filename wildcards

using blender 2.75a, OS is gnu/Linux, ubuntu 14.4 distribution
I’m trying to set the render output file path and have a couple questions/problems.

Ive set “user preferences/file/render output” but it seems to be ignored.
When I enter a simple filename in the render/output area it gets written to my home directory. I was expecting the name to be appended to the user preference/file/render output field .

I tried //…/assets/visuals/clips/
I was expecting to have the rendered output files left in a folder one level above and down the assets/visuals/clips path.

Is there some special incantation that needs to be in the filename to use the user preferences?

You should read the tooltips to understand what you are actually changing.
That is the default render output location for when you create a new scene.
When you start blender the default render output location is set in the Render / Output panel. If you read the tooltip for that you will note that it is for animations only. For still images you will have to save the output from the render window

Yes I was saving a render, first 150 frames, then I started testing with just 3 frames. each time I save multiple files showing up but in a directory I was not expecting.
I have also save single renders using F3.

I also thought these were two separate issues, one has to do with wildcards in the file name and the other the usage of the user settings/file/ render output path. The # sign works but the %F is being ignored.

Am I to infer from this that the user preferences are only used once when blender starts and only are applied when a new scene is created using the function, the little plus sign in the gui next to Scene at the top in the Info panel. This means to me that I can not change the destination by changing the user preferences after a scene in a blend file has been created. I can live with that. I’ll test it tomorrow, when I’m awake, to make sure I understand it…

Thanks for your help.