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Sat, Aug 03 2002

My friend Imthisham, who works with me, got married yesterday to another girl who works with us as well. Since this is sort of an in-house wedding for the company, everybody from work turned out at the wedding and as many services as could be provided from the company was provided - the music was provided by the head of the music department, the photographers were from the company and the wedding was videotaped by professional cameramen from the camera crew. I wouldn't be surprised if the bride had been made up by the company's make-up artist :p

I rarely go out and especially don't go for functions that go on till late since I normally try to get up early for prayers but this was something that I had to attend since Imthi is somebody that I've known a long time - he was at the company when I first joined them and he still is there. He's always been a good friend and an extremely helpful person. It was good to be out with about the only friends I have in Sri Lanka but after the festivities I feel kind of sad today. I don't know whether I just miss the cheerful atmosphere or the camaraderie or whether all the questions about when I'm getting married (is that normal for even guys? I thought that in other countries only girls get asked that ... :p) just makes me feel down ... But it's still early in the morning and I'm sure that the feeling will pass as the day progresses :-)
posted at 07:19:25 AM  link  comment

Fri, Aug 02 2002

As usual, I've been side-tracked by another project - and inundated with work too :p The other project is not something that a lot of you will find a use for since it's Islam related - but I needed it (or thought I do ...) and so I'm working on it <g> So what is it? Well, I guess I need to go into explanation mode for a bit - Islam (as you've probably heard before ...) is not just a religion, it's a way of life. There's instructions on how you should dress, what you should eat, how you should eat it, how you behave, how you pray etc. The main source for these rules/laws is the Qur'an and the secondary source is the Hadith, or the prophet's (peace be upon him) sayings. The sayings were collected by various people into several collections that people use to refer to when there is a doubt about a certain point of religion and it cannot be verified from the Qur'an alone.

Now the problem is that sometimes people will say that there is such and such a Hadith and that you should do something as if they really know what they are talking about but on reference, you'll see there is no such Hadith at all or that they'd misinterpreted the Hadith. Like all things that we humans touch, we sometimes seem to pervert the Hadith too as an easy way to get something done "our" way or simply to spread mis-information, knowingly or unknowingly. In my case, my Dad told me a few days ago that an uncle of mine had told him of a Hadith which stated that a Muslims beard should be larger than his mustache. Of course, this happened because I sport a goatee these days and it'd become pretty tiny :p I just don't like doing anything on hearsay and so I decided to do some research and went through several online Hadith databases and found that the Hadith had actually been misinterpreted (at least as far as I could tell ...) - what was said (in effect) was that the beard should be *longer* than the mustache ... or actually, to trim the mustache and let the beard grow. I have a feeling in this case that it simply got repeated from person to person and each changed the wording the way he saw it till it got to be "beard larger than mustache" ...

Anyway, I decided that this is something that I shouldn't let happen in the future and so I decided to create a program which would simply be a database of Hadith that could be referenced and searched easily. So I searched the web for a downloadable database that I could use in my program and was going to create my own database from the online ones by parsing the text if I didn't find a downloadable database. To my surprise, I actually found a program (a freeware one at that ...) which actually did exactly what I wanted ... but it didn't give me the degree of control I wanted since you had to select individual Hadith collections and weren't able to search all available collections at once. So I was wondering whether I couldn't use there data but create my own front-end :p And so began a project which currently seems on the verge of completion - though that's the same way I'd looked at it yesterday and probably day before too :p

The first problem was that the data wasn't in a database as I'd first thought but rather in a DLL! Then I discovered that the DLL had somehow been compressed and had to discover the exact program used to compress it and then find a decompressor for it. This took quite a bit of doing and I came to learn a lot about the currently available exe compressors :-) Once I finally found the correct unpacker, I then had to go through the DLL and figure out how the data was stored and figure out a database structure for the data, how to extract the data and to write the logic to do the actual extraction. I did all that day before yesterday but yesterday I realized that the data storage in the DLL files varied in very minimal fashion from DLL to DLL! So I had to go back again and rewrite some of the extraction code so that it will extract the data from all the DLL's without me having to put in conditional stuff - I'm finicky that way :p Of course, I'm still dealing with all the conditions since three databases extract fairly well but the fourth suddenly breaks off in the middle of extraction with no error message. Guess, I'll have to try and debug it today if possible ...
posted at 06:36:22 AM  link  comment

Wed, Jul 31 2002

I was going to write about some weird things I'd noticed about the cyclical nature of my life (but then again, my life's always been weird :p Or is that the case for everybody? <g>) but there's a lot of Blog news and so I decided to put off the metaphysical discussions for another day <vbg> I got most of the features that I wanted for the 6.1 release except for a weird problem that I can't seem to always reproduce (and so can't debug). Since you can define custom code snippets, I also wanted to have the ability to define toolbar buttons for those snippets for easy access - actually, I always rely on the right-click menu for the code snippets but somebody else may want the toolbar buttons ... While you can define a toolbar button for a custom snippet and even the custom icon appears correctly, the toolbar buttons sometimes disappears after a restart of Blog! I still am not sure what causes the problem since the buttons sometimes disappears after the first restart while sometimes it takes two or three restarts ...

In the mean time, Tyran found a bug with the Previous and Next tags in that they point to non-existent archive pages if there are breaks in your entries. This was due to my sloppy/lazy coding where I expected people to have at least one entry per week :p Yeah, I know - dream on <g> So I cleaned up the code to actually check when the next or previous entry occurs and then build the archive link based on that. While I was on that, I also fixed the Previous and Next tags to return just the archive file name and not the full link HTML code since that'll allow people to better customize things to suit their needs. That's the way it originally was but somewhere along the way I'd changed it for some weird reason :p

Everything seemed to be working fine till I checked my e-mail today <vbg> Tyran had discovered two new bugs in the Find feature - I think that man never sleeps, just stays up all night putting Blog through it's paces :p I am kidding (hope you know that Tyran <g>). These are nasty bugs in that they completely disrupt functionality and I'm sorry that I let them through the first few beta cycles - hopefully, I'll get them fixed today and then all I need to do is find the cause for the toolbar button bug and Blog 6.1 should be ready to be released :-)
posted at 06:33:17 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jul 30 2002

I've been going in a reverse cycle in my reading - I've been reading fantasy for the longest time I can remember but a few months ago I moved to science fiction and now I've moved back to thrillers. The current book I'm reading? Robert Ludlum's latest (and probably) last novel - "The Sigma Protocol". I've been a longtime fan of Ludlum and was surprised to read on the inside cover that he'd died in March 2001! Unlike Arthur Hailey whose last book, "The Evening News", was a major disappointment to me after the scintillating tales he used to spin, Ludlum seems to have produced one of his best novels ever as his last work. I've read only about one third of the book so far but it has been a great read up to now.

I think my first Ludlum novel was "The Holcroft Covenant" and it had everything - action, intrigue, love, a Nazi plot to take over the world that continued after the fall of the Reich and a young man who is slowly transformed from an innocent to a trained killer :-) If that wasn't my first Ludlum, then it was probably "The Bourne Identity" which again was a superb novel and had something that I just loved - the story of an amnesiac (don't ask why ... I've always loved amnesia stories ...). I think "The Sigma Protocol" probably stands with both the above books - which are probably the best Ludlums in my opinion. It has some of the elements from "The Holcroft Covenant" such as a Nazi plot (well ... not really a Nazi plot since it involves people from both sides of the war ...) that continues even today and (hopefully ...) a great love story (though the love story has not started yet though I have a feeling it will eventually :p). But the protagonist is different - he is older (I think, since I can't remember the ages of Holcroft or Jason Bourne/David Webb) and is more prepared for the action ahead of him due to a childhood spent in wilderness training camps and a rugged life. However, he seems to be a bit slower on the uptake since at one point of the story, he just does not realize that somebody could have changed their name, though it was obvious to me as a reader :p Anyway, it's a great read and I'm enjoying it thoroughly at the moment ... Next book? Probably, Archer's "Eleventh Commandment".

But enough of my reading, on to Blog news. I joined the Blog User web ring yesterday since I'm a Blog user too :-) Of course, I'd not realized when I joined that each site had a different site ID (what can I say? I've never been in a web ring before :p) and so signed up each of my mirror sites as a separate entity but the web ring code goes on a common page used by all three sites and so only one site will get displayed in the ring. Ah well ... just as well since people might think they're having deja vu (or double vision <vbg>) otherwise ... Incidentally, Blog coding does continue (albeit slowly ...) - I'd hoped to release a beta of 6.1 sometime last week but then realized that the feature set was not complete and it was too premature. So I let Jason know where to download an early build since he'd suggested the major feature which went in to 6.1 - the ability to have customized HTML code snippets - while I continued the coding. I'm almost done with the features and debugging for 6.1 but I just received a couple of bug reports from Tyran and Alison today that I need to look into and fix. Once that is done, 6.1 should be out!
posted at 06:24:57 AM  link  comment

Mon, Jul 29 2002

Another weird/funny step in the marriage drama <g> My parents had placed an advertisement in one of the local papers (which is a fairly common thing to do over here BTW ...) seeking a bride for me. I assume they mentioned the fact that I had been in the US though I haven't actually seen the ad myself. It has been about three weeks now and I would have thought that the ads would stop by now but it looks as if they keep trickling in since my parents keep responding to them :p Anyway, one of the latest responses they received was this weekend and they decided to get back to the respondent. The respondent had been the bride's mother but it turned out that she actually was looking for a person who was to marry her daughter and then go to Canada! That seems pretty outrageous to me - here is somebody who wants you marry their daughter and take them away from them completely ... and not only that, they want to tell *you* what to do (such as go to Canada <g>) even before you're married in to the family. Of course, the whole marriage routine over here probably seems very bizarre to a lot of you from other parts of the world :p

Anyway, my Dad knew I'd refuse even without asking me (since I'd come back because of my parents and had no intention of leaving them ... well, at least not yet - maybe when my Mom's nagging about my hair gets to me <vbg>) and so he wished the mother good luck in finding a husband for her daughter and hung up. I still wonder though, why do people think that it's going to be a bed of roses in another country? Not that I have anything against Canada, but I wonder how anybody could even survive with the global economy is the way it is - you can't simply expect to land in a country and find a job that will provide for both you and your wife? Or can you? Ah well ...
posted at 06:16:19 AM  link  comment

Sun, Jul 28 2002

I'm alone at home after several weeks of either having my parents here or being at work and it feels strange. Usually, I'm OK with being by myself and simply occupying myself with reading, watching movies or playing a game but I feel really listless and perhaps that's the reason for the strangeness ... Anyway, I did watch a few movies yesterday including "The Musketeer" and "Bridget Jones's Diary". Both were great movies in their own way as far as I am concerned :p

"The Musketeer" was a re-telling of Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" with a generous helping of artistic license applied <g> They used a lot of corny old jokes, had impossible fight sequences, kind of stilted love scenes and great big plot holes (such as people being killed left, right and center during the charging of a castle but a creaky old carriage drives right up to the castle without any problems ...) but overall it was just a fun romp. As long as you can switch off your brain and simply watch the amazingly choreographed fights (one of which I know I've seen somewhere before - the fight on the ladders - perhaps, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"? I'll have to watch it again to see if that is so ...) you should find it a fun movie ...

"Bridget Jones's Diary" on the other had was an absolute gem :-) I just fell in love with Renee Zellweiger's character after about five or ten minutes of the movie and from then onwards, just went along with the story to see just what would happen to her. There are quite a few laugh-out-loud scenes and the characters (especially that of Bridget herself ...) seemed very well fleshed out. Of course, there are certain similarities in plot between this one and "Picture Perfect" but for some reason, this was much more endearing a movie than the Jennifer Anniston starrer. I guess some might call it a chick-flick <g> but I loved it all the way through :-)
posted at 06:51:06 AM  link  comment

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