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Sat, Nov 02 2002

The government declared a police curfew yesterday soon after Friday prayers just because they expected trouble again and so nothing happened. I didn't get to mosque myself since I had a crisis of my own online and wanted to sort it out. Jen and I had what was our first fight (and I hope it is the last as well ... though knowing couples that's probably a bit too much to ask for :p) and it was pretty bad. At one point I thought we had broken up but Jen tells me that we hadn't - I still need a manual to understand these things I swear ... maybe I'm just too much of a geek :p Unfortunately, it ruined what should have been a happy few hours since I had not talked to Jen in ages due to the fact that she's not been at her home and so had no access to a computer. We did make up and agreed to forget about our disagreement and so all's well that ends well.

Incidentally, I have no idea what a police curfew is so don't ask me :p And the police curfew was in effect only in those areas of Colombo where they'd had problems the last two days and since I do not live or work in those areas, I wasn't affected by the curfew. I returned from work around the usual time and didn't really see anything different on my way back.

Now I should probably discuss the ideas about Blog that I've been talking about for a while now before I completely forget :p The first idea originated due to a link sent to me by Serge Keller about micro-content clients. Basically, a micro-content client is an application which allows you to search, retrieve and publish just the specific information you want off of the Internet. It is an interesting concept and I do have several pieces of the puzzle in place in the form of Snipper (which can retrieve just the specific part of a web page you want), NewsHoard (which is a newsreader which also accesses RSS feeds) and Blog (which can publish content to your site). However, all of these will have to be amalgamated under one UI and more features added to come up with a micro-content client. While this sounds like an interesting project in itself, I just hate to have a bloated app like that where most of the people will use only a portion of the features. So it looks interesting as a coding project but I'm not sure that I'll do it :p

Something that I wouldn't mind doing however, is to add a WYSIWYG editor interface to Blog's entry pane. This way, you can compose your entries just the way you want, add hyperlinks, embed images and it will look just the way it will when published. For one thing, that will do away with the preview pane and for another, I personally think that will be a much more easier and cleaner way to make entries. This will however mean that I have to drop the PlusMemo component (at least for the entry field and probably for templates as well) and while Ryan (who was kind enough to buy the component for me - yes I mentioned his name :p) did tell me beforehand that I should feel free to drop PlusMemo anytime I felt that I could go with something better, I don't know if that would work overall since there is a lot of stuff under the hood which relies on PlusMemo's built-in features. I will however consider the WYSIWYG idea seriously for Blog 8.0 ... but that won't be for sometime since the people waiting for PostMan might just be tempted to kill me if I don't get to it soon <g> And I'll talk about PostMan tomorrow since this entry is again way too long ...
posted at 05:08:38 AM  link  comment

Fri, Nov 01 2002

The racial tension situation unfortunately hasn't got much better. They had more clashes yesterday and curfew again. Due to the clashes day before yesterday, one person had died and that had been a Muslim. Since Muslims bury their dead before 24 hours have elapsed since the death, the funeral was yesterday and from all accounts, some people had gotten worked up after the funeral and had gone off to seek "redress". Even worse than the clashes themselves are all the rumours that are flying around - yesterday we were told that certain shops had been set on fire and that a mosque had been burnt down. A friend of mine from work called around and found out that none of this was true. Most people unfortunately, will not take the time to verify these things and go off in a "religious" rage and start more fights and the rumours themselves will only grow as they spread.

I do not know what today holds in store since today is a Friday and that's the day of congregational prayer for Muslims. Come noon, you know that all the Muslims are going to be gathered in mosques around the country. Anybody who wants to find Muslims will know where to find them and so many Muslims together in one place can be dangerous too since they can band together after prayers and get into mischief. I can't conceive how somebody who'd come from prayers can go out and go on a terror spree but that seems to be easy enough for us humans. We seem to find destruction and mayhem so much easier than thinking for a moment about the actual principles involved in the religions for the sake of which we are supposedly fighting. I hope and pray that today goes through without any incidents since another incident today probably would only escalate into further violence in the coming days ... I guess we can only believe in God and hope that things work out.

Incidentally, to give an idea to those of you who might be totally clueless as to the scenario here, Sri Lanka is mostly Sinhalese (about 80%) and the Muslims and Tamils are each less than 10% - my figures might be slightly off since I haven't had to look at population figures in ages. That makes the Sinhalese the majority and the Tamils and Muslims minorities. Some of the Tamils felt that they weren't getting proper representation and they started a war to get a separate state of their own (this in a country which has only about 25,000 square miles of area in total mind you - probably smaller than any of the states in the US). Since this civil was was a guerilla war where they struck and ran, the war continued for over 20 years with great loss of life on both sides. The LTTE (the liberators/terrorists fighting for Tamil freedom) and the Sri Lankan government signed a cease fire agreement this year and peace talks are underway to settle the conflict in an amicable manner.

Of course, the Muslims had to take just this opportunity to go and create problems of their own! The current clashes might not have been the fault of the Muslims (I don't have enough facts to be objective - the news media is very reticent about saying who did what probably so as to avoid inflaming more people and encouraging further outbursts of violence ...) since it seems to have erupted due to some protest by the Buddhists (Sinhalese are mostly either Buddhists or Christians) to a Muslim mosque (or school - accounts vary) being built in front of one of their temples. The whole protest seems rather silly to me but one person dying because of all of this is really sad. There is more behind it though since some of the Muslim politicians have taken the peace talks to be the opportunity to demand for a separate autonomous area of government for Muslims as well. This probably has led to a lot of ill-will towards Muslims even though I don't think the common man supports this - I know that I don't!

Whatever the case maybe, the next few days might decide whether the country erupts into bloody violence again or if we somehow resolve this without problems. I hope it will be the latter since I remember the violence in 1983 when there were racial riots and people killed, burnt, looted and generally behaved like crazed animals. I can only hope that all of us Sri Lankans as a nation learnt a lesson from that incident ...
posted at 05:13:45 AM  link  comment

Thu, Oct 31 2002

First of all, I apologize for the new Blog 7.0 build that I uploaded a couple of days ago. It has an irritating bug - you can't use the space bar at the end of your text ... I know that sounds confusing but those who tried that build would know what I mean. Rob pointed this out to me yesterday and I was able to fix the problem and upload a new build yesterday. So those of you who have this problem just need to re-download Blog 7.0 and re-install it. So what caused the problem? It was me mistakenly trying to fix a problem that wasn't there :p Somebody wrote to me and said that they got extra lines at the end of their comments and I knew I had to strip out blank spaces at the end of comments and entries e-mailed in, in Blog Server mode. I was looking at the PlusMemo component when I was going to release the Blog 7.0 nag-removed-edition and I realized that it had an option to "remove trailing blanks" and I somehow confused that with removing trailing spaces from the comments and implemented that option. Now that option seems to ensure that no trailing spaces are entered in a PlusMemo component by not letting you enter space at the end of a line - so that's how that came to be :p

Secondly, there is some racial unrest here in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and the Muslims at the moment. I pray to God that this does not escalate beyond what has taken place already since we are just trying to sort out the issues of racial unrest between the Sinhalese and the Tamils at the moment and we really do not need another conflict. Incidentally, for those who didn't know/realize, I'm a Muslim. I have been expecting some problems like this for a while now just because some Muslim politician's are opportunistically grab some glory by asking for an autonomous area for themselves if the Tamils get one as part of the peace process which is going on right now. I have always believed that we should all consider ourselves Sri Lankans instead of Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims but that doesn't seem to be a popular opinion. Since I edit a page on peace in three languages for three local dailies, I have even written anti-Muslim articles where I have denounced the politicians for playing their games at this juncture of the peace process but of course nobody gives a damn. However, all this grand-standing and demanding was bound to create some resentment in the minds of at least some Sinhalese and yesterday's incident seems to indicate that this is so. There had been some protest about a Muslim school or mosque (a mosque is a place of prayer - like a church or temple) being built in front of a Buddhist temple and that had escalated into rioting and fighting which ended with part of Colombo (the capital of Sri Lanka - I live in the suburbs of Colombo) being placed under curfew. We should know today where the incident leads but I do hope that it ends there ...

Thirdly, (I'm inserting this bit after publishing once because I forgot all about this :p) I see that the number of sites using Blog has been steadily growing. I added six or seven sites just a couple of days ago to the list and I already have seven or eight more to be added to the list. I haven't been highlighting any of the sites using Blog here except occasionally but I'm beginning to think that maybe I should have something like a site of the week or something and highlight each site that uses Blog and is frequently updated. Not sure how often I'd get around to updating that though :p Anyway, the reason for this part of the entry was to mention two sites that caught my attention yesterday. The first one is called Mr. McGaughey's Grade 2 Class and is basically a blog for the whole class (or perhaps their parents as well) which details classroom activities and stuff. I was really excited by Blog being used for this - can't explain why. Maybe it was because that was a unique way to use it or maybe it's just because I love kids but it did give me a warm feeling to see this particular blog and to know that I'd contributed in some way to making it happen. The other one is called All Around Me : Photo blog and has some really beautiful photographs in it. I had always admired Noah Grey's beautiful photographs on the GreyMatter site and am now thrilled to have somebody do a a complete blog with photograph's using Blog :-)

Fourthly, I've written at too great a length again and so it looks as if I shouldn't venture into writing about the future of Blog or PostMan just yet since that's probably going to be another long entry. So I'll have to stop at this for the moment and promise that Blog and PostMan will be discussed tomorrow - just as I've been saying for the last couple of days :p
posted at 04:56:27 AM  link  comment

Wed, Oct 30 2002

First of all thank you Jim, Duane and Tyran (your comments were the ones I received last night before I went to bed and so they had the most immediate effect - but I thank the others for their comments as well ...) for your comments on the issue of decisions because you again made me lose my tunnel vision where all I could see was myself and my immediate problems. You made me realize that others face the same problems and that they too make hard decisions instead of just saying to heck with morality and do whatever they feel like (which was what brought up this introspection in the first place ...). Strangely enough, that made me feel better and so I had a good night of sleep - so thank you :-)

Of course, I now have to clarify a few things about last night's post and this probably will mean that we don't get to talk about PostMan or Blog today but I really think that this is a good discussion and am even considering transplanting it to GroupHug since that mailing list does have people interested in this kind of issue - and yes, that was a blatant plug for GroupHug since that list hasn't got where it was supposed to be due to lack of members. But I digress again ... I have this bad habit of adding a lot of extraneous stuff to what I write and clouding the issue - I apologize for that. First of all, I do realize that an individual has to make the best choice that s/he can under given circumstances and they can't really control the reactions of others - only their actions and while I did talk about chaos theory and seemed to imply that I was worried about the far reaching effects of my actions, what I was really trying to say was that I felt that each of my actions has effects and that I was worried about the *immediate* (as in the next two or three ripples ...) effects of my actions.

To illustrate, I knew this person several years ago who called me up (or was it IM'ed? I forget ...) at work and said words to the effect that she had a gun and was contemplating using it unless I came over right then - or something along those lines, I forget the exact scenario. Now I believe in not giving into pressure (either physical or emotional) and I should not have gone especially since I half suspected that she was simply saying that to get her own way but could I take that chance and have another human being lose their life? I didn't think I could. So I contacted her mother and told her what she'd said and she was completely dismissive of the whole thing and said not to worry but I still couldn't take that chance since maybe she wasn't like that normally but what if she was having a really bad day or something? So I worried, talked to her and I think I finally did go see her in the evening but of course, it turned out to be nothing - just a threat. It's just that I can't help worry about that one time when we think it's nothing and it turns out to be something ...

But to get back to what I was saying, I realize that we can control only our own actions but what if each possible action in a given scenario can only end up in breaking one of your principles? Should you take an action? Should you remain inactive? Or should you continue to search for an alternate solution which will not break any of your principles? Or (this is the choice which started the whole debate ...) should you just say these principles/rules don't affect me and do whatever you want? A friend of mine told me yesterday that he'd promised not to do a certain thing and that he was breaking his promise by showing something to me but that he hadn't really promised since he hadn't said "I promise ..." only said "yes" when the other person had asked "do you promise ...". I can't do that - to me the letter and the spirit of a promise are both valid but to others it seems to be such a simple thing to break a promise ... So I guess I'm just trying to understand how others think about things and I've never been really able to do that - all I know is the inside of my own mind ... I don't think I'll ever be able to see inside somebody else's mind ...

OK, that's quite long enough :p I did receive some interesting e-mails from Jim and Duane on this subject and I would have liked to have put up their e-mails and my responses on a separate page but I dont' know how Jim or Duane would feel about that. So I might (or might not <g>) do that after I've received their permission to publicly display what they wrote - provided I remember to ask them that is :p Oh yes, to those who asked, I am in love with Jen :-) I just don't write as openly about all aspects of my life online as most people seem to on blogs :p

Oh one more thing ... Duane brought up an interesting point about what happens to my source code if I were to die or were to give up on coding or something. I can answer about the give up on coding bit because I've passed on source code to others who wanted to continue development, before this as well. If I were to die ... now that's a whole new kettle of fish. I don't like to open source my applications since I've worked on other projects where the source code was taken by others to be used in shareware/closed source projects and no mention given of the "borrowing". Personally, I would probably leave the source for the final version with a friend/developer who could do what they wish with the source after my demise :p Any other suggestions? (And I'm sorry if I seem morbid talking about death but it's not as if I'm suicidal or have a death wish - to me these are just practical concerns ... especially when one lives in Sri Lanka where a terrorist bomb might get you - thankfully that's not a problem right at the moment due to the cease fire - even if the traffic doesn't <g>)
posted at 05:13:08 AM  link  comment

Tue, Oct 29 2002

OK, before I go into angst-ridden soul searching mode <g>, let me just say that I've uploaded the new build of Blog with the PlusMemo nag dialog removed. As I mentioned earlier, there is no change in version number and so you simply have to download the same old file. Now on to the soul-searching :p

I have always believed in doing what I think is right but what do you do when you have a conflict between two things which are both right in their own way? I believe implicitly in keeping my promises - not just to the extent of the letter of the promise but the spirit of the promise as well. I also believe in doing what my heart tells me is right. Then on the other hand, I also believe in not hurting anybody either through my actions or through inaction. What the heck do you do when all of these different principles collide against each other? I really don't know in this instance and perhaps the one person who can help me sort it all out will not talk to me. I sometimes think it's rather prissy of me to worry about every little action but then again, I can't help feeling responsible for everything I do - maybe it's from too much reading but I am always aware that each and every one of my actions can have far reaching effects like ripples on a pond due to a stone being thrown in. Terry Pratchett is very fond of a saying which goes something along the lines of a butterfly's wings causing a storm somewhere else and I believe explicitly in that - everything we do can have very far reaching effects and I always try to consider everything when I do something. Of course, you can't refuse to act because your actions might have far reaching effects either because that's cowardice ... at least, that's what I think :p

Something else that occurred to me while coming back from work today was that in this day and age of the Internet where every one of us has so many friends that we've never met, that we need a dead-man's switch of some sorts :p Why did I think this? Well, I was doing seventy on the road on the motorbike and in Sri Lanka, that's courting death :p But it felt good to ride fast with the wind in my face but while riding, I had this though that if I were to die right then due to an accident, nobody on the Net would even know that I'd died (OK, fine .. I was specifically thinking of Jen there but I later thought of others I know of on the Net too :p) My parents know nothing of my Net friends and they'd not even consider letting anybody from the Net know if I were to die. But how would you reliably construct such a program that would let others know if you were to die? I was going through several alternatives but nothing is really foolproof but this entry is getting really morbid by this point and so I will stop :p

I've been considering a few additions to Blog as well as a completely new program which will merge Blog and a few of my other apps - though I would probably not do it since I hate bloated apps which have a lot of functionality that most of your users don't need. So I'd rather stick with several different program than one huge app but I'd still like to discuss this idea here. Plus, Duane wanted to know about Postman ... guess all of that will appear in tomorrow's entry :-)
posted at 05:44:20 PM  link  comment

Mon, Oct 28 2002

Got back from the airport a little while back - no, I wasn't trying to leave the country so soon again :p I had to go back to get my luggage which had arrived from Singapore - that was an adventure in itself what with all the hassles you have to go through to just get into the air port ... I think they are determined to make it hard for you just so that you will not lose your luggage in a hurry again :p I met a guy from Australia who had had his luggage go all the way to Germany and had finally got it back today. He said that he'd had some irreplaceable items in there and that he hadn't had any toiletries or anything for three days. Plus, he's on his way to India next (he was in Sri Lanka for a month) and that he was planning to visit the Himalayas and that he would need his sleeping bag there - must be nice to be able to travel like that ... The only places I seem to see on my travels are the insides of airports <vbg> Jen and I have talked of traveling extensively but then again, she's not even talking to me at the moment - so maybe it will all be a pipe dream, who knows?

I found out that .Net Magazine did run the article on blogging that they contacted me about but since their site does not include an online version of the article nor does their CD's contents list Blog as being on it, I don't know if Blog was mentioned. I guess it's cool if it was and if not, hey nothing's lost :p Anybody in UK who can confirm or deny as to whether Blog was mentioned in the article? And maybe if you have the magazine and if it does mention Blog, you can scan a copy of the article for me? Please? <g> Of course, asking for a copy of a magazine article maybe breaking some sort of copyright laws - who knows? :p

Since I've got my luggage, I should be able to release a special build of Blog 7.0 that removes the nag dialog at the start. I will not change the version number since that's going to be the only change in the build since Blog 7.0 final. But I do intend to do a 7.01 or 7.1 release (depending on how big the changes are ..) which will hopefully fix all the bugs that people seem to experience. Just can't promise you an ETA for that release though since I'll probably put Blog on back burner for a while while I concentrate on PostMan - or I might simply take a little break from coding altogether if certain personal life issues go the way I fear that they will ... Guess we'll see how it all works out - sometimes I wish life was a lot simpler ...
posted at 07:37:55 PM  link  comment

Sun, Oct 27 2002

I had a talk with my parents (my father specifically since it's sometimes a bit difficult to reason with my Mom due to the fact that she gets overly emotional :p) about the fact that I didn't really care for an arranged marriage. Jen had told me a while back that I should be honest with my parents and let them know how I feel but I'd been afraid to do so for fear of hurting them. Turns out that Jen was right - it was better to talk to them even though there might be some pain involved. It could have been the fact that I have recently returned from my trip and they are still treating me as if I might break into a thousand pieces at a moments notice <g> but they did sort of see my point and have agreed to let me be and not try to arrange any marriages for me :-) I told my Dad that I would tell him when I find somebody that I want to marry and while they seemed to agree to it, I now get all these hints about how I'm getting old - so I guess things don't change that quickly :p

Speaking of Jen, she's convinced that a lot of hits to her site come from mine and recently she lost one of her hosts - the one I link to from my page. The the other mirror of her site is still functional and I will be updating my own link on the sidebar to point to that page. So if anybody was wondering Jen is on the Net, now you know :-)
posted at 05:27:12 AM  link  comment

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