player based analysis and stats.
  • Player news from hundreds of sources.
  • And lots more!

Your idea of privacy is dead

I hear a lot about privacy these days.  More often than not, it’s about Facebook or Google and their disregard of privacy.  I think part of the problem is that privacy means different things to different people.

I know for a fact that how I view privacy online is different than other people.  I accept that the internet is changing rapidly and the idea of privacy that existed are long gone.  Online handles are a thing of the past (though there are still exceptions, hi Reddit).

I hear things like…

Ditch Google and use DuckDuckGo because they don’t track users.  Don’t use gmail because they read your email.  Ditch Facebook because Zuckerberg said privacy is dead.

In fact, the most recent knock against them is that Facebook Home can take over your phone and offers all kinds of potential privacy violations.  Reading that story led me to write this blog post.

Let’s face facts here.  The modern web and your personal data are intertwined.  There is no going back.

When Google announced their unified privacy, it was actually a great leap forward.  Those people who complained four years ago that Google was reading their email love Google Now.

Gmail will see that you booked plane tickets or had a packaged shipped and will personalize your Google Now experience.  This was not possible five years ago.  Google Glass was not even possible a year ago.

Will these companies use this data to show advertisements and make money?  Yes, of course.  As it turns out, they are companies that need to make a profit.

A privacy breach will happen time to time with the modern web.  I expect the modern web to be responsible and use SSL and OAuth to securely share my data.  When they are careless and screw things up then they deserve the bad press.  But a story about Facebook Home saying that it “destroys any notion of privacy” is complete and utter bullshit.

I’m not saying that I want to sign up for a service with my email address and phone number and they can turn around and sell this information to a third party.  I don’t want them to publish my phone number without my consent.  Those are violations of my privacy and not something I would agree to.

However, if I sign up for Facebook and they decide to use the fact that I liked ESPN in a personal advertisement, then so be it.  I understand the tradeoffs of the modern web.

I find it funny that we get bombarded with credit card offers and flyers from ten different companies in the mail and no one seems to mind.  We accept those privacy violations offline, even though they offer us nothing in return.  Yet companies online who are innovating and using private data in new ways get so much grief.

No one said you had to join Facebook, use Google, or Twitter.  If you want to pretend its 2002, then that’s fine.  The rest of us are moving forward.  We don’t need you to come along.

This is progress people.  Sit back, relax, and stop your whining.