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Sat, Dec 08 2001

I got "Summoner" for the PS2 and "Chrono Cross" for PlayStation yesterday and I must say that I was very disappointed. I don't know if it is just the XBox spoiling me for any other console or I have high expectations now but both games failed to live up to my expectations. I played them for a little while last night and resolved to return them as soon as possible today. I did so but was disappointed to find that the game I wanted to get as a replacement "Night Caster" for the XBox was not yet out - though it was supposed to be out in December. Ah well ... Other good news on the gaming front was that I learnt that "Malice" for the XBox was still on, though it probably will not be out before the fall of 2002. Malice was supposed to be one of the launch titles for the XBox and the initial screenshots and demos impressed me highly. In fact, I probably would have been pretty gung-ho about the XBox at launch if Malice had been among the launch titles. Instead, it was said that Malice had been scrapped altogether, but now I hear that Sierra is working on it and that it will be released sometime in 2002- I can't wait :-)

I did some further work on Blog because the slow down that I'd perceived some time back was still there. I had been using a filtered dataset till now but I thought maybe it was because the filtering mechanism actually loaded all the records into memory before it applied the filter - so I decided to look into queries returning live result sets. I implemented that feature today and so did away with filtering altogether but I still don't see an improvement in the UI. So it has to be either the live spell checking or some other event driven thing ... Argh, this is driving me insane! :p
posted at 03:28:13 PM  link  comment

Thu, Dec 06 2001

Told my boss yesterday that I was planning to quit and that they'd better initiate things to find a replacement for me. Turns out that she is as tired of the company's policies as I am ... Further, it looks as if it might be a good idea to leave anyway because she told me that we are supposed to put in extra hours for a new project that "management" wants done fast (and that project actually got delayed by about a month in the first place because they came up with a few other things that they considered higher priority ...) *and* they are not going to pay us for the extra hours! I am so sick and tired of the clueless decisions made over here and then having to suffer for their mistakes - or having to come up with newer solutions (or worse, reverse solutions we'd put in place ...) to please their every whim and fancy. Ah well ... I guess things will get resolved in their own time ...

I am not sure that I'm going to release Quester after all ... I like the app and am using it regularly but there seems to be way too much hassle involved in releasing it as a public app - the people over at DQSD want to keep the search formats in synch, do a new license so that I can keep the XML open but the app itself closed etc. and it seems to me too much effort to put into something that not many people seem to be that much interested in. Those who are actually interested in it already have DQSD, so why go to all that trouble with Quester when I can better spend my time on Scope or Blog? :-) Speaking of which, I need to find some time to get the work I want to do on Scope done because there have been so many good idea for Blog lately, that I really want to work on it. Plus, the slowdown that I'd initially noticed with Blog still continues and I really want to figure out a way around that - I don't like slow apps :p
posted at 07:20:20 AM  link  comment

Wed, Dec 05 2001

Well ... I didn't get to quit yesterday :p - couldn't get a chance to see my manager because of work and other stuff <vbg> So maybe today ... but I did get a chance to fix the problem with Quester :-) I managed to figure out the problem with XML Mapper - turns out that if a set of elements are to be treated as a client dataset (so that I could have a master-detail relationship), there must be more than one of that element in the first grouping of XML elements that qualifies as a record in database terms ... Not sure whether that made any sense :p but basically that was where the problem was - I finally figured it out by messing around with a sample file and changing different elements on it and loading it into the XML Mapper. Maybe that was mentioned somewhere in the docs but I have a bad habit of not wanting to wade through tons and tons of documentation <vbg>

So Quester now officially works - except for one problem. I added an option to refresh the search engine definitions in case you decided to change them or add a new definition but that doesn't seem to work. Calling Refresh on the TClientDataSet component results in some pretty weird results - so the current option seems to be to close the Quester toolbar and re-add it to the taskbar. I guess I can live with it :-) I don't think I mentioned yesterday that I heard from David - the author of DQSD, on which Quester is based ... - yesterday. I'd asked him permission to release Quester publicly and he said that since the searches in Quester were contributed by a lot of people, that I should ask all of them. So I joined the DQSD mailing list and have been carrying on a conversation with some of the people there about Quester, open source and perhaps keeping the XML formats for DQSD and Quester consistent ...
posted at 07:14:26 AM  link  comment

Tue, Dec 04 2001

I've decided to quit my job! Relax, I'm not nuts :p I've been here for over a year now and my review has been due for several months now but so far nothing - all I get are promises that it will be "any day now". To me this sounds as if the company doesn't really care about it's employees generally and that they aren't that appreciative of the work that I do specifically. So I've thought about this for a while and it occurred to me yesterday that if I continued to stay here, it would be an admission that the company's estimate of me is true. So I thought I'd talk to my boss today and tell her that I was quitting ...

On other news <g>, while Quester is generally working fine, I ran into a major stumbling block - I discovered that when a search engine has only one field to be filled in, it works fine but if there are multiple fields, I can't get it to work because the Delphi XML Mapper does not seem to pick up the extra input fields from the XML file. I was hoping that I might be able to do something like a master-detail relationship with two different XML definitions but it doesn't seem to work that way ... Or maybe it's just the fact that I am not all that conversant with the XML Mapper utility - guess I'll have to look into that some more today ... if I'm not out hunting for a new job that is :p

Phil came up with a great idea for Blog today - he suggested that if Blog was able to monitor an e-mail account and simply use incoming e-mails to create entries, that Blog would have multi-user capabilities (as well as remote update capability) without there being a need for a client server version! I think this is a great idea and intend to work on this whenever I can. Of course this does bring up other problems - such as the fact that most users will probably want Blog to monitor a web based e-mail account and not one that supports POP and that is going to create problems ... Ah well, what's life without a little challenge, huh?
posted at 07:46:51 AM  link  comment

Mon, Dec 03 2001

I sat down to work on the search bar I was talking of in my post yesterday and what do you know, by the end of the day I actually had a working version of the app! It's still a bit rough around the edges but it is basically a desktop toolbar (so it works with any version of IE with ActiveDesktop - I think ... but I don't think it works under NT 4.0 but maybe I'm wrong ...) so everybody might not be able to use it :-( Anyway, it's a toolbar which will sit on your taskbar and will simply provide you with a edit box into which you can type in search criteria and a shortcut which defines search engines like Google, IMDB etc. I'm calling the app Quester and it seems to be coming along pretty nicely but development is pain because it is an ActiveX server and once you load it, I can't seem to unload it unless you logout of the system - that means I have to log out each time I want to do a new build to fix a bug ... Oh well ..

I do need to write to the author of the original app based on which I wrote Quester because I'm using almost the same XML file format he used and am basically "borrowing" his list of search engines. He released his app (which was simply an HTML file and an XML file) under the GPL but I don't want to release the source for Quester and so I am not sure about where I stand - I didn't borrow any code from him but where does XML info stand in the scheme of the GPL? I am really not sure and if there is a problem, I don't want to release Quester publicly but I do find it to be a pretty neat app - if I do say so myself :p
posted at 10:10:43 AM  link  comment

Sun, Dec 02 2001

Did quite a bit of work on Scope yesterday and I've discovered a new (and irritating) bug :p I did some code changes to the way keystrokes are handled in Scope because of the fact that the address bar would behave strangely if you had the dropdown dropped down and didn't type anything for a bit but somehow my changes seem to have introduced this extremely weird bug - when you type 'Y' in a web form, it gets duplicated! Just the 'Y', nothing else as far as I can see ... Guess I need to look into that but I still haven't got around to it because I've been busy doing a lot of other stuff ...

Such as adding the much requested feature to open new tabs in the background :-) I am not really satisfied with the implementation because there is a flash while a new tab is created and sent to the background (tabs are always created in the foreground and I can't seem to find a way to make them be created in the background ...) and I hate that quick flash. I have been trying a quite a few things and haven't still found a way to eliminate it. I also added tooltip hints to all the Option dialog items so that people won't have to try to figure out what each item is for :p Plus, for those who just won't read the documentation, I've added a Read Me item on the Help menu which will automatically open up the Scope.txt file in the default text editor - a la Blog.

My mind's been bubbling with ideas for both Scope and Blog and to top it all off, I've also got an idea for a new app :p Somebody requested some time back that I somehow make Scope compatible with the Google toolbar. Now that seems like a bit of tall order and I really wasn't sure that could be done but yesterday I ran across a new app named Dave's Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar and I really loved it because it's tiny, customizable and takes up so little space! The downside? It only seems to work with IE because basically it is an HTML page :-( I decided that I needed to code a new app which emulated the functionality and also provided the customizability by containing all the search engine info in an XML file just like Dave's Quick Search Deskbar does. So I guess that is another project to eat into my time ... I guess I could have somehow integrated this into Scope but then that would leave users of all other browsers out in the cold. So I am going to try to make it so that the app will basically call your default browser (or maybe even an option to call a specific browser of your choice ...) and that should keep everybody happy :-)

I watched "The Wild Bunch" yesterday on DVD - it was dark, gritty and grim ... not at all like the westerns of today. There were no good guys and bad guys and the people didn't look as if they'd stepped out of a catalog - they looked dirty, smelly and as if they'd been in the saddle for ages :-) But then again, the movie's pretty old - who remembers William Holden, Ernest Borgnine or for that matter, even Sam Peckinpah these days? I loved the opening sequence though in a way it revolted me too. The kids pushing scorpions into an ant's nest and seeing the scorpion's writhe in pain and laughing and later putting some dry brush on top of both the scorpions and the ants and setting fire to the brush was the kind of scene you don't seen in movies anymore. It tells you something about ourselves and makes you think. Yes, children sometimes aren't as pure and innocent as we'd like to think they are but at the same time, we adults are the one's who hurt and maim fellow human beings ... So who's more cruel and heartless? I don't know ...

posted at 06:27:39 AM  link  comment

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