July 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 :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 6:33 am  |  7 Comments

July 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!

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Posted by Fahim at 6:24 am  |  3 Comments

July 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 …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:16 am  |  4 Comments

July 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 :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 6:51 am  |  3 Comments

July 27, 2002

Darin Gott, who has a very interesting Blog named The G Spot – you should see some of his comments on user searches for his site … very funny <g> -, wrote to me a couple of days ago and asked me if there was a web ring for Blog users. I told him that there wasn’t but that he should feel free to set one up :-) I heard from Darin yesterday and he told me that the web ring was all ready to go (though he did say that he was still working on the home page for the ring ..) – now that is fast action … thanks Darrin :-) Anyway, I added the web ring information to the FAQ (along with a few other things that I’d been meaning to add to it …) but here’s the info for all of you who are too lazy to go over there :p
Ring Name: BLOG Users
Ring Home Page: http://www3.sympatico.ca/thegotts/blog_users
Join The Ring Link: http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=blog_users;action=addform

While I was at it, I decided to update the list of sites that use Blog since I had a long list of sites to be added but hadn’t had the time for the past couple of weeks – Darin’s site was among those BTW … I guess I should explain the method I follow to add new sites to the list of sites which use Blog because it probably makes no sense at all to most people because I always insert new sites into the middle of the list :p The reasoning is as follows – the point I insert new sites into the list is always the same – it’s just before the non-updated/dead sites begin on the list. When I say dead, I don’t mean that the site’s not there, just that the site used Blog but hasn’t been updated in ages. Towards the top of the list, you should find sites which are more frequently updated. In time, (if I find the time …) I check on the newly added sites and depending on their frequency of updating, I either move them towards the top end of the list or the bottom end of the list. Of course, there is no scientific method to it but this hopefully explains the method to my madness :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:09 am  |  3 Comments

July 25, 2002

It’s been a few hectic days I tell ya :p Had to go into work on Saturday but I left as soon as I could since my parents and my brother were in town because Sunday was my birthday and they wanted to go shopping. Now, I particularly don’t care for birthdays nor do I celebrate them but my parents and my brother seem to think it’s a big deal :-) Anyway, we went shopping, I got a few new DVD’s (most of which I haven’t seen yet ..), got back home and I spent the next couple of days watching several Tamil and Hindi movies that we’d rented. I also managed to watch “Changing Lanes”, about which I’d heard a lot of good things. Maybe I was tired but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be but it wasn’t all bad either – all in all, good solid performances by both Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck but for some reason the movie left me with a feeling that something was missing – some crucial element that would have made it a really great movie …

Monday morning we got a call that an uncle of mine had passed away in Kurunegala. So we went for the funeral and then stayed in Kurunegala itself since Tuesday was a holiday and my parents had already planned something which included travel :p The “something” was actually a visit to a prospective bride’s house since my parents are trying to get me married and are trying to find a bride who fits all the conditions that I stipulated <g> Now I’d told my parents that I didn’t want to visit a prospective bride’s house immediately since I knew that it would be difficult for them to find somebody who’d meet with my approval and so had told them simply to get a photograph and I’d tell them whether they should proceed further or not. However, this girl’s dad insisted that I come along and away we went but it proved to be another useless journey :p

Went back to work yesterday and there was a heck of a lot of stuff to be attended to and in the middle of it all, I had to dash out to attend an interview with a prospective employer. I like my current place of work because I like the people there but I am beginning to hate the take-you-for-granted attitude of management and the fact that there is no real appreciation of my work – I get blamed when something goes wrong but there is no praise for a job well done. Anyway, the call to come for the interview had been on my cellular phone on Monday while we were on our way to Kurunegala and it had been a bad connection. I thought the person at the other end mentioned a company that I’d applied for just the previous day (or maybe that day itself …) and I was surprised at the quick response. When I went there however, I found that they hadn’t called me at all :p They interviewed me however but told me that it was for a new software development firm that was planning to start operations around November and that they’d let me know.

I called back the number on which I’d received the call originally after the interview (I’d actually tried the number earlier as well but it had been engaged …) and found the real company that had called me <g> I got there about an hour late, fully unprepared and not quite properly dressed since it was for a managerial position but they asked me in for an interview anyway but told me afterwards that they were simply short listing candidates and would let me know later. But I have a feeling that I didn’t do too well there :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:29 am  |  2 Comments

July 20, 2002

I’ve been working on the customized code snippet feature for Blog and it’s taking shape pretty nicely :-) First the good news: you can name the snippet, define the beginning and ending HTML tags and even assign a hotkey and an icon to it – in fact, you can even add external icons to assign to the code snippets! The bad news is: a) you lose the edit right-click context menu accessibility to the snippets (I am hoping to fix this but not done yet ..) b) you can’t define edit toolbar buttons for the snippets (you can but they don’t always work ..) c) the hotkey assignment doesn’t check to see if the hotkey combination is in use and so you can end up with a hotkey combo that does something else. Other than for these problems, it works :p In fact, I’ve now converted the standard bold, italic, paragraph, line break, angle bracket and space insertion menu items to use the new system and it all works just fine.

I intend to take a look at the little problems I’ve mentioned above and maybe get those sorted out too – or as much as possible – so that I can go ahead and release Blog 6.1 :-) In the mean time, Tyran has pointed out that the Next and Previous tags in Blog behave differently now than they did a while back in that they now force the HTML code to be used, on you, instead of simply returning the file name… I hadn’t realized the change but have a feeling that there was some code consideration behind it. I will look into this and change it back if possible but that may break existing templates for some of you – sorry :-(

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Posted by Fahim at 6:41 am  |  No Comments

July 19, 2002

A few days ago, Eric Williams pointed out a problem in Blog in Server mode that would always result in an error when trying to publish. This had to do with a coding bug in the loop variable I used since I used the same variable from the outer loop (which iterated through each message on the server) for the inner loop (which iterated through each address on the Include/Exclude list). I fixed the bug and Eric reports that it works fine but I just haven’t had the time to release Blog 6.01 so that others can benefit from this fix as well.

However, I’m planning on doing a Blog 6.1 release soon since there’s an idea suggested by Jason that’s burning a hole through my mind and while I’d originally planned to include the feature in Blog 7.0, I don’t think I can wait that long :p Basically, Jason wanted a way to have user-defined HTML snippets available in the edit window. Currently there are options like Bold, Italic etc. that allow the user to format their text using HTML code but Jason wanted a way to have customized HTML code snippets since the most used snippets probably change from user to user. I think this is a great idea and something that would really make Blog user-friendly and customizable to suit individual users. I’ve been running the idea through my mind and the basic “how-to” has now formulated in my mind and I keep on adding newer and niftier features to it :p When this starts happening, I begin to feel as if that I’d either forget a bit of it or that I would explode if I don’t implement it immediately. So, it looks as if I’ll be coding this weekend <g>

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Posted by Fahim at 6:56 am  |  1 Comment

July 18, 2002

They’re going to being screening “Spider-man” here on Friday. That’s pretty impressive considering that usually we have to wait a couple of years before some of the current Hollywood movies come to the theaters here – mainly a matter of cost since they (meaning the Sri Lankan theater owners or whoever brings the movie down …) usually can’t recoup the money they have to pay the Hollywood studios to distribute the movie over here. I guess they are betting on “Spider-man” being as big a hit with the people as “Lord of the Rings” was a couple of months back.

I’m in two minds as to whether I really want to see “Spider-man” :p As a matter of principle, I don’t watch live action remakes of comic book classics since it ruins the comic – for me at least. Yes, I’ve seen a few of them here and there because: a) it was on TV b) a friend had the movie and I got it for free c) it was playing on an airplane during a trip. But I’ve made a point of not paying for the movie till now – “Blade” being the exception but I’ve never read the comic much :p I already don’t really like “Spider-man” because of some of the character/plot changes they’ve made to the original and because of the stupid costume with that webbing standing out as if somebody stuck ropes on a spandex suit :p I also don’t like the choice of Toby McGuire to play the role of Peter Parker but on the other hand, I feel like going to see the movie just so that I can rant about it some more :p Plus, everybody from work is going on Friday but …

Anyway, speaking of comic book characters, has anybody caught the new “Daredevil” trailer? Even with the choice of Ben Affleck for the main role, the trailer at least looks very impressive. I didn’t pay much attention to the costumes and stuff and but it did look as if they’d made changes there. Of course, the choice of Michael Clarke Duncan for the role of KingPin does break original characterizations … Ah well, guess nothing is sacred anymore :p Anyway, I’m tempted to watch “Daredevil” based on the trailer – yes, even pay money to see it :p – but things may change as I see and hear more about the movie …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:36 am  |  8 Comments

July 17, 2002

The newspaper project at work has to be jinxed :p Yesterday, the Illustrator file for the Sinhala page that we’d done the layout and proofread, turned out to be corrupted! The layout and the changes had to be done all over again and the guy from the graphics department who was doing it had to go off at noon and it was a pretty rushed job, I can tell you. We did get the page out on time but all this is making me a petty dictator since I’ve been quashing ideas right left and center and settling disputes by simply enforcing my own will :p I shudder to think of Friday since that will be the deadline for both the Tamil and English papers and usually that’s when I almost always get to stay behind and work Saturdays :p

Of course, I’m beginning to re-evaluate the whole working Saturdays thing too. Yesterday my boss looked at the Tamil page that I’d worked on the whole weekend to get out and had only criticisms. I reminded him that I did work the weekend to get it out and that there was nobody helping me but his only response was that it wasn’t my job to work on the page but to get somebody else to do it since I’m supposed to be in charge of the project. While I do see his project, I also believe that he and I are two different kinds of managers – he’s a hands-off manager since he doesn’t know the software or how to get the stuff done and so can only tell somebody to get it done, whereas I’m a hands-on manager since I know what needs to be done and in most cases, can get it done faster than anybody I’d entrust the job to. Whatever the case maybe, I am beginning to realize that the work environment is far different from the US here and that I’d gotten used to doing things the US way. Now I’m simply going to tell somebody to get the job done and not bother whether it’s done or not – even though that seems totally asinine to me … Oh well …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:33 am  |  No Comments

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