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Yesterday on Silicon Spin they were discussing Microsoft's decision to allow OEMs to configure the Windows XP desktop and remove the icons for IE from the desktop and Start Menu. Some of the panel participants seemed to think that this wasn't enough and that Microsoft should actually remove all it's bundled utilities such as Media Player or at least provide some sort of a mechanism to allow the OEMs or consumers to remove them. While I am not pro-Microsoft by any means (you know what happens when I start off a sentence like that, right? I am going to speak a pro-MS piece :p), this seems to be getting absurd! Now Apple bundles a lot of extra utilities (can anybody say QuickTime or Movie Maker - or whatever it is called? -?) with their OS, does anybody cry foul about that? Do you remember the good ol' days of DOS when all you had was the OS and you had to pay for each and every utility that you wanted? So what's wrong with getting a suite of basic utilities? Why do you have to cry foul all the time and then make us - the consumer - pay for it? Does anybody use their brains anymore? :p
I was watching Silicon Spin on TechTV yesterday and they were discussing Open Source, Linux and of cousre, Microsoft :p Now I am by no means an Open Source evangelist (as evidenced by the fact that all my apps are closed source even though they are absolutely free ...) but I was really incensed by the sheer effrontery of Microsoft to try to hoodwink the general users out there with the argument that their Shared Source initiative protected intellecutal property rights whereas the GPL did not. What a bunch of poppycock!! Correct me if I'm wrong but the Shared Source basically means that MS owns all rights to the source but allows users to work on their code for free - any revenues made from the changes to their code is enjoyed by MS ... I don't believe any of it trickles down to the users who contributed code. Of course, I might be wrong here since I have not looked any of it up <vbg> If that is indeed the case, of course Shared Source is a good thing ... for Microsoft :p But I don't see why Shared Source is in superior to the GPL. Just because most of us use the mind-numbing GUI, does MS think all of us have the IQ of an amoeba? :p
From the what's in a name department, I heard today that they want to rename Pimple Lake (which incidentally got it's name from local farmers calling it "that pimple of a lake" I'm told ...) here in Michigan to Gypsum Lake in the hopes of encouraging tourists. Now it might just be me but while Pimple Lake doesn't really conjure up any negative connotations, when you say Gypsum Lake I think of a murky, cloudy, brackish pool of water :p Ah well, I guess they know better than me :p (And if you are asking yourself "why the heck is he writing about a lake here?" ... well I just thought it was funny :p)
Oh yeah, forgot to mention one more thing - thank you so much to all the nice Scope users who decided to let me know that you enjoy Scope (you know who you are <g>) It is always nice to know that one's work is appreciated - your words make it all the coding seem worthwhile. So thank you for your thank yous :p
What do you know? I was actually able to get the work that needed to be completed on Blog 2.5, get the Beta 1 documentation ready and the distro done and it's not even evening yet :p This release is still missing one more major feature I wanted to add - a sort of an upload manager which shows the currently queued extra files (added via the image and file link dialogs) and allows you to add to the list or remove stuff from the list. That will probably be added in Beta 2. I haven't exhaustively tested the new additions (hence the Beta title <g>) but wanted to get this release out the door fast because about half of the few Blog users out there (I mean two people <vbg>) have asked for these particular features or something like them ... Download links are in the side bar and Downloads page. Enjoy!
On an unrelated note, I was kind of amused and kind of hmm ... disappointed? (not quite ...) enraged (not at all :p) disgusted? (not really ...) ... can't exactly put my finger on the word ... I guess irritated would be the closest ... to see some comments by certain NetCaptor users in response to a comment made by a Scope user on the BetaNews Scope page. Why do we have to get into petty arguments like this? Those who like Scope like Scope and those who like NetCaptor like NetCaptor ... Live and let live :-)
Hmm .. I'm not sure where to start <g> Do I start with the new idea for Scope that makes me want to work on Scope again or about the code I've already done for Blog or the very nice e-mails I've been receiving? I guess I should start with the e-mails since they made me feel really good about the stuff that I do :-) First of all, I heard from my friend John yesterday since he thought that I might be feeling down after reading my journal entry yesterday (and just to clarify, I wasn't feeling down - just ranting as usual :p) He had been on vacation but is now back and he is eager to get to work on Scope and fix a few things - so even if I don't work on Scope, you should see stuff moving along ... hopefully ...
Then I heard from Daniel Bishop today who simply started his e-mail with "Scope Rocks!" <vbg> and basically all he wanted to say was that he really enjoyed Scope and that was it - no caveats, no buts :p I know that there are many others out there who do enjoy Scope but it does make it seem all worthwhile to hear from some of those people every once in a while and to know that you like what I do since that's all I get from doing this stuff - the appreciation of others :-) So thank you Daniel for making things seem so much better!
Of course, the time away from work (I worked from home the last couple of days) helped as well I guess since I don't constantly have people coming upto me and asking me about this, that or the other (don't you just hate it when you get to be the person who knows all about the existing system?). I really felt eager to code again and even though I said I was taking a break from coding, I went back to the Blog stuff and implemented a few things that I wanted in place for Blog 2.5 :-) In fact, now you can specify how many days worth of posts you want displayed on your blog and you have new dialogs for specifying hyperlinks, images and file links. I am in the process of implementing extra file uploading so that any images and file links you specify will be automatically uploaded along with your journal entry. Once I get that done - hopefully tonight - you should be seeing the first beta for Blog 2.5!
Oh yeah, I also have a new idea for Scope which will help alleviate one of the most irritating things about web surfing - popups! Now this is not my idea - rather it is Matt Porter's - so I'm not a genius :p He said, "why don't you have a toggle button on the toolbar which allows/disallows the creation of new popup windows?" I think this is simply a superb idea! While the Blocked URL feature blocks popups, you have to know the URL for the particular ad site but with the toggle button, all new popup windows will be closed except for when you want them to work - isn't that neat? I think so :-) I am going to implement that before Scope 2.0 final just because I like the idea so much!
Sometimes I do wonder whether the irritations that you have to put with in doing free software development is worth the trouble :-) Of course there are the instances when a user writes to you and lets you know that they just enjoy your software and that really makes you feel great but for each one of those instances, you have about ten other instances where somebody writes in and tells you that they can't (and won't) use your software unless you included a particular feature that they wanted ... or write in and tell you to code a really outlandish feature that would bloat the code into truly gargantuan proportions. I sometimes feel like just telling these people to continue using the browser that they want me to emulate - why ask me to do impossible stuff with Scope if you are satisfied with your current browser? Some people even go to the extreme of either saying (or implying) that I owe them something because I coded an app that I distribute for free - I've come across this attitude while developing LiteStep as well ... and while I am always happy to asisst anybody having problems, when I hear that kind of attitude my reaction tends to be, you get what you paid for it - nothing :p
But enough of this ranting :-) I've been thinking about Blog enhancements since a few more people have asked for the ability to integrate images into Blog. What I came up with yesterday is something like this: the current right-click context menu will get an additional File Link option and the HyperLink, Image and File Link options will lead to dialog boxes which allow you to specify an item of that particular type and in the case of Image and File Link, also browse for that particular file. Any file that you browse for is added to an internal file list and these files will be uploaded along with your journal entry. However, the list is cleared after a single publication and the files will not be uploaded again the next time you publish the same entry. Would that work for any Blog users out there who wanted this particular feature? If nobody speaks out, I'm just gonna put it in anyway <vbg>
Ok, I had enough time during lunch to get together a Beta 3 of Scope :-) The download link's on the side-bar as well as on the Download page itself - enjoy! As for further development, at the moment I'm actually thinking of going back to Blog since the number of Blog users seems to be slowly increasing. I updated the list of sites using Blog with two more sites today. While the number of sites that I know of that use Blog can still be counted on the fingers of one hand, it does seem as if the number is slowly growing and since I use Blog a lot myself, I have decided to start work on some badly needed features such as the ability to customize how many days worth of posts are shown on the main page and a few other such niceties.
While I am on the subject, I do have a question for any Blog users who might be reading this. I have had discussions with at least a couple of people who wanted an integrated way to upload both their posts and any graphics that the post might reference. I've been using BOB till now to do extra file uploads but it would make sense to have that capability in Blog itself. Now my question to existing Blog users is - would you mind an increase in file size if I were to add an extra file upload feature? Or rather, is the extra file upload feature something really necessary to Blog? I'd appreciate your input. Thanks :-)
Last night I had a dream about stepping on a pile of feces (relax, this story does have a point <vbg>) and in Sri Lanka they say that if you dream about feces, you are going to come into some money (or at least I think that's what they say - am not sure since I might be confusing it with something else :p). I got up in the middle of the night soon after that dream (nightmare? <g>) and thought "Hey maybe that means that the auction of my spare notebook computer on eBay is doing well!", then went right back to sleep.
And what do you know? When I checked today, the auction had indeed jumped about $200 overnight after staying at the same bid for the last few days. Of course, the fact might be that the jump in bid amount was merely due to the fact that this is the final day (and some hours) of the auction but then again, it is curious about that dream after all ... Oh well, there are more things on heaven and earth ... (you know how the rest of it goes right? I can't rememer ... :p)
I plan to release Beta 3 of Scope sometime today. I have had the code ready since Saturday but haven't really felt like doing a new release. In fact, I haven't felt like coding in a couple of days - guess all that mad coding (as jugg calls it <g>) has kind of worn me out. I need a break from frenetic coding and I should be back at it in no time at all. Anyway, there are a few movies I wanna enjoy over the coming weeks - "Final Fantasy" on Wednesday (the CGI looks so lifelike that it's amazing), "The Score" on Friday (Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton in one movie! Need I say more?) and I am almost certain that there was something coming out the Friday after that before "The Planet of the Apes" on the Friday after that. So a lot of movies to watch and I'll probably be back to coding anyway before The Apes opens :-) The journal will keep going and that should tell you what the heck's happening at my end ... if you're that interested of course :p
... Then there was "Kiss of the Dragon" which I saw yesterday - a very action packed movie which once again showcases Jet Li's martial arts skills to the maximum but ultimately unsatisfying because Jet Li's character seems somehow two-dimensional. There is nothing which made the character endearing to me so that I would invest in him emotionally - to me it seemed like Jet Li playing Jet Li. I was really hoping for good stuff since I enjoyed Jet Li's "Romeo Must Die" immensely but I guess all movies aren't created equal :p
I did see the previews for "Planet of the Apes" before "Kiss of the Dragon" started and that movie seems to have a theme that quite a few of my favorite movies have - the fact that one man can make a difference! This certainly isn't the old "Planet of the Apes" which while a classic did not have the grand scale that the remake seems to have. I watched the previews and was pumped up by Mark Wahlberg's character taking on the might of the entire Ape forces and inspiring the downtrodden humans to rise up with him - I'm certainly gonna be lining up at the theater when "Planet of the Apes" is released on July 27th ... well, maybe not the 27th since I don't like going to the movies on Friday but certainly the 28th <vbg>
Watched "The Way of the Gun" yesterday (after doing some work on Scope and getting beta 3 ready BTW ... <g>) and watched the director's commentary today since it was on DVD. The first word that comes to mind is refreshing ... Director/writer Christoper McQuarrie is probably pretty familiar to the die hard movie fans as the guy who wrote "The Usual Suspects" - another excellent and different movie -. I kept on expecting "The Way of the Gun" to have the same kind of plot twists and convoluted ending and while I was not proven right, this is definitely a movie that makes you think! And when I say "makes you think", I don't mean about violence and the human condition (though there is a lot to think there too ...) I mean that this movie makes you work to understand the story - all the plot elements aren't spelled out for you as if you were some five year old kid (no disrespect meant to five year old kids - I know some who are smarter than most supposed adults <vbg>). You have to follow the story closely and infer what's happening based on what's not said as much as what's said.
The acting is all around excellent. Benecio Del Toro has lately been touted as one of the top actors in Hollywood in recent years and this I thought was the first time I was seeing him action (I found out later that he'd also appeared in "The Usual Suspects" and "The Fan" and while I saw both, I didn't remember him by name ...) and he really proves that he can act. His character is very believable and sometimes he conveys his emotions just by a look or just by body language ... This was my first time seeing Ryan Phillippe in action (and he's talked about a lot too but not exactly for his acting talents ... <g>) and he did a remarkable job as well. In fact, most of the cast were pretty believable in creating very human characters.
I was surprised to learn afterwards that "The Way of the Gun" had actually been panned by critics quite a bit. Now I wonder what that says about today's movie watching public and critics? Have we become so low-brow that everything has to be spelled out for us? Or have we come to believe so much in our own media that we want characters who are either morally black or white - not shades of grey? I'm not sure what to think ... but then again, humanity peplexes me most of the time anyway :p
Copyright (c) 2001 Fahim A. Farook