July 31, 2001

Haven’t had much time to work on the Gossip improvements since I last did an update – perhaps today. I’d really like to get the backend news feed stuff working though since there is this neat SF news site that I want to get daily (or even hourly :p) feeds from. Speaking of SF, I watched an episode of Exposure on the Sci-Fi channel that I’d recorded on Sunday since it was a special to coincide with the release of “The Planet of the Apes”. Is it just me or is Lisa Marie (not Presley) really creepy? She seems to have no emotions at all on screen – when she smiles the smile never reaches her eyes and she talks as if it was all rehearsed. Now I might be doing her a great injustice in saying she has no emotions but that’s the way she appears on TV … and speaking of Lisa Marie and “The Planet of the Apes”, it is almost a natural segue to something that I forgot to mention when I talked about “The Planet of the Apes” after watching the movie. Am I mistaken or does Helena Bonham Carters character of Ari bear an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson? I was struck by the resemblance the moment the character first appeared on screen and the more I see Ari in TV spots and trailers, the more striking the resemblance seems :-)

As far as the whole Blogger situation goes, as I mentioned yesterday I wrote to Evan Williams but still haven’t heard from him. Just mentioning it in case some of you are wondering what the heck happened … though maybe you’re not wondering at all <vbg>

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Posted by Fahim at 8:21 am  |  No Comments

July 30, 2001

Since I’m working on the News Reader (more on that in a bit), I decided to release Blog 3.0 today after all :-) This release is basically lots of minor bug fixes and a few things to make sure that standards are adhered to (meaning that I messed up in the first place :p) The biggest change is probably the inclusion of a per site option to specify the extension you want used for the archived entry files. This means that there was another database change and you will need to download the Data Conversion Utility again (even if you were running Blog 3.0 Beta 1) and run it before you run Blog 3.0. Of course that part applies only to existing Blog users. So go get it, use it and let me know what else I’ve broken <vbg>

I have been looking into the whole XML/RSS/RDF file deal and have been discovering some stuff which is positive but also stuff which is negative :-) The positive point is that I did find a way to get around the whole Open XML component issue but the bad news is that most of the backend news files that I can find seem not to be totally XML compliant and so the codes keeps on choking on the files :-( I guess I will either have to abandon the backend news reader idea and simply go with a newsgroup reader or try another tack … Sometimes when you keep on banging your head against a stone wall, the blood gushing over your eyes makes it hard for you to see clearly :p

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Posted by Fahim at 4:17 pm  |  No Comments

Well, I wrote to Evan Williams and told him that I was willing to put any acknowlegement/disclaimer that he wanted in the Blog docs but that I didn’t want to change the name. Haven’t heard from him yet in response to that. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve been looking into XML parsing since Saturday evening for the enhancements that I am planning for Gossip. The bad news is that I found that the latest version of the Open Source Open XML component chokes on backend RSS files that it used to parse without a problem in prior versions :-( Hmm … wonder what’s up with that? I guess I’ll just have to figure out a different approach this time … but that always takes time. Ah well, can’t always have an app working a week after you conceive it I guess :p

Oh yeah, because of Tyran Ormond’s invaluable input most of the known bugs in Blog 3.0 Beta 1 have been eradicated and it seems to be pretty stable. I am contemplating whether to declare this Blog 3.0 final and be done with it or to add some further features requested by a few users. The jury’s still out on the verdict <g> but you should probably know sometime today.

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Posted by Fahim at 10:19 am  |  No Comments

July 29, 2001

I just got back from watching “Planet of the Apes” and was going to write my opinion of it (and I still will after I get through writing about what I’m going to write about …) but I received an e-mail in my inbox which took precedence. The e-mail was from Evan Williams, CEO of Blogger.Com, who asks me to “change the name of your software to something less similar/potentially confusing with Blogger”. He’s talking of course about Blog. Now I don’t see how people can confuse his web-based software with my local-machine based software and I don’t see why we can’t live and let live instead of causing problems for each other. I am really upset about this since I don’t make any money off of Blog (or any of my other software for that matter) nor am I part of a corporation like Evan Williams is. I am not sure that I want to be bullied about this whole thing and am currently of the opinion that I shouldn’t have to do anything of the fact. I guess we’ll see after I respond to Evan – all in all, not a very good day …

Even without the whole “cease and desist” stuff, the day wasn’t going too well since “Planet of the Apes” proved to be a disappointment – I went in expecting a full course meal and instead I was treated to what amounted to an appetizer or some dessert :p The story was interesting but not enough to keep your attention riveted. I was constantly jarred by apes (if you will pardon the pun) aping current human behaviour, language and even idioms. If these were highly-evolved apes in a different milieu, I wouldn’t expect them to act thus. The whole thing would have been appropriate in a satire or a parody but not in a supposedly serious tale … at least that’s how I felt. Anyway, to me most of the characters lacked conviction because of this one particular thing – though there were many other little nits that I could have picked about the plot <g> But the biggest hole by far is in the ending which makes no sense at all unless the creative team basically wanted to somehow top the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand scene from the original. I won’t reveal the ending and so can’t really discuss it at detail but I think it was a totally ridiculous ending but a good hook for the sequel – which I’m almost sure is going to make an appearance sooner or later.

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Posted by Fahim at 6:03 pm  |  No Comments

July 28, 2001

Still haven’t started coding the new version of Gossip :-( I want to code but I also feel reluctant to begin anything new … plus, I’ve been looking into how best I could do some XML parsing since a major feature of the current Gossip is its ability to parse RSS 0.9 format news backend files. Unfortunately, Gossip chokes on post 0.9 format RSS files … so I need to make the XML file parsing a bit more versatile to handle any version of the RSS format. I have been thinking about that but haven’t really done much – not even get online to do some research …

Heard from Tyran Ormond who pointed out several bugs in the current releease of Blog which is causing him headaches at his site. I frequently have this problem of thinking things through only from my perspective and that’s what happened at least in one instance – I assumed (which is always a bad thing <g>) that everybody will be publishing their journals with a .HTM extension and so all archived entries have that extension. Unfortunately, Tyran is using some PHP code to facilitate comments and so his files had to have a PHP extension and guess what? Blog doesn’t support that!! I did some quick reworking and got him a build which fixed the problem but I got to thinking about it and realized that the arhicved file extension should not be a global value but rather a per site value since you might want one extension for one site and anoter for another site just as you might want different templates for different sites. The quick and dirty fix that I did for Tyran was a global solution but I’m going to recode things to make it a site specific value. Of course that means another database change and another menu entry added to the Blog Data Conversion Utility – what else is new? :p

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Posted by Fahim at 4:03 pm  |  No Comments

The most interesting thing that happened yesterday was that I got mentioned on Call For Help on TechTV :p Before any of you start thinking that it was for any of my apps, let me hasten to disillusion you :-) They were discussing blogs on Call For Help and were asking for people’s opinions in the chat room. I went in there because I wanted to let them know about Blog since not many even know that Blog exists <g> but as is normal for me for some weird reason, I ended up promoting Noah Grey’s (the guy who created GreyMatter – an excellent albeit not to my test blogging system) site :p I really like the photographs and writing on Noah’s site and so the reference was well deserved .. Anyway, they quoted me on CFH as being for blogs but I can’t recall my exact words. I guess nobody caught that since I haven’t heard from anybody about it :p

I’ve been getting some feedback on the News Reader idea and it’s all been positive so far. I really am not sure that I should be taking on another app but hey, what’s life without a challenge? <vbg> So I have started planning out what I want the app to do – actually it most probably will not be a new app per se since I’m basically planning to take Gossip and extend its functionality so that it will do triple duty as a backend news reader, a news group reader and a binary harvester. I am not positive about the binary harvester part though till I have gotten the preliminary coding under way. Will I start coding this week? I’d like to but I don’t know whether I will or not – it depends on a lot of things like how I’m feeling, whether I wanna watch movies and a lot of other intangibles like that :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:21 am  |  No Comments

July 27, 2001

OK Blog 3.0 is finally ready for release though just as I was getting the docs ready, I realized that there was a little tiny hole in how things work <g> I have added a new tab to the Journal Management dialog and the old Journals tab is now actually the Sites tab while the new Journal tab allows you to define individual journals and modify certain attributes for each journal – confusing, huh? Anyway, that particular journal and site set up has problems when you delete stuff … so I guess it was a good idea to call this Blog 3.0 Beta 1 since I can fix that in the final release :p

A word of caution to those who are existing Blog users! Blog 3.0 modifies the database structures again and so you will need to download the Blog Data Conversion Utility and convert your existing data before you can use Blog 3.0. I am not going to give versioning numbers for the Data Conversion Utility but what’s there now is a newer version than what was released for Blog 2.5 – so you do need to download it again. You should see a new Convert menu option for Blog 2.5 -> 3.0 … if not, you have the wrong version of the convert utility.

Another thing that you might notice if you’re upgrading to Blog 3.0 is that your menu bar does not appear or that the toolbars don’t appear. This probably will happen if you copied over only the Blog.exe and not the Blog.cfg file. You can either delete your existing Blog.cfg file and let Blog recreate it for you or copy over the one in the Blog 3.0 distro. Either way, you will lose your toolbar customizations :-( But I promise I’ll try not to do that again …

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Posted by Fahim at 11:55 am  |  No Comments

I’ve received several complaints about problems with Scope and Shell32.dll and at least one person said “I do have the Shell32.dll file on my machine, so what gives?” The problem is not that Shell32.dll is missing but rather that it is too old for Scope to work with. Here verbatim is some information I found on the Net about the problem and a possible solution …

“The shell file is not missing from your computer but the version is too old for the Browser to use. As Windows 95 evolved, Microsoft released upgrades to the operating system that were distributed with a new release of Internet Explorer. If you are getting the [shell32.dll] error message then you are not using the upgraded files. The solution is to install IE4.0 SP2 with the “Standard Install” This will upgrade the SHELL32.DLL (and other files) on your system and the Browser will then work. Upgrading to IE5.0 or 5.5 do not fix the problem because they upgrade the browser only and not Windows 95. If you already have a newer version of Internet Explorer installed on your computer, you must first uninstall it before installing IE4.0. After 4.0 is installed you can reinstall 5.0 or 5.5 to upgrade the browser.”

The IE 4.0 SP2 is a pretty big file I’m told (about 15MB) and I’m not sure where you can find it but a search of the Microsoft Site should turn something up. I know that the above is a pretty awful solution :p I’m working on a separate solution which might deprive you of certain of the features of Scope but will let you use it as it is without having to upgrade your Shell32.dll file … Lemme know if you have any preferences about the above two options …

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Posted by Fahim at 10:28 am  |  No Comments

Guess what? Blog 3.0 is done!! (Do I hear cries of “Noooo!!”, “Really?”, “That fast?” etc? Probably not :p) I have all the major features that I wanted to have for Blog 3.0 and in the process basically exhausted all the list of features that I had for Blog <g> So unless somebody else comes up with some new ideas or I start getting fresh ideas, I’ll be leaving Blog alone for a while and move onto some of my other neglected apps like Gossip for instance :-) I’ll probably release Blog 3.0 today as a beta though I think it is stable enough to qualify as a final release … But there is one thing I’d still like to add but am not sure how to proceed with – the customization of archival links. Currently archival links are just two dates separated by a hyphen to say that that particular link points to entries for dates in that range but that seems umm … not very user-friendly. Of course I could give an option so that you can at least format how the two dates looks to your taste but is that all? Would anybody need any other customization – perhaps some specific text in front of each link or the ability to display just the beginning date or the ending date? If anybody uses the archives much (besides me) let me know and I’ll try to include that as well for the Blog 3.0 final release.

Speaking of new stuff, Jay Mendoza suggested that I do a News Reader :-) I am kind of tempted by the idea. Actually sinesolis suggested a long time back that I make Scope kind of a super-Internet tool which integrates an instant messenger, a browser and what not <g> While a news reader will fit in right there, I’d rather have the components separate if I do decide to create a news reader – it is an intriguing thought … I’m gonna let it simmer in my brain and see what transpires …

I heard from an old friend from the BBS days back in Sri Lanka. I hadn’t heard from him in ages – actually not since I left Sri Lanka but suddenly he appeared out of the blue in ICQ! It was good catching up and to think back to the good old days … are the good old days as good as we think they are or is it just us trying to escape from the reality of the present? I’m not sure …

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Posted by Fahim at 7:09 am  |  No Comments

July 26, 2001

Well, no feedback at all about the new release of Scope except from jugg – so either it is working fine for everybody or nobody cares anymore :p I did find a Dutch site that featured Blog called Planet Download. Since the whole site and the article was in Dutch, I couldn’t understand much of it but I believe they featured Blog as the download of the week. Though I said I didn’t understand much, I actually had this very freaky experience last night when I first looked at the site – since the site was in Dutch, I tried BabelFish but they don’t feature a Dutch to English translator. So I began going through the article and to my surprise it actually seemed to make sense to me. I don’t know whether something was leaking from the air-conditioning unit or the fridge or something and I was zoning out <vbg> or Dutch is an easy language to understand but what I “seemed” to understand from the article was that they said something along the lines of “if you don’t like the online costs from services such as Blogger.com, you should use Blog – its coded by the mad coder Fahim – it sits on the local hard drive on your machine – it also has a client server version” etc. Is my Dutch good or am I inhaling something? :p

Several people that I know mentioned to me that terrorists had bombed the airport in Sri Lanka since I’m planning to go back home in October. Unfortunate as it maybe, this has become a part of life for people in Sri Lanka. Every year there is at least one bombing of a building or a person and the war keeps dragging on in the Northern part of the island. Why can’t anybody understand that there are no winners in a war – only losers? I guess humanity has a long way to go before we will actually start learning from the lessons of the past instead of repeating the same old mistakes over and over again …

I started working on Blog again since I am eager to get the latest feature ideas bubbling in my brain out :-) I think I will be able to leave Blog alone for a while once I get the auto-archiving and the ability to link to older entries out of the way since I personally can’t think of any other feature I would want to see in Blog. Of course, then I’ll probably go back to the neglected client-server version of Blog and bring it upto date :p

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Posted by Fahim at 9:06 am  |  No Comments

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