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Sat, Jun 15 2002

I fixed the dialing issues and tested things to make sure that they work properly. I also added the linked image and file handling for Blog in Client and Server modes - in Client mode to send them out as attachments and in Server mode to decode the attachments and upload them to the web server. On the subject of attachments, Greg suggested in a comment that I should simply figure out which are image files and which are not by their extension - while I'd thought of that, that doesn't seem like a really foolproof way to do things ... at least to me, since fools can be really ingenious :p For instance, JPG sometimes also has the JPEG extension and if I am not mistaken, even an image which might have a mistaken extension of JP will display fine on a browser if linked with the right name. Trying to cater to all these different scenarios can get to be a bit tricky. Of course, as one of my former bosses used to say, I could simply code for the rules rather than for the exceptions but I don't like that approach - I'd like to cover all possibilities if possible :p

Nigel was preparing for a trip abroad and he wanted to set Blog Server up to auto-publish the entries he sent while he was away. While setting it up, he wanted to know if Blog would re-upload the old entries to his server even if there were no e-mails and I said yes it would since that's the way it had been coded. Then I realized that this might prove to be a problem for people who want Blog to check often but don't want any unnecessary publishing - so I added a new option under the Server tab where you can tell Blog not to publish unless there were new e-mails. I've done a few other fixes along the way as well and hopefully, I've remembered all of them and documented them in the readme file.

Of course, what with all this work on Blog, PostMan has been neglected for the last few days. I still feel the need for a good e-mail client since I've upgraded to the latest Eudora (5.1.1) and it still has that annoying problem of inserting =20 in to e-mails (I think this happens only with messages sent from Outlook but I'm not sure - hmm ... maybe it's some sort of a subversive tactic against Microsoft? :p) I already know that PostMan does not have this problem but there is still a lot of stuff missing from PostMan and I don't want to switch over before I'm halfway sure that I can achieve all that I want with it. But with Qualcomm's latest tactic of asking users to pay to upgrade to what essentially is a bug-fix release (the last release was 5.1), I'm beginning to think they're getting greedy and it's time that somebody did a good, free e-mail client. I'll see what I can do :-)
posted at 06:37:27 AM  link  comment

Thu, Jun 13 2002

I dreamt of two friends who'd figured prominently in my life a while back. I had considered their family to be a second family since I'd stayed with them a lot as a child. But some friendships fall by the side of the way of life when they are one sided - I've been back for a while in Sri Lanka and these friends of mine have no effort to contact me and then I realized that it had been always so ... I'd gone to them instead of them coming to me ever. Is that true friendship? I don't know ... I used to think dreaming of somebody might mean that they were thinking of you or needed you but now I guess I'm more realistic since I think it just means that you are hoping for something that might be or could have been - nothing less and nothing more :p Of course, I guess a tiny part of me still hopes that the more mystical interpretation is true, but then again, that's the beauty of life, isn't it? The fact that we can never be certain of anything ...

But enough of these introspections! I worked on the problem of why Blog doesn't dial out properly and was able to figure out the cause and a solution. I will need to do some modifications to the component that I use (which I intend to do before I leave for work today ...) and then a little bit more testing and I should be almost set for the final release of Blog 6.0 :-)

But why *almost*? Because Nigel came up with a twist to something that I'd already noticed while updating the Blog documentation. If anybody had bothered to read it <g>, you'd notice that the Blog.txt file now has a new section about the Client and Server modes of Blog. In this section I mentioned that the Client can do almost anything that you can do with the Standard mode except for a few things like linking to older entries (it's not blocked but will have unpredictable results - maybe I should block it ...) and linking to images and expecting the images to be uploaded as well. When I wrote that, I thought "why shouldn't I simply attach the images to the e-mail that I'm sending out and let the Server handle the uploading when it retrieves teh e-mail and attachments?" Now Nigel suggested the same thing but he also pointed out that this would work really well with the latest cellular phones which can send e-mail and have cameras (like the Nokia 7650 which has it built-in or the Ericsson T68 for which it comes as an accessory) and that might result in a new phenomena - Phlogs or Phone blogs :p

I really like the concept and since I'd already been considering the whole attachment business, I decided to sit down and think things through as to how best to implement it. Blog currently supports two modes of file uploads: one as images in case you have a separate folder for images and the rest as simple files which go in the same location as your journal. I really wanted to make the distinction in e-mail attachments as well and while I could have done that easily enough by utilizing the extra-headers or by adding some sort of a special footer to the message sent by Blog, it would mean that you have to always use the Blog Client for it to work. This would certainly rule out Phlogs :-( So I decided that I'd handle attachments but they'd always be treated as images and if you have a special images folder defined, they'd go there. You'll just have to be careful about how you do the linking ... Hopefully, this should work - let's see if it does once I get the functionality working ...
posted at 05:30:20 AM  link  comment

Wed, Jun 12 2002

I left work a bit early with my friend Robin since we had to attend a work-related meeting somewhere else in town and since we weren't going to come back to office, he took his car and I took the bike. Half way to our destination, whammo! I slammed into a truck which was turning the wrong way and was not visible to me because it was covered by a big bus. The outcome was that I ended up laying on the road with the bike on top of me and the truck almost on top of the bike :p Thanks to God I wasn't very seriously injured but escaped with some scrapes and bruises though I can't say the same for the bike :-( I did ride it away from the accident but it's going to need a lot of work. Of course, while I didn't feel too bad yesterday, I got up today and feel stiff all over :p Ah well ... guess that'll teach me not to assume that people follow the road rules here in Sri Lanka <g>

On to much more positive news ... I did do the bug fix and feature request from Phil and updated the documentation for Blog as well and re-uploaded the distros. Of course, I haven't had the time to update the sidebar or the downloads page till today and so did that just now. Incidentally, I hit Publish accidentally just now and what do you know? Blog actually dialled out successfully! But the bad news is that Blog didn't seem to realize that the dial-out was complete ... so I guess I'll have to do some more testing and fixing there before the final release of 6.0.

Nigel Powell had inquired about the possibility of a Blog version that would fit on a floppy so the he could take it anywhere and use the Client mode to update his blog. I had thought that that would probably not be possible considering that the Blog executable is a very hefty 2.3MB or so but then I came across something that I used to be really interested in about 10 years ago when hard disk space was limited and we all worked under DOS (well, at least those of us who were around then :p) - an EXE compressor! This one's called UPX and is being developed under an Open Source project and when I ran Blog through it, it was reduced to an amazing 700+k! I'm impressed and since there doesn't seem to be too much degradation in performance, I'll probably start using UPX compression from the next release of Blog onwards and then you should actually be able to carry Blog around on a floppy with the data files :-) Umm ... just checked how big the spell check and thesaurus files are and they come to around 1.11MB so I guess you can either scratch that idea of a totally portable version of Blog :-( Though I'm certain that a compressed file of the full installation of Blog will still fit on a floppy ...

Since I'd completed the latest changes on Blog, I went back to working on PostMan. I managed to get the mail composition window code done as well and it's beginning to look pretty good ... But I haven't tested sending mail yet and I'm sure that when I do, I'll find a few bugs that I hadn't considered <g> Once I get that bit working, I'll have to work on responding to existing e-mails and e-mail redirecting (which is still a mystery to me - I mean the "how" of it ...) since that's a feature that I really like in both Eudora and PocoMail - much better than that pesky Forward when you're moving stuff around from one account to another. I'm also considering whether I should try to incorporate some sort of web-mail checking feature into PostMan and how I should go about it but not too sure about that particular feature yet ... Guess that can go in to the to-do list for the moment :p
posted at 06:29:08 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jun 11 2002

Well, I finally managed to update the documentation for Blog and to get two distros - a full setup based one and a self-extracting archive for upgraders - ready for the new Blog 6.0 beta. I even let Eddie Elmore over at BetaNews (who's been kind enough to mention each release of Blog as well as to provide an alternate mirror for the downloads) know about the new distros that I'd already uploaded to the servers - well, all the servers except for Tripod since I'm running into space limitations there ... It might be that I have to move from Tripod after all these years of being with them :-( Anyway, I was going to hold off on announcing the new files till I had some time to update my web site today but then I received an e-mail from Phil, who reminded me of a bug and a feature that he requested quite a while back - and no, he didn't request a bug even though that's the way the sentence sounds :p

The bug was to do with LiveSpell checking and how it wouldn't turn off even after you've turned it off from the Edit menu and restarted - it works fine when you first turn it off but not on a restart of Blog. I'm almost certain that this is an oversight on my part in not turning off spell-checking when Blog is restarted but I've kept on forgetting to look into it. The feature request was for dates on the calendar on the main Blog window to be displayed in bold for days that have entries. Now I've kept on meaning to look into the possibility of doing this too and then kept on forgetting to do so <g> I finally did look into it yesterday and realized that it should be simple enough to do so. So, I've decided to do these two things, re-upload the distros and then announce the new builds ... Of course, that'll mean at least another day's delay :p
posted at 06:12:57 AM  link  comment

Sun, Jun 09 2002

OK, I think I'm ready to do a Blog beta release :-) Remember that this is still code that is being worked on and so backup your existing Blog data if you want to try this one out - it will change your data files and so be careful about switching over to this build permanently. First do a little testing to make sure that it works for you. A word of warning, I haven't got the automatic dialing out feature to work correctly yet - so do not enable it. If you do enable it and aren't connected to the Net when you try to publish, Blog will try to dial-out but I haven't got it to work for me yet ... Note that this build contains only the executable file and it is only meant to be used by the adventurous souls among existing Blog users :p New users should not download this build! The following is basically a copy of an e-mail I sent out to the private beta testers explaining the features of the new build and that should explain most of the stuff that you need to know. So here are the new features:

  1. Three different Blog modes. You can access the Mode settings from the new Mode tab on the Blog Options dialog. You can have Blog work in standard mode - which means that it works just like it used to :p The Client mode settings include mail server settings (SMTP) and a from and to address. Please note the tooltip on the from address for the from address format. It's important to have the name as well as the e-mail address as in the tooltip example if you want the author to be properly filled out in Blog. The other value of note is Subject Header. This should be the same on both client and server if the Server is to recognize an incoming e-mail as a valid Blog entry - for obvious security reasons, it has been made a changeable value. The Client will simply e-mail the currently selected entry (note that it posts only the current entry) to the to address - which should be monitored by the Blog Server portion at the other end. The server settings are pretty similar except this time you have to give POP settings. And note that if you don't check the Delete Mail box and don't remove the e-mail in the account (at least the Blog entry ones) before you run a Publish session on the Server again, it will create duplicate entries and this will result in a DBISAM error since the current index does not allow more than one unique entry for the journal+date+time combination. I have kept the Delete Mail check box only as a debugging tool. It should normally always be checked (hmm ... I guess I should then make that the default ..) Incidentally, it only deletes the Blog entry mails on the address - not everything :p I know there's a lot about the Modes and it might be a bit confusing - feel free to ask me if you don't understand something ...

  2. Automatic dialling via dial-up if no Net connection is detected and automatic disconnection. These options are on the General tab of the Blog Options dialog. Automatic disconnection is available only if Blog connects automatically since I can't programmatically hang up an existing connection :p Now this feature worked (sort of ...) for me once but the second time it put the modem in a weird status from which I couldn't even dial-up through the normal Dial-up connections. Had to reboot before I could dial out again. Incidentally, Blog will not publish now without a dial-up connection and so if you have problems with the auto-connecting, I'd suggest that you dial-up before you try Publishing :p
  3. Automatic publishing at timed intervals in server mode - when you select the Server mode a new options tab is revealed which has server options - whether to publish automatically at timed intervals, the time interval and whether to limit the users who can post to this blog in Client mode. If you select the last option, you have to add the e-mail addresses (including your own) that are either allowed to post to the blog or the ones that you want to ban from posting to the blog.
  4. You can change the font and font size for the edit boxes on the main GUI. This is on the General tab of the Options dialog and is there actually for Chinese and other non-English language users since they complained that they can type in their language but can't see what they're typing :p Not sure this actually works though - tried selecting a non-English font and all I got was boxes instead of letters ....
  5. You can turn off auto-saving of entries during Blog idle times ... again from the General tab of the Options dialog. This was in response to a problem that Phil had where Blog would constantly save and would generate a lot of hard disk activity. I don't have the problem myself but if you do, you know what to do ...
  6. A More ... feature. This basically allows you to not show the full entry on the main page if it is too long. You simply insert a new More ... tag (via the edit box right-click context menu ...) at whichever point that you want Blog to truncate the post. It will automatically create a link to the full post (the link text can be customized on a per Journal basis from the Journals tab of the Journal Management dialog.
  7. If you have a Image Directory specified linking Images via the edit right-click context menu now puts the correct path using a new internal tag. Not sure if this works properly on a web server since this will involve absolute pathing instead of relative but it worked on a local machine.
  8. Fixed a problem with more than one link to an older entry in the same entry causing truncated posts - Thanks Tyran :-) This was due to a logical hole and now it should work correctly ...
  9. Fixed Blog not disconnecting and reconnecting if you are using the same FTP server with two different user names for two Blogs. Now Blog checks to see if the user name is different even if the FTP site is the same
  10. Added an option to confirm entry deletes. There is a new checkbox in the General options tab which is unchecked by default but if you check it it will ask for confirmation each time you try to delete an entry

Oh yeah, before I forget, the download link! You can get the beta build from here.
posted at 07:11:33 AM  link  comment

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