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Sat, Sep 14 2002

One very important fact that I forgot to mention yesterday when I released the Blog 7.0 Beta is that you have to run Blog in Server mode for anything which relies on e-mail to do the work - such as remote entries, comments and the digest feature. So, if you want comments on your site via Blog, then set Blog to Server mode (as long as you don't have it auto-publish on timed intervals, Server basically works almost the way Standard mode does except for checking an e-mail account before each publish operation ...) and fill in the information for the POP and SMTP servers and the e-mail address asked for - this e-mail address is used to fill in the To: value for comments, digest subscriptions etc. and so is important. Now you should be set to go.

However, I should mention one thing that I keep on forgetting to mention. It would be wisest if you get a separate e-mail address (with POP access not a web based one ...) if you're going to use the comments system or have a heavy-traffic digest list. Why? Because you're liable to end up with confusion otherwise. Most e-mail clients seem to complain if you try to connect to the same server from two different apps at the same time - so if you have Blog in Server mode and are publishing and your e-mail client is doing an automatic mail check at the same time, the results are going to be unpredictable. Worse yet, if your mail client is set to not leave messages on server (as I would think most people would be apt to ...) and you check your mail before Blog does, any Blog relevant e-mails (comments, entries, digest subscriptions) would be lost since Blog will never see them. So to avoid all this confusion, I'd say get a different e-mail address for Blog but then again, if you have a certain way of working and are totally disciplined, you might not have to ... But don't say that I didn't warn you :p
posted at 06:19:02 AM  link  comment

Fri, Sep 13 2002

Ok, even though I haven't got any feed back from the private beta testers yet <g>, I've decided to release a public beta of Blog 7.0 :-) There are several reasons for this: a) I realize that the private beta testers do have their own lives and might not always have the time to do intensive testing b) a larger group of people will always find more bugs more quickly c) I'm using the current build and don't have any problems with it (but of course, I'm not using any of the newer features :p) d) I realize that there are a lot of people eagerly awaiting the public beta (and one of them's you, Steve :p). So taking all of that into consideration, I decided that I might as well go for broke and do a public beta - so there it is on the side bar :-)

A few words of caution before you go ahead and upgrade - or do a completely new install. I've included both an installer version and the usual self-extracting upgrade. If you are an existing user, it would be safer to use the self-extracting upgrade than the installer and even if you use the installer, make sure that you select the upgrade option *and* see that the data files option is deselected in the installer. I really wouldn't want Blog to overwrite your data files. That of course brings us to the second point (or should this be the first point?), always backup your whole Blog directory before an upgrade, just in case ...

Anyway, it should be fairly simple for new users since all they have to do is use the installer and then start learning all about Blog while looking out for the bugs in 7.0 :p But for existing users, after the upgrade, take a look at the Blog.txt file (especially the What's New section and the section which explains the Blog tags since essentially that's all that's changed since the last release ...) and the new Templates.txt file. The first will explain all the new Blog tags that you can use to get features such as Digest subscription/unsubscription and comments working while the second has basic template examples for all the new types of templates as well as the older journal template with all the new tags put in. So take a look at all that, modify your existing templates and start blogging - and of course, let me know when you find a bug or encounter a problem :-)
posted at 06:13:52 AM  link  comment

Thu, Sep 12 2002

Ran the Blog 7.0 beta through further tests and discovered some major bugs. For instance, there was an infinite loop in the digest sending routine which would keep on sending the same digest version of entries to the list of subscribers ad infinitum - it had sent out around 400 e-mails to me before I realized what was happening and killed Blog :p Fixed that, added a new feature to allow the user to be able to manually send out the current period's (week or month) digest and did some other minor tweaks and fixes and the next beta was ready. I've uploaded it and let the beta testers know but haven't heard of anything from them yet :-)

On the other hand, I decided that it was time I upgraded my own personal blog to use Blog 7.0 and I set about it yesterday evening. The conversion went off fine and everything seemed perfectly OK till I noticed a problem - new categories that I added weren't being immediately displayed; I had to log out and log in again before they would show up. Now I'd made particularly sure that this worked fine when I first coded the new component to display the category list but somewhere along the way some code change must have broken that. So, I sat down and modified the component again till it worked the way I wanted it to. Of course, that means another beta build :p

However, I think this release is stable enough as it stands to undergo public beta testing and so I am hoping to release a public beta this week if possible - perhaps on Friday. This will mean that I'll need to at least add some explanations for all the new Blog tags to the documentation - perhaps I should also add some sample templates since there are now all sorts of templates in Blog. If I do manage to get the documentation completed, and there is no major bug discovered today, expect a public beta to be announced on Friday - if not ...
posted at 06:02:16 AM  link  comment

Wed, Sep 11 2002

I tested further features in Blog 7.0, did further fixes and though the full feature set has still not been fully tested, released a private beta :p I haven't checked my e-mail yet and since the private beta currently is limited to just three people, there might not be anything for a bit but I will probably open up the beta testing once I am satisfied with my own testing of Blog 7.0. In the meantime, if you told me that you wanted to be included in the beta testing for Blog 7.0 and I didn't e-mail you, let me know and I'll tell you where to download it. I have a sneaking feeling that I promised to let a few people know about the beta but had misplaced there e-mails - I need to start a beta test folder now :p

Oh yeah, just after I'd uploaded the beta builds and e-mailed the testers, I discovered a bug which might not allow the testers to proceed at the beginning itself :p There is a new backup facility which lets you backup the Blog data files and the INI file from within Blog itself. I knew the backup facility worked fine since I'd tested it but then I decided to add a backup prompt just before internally upgrading Blog to a newer version and I didn't test that particular bit since I'd already tested the backup option and of course, it was buggy :p I mean the interaction between the backup operation and the consequent upgrade operation. So I figured out what was wrong and fixed it but when I tried to upload the new build, some of the mirror servers started giving me trouble. I finally left it at that but I'm not even sure which build the beta testers are using now - hopefully they've read this post and know what's happening :p

At least, we've entered the beta testing phase but I still have to test the comments inclusion and exclusion features and the actual sending out of a digest. The latter is probably going to be the most irritating to test since the digest publication is an automated function which takes place only on the first day of the week or the month - maybe I should add a menu option to manually trigger the event? I think I should, it'll make my testing easier and probably help out some poor user who can't get the digest out for some reason and now has to wait till next week or month <g> Darn! I said no more features but what the heck ...

There was a slightly funny development on the whole burglary issue yesterday. Our neighbour from Kurunegala called yesterday to tell us that there was a sarong (it's a kind of garment you tie around your lower body - worn instead of pants) on the kitchen floor and that it hadn't been there the previous day. Immediately, we started thinking that another burglary had taken place and that the thieves had dropped the sarong. Of course, we hadn't left any clothes behind this time and so the question was where did the sarong come from. Later it turned out that my cousin had come around to make the house was OK, taken a bath and had left his sarong on the kitchen floor :p Ok, maybe it wasn't that funny ...
posted at 06:06:51 AM  link  comment

Tue, Sep 10 2002

Anybody who has scrolled down the sidebar on the page would have noticed a new addition - fan signs :-) When Jen left a comment about "fan signs" today I was wondering what they were. I'd seen pictures of people with Bun Bun from Sluggy Freelance or some other character from User Friendly painted on some part of their anatomy but I'd never equated these pictures with fan signs. I though they were simply pictures snapped by the people working on those comics at a convention or something - not something that the fans had sent in of their own volition. Now that I have received the first set of fan signs of my own (thanks a lot, Jen!), I think it's really cool. So send in your own and I'll be sure to add them :p
posted at 09:14:13 PM  link  comment

Still no luck with a Blog 7.0 beta :-( I got to work yesterday and it turned out to be one big blur from that point onwards - added to the fact that it was a Monday was the fact that I'd not been in on Friday and half of Thursday. Things just seem to pile up. Then, half the people didn't turn up for work and some of those who did, went back since yesterday there was to be a major political rally in Colombo and people were coming in from all over the island. Major traffic jams were expected and people were told to go home if they thought they'd have problems getting home later due to the rally and guess what? The one who left lived nowhere near the rally taking place :p Ah well, people are so very predictable sometimes ...

I did stay at work till normal closing time but there was a lot to be done and just as I thought I'd got through everything and was ready to go home, it turns out that nobody wanted to print a particular article that was supposed to go out yesterday evening and we had no replacement! So I sat down and wrote another but I was totally pissed off - I think it was unfair to get pissed off since I'd received the article in the morning and had thought it wasn't totally suitable myself but had put it in anyway since it was hard to find replacements at the last moment. Perhaps the people who didn't want to publish it were right but sometimes I think a dissenting voice isn't such a bad thing myself :p

Anyway, the outcome of all of this was that I was beat by the time I got home and I just didn't feel like working on the computer and so I basically sat around and tried to read and then went to bed as early as possible. Maybe today the beta will be ready - who knows? :p
posted at 06:06:15 AM  link  comment

Mon, Sep 09 2002

The RazorSys site has been down for the last two days and since my mail is routed through their server, I had no way to access my e-mail or to send out any mails either. I hate when that happens since I feel totally cut off from the rest of the world. Oh well :p

Nothing much has been happening any way since I just haven't been able to find the time to do any further coding. I do want to get the first Blog 7.0 beta - probably a private beta at this stage - out some time this week but what with work piled up and all the other things going on around me at the moment, I'm not even sure of a time frame. Incidentally, if you wrote to me within the last few days and don't hear from me today, your e-mail never reached me - so write again :-)
posted at 06:11:21 AM  link  comment

Sun, Sep 08 2002

Well ... back in Colombo after a few days of gadding about and looking at prospective brides, securing the house etc. We decided not to complain to the police since they've been totally useless and inefficient as far as the two other burglaries are concerned. From what we can gather, they do know the parties involved (at least in the case of the first break in at the Kurunegala house ..) but won't make an arrest because they weren't "taken care of" - basically weren't given a bribe. I find this rather irritating and disgusting since that shows a total breakdown in law and order in the country but then again, I've been hearing similar (or rather worse) stories from my Indian friends about the situation in their country and so I guess I can't really complain. It's just unfortunate that people who are appointed to a position of public trust immediately start working in a manner that erodes that self-same trust.

Added another seven or so sites to the list of sites using Blog and this was actually a short week! I might soon have to go in for a two-column layout for the list of sites and use a smaller font :p A particularly interesting case are this site and this site. On first looks, they might appear to be two entirely different sites but then if you read the contents, you'll see that it's the same site - just using two different templates. It was made by Jenny, who is one of the newest Blog users to join the fold :p, and I like the fact that she has actually exploited Blog to it's full extent in publishing to two different sites with two different templates! While I publish the same blog to multiple sites, I've never used multiple templates and I think this is the first time anybody has done so with Blog :-)
posted at 06:36:51 AM  link  comment

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