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Sat, Jul 28 2001

Still haven't started coding the new version of Gossip :-( I want to code but I also feel reluctant to begin anything new ... plus, I've been looking into how best I could do some XML parsing since a major feature of the current Gossip is its ability to parse RSS 0.9 format news backend files. Unfortunately, Gossip chokes on post 0.9 format RSS files ... so I need to make the XML file parsing a bit more versatile to handle any version of the RSS format. I have been thinking about that but haven't really done much - not even get online to do some research ...

Heard from Tyran Ormond who pointed out several bugs in the current releease of Blog which is causing him headaches at his site. I frequently have this problem of thinking things through only from my perspective and that's what happened at least in one instance - I assumed (which is always a bad thing <g>) that everybody will be publishing their journals with a .HTM extension and so all archived entries have that extension. Unfortunately, Tyran is using some PHP code to facilitate comments and so his files had to have a PHP extension and guess what? Blog doesn't support that!! I did some quick reworking and got him a build which fixed the problem but I got to thinking about it and realized that the arhicved file extension should not be a global value but rather a per site value since you might want one extension for one site and anoter for another site just as you might want different templates for different sites. The quick and dirty fix that I did for Tyran was a global solution but I'm going to recode things to make it a site specific value. Of course that means another database change and another menu entry added to the Blog Data Conversion Utility - what else is new? :p
posted at 04:03:59 PM  link  comment

The most interesting thing that happened yesterday was that I got mentioned on Call For Help on TechTV :p Before any of you start thinking that it was for any of my apps, let me hasten to disillusion you :-) They were discussing blogs on Call For Help and were asking for people's opinions in the chat room. I went in there because I wanted to let them know about Blog since not many even know that Blog exists <g> but as is normal for me for some weird reason, I ended up promoting Noah Grey's (the guy who created GreyMatter - an excellent albeit not to my test blogging system) site :p I really like the photographs and writing on Noah's site and so the reference was well deserved .. Anyway, they quoted me on CFH as being for blogs but I can't recall my exact words. I guess nobody caught that since I haven't heard from anybody about it :p

I've been getting some feedback on the News Reader idea and it's all been positive so far. I really am not sure that I should be taking on another app but hey, what's life without a challenge? <vbg> So I have started planning out what I want the app to do - actually it most probably will not be a new app per se since I'm basically planning to take Gossip and extend its functionality so that it will do triple duty as a backend news reader, a news group reader and a binary harvester. I am not positive about the binary harvester part though till I have gotten the preliminary coding under way. Will I start coding this week? I'd like to but I don't know whether I will or not - it depends on a lot of things like how I'm feeling, whether I wanna watch movies and a lot of other intangibles like that :p
posted at 07:21:07 AM  link  comment

Fri, Jul 27 2001

OK Blog 3.0 is finally ready for release though just as I was getting the docs ready, I realized that there was a little tiny hole in how things work <g> I have added a new tab to the Journal Management dialog and the old Journals tab is now actually the Sites tab while the new Journal tab allows you to define individual journals and modify certain attributes for each journal - confusing, huh? Anyway, that particular journal and site set up has problems when you delete stuff ... so I guess it was a good idea to call this Blog 3.0 Beta 1 since I can fix that in the final release :p

A word of caution to those who are existing Blog users! Blog 3.0 modifies the database structures again and so you will need to download the Blog Data Conversion Utility and convert your existing data before you can use Blog 3.0. I am not going to give versioning numbers for the Data Conversion Utility but what's there now is a newer version than what was released for Blog 2.5 - so you do need to download it again. You should see a new Convert menu option for Blog 2.5 -> 3.0 ... if not, you have the wrong version of the convert utility.

Another thing that you might notice if you're upgrading to Blog 3.0 is that your menu bar does not appear or that the toolbars don't appear. This probably will happen if you copied over only the Blog.exe and not the Blog.cfg file. You can either delete your existing Blog.cfg file and let Blog recreate it for you or copy over the one in the Blog 3.0 distro. Either way, you will lose your toolbar customizations :-( But I promise I'll try not to do that again ...
posted at 11:55:54 AM  link  comment

I've received several complaints about problems with Scope and Shell32.dll and at least one person said "I do have the Shell32.dll file on my machine, so what gives?" The problem is not that Shell32.dll is missing but rather that it is too old for Scope to work with. Here verbatim is some information I found on the Net about the problem and a possible solution ...

"The shell file is not missing from your computer but the version is too old for the Browser to use. As Windows 95 evolved, Microsoft released upgrades to the operating system that were distributed with a new release of Internet Explorer. If you are getting the [shell32.dll] error message then you are not using the upgraded files. The solution is to install IE4.0 SP2 with the "Standard Install" This will upgrade the SHELL32.DLL (and other files) on your system and the Browser will then work. Upgrading to IE5.0 or 5.5 do not fix the problem because they upgrade the browser only and not Windows 95. If you already have a newer version of Internet Explorer installed on your computer, you must first uninstall it before installing IE4.0. After 4.0 is installed you can reinstall 5.0 or 5.5 to upgrade the browser."

The IE 4.0 SP2 is a pretty big file I'm told (about 15MB) and I'm not sure where you can find it but a search of the Microsoft Site should turn something up. I know that the above is a pretty awful solution :p I'm working on a separate solution which might deprive you of certain of the features of Scope but will let you use it as it is without having to upgrade your Shell32.dll file ... Lemme know if you have any preferences about the above two options ...
posted at 10:28:43 AM  link  comment

Guess what? Blog 3.0 is done!! (Do I hear cries of "Noooo!!", "Really?", "That fast?" etc? Probably not :p) I have all the major features that I wanted to have for Blog 3.0 and in the process basically exhausted all the list of features that I had for Blog <g> So unless somebody else comes up with some new ideas or I start getting fresh ideas, I'll be leaving Blog alone for a while and move onto some of my other neglected apps like Gossip for instance :-) I'll probably release Blog 3.0 today as a beta though I think it is stable enough to qualify as a final release ... But there is one thing I'd still like to add but am not sure how to proceed with - the customization of archival links. Currently archival links are just two dates separated by a hyphen to say that that particular link points to entries for dates in that range but that seems umm ... not very user-friendly. Of course I could give an option so that you can at least format how the two dates looks to your taste but is that all? Would anybody need any other customization - perhaps some specific text in front of each link or the ability to display just the beginning date or the ending date? If anybody uses the archives much (besides me) let me know and I'll try to include that as well for the Blog 3.0 final release.

Speaking of new stuff, Jay Mendoza suggested that I do a News Reader :-) I am kind of tempted by the idea. Actually sinesolis suggested a long time back that I make Scope kind of a super-Internet tool which integrates an instant messenger, a browser and what not <g> While a news reader will fit in right there, I'd rather have the components separate if I do decide to create a news reader - it is an intriguing thought ... I'm gonna let it simmer in my brain and see what transpires ...

I heard from an old friend from the BBS days back in Sri Lanka. I hadn't heard from him in ages - actually not since I left Sri Lanka but suddenly he appeared out of the blue in ICQ! It was good catching up and to think back to the good old days ... are the good old days as good as we think they are or is it just us trying to escape from the reality of the present? I'm not sure ...
posted at 07:09:03 AM  link  comment

Thu, Jul 26 2001

Well, no feedback at all about the new release of Scope except from jugg - so either it is working fine for everybody or nobody cares anymore :p I did find a Dutch site that featured Blog called Planet Download. Since the whole site and the article was in Dutch, I couldn't understand much of it but I believe they featured Blog as the download of the week. Though I said I didn't understand much, I actually had this very freaky experience last night when I first looked at the site - since the site was in Dutch, I tried BabelFish but they don't feature a Dutch to English translator. So I began going through the article and to my surprise it actually seemed to make sense to me. I don't know whether something was leaking from the air-conditioning unit or the fridge or something and I was zoning out <vbg> or Dutch is an easy language to understand but what I "seemed" to understand from the article was that they said something along the lines of "if you don't like the online costs from services such as, you should use Blog - its coded by the mad coder Fahim - it sits on the local hard drive on your machine - it also has a client server version" etc. Is my Dutch good or am I inhaling something? :p

Several people that I know mentioned to me that terrorists had bombed the airport in Sri Lanka since I'm planning to go back home in October. Unfortunate as it maybe, this has become a part of life for people in Sri Lanka. Every year there is at least one bombing of a building or a person and the war keeps dragging on in the Northern part of the island. Why can't anybody understand that there are no winners in a war - only losers? I guess humanity has a long way to go before we will actually start learning from the lessons of the past instead of repeating the same old mistakes over and over again ...

I started working on Blog again since I am eager to get the latest feature ideas bubbling in my brain out :-) I think I will be able to leave Blog alone for a while once I get the auto-archiving and the ability to link to older entries out of the way since I personally can't think of any other feature I would want to see in Blog. Of course, then I'll probably go back to the neglected client-server version of Blog and bring it upto date :p
posted at 09:06:55 AM  link  comment

Wed, Jul 25 2001

I am not entirely sure that this release is ready for release but here goes ... Scope 2.0 final is out :-) I have fixed all the reported bugs but have been very sparse in feature additions since I don't want to add new features and then have to go through a further bug-testing cycle. Hopefully, this release is bug free though I can't be completely sure since I had to do some extensive code changes in order to fix some of the bugs. The next release will probably be Scope 3.0 (to coincide with the version number for Blog <g>) and will contain customizable toolbars, hopefully John's new Favorites and quite a few other things. For the moment, get Scope 2.0 ...
posted at 02:02:57 PM  link  comment

Went back to working on Scope yesterday :-) I managed to resolve quite a few minor bugs and annoyances in Scope. Most of them had to do with the Mozilla engine and interaction with it. In the process, I finally came to the realization that I cannot take a common approach for both the IE and Mozilla engines even though I would like the functionality to be similar for both. So I have started diverging a bit in how I code for each engine but am still trying to maintain the same functionality for both engines as much as possible. One thing that I had to drop though was download and security options for the Mozilla engine - not that I ever knew whether they worked or not in the first place :p

One major thing that I did fix was not being able to use the ENTER key in web forms though the fix itself has resulted in a curious problem with Mozilla but I'm not going to worry about it for the moment unless I can find a quick fix for it today. In my effort to discover what was going wrong, I actually created a test application with two browser windows on it - one a component that I'd dropped on the form and the other a browser object that I'd created on the fly at run time (as I do in Scope). I discovered that the browser created as a component at design-time worked fine when it came to using the ENTER key in web forms, it was just on-the-fly created browsers that had problems with the ENTER key - go figure. I tried a lot of things like comparing the runtime properties of both browsers and trying to duplicate the properties of the design-time created browser in the runtime one etc. but nothing worked. I finally figured out the solution and it basically involved creating a message handler routine for the main Scope window and passing any key presses to the active browser object. Of course, now Mozilla thinks that you are trying to print or fax when you press ENTER in a web form for some weird reason ... I have no solution for that at the moment.

I've been thinking about Blog and what I need to do for the next release while working on Scope - it never stops, does it? :p I want to implement linking to older posts but that is going to have a few problems unless I also add a daily auto-archive facility which will archive the previous day's entries. I think what I'll end up doing is have the auto-archiving facility but give an option to turn it off so that you can archive things manually but that would mean your links to older posts might not always work - depending on whether the posts had been archived or not. Hey, you sometimes have to make compromises :-)

Speaking of compromises, John asked me a couple of days ago whehter I had had to resign from my company and then I realized that I hadn't written about the aftermath of the whole tie incident from last Friday (now here's a place where linking to older posts would have been handy <g>). And no, I didn't compromise as the above segue might suggest :p It just turned out to be much-ado-about-nothing since I didn't wear a tie but didn't get pulled up either since I guess they either assumed that everybody would automatically comply or decided not to enforce the rule :-) Of course, John seems to think that I might have compromised because he wrote to me today and asked me whether it was a tie that he saw around my neck in the webcam <vbg> Nope, that's just my holster :p And no, that's not for a gun - just my iPaq :p
posted at 08:02:34 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jul 24 2001

I am feeling a little tired and achy today but not so much as yesterday :-) I have this water purifier which needs salt to operate and due to my extreme reluctance to do anything which needs doing when it needs doing <vbg> I let the salt levels on the purifier drop to almost nothing before I decided to spring into action. I got about 500 pounds of salt on Sunday (no, I'm not exaggerating - it was 480 lbs to be exact :p) and since I am not exactly Charles Atlas - more like the original 98 pound weakling <g> - all that lifting and carrying has left me kind of tired :-) Incidentally, I just realized that my references (especially the one about Charles Atlas) might be a bit dated - ah well, if you didn't read comics as a kid, that's your loss since they used to have advertisements about Charles Atlas and his body-building course in the comics all the time .. in the old days, of course :p

Either somebody doesn't like me much or the Sircam worm is really widespread over the Net. I have never ever got any of the variants of the famous (or infamous) virii in my personal e-mail till now. I got a copy of Sircam over the weekend from an address that I didn't recognize and then today when I checked my mail, I found five copies of the virus from four different people (it was sent twice from one of the addresses) and I don't know any of these people! I thought that Sircam was supposed to send out mails to people on the addressbooks of infected machines - so either my e-mail address is on the addressbooks of a lot of people that I don't know or somebody doesn't like me <vbg> I am beginning to think that it's time that I took down my e-mail address from my site :p Ah, what the heck, it's better that people have easy access to me ... I sent out e-mails to the people from whom I received the virus warning them to clean their machines but at least one of them didn't even have the senders address since it was pointing to the Prodigy mail server I believe but I wasn't interested enough to go to the trouble of figuring it all out :-)
posted at 08:07:08 AM  link  comment

Mon, Jul 23 2001

Ok, I did manage to find the time to get Blog 2.5 out. Existing Blog users should be aware of the fact that there has been a change made to the internal Blog storage format due to the inclusion of the new tag to uniquely identify all Blog entries. So, the first thing you should do if you want to keep your existing Blog entries is to download the Blog Data Conversion Utility (which I'm also releasing) and convert your existing data. The Conversion Utility comes packaged as a self-extracting archive but there is no documentation. Simply extract the contents of the archive, copy the Convert.Exe file over to where you have Blog installed and run it to have your data converted. Then download the new Blog archive and copy over just the Blog executable and you should be ready to go! (Of course you might want to backup your Blog directory just in case ... :p) The download links are in the side-bar as usual. Enjoy!!
posted at 12:23:04 PM  link  comment

I think I wrote last week about Tyran Ormond's suggestions for Blog. Well, Tyran and I have been communicating back and forth and I actually did a new build of Blog which contains a unique identification number for each Blog entry so that you can use a comments system with Blog. I was hoping to release the new build sometime over the weekend as Blog 2.5 final but never got around to it due to a variety of reasons. However, I sent Tyran a private copy and he used it to set up the best looking site that use Blog I've seen, for his wife. The site, What Do I Know?, is so good looking that I actually feel justified in having created Blog :p

I should be releasing Blog 2.5 final sometime today but since the addition of a unique ID meant changes to the database format used by Blog, I had to create a conversion utility to make the transition easier for those people who are using Blog already. So I'll have to do packaging, docs etc and what it will come down to is how much time I will have during lunch <g>

The webcam is umm ... working ... I guess :-) It wasn't on full time yesterday since I am on a dial-up connection from home and am not always online but today it'll be on more but since it's pointed more at my notebook and I switch between two computers at work, it might not always have anybody in the pic ... That might actually be a blessing :p Still looking out for some good webcam software though ... I am really not happy with the one I'm using currently but haven't had the time to look around for something else yet. Maybe soon ...
posted at 08:15:32 AM  link  comment

Sun, Jul 22 2001

I watched "Snatch" today - pretty good movie. Initially the conglomeration of accents, the confusing jumping back and forth in the story and the weird camera angles and editing tends to be a bit intimidating but after a while the movie really gets you hooked. The separate but connected storylines can be confusing but at the same time it keeps you interested. The soundtrack is upbeat and in tempo with the story and the plot has more twists than a corkscrew caught in a four-way car wreck :p I especially loved some of the symbolic stuff like the coursing scene where two dogs chase a rabbit and the scene switches back and forth between that and two hoods chasing a guy they're after :-) I loved how the different plot elements kept on piling one on top of the other like cars on a freeway on the first snowy day of winter <g> I haven't seen any of Guy Ritchie's other work - especially the much talked about "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" - but I think his work is definitely worth a look.
posted at 02:43:08 PM  link  comment

Watched "Miss Congeniality" yesterday. I laughed out loud at several scenes, enjoyed the movie immensely and yet can't but help have some critiques :p The only thing that I didn't like about the movie was that it had sort of a farcial quality to it - Sandra Bullock is tougher than tough, her character is not feminine at all and I find that hard to believe. I find it harder to believe that she goes through life believing that she's not attractive at all and has to go through an ugly-duckling to swan transformation to finally realize that she looks good. If you don't mind that sort of inconsistentcy (and to be honest, while I did notice the stuff, it still didn't stop me from enjoying the movie ...), it's a great movie and I really liked the sound-track - must see about getting it on CD :-)

As I mentioned a few days ago, I wanted to set up a webcam for the journal. Now, why would I want to show my ugly mug off to the whole world you may ask? I ask myself the same question :p I guess the short answer is to give the journal a more personal touch ... I like to be able to visualize the person I'm talking to and since I am basically carrying on a dialog (albeit a one-sided one <g>) with whoever is reading this page, I decided a webcam might help. Plus, somebody who read my journal once commented that they really liked my site because it had a sort of a community feeling to it - so I'm trying to totally destroy it by scaring off everybody who sees my face <vbg> Anyway, I got a Video Blaster WebCam Go from Best Buy yesterday and am about to do my first trial-runs with it ... Let's see how it goes ...
posted at 11:16:37 AM  link  comment

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