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Installing 'Railo Server with Tomcat' on OSX

As one of the first steps in preparing for new development on BlogCFC, yesterday, I wanted to download and install Railo so the new code can be tested on Railo as we move along.

First, let me say, it has been a while since I worked with Railo and the new installers are amazingly simple. It took only a few minutes to download and install Railo and fire up the Server Admin.

Unfortunately, what I wanted to do next was not as was easy to accomplish, not so easy to find the information I needed, though. I wanted to create a new 'web context' that pointed to the directory where the new BlogCFC code would reside. I had used the 'Railo Server with Tomcat 7' installer found here and seen in the image below.

The problem I ran into was most of the information I could find about creating a new 'web context' was written for other installation types - most notably, when using Jetty as the servlet.

Thanx to the extremely patient Charlie Griefer, who pointed me to a blog post from Todd Rafferty, I was able to find enough information for me to be able to piece together what I needed to do. I am posting this mainly for my own future reference.

DISCLAIMER: This is the process I used to get this working. I am new to Tomcat. I am not certain if this is a 'best practice' - and if its not please let me know a better way. Use this at your own risk.

Let's start from the beginning, go to the Railo download page and grab the files 'Railo Server with Tomcat 7' - go ahead...I'll wait. Please note that I am demonstrating how I did this on OS X, on Windows, your mileage may vary

Go ahead an run the installer - it really is pretty easy. When you are done, in the directory you chose to install Railo, you should see a directory structure similar to the image below.

Now that Railo is installed, I needed to do some prep work. Next I added an entry to my HOSTS file for the BlogCFC code.

view plain print about
You will need to use an appropriate domain name for your project.

Next, open up the server.xml file located in the {railo}/tomcat/conf directory - where '{railo}' is the path to the Railo install directory. Look for the section where the <Host> blocks are located and add a new <Host> block like such:

view plain print about
1<Host name="" appBase="/Web Stuff/Sites" >
2 <Context path="" docBase="/WebStuff/Sites/BlogCFC6" />


  • The 'name' attribute is the same as the 'domain' name that is specified in the HOSTS file entry we created
  • The 'appBase' attribute is the parent directory of your project directory.
    I am honestly not sure if this attribute is needed since we are not 'exploding' a .WAR file, but it did not break anything. Can someone from Railo maybe chime in and let us know?
  • In the <Context /> block, the 'docBase' is the web root of the application.

Next, we need to copy some files to the project web root. Navigate to the {railo}/tomcat/webapps/ROOT directory and copy the WEB-INF directory. Then, paste the WEB-INF directory into the directory you set as the 'docBase' in the <Context /> block above.

Finally, restart Tomcat. On OS X this can be accomplished by running the and files, respectively. These files are located, by default, in the {railo}/tomcat/bin directory. Once Tomcat has restarted you can navigate to http://{host name}:{port number}, where {host name} is the domain name you specified in the HOSTS file and {port number} is the port on which Tomcat is listening - if you used the default value in the installer, this will be 80.

DISCLAIMER (again): This is the process I used to get this working. I am new to Tomcat. I am not certain if this is a 'best practice' - and if its not please let me know a better way. Use this at your own risk.

UPDATE: I heard form Mark Drew and Todd Rafferty, both from the Railo team, and the <Host> entry code was updated to reflect the changes they suggested. Mark also noted that copying WEB-INF is not necessary - when Tomcat is restarted, it will be created automatically. Thanx Mark & Todd!

BlogCFC is mine...all mine!!!

As was announced on this week's CFHour podcast, and on Ray Camden's blog, I will be taking the reigns of BlogCFC, and, with the help of some very smart people, will be the driving force behind the next version.

I will admit, we have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I think the ideas we have for BlogCFC 6 will be up to the task.

We have a long list of things we need to take care of to make sure that the current version of BlogCFC will continue to be accessible while we work on the new version. Keep an eye out here, and on the BlogCFC news page for information as it becomes available.

One of the first things we would like to do is gather a core group of people who would like to help start the process of laying out a plan for going forward, including new features, new architecture, etc. for the next version, if you are interested, please leave a comment below, or use the 'Contact' page here.

I would like to note that now that I am the benevolent dictator of BlogCFC, Step 5 of my plan for world domination has been completed. Unlike those silly Hollywood evil ganiuses, I will not reveal my entire plan for world domination, so, don't bother asking.

Christmas Memories

As Christmas fast approaches, I am reminded of a Christmas from long ago. One that has touched my family, especially my mother, to this day.

Below is the text of a newspaper article that appeared in the Asbury Park Press on December 24, 2007. I remember how the events of the day in the article affected my mother, even for several years after. After hearing of the impact my mother made on this family, I cannot adequately express how profoundly proud I am to be able to call her 'Mom'.

On Dec. 24, 1983, Doris Cuocci woke up early to prepare her home for the coming Christmas celebration with her family.

Cuocci, a registered nurse, had to work the night shift - 3 to 11 p.m. - on Christmas Eve and wanted to get as much done as she could before she left.

But right before she could leave for work, she received a telephone call from the Holmdel First Aid Squad. Her youngest of four children, Robin Lynn, who had gone out to run some errands, was taken to the emergency room at Bayshore Community Hospital after the car she was driving skidded off an icy road and smashed into a tree.

Anxious and frightened, Doris and her husband, Matthew, rushed to the hospital, hoping their 17-year-old daughter would be OK.

They waited for several excruciating hours before doctors delivered the shattering news: They couldn't save the teen's life.

But the Cuoccis' story isn't all about the ultimate loss and grief; it's also about compassion and encouragement. It's about how one person's actions or words, however brief, can have everlasting impact on another.

"This is a bad dream, and I am going to wake up," recalled Doris, 72, in a recent telephone interview, of that day at the hospital. "And then, an angel of mercy, Mary Jane, came and she was absolutely wonderful. She explained how hard they worked to save Robin's life and all the medical procedures."

The angel of mercy was Mary Jane Stroz of Hazlet. Now 62, Stroz was an emergency room nurse the day Robin Lynn Cuocci was brought in.

Stroz, who said she was just doing her job, had sat down in the waiting room with the grief-stricken couple for almost an hour, hugging and consoling them.

"If it wasn't for Mary Jane, I think I would have been a basket case in one of the mental hospitals," said Doris, a longtime Holmdel resident.

"She (Mary Jane) is just a wonderful, wonderful person that God sent to us at a time when we really needed someone. I will never forget her kindness."

Every year since that day in 1983, the Cuocci family sends a Christmas prayer card to Stroz as a token of appreciation, even though it was not a happy ending.

"You meet people in life - especially nurses - some are very cold and callous and kind of noncaring. Mary Jane was everything that a nurse should be. She had all the sterling qualities of a truly professional nurse," said Doris, who at that time also worked at various places as a nurse. The two women do not have a social relationship. They only communicate with one another at Christmas.

Around the first anniversary of Robin's death in 1984, Doris paid a visit to the hospital with a homemade ceramic Christmas tree and a note to thank Stroz and the staff for everything they'd done to try to save her daughter's life.

Every Christmas, Stroz said she puts the ceramic tree in the front window of her house as a tribute to the family.

"It was very touching to me," said Stroz, a married mother of three, of receiving the ceramic tree that year.

"As nurses, when you do something, you don't know it had an impact on anybody," she said. "Nurses should know that what they say and what they do at a moment of tragedy can impact somebody for a long time. Especially when the outcome wasn't good, your impact is even more."

Cuocci and Stroz did not have another face-to-face meeting again until 1993, when Stroz paid an unannounced visit to the Cuoccis' Hillcrest Road home. She said she had been thinking about them and wanted to see how they were doing. Stroz had a son around the same age as Robin and said she felt it could have been her own child.

The women met again this December.

"I didn't realize the impact of those moments until somewhat down the road," said Stroz. She said she looks forward to receiving a card from the Cuoccis every year and has kept every single one.

"What she does for me every year gives me a little encouragement to just keep working and doing what I do every day," she said. "For nurses that have to deal with such horrifying things, that does make a difference."

To all my readers who celebrate, Merry Christmas.

To all my readers who do not, Happy Holidays.

Never Forget....10 Years Later

This is a repost from 4 years ago on this date.  I will continue to post this every year until I feel it is no longer fitting.

Unless you live under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware that today is the 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  As I am sitting here working, I am reminded of how I spent that day.

Like most Americans, I first heard news of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on the news, and then watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and ultimately watched both towers fall.  Unlike most Americans, I was unable to watch the events of the day unfold on TV.  I had already made the switch to web development and was working in the IT department of the company where I had spent 12 years (at that time) as a paramedic, including 2 as a manager, but I was still certified as a paramedic and frequently worked extra shifts to pick up some extra cash.

One of the things my company was tasked with was setting up a staging area at a  local airport.  The plan was, as survivors were removed from 'Ground Zero' they would be flown to airports around the area so as not to overwhelm hospitals close to lower Manhattan.  It was decided that I would be in charge of setting up and coordinating this staging area.  I was sent to the airport at about 11:00AM and started preparing for what could have been hundreds of victims.

At the staging area, we coordinated with over 150 people from approximately 50 different police, fire and EMS agencies.  It felt good to be doing something, something we were sure would help.  From the airport in central New Jersey, about 40 miles from Ground Zero, we could see the smoke from the towers.  We did not have a TV and relied on phone calls from others to get information as the day wore on.

As time passed we would get messages that we would be receiving patients soon, yet none ever came.  After 9 hours at the airport, having not treated one person, we were told our services would no longer be needed and we could go home.  It became a stark reality to me that anyone who would survive was already out of the towers.

In the days following 9/11 my company sent numerous crews to offer assistance at Ground Zero. I was on one of these crews at Ground Zero.  While we were not on the pile of rubble trying to find bodies, we were close enough to see the utter devastation that was lower Manhattan. It is a scene that will never be wiped from my mind, but I am not sure I would ever want to.

My whole career as a paramedic I always said that as long as I could walk, I would continue to do the job, even if it was only part time. After 14 years as a paramedic, I let my certification lapse in December of 2003. The events of 9/11 played a huge part in that decision.  It had nothing to do with fear.  It had everything to do with the fact that I knew if something similar happened on my watch, I'd be running in to help people, regardless of the danger, and this would not be fair to my family.  I also knew I could not change who I was, so the only way to ensure I wouldn't do that would be to remove the possibility of it happening, so I left EMS completely.

To this day, when I think of the towers falling, or seeing Ground Zero up close and personal, I get nauseous, I get physically ill.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I posted this story on Facebook, but felt it was funny enough to share with the world

File this under: "No way that just happened"

I am in Petco waiting to checkout. In front of me are a girl around 4 or 5, her mother (maybe 20) and her grandmother. While we waited, the girl and her grandmother were looking at greeting cards (that were near the register) with funny animal pictures on them.

The little girl was like "Look at this one...its smiling", "Look at this one...he's eating", etc...

Then, very loudly, she says, "Look Mommy, this one is dressed like a stripper, just like you"

How I Got Started With ColdFusion

Last week, Steve Bryant, came up with a great idea, for all of us in the community to share how we got started using ColdFusion.

I started to write my story, then I remembered that last week on the CFHour podcast, Dave Ferguson and I discussed our own stories. So, rather then type out the story, I am just going to direct you to the podcast.

Note: For those who may be wondering, this is part shameless plug for CFHour and part me being lazy.

I am Joining CFHour.

As Vicky Ryder recently announced on CodeBass Radio, I will be joining Dave Ferguson as a co-host of the CFHour podcast. The first show will be out later this week.

I am very excited to be a part of CFHour - but, since I like to talk a lot, we may need to change the name to CFHour and a half. Please be sure to listen in, you never know when I will make a total fool of myself - that is something you do not want to miss, as I do it so well.

My cf.Objective() Presentations

Thank you to everyone who attended my 'Multiscreen: What is it and Why Should we Care' and 'Intro to Solr' presentations at cf.Objective().

I have uploaded the slides and code for both presentations to SlideSix for you to enjoy.

Intro to Solr - Code and Slides

Here are the slides and code samples from my 'Intro to Solr' session at cf.Objective()

I hope everyone who attended enjoyed the session, it seemed well received.

You can get the files here.

More cf.Objective() News

Dave Ferguson, has just announced that the 100th episode of CFHour, which will be broadcast live at cf.Objective(), will be co-hosted by none other!

I am honored to be a part of this special broadcast. I am sure it will be a good time.

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