Posts Below
11/26/2015 - Updated the Self-Help section and Donations page (Self-Help)
11/23/2015 - Signed a petition to allow the f.lux software on iPhones and iPads (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
11/18/2015 - A few thoughts on reincarnation (Paranormal)
11/16/2015 - - A Job Website for Freelance Software Developers (Programming - Freelancing)
11/16/2015 - Emacs: How to have tabbing and indentation similar to a more typical text editor (Emacs Lisp)
11/14/2015 - Emacs Lisp code: Get Rid of 100-Item Limit on Lists in Helm (Emacs Lisp - Code Snippet)
11/14/2015 - Emacs Lisp code: Insert a NoteCase-like Date/Time with F5 (Emacs Lisp - Code Snippet)
11/13/2015 - Librepup (Linux)
11/10/2015 - Link: Programmer Competency Matrix (Programming - Link)
11/8/2015 - Link: Star Trek Continues (Entertainment)
11/5/2015 - Emacs is Awesome (Software)
11/3/2015 - What text editors let you view and edit multiple files in a single long page? Similar to Scrivener's Scrivenings mode (Questions - Software)
11/1/2015 - A bit about my genealogy, famous and/or wealthy relatives, etc. (History)
10/20/2015 - Updated the "Internet of Things" post a bit (Site Update)
10/14/2015 - Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4 (Site Update - Software Release)
9/30/2015 - Warning about character sets and Astroblahhh Desktop; other news on ABDesktop 2.4 & Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 (Site Update)
9/20/2015 - Astroblahhh Desktop v2.3 (Site Update - Software Release)
9/1/2015 - The Death of George Boole (1815-1864) (Philosophy)
8/22/2015 - Apollia's JSON Prettifier v1.0 (Programming - Software Release)
8/21/2015 - Fixing the Broken Wings of Maxi Pads (Humor - With a Genuinely Practical Tip)

Welcome to Astroblahhh.Com. This site, consisting of both blog and non-blog pages, features a gradually growing assortment of miscellaneous things on a variety of topics. I, the author of most of the stuff on this site, usually go by the name Apollia on the internet.

This blog was generated by the WordsPlatz blog software, which I wrote from scratch.


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Updated the Self-Help section and Donations page
Thursday, November 26th, 2015
02:25:59 GMT


For the first time since Jan. 2, 2013, I updated the Self-Help section. And for the first time since May 13, 2013, I updated the Donations page.

What got me started on all this was discovering that I never fixed the broken link on the Self-Help page to one of the very best self-help essays I ever read - How to Operate Your Brain Perfectly, by Nick Pagan.

Fortunately, that PDF file is still available, thanks to

Then, once I fixed that link, it occurred to me that Non24.Com and Non24.Org would be appropriate additions to the Self-Help page.

So I started writing about them - and then ended up also writing some autobiographical stuff.

But just the tip of the iceberg, as usual, since for various reasons I can't yet actually publish the most interesting stuff, or get into much detail about it.

Happy Thanksgiving, and also thanks to everyone who ever helped me in any way.

I hope someday I'll be able to repay everyone's kindness somehow, such as through my various creations such as software, articles, etc. - or even through my possible future wealth, if I'm ever fortunate enough to get wealthy.

One of the things I like about my own astrological chart is that I have Uranus in the 2nd house, which is often thought to be associated with sudden unusual changes in one's material fortunes.

Sometimes, that has seemed true - but that's another story I can't yet tell in full detail.

Addition, 11:31 PM. Realized I forgot to mention anything about some of the most useful software I've ever encountered, so I added that to the Self-Help page's External Links section.

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Signed a petition to allow the f.lux software on iPhones and iPads
Monday, November 23rd, 2015
20:45:48 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

Several days ago I signed this petition. And to explain why, and also share the comment I posted when I signed it, I posted this blog post (recently retitled for clarity, around 5:16 PM EST) at Non24.Com:

Petition: Allow the f.lux software on iPhones and iPads

There are currently 2083 signatures as I write this.

The petition mentions some quite negative things about blue light, which finally motivated me to change the default designs on the Non24.Com Forum and the Eryss.Com Forum. The original default design, named "Astronomy", is still available, but only if you're logged in.

I really hope blue light isn't really that bad, since I quite like the color blue at times, and even my eyes are blue.

Oh, well. I'm glad at least Astroblahhh.Com has always had this mostly red theme - except it currently has some blue links, which I guess I ought to change. Addition, 4:09 PM EST. OK, changed, but someday I'll have to perfect the colors.

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A few thoughts on reincarnation
Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
07:52:45 GMT


There's a variety of reasons why I don't like the thought of reincarnating.

But, one of the top reasons is because of worldwide poverty. According to this page (which I so often link to), at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. (Or, in other words, less than about $3650 per year.)

So, that might mean the odds of being reborn into wealth, or even just acceptable comfort, might be rather slim.

But even if poverty didn't exist, an eternal heavenly afterlife would still sound much better to me than reincarnation. (Even though I'm agnostic.)

I wonder if sincere reincarnation believers tend to be more kind, caring, fair, and altruistic than the average person?

If you truly believe you're going to have to come back to this world, and be reborn as who knows what, that's a pretty strong incentive to try to make the world a better, fairer place for everyone - not just certain privileged groups.

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Monday, November 16th, 2015
22:23:21 GMT

Freelancing is a job website for freelance software developers. has some emphasis on free (as in freedom), libre, open source software.

I still don't feel fully qualified to undertake any of the astonishingly high-paying gigs I've seen on there lately so far, most of them paying over $10,000.

So, I haven't done any gigs, and I also don't know exactly how the site works. So, it is not first-hand experience with doing work on there which inspires me to point them out.

The top reason I'm pointing them out is because I discovered while filling out my profile that they provide affiliate marketing links, and, since has some emphasis on free/libre/open source software, and I could use some money, I thought I might as well share my link.

Here's my affiliate marketing link:

I'm fairly sure there's probably at least one brilliant, extremely talented software developer who sometimes reads my blog. Maybe more.

So, I hope this helps you, and thanks in advance if you use my affiliate marketing link to sign up with

And I hope you'll work exclusively on free (as in freedom), libre, open source jobs, not non-libre, closed source jobs.

Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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Emacs: How to have tabbing and indentation similar to a more typical text editor
Monday, November 16th, 2015
05:34:36 GMT

Emacs Lisp

The Emacs editor has a bunch of default behaviors that were driving me crazy:

(Plus other, less insanity-inducing problems - but those aren't solved in this post.)

And also the automatic indentation in php-mode.

Finally, I figured out how to fix all of that, and make Emacs' tabbing and auto-indenting be more like a typical text editor.

But, I'm pretty new to Emacs, so, there might be side effects or other problems with the below solution I'm not yet aware of. Comments are welcome!

Thanks to everyone on the web who posted useful info and/or code which enabled me to cobble together my current favorite solution.

The only Emacs add-on the below code requires is regtab.el, which makes it possible to indent either one line or entire highlighted regions by pressing tab, and un-indent them by pressing shift-tab.

I put the below code in my ".emacs" settings file. I'm using Emacs 24.5.1.

I had some trouble figuring out how to make php-mode stop doing automatic indent. So, finally, I just resorted to the brute force method of editing php-mode.el's source code.

In php-mode.el, I changed every instance of indent-tabs-mode nil to indent-tabs-mode t, and every instance of tab-width 4 to tab-width 7. (But you can use whatever tab-width number you like).

I don't yet know of a less invasive way to fix it than that. But, that worked.

To stop regtab.el from displaying the text "regtab" in your modeline, you can comment out these lines in regtab.el:

(define-minor-mode regtab-mode "Regular Tabs Minor Mode"
  :lighter " regtab" :keymap regtab-mode-map)

And use this line instead, with "lighter" set to "nil". (It's included in the box of code above, so you can just uncomment it.)

Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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Emacs Lisp code: Get Rid of 100-Item Limit on Lists in Helm
Saturday, November 14th, 2015
15:44:27 GMT

Emacs Lisp
Code Snippet

I never before had to fiddle so much with an editor to make it comfortable to use - but, it seems to be paying off, since the idea of sticking with Emacs is starting to seem not only plausible, but appealing. Perhaps I'll be able to return to my usual projects sometime in the next few weeks.

I've been downloading lots of different Emacs add-ons - many of them listed in this section of my GitHub account.

The add-on Helm makes it much easier to access and list various useful things, such as Emacs' fortunately copious documentation of things like Emacs Lisp functions and variables.

In my ".emacs" settings file, I have this line after the stuff which starts Helm:

That line slows things down a bit, but at least it gets rid of the 100-item limit on the length of lists in Helm.

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Emacs Lisp code: Insert a NoteCase-like Date/Time with F5
Saturday, November 14th, 2015
15:16:18 GMT

Emacs Lisp
Code Snippet

The below Emacs Lisp code, which simply inserts a date/time like "2015-11-14 10:01:14" when you press F5, was a slight modification of code I found at this StackOverflow page:

How can I insert current date and time into a file using Emacs?

I used "defcustom" and "setq" instead of "defvar" alone because of tips from this page from

Emacs Lisp “defvar” Doesn't Override

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Friday, November 13th, 2015
20:28:59 GMT


As usual, I haven't been staying very up to date with most anything going on in the world. So, I didn't find this until today:


And here's the Puppy Linux Discussion Forum thread about Librepup.

I haven't tried Librepup yet, but, wanted to point it out anyway, since I find this Pup particularly notable because I'm not sure if there's any other Puppy or Puppy-based distro (yet) which so strongly emphasizes exclusively free, libre, open source software.

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Link: Programmer Competency Matrix
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
18:25:36 GMT


Zounds, I still have so much to learn!

Programmer Competency Matrix, a page from

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Link: Star Trek Continues
Sunday, November 8th, 2015
17:33:51 GMT


The most recent episode (episode 5) was posted to Vimeo on Sept. 26th.

Star Trek Continues

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Emacs is Awesome
Thursday, November 5th, 2015
19:28:20 GMT


Today I found out the Emacs editor has a web browser built in, called EWW, which stands for "Emacs Web Wowser". :-)

I was actually able to use it to browse Astroblahhh Desktop!

It even was capable of displaying the ABDesktop file organizer's thumbnail images, and also was able to open the image files full-size right inside of Emacs.

The formatting of ABDesktop's listers is far from perfect inside the Emacs web browser, partly because by default, long lines get truncated rather than wrapped. Thumbnail images get displayed at the bottom of the lister instead of next to each file record.

But wow... web browsing inside of Emacs!! Wow!!!

And there's Tetris, among other games. And the Emacs Psychotherapist, available in the Help menu. :-D

There are so many different keyboard commands (or "keychords") in Emacs. It's rather daunting, but, fortunately, they're reputedly all customizable.

And, years ago, I was able to get quite comfortable with the many different keyboard commands in games like Steamband, to the point where I almost never had to check the manual for what keys to press to do certain things.

So, it's encouraging to think that, given that I achieved that with some games, I should hopefully be able to get pretty far dealing with tons of different keyboard commands in Emacs.

I already found a nice bookmark add-on called Breadcrumb, which works the way I wished I could figure out how to make bookmarks in Geany and Notepad++ work. Breadcrumb is capable of bringing you to locations in different files, instead of only locations inside the current file, just by pressing a single key to go the next bookmark. F2 in my case, just like Notepad++.

It also works great with the multifile created by the multifiles.el add-on I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I'm also quite excited about the fact that there's an entire programming language embedded inside of Emacs, called Emacs Lisp. I've been reading An Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp, which is very helpful.

Years ago I read some articles talking about how wonderful Lisp is, which made me curious enough to try Lisp (not inside Emacs) in Windows, but, I never got very far with it back then.

But perhaps now I finally have advanced far enough as a programmer to finally grasp Lisp a lot better, and do something useful with it. Hope so, since that might be the only way I'll be able to add the new features I'd like to have in multifiles.el.

If I ever start liking Lisp more than my current favorite language, PHP, I'll let you all know.

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What text editors let you view and edit multiple files in a single long page? Similar to Scrivener's Scrivenings mode
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
05:43:35 GMT


I posted this question at the Software Recommendations StackExchange site:

What text editors let you view and edit multiple files in a single long page? Similar to Scrivener's Scrivenings mode

Just thought I'd try to draw some attention to it, since I'm really curious to know the answer.

Also, since I still haven't yet gotten around to solving my email problems, I decided to create an email address which my Gmail account will automatically download mail from.

So, I'm now somewhat reachable if you send mail to:

But, even now, please don't expect quick replies, and sorry for neglecting my email so much. I'll probably try to solve my email problems sometime after I'm done with updating Astroblahhh Desktop to version 2.8.

And, still another way to reach me is the Eryss.Com Forum. Even though it's a very quiet and dull place at the moment, I have no plans of ever taking it down.

Update, Nov. 5, 2015, 4:11 AM EST, etc. I believe the best currently-existing way to do what I asked about might be the Emacs editor, plus some Emacs add-ons, namely multifiles.el, and its dependency dash.el. I wrote about those here.

I have long thought I ought to try to get more familiar and comfortable with Emacs. But, until now, I never had an exotic-enough feature requirement which I had no more convenient way than Emacs to fulfil.

Before this, it was easier to just stick with Geany (in Linux) and Notepad++ (in Windows, though I also have frequently used it in Linux using VirtualBox or Wine). They're both really fantastic editors, and easier to figure out than Emacs, but much less powerful and flexible.

As for why I need such an unusual feature in the first place - it's because I've been splitting my source code up into a lot more separate files, and I haven't found a way to make Notepad++ or Geany go to bookmarks located in different files instead of only the current file. I keep getting lost amongst all the tons of different file tabs I have, and I'm getting tired of having to click around so much and struggle to remember where I put things, or what I named things so I can do a search for them, etc.

So, I figured having everything in one long scrollable page which I can have bookmarks in might make things a lot easier to deal with.

It's going to take a while for me to get up to speed with Emacs, but, in the long run, I think knowing how to use and customize Emacs to do exactly what I want will make my software development - and hence, my life - a lot easier in the future, so it's probably worth the trouble.

No doubt I will still use Geany and Notepad++ at times, though. They're perfectly fine for less labyrinthine projects of mine.

And happily, I recently managed to figure out how to make Notepad++ less crashy in Wine. In Notepad v6.8.6, I had to go to the Settings menu, choose Preferences, then select MISC. from the lefthand sidebar. Then, under File Status Auto-Detection, I unchecked "Enable".

That stops Notepad++ from giving me an alert message which freezes and crashes everything if I happen to edit a file with a different editor while I have that file open in Notepad++.

Another nice thing I found lately was the Notepad++ Task List plugin, mentioned here, which could be of use if you want named bookmarks which are more permanent than Notepad++'s built-in, unnamed bookmarks.

Somehow, I was unable to compile the latest version of Geany with Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004.

But, that was actually probably a good thing, because I'm probably better off getting more acquainted with Emacs anyway.

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A bit about my genealogy, famous and/or wealthy relatives, etc.
Sunday, November 1st, 2015
07:35:04 GMT


A relative of mine (from my mother's side of the family) has been looking into our genealogy, and she found out that we have ancestors named McNutt. :-)

I had no idea we had any Irish/Scottish roots, but I'm pleased we do. :-)

Now, if anyone ever calls me a nut, I can retort, "Wrong! I'm a McNutt!!" :-)

A lot more is known about my father's side of the family than my mother's. I have English ancestry from I think both my mother and father, and German and I think also Russian from my father.

I still have never looked really deeply into our genealogy, so, there might be a lot more to our ancestry than that, and I might have some details confused.

My mother's side of the family is rumored to have a Native American woman somewhere in our background. We're not sure who, and don't know if that's true. But I hope it is true, that would be cool. :-)

The most famous people I'm aware of being related to are:

Some of my paternal ancestors were extremely wealthy - but, that mostly got ruined by the Russian Revolution and World War 1, and probably World War 2 didn't help either.

My paternal grandfather, who died years before I was born, left Europe and came to the USA maybe even as early as 1930, if is right.

So, my closest paternal relatives luckily probably weren't in Germany when Hitler rose to power, and certainly weren't there when World War 2 broke out. I guess my grandfather probably learned something from what happened to my great-grandfather (his father), who apparently just didn't expect the Russian Revolution and World War 1 to happen, and thus remained in Russia at a particularly terrible time in history to be an immensely wealthy German businessman in Russia.

However, if I recall correctly, my great-grandmother (my grandfather's mother) survived the World War 2 bombing of Dresden, and at some point she came to the USA to live with my grandfather's family.

So, if you ever wondered from whence did such an unusual person as I spawn - now you know a few more details.

Someday if I ever have more time on my hands, I'll probably take a much closer look at all this stuff, and write more about it.

If my great-grandfather had paid more attention to what was going on in the world, and perhaps left Russia (and maybe Europe too) for someplace safer - perhaps that part of my family might have remained immensely wealthy.

If he had lived his life differently, perhaps he even would have been able to change the course of history. Perhaps he might have been able to help avert the Russian Revolution if he had taken a lot more interest in helping the poor to escape their miserable oppression.

Judging by his memoirs (which I read an English translation of years ago) - if I recall correctly, he seemed like a good-hearted, well-meaning person. But I guess he was just too oblivious and preoccupied with his own very opulent life to do very much with his immense wealth (and consequent power) to change the world for the better. I don't think he even fully realized that war and revolution were brewing.

I'll be amazed if I ever manage to get wealthy, and rather surprised if I even manage to reach the middle class, given my horrible sleep issues, and the very worrying economic woes of the world at large, which have been making it deplorably difficult even for many very talented, competent, well-educated, and perfectly able-bodied people to make a living.

But if I ever do get wealthy (or just comfortable), I will try to do what my great-grandfather (and every other rich, or more fortunate than average, person) should have done (or should do): try even harder than I already have to set everyone free from the oppression of poverty. (And any other oppression.)

I actually already am trying pretty hard, but in rather indirect ways, because unfortunately, my preferred direct solution - just handing out buckets of money (which would be debt-free grants, not loans) to good people who need it and will use it wisely - is not yet feasible, since I don't have buckets of money to give in the first place. :-/

Anyway, for now, I'd rather not write in detail about what I'm up to - I'd rather just get back to doing it.

Also, what I'm doing is pretty boring to write about if I focus only on what I'm actually doing at the moment, rather than my lofty (pie in the sky?) dreams of all the marvelous things it all might lead to in the future. :-)

I've been making a lot of progress with what I'm now calling Astroblahhh Desktop 2.8 - the update which will hopefully have everything converted to use UTF-8 Unicode.

What this actually might lead to in the end, who knows.

But, donations and microdonations are welcome.

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Updated the "Internet of Things" post a bit
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
18:37:29 GMT

Site Update

I've been updating this old post from July 12, 2015 from time to time:

The "Internet of Things" and "Pervasive Computing": Some of the Worst Ideas Ever

Hopefully someday, when I have the CMS (content management system, for lack of a better term) of my dreams, there will be an automatically-updated list of recent updates, maybe kind of like Wikipedia's Recent changes page.

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Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4
Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
20:15:30 GMT

Site Update
Software Release

Astroblahhh Desktop 2.4 is another "conventional" release of Astroblahhh Desktop. (Conventional in the context of its own unconventional history.)

Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4 (529 KB Zip File)

That means it's still a horrible mess (though remarkably well-functioning), and it's only runnable as a web app - but since it probably has major security problems, you shouldn't run it while connected to the internet. And it's still nowhere near as polished as I'd like it to be for people other than myself to use.

I haven't tested it extensively in Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 1.0, and I also haven't even tested it at all in XAMPP in Windows XP.

My goal with this version was simply to make it possible (again) for me to use ABDesktop natively in Linux, so I wouldn't have to run ABDesktop inside a Windows-XP-running VirtualBox with no internet connection.

Though I made some decent progress with that goal, it's not perfectly achieved for a number of reasons.

I haven't fully tested Astroblahhh Desktop, but, except for various known problems (and probably some unknown problems), it seems to largely work in both PHP 5.2.17 (using Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 1.0), and PHP 5.6.13 (using my not-yet-released Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0). I haven't tested this version at all in XAMPP in a Windows XP VirtualBox.

Also, I haven't tested the file-moving features at all lately, so I recommend avoiding them.

A pretty annoying problem with Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 1.0 is that it can't create JPG thumbnails, because when I compiled PHP 5.2.17, I didn't realize it was necessary to manually add JPG capabilities to the ./configure command line.

An even worse problem is, I still didn't get around to converting everything to use Unicode UTF-8 encoding. So, the warning I posted on Sept. 29th/30th still applies.

My current workaround is to just use new databases and avoid editing my old databases. Astroblahhh Desktop's "copyrecord" and "exportrecord" commands (even in the released versions of Astroblahhh Desktop) work pretty well - so, in the future, once I have everything converted to UTF-8, merging my newer databases with my old databases shouldn't be too troublesome.

I also hastily added a universal read-only mode, and a non-universal read-only mode - either of which you can turn on by editing the file "lib-abdesk.php" in the "abdesk" folder. The non-universal read-only mode makes all databases read-only by default except the ones that are added to the array $list_of_writable_dbs, stored inside "lists_of_all_your_dbs.php" inside the "custom" folder.

Both read-only modes also block the ConnectAsRoot() MySQL database connection function from connecting at all, even to databases listed as writable.

The read-only restriction is enforced by using a MySQL user which is only allowed to use the SELECT command. That user can be created using the new "Create Read-Only User" script. I think the read-only features probably work, but, please be careful.

Rather than depending on the read-only features, I prefer to just copy my databases into my RAM disk. That keeps the originals safe, and makes the copies very fast to read.

More ways Astroblahhh Desktop isn't totally Linuxified yet include the fact that the file organizer still pays no attention to file permissions, file owners, and file groups. The file organizer also still assumes that your filesystem is case insensitive, as it is in Windows.

And as it should be, in my opinion - because I agree with this article that case sensitivity in software tends to be evil. Nonetheless, I'll someday try to deal with the case sensitivity nuisance eventually - but, I think I'll make Astroblahhh Desktop optionally "enforce" case insensitivity, such as by refusing to move files with exactly the same name except different capitalization into the same directory.

To the file organizer, I added a rather half-assed ability to deal with symlinks. The file organizer recognizes symlinks, but doesn't store their destinations. It's easy for PHP to obtain a symlink's destination, but changing the database's schema to store this new info seemed like too much of a nuisance to undertake for an already nearly obsolete version of Astroblahhh Desktop.

Other than all that, the file organizer (at least when only reading files) seems to work fairly well natively in Linux, instead of running inside a Windows XP VirtualBox.

However, again, I haven't tested the file-moving features at all lately, and I recommend avoiding them.

Also, Linux file permissions often prevent the file organizer from even being able to read files in many locations. That was such a nuisance (particularly when I couldn't figure out how to mount NTFS-formatted TrueCrypt volumes with appropriate permissions), I finally opted for the quite questionable workaround of slightly editing the Hiawatha web server's source code - as described in this Hiawatha Webserver forum post from Sept. 1, 2010, 11:13 - to make it possible to run Hiawatha as root.

One thing that makes this workaround a bit less terrible is the fact that I've returned to my old habit of only using Astroblahhh Desktop (or any web server software, especially the Hiawatha I modified to run as root) while disconnected from the internet.

In fact, I now just use a totally different computer for the internet - and, thanks to my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, doing that is actually pretty comfortable. (Except I have too little RAM, so I have to stay away from sites like Tumblr, and even Google Image Search can crash my entire system.) I don't even need a hard drive, and could even get by without a Flash drive if I didn't usually like to save things, or at least URLs.

Unfortunately, using a different than usual computer for the internet is part of the reason I've lately had even more difficulty than in the past with my email. I have my Thunderbird profiles on a hard drive in an external USB enclosure because they're so bloated they don't fit comfortably on my Flash drives, and I don't want to maybe wear out my Flash drives by downloading mail onto them. And, even though my external hard drive is technically portable, I still don't like moving it, and my internet computer is too far away to plug in my hard drive without moving it.

But, back to Astroblahhh Desktop. It was pleasant to find that the SHA-512 checksum features are much faster when running ABDesktop in Linux rather than having ABDesktop inside a VirtualBox. I don't know why, but accessing files outside of a VirtualBox from within VirtualBox tends to be noticeably slower than accessing files normally. (That's why I used to store my databases inside my VirtualBox. I tried storing them outside, but searches that ordinarily would take a few seconds at most were taking something like 20 seconds. At least with VirtualBox 4.1.8.)

I guess probably using the file (record) adder and making image thumbnails is faster now too, but that was usually tolerably fast even with Astroblahhh Desktop inside VirtualBox.

I love VirtualBox, but having to use VirtualBox always felt like a ball and chain, since VirtualBox is not at all convenient on computers where I don't have a hard drive, and don't feel like moving an external hard drive to it, or where I only have 1 or 2 GB of RAM, or even less.

I also am not eager to possibly wear out a USB Flash drive by storing and running a Windows XP VirtualBox on a Flash drive. Fortunately, larger and larger Flash drives are getting cheaper and cheaper, but, I still don't like to waste things or money if I can avoid it.

Even with the latest versions, Astroblahhh Desktop alone (without VirtualBox) shouldn't actually require a powerful computer. The original versions ran surprisingly nicely even on a quite pathetic 1.10 GHz Windows XP computer with only 256 MB RAM. And, I'm not sure, but I think probably the later versions probably still could as well.

And I'm hoping even the not-yet-finished PHP-GTK version will also be able to run on pathetic computers with only 256 MB RAM. Or even less RAM would be nice.

However, having only 256 MB RAM or less might necessitate using a Puppy Linux full installation instead of a frugal RAM-disk-using installation, since Puppy plus Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK might use up too much RAM, even if you don't install a web browser.

I guess someday if I ever get a Raspberry Pi, it would be fun to make Astroblahhh Desktop work well on that.

I wonder if OrientDB can run on a Raspberry Pi? I guess if Java can, then maybe OrientDB can too?

Happily, very little had to be done to make Astroblahhh Desktop 2.4 work with PHP 5.6.13.

I made a simple custom PHP error handler to make it block the warnings about the deprecated "mysql" PHP functions. Future not-yet-released extensively renovated versions of Astroblahhh Desktop will (or already do) instead use PHP's newer, recommended PDO database-handling features.

The custom error handler also usually changes the background and text colors of pages containing errors, to make it more obvious at a glance (and pretty) when errors happen.

Probably my next top goal (at least with Astroblahhh Desktop) is to figure out how to convert everything to Unicode UTF-8 encoding.

Once I figure that out, it'll be a lot easier to move forward with all the different projects I have in mind.

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Warning about character sets and Astroblahhh Desktop; other news on ABDesktop 2.4 & Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
03:48:10 GMT

Site Update

I just added this new warning to Astroblahhh Desktop's home page, just in case there actually might be any users of Astroblahhh Desktop in the world besides me:

Warning, Sept. 29/30, 2015: Please be wary of using the same Astroblahhh Desktop databases on two very different computer platforms, such as Windows XP and Linux, or even the same platform but with different web browsers, such as a newer browser which is likely to use Unicode as its default character set, and an older browser which doesn't default to Unicode.

I just recently found out editing a database record while using a different character set than that record was created with can mess up unusual text characters. (I stumbled across this because my Windows XP installation of Astroblahhh Desktop - with web browsers I haven't updated for many years - and my Linux installation of Astroblahhh Desktop - which uses Firefox 32 - happen to use different default character sets.)

So, it looks like I need to upgrade Astroblahhh Desktop to store all database text in Unicode (UTF-8) format. But, if you always use Astroblahhh Desktop on the same computer platform with the same default character set, hopefully that's safe.

Also, not even the latest-released versions are fully compatible with Linux yet, despite some efforts I made in 2011. But, I'm definitely working on that too. I love VirtualBox, but I don't love having to use it (or Windows XP) to use Astroblahhh Desktop.

I've been working on Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4 for several days now. My goal with 2.4 was simply to update as little as possible to get Astroblahhh Desktop working properly in Linux (and PHP 5.6.13). The update was seeming pretty easy overall, until I ran into that Unicode issue.

Luckily, I didn't lose any data because I was still only upgrading and testing Astroblahhh Desktop 2.4, rather than using it on my real databases.

But, even though I might be the only serious user of Astroblahhh Desktop in the world, I thought I should point out that warning just in case.

One surprising problem I ran into was that, according to this page, MySQL databases had rather poor Unicode UTF-8 support until MySQL 5.5.3, which was released in early 2010. (Which is very old, but still newer than the ancient edition of XAMPP I use in my Windows XP VirtualBox for Astroblahhh Desktop.) And, for decent Unicode UTF-8 support in MySQL, you have to use "utf8mb4" encoding rather than just "utf8".

Even the version of MariaDB I used in Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 1.0 - MariaDB 5.3.12 - doesn't have "utf8mb4" encoding. Unless I'm mistaken, judging by this page, only MariaDB 5.5 and up have that.

So, though I was originally actually tempted to just stay with MariaDB 5.3.12 in the not-yet-released Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0, it looks like I need to upgrade.

I managed to figure out how to compile and use Cmake, so I was able to build the latest MariaDB - but then I found out from this page that starting with version 10.0, MariaDB has started to diverge more from MySQL than MariaDB did in the past.

And on Sept. 30, 2015 - my web host, DreamHost, is going to automatically update my sites' databases to MySQL 5.6.

So, to maintain compatibility with MySQL and the web host I use, Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 is probably going to use MySQL 5.6.26 rather than MariaDB, even though I still like MariaDB.

I couldn't figure out how to install something MySQL supposedly needed called libaio, but I managed to compile MySQL anyway, and it seems so far to work, judging by the fact that I was able to look at MySQL 5.6.26 databases in PhpMyAdmin

I even was able to read my old Astroblahhh Desktop databases without changing them at all for use in MySQL 5.6.26. And, this all still works using the old version of the Hiawatha web server included with Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004.

I think it's neat that things still work so well despite not upgrading Hiawatha - though I probably should add an updated Hiawatha to Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 nonetheless.

Comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome at the Eryss.Com Forum, either on this thread or elsewhere.

Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

I'm particularly interested in clues on what to do about MySQL's libaio dependency. This hasn't been too easy for me to fix as a Puppy Linux user, because I don't have a package manager like "apt" or "yum", and practically the only "solution" I can find on the web is advice to use your package manager to download libaio.

But even if I had a package manager, I'd still rather find libaio's source code and compile it myself from scratch, because I don't like the idea of being dependent on a package manager, or even on an internet connection.

I'm also interested in clues on whether or not doing without libaio is likely to lead to catastrophe.

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Astroblahhh Desktop v2.3
Sunday, September 20th, 2015
20:36:25 GMT

Site Update
Software Release

This is a relatively minor update of Astroblahhh Desktop compared to what I'm working on.

Astroblahhh Desktop 2.3 (498 KB zip file)

(Addition, 6:55 PM EDT: Reuploaded because I forgot to include the GNU Affero General Public License.)

And, I should point out that like all the previous releases, I still haven't gone to as much trouble as I should to try to make it easy for people other than myself to install and use. And it still contains a ton of legacy code I wrote years ago, which has many bad design issues you'd expect from a relatively inexperienced programmer, such as using global variables all over the place. (Hopefully most future versions will be better in these regards.)

Despite all the organizer software I write, I'm still a lot more disorganized than I should be, so, I didn't keep very careful track of what I added to Astroblahhh Desktop since the previous release.

But, the most notable thing I recall adding is the ability for the file organizer to calculate SHA-512 checksums (also known as SHA-512 hashes) of files, and store them in file databases. Plus other things related to SHA-512 checksums, to compare checksums in two different databases, search for checksums, etc.

I did this simply so I could be more certain that my backup files in various disks (or discs) are intact. (Also, it's nice to be able to easily locate and group together identical files.)

This was inspired by a scary article I read which mentioned the concept of bitrot. Here is that article, from Ars Technica:

Bitrot and atomic COWs: Inside "next-gen" filesystems
"We look at the amazing features in ZFS and btrfs - and why you need them"

I was quite dismayed by that article, but didn't feel up to figuring out how to implement bitrot countermeasures such as switching to the ZFS or btrfs filesystem, or setting up some kind of automated RAID backups involving multiple hard disks.

But, that article made me realize (or reminded me) that I had hardly any idea how much bitrot my files might already be suffering. So, several months ago, I decided to temporarily set aside my work on Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0 (and other things), and solve this problem first. I think I finished this stuff back in June or July.

That article mentions checksumming a lot, so, that gave me the idea to add the new checksum features to Astroblahhh Desktop. Which aren't the same as the checksum features mentioned in that article - instead of calculating checksums for "blocks", Astroblahhh Desktop calculates checksums for the entire files.

Prior to this, I never did much of anything with checksums until I made the downloader script portion of my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, since I needed a quick and easy way to verify that downloads had been successful.

I wish I had paid attention to the concept of checksums much sooner, since it seems very clever and useful (even though of course I don't fully understand it).

After (and even while) building the SHA-512 checksum features into Astroblahhh Desktop, I went through my old file archives and made SHA-512 checksums for most everything.

A quite slow process, since I have a lot of files - and after a major reorganization of my disks a while back, I hadn't resynced my databases with the new actual locations of all my files yet, so that slowed me down too. (For the resyncing, I had to use Astroblahhh Desktop's "mass locate" and "mirrorer" features a lot, which made it quite a lot easier, but it was still not as convenient and automated as would be ideal.)

Another thing that made calculating checksums slower was, I made a way to make SHA-512 checksums for what I call "paired" folders - which are folders which often get created to hold the images, CSS files, etc. of web page files you save with Firefox and other browsers.

(I save a lot of web page files, so, even from the beginning of the file organizer portion of the Astroblahhh Desktop project, I went out a lot out of my way to build in capabilities specifically to deal with web files and their paired folders, so it wouldn't be as easy to accidentally separate web files from their paired folders.)

If I recall correctly what my paired folder SHA-512 checksum-making code does - all the files contained in the paired folder are checksummed, with each of their checksums added to a single long string, then a single SHA-512 checksum is calculated for that long string of checksums, and that gets used as the paired folder's checksum.

This is quite possibly stupid in some way I haven't yet thought of. (If so, I'd love to hear about it, or any other feedback. Comments are welcome at Eryss.Com Forum or can be sent privately to me.)

But, it seems to achieve the goal of reliably creating the same checksum for different copies of the same paired folder - so, I'm happy enough with it for now, even though calculating the checksums of paired folders is often much slower than calculating checksums for lone files.

So, now, if bitrot ever occurs, at least I'll hopefully be able to detect it at some point in the future. And, amongst all my many redundant backup files, I'll be able to tell which backups are intact and which are corrupted.

One of my new scripts enables me to compare the SHA-512 checksums in two different databases, so, after the slow chore of adding checksums to my databases, I was able to quickly and easily verify that my various redundant backups have all the same checksums in them. Happily, I haven't detected any bitrot so far.

It's so nice to be able to know with far more certainty that my files are intact, rather than just making lots of redundant backups and mostly just hoping they're all truly identical. (I did sometimes use the "diff" command on them, though.)

This might turn out to be one of the last, uh, conventional versions of Astroblahhh Desktop. (Though a web app that isn't intended to run on a web server on the internet isn't all that common/conventional. But, that's what Astroblahhh Desktop always was. So, this version is at least typical/conventional in the context of Astroblahhh Desktop's own history.)

Most future versions will hopefully have the ability to run as either a PHP-GTK true desktop app or a web app, and maybe even also a console/command line app.

Also, since I was able to get PHP-GTK to work with PHP 5.6.13, there's nothing holding me back anymore from starting to use whatever fancy new PHP features I was missing out on as a result of sticking with PHP 5.2.17 for so long.

I hope in the end, Astroblahhh Desktop will be easily installable, useable and useful even in Windows and MacOS, as well as Linux. (Well, it already is mostly tailored to Windows, since it was first written while I was still mostly a Windows user, and, up until now, I usually used it in a Windows XP VirtualBox, even though in 2011 I added some compatibility with Linux.)

Despite my recently-discovered adoration of graph databases, I still want to preserve Astroblahhh Desktop's ability to use MySQL/MariaDB and SQLite databases. (SQLite is currently useable in a not-yet-released version of Astroblahhh Desktop.)

They're still useful, even if they're not as mindblowingly flexible as OrientDB is, and even if I'm itching to build an OrientDB-based possible successor to Astroblahhh Desktop.

Astroblahhh Desktop's existing databases are also a lot less mind-boggling to me than my graph database-related daydreams.

But probably what's making the graph database stuff a lot more mind-boggling than graph databases normally are is my obsessive struggling with trying to design my ideal database software, with temporal-database fanciness, rewindable history, provenance of data instead of just data alone, multiple users, etc., etc. I haven't even started coding it yet, I've just been jotting down tons of notes and ideas in VUE concept maps and NoteCases.

All my lofty ideas seem a lot more feasible with a graph database rather than MySQL/MariaDB or SQLite. But, those ideas might be so difficult I'll have to give up in the end, and do something easier.

Fortunately, even something easier will probably still be quite powerful and useful, and quite possibly better than Astroblahhh Desktop with less effort.

Anyway, I've only struggled with designing my ideal graph database since late August, and only quite recently got PhpOrient to work (because I had to go to the trouble to update Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK to 2.0), so I'm not tired of the struggle yet.

Donations are microdonations are welcome. Meanwhile, goods and services still aren't really available yet. But services might become more available if/when I finally solve the various nuisances with my email.

I'm kind of fed up with the Thunderbird email client's overly bloated profiles and how complicated it is to deal with my email on multiple computers, since I usually prefer downloading my mail with POP3 rather than leaving it on the server using IMAP, and I don't want to have to mess around with figuring out how to merge different Thunderbird profiles from different computers together.

And I also want to escape Gmail, since it's closed source and a Service-as-a-Software-Substitute - SaaSS.

So, I'm seriously thinking about adding an email organizer to Astroblahhh Desktop and writing my own email-downloading software.

I somehow managed to compile PHP's IMAP extension (which, among other things, also can handle POP3 and even NNTP, the Usenet protocol). And then managed to figure out how to access one of my DreamHost email accounts with a PHP console script on my own computer (rather than uploaded to DreamHost).

So, my daydream of writing my own email software is starting to seem truly feasible. It may seem silly to reinvent such a wheel, rather than just look harder for existing email software that I like more than Thunderbird - but for some reason I feel inspired to go to the trouble.

I also managed to compile and use PHP-SWEPH 1.80 with PHP 5.6.13 in Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0. Just thought I'd point out that it's possible.

That also makes possible an up-to-date PHP 5.6.13+PHP-GTK edition of the astrology software Eryss - though I'm probably not very likely to work on that in the very near future, because astrology software is nowhere near as useful on a practical level as my other projects.

I haven't released any compiled Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 binaries, and maybe won't at all, because I think it might be better to release Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 as build-from-scratch scripts in another update of my Puppy Linux Setup Kit.

But, I haven't yet written the build-from-scratch scripts. I'll most likely get around to it when I get around to going back to Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, since I haven't built Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 for LH64 yet.

Again, donations and microdonations are welcome.

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The Death of George Boole (1815-1864)
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
04:00:24 GMT


Lately, because of my newfound obsession with trying to design graph databases, I've been reading about formal logic.

And I found out that the great George Boole (1815-1864), of Boolean logic fame, died not only a tragic but also ironic death.

According to this page from, Boole got sick after walking about 3 miles in pouring rain and then giving a lecture in wet clothes.

And, according to Wikipedia, his wife had the peculiar homeopathic belief that "remedies should resemble their cause".

(Addition, 4:08 AM EDT: That belief is more clearly described in Wikipedia's Homeopathy article:

"Homeopathy" [...] "is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann based on his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people."

End of addition.)

So, she put him to bed, and then drenched him with more water. After that, he died of pneumonia.

It would be a tragic form of death for anyone - but, it's particularly ironic that one of the leading figures of the field of logic died probably at least partly (though perhaps not entirely) because of someone's (or perhaps multiple people's) shocking illogic.

Maybe it's an example of why it's a bad idea to believe that any particular group of people (such as women) doesn't deserve to be educated.

Perhaps Boole's wife wouldn't have fallen prey to homeopathic fallacies if she had been better-educated, if her society had a more widespread belief that women should be educated.

And then maybe George Boole would have lived many more years, and would have been able to contribute even more than he already did to the field of logic, etc.

(Addition, 12:23 AM EDT: On further reading, I just found out his wife Mary Boole was actually somewhat educated, and even had an interest in and influence upon the field of education. But, evidently none of that rescued her from an excessive and dangerous belief in homeopathy.)

Not that those are the only possible factors to blame. Perhaps George Boole should have been sensible enough to always carry an umbrella around with him when he went on long walks. According to Wikipedia, umbrellas had already been invented long before the 1860's.

But, maybe the connection between getting sick and having your immune system weakened by exposure to cold temperatures hadn't been discovered (or widely acknowledged) yet? I don't know.

Also, I wonder why George Boole let his wife do such a stupid thing to him? Maybe he was too sick to think straight enough about it to refuse? Or did she do it without asking?

In any case, whatever the causes, it's really sad that that happened. As well as also quite sad that illogic in its multifarious forms remains widespread, and dangerous enough to literally result in people's deaths.

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Apollia's JSON Prettifier v1.0
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
20:06:13 GMT

Software Release

Today, in about a half hour (or really less than 10 minutes for the basic idea; the rest was just some slight user interface polishing), I made this really simple JavaScript thing:

Apollia's JSON Prettifier v1.0

I made it so I could make readable text out of JSON-format database exports generated by OrientDB.

But hopefully it will work with any JSON code, such as these examples from

In other news, Astroblahhh.Com continues to be a cluttered mess. But, I'm still really excited about graph databases, so, hopefully I'll be able to build something with them that will enable me to fix the mess around here at some point.

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Fixing the Broken Wings of Maxi Pads
Friday, August 21st, 2015
02:35:00 GMT

With a Genuinely Practical Tip

The maxi pad "wings" idea is good in theory. But all too frequently, the wings - and all h*ll - break loose. I'll leave it to your imagination what that results in.

So, I finally got tired of that design flaw, and took a drastic measure to correct it. Instead of just one maxi pad - I decided to use two.

I applied the first one the normal way. Then, to compensate for the first one's inadequate wings, I laid the second one horizontally at a right angle across the first one, aligned with where the first one's wings were.

Then, to secure the second one in position, I simply folded each end of the second one down and around, and attached it to itself. This arrangement holds itself in position far more securely than any flimsy wings.

Let us all have a moment of silence for all the undergarments that could not be saved, simply due to my failure to even think of this idea for so many years.

And, let's have a moment of non-silence, too, in the form of this video (which is not by me, but by this incredibly talented YouTuber):

A Dramatic Reading...

Note: It's more amusing you don't read the scrolling transcript.

Also, if you don't like dark humor or other dark/dramatic things, you probably shouldn't watch it, nor most of that guy's other videos.

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