Posts Below
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)
3/29/2016 - Navig 2.0, or Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v2.0 for GNU/Linux (Site Update - Software Release)
3/18/2016 - Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v1.5 for GNU/Linux (Site Update - Software Release)
3/3/2016 - Link: Visual Programming Languages - Snapshots (Programming)
2/24/2016 - Disappointed by Bernie Sanders' web page on student loans (Activism)
2/20/2016 - I quit Tumblr (Activism)
2/8/2016 - Link: "Error 53" on iPhones (Corporations Gone Wild)
2/3/2016 - Part 4: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey (Activism)
2/2/2016 - No longer in Amazon affiliate program (Activism)
2/1/2016 - Part 3: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey (Activism)
2/1/2016 - Part 2: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey (Activism)
2/1/2016 - Part 1: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey (Activism)
1/20/2016 - Link: Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey (Activism)
1/19/2016 - Closed Source, Proprietary Food Products Are Bad Too (Health)

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


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

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.

And thanks to, 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


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


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


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:

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 rectractable power cord that you wouldn't ever have to actually detach from the laptop itself - similar to the rectractable 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


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


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.

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 is 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


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

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Navig 2.0, or Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v2.0 for GNU/Linux
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
03:29:15 GMT

Site Update
Software Release

Here's another new version of my "Navig" Perl script, also known as "Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt for GNU/Linux".

Navig 2.0, or Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v2.0 for GNU/Linux
(Zip File - 46 KB)

Finally, Navig has colorized text as a result of some Bash libraries I wrote while trying to update my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, primarily the library I call the Fashionizer.

The config settings, the shortcuts list, and the fashion settings (which you can customize to use whatever colors and styles you want) are now all in their own separate files.

Navig uses its own copies of my Bash libraries, rather than depending on the ones that my Puppy Linux Setup Kit will someday install for its own use.

If I had the time, I'd probably like to make a native Perl version of the Fashionizer to use with Navig, since it might be a little faster. But, at least it's neat that it's possible to use my Bash libraries with my Perl software.

Navig still doesn't yet interact with my not-yet-done-enough system for splicing together path fragments and making it easy to refer to locations by a simple nickname like "My Music Disk", instead of a specific path which can vary depending on what OS you're using, or even what order you plugged in your disks.

My next goal for Navig is to make it use that system, though I also want Navig to still be able to use old-style shortcuts which refer to an actual path instead of a location's nickname.

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Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v1.5 for GNU/Linux
Friday, March 18th, 2016
00:37:36 GMT

Site Update
Software Release

I finally updated my "Navig" Perl script - now also known as "Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt for GNU/Linux".

Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v1.5 for GNU/Linux
(Zip File - 13 KB)

Source code files, readable on the web:

Apollia's Navigation Command Prompt v1.5 for GNU/Linux

Navig Shortcuts

The most important change is that it's now possible to store the shortcut list in a separate file.

In the process of updating my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, I ended up building a perhaps overly elaborate system for automatically splicing together various path fragments stored in JSON files.

That system makes it possible to refer to locations by a name like "Disk C" instead of a path like "C:/" (in Windows), "/mnt/sda1" (in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004), or "/media/DiskC" (in Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2).

The current version of my "Navig" script doesn't interact with that new system at all.

But, future versions of my "Navig" script probably will, because I think it will be convenient to not have to maintain separate but largely repetitive Navig shortcut lists for Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004 and Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

(Or even Windows or MacOS, if/when I ever get around to making Navig useable in Windows and MacOS. Hopefully it wouldn't be difficult, and it would make those annoying occasions when I have to use Windows or MacOS more pleasant.)

I'm been working on my Puppy Linux Setup Kit for almost 3 months now, and I might still be months away from finishing a releasable update.

But I'm amazed at how un-awful Bash is once you get used to it. I really might be able to get by building the infrastructure of the setup kit out of mostly just Bash scripts and a lot of JSON files, processed by the jq command-line JSON processor.

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Link: Visual Programming Languages - Snapshots
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
16:00:51 GMT


Today, I stumbled across the below blog post without even searching for stuff related to visual programming.

It's a big page with lots of pictures, so be careful if your web browser is prone to crashing.

Visual Programming Languages - Snapshots

Posted Feb. 20, 2014 to the blog of

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Disappointed by Bernie Sanders' web page on student loans
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
09:43:44 GMT


I finally glanced at the website of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

I haven't read most of his website so far, but, to my surprise, I was quite disappointed by this page about student loan debt.

Much of it's good, but I think it doesn't go far enough. I think all existing student loan debt should be canceled completely, and everyone who ever paid student loans should be paid full reparations, plus extra for all the damage done to borrowers and their families due to being deprived of much-needed money we all never should have had to spend in the first place.

I don't have student loan debt myself, since my severe sleep issues and shyness dissuaded me from even trying very hard to go to college. But I say "we" because my various relatives' student loans have definitely worsened all our lives.

So, I think just lowering interest rates and letting people "refinance" their student loans is nowhere near good enough to correct the injustices that have been inflicted upon all recipients of student loans and their families.

Addition, 5:53 AM EST. Hillary Clinton's page on student loans is even more disappointing, but I'm not surprised by that.

Addition, March 18, 2016, 1:30 AM. Despite this blog post, I still voted for Bernie in the primary election on March 15th.

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I quit Tumblr
Saturday, February 20th, 2016
21:50:28 GMT


I finally quit another Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) - namely, Tumblr.

That was more difficult than quitting Twitter, because I actually enjoyed Tumblr a lot more than Twitter. But not as much as I enjoy having total control over the software I use, and not being a "digital sharecropper" or feudal serf on someone else's website.

Plus, most any social media site probably has privacy issues that I should probably be more concerned about than I usually am.

And even if a website has not-so-objectionable Terms of Service at the moment, you never know when that might change.

At least I mostly just reblogged other people's posts rather than posting my own original stuff to Tumblr. But it still definitely wasn't the most worthwhile use of my time and energy.

I can't deny that Tumblr was fun, but, another problem is that many of its pages load aggravatingly slowly in comparison to Astroblahhh Desktop and WordsPlatz.

Tumblr works better for me in the Pale Moon web browser than Firefox, but Tumblr still crashed my web browser much too easily.

Way too many websites (not just Tumblr) use way too much JavaScript, in my opinion.

And I much prefer being able to totally avoid even looking at things like follower counts and other statistics, but that was tough to avoid on Tumblr.

Many people love to look at things like that, but I'd probably get (more) stage fright if I knew I had tons of readers. Though on the other hand, I tend to feel a bit disappointed (though also somewhat relieved) anytime I see my statistics are pathetic.

And even though unfollowing is probably usually nothing personal on Tumblr (and more of a way to deal with Tumblr's lack of a Twitter-like Lists feature), I never liked to see my follower count go down, even though I think it was usually because of spam accounts getting deleted, or people quitting Tumblr.

I actually don't like the idea of follower lists or friends lists on any website. They cause too many totally unnecessary, avoidable hurt feelings when people get "unfriended" or never "friended" in the first place.

In many ways, I already like Astroblahhh Desktop and WordsPlatz much more than Tumblr (and lots of other things), so I'm sure that given the time and inclination, I would be able to build a free (as in freedom), libre, open source substitute for Tumblr which I would find perfectly satisfactory.

Though that will probably take a while, especially since I want to first finish updating at least my Puppy Linux Setup Kit and Astroblahhh Desktop.

But I definitely someday want to make it even easier to update my websites than my WordsPlatz blog software already does.

Similar to multifiles-apmod.el, I think updating Puppy Linux Setup Kit and Astroblahhh Desktop will probably save an immense amount of time in the long run and change at least my own life for the better (since they already have), even though working on them is a slow, tedious chore at the moment, even with the tremendous help of multifiles-apmod.el, GNU Emacs, and the VUE concept mapping software.

At least I've finally learned to like Bash more than I used to. Bash is actually not as horrible as I used to think, and I can now actually imagine rewriting much of the setup kit in Bash instead of Perl.

I probably won't, but I'm pleased that it now seems like an acceptable, feasible possibility, largely thanks to the jq command-line JSON processor.

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Link: "Error 53" on iPhones
Monday, February 8th, 2016
15:03:17 GMT

Corporations Gone Wild

Yet another reason not to buy Apple products:

‘Error 53’ fury mounts as Apple software update threatens to kill your iPhone 6

(From The Guardian, Feb. 5, 2016.)

Additions, 10:11 AM/10:24 AM/10:40 AM/12:26 PM EDT. Perhaps the error only affects people upgrading to the latest iOS who had their phones repaired by non-Apple repairers, or whose phones were damaged.

(Addition, 3:31 PM EDT. Looks like "Error 53" might happen in other circumstances, too. I found an article which says "The iPhone 6 Plus in question had never been taken apart, damaged, or otherwise compromised, and the mystery surrounding why it and others like it had been hit with Error 53 remains.")

If anyone is unfortunate enough to have an iPhone - I suggest backing up any important data, so you can avoid potential data loss.

Also, perhaps it might be a good idea to copy all your files contained in any Apple product onto things that aren't Apple products.

Because who knows what Apple might do next? What if they add something like "Error 53" to MacOS too?

Maybe Apple is too big and rich to even really care about their customers at all anymore.

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Part 4: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
10:58:10 GMT


I forgot to post this before. The final part - part 4 of the replies that I was trying to send in response to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey.

Added to, edited, and reworded to some extent, with added HTML formatting and hyperlinks.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

(Quoted from survey:) Are there any social movements or organizations you would be excited to see us collaborate more with? (End of quote.)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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No longer in Amazon affiliate program
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
05:44:38 GMT


In the evening on Jan. 31, 2016, soon before I got started on trying to send my responses to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey, I found out I had received a mail on Jan. 31, 2016 at 1:28 PM from Amazon calling me a "Former Amazon Associate", and telling me about a payment of 65 cents.

My first Amazon affiliate payment ever! :-) (And last...)

I wondered (not very seriously) if Amazon had finally noticed that sometimes I link to Richard Stallman's page on Reasons not to buy from Amazon and kicked me out for that reason. :-)

But, it turned out that I had simply missed an email Amazon sent out in October informing affiliates they had to agree to some new thing, or get kicked out of the program.

Whoops. :-)

Anyway, I guess it's about time I finally left that program. I just lazily never bothered to quit, even though I removed hopefully all of my Amazon affiliate links maybe a few years ago (not sure when exactly).

The 65 cent payment wasn't even from anything recent. In my payment history, the date on that was 11/2/2011, and the transaction was "09/2011 Advertising Fees".

So, if you ever wondered how much money I ever made from being in the Amazon Associates program - now you know. :-)

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Part 3: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey
Monday, February 1st, 2016
12:22:54 GMT


Here's part 3 of the replies that I was trying to send in response to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey.

Added to, edited, and reworded to some extent, with added HTML formatting and hyperlinks.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

(Quoted from the survey:) Why is free software important to you? Why do you use it? (End of quote.)

I suspect my entire life might have gone better in many ways if I had learned more about free, libre software and hardware earlier in life.

And if I had had more access to those things earlier in life, I might have learned much more about programming a lot sooner, and thus had a better chance much sooner in life of being able to make a living.

And avoiding closed source, proprietary software and hardware would have probably saved my financially struggling family quite a bit of money over the years. But for a long time, none of us knew any better.

So, my family, including numerous children (including me, when I was a child) suffered in part because the closed source, proprietary software and hardware industry took advantage of my family's naive, ignorant willingness to buy their overpriced, liberty-infringing junk.

Problems caused by closed-source, proprietary junk also wasted a lot of all our time.

Still, I don't consider the closed source, proprietary software and hardware industries the most evil industries in the world.

Having closed source, proprietary software and hardware was at least better than having no software and hardware at all, and I did learn plenty despite the many inherent flaws of anything closed source and/or proprietary.

Being stuck with a Mac, and very frustrated with not being able to use a ton of software that was available for non-Macs, made me extra-fascinated with cross-platform things like the Inform 6 programming language.

I'm still pleased that I can actually still use things I wrote in the 90's in Inform 6 on any recent computer! :-)

Nowadays, there's also Inform 7, which is one of the most unusual and remarkable programming languages I know of.

A pity it's closed source despite being gratis.

It was probably good that even from a young age, I acquired a quite justified distaste even for non-libre shareware.

As a child with no good way to make money to pay for shareware (or most anything else), I felt quite unfairly persecuted by shareware which would do nasty things to try to force you to buy it, like make you waste time waiting for a timer to go away, or make you reinstall the software every 30 days, etc.

I didn't like to bother my family to buy me shareware (or anything), and I was so disgusted by those nasty sales tactics that even as a child, I actually became determined to never buy any shareware like that, even if I could ever afford to do so.

Even ordinary non-shareware proprietary software didn't annoy me as much back then, though I felt unfairly deprived of that too, because there was pretty much nothing I could do as a child to earn enough money to buy most anything myself.

But I guess the shareware annoyed me more because even when I was a child, it seemed so obviously unfair and mean for the shareware authors to go out of their way to build in nuisances to mistreat, annoy, and waste the time of unfortunate people (such as children like me) who were poor through no fault of our own.

I didn't need to be harassed into buying those often quite fun and useful (despite being non-libre) programs. In fact, at the time, I would have happily bought them all without being harassed if I simply had enough money, and hadn't been harassed.

Nowadays, of course, I'm not happy (or not entirely happy) buying anything which is closed source, or which threatens liberty in any other ways. But as a child, I didn't understand the importance of that stuff yet.

(I'm still not a total puritan, though. I enjoy my Roku, Netflix, and enjoyed the streaming music services MOG and Sony's Music Unlimited before both of them got closed down. But if there were adequate libre alternatives, I'd much rather use those.)

I am actually glad I had the chance to use HyperCard, even though I was too young at the time to figure out how to do anything very complicated with that.

Here's someone's interesting blog post on HyperCard:

HyperCard was actually really cool (except for being closed source and non-libre), and I think it's wonderful that HyperCard made it so easy for even average not-very-technical people to create their own software.

(Quoted from the survey:) If you have contributed financially/been a member in the past, but no longer do, why did you stop? (End of quote.)

I can't comfortably afford to remain a paying member. That's the only reason I didn't renew.

I'm pleased to see it's now possible to pay $10 a month instead of $120 all at once, but that's still too high for me.

(Quoted from the survey:) Care to elaborate on your answers, or give us any other positive or negative feedback? (End of quote.)

On the topic of the money I've made from software:

From Sept. 2007 to April 2008, I sold a closed-source software product called the MagnaMural in the virtual world game Second Life.

In April 2008, I released it into the public domain, partly inspired by this essay:

Why Software Should Be Free

I never kept very careful track of my sales, but, I estimate I probably made less than $10 USD total selling the MagnaMural.

But, sometime after I made the MagnaMural public domain, someone gave me an approximately $20 USD donation in Second Life, which is possibly the largest donation I ever got in Second Life. (I'm not sure if it was because of the MagnaMural or some other reason, because the person didn't send a note.)

Perhaps other donations I've received were at least partly inspired by my free/libre software, but hardly anyone sends me notes along with their donations, so I don't actually know the precise reasons why most people donated.

(But, thanks to everyone! Hopefully your support will be well-rewarded by my increasingly good software projects and other things that I'm still feverishly working on.)

Oh, and until the end of July 2011, I used to host someone's non-libre freeware on my website. (Well, one thing was non-libre, and the other was libre.) Someone sent me $15 because of that software, but that's the only donation I'm certain was inspired by that software.

In 2012, someone gave me a MacBook and iPhone, apparently in the hope I would use them to make a living writing iPhone or Mac software. Fortunately, I managed to resist the temptation. :-)

At least it was nice to find out that I wasn't really missing out on much of anything by being unable to afford Apple crap. I was surprised by how unimpressive the screen was, even though that particular MacBook was from 2009.

Another problem was, I couldn't even open that MacBook to take the hard disk or battery out because the bottom was screwed on with tiny unusual screws which ruined the two mini-screwdrivers I tried to use on them. Just awful, especially compared to how easy it is to take the batteries out of a Toughbook.

At least I was able to run Puppy Linux on it. But that still wasn't sufficient justification to keep it instead of selling it and getting some cheap old Toughbooks instead on eBay.

I often wish there was a freelance job website similar to, but which is exclusively for libre jobs.

I've glanced at, but, I don't know if I'm at a high enough skill level yet to even dare to try to undertake the astonishingly high-paying jobs I've seen on there. And if it turned out any of those jobs were non-libre, I would have to refuse to do them.

Also, I'd rather just do small things that I feel more sure I can handle.

Or actually, I'd rather just work on my own projects like the Puppy Linux Setup Kit, and yet somehow get paid.

A long time ago, I posted various hopefully helpful posts at the FSF's forum. Just thought I'd draw attention to them.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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Part 2: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey
Monday, February 1st, 2016
10:37:15 GMT


Here's part 2 of the long replies that I was trying to send in response to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey.

Added to, edited, and reworded to some extent, with added HTML formatting and hyperlinks.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

(Quote from the survey:) Imagine it's 2020 and the opposite is true -- we are less free as computer users. Describe some things that have gone wrong. (End of quote.)

I find the Internet of Things very spooky - even now in 2016.

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

Sometimes I wonder if we need not only the free software movement, but a free _from_ software movement. :-)

One of the most intriguing though worrying books I read in 2015 was Trillions: Thriving In The Emerging Information Ecology by Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay and Mickey McManus.

One reason I hope free (as in freedom), libre hardware will catch on a lot more is because I sometimes worry that maybe non-libre hardware manufacturers might somehow figure out how to make it totally impossible to even boot GNU/Linux on their hardware.

I wish I could 3D print my own computer stuff. :-D

I hope more can be done to financially support free, libre software authors, and everyone else in the world who could use more financial support.

Actually, I think there ought to be an unconditional basic income for everyone.

The only reason I'm able to write free, libre software at all is because my family supports me and doesn't try to treat me like a slave or try to force me to violate my ethical principles by writing closed source, proprietary software.

If I had happened to be in worse circumstances, the world would have missed out on quite a lot of my creations. (The best is yet to come. And much of it has probably been delayed a lot by my bad circumstances.)

Also, the stress, sometimes poor nutrition (which sometimes triggers headaches which might be migraines), and various other problems resulting from poverty also haven't been good for my health, so, I might have a shorter lifespan than I would have had if I had not been poor.

And maybe I'd be a less shy, timid person in general if I were in better circumstances. I probably would have pointed this survey out to more people, but I just felt too stressed out and overwhelmed to keep forcing myself to be outgoing (even on the internet).

Fortunately, posting things to my own websites, or sometimes even to very slow-paced quiet forums, is much easier for me than sending messages which will probably soon get a response which I probably ought to respond to promptly, but might be too stressed out, tired, headachy, etc. to feel up to dealing with or to even read.

At least usually avoiding the stress and time-consumption of social contact helps me focus and make more progress with my various projects sooner than I otherwise would.

Probably my software projects and perhaps some of my writing would do more to help the world (and even my own situation) than me having a social life, anyway. :-)

At least things are better than they were in the past. I'm very comforted by (among other things) my increasingly good programming skills, which give me some hope that somehow, someday, I might find a good way to make a living. Maybe even sometime before 2020. :-)

And perhaps I already could support myself if I had nothing against writing closed source, proprietary software.

If my family's financial problems had caused us to lose our home in 2013, it's unlikely I would have managed to finish a release of the Puppy Setup Kit back in Sept. 2014.

And if my family hadn't been struggling so much, I probably would have tried GNU/Linux many years sooner. I was curious to try it as early as 2002 - I just didn't have a spare computer to experiment with, and couldn't risk ruining my family's computer either. (Which, for many years, was a Mac, so probably no GNU/Linux would have worked on that anyway.)

I actually didn't even have a decent computer of my own until Feb. 2002. And, regrettably and with the naive optimism of youth (I was 20), I went into debt to get it.

Despite how unpleasant my life has been at times, I still have been very lucky. Financially, I'm much more trapped than people who can more easily work because they don't have severe sleep issues (and shyness) getting in their way.

But, unlike most people, I've had an unusually massive amount of free time, mostly thanks to my family supporting me. Which has been more valuable than money, I think, because I managed to put plenty - though far from all - of that time to good use.

But, sadly, probably tons of far more intelligent and talented people than me have not been so lucky.

And even many financially stable people have to spend a ton of their time slaving away at a job, time which they could probably devote to far more worthwhile pursuits.

I guess this is a good place to point out my Blog Action Day post from 2008.

Here's an interesting self-help blog post I stumbled across recently:

I also suggest reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

It's vitally important for people to have free time. And one reason why is because in general, probably no one becomes a world-class programmer or world-class anything else without tons of practice.

Another fascinating book I'd recommend is Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Fragile things are damaged or broken easily. Robust things are resistant to damage and change. But antifragile things are things which actually benefit from rough handling, chaos, change, etc. Like a phoenix, or a hydra.

If you think about it, many closed source software business models might actually be pretty fragile, given that free, libre software and hardware of sufficient quality and ease of use could easily dissuade potential buyers of closed source, proprietary, liberty-infringing software and hardware from wasting any money on such things in the first place.

Another thing I'm concerned about is the systemd controversy. So far, I don't really understand it on a technical level, but, if I understand correctly, if too much software unrelated to systemd is made dependent on components of systemd, then, that could threaten people's freedom by making it much harder for people to build and run a GNU/Linux system without systemd.

And I've heard that incompatibilities caused by systemd dependence could make it difficult to compile free, libre software on non-GNU/Linux systems like BSD.

systemd is often referred to as "init software", but if I understand correctly, apparently it has grown far beyond just init software, and has been engulfing more and more basic functions traditionally done by many separate, independent components of GNU/Linux.

Here's the animation which introduced me to the systemd controversy:

And some other ones:


As a Puppy Linux user who doesn't even read the Puppy Linux forum very regularly, and also as someone who doesn't pay much attention to news in general (even Linux news), I just happened to avoid even noticing the systemd controversy for a long time.

But even the creator of Puppy Linux objects to systemd:

And there's this long Puppy Linux forum thread with mostly people objecting to systemd:

I'm very glad that this means that Puppy Linux will probably continue making a strong effort to remain free of systemd.

I'm also very glad the Devuan project exists.

Devuan is a fork of Debian, inspired by the fact that Debian was surprisingly overly welcoming of systemd and suppressive of people objecting to systemd.

Even though systemd is actually under a libre software license - the GNU LGPL 2.1+, according to Wikipedia - I suspect systemd really might be an insidious (though hopefully unintentional) threat to software freedom, since perhaps systemd might become so indispensable (due to software being made dependent on it) that it might become difficult to even build a GNU/Linux system or a lot of software packages without installing systemd.

On any computers with pitiful amounts of RAM I run Puppy Linux with (or any other computer), I don't want to be forced or pressured into having to waste RAM on anything at all that I can do without, but especially a reputedly big, bloated, overly complicated, tangled-up thing like systemd.

Or, quoting a description recently mentioned by someone on the Devuan mailing list - "the everything-welded-together, no-user-serviceable-parts-inside architecture of systemd".

So, I think it would be terrible if systemd somehow gets way too enmeshed in and almost (or totally) inextricably inseparable from GNU/Linux.

I hope long before 2020, that possible problem will be alleviated.

Also, I think it's really puzzling that some proponents of systemd seem to get so provoked by the fact that many people would prefer to avoid systemd.

One of the major benefits of using a libre operating system is that, unlike a closed source, proprietary operating system, you're supposed to be able to avoid having things you don't want being shoved down your throat.

So, I think the people objecting to having systemd practically forced on their systems are right to be upset, and the people who viciously mock and ridicule anyone who doesn't want systemd are (perhaps without realizing it) basically mocking and ridiculing software freedom itself.

Even if systemd were the best thing since sliced bread (which I don't believe it is), I think it would still be wrong to try to forcibly impose it on people who don't want it.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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Part 1: My replies to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey
Monday, February 1st, 2016
06:13:30 GMT


I had some technical difficulties sending in my responses to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey at almost literally the last minute. Perhaps it was because my responses were so long.

Fortunately, I intended to probably post my replies on my blog anyway.

At least this gave me a chance to edit them a bit more and add some HTML. In fact, I'll probably even end up editing them after I post them, as I so often do with probably most things I post. (Edit, Feb. 1, 2016, 1:25 AM EST: Yep, definitely.)

I wrote so much that I'm splitting this into multiple blog posts.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

(Quote from the survey:) Imagine it's 2020 and people are more free and empowered as computer users, due to the efforts of the free software movement and the FSF. Describe some things that we have accomplished to reach this point. (End of quote.)

multifiles-apmod.el is an Emacs add-on I modified/enhanced a lot:

GNU Emacs, multfiles-apmod, and various other add-ons have been making it tremendously easier and more enjoyable for me to make progress with my various programming projects.

Even my previous favorite text editors (Notepad++ and Geany) were really getting in my way and slowing me down - so, if I hadn't switched to Emacs, I think all my projects might've gotten substantially delayed, and I might even have given up on some of them.

Even though it took me almost 2 months of almost daily effort to get cozy with Emacs, I think it will save me quite a lot more time than that in the long run.

So, by 2020, I suspect I will have completed more projects and done a much better job of building them than I would have if I hadn't gotten cozy with Emacs, and hadn't enhanced the multifiles add-on.

And the VUE concept mapping software also continues to help me:

I've been using VUE since 2010 already (or maybe even longer, I can't remember) to make notes, flow charts, etc. It's a great tool for brainstorming and trying to design software, and helps me get a nice, visual overview of things and how they relate to each other.

I plan on using it for publicly-released documentation in the future, rather than just my own private notes.

Sometimes I think things like news articles could benefit from being in a VUE-like concept-map format.

It might make ideas easier to absorb at a glance than conventional articles which might describe numerous complicated ideas in big blobs of text, without visually showing how different things link together or otherwise interact or relate.

For a long time I've wished I could edit actual code itself (rather than just notes about code) using VUE.

A few months ago I heard about a program called Code Bubbles. I still haven't tried it yet, but, I think Code Bubbles is probably the closest thing I've ever heard of so far to my daydream of being able to use VUE to edit actual code.

I've been thinking maybe using XSLT on the XML source code of a VUE file might be able to transform a VUE file containing source code text into actually runnable (or otherwise useable) source code files.

So maybe my daydream would be easier to implement than I thought.

But VUE still wouldn't have syntax coloring and a ton of other nice features of a normal code editor.

I wish I could embed little Emacs editors inside of VUE nodes. :-)

I'm guessing Emacs probably already can run in the Java Virtual Machine somehow, and VUE is free, libre Java software, so, maybe that wouldn't be totally unfeasible. :-)

One of the most exciting things I found out about in 2015 was graph database software, which is reputed to typically be much faster and easier to work with than conventional relational databases.

I still haven't done much with graph databases myself yet, but, I'm looking forward to eventually experimenting more with OrientDB and perhaps Neo4j.

The Neo4j website is currently offering free (as in price) copies of their O'Reilly book on graph databases:

Graph databases are another thing I wish I could use VUE as a GUI to work with them.

I haven't yet gotten deeply into learning Lisp, but, I still want to because of what I've read about it possibly being the overall best, most powerful programming language in existence.

I'm greatly looking forward to reading Paul Graham's book On Lisp, which is legally downloadable from his website:

Maybe by 2020, I'll be primarily a Lisp programmer instead of mostly a PHP, Perl, JavaScript, MySQL, SQLite, and Bash programmer.

Emacs, multifiles-apmod, other Emacs add-ons, and VUE have been helping me renovate my Puppy Linux Setup Kit:

I'm working on making the kit more flexible and easy to update, though it already works remarkably well and has saved me a ton of time.

My Puppy Setup Kit makes it so I can go from a totally uncustomized Puppy Linux system to a system customized exactly the way I like it, in just minutes, by clicking a single script.

My setup kit also makes it so I'm not so dependent on having to use a specific computer with a specific hard disk, since I can mostly or completely replicate my entire comfortably customized system in minutes on quite different computers.

Though sometimes I need to adjust the kit a bit to make that work right, like when I switched to a laptop and then found I had to add some new stuff to make the touchpad work the way I liked.

But once I've finished any necessary adjustments, then, from then on, setting up my system is nearly effortless - I just have to click a single script, click a confirmation dialog box, wait a few minutes, and press Enter every once in a while.

(And it would be pretty easy to make some Puppy Setup Kit construction plans which require no user input at all beyond opening one script and clicking one confirmation dialog box.)

In the past, when I used an operating system (Windows) installed on an internal hard disk, my computer seriously breaking down tended to be an incredibly stressful disaster, which sometimes took days, weeks, or once over a month to recover from, due to having to struggle to fix whatever broke, and sometimes having to struggle to acquire another computer and then reinstall everything from scratch.

And I always absolutely dreaded having to open up my computer for any reason, such as to get the internal hard disk out so I could try to rescue any unbacked-up data.

But now, hard disks are optional for me. And if any of my computers ever totally breaks down, I can move to a different one almost seamlessly. I love it!

I love it so much I won't even seriously consider going back to relying on any OS installed on a hard disk - not even a GNU/Linux! - because I find it far too easy to accidentally ruin even my GNU/Linux systems by installing things I shouldn't have installed.

I never want to return to having to struggle to fix things like that. With my Puppy Setup Kit, all I have to do to get everything back to normal is just reboot, and run my setup kit again.

One of the things that deterred me from even trying GNU/Linux for years was being afraid of accidentally ruining my Windows installation by installing GNU/Linux on the same hard drive.

Probably lots of Windows and MacOS users are afraid of that.

So, I didn't try GNU/Linux until I found out about live discs, which I think I first heard about in 2006 because I was desperately searching for a way to rescue data from a broken-down Windows system.

I still didn't end up switching to GNU/Linux until 2011, though. I was pushed into it due to the fact that my hard disk was making odd little noises, which made me think, maybe I should use a Puppy live disc for a while so I can avoid making my hard disk work too hard until I can afford to get a replacement hard disk.

But when I found Puppy was so delightfully fast, and so nice to use just from a live disc without even having to install it, I found I actually didn't even want to go back to using primarily Windows again.

Windows XP was actually reasonably fast on that computer, but Puppy was (and still is) so fast it made Windows seem annoyingly slow in comparison.

Before I made my Puppy Setup Kit, I used to use Puppy's really cool built-in ability to save your custom settings, installed programs, etc. on the Puppy live CD or DVD you booted your computer with just by writing additional sessions to the disc.

But the more sessions you have, the slower it becomes to boot, so, eventually, I decided, instead of saving minor settings changes to my disc, I'd just use some Perl scripts to adjust my settings.

Thus, my Puppy Setup Kit was born.

I think my way of using Puppy is probably still unconventional even amongst Puppy users (partly since I still haven't gone to much trouble to tell the world about my setup kit because I think I should renovate it first).

But, this is my favorite, most comfortable computer setup ever. I finally don't have to live in as much fear of my hard disk or computer breaking down, because it's so simple now to just switch to another computer and have everything be pretty much the same.

And Puppy, running in a RAM disk, is the fastest OS I've ever used. Even a 1.5 GHz single core laptop with only 2 GB of RAM running Lucid Puppy 5.2.8 version 004 seems tremendously faster than the single core 2.0 GHz 1 GB RAM Windows Vista computer of someone I know, which frequently gets stuck for minutes on end on things that Puppy does in literally seconds, like opening programs or going to certain web pages.

Once my Puppy Setup Kit is renovated, it will be a lot easier for me to share my current exact setup with anyone who wants to try it, and also for me (and hopefully anyone) to add to the kit to make it possible to easily install whatever sets of software and settings anyone wants to install.

So, maybe I'll finally be able to persuade some of the more stubborn Windows and Mac users I know to try Puppy. And with the renovated Puppy Setup Kit, hopefully everyone (including me) will have a much easier time customizing our own Puppies to work exactly the way we want.

(I'd actually like it if the Puppy Setup Kit could work with any GNU/Linux live disc as well as Puppy, but, I'm not up to trying to build that just yet.)

I'd also like to make it possible to write Puppy Setup Kit scripts in any language, not just Bash or Perl.

Not sure yet how to do that, but, maybe if I store details about installable software, settings, etc. in JSON files, that will make the data accessible by most languages.

Another goal of mine with the Puppy Setup Kit is to build something like what I was writing about package management around the end of this blog post:

I think it would be good if people were less dependent on downloading precompiled binaries via package manager software.

It's always good to know how to do things yourself rather than having to depend on other people to do things for you. And it's also safer to compile things from source code rather than to just trust that the package builder and/or the repository are trustworthy/uncompromised.

Plus, things compiled from scratch conceivably might work better for you because of being tailored to your exact system, instead of the possibly quite different system of whoever built a package.

So, I think it would be good if more people learned how to compile things themselves from source code, and also would be good if people had some partially automated tools to help with the boring, automatable parts of the process of compiling your own package from source code.

After writing the above blog post, I found out that Gobo Linux has a really cool "recipes" feature which already seems to do much of what I had in mind. (Haven't tried it myself yet, but want to...)

Gobo Linux's reorganized directory structure is quite interesting too:

And NixOS also seems to contain some interesting ideas:

Having partially-automated build-your-own-packages-from-source capabilities in the Puppy Setup Kit will pave the way to me being able to easily release an update of Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK and Astroblahhh PH-GTK:

...and thereby also make it possible for people to easily install and use the not-yet-complete renovated version of Astroblahhh Desktop, among other things.

The build-your-own-packages-from-source features will also make it possible for me (and/or others) to help popularize things like (for example) GNU Guile by making them extremely easy to compile from source and install.

Recently, I was very pleased to hear about the $5 version of the Raspberry Pi.

I'd be very interested to see a list of cool cheap hardware gizmos which the FSF approves of.

One reason I haven't gotten a Pi yet is because in my experience, 512 MB of RAM is far too little to run Puppy Linux the way I want, with the entire OS and all my installed software loaded into RAM. On my 512 MB RAM computer, I can't install much software, and it's quite prone to totally freezing up with no way to fix it other than restarting. (But the same computer is capable of a lot of cool things with an OS installed on its hard disk.)

1 GB is a bit better (and even good enough to run a Windows XP VirtualBox reasonably well, at least if VirtualBox is almost the only thing you install), but that still forces me to make difficult choices amongst what software I want to install, and I have to reboot to install different sets of software and settings.

2 GB of RAM is sort of OK, but I much prefer 4 GB or more. The more, the better. So, I'd much prefer to get a small cheap Pi-like gizmo with a lot more RAM than a Pi.

And, after all the distressing things I read about systemd, I was very happy to hear about the Devuan project:

I'm also very happy that Puppy Linux is also systemd-free and will hopefully stay that way.

(The rest of my survey replies will be in future blog posts.)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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Link: Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
00:29:29 GMT


The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is doing a survey until the end of January 2016:

Free Software Foundation (FSF) Vision Survey

And here's the blog post about the survey.

The FSF is also trying to raise $450,000 by January 31st, 2016. They're already most of the way there - as I write this, it says "370,295 so far" at the top of this page.

Addition, Feb. 3, 2016, 6:11 AM EST. Here are my responses to the survey:

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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Closed Source, Proprietary Food Products Are Bad Too
Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
12:16:44 GMT


As I've so often pointed out, closed source, proprietary, non-libre software is inherently flawed in a lot of ways.

But one thing I haven't pointed out as often is that closed source, proprietary, non-libre food products also are inherently flawed in a lot of ways.

Over the years, many products I used to like have either gotten totally discontinued (either arbitrarily or because the company went out of business), or their secret, proprietary, closed source recipes have been changed against my wishes.

And I wish there was more information available about the precise origins of every ingredient in my food.

This blog post was inspired by the fact that I recently found out I can no longer have my preferred version of yet another product I used to like - the Rite-Aid brand nutrition shake, a knock-off of Ensure.

I originally switched to the Rite-Aid nutrition shake after the real Ensure's recipe got changed in a way that tasted bad to me.

So, I'm particularly annoyed that even my favorite alternative to Ensure has now been ruined for me.

To my dismay, I recently found that Rite-Aid's vanilla-flavored "Original" nutrition shake now contains "liquid sucralose". (Luckily I noticed this before I drank any.)

I've read some very worrying things about sucralose (also known as Splenda), so, I can't possibly drink that variety of Rite-Aid nutrition shake ever again unless the makers get rid of the sucralose.

I found a Rite-Aid "Plus" vanilla nutrition shake which had sugar instead of sucralose, but, it doesn't taste as good as the kind of Rite-Aid nutrition shake I used to like (which I think was the vanilla-flavored "Original" kind, before its recipe was ruined with sucralose and who knows what other changes), which I assume they probably don't even make anymore.

The kind they used to make actually tasted better to me than Ensure ever did.

Anyway, this all would be less of a problem if the recipes of these products weren't probably secret and proprietary.

If all food products had free (as in freedom), libre, open source recipes, it would be impossible for the makers of those products to permanently deprive their customers of the customers' preferred versions of those products, because the makers wouldn't have a monopoly anymore.

So, people would no longer be dependent on the only maker of an exclusive product to never discontinue their product, to never tamper with the recipe, and to never go out of business.

Another problem with the "closed source" food industry is vague, uninformative ingredient names such as "natural flavors" and "artificial flavors".

But even not-so-vague ingredient lists are still inadequate, because I'd like to know not only what is in my food, but everything there is to know about the origins of each ingredient.

Did any ingredients possibly come from a farm or other location which is overly close to a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well, a toxic waste injection well, or other hazardous abomination? (I've been wondering about this ever since watching the documentary Gasland.)

Are there any genetically modified (GMO) ingredients? Exactly what pesticides were used? Were all the employees paid well and treated well? Etc., etc.

Even if all that information can't fit on a food label, at least it could be put on the web.

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