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Astroblahhh Desktop

Featuring the Astroblahhh Links Organizer,
Astroblahhh Idea Organizer,
and Astroblahhh File Organizer

Warning, Sept. 29/30, 2015 and Oct. 14, 2015: Please be wary of using the same Astroblahhh Desktop databases on two very different computer platforms, such as Windows XP and Linux, or even the same platform but with different web browsers, such as a newer browser which is likely to use Unicode as its default character set, and an older browser which doesn't default to Unicode.

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

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

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

Welcome to the official home page of Astroblahhh Desktop, a software package which I, Apollia of Astroblahhh.Com, wrote mostly in PHP with a little JavaScript and MySQL. It is free, libre, open source software, released under the GNU Affero General Public License 3.0.

By the way, I am an amateur programmer and don't always completely know what the heck I'm doing, so, please don't trust this software or rely on it for anything really important. Even though my programs seem to work remarkably well as long as the databases aren't too colossal, I still don't think I fully grasp the intricacies of good database design or how to make databases function efficiently, judging by the problem I had (described below) where adding/removing indexes of a colossal file database tremendously overheated my hard drive. The file moving feature might also be very dangerous.

So, please only use this software at your own risk.

The latest available version is Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4. Though Astroblahhh Desktop v3.0 is in progress (as has been off and on since 2013), 3.0 is still not useable yet - so, 2.4 is still the version I use the most as of Oct. 14, 2015.

Unfortunately, I haven't had the time or inclination to fully update the documentation since version 1.12. But, hopefully Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0 will be adequately documented once it's finished.

Feedback, questions, discussions, etc. are welcome, and you can post them publicly at the official Astroblahhh Desktop board at the Eryss.Com Forum, or send them to me privately.

I also welcome donations, microdonations, and purchases of goods and services.

Astroblahhh Desktop is made up of 3 different programs for searching and organizing things. They're the 3rd, 4th, and 5th large projects written in PHP/MySQL/JavaScript that I ever completed (well, kind of; at least I got them working well enough to mostly satisfy me) and released.

Warning, 6/17/2011, for versions before 2.0: Last week, I found a bad but hopefully rare glitch in Astroblahhh Desktop, and it finally occurred to me to post this warning. (I guess the reason I didn't think of posting it before was because I doubt there are any users of Astroblahhh Desktop other than me in the entire world).

The glitch involves the edit-record forms of all three organizers. If you put in a wrongly-formatted date, click Submit, then get sent back to the form to correct your error, Astroblahhh Desktop loses track of the detail of what database contained the record you were working on, and automatically opts to use the default database instead.

So, if you correct your error and press Submit again, Astroblahhh Desktop could update the wrong database, and overwrite the record in that database which has the same ID as the record you were editing. (But, if you just happened to be working on a record in your default database - no harm done).

I'm surprised it took me so long to even notice such a bad glitch, and I hope I never lost data because of it, but, fortunately, it's pretty rare that I add dates to already existing records, and I probably formatted the dates properly most (or hopefully all) of the time.

So, hopefully nothing got overwritten in my default database, and hopefully no one else had this problem happen to them either. This makes me glad I'm quite possibly the only user of Astroblahhh Desktop in the entire world.

I might be wrong about that, though, so in case there are actually other users besides me, I'm posting this warning. I'm very sorry about that glitch, and please remember to avoid triggering it. It will be repaired in the next release.

Note, 2/15/2011: I believe this glitch is fixed now in Astroblahhh Desktop v2.0. But, please keep being careful just in case.

Alas, Astroblahhh Desktop definitely has its drawbacks. For one thing, when I'm not using Astroblahhh Desktop inside a VirtualBox, I only feel comfortable using Astroblahhh Desktop whilst disconnected from the internet, because of the possible security and privacy problems. That's rather inconvenient, especially with the web links organizer. :-)

Since perhaps March 2012, my favorite way of using Astroblahhh Desktop has been to keep it inside a Windows XP-running VirtualBox with no internet connection. (I would have preferred to use Linux inside VirtualBox rather than Windows, but, on my usual 4 GB computer, I ran into the unfortunate problem of Linux guests in VirtualBox running intolerably slowly, and I still haven't found a way to fix that.)

Running Astroblahhh Desktop in a virtual machine with no internet connection hopefully helps bypass some of the security and privacy issues that Astroblahhh Desktop quite possibly has.

Perhaps surprisingly, even Astroblahhh Desktop's file organizer is useful when you're running Astroblahhh Desktop inside a VirtualBox. You can create shared folders in VirtualBox and put symlinks in those shared folders to any external files and folders you want Astroblahhh Desktop to be able to work with. Astroblahhh Desktop can read those files and folders, and even move them around - but please be extremely careful with that.

Using VirtualBox's shared folders can actually make Astroblahhh Desktop's file-and-folder-moving features even more dangerous than they were originally. For example, if your VirtualBox shared folder happens to be inside a RAM disk, and you mistakenly move files/folders into your RAM disk rather than into a symlinked folder linked to a location on a physical disk, you will lose those file/folders when you shut down your computer.

So, again, please be extremely careful.

Astroblahhh Desktop isn't intended to alter or delete files, except for being able to overwrite files in the abdesk-data and Cabdesk folders, normally found (in XAMPP in Windows) in a location like C:/xampp/htdocs/abdesk-data and C:/xampp/htdocs/abdesk - but, it could have glitches, especially with the file moving capabilities.

I rely on this software heavily myself, which gave me a very good incentive to do my best to make it work as well as I possibly can, but my best still might not be good enough. Astroblahhh Desktop could still very easily be dangerous and dysfunctional, especially on computer platforms I don't have, and thus haven't been able to test Astroblahhh Desktop on.

I can't say it enough - please only use Astroblahh Desktop at your own risk.

All the organizers have powerful search capabilities similar to the Astrosorting Music Organization Database (AMODB). You can use the built-in querying languages to construct searches, or write your own MySQL queries, or just type in a few search tags without having to write any queries at all.

There are numerous checkboxes that allow you to change the order and filtering of results. There are colorful labels and Unicode icons which are helpful in telling at a glance what links, ideas, and files are for what purpose.

Instead of just one search tags category, there are numerous different types of tags. Tags can have spaces in them, so you don't have to have tags like "SearchEngine" with no spaces.

You can mark records as read by clicking the "Read" link next to them. Then, to get those read records out of the way, you can order your links, ideas, or files by the date/time you marked them read, so the most recently read ones will go to the bottom of the list.

Each organizer allows you to fill in numerous different data fields for each record - actually so many fields that it would be a waste of time to fill them all in for every single record you add, but, at least they're available if you need them. Each organizer also allows you to not fill in lots of data for each record - they cope with incompleteness just fine.

Being free, libre, open source, Astroblahhh Desktop is theoretically 100% customizeable, at least if you know how to code. Many of its cosmetic features (such as the background colors, text colors, fonts, etc.) are easily modified by editing its CSS file.

Of course, I'm biased, but - even despite the scary incident mentioned above of my hard drive overheating and the plastic literally melting when adding/removing lots of indexes of a huge Astroblahhh Desktop file database, the possibility of unfound catastrophic glitches, and the fact that it's probably better and more secure to be disconnected from the internet whilst using it - Astroblahhh Desktop is my favorite tool for organizing and locating web bookmarks, ideas/goals/to-do list items/other random text scraps, and files, and there is nothing I'd rather use.

There is obviously room for improvement, though - which is part of why I made Astroblahhh Desktop free, libre, open source, so anyone who wants to can improve and customize it any way they like.

Astroblahhh Desktop isn't software which is limited to any particular standard computer platform (like Windows, MacOS, or Linux) - the interface can be accessed by any common web browser. You just need some web server software to run on your own computer - or you could even conceivably upload Astroblahhh Desktop to a regular web server, though I strongly discourage you from that, since it probably has security problems, and it's not designed to be used on the web or by more than one person.

To develop and use it, I've been using the Windows version of XAMPP, an easily-installed distribution of the Apache web server software, bundled with PHP, Perl, MySQL, and other stuff, which is available for Linux, Mac OS, Windows, and Solaris. I've provided some instructions on how to hopefully get that running, at least on Windows.

Even as late as Feb. 11, 2015, I still use XAMPP, but now usually inside a Windows XP-running VirtualBox, instead of non-virtual Windows XP. My main, non-virtual OS which I run VirtualBox inside is usually Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, customized with my Puppy Linux Setup Kit.

In 2011 (and maybe other years), in Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2 (and possibly Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004), I used a web server/database server package called LHMP, which I don't know where to download anymore. It was around then that I made Astroblahhh Desktop a lot more compatible with Linux, even Astroblahhh Desktop's file organizer. The LHMP package contained the Hiawatha web server (built into many Puppy Linuxes), PHP, and the MariaDB database server.

I think the top reason I used LHMP was because XAMPP took up too much RAM, and I was stuck with a computer with only 1 GB of RAM. Eventually, I was surprised to find out that it actually is possible to run a Windows XP-running VirtualBox inside a Puppy Linux with only 1 GB of RAM - and even to watch Netflix pretty comfortably in such a VirtualBox!

So, if I had realized VirtualBox would work that well on my quite underpowered computer, I could have used that instead of LHMP - except if I had, Astroblahhh Desktop might not have ended up running as well natively in Linux.

For more details on how to install Astroblahhh Desktop, and the numerous possible security, privacy, and hardware issues, see the Readme file. The Readme file is also included in Astroblahhh Desktop's zip file.

However, most of the documentation hasn't been updated much since version 1.12.

Disclaimer: This software is provided free, libre, open source, and as-is, without any warranty, etc. The entire risk as to the results and performance of this software is assumed by you. Sorry if anything bad happens.

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Last modified: Sept. 29, 2015
This page uploaded to web: Mar. 1, 2009