Posts Below
6/27/2016 - Accidentally ruined Windows 10 on my Toughbook CF-C1 (Puppy Linux)
6/21/2016 - Vitamin C seems to help my possible gum disease! (Health)
6/20/2016 - Link: Dogs and computers - not always the best combination (Humor)
6/20/2016 - How to use a Sewell USB Sound Box with Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 (Puppy Linux)
6/17/2016 - Oatmeal: A Decent Substitute for Pasta (Food)
6/15/2016 - Extended Desktop for Toughbook CF-C1 while running Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 (Puppy Linux)
6/14/2016 - Link: Fashion of the Future (Humor)
6/11/2016 - Links: Fantastic Contraption (Games)
6/11/2016 - Made Toughbook CF-C1 capable of sleep mode in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 (Software - Bash Script)
6/11/2016 - Bash Script: Rotate Toughbook CF-C1 Screen in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 (Software)
6/3/2016 - Toughbook CF-C1 battery issues solved (Computers)
5/28/2016 - Disappointed by Apple Music (Music)
5/22/2016 - Link: New-Age Bullsh*t Generator (Humor)
5/5/2016 - Apollia's Floating Volume Control v1.0 (Software - AutoHotkey)
4/28/2016 - Link: "Receive Free E-Book with BK Communique Subscription" (Books)
4/28/2016 - Link: "Can I power my car with AA batteries?" (Science)
4/25/2016 - Why are there so few solar-powered laptops? And other thoughts on laptops (Computers)
4/21/2016 - Link: "Not your average Save Energy advice" (Finances)
4/19/2016 - Link: SoundCloud (Music - Link)
4/19/2016 - Links: Music by Tapete (Music - Links)

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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Accidentally ruined Windows 10 on my Toughbook CF-C1
Monday, June 27th, 2016
01:40:37 GMT

Puppy Linux

My Toughbook CF-C1 with 8 GB of RAM came with a 223.6 GiB (240 GB) hard disk with Windows 10 already installed on it.

In the past, I used to be able to use the GParted disk manager software in Puppy Linux to resize Windows partitions without much trouble.

Upon rebooting, Windows XP used to notice the partition's size change, but all Windows XP did was complain a bit, then did a one-time disk check, then continued normally, and never bothered me again.

In contrast - earlier today, Windows 10 refused to even start, and told me I need a recovery disk or something.

Just another reason Windows 10 is inferior to Windows XP.


I didn't want Windows 10 badly enough to even bother to try to get Windows 10 to work again. (If it was Windows 7, I would have been a little more tempted.)

So, I solved the problem in an even better way - I simply got rid of Windows 10 completely by reformatting my entire hard disk as an ext2 filesystem volume.

So now, my Toughbook CF-C1 with 8 GB of RAM is exclusively a GNU/Linux computer! :-)

Even with all the Windows partitions deleted from the hard disk, I can still boot my CF-C1 using my bootable Flash drive with Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2. :-)


I'm actually not very eager to use the internal hard disk for anything important, after all the bad experiences I've had with broken down computers with important not-yet-backed up data stuck on their internal hard disks.

But even I have to admit it's a bit annoying to have to have a Flash drive or any other sort of USB device constantly attached to a laptop.

So, for that reason, I've actually been considering using the internal hard disk a bit. Hopefully I'll be able to make reasonably frequent, easy backups to external disks using the command line tool rsync, or something.

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Vitamin C seems to help my possible gum disease!
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
10:07:20 GMT

Health

(Since this post is about health-related topics, here's my site's disclaimer.

Also, even though it's probably obvious, I should probably point out I'm not a health care professional of any kind - just a layperson who sometimes takes an interest in the topic of health.)


Several months ago, I was increasingly worried about my teeth. I had some sore spots which frequently (or sometimes) bled when I flossed around them, and using an oral irrigator on one of those spots was also often very painful.

However, sometimes, the soreness totally went away, so I didn't know what to make of that.

But I had so much pain at times that I was afraid I had at least one cavity.


So, in February, I finally saw the dentist. It turned out I had several very small cavities, including near my worst sore spot.

But the cavities were so small that when I got them filled in March, I didn't even need to be numbed with novocaine!

Nonetheless, I expected that after that, at least my worst sore spot would hopefully go away.

But, to my surprise, it remained (though it continued to be sporadic, just as before). Even despite my usually assiduous (but gentle) brushing, flossing, and using an oral irrigator soon after every meal or tea.


On Medicaid, I only get 1 free checkup every 6 months, so I actually didn't go back to the dentist to try to find out what was still wrong.

But I remembered that back in 2013, a hygienist had told me I'm starting to get gum disease. However, no one ever brought that up again on subsequent visits to the dentist, so I assumed maybe my gum disease had gone away by then, thanks to all my brushing, flossing, and irrigating.

But, since my soreness wasn't solved by my fillings, I had to reconsider the possibility that maybe I still had gum disease.

I'm not 100% sure it's gum disease since I didn't ask my dentist recently, but, from what I read on the web, I think it's quite possible.


Happily, I found out that Vitamin C might be a highly effective way of dealing with gum disease. Here's the web page that inspired me to try it:

MDJunction.com - I cured my aggressive gum disease!


So, I got a big Rite-Aid brand bottle of 500 mg Vitamin C non-chewable tablets for a remarkably low price, under $10 I think. (And it was actually buy 1, get 1 free!)

And, happily, it really seems to work! Ever since I started taking it a couple months ago, I usually don't have soreness at all now.

And I'm pretty sure it's the Vitamin C which is helping me, because the soreness comes back within a day if I stop taking it.


First, I tried taking just one 500mg Vitamin C, which seemed to help a little. Then, I tried taking more at different times in my so-called schedule.

I figured out that for me, it seems to work best if I take 2 Vitamin C's soon after I wake up.

I also often take a Nature Made "Stress B" vitamin (which also contains Vitamin C and zinc) sometime around either lunch or dinner, but I can get by with just the 2 Vitamin C's soon after I wake up.

Once, I tried taking 4 Vitamin C's in a single day, which seemed to do me no harm, but, since 2 work well enough, and I'd rather save money, I just take 2 Vitamin C's per day now, plus usually the Nature Made "Stress B".


Interestingly, I read that the famous scientist Linus Pauling believed that it's good to take large doses of Vitamin C.

However, some skeptics consider that quackery.

I'm not sure what to think. But I think I'm maybe more inclined to believe Linus Pauling, the Nobel prize winner, than his critics, since I don't know if any of his critics are equally renowned.

And from my own experience, it seems like Vitamin C has really helped me.

But I'm not really qualified to judge.


Anyway, just thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences, in case it might help others.

Astonishingly, one page I read said that half of American adults suffer from periodontal disease - with even higher percentages in some populations:

Perio.org - CDC: Half of American Adults Have Periodontal Disease

I wonder what is the cause of that? Is it possible that all these gum disease sufferers are simply deficient in Vitamin C?

No idea, but I sure hope something can be done to cure gum disease. Even Vitamin C doesn't seem like a perfect cure, because I have to keep taking it or my soreness comes back.

But, happily, it definitely seems to help me more than just brushing, flossing, and using an oral irrigator alone without taking Vitamin C.

It seems to work so well for me that I can forget I even (possibly) have gum disease. And that's good enough for me. :-)

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Link: Dogs and computers - not always the best combination
Monday, June 20th, 2016
02:36:59 GMT

Humor

It looks like Dogbert and the designers of Windows and MacOS might have similar design philosophies. :-)

Dilbert Comic - March 24, 2015


Fortunately, Puppy Linux was not designed by someone like Dogbert. :-)

But perhaps someone should create a Dogbert Linux just for laughs. :-)

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How to use a Sewell USB Sound Box with Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2
Monday, June 20th, 2016
00:45:34 GMT

Puppy Linux

I finally figured out how to get my Sewell USB Sound Box to work in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 with my Toughbook CF-C1.

I thought I might have to compile a driver, but luckily, that wasn't the case.

(Addition, June 28, 2016, 10:22 PM EDT. The below also works for Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004! The only big difference is, Step 4 - restarting X Windows - is required.)


Here's how to make it work. I assume Steps 3 and 6 might be slightly different if you have a different kind of computer.

I recommend, don't wear your headphones until after you're sure all the below steps worked properly and have enabled you to control the volume.


  1. Click on the Puppy Linux equivalent of the Windows "Start" menu.

  2. Go to the Setup menu and choose "Multiple Sound Card Wizard".


  3. In the window titled "Choose which sound card to make the default.", choose:

    card 1: Device [USB Sound Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]

    (Or whichever other choice says USB Sound Device.)

    It will then tell you to reboot your computer - but, fortunately, you actually don't have to reboot. At most, all you might have to do is restart X Windows.


  4. (Edit, June 28, 2016, 10:25 PM EDT. If you're using Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, Step 4 isn't necessary.

    But, if you're using Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, Step 4 is necessary.)


    Before you restart X Windows, make sure you have anything you're working on saved, because restarting X Windows will instantly close all of your open programs without even asking you if you want to save.

    And here's another reminder to take off your headphones, so you can avoid the Puppy Linux startup noise possibly blasting your ears.


    Then, to restart X Windows in Lighthouse 64, go to the Puppy Linux equivalent of the Windows "Start" menu, click Shutdown, and choose "Restart X" from the window that appears.

    Or, in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, go to the Puppy Linux equivalent of the Windows "Start" menu, go to the Shutdown menu, and choose "Restart X server" from the submenu.


  5. These next steps are to make the volume controls work with the USB sound box.

    After X Windows has restarted, right-click on the volume taskbar icon and choose "Config Window" from the menu.


  6. In the "Retrovol - Configuration" window, go to the Hardware tab.

    Near the top, in the "Sound Card" section, there will be a text box which says "hw:0".

    Change "hw:0" to "hw:1" (without quotes).

    (Or, you might have to change it to something different, if in step 3, you had to choose something other than "card 1: Device [USB Sound Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]".)


  7. Still in the "Retrovol - Configuration" window, click on the "Tray" tab.

    Then, in the "Tray Slider" section, select whichever dropdown menu item says "Speaker Playback Volume".

    In Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, select "7:Speaker Playback Volume".

    In Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, select "6:Speaker Playback Volume".

    Then click the "Apply" button.


Now, it should be possible to adjust the volume!

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Oatmeal: A Decent Substitute for Pasta
Friday, June 17th, 2016
03:59:37 GMT

Food

(Last updated June 24, 2016 at 5:46 AM EDT.)

Today, I was reading about foods that are good for your arteries. Oatmeal, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes (among many other things) appeared on various lists I browsed on the web.

(Upon further reading, it looks like olive oil is sometimes reputed to actually be bad in various ways. I don't know what to think yet.)


The latter three put me in the mood for pasta. But not enough in the mood to actually go to the trouble to cook pasta.

So... I decided to make oatmeal instead. I added water to some instant oatmeal, and put it in the microwave for almost 2 minutes (which was probably longer than necessary). Then I put in a crushed clove of garlic, some olive oil, and some tomato sauce. Also a bit of salt.


And, surprisingly, I think I actually like it more than pasta! Pasta doesn't have much of a taste, and neither does oatmeal, but I think I like oatmeal a bit more.

That's very convenient for me, because oatmeal is a lot quicker to make than pasta, and even microwaveable frozen raviolis. Maybe it's healthier, too.

Another good thing to add would probably be a few spoonfuls of ground flax seed - another food often reputed to be good for your arteries, and which contains a lot of the ALA form of Omega 3 fat.

It would also probably be good with one of my new favorite vegetables, kale. To me, kale tastes like a cross between broccoli and parsley. Really good stuff, much better than lettuce (which I find boring), and even better than raw spinach leaves (which I actually like). Kale is so good I can eat it right out of the bag, or almost alone in a two-ingredient salad with MSG-less ranch dressing.

Another thing I like about kale is that unlike many salad components, it stays good for a while instead of going bad in several days. I keep it refrigerated and only buy kale that is sold inside a sealed bag, since it seems to taste better that way.


Just thought I'd post this, since substituting oatmeal for pasta seems like a rather novel, seldom-considered idea, at least judging by the fact that in my entire lifetime so far until today, I had never once thought of the idea. :-) And I don't recall ever hearing about it before, either.

I think this is my favorite way of eating oatmeal I've ever found!

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Extended Desktop for Toughbook CF-C1 while running Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2
Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
11:12:26 GMT

Puppy Linux

The Toughbook CF-C1 has a VGA output port which allows you to connect a monitor.

But by default, in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, the monitor will only mirror what's on the laptop's screen.

Fortunately, I finally stumbled across a way to make each screen show different things! I found it on this Stack Overflow page:

StackOverflow.com - Extended desktop in Linux


The exact command I used on my own system was:

xrandr --output LVDS1 --right-of VGA1

It instantly worked!


However, I don't yet know how to make the touchscreen work right while doing this.

Also, when a 4:3 monitor is connected, the laptop's screen gets resized to match. I was able to put the laptop screen back to its original size with this command:

xrandr --output LVDS1 --mode 1280x800

But, after doing that, the touchscreen only works right if the monitor is mirroring the laptop's screen instead of displaying different stuff.

But with the laptop's screen restored to its original size, the mirroring 4:3 monitor can't fit everything on the screen anymore.


So, this all still needs perfecting. But, at least it's already useful, since it's really nice to have more than one screen. And also, probably most monitors look much better than the CF-C1's washed-out-looking widescreen.

The Redshift screen-tinting software helps with the laptop screen's appearance, but not as much as I hoped. My Windows 7 CF-C1 screen still looks much better, I think maybe because the Intel HD Graphics software in Windows 7 lets you adjust the screen saturation.

Maybe Redshift could be modified to make it capable of adjusting the screen saturation?

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Link: Fashion of the Future
Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
07:42:18 GMT

Humor

This picture is the funniest thing I've seen so far today.

Source: Buzzlie.com - How Fashion Has Changed Through The Decades - Page 4

(Edit, June 15, 2016, 4:14 AM EDT. Fixed broken link.)

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Links: Fantastic Contraption
Saturday, June 11th, 2016
23:41:00 GMT

Games

Fantastic Contraption is a fun puzzle game where you build contraptions to transport an object to a goal.

It's a web game which uses Flash, and it works even in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

(Edit, 10:49 PM EDT. There's also a new 3D edition of the game which I haven't tried.)


I think I built all these contraptions way back in 2008. None of them were very well thought out, but at least they all work. :-)

Inelegance

A Drag

Floppy Wheel

Scorpion

Lazy Polevault

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Made Toughbook CF-C1 capable of sleep mode in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2
Saturday, June 11th, 2016
20:50:00 GMT

Software
Bash Script

To make it possible to put my Toughbook CF-C1 into sleep mode while using Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, I had to slightly edit the script at this location:

The problem was, by default, that script stops the laptop from entering sleep mode if there are any mounted USB media. And I almost constantly am using at least one mounted USB Flash drive, containing usually mounted TrueCrypt volumes.

So, I edited the suspend script to make it ignore mounted USB volumes. And now, I can put my Toughbook CF-C1 in sleep mode just by shutting its lid, and wake it by opening the lid.

Or, if my Toughbook CF-C1 is in tablet mode, I can put it to sleep by double-clicking the suspend.sh script, and wake it by nudging the power switch.

Warning: Maybe this changed script is dangerous? To my knowledge, I haven't had problems so far yet (Addition, June 14, 2016, 10:34/10:38 PM EDT - since I first wrote this post, I did run into some major problems, but I'm not sure yet if they're related to this script or not. See the updates below.

Anyway, I assume that if you use this script, you probably should avoid disconnecting any mounted USB media while your laptop is asleep. And please be very careful in general.


Additions, June 17, 2016, between 9:39 PM and 10:35 PM EDT. No crashes at all ever since June 14, 2016, after I moved a box which was sitting too close to my laptop's vent! The box was originally about 2 to 3 inches away, and now it's about 5 inches away.

(Addition, June 24, 2016, 5:40 AM EDT. Still no crashes at all!)

I've put my computer to sleep and woken it up repeatedly since June 14th, and browsed Clevnet, Amazon, YouTube, and other things with reckless abandon, and most everything has worked fine. Except for Amazon freezing up my web browser momentarily several times - but it soon unfroze.

So, I now believe the below problems I had before were probably due to my laptop overheating. Ever since moving the box further away from my laptop's vent, my CF-C1 has been remarkably stable. Even my desktop computers with 4 GB of RAM used to crash - or at least their web browsers crashed - much more frequently than my CF-C1 with 8 GB of RAM now does.

I've only been using the CF-C1 indoors and with AC power rather than batteries lately, since the weather has been lousy at times, and I'm still getting used to the CF-C1.

I'm looking forward to finally making more progress with my Puppy Linux Setup Kit. I already have GNU Emacs and my custom Emacs settings working nicely in Lighthouse 64. It should be easier to relax and focus on programming now that I hopefully don't have to worry about my CF-C1 crashing at any moment.)



Additions, June 13, 2016, between 2:41 AM and 3:37 AM EDT. At about 1:59 or 2:00 AM, my first major crash of my CF-C1 while using Lighthouse 64 happened. I took a picture with an (unfortunately unjailbroken) Android phone:

I'm still trying to figure out what happened. I'm not sure whether or not it's related to the modified sleep script, since things had been running mostly fine since I woke up my CF-C1 around 3:40 PM on June 12, 2016.

Soon before the crash, sometimes web pages seemed a bit slower than they should have, and web videos were starting to get a little choppy. I considered closing and reopening my web browser, or maybe restarting X Windows, to try to fix or close whatever might be gumming things up, but I didn't.

At the moment the crash happened, I had only maybe 5 or 6 tabs open in the Pale Moon web browser, mostly looking at various legally free (as in price) ebooks from my local library's website, Clevnet. I was actually momentarily looking away from the screen at another computer, then when I looked back, it was like the above. Ctrl-Alt-Delete (or backspace) did nothing, so all I could do was reboot.

I had a different probably Clevnet-related crash happen before with the laptop I was using before this, the 1.5 GHz one with only 2 GB of RAM, while running Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004. (If I recall correctly - unlike this crash, that crash just made the screen mostly black out, and didn't display any readable text.) Didn't expect something like that to happen with the CF-C1, since it has so much more RAM - 8 GB - and multiple cores.

Maybe I should only use my Windows 7 CF-C1 for reading Clevnet books from now on. (Or a VirtualBox.) I am quite annoyed if Clevnet is to blame for yet another crash, since reading books on a computer is not something that truly requires overly elaborate software that appears to maybe be prone to crashing one's entire GNU/Linux system. I'm also annoyed that I can't use whatever font I want, or even change the text color and background to whatever I choose, etc., etc.

Just yet more reasons why free (as in freedom), libre, open source software and ebooks are inherently better.


Additions, June 13, 2016, between 6:38 PM and 7:34 PM EDT. The second major crash happened at 6:14 PM EDT today. I decided to risk reading Clevnet ebooks in Lighthouse 64 again. Like before, it worked fine for a while.

But when I closed and reopened my web browser, went to the History menu and chose "Restore Previous Session", then clicked on the single Clevnet tab, it showed the typical book-loading page for a second or so, then gave me pretty much the same error screen.

This time, I noticed there was a visible mouse cursor, but I couldn't move it at all with my USB mouse. (I forgot to try the touchscreen or stylus.) My computer was totally unresponsive to any keypresses, so, again, all I could do was reboot.

Definitely seems Clevnet-related, since it happened just about immediately after trying to return to my Clevnet tab.


Additions, June 14, 2016, between 7:48 PM and 8:24 PM EDT. The third major crash happened at 7:31 PM.

This time, I didn't risk reading Clevnet at all. I only had two tabs open - Astroblahhh.Com in the tab I wasn't looking at, and the tab I was looking at was the humorous page I linked to in my most recent blog post. Thanks to the NoScript add-on (which works in Pale Moon as well as Firefox), I didn't have JavaScript or anything else enabled on that page.

However, I had just been watching some YouTube videos, and with one of them, Flash crashed. But my entire system didn't crash until maybe after a minute or so after I had closed my YouTube tabs.

So, maybe it's some sort of Flash-related problem? I don't know whether or not Clevnet uses Flash, but it's probably possible.


Another thing I wonder is if maybe it's some kind of problem with overheating. Fortunately, even in GNU/Linux, the fan works, and when my computer is working hard at something, the fan already automatically works harder also. But if that's not enough, maybe I need to do something like, continually keep the bottom of my computer elevated so heat doesn't build up? Or find software to control the fan?

To conserve vertical screen space, I have my taskbar (which has a CPU monitor widget) configured to autohide, so I wasn't able to see what the CPUs were up to when any of these crashes happened. I wonder if the CPUs were going crazy with activity after Flash crashed?

Rather than getting rid of my taskbar's autohide, I guess I'll just configure the GKrellM system monitor widget software (which is conveniently available by default in Lighthouse 64) to always float on my screen so I can keep a closer eye on what my CPUs are doing.

And, I'm going to see if I can crash my computer the same way while not even using the above sleep script. If I can, then, hopefully the sleep script isn't to blame.


Additions, June 14, 2016, between 9:52 PM and 10:59 PM EDT. I tried really hard to deliberately crash my computer. At first, I didn't use the above sleep script nor attempt to put my computer to sleep at all.

First, I went to Clevnet and borrowed all the Dilbert comic books I could, since it seems like Clevnet ebooks with lots of images are harder work for my computers to deal with, judging by how they had slowed down my old 1.5 GHz + 2 GB RAM computer, and the fact that it only took one Dilbert comic book to crash that computer totally.

So, for my experiment, I opened 10 of them at the same time! And surprisingly, everything was fine.

Then, leaving all those Clevnet tabs open (plus a few others), I proceeded to open about 30 different YouTube tabs. I also repeatedly returned to the Clevnet tabs and turned lots of pages. Lots of the YouTube videos crashed, but many kept running, and so far, nothing at all has taken down my entire system. Even Pale Moon didn't crash.

Just for the sake of my experiment, I repeatedly closed and reopened Pale Moon and restored my previous session. I also installed and ran the Redshift screen tinting software.

And, most recently, I re-added the above modified sleep script to my system, and experimentally put my computer to sleep and woke it up again while my Clevnet tabs were open and I had numerous YouTube videos in progress. Still couldn't crash my computer!

I'm not sure why not. Perhaps making a bit more room next to the laptop's vent helped dissipate some heat? I had usually been keeping my laptop on a small table with a box sitting maybe too close to it, but had moved it further away before starting my experiment.

In any case, I still am not sure what the problem is. It's comforting that it's so difficult to crash my computer even despite trying quite hard - but it's unsettling that I don't have much of a clue when or how the problem might strike again out of the blue.

Addition, 10:21 PM EDT. It seems Clevnet is now giving me an error when I try to log in:

(0) The user record is locked for text update

Surprisingly, when I searched Google for the text "The user record is locked for text update" within quotes, there was only one page found:

Amazon.com: Customer Discussions: Anyone Else Gotten This Error Message at your Library Site?


Addition, 10:25 PM/10:45 PM EDT. Yay, the Clevnet error is already fixed! I was able to log into Clevnet. Didn't have to do anything special, I just kept trying to log in.

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Bash Script: Rotate Toughbook CF-C1 Screen in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2
Saturday, June 11th, 2016
19:41:00 GMT

Software

Happily, I stumbled across a way to rotate my Toughbook CF-C1's screen while using Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

The solution was the rotate-desktop.sh script by mildmojo. I just had to slightly modify it to make the touchscreen work properly with both the stylus and my fingers.

Thank you so much to mildmojo! Being able to convert my Toughbook CF-C1 to tablet mode in GNU/Linux makes it far more pleasant to use!


Here's my slightly modified version on GitHub:

Rotate-Toughbook-CF-C1-Screen-in-Lighthouse-64-Puppy-Linux-6.02-Beta-2


And here's a zip file hosted here on Astroblahhh.Com, containing scripts with executable permissions, so you can simply double-click on them to run them.

Rotate-Toughbook-CF-C1-Screen-in-Lighthouse-64-Puppy-Linux-6.02-Beta-2.zip (4.3 KB)


I haven't tested these scripts in any other form of GNU/Linux, but hopefully they would work.

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Toughbook CF-C1 battery issues solved
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
14:56:14 GMT

Computers

I finally managed to solve the problem of not having enough Toughbook CF-C1 batteries in good working order.

It turned out going to eBay and buying another entire Toughbook CF-C1 which came with 2 good batteries ($187.50), and also a battery charging dock which happened to come with 4 good batteries ($74.21), was much cheaper than it would have been to get CF-C1 batteries from someplace like Amazon for around $92 apiece.

With an ordinary laptop with a single non-hot-swappable battery, having 7 of the same batteries wouldn't be so useful. But fortunately, the Toughbook CF-C1 can use 2 batteries, and they're hot-swappable. :-)


My recent purchases all cost $311.69 total. (I also got two original CF-C1 AC adapters for $49.98 because the newer CF-C1 didn't have its original AC adapter, and the battery charging dock needed one too.)

I considered buying some other kind of convertible laptop/tablet, but I decided I'd rather get something I'm already sure works well. Also since it was difficult trying to search for what other convertible laptop/tablets with hot-swappable batteries even exist.

It's amazing how relatively primitive the search features even on sites like Amazon and eBay (two of the most popular shopping websites in the world) still are. I guess maybe what I should have looked for was some kind of laptop database websites. But, I didn't, since overall I just felt better buying stuff I'm familiar with, and which would also enhance the usefulness of the CF-C1 I already had.


Probably surprisingly, I actually used PayPal Credit to buy this stuff, because PayPal Credit is actually not a credit card, and it's from PayPal, a company I like more than any nasty credit card company. And PayPal Credit's intro offer gave me 6 months with no payments and no interest. And hopefully I'll be able to figure out some way to make $311 in the next 6 months.

I'm so glad I have this stuff now, rather than later. Back in the winter I wasn't as bothered by being stuck inside with my desktop computers, but now it's spring.

Already though, the weather has often been unpleasantly hot during the day. Good thing I have possibly Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, and my family's house has a balcony, so I can comfortably go outside even at night. Getting all these batteries wouldn't have been as worth the trouble otherwise.


My newer CF-C1 actually has 8 GB of RAM - twice as much as my old CF-C1. It's also slightly faster than my old CF-C1 - 2.5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz. Its only major flaws are that its BIOS is locked and it was described as being only able to boot from the hard disk - but I'm sure that's part of why I was able to get it for such a remarkably good price as $187.50.

Happily, once I got it, I found out I could in fact boot it using a bootable Flash drive containing Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2!

So, even though I still wish the CF-C1 had a nicer old-style 4:3 aspect ratio screen instead of a widescreen, it should still be a pretty good replacement for my pitiful Dell Latitude D510 with a 1.5 GHz single core processor and only 2 GB of RAM.

Also, fortunately, I've learned to like having a tallscreen, which is what I can have when I convert the CF-C1s to tablet mode. Extra vertical space is still nice despite the regrettable loss of horizontal space.

I also like the fact that now I don't have to feel frequently undecided between booting my CF-C1 with GNU/Linux, or Windows with GNU/Linux inside a VirtualBox. Instead, now I can use my old CF-C1 for Windows stuff, and my newer CF-C1 for GNU/Linux stuff. Or both with GNU/Linux.

Or even, both with Windows. But I'm especially unlikely to do that, because the newer CF-C1 has Windows 10, and Windows 10 seems to be quite bad, judging by the fact that I couldn't even figure out how to increase the scrollbar size to make the scrollbars easier to control with the touchscreen. (Meanwhile, Windows XP and even Windows 7 made it easy to change the scrollbar size.)


I actually haven't worked on my Puppy Linux Setup Kit since maybe mid-April 2016.

But, to make the best use of my newer CF-C1, I'm going to have to return to working on my setup kit again, and also return to Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 so I can make use of all that extra RAM and the touchscreen.

So, hopefully I'll soon start making progress on the setup kit again.


I wish I had been able to better estimate how long all my various projects were going to take. But, judging by this Quora page:

Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3?

...I'm definitely not the only programmer in the world who has a lot of difficulty making accurate estimates about how long it will take to finish such a complex creative process as building a software program.

Oh, well. At least not everything is so time-consuming - such as my Floating Volume Control which took less than 4 days. But I didn't think that was going to even take that long, so yet again, I underestimated. But at least, not very much. :-)

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Disappointed by Apple Music
Saturday, May 28th, 2016
12:40:27 GMT

Music

I finally got around to trying Apple Music on a Mac desktop running OS X Lion. I think I find the audio quality acceptable. But, the iTunes interface for Apple Music is dreadful and very confusing. I think the iTunes interface is actually even worse than the Beats Music web interface was.

Apple still has such a reputation for nice user interfaces that even though Apple is thoroughly deplorable in many ways, I expected much better. I was hoping Apple might have the good sense to revive MOG's excellent web interface, since Apple bought Beats Music, and Beats Music had bought and unfortunately closed down the far superior MOG. Oh, well.

So, since I can't stand Apple Music's interface, I'm not the least bit tempted to subscribe to Apple Music.

(Addition, 5/28/2016, 10:45/11:31 AM. Just wanted to add that despite the above, I still appreciate the free 3 month trial, since I definitely like the audio quality. I'm getting a bit more used to the interface, but I'm sure I'm never going to find it acceptable as it currently is, because, among other flaws, it requires too much clicking through various menus to do things that ought to take one click at most. And I'm not sure how I could listen to it in GNU/Linux without probably having to use VirtualBox or Wine.)


Here's an odd quirk I noticed with both Spotify and Apple Music. Currently, when you try to play the album Stars Forever by one of my favorite singers/musicians, Momus - totally different non-Momus tracks play instead. And the same mistaken tracks play on both Spotify and Apple Music.

I think I first noticed this glitch years ago on Spotify. I can't remember whether or not it happened on the now-closed Music Unlimited (from Sony) or Beats Music. I think it played correctly on MOG, since, unless I'm mistaken, I believe MOG is where I first heard that album.

Anyway, I just thought it was sort of interesting that at least two different, competing streaming music services have the same glitch.


Addition, 5/28/2016, 11:20/11:27 AM. Overall, I find Apple Music's iTunes interface so bad that it's almost inspiring me to return to my old daydream of building my own streaming music interface, since I'm sure I could build something better, and it probably wouldn't be that difficult, either.

Even just the fact that mine would (or will) be free (as in freedom), libre, and open source will immediately make mine inherently superior. :-)

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Link: New-Age Bullsh*t Generator
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
14:11:25 GMT

Humor

An amusing random text generator I stumbled across today:

New-Age Bullsh*t Generator

Happily, the code for that is free, libre, and open source, and available on GitHub. :-)


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Apollia's Floating Volume Control v1.0
Thursday, May 5th, 2016
19:49:46 GMT

Software
AutoHotkey

To my surprise, I recently ended up making this:

Apollia's Floating Volume Control v1.0

It's an AutoHotkey script, so, it's for Windows. It works for me in Windows 7 with AutoHotkey v1.1.23.05 (Unicode 64-bit). I haven't tested it with other versions of Windows and AutoHotkey, but hopefully it will work.

It's a slider which controls the volume of your computer's audio. The slider can be either horizontal or vertical. It can either constantly float in the foreground above all other windows, or it can easily be summoned by single-clicking the taskbar icon.

By default, the slider is unusually large because my Toughbook CF-C1 has a touchscreen, so I wanted the slider to be difficult to miss with my fingers. Also, to avoid accidental repositioning, you can configure the window to be impossible to drag around the screen.

The window can be configured to have whatever amount of transparency you want. Double-clicking the taskbar icon mutes or unmutes.


One flaw is that currently, the only way to permanently save your settings is to edit the source code.

But, since this software is free (as in freedom and as in price), libre, and open source, hopefully everything about this software can be changed or fixed however you like.


Why am I still using Windows at all? Because it's hard to get away from for some things, like listening to legally free (as in price) audiobooks from my local library website, Clevnet.

But also, releasing free (as in freedom), libre, open source software on non-libre platforms like Windows and Macs helps give those platforms' oppressed users a taste of freedom - which could result in a nice, healthy craving for even more freedom.


And why did I make this particular thing? Because I've finally been trying to put my Toughbook CF-C1 with an annoying widescreen (or less annoying tallscreen, if you turn it sideways and use it in tablet mode) to more use... and when I tried a few existing AHK volume slider scripts, none of them worked for me in Windows 7.

I also tried PKVolume (which is what I always used to use in Windows XP), but I couldn't get that to work either.


Fortunately, the Floating Volume Control took less than 4 days to put together. (The creation timestamp on the original script file is May 1, 2016, 3:54:22 PM EDT.)

That's largely thanks to a lot of very helpful AutoHotkey Forum posts, example scripts, and script snippets by many authors, and the excellent AutoHotkey documentation.

Also, AutoHotkey is overall really nice, easy, fun to work with, and actually one of my favorite things in Windows.

And I was able to ease the boring chore of making the About window by modifying some code from DimScreen.ahk by Skrommel. DimScreen and tons of other great AHK scripts are available from DonationCoder.com.

Thanks to everyone above, or connected with the above!


Also, thanks to Saki, the artist who made the GPL-licensed icons I used as the Floating Volume Control's taskbar icons.

IconsDesigns.com

http://sa-ki.deviantart.com/

http://www.iconarchive.com/artist/saki.html


And thanks to IconArchive.com, which makes it really easy to find nice icons.

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Link: "Receive Free E-Book with BK Communique Subscription"
Thursday, April 28th, 2016
11:29:06 GMT

Books

You can download a legally free (as in price) book if you sign up for the email newsletter of Berrett-Koehler Publishers:

Receive Free E-Book with BK Communique Subscription


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Link: "Can I power my car with AA batteries?"
Thursday, April 28th, 2016
08:00:08 GMT

Science

Here's an amusing page I stumbled across while I was looking up whether it's possible to power a laptop or Raspberry Pi using AA batteries:

From Auto.HowStuffWorks.Com - Can I power my car with AA batteries? (Aug. 3, 2009)


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Why are there so few solar-powered laptops? And other thoughts on laptops
Monday, April 25th, 2016
05:30:09 GMT

Computers

Look at how astonishingly tiny this Wikipedia article is!

Wikipedia: Solar notebook


I found some old articles on two solar notebooks, the Samsung NC215S and the Sol. Here's one of those articles:

From News.Discovery.Com - Solar-Powered Laptop Lasts 10 Hours on a Charge (Aug. 6, 2013)


I wasn't able to find any Samsung NC215S solar notebooks to buy on eBay or Amazon. The Sol laptop store provides the following link to their partner CDW, but as I write this, there are only 5 solar laptops listed:

https://www.cdw.com/shop/search/result.aspx?key=sol%20laptop&wclsscat=&b=&p=&ctlgfilter=&searchscope=all&sr=1

The one that seems best (in my opinion) has 8 GB of RAM, but only a 2.16 GHz processor.


Given the reputed popularity of "green" products, I thought it would be much easier to find a wide variety of solar-powered laptops.

I wonder if someday Panasonic will make solar-powered fully-rugged Toughbooks, convertible into a tablet, with a really nice-looking touchscreen - preferably a nice, big 4:3 ratio screen, instead of yet another one of those horrible widescreens which seemingly most modern laptops are blighted with.

I sort of wish I could afford brand-new Toughbooks. Judging by the cheap but ancient (from 2002, according to this timeline!) Toughbook CF-28s I got in 2014 on eBay, I suspect fully-rugged Toughbooks might be the sturdiest, best-made laptops currently in existence. And if my Toughbook CF-28s had a lot more RAM than 512 MB, at least slightly faster processors than 1.0 GHz, and more sensitive touchscreens, they'd probably be my favorite laptops that I own. Their screens actually look nicer than my probably newer Dell Latitude D510's screen.

I doubt any Toughbooks would qualify for the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) "Respects Your Freedom" certification for hardware, but I would be pleasantly surprised if they did.


I also have a newer, more expensive (around $325 in 2014, if I recall correctly) Toughbook, also from eBay - a CF-C1. It's only "business rugged" rather than "fully rugged", and compared to the fully-rugged CF-28, it should maybe be called a Wimpbook. :-) Maybe it's tougher than the average laptop, but I wouldn't risk testing it. Unlike my CF-28s, I wouldn't even risk letting my cat walk on the CF-C1 while it's closed.

Nonetheless, I would probably have used the CF-C1 as my primary laptop if it didn't have a widescreen, and if the screen didn't usually look rather washed out unless you look at it from exactly the right angle.


The CF-C1 has some respectable-enough processors - four 2.4 GHz 64-bit processors - and 4 GB of RAM, making it pretty comfortable to run Puppy Linux with. Especially Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2, which somehow perfectly calibrates the touchscreen automatically without you having to fiddle with it at all!

The CF-C1 is a convertible "2-in-1" laptop/tablet, which I now have permanently in tablet mode because its old battery is so bad that I have to have the CF-C1 constantly plugged into the wall, so I taped the CF-C1's power cord onto the CF-C1 to make it less likely to accidentally fall out, or to rotate in its port and thereby get worn down and unreliable... and the way it's taped makes it difficult to convert between laptop mode and tablet mode.

However, I can still use it pretty much as a laptop also, because, if I want, I can plug a USB keyboard and mouse into it.


I actually mostly use Windows 7 on the CF-C1, largely because the legally free (as in price) audiobooks from my local library's website, Clevnet, for some reason won't play in Linux. And also, I'm not yet sure how to rotate the screen in Puppy Linux so I can use it in vertical "Portrait" mode instead of horizontal "Landscape" mode.

Both modes are irritating - I have to choose between either "not enough height" (in horizontal mode) or "not enough width" (in vertical mode). Usually I prefer vertical, though that works better in the dark, because the screen glare seems worse in vertical mode.

Since I don't trust Windows, I can't (or won't) do anything very private with the CF-C1 in Windows, like log into my email - so that's another reason I usually stick with my much less powerful Dell Latitude D510 with a single 1.5 GHz 32-bit processor and 2 GB RAM, which has no hard disk and runs exclusively Puppy Linux. (I think the total cost for that Dell laptop was around maybe $65 in around April 2014 on eBay, which includes the cost of the power cord I had to buy separately on eBay for about $20.)


The CF-C1 runs Puppy Linux pretty nicely both with or without VirtualBox, so, once I figure out how to change the screen resolution in VirtualBoxed Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2 to match my often 800x1280 screen resolution in Windows 7, I'll probably be able to work on my Puppy Linux Setup Kit on it. (I already managed to change the screen resolution to 800x1200 in a Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004 VirtualBox, but I'd rather use Lighthouse 64 because I haven't figured out how to make the touchscreen work right with Lucid.)

I won't be quite as free to roam around as I would if my CF-C1 had good batteries, but at least I'll be able to get away from my desktop computers a bit more, which lately have been seeming a bit like a ball and chain.


The CF-C1 is so relatively powerful that it has seemed rather silly to avoid using it so much mostly because I hate widescreens and think its screen quality could be better. So, I've been trying to use it more lately, despite its almost dead battery, and its second battery which already died. (Even when I first got it in 2014, it had only about 2 hours of battery life combined from both batteries.)

I definitely like the CF-C1's touchscreen (even though it could aesthetically be better) and optional stylus. The CF-C1 touchscreen is much more sensitive than the old CF-28 touchscreens from 2002. I wouldn't be eager to get any new laptop which doesn't have such a nice touchscreen. Not even a solar-powered non-touchscreen laptop, unless it was very low-priced.


If CF-C1 replacement batteries weren't so expensive (around $100), I'd probably happily replace the batteries.

But, it would probably be possible to get at least 1, maybe even more, not-too-bad used laptops (though probably without touchscreens) on eBay for the price of one replacement CF-C1 battery which I'm not even sure would really work.


I sure wish laptop batteries were standardized. Just imagine if every remote control, flashlight, or other common household gadget had their own unique, non-standard, and of course expensive, proprietary batteries, instead of just using cheap double AA's! Unfortunately, that's what the situation with laptop batteries seems to actually be like!

And the situation with laptop power supplies is also really irritating - all the differently-sized tips, and the overall fragility of them. Two people I know had laptops which became difficult to even charge because somehow the power supply tips became worn or something, and then the laptop wouldn't recognize the power plug was plugged in unless the tip was positioned precisely the "right" way. Ridiculous! And maybe another despicable example of planned obsolescence?

One of the relatively few nice things I can say about the MacBook from 2009 I had is that the magnetic power cord tip that effortlessly latched onto the MacBook was convenient and clever. But that doesn't even come close to making up for the MacBook's drawbacks, like its non-standard tiny screws making it very difficult to even open the MacBook to replace or remove the battery and hard disk. And that MacBook's lack of a touchscreen. And lack of two mouse buttons, which made using Puppy Linux on it unnecessarily more complicated.

I'm definitely far happier with my Toughbook CF-C1 than that MacBook.


I wish laptops had nice, sturdy, desktop-computer-style plugs.

Or how about a laptop with a retractable power cord that you wouldn't ever have to actually detach from the laptop itself - similar to the retractable power cords that many vacuum cleaners have?

I don't mind if that would increase the laptop's bulkiness. I think laptops not being too light is an advantage, especially if you live someplace windy.


There are apparently external laptop batteries available, but I assume that unless you tape their cords onto your laptop, the cords could probably easily fall out, or their tips could rotate in the power port and get worn down. And carrying them around is probably a nuisance.

Also, I'd much prefer to buy a battery which I can just plug the three-pronged end of any laptop power charger into. That way, I won't have to figure out which external laptop battery would even work for me because of the problem of there being so many different-sized laptop power cord tips.


This whole situation is so annoying that I'm tempted to learn all I can about electronics, batteries, and solar power.

Maybe someday it will be possible to 3D print entire laptops? That would be really cool. :-)


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

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Link: "Not your average Save Energy advice"
Thursday, April 21st, 2016
04:31:35 GMT

Finances

I liked this article:

Not your average Save Energy advice


My favorite quote:

'In the daytime, there is this great big old ball of burning hydrogen that you get to use for FREE - no strings attached. It turns out there is such a thing as a free lunch after all, and it's called "the sun".'


Naturally, I'm inclined to disagree with that article's snarky remarks on night owls.

But, on the other hand, I never yet have tried to live totally without any artificial light at night. It would probably be an interesting experiment. Or maybe a very boring experiment, when I end up lying awake in a dark room all night.

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Link: SoundCloud
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
20:34:24 GMT

Music
Link

SoundCloud is a site which has a lot of legal downloads even if you're not a premium subscriber.

I haven't used it much in a while because I can't play the music in a web browser in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, and I tend to avoid sites which I fear might crash my pitiful 1.5 GHz single core 2 GB RAM laptop - even YouTube.


(Addition, June 19, 2016, 8:49 PM-9:03 PM EDT: Today, using my Toughbook CF-C1 with 8 GB of RAM, I found out that SoundCloud works fine for me with Firefox 32 and NoScript 2.6.8.40 in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

But not with Pale Moon 26.2.2 (x64) and NoScript 2.9.0.2 - with those, SoundCloud gives me this message:

"It looks like you have a Flash blocker enabled. Please disable the Flash blocker to hear this track."

I get that message even if I totally disable NoScript. Which I only did as a test, since I never like to browse the web without NoScript.)


I suspect SoundCloud might work fine in a VirtualBox. (Since Netflix did, last time I tried that, which was in 2012.) But 2 GB of RAM is not enough for comfort, and I'd probably have to connect a hard disk, which I don't feel like doing.


(Addition, 5:22 PM EDT: I finally checked my Roku for a SoundCloud streaming channel. I didn't find an official one, but there's a free (as in price) channel called Musiclouds which also has Jamendo and 8tracks.

On my Roku 2XS, the Musiclouds channel often gets stuck when I first try to load it. But, if you can load the channel, I guess the audio quality is maybe somewhere around as good as YouTube - which doesn't sound quite good enough to me, but might be fine for less nitpicky people.

Warning: In the Musiclouds channel, try to avoid pressing the Up button too much, because if you press Up while you're on the first screen of Musiclouds, you'll be sent back to the Roku home screen.)


Anyway, from what I remember, SoundCloud is a very nice site, though I think you have to be logged in to download files.

There's a premium subscription for $9.99 per month, but I haven't yet tried that. But I'd love to subscribe if I had a decent income.


Of course, I would prefer a site which runs on exclusively free (as in freedom), libre, open source software and which hosts or links to free, libre, open source music - but, I don't know if such a site exists yet. (Not that I looked really hard yet.)

If anyone knows of any sites like that, please feel free to let me know, either privately or on a forum like the Eryss.Com Forum or Non24.Com Forum.

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Links: Music by Tapete
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
13:59:28 GMT

Music
Links

Here's some of the best mostly new (to me) music I ran into lately. It's by Tapete.

I scarcely understand any German, so I'm not sure if Tapete is a person's name or a band name. But, in any case, Tapete is superb!

Also, Tapete releases music under Creative Commons licenses - so, you can legally download it! (Which I recommend doing, since the MP3s definitely have better audio quality than YouTube.)


My 3 favorite Tapete songs so far:

TAPETE - VITAMIN D       Album Download

Drückeberger - Tapete (Official Music Video HD)       Album Download

SCHNALL DIE MESSAGE | # 18 | Tapete       MP3 Download


I first ran into Tapete on Grooveshark.

Tapete's official website is TapeteBerlin.de.

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