Blog Main Archive - Mar 2015

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3/9/2015 - Sorry for my mistaken suggestion about Music Unlimited; I accidentally canceled my subscription (Music - News)
3/11/2015 - Spotify is nice to use again; thoughts on alternatives (Music - News)
3/19/2015 - systemd - probably a bad thing (GNU/Linux)
3/19/2015 - Short blog comment about systemd and Puppy Linux (My Writing Elsewhere on the Web)
3/22/2015 - Modified version of new2dir for Puppy Linux; and thoughts on Linux package management (Puppy Linux)

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

GNU/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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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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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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