MacBook Pro 2012… no video camera?

MacBook Pro 2012… no video camera?

For the first time in two years, I needed to use my in-built video camera today… but it wasn’t working.

Turns out that with the update to MacOS Sierra, many in-built camera ended up switched off. Lè sigh!

On to Doctor Google!

The issue stems from an issue with a piece of software called VDCAssistant, which has been part of Mac OS X for a few revisions. For some reason, it’s not activating the camera when needed.

2016 MacBook Pro FaceTime HD Camera Not Working? November 24, 2016 by 

The writer of the blog-post had a brand new shiny out of the box 2016 MacBook Pro and was annoyed to find out that he had to tweak the OS to get the built-in camera operational. Fair enough!

The solution is to stop and restart this daemon. To do this, open Terminal and type the following:

sudo killall VDCAssistant

It will ask you to authenticate with your password (sudo gives you administrator privileges) and will then kill and restart the daemon. After this, your webcam should work fine. And you shouldn’t need to do this again.

2016 MacBook Pro FaceTime HD Camera Not Working? November 24, 2016 by 

HATE using Terminal… even though I started my computer journal writing BASIC in the 1970’s and recording on magnetic tape, I don’t like messing about with the OS on a deep level.

I did it anyway and got the use of my in-built camera immediately.

Thank you Stephen Foskett!

Posted in editorial rant, gender & other differences, society, Society-Culture

‘Kitten-Break’ part two – goats & chickens

Two weeks ago I took a ‘kitten-break’ from posting social justice issues on Facebook. 

For 24 hours, when a (lack of) social justice post or meme occurred in my Facebook timeline, I posted a picture of a kitten and the tag #kittensnotviolence. I got to 29 kittens. There is a post about the experience here : My ‘Kitten-Break’

One of the 29 pictures of kittens
So many posts about abuse come up in my timeline because I am so engaged with social justice – particularly around disability, gender, and sexuality. I share injustices about rapists being set free, companies protecting their executives,  governments not taking care of the elderly, mentally or physically ill, organisations ignorantly stomping over workers rights, … things of that ilk… and I share how change can happen.

It’s emotionally exhausting!

I decided I needed another ‘kitten-break’ this weekend and for 24hrs I posted pictures of baby goats and bantam chickens with the tags #goatsnothate, and then #goatsnothate => #chickensnothate.  There were 38 replacements this time.

The switch from goats to bantams occurred after a friend alerted me to her fear of goats — it wasn’t difficult to change, and because I’m a big fan of reducing anxiety I wasn’t going to cause any.

I can report the same effect as last time — I feel lighter and ready to keep up the fight!

Want to see the cuteness?

Full disclosure – no photos or goats or bantam chickens are mine… 

Posted in Moodle, Technical stuff, user interface design

Theme: Boost

Boost is the default Moodle Theme. Its clean, its minimal, its current, it has a side menu you can hide, … and it moves the Site Admin menu. As an old Moodler (been Moodling since Moodle 1.8), its that last one that tripped me up when I first saw it; a newer Moodler may not have any issue at all with it.


Boost - login

Its pretty good. The image at the top comes from the Site Admin setting for ‘Logo’. The secondary colour (used for the button, linked text, and clickable icon), is from within the Boost settings.

Logged In Home Page

Boost - home page

The image at the top comes from the Site Admin setting for ‘Logo’… and here is where it falls over… its not dynamic, and so will look strange on different shaped and sized screens. Also, the Site Name (top left) is reversed out of the secondary colour – selected in the Boost settings.

In general, I don’t find this look very appealing. Its similar to the screen when not logged in – the difference is just the left-hand menu isn’t available, and the top right User Menu asks you to Login. There isn’t the Marketing Spots available like from other Themes… just what you build into the Front Page using Admin Settings and Blocks.

Another gripe, is that the Site Info Block comes up in a strange place, where the pic shows “Moodle4Mac”. I prefer to be able to put that into the Middle Column, or even chose to put it on the Left. No such luck here.

Profile Page (Secondary Pages)

Boost - profile page

The image at the top left comes from the Site Admin setting for ‘Compact Logo’, and its TINY! The Site Name (top left) is now text of the secondary colour, rather than reversed out like on the Home Page.

I’m not fond of this – I think its too small, and its not dynamic; it won’t increase with the size of the screen – its a set number of pixels rather than percent of the visible screen.

Positives: its clean, simple, and doesn’t look like a 90’s MySpace page.

Site Administration Menu

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now that I know about the Left Menu hiding feature (menu icon, top left), I like it – as an ADHD creature, the ability to focus is pretty nice. Might be nice to be able to add some more Blocks over here, but meh. See the slideshow above for the difference between the menu hidden and vision.

Personally – I love a dynamic dropdown menu for the Site Admin. I’m not fond of selecting a tab and scrolling down to get to something. I love being about to use the Search function to get to something I’m not sure where it might be hiding in the Menu. It’s my preference.

In Boost, there is no choice to change back to that dynamic menu. Use THIS, or bugger off! – is the feeling.

In the part two – I’ll be looking at the SETTINGS and some of the FIXES available for Boost.

Posted in Moodle, Technical stuff, user interface design

Theme: Boost – settings & plugins

Let’s start playing with Boost’s settings and see if we can make things a little nicer [spoiler: you CAN]

Boost Theme Settings

You can access these Settings through the Site Administration Menu, Appearance tab, Themes section, and select Boost.

General Settings ‘Presets’

Boost - settings
Boost – General Settings ‘Presets’

Theme preset

There are only two available: default.scss, and plain.scss. If you switch this to plain.scss, this is what happens…

Boost Theme Preset
Boost Theme Preset “plain.scss”

I don’t know about you… but I find this just a different flavour of yuck. Everything being LARGER… it might actually be useful if your audience is vision impaired.

What further horrors are contained in these Presets? Look – there is a way to add more Presets from a repository on, or one of your own design!

Additional theme preset files

I was not hopeful as I clicked the link to the Boost Preset repository… but LOOK! Wow! They take Boost and make it nicer to look at! Maybe I should be thinking of Boost like Bootstrap… its a BASE THEME that you need to build on. Still don’t love the Site Admin menu – but that’s okay.

Download the Preset file of your choice, upload into Additional Theme Preset Files, and select it in Theme Preset. Easy Peasy!

General Settings ‘Brand Colour’

Boost - settings 2
Boost – General Settings ‘Brand Colour”

Hurrah! I can add a nice bit of secondary colour to Boost. Don’t use the colour picker palette, that’s for people who want to be yelled at by Marketing… get the HEX colour code from your Brand Guide and type that in.

You want a nice medium-toned colour so it can be seen on black (such as the links on the Footer in the above image), as well as work as a text colour on white and white reversed out on the button colour. You only get one choice… so pick well!

Advanced Settings

Boost - settings 3
Boost – Advanced Settings

Do you want to add to the stylesheet, and you know your CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and SCSS (Sassy Cascading Style Sheets)?

  • Yes? Excellent! Have a play with putting code into here.
  • No? Click back over to the General Settings tab and forget this part ever existed. Seriously – its not for messing about with.

I am not confident with CSS, and didn’t even know that SCSS even existed until I clicked on this tab… so I’ll be skipping this.

Boost Theme Plugins

Boost - plugin fixes for theme
some of the plugins available to ‘fix’ Boost

I easily found Plugins designed to overcome some of the shortfalls of Boost. Personally, I’d be very tempted to try out Boost Navigation Fumbling plugin and the Custom Navigation plugin… sounds like they might fix some of my personal hates.

Go to’s Plugins repository, type Boost into the search and go wild!

While you are there… check out some Themes based on Boost… you might save yourself a lot of work customising Boost yourself.