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Fri, Jan 11 2002

One thing I always forget online is that people don't always mean what they say or rather that they didn't mean to say what we thought they said when they wrote something :p This all goes back to my rant/outburst a few days back when I talked about coders starting to think of themselves as some sort of demi-god or super being ... It turns out that the person who originally started off the whole outburst was deeply hurt by the fuss and he even mentions me in one of his e-mails and from the tone of his e-mails, I take it that he didn't mean things to sound the way they came out :-( Unfortunately, that's the problem with online communication - and hence the reason for me peppering my writing with an overabundance of emoticons <vbg> - it's really easy to misinterpret the tone of somebody's writing because there really is no tone of voice to go by ... Now I really feel bad because this particular person seems to have been pretty badly affected by all this and while he certainly should have watched what he wrote, I hate it when somebody is hurt by what passes for life online ... I've written to him but ... I don't know, sometimes it's so darn complicated :-
posted at 08:32:43 AM  link  comment

Thu, Jan 10 2002

Argh! I really, really hate MusicMatch tech support! I got another e-mail from them after about a week or more and this time it's another tech support guy and he again wants the same info that I gave their original tech support guy (and which is already present at the bottom of the e-mail if he'd just bothered to read it ...) I don't know whether the fact that I use different e-mail addresses each time I write to them (don't ask - it's the whole work vs. home thing ...) contributes to it but I'd think that since I quote the reference number in all my e-mails and the entire history of my communications with MusicMatch is quoted along with each e-mail, they shouldn't be asking me the same questions over and over again! Makes me wonder whether paying for software is worth is at all at times like these ...

Watched the AMA's (American Music Awards) last night for a while. I played this game of "who should win and who will win" <g> and was surprised at how accurate my predictions were - except in a few instances where I was proved wrong - or rather, my "should win" artist actually won :p Incidentally, was it just me or did anybody else think that Cher seemed to be going for the Madonna look? Her singing is just as good as ever but I really thought that the look didn't suit her ...

I was surprised to learn that they have a new movie version of "The Count of Monte Cristo" coming out starring Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel. While I enjoyed quite a few of Alexandre Dumas' works, "The Count of Monte Cristo" has always held a special significance that I can't explain. I've never grown tired of reading the book in it's many versions (and even different languages ...) or of watching movie and TV adaptations of it. I still remember the older movie adaptation starring Tony Curtis - boy, that does date me doesn't it? Anybody remember Tony Curtis? Anyway, I'm looking forward to this movie version of "The Count of Monte Cristo" - hopefully, it'll prove to be really good ...
posted at 08:39:42 AM  link  comment

Wed, Jan 09 2002

Suddenly been receiving a ton of e-mail on my apps after a lull during which I hardly received any e-mails at all - this seems to be cyclical :p I guess some of my users figured that if I had nothing better to do than to write about games and comics, it's time to bug me <vbg> Just so that you know (the people who don't know me and my style of writing too well ...) I'm just kidding :-) I enjoy hearing from my users and always like to hear suggestions and criticisms except for the demanding ones where people seem to think along the lines of "all right, I'm using your software so you need to do everything I say" :p Of course, there seems to be a very thin line between the "I'm a coding god, bow down before me" and the "demanding users annoy me" attitudes but I hope and pray I always continue to stay on the right side of the line ...

All the e-mails and the correspondence has been good since I've actually learnt that there is at least one person besides me who finds BOB useful :p (Argh, just hit this weird bug in Blog which has cropped up a couple of times before - a word would be misspelled and I'd backspace to correct it and "wham!" I get hit by a cryptic windows error message and it keeps on coming back every character I type. Sometimes saving, exiting Blog and restarting helps but not this time. I had to try to delete the offending word - which didn't help - and then finally have it highlighted and save - which actually got rid of the word - before the crashing stopped. I have a feeling that this is something to do with the spellcheck component but the problem is how to isolate it ...)

Whew, that was a long aside! I also ran into another bug in Blog while writing the above paragraph - sometimes if you have a word highlighted and want to add a hyperlink, the link does not appear bracketing the word you highlighted but at the beginning of the whole entry - again this is sporadic and the only common factor seems to be that it happens after I have saved an entry I was working on and hadn't typed anything further but simply wanted to insert a hyperlink - at least I think so ... Guess there's a lot of things I need to look into as far as Blog goes ... And that brings me back to what I wanted to write about when I was talking about the e-mails I've received and their positive effect - somebody suggested (actually I think there were at least two people who wanted this ...) that I come up with a comments system which was easy to use from Blog. Unfortunately, this isn't possible as a normal comments system since the essence of a comments system is that the comments are visible to everybody and so have to reside on a central server. However, I had received the request for a comments system again yesterday and then received an email from CJP about how he needed a way to moderate who posts comments on his comments system. I was thinking about that and it suddenly occurred to me that I could use a similar method to the multi-user posting system that I was talking about for Blog 6.0. Have the comments be sent to an e-mail address and then Blog will handle the posting to the web site! That way, you don't have to have PHP or any scripting on the server and you can have total control as to who posts comments and who doesn't. The downside? The comments won't be instantaneously visible as would be with a scripted system and I might not be able to add the ability to edit/delete them (though that probably will be possible ...) Let's see how it turns out when I finally get around to doing the coding ...
posted at 10:12:47 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jan 08 2002

I don't know whether I've mentioned it here before (I write about a ton of things here and can't always remember what I wrote about :p) but I've loved comics since I was a kid. In fact, I learnt to read because of comics! I haven't seen them here but in Sri Lanka comics mostly appear in the form of papers instead of books - they have a weekly sixteen or twenty page paper with a different story on each page in serialized form. So you have to buy the paper each week to see how the story progresses. They had only one such paper when I was really young (about four or five I guess ...) and I loved looking at the pictures and making up my own stories because I didn't know how to read <vbg> Of course, needing an adult to find out the actual story irked me to no end and I think that's why I learnt to read as fast as I did :p

Of course, from there I progressed to books and was surprising most of my teachers by the time I was in second grade because I was reading the books that they read and really fast too :p But my love of comics remained - in fact, it entered a second stage when I came across Marvel comics when I was about six years or so old since I didn't know how to read in English, only Sinhalese (the main language in Sri Lanka ...) But I still remember those early comics (and I vividly recall that one of them was Thor though I don't think I knew it was Thor at that time ..) I've continued to love both Marvel and DC comics since then though I prefer the Marvel universe to DC's most of the time - in fact, when I get together with another comics lover, it sounds like a school reunion because we'll talk about comic book characters as if they were real people like "How's Matt Murdock doing these days?" or "Did you know that Peter Parker got married?"

Again the above situation arises because of the comic book situation in Sri Lanka and looks pretty funny I guess to somebody who's from the US. We don't get comics the same way you do here - you'll find an issue here and an issue there and some of them might be from the 80's or the 90's and be available there only now. Of course the situation might have changed now but that was how it used to be when I was growing up. So we'd know only a little bit about each character and miss entire storylines and so pooling knowledge and talking about our favorite characters was the only way to find out about stuff that we'd missed. All of this changed when I came to the US because now I had access to all the comics I could want and could even get all the back issues - in fact, I think I got more comics in my first year here than the whole of my collection through my entire life before then back in Sri Lanka :p

So why the heck am I writing all this? <g> It's because yesterday something great happened - something that happens rarely to me but when it does makes me feel as if I have come about full circle :-) It's not a bad thing - in fact, it's a great feeling. It's when I find out something that I have done has helped (or been useful to ...) somebody who's work I'd enjoyed. The only other time I can recall at this time of this happening before was when Terry Pratchett (who writes the Discworld series that I enjoy so much ...) asked about an Arabic phrase on Usenet and I was able to answer (though he did not use the phrase I supplied him with :p) Yeah, I'm getting to what happened yesterday ... <g> I had been talking to a Blog user about some issues he'd had with Blog when I discovered that he had been (and still is ... I think ...) a writer for Marvel on some of my favorite comics! The feeling was fabulous!!

To be honest, I can't say that I recall the name Christopher J. Priest from any of the Marvel comics that I used to read but then again, I don't think I paid much attention to who wrote or drew a comic till I came to the US. Before then, I remembered only a few names and even those mostly because they stuck in my mind from Stan Lee's Bullpens. But CJP probably wrote some of the stuff I used to read and enjoy and I tell ya, it feels great to know that he finds my software useful :-) In fact, if you are a comics lover, you should probably read some of the stuff he has on his site about the books he used to work on - I love Marvel history and boy does he have stuff there that is interesting! I found it absolutely riveting but then again YMMV if you are not a comics book fan :p But if you can't get enough of the inside dope on comics, by all means go here and check out the comics section!
posted at 08:10:48 AM  link  comment

Mon, Jan 07 2002

What sort of asininity makes developers start thinking that they are some sort of super being? I normally don't write about happenings in the alternate shell arena because I don't use an alternative shell anymore nor do I do any development in that area but certain developments over the weekend have kind of irked me due to the fact that it is not just an alternate shell thing but rather something I notice more and more with coder/techy types. People seem to think that they are somehow better because they know how to code or to work with computers and treat the "newbie" as if they were some sort of second-class citizen or a complete moron. I think this is as bad as racial prejudice or any of the other bigoted ideas that we look down upon. The newbie of today might turn out to be the super-coder of tomorrow if they were given a helping hand or some guidance. I should know since I started coding for alternate shells as a complete newbie and that really started me on the road to doing all the apps and projects that I work on today. I just can't understand people sometimes - they seem to forget where they came from and how they started once they get to a certain level. Makes one wonder about humanity ...

I know the above won't make any sense at all to anybody who is not involved in the alternate shell world (and I know quite a few of you who visit here don't use alternate shells :p) but basically the alternate shell world is about replacing your Windows interface with a more customizable one. There are many programs for doing this and most of them are free projects worked on by people in their spare time. It is basically a labor of love. The coder of one of the latest entrants into the alternate shell arena (who incidentally has been active in the alternate shell world for a while ...) has seen fit to add a feature to his shell which is decidedly newbie-unfriendly and has gone to the extent of saying that he considers newbies to be morons and that they will only elevate beyond the status of morons and be fit to talk to him only if they read his documentation. To me, this sounds like a really egotistical statement and I'm really irked by it ... Ah well, I guess it takes all kinds but sometimes I wonder whether that is always a good thing?

On to much more cheerful topics :-) I got "Red Faction" for PS2 over the weekend and quite liked it! I was actually looking for "Max Payne" for the PS2 since I'd heard quite a bit about it and was feeling in the mood for an FPS (First Person Shooter) but everywhere I looked, it was sold out. So I settled for a used copy of "Red Faction" since I'd heard good stuff about it as well. It has been a long time since I've played an FPS - I think I played a bit of Half-Life a couple of years ago but I don't think I've really played an FPS since Quake (or was it Quake II?) ... yeah I know that's a long time ago <vbg> I liked the way "Red Faction" worked quite a bit though the controls weren't really intuitive from a normal console gamer perspective - yeah, I know they give you the option to remap the keys but I didn't want to bother with that once I'd figured out the controls :p I also played a lot of "Final Fantasy X" and my first impressions about the game still remain intact - great game and great story!
posted at 08:19:51 AM  link  comment

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