Posts Below
7/12/2015 - The "Internet of Things" and "Pervasive Computing": Some of the Worst Ideas Ever (Corporations Gone Wild)
7/8/2015 - Some thoughts on synchronicities (Self-Help)
7/6/2015 (Journal)
6/1/2015 - 100 days of free videos from psychic medium John Edward (Paranormal)
5/15/2015 - Comment in response to "Challenges in attracting students to research careers" on NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
5/15/2015 - How common is Omega 3 nutritional deficiency, and how can people make sure they're getting enough Omega 3? (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
5/15/2015 - Would unconditional basic income improve people's health & ease poverty better than conventional welfare programs? (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
5/13/2015 - Do our modern "traditional" sleep schedules defy nature? (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
5/3/2015 - Evil Toilets for Cats (Corporations Gone Wild - I Wish This Was Just a Joke)
3/22/2015 - Modified version of new2dir for Puppy Linux; and thoughts on Linux package management (Puppy Linux)
3/19/2015 - Short blog comment about systemd and Puppy Linux (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
3/19/2015 - systemd - probably a bad thing (Linux)
3/11/2015 - Spotify is nice to use again; thoughts on alternatives (Music - News)
3/9/2015 - Sorry for my mistaken suggestion about Music Unlimited; I accidentally canceled my subscription (Music - News)
2/11/2015 - Astroblahhh Desktop v2.0 (Site Update - Software Release)
2/11/2015 - Apollia's Puppy Linux Setup Kit v1.1 (Puppy Linux - Software Release)
1/29/2015 - Sony's Music Unlimited is closing at the end of March 2015 (Music - News)
12/2/2014 - A few ideas for business models that might work despite an impoverished world (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web - Forum Replies)
12/2/2014 - Short blog comment on how I choose tools (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web - Blog Comment)
10/5/2014 - Mercury retrograde; and Eryss astrology software delayed again (Astrology)

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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The "Internet of Things" and "Pervasive Computing": Some of the Worst Ideas Ever
Sunday, July 12th, 2015
16:58:06 GMT

Corporations Gone Wild

The "Internet of Things" and "pervasive computing" are concepts which I find creepy, foolish, and dangerously naive.

Putting internet capabilities (or even just computers/software without internet) into things that don't really need them (like cars, phones, and common household appliances) might make those things vulnerable to computer glitches, viruses, hacking/cracking, invasions of privacy, and despicable corporate practices such as companies making their own products impossible to repair by keeping all the software/computer hardware closed source and proprietary, and withholding tools, parts, and repair information. (And at least one company even went to such lengths as using non-standard screws which standard screwdrivers can't remove.)

Here's a page from ifixit.org about the right to repair, and some of the ways that right is being threatened.


And here are some articles about some even worse ways closed-source, proprietary software and hardware are being abused:

From the Daily Mail, Sept. 24, 2014: Driver nearly crashes when her car suddenly shut down on a busy interstate because auto lender hit remote kill switch when she missed a payment

From the New York Times, Sept. 24, 2014: Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car

From Wired.com, Apr. 21, 2015: We Canít Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership


In these cases, I actually don't think having only free (as in freedom), libre, open source software or computerized devices in cars, tractors, etc. would fix everything. That might help stop some bad things - but, I'd still be worried that even libre software and computerized devices also could be vulnerable to glitches, malicious hacking/cracking, invasions of privacy, viruses, or corporate rubbish. (Unfortunately, software or hardware being under a libre license doesn't automatically mean that the software or hardware is great, well-designed, secure, and harmless.)

So, I'd actually much rather have a traditional purely mechanical car (or tractor, if I wanted a tractor) with no computers, computerized devices, or software at all. Or at least no computers/computerized devices/software connected to systems that can do dangerous things like shut your car down, jam your steering wheel or brakes, or unlock and open your doors.


Also, here are some articles about spyware which some companies are actually selling for use on so-called "smart" phones and computers:

From The Guardian, Feb. 28, 2015: Spyware and malware availability sparks surge in internet stalking

From The Guardian, Jan. 25, 2015: Spyware and smartphones

From NPR, Sept. 21, 2014: Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims


Even people who don't have their own personal stalker or domestic abuser to worry about probably ought to worry about what various unethical corporations are doing behind all our backs (or right under our noses).

And it's probably best if we all try as much as possible to use hopefully safer and more secure free (as in freedom), libre, open source alternatives to closed source, proprietary software and devices.

Or, better yet in many cases would be to use softwareless and computerless things.


We not only need free (as in freedom) software and hardware, but the freedom to not have software and computers in every d*mn thing.

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Some thoughts on synchronicities
Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
14:05:54 GMT

Self-Help

I've been continuing to procrastinate about even checking my email or forums lately. Sorry about that.

At the moment, I'm more in the mood to just climb up on my soapbox and give a speech than interact with people.


I'm still itching to create (or find) a CMS (or content management system, for lack of a better term) that I feel happy and comfortable with - since until I do, I don't think I'm going to feel really enthusiastic about adding to my websites. Plus, I think a lot of my projects could benefit from some templating features.

A CMS of some sort should also help with my old project of writing my autobiography. (It's surprisingly more interesting than most people would expect. Surprised me, too.) And, since I find most mundane things about life relatively boring - with my autobio project, I will probably continue to mostly focus on documenting the weird but cool synchronicities and other surprising oddities I've sometimes encountered, rather than writing very much about the many boring things in my life (which far outnumber the interesting things).

I have a bunch of remarkable things rather crudely documented, but, I want to make them a lot more organized and presentable, even beyond what I've already managed to achieve with the help of Astroblahhh Desktop.


Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to publish most of my autobiography for a very long time due to privacy concerns and the fact that I almost certainly wouldn't be able to obtain permission from everyone mentioned.

But, I'm not sure publishing it would do the world much good anyway, since reading about others' remarkable experiences (and then having to wonder if they're even true) is definitely far from as life-changing (and hopefully beneficial) as having your own remarkable experiences.

So, perhaps what would be more worthwhile for me to share would simply be, suggestions which could help curious people increase their chances of encountering (or noticing) remarkable synchronicities.


Actually, I already mentioned some ideas a long time ago on the About Astroblahhh.Com page.

Such as the idea of keeping a dream journal, so if there ever happen to be any odd coincidences between your dreams and the real world, you'll have a much easier time noticing that than if you never write down your dreams.

And I also highly recommend checking out checking out asteroids in astrology, including both natal placements of asteroids, and transits. There are thousands of differently-named asteroids. I particularly recommend checking out the ones which have your name(s) or similar, or the names (or approximate names) of significant people or things in your life. I've seen some darned weird-seeming stuff with asteroids at times.

(At the moment, it's probably easier to look up asteroids using the free chart-calculating features on Astrodienst than to use my free, libre, open source astrology software Eryss, unless you happen to already be running Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, or something quite similar. But someday, I hope to release versions of Eryss for a wider variety of computer platforms.)

And another thing I highly recommend is taking lots of notes. And not only having a dream journal, but a diary of events in your life might really help a lot.

Hmm, those actually might already be the best suggestions I have for anyone who wants to encounter (or notice) more odd synchronicities in their own lives.


Even though I probably won't be able to release my autobiography for a long time, I still want to work on it, because for me, synchronicities serve as a lovely reminder that perhaps it's really true that "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy", and that maybe miracles really are possible.

And, I hope analyzing these various oddities more carefully, comparing them to each other, looking for patterns amongst them, etc., might help shed more light on how and why in the universe such strange things sometimes happen.


I have far more questions than answers. Questions like, does prayer actually work, at least a bit, sometimes? Does God exist and really send "signs" sometimes?

Is there actually some grain of truth in the often disgustingly snake-oily-seeming New Age "Law of Attraction" crap?

Some people (like various famous reputedly psychic mediums) believe that everyone has "spirit guides", and that sometimes your spirit guides send you meaningful "signs". So is that the explanation for synchronicities?

Can astrology ever be proven objectively to have some grain of validity? What would analyzing astrology in depth using statistics reveal? (Hopefully future editions of Eryss - my free, libre, open source astrology software - will be useful tools in exploring these questions.)

Does telepathy really exist, or other psychic phenomena? (I'm not sure what else could explain some of my dreams.)

Does reincarnation really exist?

Searching for credible answers to questions like those will probably keep me busy for the rest of my life.


Returning to the topic of synchronicities - another possible (but boring) explanation for synchronicities is that they are nothing but an illusion resulting from the human brain's capacity for perceiving patterns that aren't really there.

Sure, many flimsy synchronicities are probably totally explainable that way - though I think they probably shouldn't even be called synchronicities if they're that flimsy.

But the really interesting ones are not so easily dismissed.

I'm tempted to share a doozy or two from my own life - but, I'm feeling a bit too timid to do that at the moment, so I'll just direct you to Wikipedia's article on synchronicities.

Plus, anything written by C. G. Jung would probably be fascinating to check out. I haven't read very much of that yet myself, but I really want to, maybe even in its original language (German, I assume).


I used to have an even unhappier life than I do now. I used to be far more cynical (I still am probably more cynical than I should be, but at least less than before), and far more close-minded, scornful, and prejudiced against anything I regarded as irrational nonsense, such as religion, spirituality, astrology, or anything else that seemed to make no darn sense. (Though at the same time, I was still curious and both repelled and intrigued by such things, rather than 100% dismissive and avoidant. I was quite dismissive, but not nearly as avoidant as many people who consider these things a total waste of time are.)

Then, on a curious whim, I took a closer look at astrology when I was 18, and was quite surprised by what I found. (But that's a long story which I can't yet get into.)


Those and other fascinating synchronicities gradually made me more and more open-minded, and I became convinced that parts of religion, astrology, spirituality, and other things I had scoffed at were quite possibly not such abysmally irrational and empty rubbish as I originally thought.

So, I gradually became agnostic (with major suspicions that God might really exist), rather than an atheist-almost-for-sure as I had originally been.

I still retain my skeptical distaste for blindly believing in anything without evidence/logical reasons to believe.

But the various remarkable synchronicities I encountered seem to provide me some legitimate reason to at least suspect that there really might be "more things in heaven and earth" than were dreamt of in my original cynical, closed-minded, very mainstream-skeptical philosophy.


Despite my largely transformed worldview, I stlil sometimes (OK, often) pout and get profoundly sad about how unpleasant and lonely my life has too often been, and the tons of problems in the world. O me of little faith.

But, thinking back to the various wonders I somehow had the luck to stumble into (partly thanks simply to keeping a dream journal and diary, and being observant and curious) has done a lot to rescue me from abject despair.

So, I just thought I should write about that - the best cure for despair I've encountered in my life, other than obvious comforts like food, shelter, money, love, etc.

Perhaps if other people do some of what I did (dream journaling, keeping a diary, playing around with astrology, etc.) and encounter their own remarkable synchronicities, perhaps it might help lift them out of despair too?


Again, I'm unable to share too many private details from my and others' lives.

But, fortunately, there's far less reason for me to avoid pointing out odd astrological coincidences I've noticed which have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's private lives. :-)

I guess I'll only point out a few for now. And, with the particular ones I had in mind, it seemed most appropriate to post them to Eryss.Com.

So, here's a link to that post:

Eris, Xena, Discord

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Monday, July 6th, 2015
06:28:19 GMT

Journal

July 3rd was the 34th anniversary of one of the worst mistakes I ever made - being born.

And birthday cakes are getting too darn expensive. Nowadays stores are selling half-cakes for probably around the same price as a full cake used to cost.

So, I informed my family not to get me a cake, and that I'd rather make my own. Then, I went on a rare outing to some grocery stores and searched for cake mixes.


I found all of the available cake mixes objectionable because of things like needless food coloring, and various mystery ingredients, including things with "aluminum" in their names, which I like to avoid because I've heard aluminum might be connected to Alzheimer's.

So, I decided to make a cake from scratch without a cake mix, using whatever recipe is on my box of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Then, at the second store I went to, I saw a can containing pumpkin for pumpkin pie. The recipe on the can looked easy, so I decided to make birthday pumpkin pie instead of a birthday cake.

I love pumpkin pie. Plus, it's probably healthier than the average cake - especially since I went a bit out of my way to avoid things with questionable ingredients. For example, instead of canned evaporated milk with carrageenan in it, I used cans of condensed milk, since it had no carrageenan. I even avoided buying pumpkin pie spice because "sulfiting agents" - whatever those are - didn't sound very appetizing to me.


I was dubious of how it would all turn out, since it was the first time I ever made pies, and, I didn't measure all of the ingredients very exactly - both due to lacking measuring utensils, and because of an adventurous urge to change up the recipe a bit.

Anyway, it turned out I liked my pies more than any pumpkin pie I had ever had from a store or restaurant. (Not sure if I ever had any other homemade pumpkin pies.) Most pumpkin pies are relatively bland, and I guess mine were a bit more daring with the spices.

And, some details for curious astrologers - I took the pies out of the oven at 10:54 PM, July 4th, 2015, and put them in the oven at 9:52 PM. I don't recall what time I started mixing ingredients together.

(I made the pies on July 4th rather than July 3rd because one of my relatives went to sleep rather early on July 3rd, and thus would have missed out on freshly-made pie if I made the pies on July 3rd.)


Since pies and cakes are getting so expensive these days, and I really lucked out with how good my pies turned out to be - maybe selling pies and cakes is what I should do for a living? Lots of people do that sort of thing on Etsy.

However, I'd actually be a lot more interested in automating the rather dull, mostly mindless process of making pies and cakes by building a libre, open source robot chef. :-)

There could be money in that somehow, because in the past few months, I read about a presumably closed source robot chef whose expected price tag (when it's released) might be around £10,000. :-)

I probably would have experimented with robotics and things like 3D printing a long time ago if I had had the money to do so - but, those are yet more things that poverty, and my sleep issues, which exacerbate my poverty, have deprived me of the opportunity to do.


On my actual birthday, I had a birthday pizza (a cheap frozen one we cooked in the oven) instead of a cake.

It was a Hawaiian pizza with small bits of ham and pineapple, which I ate anyway despite theoretically wishing to become a complete vegetarian.

And also despite the fact that if I looked closely enough at the ingredients list, I'd probably see other things I'd find objectionable too.


On July 4th, we had fireworks visible from our house, as usual - probably largely thanks to the fact that our little town has a fireworks store.

And our house actually has a balcony at the back, which I rarely go out on, because I don't have a laptop with a good battery (or good charger), and I'm too obsessed with various computer-related projects, and too frustrated with being trapped by poverty, to just sit around and relax very much.


Anyway, it's a reasonably nice house, even though I'm far more partial to the idea of saving a ton of money by living a more spartan life.

But, no one else agrees with that, and since I'm unable to support myself or anyone else, I'm just along for the ride here unless/until I can figure out a way to make enough money to make life more bearable and make it realistically possible for me to move out. (I don't necessarily really want to move out, but, just being able to move out without it further ruining my life would be nice.)


Anyway, in some ways it would have been nice to have spent my youth in ways that were more fun - but, I find it hard to get very excited about temporary happiness and temporarily increased comfort resulting from money or love or whatever.

My top, quite possibly impossible goal is to figure out how to make existence as heavenly as possible, and achieve eternal youth, beauty, love, infinite wealth, and all sorts of other good things, not only for myself, but for everyone. And also to stop all bad things from happening, even "natural" but disturbing things such as animals eating each other.

I know that's thoroughly unrealistic, but, settling for less seems like an uninspiring drag. I'm sure that even if I were a trillionaire, I wouldn't be totally satisfied.


So, that's another reason why I spent most of my youth focused on things like trying to understand the universe better, such as by privately documenting odd synchronicities, looking into astrology, and spending a heck of a lot of time working on various software to assist me in these goals.

It's sad that I mostly missed out on various typical youthful pursuits - but, I don't entirely regret opting out of even trying very hard at all to have a normal life with more friends, loves, money, and various other "normal" things, like a stove to cook with (which my family didn't even have from 2002 to 2012), and other creature comforts.

We've even been doing without a functional upstairs bathroom, and working faucets in this house other than the bathtub downstairs. We don't even have a working kitchen sink!


Another reason I haven't been as focused on money lately is because my family finally got on Medicaid in summer 2014, and I'm afraid that I would be in big trouble with my relatives if I somehow manage to earn so much money that we'll get kicked off of Medicaid.

I think it's very doubtful that I'll be able to find a way to make enough money that I'll be able to afford to buy mandatory health insurance for me and my relatives, or even to pay the oppressive $325 yearly fee (per person!) inflicted on people with the misfortune of having neither Medicaid nor health insurance, which probably costs a lot more than $325 a year per person. And the penalty fee is going up to $695 per person in 2016.

Absolutely despicable, oppressive, and un-American. Fees like those kick struggling people when they're already down. And everyone should be free not to buy health insurance if they don't want to. I am especially disgusted with the health insurance industry after having watched Michael Moore's documentary Sicko.

So, because of the threat of these huge fees, and the high cost of health insurance, and the high cost of health care if you have neither Medicaid nor insurance, me earning money might actually do me and my family more harm than good - unless I manage to earn quite a lot of money, which might be impossible for me.

So, I'm now even more trapped than I already was, because I'm now afraid to even try very hard to earn money, except perhaps in Second Life.


Nonetheless, I still welcome donations and microdonations, though I'd prefer them to be sent through Second Life rather than PayPal, because I believe Second Life money isn't considered income unless you convert it from virtual currency to real money.

I could be wrong. But, if I ever get large enough donations to be worried about that, I guess I should be grateful to have the problem of having too much income rather than the usual problem of too little.

And perhaps someday, if I can get a bit less obsessed with my own projects, maybe I'll become more enthusiastic about providing services, or listing some goods for sale.


Even when I was much younger, I was aware of time running short, and all good things being temporary. (I'm sure the severe toothaches I had when I was younger and dental phobic contributed a lot to that impression.)

So, all in all, it's probably for the best that I didn't waste too much time and energy on normal goals like trying very hard to make a living, trying to have a love life, etc. (All of which is made incredibly more difficult by my sleep issues, which I now think did even more to destroy my life than my family's financial problems. Except I might not have had enough time to get good at programming if I had been fully capable of being a wage slave, having a normal social life, and reliably and painlessly attending pre-scheduled social outings without being exhausted and sleep-deprived. So, I guess being limited in this way has both benefits and huge drawbacks.)

I'm sure that no mundane goals would satisfy me in the long run - so, it seems best to focus on my not-so-normal, perhaps paranormal (or spiritual) goals, since I doubt there are many mundane ways - by which I mean, ways which wouldn't involve miracles or divine intervention - to make the universe a heavenly place. (Though learning to lucid dream, or to pre-program non-lucid dreams, might be an entertaining fictitious way of being able to experience heavenly things.)

Perhaps science alone could result in things like drastically lengthened lifespans and the end of age-related sickness, withering and death. Etc., etc. But, I think I might be far more delighted by actual inexplicable Jesus-style miracles than by scientific cures. :-)

Even so, if I have no luck figuring out how to get miracles to happen or how to get faith healing to work (maybe I'm simply too agnostic for it to work?), I might eventually have to take much more of an interest in what science and medicine are up to with regards to extending lifespans and enabling old people to remain physically young.

I probably should already, because my parents (and others I know) are getting older, and it would be nice if they could stick around and not have arthritis and all this other crap they have to deal with.


Anyway, I actually have quite a lot else to write about. I could even literally write some books (which I'd like to release free/libre on the internet, as well as perhaps offering physical copies) - but, too much of what I have to say is still too private to post publicly. Oh, well.

I'll probably be releasing another update of Astroblahhh Desktop at some point. It will be version 2.3, unless I unexpectedly end up adding even more to it.

I also really want to release some more editions of the Eryss astrology software, even the AutoHotkey version of Eryss for Windows. And probably a PHP-GTK version too.

Or better yet, a command line version, web version, and PHP-GTK version, all in one. :-) That's also what I'm trying to do with the not-yet-complete Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0, and the CMS (content management system, for lack of a better term) that I'm inching toward really building.

WordsPlatz, my own blogging software, is pleasant and easy for me to use, but it's pretty limited compared to what I have in mind, and also pretty limited in comparison to what Astroblahhh Desktop (even the released version) already is now.


In other news, people are finally reviving the long-idle PHP-GTK project, and the official PHP-GTK website has been significantly updated for maybe the first time since 2010!

http://gtk.php.net

I'm very happy about this, because I always thought PHP-GTK was too cool and useful for everyone to just abandon it forever. I'm so fond of PHP-GTK that eventually I would have probably attempted to revive it myself, if no one else was going to do it.

Not that I would necessarily be able to get very far with such an attempt. :-) But, who knows. I have a lot more confidence than I once did, because I'm amazed at how useful and functional Astroblahhh Desktop and my Puppy Linux Setup Kit have turned out to be. (But I'm still not at all certain I could make an adequate living if I really tried.)


I have been too preoccupied with my own private goals to focus as much as I ought to on making my software easier and more intuitive for people other than myself to use.

But, hopefully the day is coming when I will turn my attention more toward doing that.

And, once I have a content management system (or whatever) I'm happy with, I'll be able to update my websites more effortlessly.

Which hopefully will both help the world, as well as somehow improve my financial situation.


(Addition, 3:34 AM EDT: Despite my cynical view of life, even I have to admit my life is actually now better than it has ever been before.

Even transiting Pluto opposition my sun - a transit astrologers usually fret about - turned out to maybe correlate with some actually very good things. But, most of those things are too private to write about currently. A shame, since the things I can't write about are far more fascinating than probably anything I ever publicly posted. But perhaps someday, I will be able to reveal more.

Anyway, just thought I'd add this, so people don't worry that I'm depressed. I'm actually less depressed now than I ever was since childhood. :-) )


Again, donations and microdonations are welcome, though I'd now prefer them to be sent through Second Life rather than PayPal.

And someday, goods and services will hopefully be available.

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100 days of free videos from psychic medium John Edward
Monday, June 1st, 2015
05:34:20 GMT

Paranormal

John Edward is a well-known psychic medium.

Of course, I don't know for sure if he or any other psychic medium is truly communicating with the dead. But, regardless, he's one of my favorite psychics, and I find his books, shows, etc. quite interesting.

Recently, I read in his official email newsletter that starting June 1st, 2015, he will be releasing a free video each day for 100 days.

You can sign up to see them at the following page from JohnEdward.net:

100 Day Evolution


One thing I find particularly neat about John Edward is that he's actually interested in astrology.

Here's an old newsletter of his where he wrote a bit about astrology:

John Edward Newsletter - January/February 2014

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Comment in response to "Challenges in attracting students to research careers" on NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum
Friday, May 15th, 2015
11:37:14 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

I posted a comment on someone else's idea on the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum, where people can post ideas and comments, and vote on them:

Challenges in attracting students to research careers

Yes, many years ago, I thought I might like to pursue a scientific career. Good thing I didn't, though... because I ended up with an embarrassingly major interest in astrology, among other odd paranormal topics. :-)

Though, I guess my interest in odd paranormal topics actually might not have destroyed my scientific career if I had one, because I probably would have kept my mouth shut about my interest in odd paranormal topics. But, I'm sure that would have felt quite unpleasantly stifling.

I don't expect to get inspired to post anything else to the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum, but, who knows? It's probably more likely that I will if someone comments on my comments or ideas.


More details about the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum and my previous posts there are in this post on Non24.Com, with the same post mirrored on Non24.Org.

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How common is Omega 3 nutritional deficiency, and how can people make sure they're getting enough Omega 3?
Friday, May 15th, 2015
09:04:00 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

I posted yet another idea to the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum, where people can post ideas and comments, and vote on them:

How common is Omega 3 nutritional deficiency, and how can people make sure they're getting enough Omega 3?

Votes and comments are welcome!


More details about the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum and my previous posts there are in this post on Non24.Com, with the same post mirrored on Non24.Org.

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Would unconditional basic income improve people's health & ease poverty better than conventional welfare programs?
Friday, May 15th, 2015
05:58:57 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

I posted another idea to the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum, where people can post ideas and comments, and vote on them:

Would unconditional basic income improve people's health & ease poverty better than conventional welfare programs?

Votes and comments are welcome!


My previous post, Do our modern "traditional" sleep schedules defy nature?, currently has 21 upvotes and 14 downvotes. No comments yet other than my own.

Thank you to all the voters, and any future commenters!


More details about the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum and my previous post are in this post on Non24.Com, with the same post mirrored on Non24.Org.

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Do our modern "traditional" sleep schedules defy nature?
Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
09:22:21 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

I recently posted this at the NHLBI Strategic Visioning Forum, where people can post ideas and comments, and vote on them:

Do our modern "traditional" sleep schedules defy nature?

Votes and comments are welcome!


Edit, 9:44 PM EDT: More details are at this page on Non24.Com, with the same post mirrored on Non24.Org.

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Evil Toilets for Cats
Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
00:09:02 GMT

Corporations Gone Wild
I Wish This Was Just a Joke

Unfortunately, it appears my evil toilets satire is now partially a reality - for cats.


An article from ifixit.org:

DRM Kitty Litter: The Only Thing Stupider than DRM Coffee


I wish this was just a joke!

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Modified version of new2dir for Puppy Linux; and thoughts on Linux package management
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
18:19:45 GMT

Puppy Linux

new2dir is a wonderfully useful script included with many (all?) Puppy Linuxes, which makes it much easier to create .pet and .sfs files.

The original version of the new2dir script is by Barry Kauler, the creator of Puppy Linux.

The original new2dir and my modified version of new2dir are under the GNU Lesser General Public License, so anyone is allowed to modify them.


Unfortunately, the original new2dir makes my hard disk alarmingly busy, even if the software I'm building is all inside the RAM disk.

So, I made a modified version to solve that problem, at least for myself and anyone who runs Puppy the same way I do - entirely in a RAM disk.

Here's the source code. It's a Bash script:

new2dir with modifications by Apollia


For more information, see this Puppy Linux Discussion Forum thread:

new2dir modified version, imperfect & not thoroughly tested


That, by the way, is the first thing I ever posted to the Puppy Linux Discussion Forum.

I could (and perhaps should) have posted about other Puppy Linux-related stuff I did in the past - but, I had always either been too shy, too busy, too stressed out, or, in some cases, I didn't think my stuff was polished or useful enough.


Anyway, I'm tempted to also post about my Puppy Linux Setup Kit. But, I think I'm going to put that off until I release an update with setup scripts for Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

My Puppy Linux Setup Kit update will also probably contain stuff related to the next release of Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK and Astroblahhh PH-GTK. I've been working on that lately, because until I finish those, I can't use any of my PHP-GTK software, nor the Eryss astrology software, in LH64.


Actually, I think for the next releases of Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK and Astroblahhh PH-GTK, I'm actually not going to make them into large, combined packages of stuff.

Originally, I made them that way for convenience (and laziness) - just one all-in-one package to download and install. (Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK if you wanted web server+database server-related stuff, and Astroblahhh PH-GTK if you didn't.) But, now, a better way is possible.

My Puppy Linux Setup Kit has some nice, convenient downloader scripts, so, it would probably be better to build a lot of different, separate packages - one for MariaDB, one for PostgreSQL, one for PHP, one for PHP-GTK, etc., and one (or more) for the example scripts, documentation, etc. I bundled with GLMP-GTK and PH-GTK - and then make a bunch of Puppy Setup Kit scripts which will download and install everything in the proper order.


Another, probably even better idea I had was - using the foundation laid by my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, it's now conceivable that I could create some kind of package-building kit, so people could more easily download source code, compile it themselves, and make it into their own .pet and .sfs files.

The package-building kit would provide clear, step-by-step guidance, along with a bit of helpful automation which would do boring things like downloading source code, extracting tarballs, and launching new2dir, dir2pet and mksquashfs.

That would pave the way for people to be able to far more easily build their own possibly customized GLMP-GTK or PH-GTK for whatever Puppy Linux they want, without having to do things as tediously slowly and manually, and without having to wait for me or someone else to do it for them.


Also, it has long bothered me about Linux in general that Linux users are often encouraged to be dependent on package repositories and/or downloading precompiled packages of software for their Linux distro, rather than being more encouraged to download source code and build things themselves.

Even my own Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK and Astroblahhh PH-GTK packages kind of encourage that problem - and so does my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, since it currently mostly downloads .pet and .sfs packages rather than source code - and I'd like to stop encouraging it.

Fortunately, perhaps my not-yet-created package-building kit might be a solution to that problem. It wouldn't be quite as fast and convenient as just downloading a precompiled package, but it would be more educational, give the user the opportunity to customize things themselves more, should be a bit faster than downloading, extracting, and packaging everything manually, and could provide more hand-holding than a source code tarball's README or INSTALL file might.


Having the source code is always better than having precompiled binaries with no source code, for various reasons already explained in this thing I wrote that I so frequently link to: What is free, libre, open source software?

But, until drastically improving my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, I wasn't even able to imagine a convenient, easy way to provide Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK and Astroblahhh PH-GTK without providing precompiled binaries. It seemed so unthinkably difficult originally that I just gave in and provided the precompiled binaries despite my qualms.

Anyway, it will definitely take some work for me to create some package-building scripts, but, thanks to all the work I've already done, going that extra mile doesn't seem like such an overwhelming, intimidating, practically impossible chore anymore.

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Short blog comment about systemd and Puppy Linux
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
14:32:17 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web

I posted a short comment in response to a blog post at the fascinating IgnorantGuru's Blog, by the author of SpaceFM:

Updated Info On SpaceFM

Which, despite the title, also mentions systemd and has comments about it.

My comment is like an abbreviated version of what I said in my preceding blog post, titled systemd - probably a bad thing.

The Updated Info On SpaceFM blog post itself and other people's comments are far more interesting than my comment!

But, it seemed worthwhile for me to post my comment, since no one had brought up Puppy Linux yet.

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systemd - probably a bad thing
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
13:56:08 GMT

Linux

Here's an interesting thread I found on the Puppy Linux Discussion Forum:

Puppy Linux Discussion Forum - boycott systemd


Barry Kauler, the creator of Puppy Linux, doesn't like systemd either, according to this blog post from March 2013:

Barry's Blog - eudev, fork of udev


Addition, 3/22/2015, 6:14 PM: And also according to this more recent blog post from Nov. 14, 2014:

Barry's Blog - Alternatives to systemd

End of addition.


I'm still not a Linux expert, and I ought to pay more attention to news in general (not just Linux news)... so, until the past couple hours or so, I wasn't even aware of "systemd" and how bad it is reputed to be, and quite probably actually is, in my opinion.

"systemd" isn't used in Puppy Linux, so no wonder I mostly hadn't encountered stuff about it before.

Except I had recently run across this post on Tumblr, which I didn't understand at the time:

DevOps Reactions Tumblr - Watching systemd evolve


Anyway, even though I don't fully understand what "systemd" is and all the arguments for and against it, it seems like this is probably a pretty important issue, and thus worth spreading the news about.

I get the impression from what I've read that "systemd" might be a serious threat to free (as in freedom), libre, open source software.

I don't understand it well enough myself yet to write clearly about it, but, hopefully just pointing out that boycott systemd discussion thread will help raise awareness of the potential problems. That discussion thread is currently 14 pages long and contains a lot of interesting info and links.


And, for people who'd prefer non-technical information on this topic, here's another amusing Tumblr post about "systemd":

DevOps Reactions Tumblr - Systemd

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Spotify is nice to use again; thoughts on alternatives
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
08:05:11 GMT

Music
News

I just tried Spotify again for the first time in a while, and their web player is no longer horrendously slow in my web browser.

So, I guess either Spotify fixed something, or maybe it's faster now because I recently totally switched to Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

I guess Spotify might even be nice enough now for me to subscribe - but, mostly because of my bad financial circumstances, I'm not going to.

Besides, it would be so cool if I could figure out how to make my own music service using the MN Open API from MediaNet. I wonder if there's a way for me to make money from that without compromising my ideals about libre software and copyleft? Ideas are welcome at The Eryss.Com Forum.

My uncertainty about that is one of the top reasons I'm reluctant to go ahead with it. It's likely to be a lot of work and take a lot longer than I wish it would, for possibly very little reward. On the other hand, I guess there might be no harm in fooling around for a couple weeks or so trying to code up something cool. (I'm not quite ready to begin, though, because I haven't fully made myself at home with Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux yet - that's still in progress.)


Maybe what would be best would be a streaming music site which tries a lot harder than existing streaming music sites to help out musicians, perhaps by providing a lot of external links to musicians' own official websites, so people can go there and buy things and/or send tips directly to the musicians they love.

I've read that the so-called royalties most musicians get from streaming music tend to be depressingly tiny and nowhere near enough to live on. So, perhaps a music site which does a lot more to encourage purchases and tipping might really help musicians out.

I wish there was a payment service which didn't have any fees at all, whose top goal was to help people rather than to make money. But, creating something like that would probably be a lot more difficult than creating a music service, so I don't think I feel up to it. But, someone should definitely create one.

Paying musicians more per stream would also probably be good - though I wonder if it's even financially possible, given that the average price for a streaming music subscription is probably around $9.99 per month for unlimited streaming.

But, even if the price per stream were higher, I think it still would suck for musicians that musicians probably have to just blindly trust (or hope) that streaming music companies are being honest about how many times the musicians' music got streamed.

If I were a musician trying to make a living from music, I'd much rather have potential buyers and tippers sent to my own website which I control, so then I wouldn't be in the position of having to just blindly believe (or hope) that various middleman websites are being honest about my quantity of sales or streams.


Spotify still has a free (as in price) version, and I believe the audio quality is better than YouTube's, at least.

But, perhaps I might end up just going back to collecting legally free MP3s (or even FLAC files - FLAC being a lossless audio format) from sites like Bandcamp or VGRemix.com.

Or maybe I'll return to collecting legally free MIDIs, a hobby I acquired back in the olden days when I had only slow dialup internet, since MIDIs were some of the only music files small enough to enable me to download a lot of decent-sounding music in a reasonable amount of time.

Maybe somehow I'll be able to figure out (or maybe someone will tell me?) how to make MIDIs sound really great in Linux. I have thousands of MIDIs already, and it would be nice to be able to listen to them again without having to use one of my old Windows computers to have decent audio quality.


Donations and microdonations and purchases of goods (still none available yet) and services (somewhat available, but please don't expect quick responses) are welcome.

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Sorry for my mistaken suggestion about Music Unlimited; I accidentally canceled my subscription
Monday, March 9th, 2015
03:12:17 GMT

Music
News

Today (Sunday, March 8th), I found out my Music Unlimited subscription unintentionally expired. I manually canceled it sometime in the few days before I was due to be charged on March 7th or 8th, and found out at 10:42 PM EDT (I might as well be exact, since my web browser history enables me to :-) ) that I'm now considered a non-subscriber, despite what this Sony FAQ page says:

If you have an active Music Unlimited subscription at the end of February 2015, you will be able to continue listening until the end of March, and you will not be charged during the month of March. Music Unlimited subscriptions will automatically expire on March 29 and will not renew again.

I guess my mistake was, not realizing that I wouldn't be charged if I left my subscription active. Shouldn't have unsubscribed manually.

Sorry for suggesting that idea - I hope it didn't inconvenience anyone else.

I'm going to call customer support tomorrow to see if I can get my account reactivated.

(Addition, March 10, 2015, 10:39 PM: Unfortunately, customer support was unable to do anything. I was sent in circles and told to call various different numbers, and no one was able to help in the end. Oh, well. At least that will motivate me to try doing something with the MN Open API from MediaNet, sooner than I would have if I still had a music service.)

In addition to posting this news here, I've also edited my original blog post about Music Unlimited closing.

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Astroblahhh Desktop v2.0
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
14:22:48 GMT

Site Update
Software Release

I finally managed to make a pretty much releasable edition of Astroblahhh Desktop v2.0.

Astroblahhh Desktop v2.0 (457 KB Zip File)

The source code is hopeless mess which I can't even hope to perfect in a reasonable amount of time. I also didn't adequately update its documentation. But, it's amazing how well it works, despite such hideously messy source code.

I still use it very frequently because I still haven't completed Astroblahhh Desktop v3.0, which is in progress, but not useable yet.

More info is on Astroblahhh Desktop's home page.


Perhaps someday Astroblahhh Desktop might become a plausible rival to things like Evernote or Trello.

Or, perhaps I'm only daydreaming. On the other hand, maybe the only thing that might make it impossible is the oppression caused by my and my family's financial struggles.

As usual, donations and microdonations and purchases of goods (still none available yet) and services (again, somewhat available, except for the fact that I keep avoiding even checking my email) are welcome.

Edit, 2:38 PM: Had to reupload the zip file several times, because I kept noticing little problems that had to be fixed. The timestamp of the hopefully final zip file is 2:31:20 PM EST, and it was uploaded probably less than 2-3 minutes after that.

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Apollia's Puppy Linux Setup Kit v1.1
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
00:09:02 GMT

Puppy Linux
Software Release

I updated my Puppy Linux Setup Kit, mostly because in version 1.0, there was an incredibly stupid and annoying glitch where the launch scripts would act as if you clicked "Yes" if you clicked the "No" button to stop things from installing.

There were also other small updates and improvements too, which I didn't document because it was too much trouble.

Apollia's Puppy Linux Setup Kit v1.1


For now, I've abandoned the idea of making the setup kit set up Lighthouse 64 Puppy Linux 6.02 Beta 2.

I couldn't get my favorite window manager (IceWM) to work, and running multiple VirtualBoxes didn't seem to work much (or maybe at all) better than running them with Lucid Puppy 5.2.8 version 004 - my usual 4 GB RAM computer still got slowed down. So, since the benefits weren't as dramatic as I hoped they would be, it seemed best to stay with Lucid.

I'm pretty satisfied with the setup kit overall, so this might be the last update of it for quite a while.

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Sony's Music Unlimited is closing at the end of March 2015
Thursday, January 29th, 2015
08:15:03 GMT

Music
News

Today, I found out via an email from Sony that Music Unlimited is closing at the end of March.

How disappointing! I'm so tired of great services getting shut down.

But, here's one good bit of news. Quoted from http://www.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com/music/:

"Current Music Unlimited customers will be able to listen throughout March even if their subscriptions end before the month is over."


Not so good is this quote:

"Music Unlimited subscriptions will not renew after March 29."


So, if your subscription renews before March 29, then, you might want to manually cancel it in March before you possibly get charged.

(Addition, March 8, 2015: Actually, this was a bad idea. I did this, and I'm now considered a non-subscriber, so I'm going to have to contact customer support to see if I can reactivate my account for the rest of March.

Originally, I hadn't seen this FAQ page which says:

If you have an active Music Unlimited subscription at the end of February 2015, you will be able to continue listening until the end of March, and you will not be charged during the month of March. Music Unlimited subscriptions will automatically expire on March 29 and will not renew again.

End of addition to this blog post, added March 8, 2015, 11:29 PM.)

Unless you want to subscribe to Playstation Music, which seems to just be Spotify streaming through your Playstation.

I'm not going to subscribe to Playstation Music because I don't have a Playstation 3 or 4, and I shouldn't get one in the near future, both for financial reasons, and to avoid distractions. And besides, I just don't like Spotify as much as Music Unlimited.

I think I'd rather try creating my own music service. Maybe I really will try, perhaps using the MN Open API from MediaNet.


But, due to my chronic financial difficulties, I'm probably going to have to do something else instead.

As usual, I welcome donations, microdonations, and purchases of goods (none available yet as I write this) and services (which are somewhat available now, but I've been avoiding my email again lately).

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A few ideas for business models that might work despite an impoverished world
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
11:40:27 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web
Forum Replies

Here are some forum replies I posted way back in February 2014:

Beats Music Support Forums - making a suggestion

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Short blog comment on how I choose tools
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
11:40:16 GMT

My Writing Elsewhere on the Web
Blog Comment

Lately, I haven't been posting much of anything anywhere on the entire internet. (Which actually isn't that unusual, since I am overall a shy person.)

But a couple weeks ago, I posted a comment at the The Freelance to Freedom Project blog in reply to this blog post:

How To Choose Your Tools

Here's a direct link to my comment.

I just was writing about free, libre, open source stuff again, mostly.

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Mercury retrograde; and Eryss astrology software delayed again
Sunday, October 5th, 2014
19:37:38 GMT

Astrology

I'm probably not going to release the Windows AutoHotkey* version of Eryss astrology software in the near future, but it's definitely not because of superstitiously avoiding doing it during Mercury retrograde (Oct. 4th-25th, 2014).

Actually, some articles I've read say that Mercury retrograde would actually be a good time to work on something like this.

From SladeRoberson.com:

35 Great Things To Do During Mercury Retrograde

The Positive Side of Mercury Retrograde

What To Do During Mercury Retrograde

But, even so, I'm probably not going to get around to Eryss yet, because, as usual, something more important (which is too private to write about) came up.

Additions, 10/5/2014, 4:52 PM EDT, etc.: Which will also delay everything else I was thinking of releasing. Just another unfortunate consequence of not having enough money. Who knows how many projects of mine will never even come into existence at all, simply because of my poverty?

Donations, microdonations, and purchases of goods and services are welcome.

However, donations or microdonations would be best, since I'm too preoccupied to figure out what goods to sell (none are available currently), or to provide services at the moment. I still welcome requests for services, but, I can't do them in the very near future.

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