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Sat, Aug 24 2002

Thursday was a holiday here and we got Friday off from work since they wanted to do some repairs to the building - that would have mean four days of idleness ... or coding <g> but neither was to be :-( My parents wanted to go to Kandy on Thursday and then not return to Colombo the very same day because there was the matter of obtaining a driver's license for me on Friday for which we would have to go back almost to Kandy. Incidentally, I didn't realize how much of a problem the whole American system of impounding all other driver's licenses belonging to a person was till I got back to Sri Lanka and had to get a license again. Anyway, we spent the night in Kurunegala since that's closer to Kandy than to Colombo and we have a house there and then learnt on Friday that the guy who was to help us with the license was on leave. So much for that!

We got back yesterday evening and I've been working on Blog on and off since then but not much in the way of progress I'm afraid :-( I've been messing around with various options for the UI presentation of the category feature - which I really want to make a multiple-categories-for-one-entry type - but still haven't settled on one that seems to work with the least amount of calculation and processing involved. Of course, once I finish that, I'll have to take a look at the whole issue of how to generate archives category-wise and how I'm going to manage the whole task of maintaining a cohesive structure if the user wants to maintain both periodic *and* categorized archives. Guess, I'll have to take it a step at a time ...
posted at 06:59:58 AM  link  comment

Thu, Aug 22 2002

Work on Blog 7.0 is actually progressing much faster than I thought! (I really shouldn't be surprised since this usually seems to be the way things go with any project I undertake - I say it'll take a long time, I then do it really quickly and then it goes in to a long beta cycle and it still ends up taking a long time :p) I've completed the code on the digest feature - which will allow Blog in Server mode to send out a weekly or monthly digest of entries to subscribed users - and the remote comments - which allows users to have comments on their blog with no need for PHP or ASP or Perl or any other software on their server -. There are a bunch of new Blog tags to accommodate all of these new features. I've also added a backup option to allow people to backup their Blog data files and a repair option for them to repair a damaged data file from within Blog itself. Of course, I'm not going to be able to test the repair option completely and so will have to go with it on faith :p

While that's a whole bunch of new features, that's not all that I want to do for Blog 7.0 :-) I want to add an entry category feature which allows you to categorize your entries and to display archives by category. There are a couple of minor questions/problems there. The first problem is that I'll need to do a UI change to accommodate the category and the main Blog screen is crowded enough as it is :p Guess, I'll probably have to either shorten the title field and put it as a drop down next to it or create a new slide out panel which hides the preview pane until you click the preview button. But the next question is about the category feature itself - while it would be fairly simple to tag an entry as belonging to a particular category, I don't think it would be that simple in practice. I know that in my posts I talk about various things, so how can I be content with only one category per entry? The ideal situation would be to have multiple categorizations per entry but that could turn out to be a coding nightmare :p Guess I'll first have to see how best I can do the coding and then go with the easiest option for the moment ...
posted at 06:39:23 AM  link  comment

Wed, Aug 21 2002

I've always tried to keep my code modular so that the same code can be called from two different places to do the same job. However, I always have to fight the impulse to break the code down to the smallest functional modules all the time. What do I mean by the tiniest functional module? Well, even a module can be broken down into a smaller module to do only one specific job but I try not to do that if the sub-module will be called only from one place - the parent module from which it would be broken off in the first place. So why am I going into all of this? :p Because it kind of explains the work I've been doing on Blog 7.0 :-)

Originally, I'd written one module to do the publishing in Blog and that module handled the writing of both the archive files and the main blog file as well as, later, the handling of More ... tags. However, this module always wrote to a disk file and then uploaded it to the relevant FTP server. When the digest feature came along, I realized this wouldn't do. So I broke off the template parsing code into a module of its own and called that from both the publishing module and the digest handling module. The new template parser module simply returns a string which contains the contents of a parsed template along with all the entries for a given time period and each module can do what it wants with the string. It seems to work fine on preliminary test and basically, the digest feature now works - though I haven't tested it fully (or even cursorily for that matter) yet :p

I've come to realize that Blog 7.0 is going to break a few existing features - or at least lose a few configuration settings that you might have already set. For instance, I've had to add SMTP server settings to the Server tab which becomes visible under the Options dialog when you select Server mode for Blog. In 6.0, Server mode had only POP settings and Client mode had only SMTP settings and I kept two separate sets of values for both modes in case you want to switch between the two (as I often did for testing). Now, the SMTP settings are shared between the two modes and I've renamed some of the INI file values and so if you are using Server or Client mode and have customized certain values (such as the subject line filter value), then you will find that you'll need to reset those values when you upgrade to 7.0 - sorry :-(

I noticed that somebody had posted a review about Blog 6.1 at BetaNews. There hadn't been any reviews at all since 5.0 and so I was curious as to what they thought - the person who reviewed it couldn't see why there needed to be yet another blogging utility when (according to him) there were so many web-based ones out there already. And this was despite some of the other reviews (I remember Tyran's particularly - thanks for that review, Tyran <g>) which pointed out exactly why a utility like Blog could be useful. But ah well, he did at least give Blog a rating of 5/5 - though that might have been a mistake :p
posted at 06:25:35 AM  link  comment

Tue, Aug 20 2002

I've started on my next Ludlum - though it's not really a pure Ludlum since I seem to have run out of those :p This one's a collaboration between Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds and is the start of a new series called "Covert One". It's called "The Hades Factor" and so far seems to be sort of a mix between a Robin Cook medical thriller (though I've never read Robin Cook :p) and Ludlum's own espionage stuff. I've only got to about chapter three but it hasn't hooked me yet - or maybe I've been reading too many Ludlum's and need to switch to something else :-)

I've also started work on Blog 7.0 :-) So far I've been able to complete work on the lists management functions since there's going to be many lists to be managed - there are the include/exclude lists for posters and then the new remote comments facility brings up another set of include/exclude lists. Then of course, there is the list of subscribers for the digest feature - the ability to receive a week or a month's worth of posts via e-mail - and how to manage subscriptions/unsubscriptions via e-mail. Though I'm working on only two features at the moment - remote comments and digest - it's already apparent to me that I might have to do some major code shifting/rewriting. Since at least one of the other features I'm looking at - better archival link handling - might mean a lot of upheaval in the code base as well, I'm not sure when I'll get done with this particular release :p But it's going to be chock full of features when I do :-)
posted at 06:28:39 AM  link  comment

Mon, Aug 19 2002

The Ludlum was pretty OK till we got to the end and yes, I was able to predict at least part of the final twist though I went way beyond what Ludlum wrote in my predictions :p Guess I'm just too paranoid for the world of thriller writers <g> But one thing noticed was the similarity in the ending of this book, "The Prometheus Deception", to that of "The Matarese Circle" since all the conspirators gather in a mansion that gets burned to the ground along with all of them. A very neat and tidy ending - too neat actually since I don't believe that life works out that neatly. But I'm just nit picking :p One thing I did notice was that he sort of left off a hook for a sequel - something I don't believe he's done before - maybe he was learning from the money makers and that's too bad. But then again, guess we won't see the sequel now ... unless he's got a son who starts writing or something ...

Since Blog 6.1 is out, I guess I should start work on Blog 7.0 now but haven't got that irresistible urge to get going on a project yet. It'll probably happen once I start work on it but I'm reluctant to start work at the moment since it seems so daunting - there's a lot to be done on this release and I just don't feel like taking on such a big job but then again, I think I feel like that all the time :p Ah well, as the White King said, let's "begin at the beginning" :-)
posted at 06:43:49 AM  link  comment

Sun, Aug 18 2002

Ludlum's current book that I'm reading "The Prometheus Deception" is indeed proving to be pretty good stuff. Maybe it's not "hist best thriller yet" as one reviewer is quoted on the back cover - especially since that would make it his best thriller ever as he's gone off this mortal coil. While I liked the last two books I read, "The Matarese Countdown" and "The Sigma Protocol", they didn't have the page turning quality that I was used to with some of the earlier Ludlums. But it's back in spades with "The Prometheus Deception" :-) In fact, I was hard pressed to go to bed last night instead of continuing to read till "just the next chapter" :p I guess this is due to the fact that he's at last got a conspiracy that I can't predict in advance or maybe it's just that he's got a tangled relationship around the protagonist and two women - the first his wife who left him suddenly and the other a beautiful agent who entered his life just as suddenly. Whatever the reasons, I have a feeling that I'll spend most of today reading :-)

In fact, "The Prometheus Deception" is so good that it has almost brought back a bad habit of mine - reading ahead. At one time, it was so bad that I'd start a book, read the last page, skim back a few pages and then skim back a few more and so go on till I knew quite a bit of the story and then stop reading! This went on for quite a long time till I finally had to put an end to it by consciously forcing myself to read books from the beginning to the end and for a while it was really hard to do so! Anyway, I'm going back to my book, coding will have to wait till next weekend :p
posted at 06:28:44 AM  link  comment

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