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29 September 99

Got a lot more done today but in the same time, didn't make much progress. I'd completed work on the shell console last night but was having trouble having the hotkey controls to work right. All I needed was time to run the shell through the debugger and figure out what was going wrong. Unfortunately, that was the one thing I can't do at work. So instead, I started a new coding project at work as I had some spare time - while my shell is currently pretty bare bones, I felt that a system tray at least was a necessity. So I took the LiteStep desktop code, stripped out everything but the systray code, modified it a bit to handle an unlimited number of tray icons instead of a programmatically defined limit and then converted the code to work with my API calls. I will probably release that source along with the SDK as model of how modules are to be written for this shell :-)

Then once I got home, I was all ready to compile everything and debug the console code but I ran into some code conversion problems with the new system tray module because I didn't have any graphics manipulation functions in my API but I had allowed for skinning of the system tray <g> So I had to hurriedly copy and modify some of the LS functions for the moment with the intention of coming up with replacement functions later on. By the time I got all of that done and was ready to test the code, I had a new problem ...

I'd been trying to download WinLinux in the background (actually I've been trying to download it since last Friday or so ...) and after many attempts got into the FTP server finally! Talk about timing :-) I didn't want to lose this opportuninty and so have let Go!Zilla continue the download while I complete the journal entry for today and go to bed with the intention of maybe completing the debugging tomorrow ... If anybody does have all of WinLinux downloaded and can mirror it somewhere, please let me know and I will be forever grateful :-) Has anybody got it installed on their machine anyway? How does it look/work?

Incidentally, I redid my web pages and stuff a bit today because Tripod has given its members subdomains! I wanted to put The Journal as the main page and move my personal pages to a subdirectory (though they are still linked to as the home page at the top of each Journal page <g>) because these are the pages that are most viewed :-) So now all you have to do to access The Journal is type in your browser! (Of course most of you probably know that already because you've been to the redirect page <g>)

Another thing I did today was to order a Solaris 7.0 CD from Sun. Did you know that you could get a copy of Solaris for non-commercial use for as little as $20? (If you are interested, you can read the details here - you can apply for the CD there too but you have to become a member of the Sun Developer Connection first. Membership is free BTW) I have always wanted to check out Solaris and this seemed like the perfect opportunity :-) I know that this is not the miscellaneous OS installation page but still you might hear some stuff on this page about how I fare with Solaris. Oh yeah, another thing I did today (I really have nothing much to do at work, do I? <vbg>) was to put some of my stuff up on EBay - I'd been meaning to auction off some of my old comics, books, games and stuff and have had the pictures ready for a few days now but haven't had the time to do anything about them. I did put one item (the full BeOS 4.0 package) on yesterday and put two more on today. I guess I'll get them done by and by ... if anybody is interested, you can take a look at my auctions here. Have fun :-)

28 September 99

"Ask and thou shalt receive" says the Bible and how right it is :-) I asked for suggestions for my new shell and I receieved them by the cartload Among those who wrote in were technomancer who suggested:

  1. support for hot spots in addition to shortcuts
  2. ability to position shortcuts and hot spots on specific desktops (in other words you could create shortcuts that only appear on say desktop 2 instead of on all desktops)
  3. multi-graphic format support (might want to take a look at e-sense)
  4. wharf that allows the base wharf tiles to be different sizes from the tiles of the drawers (for example a horizontal wharf with 64x32 tiles, but folders might be 64x64)

As I told him in reply, most of the above will have to be left to module coders but I hope some enterprising module coder/s out there will definitely take these suggestions seriously and code some modules for my shell once the API is released. In fact, if somebody is interested in doing some modules along these lines, you can contact me and I will give you the API as it currently stands :-)

Then there was demigod - who's been a long time acquaintance, I love talking to this guy about the good old days when we used to run EGA games or program in BASIC on a COMMODORE 64 (or a Sinclair ZX80 in my case) <g> - who wrote in to say:

  1. Well, besides basic command interpertation through the main .exe, you could add in something like /aliasis kill [!ShutDown] or something like that. so it would be like ahh, in the command prompt:
    Fahimshell.exe /aliasis kill [!Shutdown]
  2. If you do go multi image support, and yes i know the complications w/ it cuz u want to be compatable w/ ls mods and they way they handle the .bmp and what not, id suggest supporting animated images, .gif's, .bmps, and the like. Would add a bit of spice to the old desktop.
  3. Hmm, most of all, try not to get too out of hand with commands like ls has. I can understand that some people like em but, most are not needed in a core.
  4. Oh and this just kinda hit me.... have you thought of making it kinda like geoshell? Geoshell is just like a command interperters and set of api and a gui sits on it. Seeing as your already doing ls support, maybe you could code up some basic api for gui interpertation or something. I dont know wtf im talking about do I?

It was demigod's e-mail that set me thinking on a parallel track which resulted in the next advance <g> for my shell. I have a shell which currently runs but isn't very useful because all you have is an empty desktop. What is needed to make it minimally functional? A command interpreter! But why would I need a command interpreter when Windows already has one in the form of your old faithful DOS window? Because in addition to the normal Windows commands and executables, there are the built-in !Bang commands that aren't interpreted by the Windows command interpreter! So what I needed was a new console window which would both execute !Bang commands and run any of the executables and registered file types that Windows recognizes too.

So I set to work yesterday on a Console window and while it isn't really like the DOS console you might be used to (because this is more or less a simple Run dialog more than anything else ) it does do the job. And furthermore, it has a command history! I will probably get a basic version of the console done so that I can finally release the shell for beta testing and then work on LS module compatibility and adding more features to the console at my leisure.

Actually, that should make this the most minimal shell of all because all you have is a completely blank desktop and a console which pops up when you press a hotkey combination!

Incidentally, has anybody got FireTalk? I just found out about it and got it and it looks like a pretty good alternative to all the other chat apps around - especially as it is supposed to do pretty decent voice communications. If anybody has got it, you can add me to your list - my nick is Fahim and the e-mail should be the same as above. Just add me and we could maybe talk sometime ... I don't have audio at work and so it will have to be text chat but I should be able to do voice in the evenings :-)

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