2011 Site Update History

Posts Below
Feb 3 - Added a transcript of a Steve Pavlina podcast       Feb 14       Feb 23 - Free software by me on request
Mar 20 - Stuff to filter out file name characters that Windows dislikes
Apr 30 - Perl script to convert KeyNote NF notes to NoteCase 1.9.8 .ncd format
May 10 - Simple Perl script to open folders       May 23 - Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Linux
Jun 17 - Warning: Bad (but hopefully rare) Astroblahhh Desktop glitch  (Warning)
Aug 25 - Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Windows       Aug 25 - Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Linux v2.0
Sep 27 - Added a list of Firefox add-ons I use
Oct 4 - Updated Windows section; added AHK script
Dec 15 - Firefox Add-Ons page update: Apollia's Favorite Stylish Style v1.0; and a link to Memory Fox

This page lists many of the major and minor additions and changes to Astroblahhh.Com in 2011.


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Added a transcript of a Steve Pavlina podcast
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
19:21:51 GMT

I updated the Self-Help section of this site with a transcript I made of Steve Pavlina's podcast Raising Awareness Through Multiple Perspectives. I placed that transcript in the public domain.

Yes, that's legal, because Steve released most of his work to the public domain in Dec. 2010. More details are available in this blog post from Steve's site: Releasing My Copyrights Thanks so much to Steve for doing that - that is truly amazingly generous.

To transcribe that podcast, I used the fantastic free transcription software Express Scribe.

I made that transcription because I've been trying to get freelance transcription jobs on oDesk. (By the way, that's a referral link, which is why it's green. I could make $50 if someone uses that link to sign up for oDesk, and proceeds to earn or pay out at least $1,000. Here's an oDesk help page explaining oDesk's referral program: http://www.odesk.com/help/help/payments/referrals)

I just figured I needed at least one example of transcription work in my portfolio, as well as some practice doing transcription, and using Express Scribe.

Will I transcribe more of Steve Pavlina's podcasts in the future? Doubtful, because I discovered after finishing my transcript that the other transcripts are going to be done (or already have been done) by StevePavlinaPodcast.info. Transcripts of the first three podcasts are already available there.

(Update, 7/16/2012: Sadly, StevePavlinaPodcast.info is no more, but fortunately, there is now another great site - PavlinaPlus.com - which hosts transcripts of Steve's podcasts, as well as Steve's newsletters, video transcripts, Dexterity Software articles, and workshop articles.)

As for why I'm trying to get work on oDesk - that's because my need for money has become more pressing than usual. My hard drive (the one that I accidentally slightly melted in summer 2009, as described in this previous blog post) has been making odd noises, and I'm afraid it will break down soon. I've had that hard drive since the summer of 2006.

Fortunately, I think I have backups of everything important. However, I'd like to hurry up and get a new hard drive before my current one breaks so I can just copy stuff directly from my current hard drive onto the new one. That way, I won't have to restore stuff from backups, and won't possibly lose anything I accidentally neglected to back up.

Also, if I have a spare hard drive, I'll be much more willing to experiment with installing Linux. (I don't want to have to deal with any problems that might arise from having a dual-boot or multi-boot system with two or more operating systems on the same hard drive).

Alas, after several days of trying, I haven't gotten hired for any oDesk jobs yet, and to be blunt, the selection of transcription jobs looks pretty lame overall, with usually excessively low pay. There are also much fewer transcription jobs than I hoped there would be.

Why do I even bother with transcription? Because I like it, it's easy, I'm good at it - and most of all, because I'm severely restricted in the kinds of programming work I'm willing to do on freelance job sites, because I can't stand to make my best work closed-source and proprietary, or give away exclusive rights to it.

So, I'm only willing to do relatively simple technical jobs on there. (Another reason I shy away from many technical jobs is because I'm not altogether confident in my ability to successfully do them. Meanwhile, I'm quite confident in my ability to do transcription, editing, proofreading, etc.)

I sure wish there was a nice, easy way for me to get paid a lot for writing free, open source, public domain software.

Perhaps I should update my website more, beg for donations, maybe put up some pages offering services, and otherwise try to monetize this site more.

But, given how I've never made much money at all from this site, and it has cost me more to keep it online than I've ever earned from it - working on my site in the faint hope of making money doesn't seem a very realistic, practical option, especially since I need money really soon.

I think if I worked on my website, instead of seeking work which I'm actually likely to get paid for, it would be a little like someone who is dying of thirst deciding to just wait for rain, instead of going in search of water.

However, despite the likely futility of asking for donations, I will still point out anyway that donations to me are welcome.

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Monday, February 14th, 2011
03:55:22 GMT

No important site updates to announce - this blog post itself is the only update.

I don't want to get into a lot of detail, but, I just wanted to say that things have been getting a bit better for me. For one thing, I will be getting a new hard drive soon.

Of course, even though things have been improving, donations are nonetheless always welcome.

I hope sometime I'll start feeling like updating this website more frequently.

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Free software by me on request
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
17:22:15 GMT

I added a new page: Open Source, Public Domain Software Programming Services - For Free, or For Donations, or For Upfront Payment

You can now send me requests for software or scripts you'd like me to write, and I might (or might not) create them and release them as free, open source, public source software on this website. (You can also ask me programming questions).

All for free, or for donations, or an upfront payment.

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Stuff to filter out file name characters that Windows dislikes
Sunday, March 20th, 2011
23:19:23 GMT

Recently, in Windows XP, I tried to back up some files I had saved in Linux using Firefox and one of my favorite Firefox add-ons, File Title 1.4.

To my dismay, I found there were a bunch of files that Windows couldn't do anything with. Windows couldn't open them, move them, rename them, or copy them. (I didn't try deleting any, but I doubt Windows would have been able to delete them either).

I soon realized the problem was because those files had one or more of these characters that Windows can't deal with in file names:

\ : * ? " < > |

(Windows also dislikes forward slashes - / - but none of the files I saved in Linux had any forward slashes. Maybe Linux can't create such files).

The way those characters got in the file names in the first place was because the File Title 1.4 add-on doesn't filter them out. I never had that problem with this add-on in Windows - I guess because something in Windows itself (rather than in the add-on) filters out those characters.

Rather than renaming all the files manually in Linux, I decided to write a Perl script to do it automatically. I also decided to alter the File Title 1.4 add-on so I wouldn't end up saving more files like that in the future. Today, I finished both those things and uploaded them to this website.

I added my new Perl script - replace-filename-chars-windows-cant-handle.txt - to the new Linux section of this site. (Unfortunately, it won't work in Windows XP, and probably not in other versions of Windows either, so you'll have to run it in Linux or something).

And, I added the Use Page Title As File Name + Change Unusual Chars To Dashes Firefox add-on to the new Firefox Add-Ons section of this site.

Edit, 8:21 PM. Had to re-upload the add-on to fix my confusing wording of the description text.

8:41 PM. Changed the name of the Perl script from remove-filename-chars-windows-cant-handle.txt to replace-filename-chars-windows-cant-handle.txt, and improved the description of what it does. (I only changed the comments in the script; the code itself is unchanged).

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Perl script to convert KeyNote NF notes to NoteCase 1.9.8 .ncd format
Saturday, April 30th, 2011
18:26:10 GMT

At first I didn't like outliner software like KeyNote NF, but it grew on me. So, since perhaps 2009, I've been using KeyNote NF in Windows XP to store various notes that are more useful and accessible in a KeyNote file than in plain text files or in Astroblahhh Desktop.

However, in the past couple months that I've been primarily using the Lucid Puppy 5.2 variety of Puppy Linux instead of Windows, those notes haven't been as readily accessible to me, because there isn't a native Linux version of KeyNote.

Yes, KeyNote NF runs in Wine, but, I prefer to use Wine only as a last resort, because I've run into too many glitches while running things in Wine to trust it for anything important (such as working with files with important notes).

Happily, I didn't have to look very hard for a reasonable alternative to KeyNote NF. Lucid Puppy 5.2 comes with a nice, simple KeyNote-like program called NoteCase 1.9.8. It doesn't have as many features, but, I didn't use all of KeyNote NF's features anyway, and NoteCase seems to have essentially all the features I really care about.

There are a few features I miss, though. In KeyNote NF, I always liked being able to have tabs I can click on to open completely different note trees (without having to load a separate file), and I liked being able to use different fonts and font sizes. But, I can get by without those features.

NoteCase has the advantage of being pre-installed in Lucid Puppy 5.2, so I won't have to waste memory by installing needless new software. Plus, there's a free Windows version of NoteCase, so, my NoteCase notes are just as accessible to me in Windows XP as in Puppy Linux.

So, after a couple months of using NoteCase, I decided I liked NoteCase enough to create a way to convert KeyNote NF notes to NoteCase's .ncd format.

That resulted in this Perl script: knt-html-to-ncd.txt

It can't convert KeyNote NF .knt files directly into .ncd files - instead, you have to export your KeyNote NF notes into HTML format. Then, the script can convert those HTML files into .ncd format - a format which is also simply HTML, but with a different structure.

Instructions for how to use the script are in the script's source code, in comments.

The script isn't perfect, but, it was completely adequate for my purposes. More details about the conversions' imperfections are in the script's source code, in comments.

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Simple Perl script to open folders
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
05:23:19 GMT

A while back, I discovered that it's not always such a great idea to try to use Linux symlinks in the same manner as Windows shortcuts.

Clicking symlinks to folders in the Rox-Filer file manager makes Rox-Filer lose track of the actual folder path you're at. (In Rox-Filer, you can display the path of the folder you're in, or which Rox-Filer thinks you're in, by pressing / ).

Symlinks fool Rox-Filer into thinking you're in a subdirectory of whatever folder the symlink was located in, and make it so the Up button goes back to the folder containing the symlink, rather than taking you to the real parent directory of the folder your symlink brought you to.

In the Lucid Puppy 5.2 variety of Puppy Linux, I could find no simple, obvious, built-in way to make a folder shortcut that would behave the way a folder shortcut behaves in Windows.

But, after I figured out that it's possible to make Perl scripts that you can run just by double-clicking on them, a Perl script seemed like a decent solution to this problem, especially because Perl is pre-installed in Lucid Puppy 5.2.

It's actually only a three-line script (four if you count the "shebang" line) without all the comments I added to help out confused Linux newbies.

I've only tested this script in Lucid Puppy 5.2 with the Rox-Filer file manager and the Thunar file manager, but hopefully it would also work with other forms of Linux and other file managers, perhaps with slight modifications.

I like giving my simple-folder-opener scripts this custom icon from IconArchive.com, to make it obvious at a glance that these scripts are folder shortcuts.

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Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Linux
Monday, May 23rd, 2011
18:39:41 GMT

Here's a small Perl script I finished today which makes it easy to make zipped backups of whatever files and folders you want. After you get everything set up by following the instructions in the source code, you can run the script just by double-clicking it.


It definitely works in Lucid Puppy 5.2, and might work (with slight modifications) in other forms of Linux which have the "zip" shell command.

It's a pretty convenient script - I should've made something like that a long time ago.

Actually, last year or so, I did add some not-yet-released backup features (even with zip capabilities) to Astroblahhh Desktop, but the disadvantage of those was, I had to be running Astroblahhh Desktop to use them, and starting up Astroblahhh Desktop takes longer than just double-clicking a Perl script.

Perhaps someday I'll make a modified version of this Perl script which could work in Windows. If this script zipped things up using the Perl module for making zip archives, it might have worked in Windows.

But, Lucid Puppy 5.2's pre-installed Perl doesn't have that module, and installing that module was too much trouble (I tried and failed). So, I used the built-in Linux shell command "zip" instead.

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Warning: Bad (but hopefully rare) Astroblahhh Desktop glitch
Friday, June 17th, 2011
09:12:33 GMT


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.

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Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Windows
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
04:40:47 GMT

I finally made the Windows version of the zip backup script I made for Linux.


(Edit, 9:00 PM, 8/25/2011. I updated it to v2.1 already, to fix the minor annoyances I mentioned here.


Currently, it's actually a bit better than the Linux version, since I fixed a glitch I originally didn't know was there, and it's overall more polished.

I also added a new Windows section to this website, which contains nothing new except the zip backup script.

I haven't yet updated the Linux version of the zip backup script to fix the glitch I discovered.

That glitch is - if you list multiple items for backup which all have the same parent directories, then, only one of those items will be zipped. (I never noticed that before because I hadn't been using the script on items which share the same parent directories.)

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Apollia's Zip Backup Perl Script for Linux v2.0
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
17:53:37 GMT

I updated the Linux zip backup Perl script to version 2.0.


It includes the fix and improvements the recently-released Windows zip backup Perl script has.

The glitch in the original version was, if you listed multiple items for backup which all have the same parent directories, then, only one of those items would be zipped.

Version 2.0 of the Linux script is actually slightly more polished than the Windows zip backup script.

There are no serious problems that I know of in either the current Windows or Linux version - but, the Windows version still has some minor absentminded annoyances.

For instance, I forgot to make the $halt_script_if_any_things_to_zip_dont_exist setting actually do something when you change it to false. Instead, the script always halts if you put any nonexistent files or folders in the @things_to_zip array.

So, next time I'm in Windows (maybe this weekend), I'll test and release my updated Windows version of the script.

Edit, 9:03 PM, 8/25/2011. Done already: apollias-zip-backup-script-for-windows-v2_1.txt

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Added a list of Firefox add-ons I use
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
17:34:21 GMT

In the Firefox Add-Ons section, there is now a list of Firefox add-ons I use. It has various tips and comments.

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Updated Windows section; added AHK script
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
21:03:47 GMT

I updated the Windows section a bit, adding links and info about AutoHotkey and Perl.

I also added an AutoHotkey (AHK) script - Cover_Taskbar_Borders_and_Side_Panel_Borders-Script_for_use_with_a_Windows_classic_theme.ahk

I didn't make that from scratch - it's a heavily-modified derivative of Skrommel's DimScreen (source code).

Cover_Taskbar_Borders_and_Side_Panel_Borders-Script_for_use_with_a_Windows_classic_theme.ahk simply removes some (but unfortunately, not all) minor annoyances with the dark high-contrast Windows Classic themes - the white borders at the top and bottom of the taskbar, and the borders at the left and right of the screen when windows are maximized, or if you have some pop-up side panels set up.

More details are available on the Windows page and in the script's source code.

Tons of Skrommel's awesome software, including DimScreen, is available at:

1 Hour Software by Skrommel on DonationCoder.com

I highly recommend those links. Tons of useful programs there. (Skrommel's page will also help give you an idea of the incredible range of things AHK is capable of.)

You can get the AHK source code of Skrommel's programs by clicking the AutoHotkey logo (a box featuring a white H on a green background) in the description of each program.

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Firefox Add-Ons page update: Apollia's Favorite Stylish Style v1.0; and a link to Memory Fox
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
05:45:06 GMT

I updated the Firefox Add-Ons page with:

If anyone out there would like to send me donations or microdonations, thanks. If I weren't under so much financial stress, I might be more likely to update this website more often.

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