My Diary
My Diary

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January 1, 2000     (Saturday)

HAPPY   NEW   YEAR  !  !  

I thought about writing a lot of different things on here today to mark the first day of the new millenium, from a criticism of the city I live in (prompted by their chintzy New Year's celebration last night), to a further ripping into Jesse Ventura, to a nostalgic look back at the previous century, and my life in it. But that was all before my stomach started acting up. The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but the way away from his mind is certainly the opposite direction.

January 2, 2000     (Sunday)

It seems like the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection and reassessment, no matter how I try to ignore these aspect of my mental life. There are lots of things going through my mind right now. Ideas, notions about how to improve my life by improving me, regrets, memories, hopes, apprehensions all swirl around, making it difficult to pin down any one thought to concentrate on.

I'm sure, with all the television commercials lately, that most people are familiar with They provide a service page much like AltaVista, Excite, or Yahoo. There is a fundamental difference, however. With each click on the page you collect chances toward daily, weekly, monthly, and special cash prizes. There are some interesting things about the page. One, if you actually read the rules and terms of service, you'll see that they have set it up so they can stop the promotion on March 31. Secondly, I find it telling how they assign points to different links (you can accumulate up to 100 a day). News, Shopping, Sports, and Internet searches earn you 7 entries. Autos, Computers, Business, Money and Entertainment all earn 6 entries. Education and TV both earn 5 entries. The Arts only earn you 3 (Imagine that). The highest number of points is awarded by clicking on the ads! BIG SURPRISE!!! Still, it's a nice page and why not get chances in a raffle while you look for news, sports, and do searches. Free e-mail, too. And, NO, they didn't pay me to say this! ::grin::

January 3, 2000, 2000     (Monday)

The weather the past couple of days has been wonderful. It's after New Year's so it can't be Indian Summer. It must be Pakistani Spring.

I've been getting some really good stuff for my mail art projects. Today, I got two from Brazil (I don't know why we spell it that way. They spell it "Brasil"). The distribution of entries is a little strange. One project, the responses have come almost entirely from the United States. The second one is split about 50/50 between the US and foreign. The third is overwhelmingly from Europe, South America, and Asia. I sent the calls out for all three out on the same sheet. I guess it's just that one theme or the other struck different chords.

January 4, 2000     (Tuesday)

I'm looking more and more seriously at the possibility of using LINUX as my operating system. The upgrade treadmill is just getting too fast and too expensive. By the time I get proficient with an OS or an application program, the new one comes out with features I've been wishing for. Only problem is it takes more machine to run on, so I have to upgrade hardware, too. Then when a piece of the hardware breaks, I have to upgrade functioning pieces because the new piece of hardware isn't compatible with the rest of what I've got. It's gone from 8-bit slots, chip memory to ISA slots, 30-pin SIMMS to EISA slots, PCI slots, (MCA Slots), Local Bus slots, AGP slots, USB ports, 72-pin SIMMS, 138-pin SIMMS/DIMMS, Socket 5, 7, 370, socket 1 CPU's, 286 /386 /486 /SX /DX /DX2 /Pentium /Pentium-MMX /Pentium Pro /Pentium II /Pentium III /Pentium III Xenon /AMD K5 /K6 /K6-2/ K6-3 /Athalon, Monochrome/ CGA /EGA /VGA /SVGA /Multisync, 320x240 /640x480 /800x600 /1024x768 /1200x1024 /1600x1200, 14-15-17-19 inch monitors. And then there's the Mac, the PowerPC machines, and the Amiga and others that have fallen by the wayside. It goes on and on, and each step, while usually costing less than the previous one, is still cummulative. Only heaven knows how many thousands of dollars of old computer components I've thrown out, given away, sold in yard sales, or still have in storage.

I think starting to use LINUX might be a step in the right direction. The OS is platform independent. I could use it as well and as easily on a 486 as a Pentium as an iMac. Upgrades would be free in most cases, and if it didn't do something I want, I'd have the source code and if I took the time and pains to learn about it, I could make my OWN upgrades. That has a certain appeal.

January 5, 2000     (Wednesday)

Well, I noticed that I had a new comment in my Guest Book (that's what the "comments" button down there at the end of each entry does -- links you up to my guest book). That's encouraging, especially since it was a kudo for dada.

I've become a ZDTV junkie. They have a great channel for computer users (mostly Windows, but they do cover Macs and *yes!* LINUX). ZDTV is owned by Ziff-Davis, the publishing concern who puts out magazines like PC Magazine, Computer Shopper, etc. They repeat shows and segments throughout the day, so if you miss something you like, you can pick it up again later. And they still do live TV, and I love live TV.

As long as I'm going on about things I like, I might as well put in a plug for a little Freeware/Shareware program I've come to depend on to keep myself organized. It's called Yeah, Write and can be found by clicking the button below.

Word Place
Word Place

This is a fine program. It is pre-structured, but has a good deal of flexibility. I use it to keep track of my recipes, mail art, and general business and personal correspondence. It can also be used to send e-mail and Faxes and a lot of other general word processing functions. The address book is easy to use and is accessible to any other function. It's a fine program.

Unfortunately, right now it's only available for Windows -- 3.1 through 98. I contacted the author about versions for LINUX and the Mac, but the revenues don't warrant any further development. This is a shame. Everyone order the program today ($29.00 -- cheap!), and tell all your friends. If you write to me, I'll give you my recipe collection formatted for it, too. How's that for an incentive!

January 6, 2000     (Thursday)

One of these days I'll do something to get paid for. Really.

I borrowed a camera to take slides to put on my website in hope that someone might buy something. Well, the lens has mildew on the inside. It'll cost $45-$65 to have it cleaned. Man, nothing seems to go right. If I pay to have it cleaned I won't have money enough for film, processing and scanning. . . I can't seem to get anything together. One of these days. . .

January 7, 2000     (Friday)

I just knew if I waited around long enough that the whole world would become surreal. Well, thanks to Dow Chemical Company, the EPA, lawyers, and the generally stupid American "consumer," that day has, at long last, arrived.

Sometime when your bored or you're already read the cereal box on the breakfast table, reach down under the sink and pull out the spray bottle of fantastic and read the label. Oh yeah, don't forget to look at the bottom of the bottle too -- you know, the imprint in the plastic that has the little recycle thingie. Well, this bottle says "HDPE" which means High Density PolyEthylene" which is one of the eminently recyclable plastics. That's nothing unusual in itself, but when you read the label, it clearly states, "Do not reuse container; discard in trash." Talk about your mixed messages!

Okay, I know what's going on here. The recycle symbol is put there by the manufacturer of the bottle, not necessarily Dow. It still remains a quandary, however. Is it okay to recycle the bottle or not? And if not, why not? The label also tells us that "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling." Hoo boy! The label tells me to "hold 6-8 inches from surface, spray surface then wipe with a dry paper towel or lint-free cloth. No rinsing necessary." Well, does that mean I've committed a federal offense if the spray trigger breaks and I pour the liquid out of the bottle onto the same surface and smear it around, then wipe it up with a paper towel? Lint free cloth? Where on goddess's green earth does one come up with such a thing? Wanna bet Dow sells them?

The label tells us, too, that the product is made by DowBrands, LP (that's Limited Partnership, for the uninitiated, something lawyers came up with to allow huge corporations protect their assets -- does that 't' belong there? -- from being taken by people with a legal beef against them) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Well, the EPA number has a Wisconsin location embedded in it. These big corporations spread things around so much that you don't know where anything is coming from. The bottle touts the fact that it contains no phosphates and no bleach, yet they expect us to believe that it will clean and/or disinfect something. It says to disinfect, you have to spray the surface again and leave it there for 10 minutes! This seems a bit strange. Are we not to be trusted with bleach? Is it such a hazardous material that they'll eventually take it away from us "for our own good?" With advertising, marketing, and suppression of information, have the powers that be dumbed down the populace to the point where it becomes necessary to regulate everything, even cleaning supplies to the point that you need a lawyer on retainer to tell you which items can go into the trash and which can go into the recycle bin?

Yep, it's gotten even too surreal for me. There were several more things on that label that pushed my ire and irony buttons, but to write more about them in one setting would seriously push my absurdity level quite past the threshold and I might be tempted to use a product of some description in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. . .

January 8, 2000     (Saturday)

Oh look, it's Saturday. Saturday night to be specific. My Penguins are losing to the Flyers. ::sigh:: Sometimes it seems that everything I like is destined to fail, to fall, to lose, to be unappreciated. If I could pick stocks to be sure to fail, I might make a fortune, but probably for someone else.

January 9, 2000     (Sunday)

No Entry Today

January 10, 2000     (Monday)

Oh my Gawd! It's the end of the world. They just announced that AOL is buying Time-Warner. Now Steve Case will have control of Time magazine, Bugs Bunny, Time-Warner cable, TNT, CNN, HBO, and all that Time-Warner and Ted Turner bring to the table, along with all the cannibalized internet companies they have already assimilated. "Resistance is futile." The tech-econo-jargon Bob Pittman and Steve Case used during the announcement is sickening. Pittman said, "Believe me, we do know how to make it simple and easy to use." Ewwww. One thing he left out: "dumbed down." Everything AOL has gotten their sick little fingers on has lost functionality and usefulness. Another thing that bothers me, too, is that AOL's culture of censorship and hostility to the customer will be transfered to the rest of the enterprise. This is like Motel 6 buying out Hilton.

Would someome like to tell me what happened to the Taft-Hartley act? If the current trend continues, the world will be split 60-40 between Bill Gates and Steve Case. Now, someone tell me, which is the lesser of two evils?

I don't like this planet. I want to move to another one.

Speaking of Case, has anyone else noticed that he has pointy, Vulcan-like ears? And that hair! It's either the world's best wig, or he spends more on haircuts a month than I do for food, clothing, and shelter. He licks his lips and blinks just like an Iguana. I think he's of extraterrestrial origin.

January 11, 2000     (Tuesday)

I was taught in school that there are sixty minutes in an hour. At the same time, the "hour" classes were 55 minutes long. In college, the same "hour" classes were however long the professor decided to ramble, and, believe me, few of them were less than 60 minutes. You learned quickly not to schedule classes back to back unless you were certain a Graduate Assistant was teaching. In my so-called adult life, Iíve discovered that an "hour" can contain an even greater difference in the number of minutes it contains. For example, in psychotherapy, an "hour" is 50 minutes. Most doctors break hours up into 15 minute segments, during which they schedule 2 patients to whom they are supposedly giving their undivided attention. So, doctors seem to operate with an "hour" that contains 120 minutes. The worst example, however (and as usual), is lawyers. Their "hour" contains 600 minutes. How else could they bill clients for 500 hours in a week?

January 12, 2000     (Wednesday)

I was reading the ads on eBay last night for memory. . . The chip RAM in the first computers I used ran at 125 ns. Then it went down to 80 ns and I was amazed at the speed increase. Then SIMMs came out and dropped it to 70. EDO RAM runs at 60 or 50 ns. I used that for a couple years and was flabberghasted at the 8 ns. speed of my new SDRAM DIMM. NOW, they have what they call RDRAM which runs at 1.25 ns!!! Pretty soon, we'll have to travel back in time to see the results of what we do on these machines.

Have you noticed the trend of web sites asking you to "register" before you use their services? It's common knowledge that you should not use the same password for multiple accounts, and that you should change them frequently. Thing is, who's going to remember all the passwords for all these "registered members only" sites? And who wants to consult a database to find the PW just to read the New York Times, or to send an electronic greeting card from

I suspect (being the highly suspicious person that I am) that it's DoubleClick or AdVenture or someone like that requiring the registration in order to track our Internet usage to better bombard us with ads they think will appeal to us. The Internet has turned into McLuhan's wasteland cubed. Is this the only reason we're to be connected? Is the sole purpose of the Internet to provide a more efficient way to sell something? Is it just a better "access to markets?" Silly me, I thought we were capable of better than that.

My letter to the editor was published today: Last One on the page [Link no longer works]

January 13, 2000     (Thursday)

It's very windy, for the third day in a row. The weather forcast calls for it to get cold again. I'm suffering from thermal whiplash.

Capitalism in a nutshell: Littlest fish get eat by little fish, little fish get eat by medium fish, medium fish get eat by big fish, big fish get eat by bigger fish, bigger fish get eat by huge fish, huge fish get eat by AOL, AOL get eat by Microsoft. No more fishies. Maybe we should call it "carpitalism."

January 14, 2000     (Friday)

No Entry Today

January 15, 2000     (Saturday)

Here's something new I was thinking about trying. What about an information page separate from the links? I could include the search engines on my other pages and put features like the news ticker from 7am and links like the following ones from Excite. I'll try to avoid banners and floating ads as long as I can and still try to provide a page that people will want to come back to, because it's entertaining and useful.

Excite no longer provides news tickers for use on web pages.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I'm not getting paid for this, so a little encouragement would go a long way toward my continuing it.

January 16, 2000     (Sunday)

In the paper this morning, I read that, when asked why he wasn't supporting the Democratic African-American candidate for Senate from his home state of North Carolina over the ever-racist republican Jesse Helms, Michael Jordan said "Republicans buy shoes, too."

Any respect for Jordan I once had evaporated in an instant. Please, Michael, tell me this isn't true. Please tell me that you didn't sell your integrity to Nike along with your name, image, and personable manner.How can you relinquish your indignity? How can you give up your right to your own opinions? How much money do you need?

This just goes to show, that everyone has his price. Jordan's is higher than most, but he's bought and paid for just the same. This society has degenerated to the point that democracy is just a hollow illusion. We are ruled, totally and completely by the companies, by the CEO's, by the Chief Software Architects, by the WTO (read, NWO) who hold the money, therefore the power. When we sign onto AOL, we give up our freedom of speech. When we become shills for shoe companies, we give up all rights but the right to make as much money as possible, and, after all, isn't that all that matters?

Never again will I buy anything Nike, anything associated with Michael Jordan. I've switched from MCI to AT&T. My faith in any redemption for humanity is sorely injured.

January 17, 2000     (Monday)

I found the following this morning in a "This day in history" e-mail I get every day from The Learning Kingdom: [NOTE: The learning kingdom list and website are no longer functioning]

January 17, 1966

In one of the worst accidents involving nuclear weapons, a US B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs collided with its refueling plane over Palomares, Spain, killing 8 people. Two of the bombs exploded against the ground, releasing radioactive plutonium. To protect human lives, 1,400 tons of topsoil were removed and sent to South Carolina.

This raises a few questions. One, are the residents of South Carolina not human? Come on, people, we can't judge everyone in the whole state by Strom Thurmond. Two, did Phillip Morris buy this topsoil?

January 18, 2000     (Tuesday)

What do you mean you can't read my handwriting?

January 19, 2000     (Wednesday)

The previous day's entry (the scrawl that sort of looks like writing) is what is known as "Asemic" writing. "Asemic" means "meaningless" I can't find "asemic" in any of my dictionaries. I can find "asemia", from the Greek asemos - without sign. loss of ability to understand thought or ideas by means of signs or symbols, written, uttered, or gesticulated. I would follow that "asemic" would be an adjectival or adverbial form. I'm not sure who coined the word or assigned it its meaning in relation to writing that has no meaning. I've done this kind of asemic writing for a long time. I don't recall when I started or why, but I've done it on and off for a long time. Recently someone loaned me some chapbooks of asemic writings. That got me to thinking about it again, and yesterday's diary entry is the result.

Another day of slow and no connection to the Internet. I downloaded and tried both AltaVista and NetZero FREE! Internet access programs. [NOTE: Neither of these still offer free Internet access] They work quite smoothly, except! there is this intrusive ad banner on the bottom of your screen (or top, depending on where you stick it). That's all well and good. The things that bother me about it are that the ads are bright, flashy and irritating. They're designed to attract your eye, and if you're trying to do something else, they're quite distracting. Some people complain of headaches, and I can believe it. AltaVista (for one -- I've not checked the others) requires that you click on an ad every so often or get booted offline. Ah! what the TV moguls wouldn't do for that feature! I guess that rules out starting the download of the new Netscape and wandering off somewhere.

I remember when it was being decided if the Internet could be used for commercial purposes. There was a big discussion about preserving the original intent of it -- sharing information. I think that point is moot, now. The Internet has become a bigger, more crass, less regulated wasteland than television could ever aspire to. Sure, there are some things still worth having out there, but on the whole, they've all probably got advertising banners on them.

January 20, 2000     (Thursday)

Well, the eclipse of the moon was a bust here. It's snowing and totally overcast. I was looking forward to seeing a red moon. Didn't Revelation say something about that?

The end of the world has been cancelled because of inclement weather. It will be rescheduled on the next open date.

It's a parody, son, a parody I say.

January 21, 2000     (Friday)

Cold and snowy today. I had to let the faucets drizzle last night so the pipes wouldn't freeze. Tonight is supposed to be even colder. A couple years ago, one of these frigid nights sneaked up on me and the pipes did freeze solid. I turned all the faucets in the house on and turned the thermostat up to 85. In about half an hour the warm air had gotten into the opened faucets and had thawed the ice plugs and the water started sputtering, then flowed like, well. . . like water.

The snow is pretty much off the streets and sidewalks. It's transformed to something not snow and not ice on the grass and bare ground. It looks like this might be the third year running without an appreciable snowfall. In a lot of ways, I'm fine with this. But it does, to me, indicate that global warming is a fact. I really hate to think that someday (soon!) there will be a 20 foot dyke around Manhattan to keep back the rising bay and rivers. If this does happen, maybe they should change its name back to New Amsterdam! Lots of foresight, these Dutch!

January 22, 2000     (Saturday)

A couple years ago, while studying the Dada movement of close to 100 years ago, and the surrealists who sprung from it and/or followed it, I saw that everyone was writing manifestos. It seemed to me, at the time, that a manifesto is not a bad idea. Robert Dada has one one on his Anti-art web site. I've written several. Here's one I find appropos for today:

Manifesto 2000/1

The society that will carry us into the next millenium is corrupt, sick, and worthy of destruction. But, that will not happen. Too many of us are willing, even eager, to accept the god of LCD (Lowest Common Denominator). How many times, in a strange city, have you been hungry and gone to McDonalds because "Oh, I'm not sure where to go, and I know what to expect at Mickey D's." Why is it that people will accept the familiar, regardless of how bland, tasteless, impure, aesthetically antiseptic, mediocre, or useless it is, simply to avoid having to deal with something on a personal level? We are succumbing to a new kind of dictatorship, the autocracy of the LCD. Bill Gate's idea of how a computer should work is what we're all stuck with because noone had the guts to challenge the idea that everyone has to have the same operating system. The file format is the thing that has to be universal, not how we create or deal with it. A GIF file created on a Commodore 64 with 16 colors looks the same as it would created on a MacIntosh or a PC running MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Unix, Linux, an Amiga running AmigaDOS, a Cray, A VAX, an IBM RS-6000, a SUN Sparcstation. Who cares what the operating system is? Some people like to work one way, others another. The regimentation and standardization of business and organizations has led to a monolithic model in our thought processes. This needs to be broken down and replaced with a more open metaphor.

I alone can do nothing to alleviate any of the above stated situation. I can, however, make waves. I can use the absurdity of my life as a sign pointing to the results we are attracting to us. I can use absurdity, guerilla theatre, Dada, and all the other anti-establishment indictments I have at my command to spread the word, to smear the feces of apocalyptic vision on the visor of commonality. Join with me in smearing shit in the face of authority. Challenge, taunt, defy, ridicule. CTDR. "You can't defy gravity, but you sure can spit in its face."

January 23, 2000     (Sunday)

No Entry Today

January 24, 2000     (Monday)

Everything seems to periodically go wrong all at once. My ISP has been experiencing trés difficultes. Add to that my computer misbehaving and the whole mid-Atlantic region's Internet being totally overloaded and you have a frustrating couple of days.

In other news, COBOL is now 40.

The sun came out for a while today, while I was sitting at the kitchen table. It was bright and friendly and warm on my skin. It was like an old, dear friend putting his hand on my shoulder and saying "Hi." It's only a month from the shortest day, but that sun today felt like an advance mailing for spring.

June 14, 2000     (Tuesday)

I'm having trouble getting started. I have plenty of projects I could be doing, but it just seems pointless to start any of them because I know, in the end, nothing will come of any of them. It would be different if I had some small prospect of seeing some reward for the work I put into things, but I don't, so why bother?

Sometimes I feel like that Lil' Abner character that went around with a storm cloud hanging over his head. It's not that I don't try, I do. It just seems that whatever I try somehow manages to self-destruct or become automatically worthless simply because I had my hand in it.

My kids put ketchup (catsup -- take your pick) on their over-easy fried eggs. This is not something I'd willingly do. I don't think it's so much the taste or the idea of eggs and catsup that bothers me -- I like ketchup on scrambled eggs. I think it's the aesthetics of it -- the color created by mixing catsup and egg yolks is disgusting.

January 26, 2000     (Wednesday)

No Entry Today

January 27, 2000     (Thursday)

Last year Bill Gates, through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donated a Billion (with a B) dollars to the Gates Millennium Scholars program of scholarships for high-achieving minority students. That's all fine and good, but has anyone considered that these students would probably do pretty well on their own. Anyone want to bet that the majority of these scholarships go to Asian-Americans, a minority that typically overacheives anyway? I'd be willing to speculate that African-Americans and Hispanics will be further down on the list. What Bill Gates is doing is neither altruistic or philanthropic in any real sense. All the charitable donations he makes are to organizations he has set up and they are aimed at creating a new generation of customers for his products and services or, like the scholarships, creating a new generation of bright minds to come work for Microsoft.

What's wrong with making a billion dollar donation to the United Way? Ted Turner gave his billion to the UN, not the Ted Turner Electronic Journalism Scholarship fund.

And what of the less talented, the less motivated, minority or not. These are the people who need a helping hand, an external stimulation to enable them. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for the working poor, but only those who can secure their own financing. What about those who can't. What about the people who have had problems in the beginning and can't even buy furniture except through a Rent To Own (Rip Them Off) store because of a bad credit rating, precipitated by the fact that they don't have the skills or ability to earn enough money to stay current on their payments, or because of several generations of people who don't understand money and its management because they've never had enough to understand or manage it.

These charities of Bill Gates are shams, and everyone should realize this. Maybe it's an example of Gates helps those who help themselves (to a bigger piece of the pie). This "gift" to high acheivers is cynical and self-serving. It also perpetuates the current social structure where a few people control an inordinate proportion of the wealth. Pardon me if I'm not impressed.

January 28, 2000     (Friday)

It's been a busy couple of days. I've been on the phone with Bell Atlantic and CityNet trying to work out the connection problems I've been experiencing. Still nothing is worked out to my complete satisfaction. I accidentally let my "Power Tools" find out I had AOL 5.0 on my system, and now it insists on running it instead of 4.0, and every time 5.0 fires up with Power Tools, I invariably end up either locked up, crashed, or out of memory. And if I don't immediately go in and rip the AOL dialup adapter out, I can't use Windows' dial-up Networking. Never have I seen a software bully as nasty and vicious as AOL 5.0 -- the people at Gateway told me they tried to install it and ended up reformatting several hard disks. Can't we all just get along!

I had a salad last night with dinner. The tomatoes were red, but weren't ripe. They'd been put in an atmosphere of Carbon dioxide to make them turn red, but, in fact, they were still green. I miss the tomatoes of summer, so red, so juicy, the tangy, sweet taste. I love biting into one, letting the juices run down my chin, feeling the gentle bite on my tongue. Nothing as sweet in this world as a ripe, red, homegrown tomato. Well. . . maybe one thing.

"I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize." -- Steven Wright

January 29, 2000     (Saturday)

No Entry Today

January 30, 2000     (Sunday)

St. Louis    -- 23
Tennessee -- 16

January 31, 2000     (Monday)

Brushing up on my programming skills. I picked up and installed the old versions of Borland C++ and Power C on this machine, and I've been writing some trivial programs, trying to bust the dust off my synapses.

I was working on learning the Python scripting language, but I keep running up against differences between what's in the manuals and the way things actually work on a Windows based system. It might be okay on a UN*X system, but I don't feel like I have the time to mess with something that doesn't perform as advertised.

Another language I've been looking at is Frogbit. It's a text processing language, heir to pr, sed, and awk from "that other OS." I think I'll like it quite a lot.

I've also been tinkering a little bit with LISP and Prolog. I found my books for Turbo Prolog, but I can't find the disk (as I recall, there was only one). There is a successor to it called Visual Prolog, which I downloaded the "Personal" version. If I can see a usefulness to it, I may purchase the version that lets me distribute the products of it.

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