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Fri, Aug 03 2001

Ok, I made a big boo boo :-) I didn't test one piece of the new functionality properly and that's the one which had a bug <g> The option to turn off converting carriage returns to HTML paragraph tags had a bug which causes the publishing process to publish blank entries. I have fixed it and have uploaded the distributions again. If anybody who downloaded the Blog 3.5 distribution during the last couple of hours needs the above mentione feature, download the distro again. Otherwise you're fine ... sorry about that :-)
posted at 06:42:18 PM  link  comment

jugg and Jason make a great pair of friends to have :-) They find bugs, test my apps as soon as I code them and suggest features that I hadn't even thought of but which make everybody's lives so much easier - thanks guys! Thanks to Jason Blog has moved from 3.0 to 3.5 because I've added so many new options and features that I felt that my original intention of naming this version 3.2 was inappropriate :p I haven't updated the docs as much as I should but the "What's New" section lists all the new features and bug fixes. A couple of things to beware of though - the database structure has changed again and so you need to get the latest Database Conversion Utility and I have added a new Edit menu item which you'll see only if you either replace the existing Blog.cfg file with the new one in the distro or delete the existing one. Other than that, I think everything should be pretty straight forward ...

Oh yeah, one more thing - if your journal publishes to a sub-directory on your FTP site, be sure that you have given the absolute path to that directory and not the relative path ... Sometimes your ISP sets things up so that when you log in, you will always end up in a particular sub-directory but you have access to the parent directory of that subdirectory as well. In that case, make sure that the sub-directory path you specify in Blog is from the root .. It would have worked fine earlier but not with the new code. I don't even know if this paragraph makes any sense - seems really complicated even to me :p
posted at 03:46:22 PM  link  comment

Yesterday was pretty busy in terms of coding but most of it wasn't for NewsHoard - it was for Blog <g> First of all, I completely revamped the archiving and publishing processes - or at least the FTP part of it so that an FTP connection is not terminated at the end of each file transfer. Instead, the connection is terminated only if the next file transfer is to a different site. This eliminated the multiple FTP connections to the same site that happened in previous versions of Blog. Thanks should again go to Jason for pointing out the problem ... Then I heard from Alan Dawson from Bangkok who pointed out that Blog seemed to have problems with system date formats other than the American one :p It took me a while to figure it out but once I did, I fired off a new build to Alan and he tells me today that everything's fine now. There was also a problem that Jason reported with regards to using menu items in Blog under Win95 and experiencing a crash - I think I fixed it but forgot to ask Jason whether it works now. So all in all, a lot of fixes and features and improvements to Blog - so while I was kind of reluctant to let one of my apps move ahead of the others in terms of version numbers <g>, I think I'll have to release a new build of Blog soon ... maybe today but definitely this weekend :-)
posted at 08:35:41 AM  link  comment

Thu, Aug 02 2001

Forgot to mention a couple of things earlier today - there's a site named WebAttack which seems to have featured Blog :-) They gave Blog a five-star rating and are sending quite a few people my way and so I thought I'd mention it - their site reminds me of some other site or maybe I've been there before ... not sure but after a while being on the web it sort of all blends together anyway :p

Somebody named Coolgui actually put the Forums to good use by starting a Scope bug reports discussion but I get the feeling not many people visit the forums I've set up since there have been only three messages since it was started :p If more people start using it, it might be a good place to get support for all the software that I code ...
posted at 10:31:20 AM  link  comment

I just read with great sadness that Poul Anderson passed away last night. For those who don't know (are there any such?) - Poul was one of the Science Fiction greats from when Science Fiction could really be written with upper-case letters, when it used to be about great and wonderous things that evoked a sense of wonder and made us dream of places far away and beings strange. In the past few years we've lost so many of the greats of SF - Isaac Asimov, Gordon R. Dickson, Douglas Adams and now Poul Anderson. I'm not even sure that there are many of the greats left from the days when SF really flourished ... :-(
posted at 07:56:38 AM  link  comment

Where do I start today? :-) Jason (FreakHo) gave me such a lot of great feedback that I had to put aside work on NewsHoard to do some tinkering with Blog <g> I added the option to archive either weekly or monthly, added a new Blog tag which allows you to display the link in the archives for the current entry and formatting options for the time of the entry. In the process I also streamlined a few areas of code and fixed a couple of other bugs. I didn't really want to release this build since there have been way too many releases of Blog recently :p so I gave a private build to Jason and he's got a few more suggestions and bugs that I probably will be fixing soon <vbg> After that, I probably will be doing another release - unfortunately, some of the enhancements I'm planning include another database change :-( Ah well ...

I got NewsHoard connecting to the news server and downloading news groups and also got the news group subscribing working - though somewhat imperfectly at the moment. The next step is to actually download the headers for a particular news group and then the actual post itself. I am not planning on including the binary harvesting functionality for this preliminary version. The release when it comes will be more a proof-of-concept than an actual app since it will be missing a lot of features and won't have a nice GUI - the last is largely due to the fact that I haven't been able to get in touch with sinesolis to bug him for more icons :p But it should get the ball rolling and then I know I can always depend on the users to suggest features that they'd like to see in the app.

I got an e-mail from my friend WareWolf - turns out that he's out of work at the moment :-( Sometimes we lose sight of the fact how much the current downturn in the economy is affecting some of those around us because we ourselves are employed. Having been unemployed for a while myself, I know exactly how WareWolf must be feeling. He's opened up an online store in the hopes I assume of trying everything possible. If any of you have any hardware needs and are shopping online please visit his store - you might find something that you need and you'll also be helping out somebody ...
posted at 07:42:20 AM  link  comment

Wed, Aug 01 2001

We have this mock-paintball game running at work where several of us point our finger at anybody else in the game and go "bang!" and they're dead for about five minutes ... I got shot early in the morning by one of the guys driving by as I was walking in from the parking lot and just moments after that another guy drives by and shoots me again <vbg> Nothing like a mock drive-by shooting to get you in a good mood :p

I saw a post about the whole Blog vs. Blogger issue by a Blogger user named FreakHo yesterday on his blog. He talked about trying out Blog and had a list of reasons as to why he personally didn't like Blog and would continue to use Blogger. Me being me <g>, I had to talk to him and find out more so that I could make Blog better. So I e-mailed him and we've been communicating back and forth about Blog, Blogger and the features that he finds lacking in Blog and I've actually got quite a few excellent ideas from him. Now the ideas are bubbling and boiling inside my mind and I'll have to get them out soon by implementing them - ah the curse of coding :p

Speaking of the curse of coding, I have managed to make a lot of headway on the rewrite of Gossip which incidentally has been renamed to NewsHoard - the new name comes by courtesy of KuhnDog. Since the functionality is changing, KuhnDog thought that NewsHoard described the app better and I liked the name and so went for it. The initial release will be version 2.0 however since the codebase is basically that of the original Gossip with some new XML parsing code for working with the newsfeed backends. The UI is not complete by any means but if you're interested, here's a screenshot:

I noticed that what seems to be a Dutch variant of ZDNet has an entry about Blog posted on their site but not the English version of ZDNet - weird ... Unless the first site is a parody or something like that ...
posted at 07:56:30 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jul 31 2001

Haven't had much time to work on the Gossip improvements since I last did an update - perhaps today. I'd really like to get the backend news feed stuff working though since there is this neat SF news site that I want to get daily (or even hourly :p) feeds from. Speaking of SF, I watched an episode of Exposure on the Sci-Fi channel that I'd recorded on Sunday since it was a special to coincide with the release of "The Planet of the Apes". Is it just me or is Lisa Marie (not Presley) really creepy? She seems to have no emotions at all on screen - when she smiles the smile never reaches her eyes and she talks as if it was all rehearsed. Now I might be doing her a great injustice in saying she has no emotions but that's the way she appears on TV ... and speaking of Lisa Marie and "The Planet of the Apes", it is almost a natural segue to something that I forgot to mention when I talked about "The Planet of the Apes" after watching the movie. Am I mistaken or does Helena Bonham Carters character of Ari bear an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson? I was struck by the resemblance the moment the character first appeared on screen and the more I see Ari in TV spots and trailers, the more striking the resemblance seems :-)

As far as the whole Blogger situation goes, as I mentioned yesterday I wrote to Evan Williams but still haven't heard from him. Just mentioning it in case some of you are wondering what the heck happened ... though maybe you're not wondering at all <vbg>
posted at 08:21:33 AM  link  comment

Mon, Jul 30 2001

Since I'm working on the News Reader (more on that in a bit), I decided to release Blog 3.0 today after all :-) This release is basically lots of minor bug fixes and a few things to make sure that standards are adhered to (meaning that I messed up in the first place :p) The biggest change is probably the inclusion of a per site option to specify the extension you want used for the archived entry files. This means that there was another database change and you will need to download the Data Conversion Utility again (even if you were running Blog 3.0 Beta 1) and run it before you run Blog 3.0. Of course that part applies only to existing Blog users. So go get it, use it and let me know what else I've broken <vbg>

I have been looking into the whole XML/RSS/RDF file deal and have been discovering some stuff which is positive but also stuff which is negative :-) The positive point is that I did find a way to get around the whole Open XML component issue but the bad news is that most of the backend news files that I can find seem not to be totally XML compliant and so the codes keeps on choking on the files :-( I guess I will either have to abandon the backend news reader idea and simply go with a newsgroup reader or try another tack ... Sometimes when you keep on banging your head against a stone wall, the blood gushing over your eyes makes it hard for you to see clearly :p
posted at 04:17:53 PM  link  comment

Well, I wrote to Evan Williams and told him that I was willing to put any acknowlegement/disclaimer that he wanted in the Blog docs but that I didn't want to change the name. Haven't heard from him yet in response to that. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

I've been looking into XML parsing since Saturday evening for the enhancements that I am planning for Gossip. The bad news is that I found that the latest version of the Open Source Open XML component chokes on backend RSS files that it used to parse without a problem in prior versions :-( Hmm ... wonder what's up with that? I guess I'll just have to figure out a different approach this time ... but that always takes time. Ah well, can't always have an app working a week after you conceive it I guess :p

Oh yeah, because of Tyran Ormond's invaluable input most of the known bugs in Blog 3.0 Beta 1 have been eradicated and it seems to be pretty stable. I am contemplating whether to declare this Blog 3.0 final and be done with it or to add some further features requested by a few users. The jury's still out on the verdict <g> but you should probably know sometime today.
posted at 10:19:18 AM  link  comment

Sun, Jul 29 2001

I just got back from watching "Planet of the Apes" and was going to write my opinion of it (and I still will after I get through writing about what I'm going to write about ...) but I received an e-mail in my inbox which took precedence. The e-mail was from Evan Williams, CEO of Blogger.Com, who asks me to "change the name of your software to something less similar/potentially confusing with Blogger". He's talking of course about Blog. Now I don't see how people can confuse his web-based software with my local-machine based software and I don't see why we can't live and let live instead of causing problems for each other. I am really upset about this since I don't make any money off of Blog (or any of my other software for that matter) nor am I part of a corporation like Evan Williams is. I am not sure that I want to be bullied about this whole thing and am currently of the opinion that I shouldn't have to do anything of the fact. I guess we'll see after I respond to Evan - all in all, not a very good day ...

Even without the whole "cease and desist" stuff, the day wasn't going too well since "Planet of the Apes" proved to be a disappointment - I went in expecting a full course meal and instead I was treated to what amounted to an appetizer or some dessert :p The story was interesting but not enough to keep your attention riveted. I was constantly jarred by apes (if you will pardon the pun) aping current human behaviour, language and even idioms. If these were highly-evolved apes in a different milieu, I wouldn't expect them to act thus. The whole thing would have been appropriate in a satire or a parody but not in a supposedly serious tale ... at least that's how I felt. Anyway, to me most of the characters lacked conviction because of this one particular thing - though there were many other little nits that I could have picked about the plot <g> But the biggest hole by far is in the ending which makes no sense at all unless the creative team basically wanted to somehow top the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand scene from the original. I won't reveal the ending and so can't really discuss it at detail but I think it was a totally ridiculous ending but a good hook for the sequel - which I'm almost sure is going to make an appearance sooner or later.
posted at 06:03:03 PM  link  comment

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