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.
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.
- The Astroblahhh Links Organizer is for organizing and searching web bookmarks. It's basically like having your own (hopefully) private very enhanced Delicious on your hard drive, minus any social bookmarking features.
- The Astroblahhh Idea Organizer is a little harder to sum up easily, since I don't know of anything else much like it (except for the Astroblahhh Links Organizer and Astroblahhh File Organizer). It's not outliner software, not mind map software or concept map software, though maybe it could be used in a GTD sort of way somehow. (I'm currently not familiar with GTD, though, so I'm not sure).
In any case, it's a database for ideas, goals, to-do list items, or other random text scraps (like quotes, recipes, source code scraps, useful tips, or whatever else you want). Like the other two organizers, it allows you to categorize, tag, and rate things according to various criteria, like how much you like them, or (ideas organizer only) how high of a priority it is for you to complete an item, etc.
The Astroblahhh Idea Organizer helps you get organized, but not too organized - there's still enough chaos and randomness for it to be potentially inspiring. I like how it mingles the mundane and trivial with the profound, presenting you with not just boring, dreary tasks that need to be done, but also innumerable profound questions, quotes, inspiring long-term goals, or whatever other cool odds and ends you've ever felt drawn to note down.
Someday, I'd like to expand Astroblahhh Desktop with features which will make it a free, libre, open source rival to things like Evernote and Trello.
- The Astroblahhh File Organizer is like the other two organizers, except it's for files instead of ideas or links. It's basically a free, libre, open source alternative to Google Desktop. It doesn't have all the same features as Google Desktop, or various file manager programs - but, it does most of what I want it to do, and could be extended to do the rest of what I want, so, I'm happy with it, at least.
Another thing that makes Astroblahhh Desktop better than Google Desktop is the fact that unlike Google Desktop, Astroblahhh Desktop isn't discontinued, and never can be, because Astroblahhh Desktop is free, libre, and open source.
Also, unlike Google Desktop (which I guess wasn't of much importance to Google, since Google discontinued it) - Astroblahhh Desktop is of tremendous importance to me, its author. I rely on it very frequently, and, though I didn't release any updated version of it at all between Dec. 2009 and Feb. 2015 (since I'm not sure anyone other than me actually uses Astroblahhh Desktop, yet), I never abandoned the project entirely, and for all these years, I kept adding to it from time to time.
One of my next top goals is to make Astroblahhh Desktop into a true desktop app, with no dependence on a web server or database server. (However, it will still have the ability to use a web server and/or database server if desired.) Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0 is still incomplete and unreleased, but it already is much more independent of a web server and database server, since I've been working on a new PHP-GTK desktop interface, and 3.0 is already capable of using serverless SQLite databases.
Hopefully, Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0 will be far easier to get started with than any of its preceding versions. Just installing Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK or Astroblahhh PH-GTK should make it possible to use Astroblahhh Desktop 3.0. And, I hope it being a PHP-GTK app will also make it cross-platform and capable of working on Windows and Macs without me having to go to too much extra trouble to make it work.
The file organizer provides a way to associate various notes, ratings, and search tags with various files, and to quickly search files with a lot more search criteria than the average search program. It currently doesn't import or search the actual contents of files (and maybe never will, since I don't think I really want or need that feature, even though it could probably be added).
It has some useful image-file features. It optionally makes thumbnail files for supported image formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, and BMP), and it can search for images of particular widths and/or heights, or which are square, wide or tall, or which have a 4:3 (normal screen) or 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio.
Warning: Astroblahhh File Organizer can optionally be used to move files around, though that might be dangerously glitchy, especially on platforms other than Windows XP. Don't trust the file moving feature (or Astroblahhh Desktop in general), and if you use it at all, test it first on useless, deletable files, and make sure that it's not making things vanish into thin air.
Warning: It's best not to go totally overboard adding records of every file in your hard drive all to the same database (though it might be OK if you have a small hard drive, like 10 GB), because I don't know how to make the database efficient when it's really huge, and messing around with indexes of a really huge database of about 255,000 files on the 120 GB partition of a 200 GB hard drive caused my hard drive to overheat to 69° Celsius, which actually melted some of the plastic on it. (Though my hard drive still works, fortunately - even as of Feb. 11, 2015, it still works! Though maybe that's because I haven't been using that computer very often for several years now...)
So, please only use this software at your risk. Also, if you use this program at all, I recommend making a variety of smaller databases instead of one huge database. I recommend not building excessively huge links DBs or idea DBs, either.
|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
Cabdesk folders, normally found (in XAMPP in Windows) in a location like
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.|