December 31, 2002

While I can get a job done in any of the graphics editing programs – PhotoShop, PaintShop Pro or Fireworks to name a few – I’ve never been what you’d call a graphics person. I’m basically a dilettante who flits from one area of computer related stuff to another – graphics to 3D animation to web design and back but never stays with one thing except for programming :p However, I recently got some free PhotoShop tutorials for a couple of friends at work and then they asked me a few things about the tutorials and that got me searching for more tutorials and I suddenly find myself fully interested in graphics again :-) Of course, I have no idea how long this streak will last but I am tempted to actually utilize this interest this time and do a redesign of at least some of my sites and perhaps even go for variations on the same theme for the different mirror sites so that they can each be distinctive and yet retain a synonymous look. Will this happen or not? I really have no idea since I haven’t begun doing the actual work but at the moment I’m planning to :p

Speaking of work, I finally did get off my posterior and started doing some coding. I’ve been meaning to shift my development work to Delphi 7.0 for a while now because I hope that the toolbar problems in both Blog and BlogMan can be rectified in Delphi 7.0 and because Scope cannot be worked on under Delphi 6.0 if I’m running on Windows XP. The only reason that I kept on putting off the move to Delphi 7.0 was the fact that I would have to recompile a lot of the components that I use and also find Delphi 7.0 versions for the ones for which I don’t have the source. I decided that I’d put it off for long enough and finally did the move – at least as far as Blog and BlogMan are concerned. Scope is another story …

I discovered that I no longer have the custom addressbar component that I’d developed for Scope because the original addressbar component that I’d used was quirky. I did a full hard disk search and came up with two possible versions but now have no idea whether either of them is the correct one or if neither one is correct because they weren’t in the correct location. Ah well, I might have to go through doing the addressbar component all over again and I don’t even remember what I did originally. Plus, I still have to recompile one last component under Delphi 7.0 for which I didn’t have the source yesterday – I remember that being a problem under Delphi 6.0 and since I’m starting again from scratch for Delphi 7.0, that should prove to be a lot of fun too – oh joy, joy :p

In the meantime, I must say that I am not too impressed with the move to Delphi 7.0 either. A full compile of Blog used to take less than a minute under Delphi 6.0 but it takes several minutes now. I am not sure if that’s because this was my first run or not but I’ll have to do some further testing soon to see how long it takes. Plus, the final output file is slightly bigger in size! I am not too happy with these minor quirks and unless I find something on the plus-side to offset these problems, I may decide to stick with Delphi 6.0 for the time being – especially considering that I will have to stick with Delphi 6.0 anyway for some of my apps (like Nailer) which don’t have equivalent components for Delphi 7.0 yet …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:32 am  |  No Comments

December 30, 2002

I know there would have been some confusion with the site yesterday if you’d come over because you would have been in a constant redirect since the site would try to redirect you to itself :p Ah well, that’s all my stupidity :p What happened was that Jen became a hosting reseller and she was so sweet as to offer me free domain hosting and ask me to move in with her :-) So I took her up on her offer and set up farook.org as it’s own domain and moved all my files from Tripod over to farook.org. What I had forgotten though was that the index page for Tripod is now a redirection page and I didn’t realize this till just now when I checked to see if the site was up. So hopefully, I should get that fixed as soon as I post this entry but there maybe some slight site anomalies for the rest of the day while I bring farook.org up to date. And if anybody wants to get their own domain hosted at a pretty low cost and have all the trimmings that they could want (PHP, CGI, mySQL etc.) you might want to go see Jen at her hosting place. And since a lot of people have been kind enough to provide me space over the years, I might be willing to host a few development related sites/blogs for anybody who might want a subdomain at farook.org as well – totally free but space would be kind of limited and so it would have to be a small site :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 6:21 am  |  No Comments

December 23, 2002

Hackers, viruses … what’s up with all this recent malicious activity? :p Now there seems to be a virus going around with my e-mail as the from address – or I might be getting bombarded with virus e-mails in the hope that at least one gets through :p Two of the messages were addressed directly to me and the other one was a returned from a mail server saying that the message was infected. Either way, if you do get an e-mail from me with attachments, do not open them unless I told you that I was sending you an attachment. I usually do not send an attachment to anybody unless we had discussed it and I’d gotten specific permission to send them an attachment. I just hate it when somebody uses my e-mail address to spread their viruses. Ah well, another joy of living in the global village I guess :p

I am still continuing to work on BlogMan. I’ve done some more bugfixes and removed a few annoyances that I’d come to be aware of as I continued to use it. I’ve also added a new feature to BlogMan that some may like but some may hate :p While it is possible to have multiple authors for a blog with Blogger and Movable Type, I have not seen either provide a facility for each individual user to have their own signature at the end of a post and so I added a new feature to BlogMan where you can define your own signature and it will be appended to the end of each post made by you :-) That particular feature seems to be working fine since Jen has already tested it out over at Solipsistic Meanderings.

I finally updated the Downloads page yesterday so that it is up-to-date and displays all the downloads that were missing from it and I also did some tinkering with the forums so that almost all the styles for the forums now display the RookSoft logo instead of their individual logos. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to devote to coding from tomorrow onwards since we are going to have the whole week off for Christmas but then again, you never know what will come up …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:26 am  |  2 Comments

December 22, 2002

To write the right way …

I finished reading Timothy Zahn’s "Cobras Two" yesterday. I was reluctant to put the book down and take up another book because I’d become so attached to the Moerau family and the other characters in the book, I’d gotten to know them, gotten comfortable with them and now didn’t want to move on to somebody else :p But unfortunately, unlike in life, there are no continuations to friendships made in books (unless the authors has written a sequel – or a few) and so I had to decide what I was going to read next. I since I enjoyed re-reading "Corbra" and because of the whole Johnny/Jonny connection, I thought of re-reading "Battlefield Earth" but couldn’t find the book and so I went through several other books before deciding to read the first volume of "The Early Del Rey" – a two volume collection of stories by Lester Del Rey with autobiographical commentaries by the author himself.

This book reminds me a lot of reading some of Asimov’s anthologies because the introductions to the stories give them a personal touch – a feeling as if you are talking directly to the author himself. I have loved what I’ve read so far because I can get a glimpse into the early writing career of Lester Del Rey and to a certain extent, it inspires me to try writing a bit more :-) It has been ages since I’ve written any fiction – I think the last bit of fiction I did was called "Dad’s Gone" and was actually inspired by somebody else’s writing – a story written by an online friend of mine in Australia. It doesn’t have the kind of story that I usually like to write – something which evokes a sense of wonder. This is more an introspective, character-based story with just a science fiction background. But again, I am wandering and am travelling further and further away from my original thought :p

I would like to write again. I want to write the kind of science fiction that people used to write in the good old days – science fiction which evokes a sense of wonder in you about the possibilities of science and the universe around us. The kind of stories which used to always amaze me and make me want to read more – and even try to write some. I don’t know if it is the market which has changed or the writers but I don’t see that kind of science fiction anymore. Or is it just that I’m not looking in the right place? Science fiction, if it is at all there, seems to be more about drama and characterization than about science itself. Maybe I’m not explaining it too well but I just don’t find the kind of science fiction that I used to like … So maybe I should go out and try to write some of my own … Or maybe I should not afflict anybody with bad writing :p

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Posted by Fahim at 10:41 am  |  No Comments

I know it’s been almost a week with no updates – sorry about that :-( There really hasn’t been much to write about for a while since I hadn’t done any development work at all and the only things to talk about were the same old stuff about bugs and user support :p But I’ve finally gotten out of the rut of inactivity and have gotten back into coding and so have stuff to write about – plus, there are new suggestions for Blog to be discussed by all and sundry :-)

I’ve been coding BlogMan again – not with a vengeance but slowly whenever a new bug occurs to me :p Since the underlying code for BlogMan is based on Blog, there are a lot of artifacts left over from Blog that are either unnecessary or irritating. For instance, if you run both Blog and BlogMan at the same time and exit one and try to publish with the other, you will get an error because both still share the same temporary folder and the one to exit first deletes the temporary folder :p I need to fix that one still – I just remembered it. Then BlogMan has this irritating problem where it fills it’s INI file with icon information which is not there – this was something for the custom code snippets but there is a slight difference between Blog and BlogMan which causes this buggy behaviour in BlogMan. Then there are all those extra options in the Options dialog that BlogMan has no need for. So I intend to fix all of these things slowly and at the same time try to do UI changes so that depending on the type of server you connect to, the displayed UI elements would change.

In the meantime, I received an e-mail from a new Blog user who had some very interesting suggestions. She wanted the ability to have a title for each entry as well as a summary title for each day. Now I can’t even think of how to implement this UI-wise but has anybody ever needed to do such a thing before? If so, do you think this is something that Blog needs to implement? This user was actually full of a lot of good ideas – some asked fro before and some not. She also wanted the ability to insert some HTML code at the end of a set of entries for a given date – this would necessitate a BlogFooter section similar to the current BlogHeader section. This has been requested before but I never bothered to implement it since only one person needed it but I think I’ll open both issues to debate now – either here or on the forums .. over to you guys :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:12 am  |  1 Comment

December 20, 2002

Interpretations, innuendo, insults, invective and inalienable rights

There have been raging debates here at SM the last few days and while I am not going into the whole debate myself (I stated my position at the very beginning when it all started), let me state a few personal things so that everybody understands where I am coming from and where I stand on certain issues. I believe in the right for people to express their opinion – I will defend somebody’s right to express their opinion even if their opinion does not tally with mine. Personally, I believe we should live and let live and that our opinion/stand while right for us, might not necessarily be right for somebody else. I do what I think is right and everybody should be free to do what they think is right. And here, spare me the arguments about how a serial killer might think going around killing people is right but that doesn’t necessarily make it so – as long as you do what you think is right and don’t harm either yourself or others, I think each person should have the right to their own opinion and freedom.

One of the things I love about Jen is the fact that she is never afraid to state how she feels – even if that might fly in the face of popular opinion. She states how she feels about a certain issue and will back her stand to the hilt with arguments and facts. But she isn’t above listening to the other side of the case either and I love her for being who she is. Yes, she and I might not agree on certain subjects but that does not necessarily mean that she has to see things my way or that I have to see things her way – we are both individuals with minds of our own and we are perfectly willing to let each other have our opinions and to understand the fact and to respect that. To me that is part and parcel of being a human being and interacting with other human beings – the willingness and ability to listen to other people’s opinions and to respect them but to stand by your own convictions if you think what is right for you is not what is right for somebody else.

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Posted by Fahim at 7:39 am  |  No Comments

December 16, 2002

Sons and relationships …

I really hate talking about other people and/or washing my dirty linen in public but I guess sometimes you have to do what you believe is right and this is one of those moments. Jen has seen fit to comment on something which involves my son in response to something my ex-wife posted on the tagboard. Yes, Jonathan is not my birth-son but I’ve known him since he was about six months old and I am the only father he has ever known. I’ve seen him grow up to be a four year old and I’ve washed him, fed him, taken care of him, played with him and comforted him when he was sad or hurt. (OK, my ex- will say that I did none of these enough but the fact remains that I did do all of these things :p) Through all that time, I was the only father he knew and still I am the only father he knows and the fact that I am his Dad will never change because *he* considers me to be his father. The day that he says "you are not my father" then maybe it will change but even that I am not sure of because to me he probably will always be my son even if he doesn’t consider me to be his father.

So that might bring up the question as to why I left him if I consider him to be my son and he thinks of me as his father. I guess I can give many answers but none of them would really make any sense to anybody at all without all the background information and the background information cannot be given because it involves too many people and too many of their own stories that they might not be willing to have me reveal here. Suffice it to say that I felt that the reasons were justified at that time … But just because I left him does not make him not my son – he still is my son.

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Posted by Fahim at 11:47 am  |  1 Comment

Yes, I’ve been sidetracked again :p I decided to investigate how easy it would be to do a client-server app that would handle audio-video streaming. Basically to create an application which would allow two people to communicate using speakers, microphone and webcam without needing a server – as long as they know at least one person’s IP of course. It was supposed to be another one of my simple proof-of-concept type of apps just to see if it would work but it has become entangled in a whole heap of other technical stuff like COM and multithreading and TCP/IP based client-server architecture :p I am tempted to drop the project since it looks as if it’s going to take me a while before I can get anywhere with it but then again, I am reluctant to stop something once I’ve started on it. So I don’t know if I will still try to go ahead with it or if I will drop it and get back to work on my regular apps :-)

Speaking of regular apps, I still haven’t done much with BlogMan. I do use it exclusively to publish to my Movable Type based blog, Solipsistic Meanderings, and haven’t even been to the site in a while :-) But while the app works fine for me under Movable Type, there are things in it that might not work so well for somebody using Blogger or B2. In fact, I still need to come up with some code to handle the title workaround the B2 uses with the Blogger API (sorry about the delay Greg <g>) Then I also need to add support for other blogging utilities that either support the Blogger API or the MetaBlog API. I know there are others who are anxious for me to get back to Blog (or PostMan :p) and I’ve been extremely sidetracked of late <g> but the only good thing is that several apps have come out of me being sidetracked :p In the end, I believe that you must do what you enjoy most and so I guess I will continue code (because I enjoy that) but I will also code what I find the most interesting at the moment – unless (of course there is always an unless :p) there is something impacting performance for a user of an existing app …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:05 am  |  1 Comment

December 15, 2002

Girls and guys …

Nope, this is not a "birds and the bees" type of entry :p I don’t know why I never watched the "Gilmore Girls" while I was in the US (probably clashed with another favourite show of mine <g>) but I do enjoy it very much. Every episode just makes me chuckle or laugh out loud. They have got to have one of the quirkiest cast of characters in a show in a long time :p Probably not since "Picket Fences" though "Stark Raving Mad" also does come to mind but that didn’t have so many characters. Anyway, love the show but unfortunately can’t watch it every week since when my parents are here, my Mom takes over the TV just at the time "Gilmore Girls" is on to watch one of her Tamil soaps :p Ah well … still an enjoyable and funny series – I hope it has not been cancelled in the US.

As for the "guys" part – my current book is really,really interesting – it’s actually a double-edition of two of Timothy Zahn’s books – "Cobra" and "Cobra Strike" and has been released as a double-edition as "Cobras Two". First an aside though (probably to justify the whole "guys" thing :p) but what’s with the name Johnny (or a variation of it) for a soldier protagonist? :p The protagonist in "Cobra" is Jonny Moreau, then there is Johnny Rico in Heinlein’s "Starship Troopers" and Johnny "Goodboy" Tyler in L. Ron Hubbard’s "Battlefield Earth" (a darn good book though huuuge!). I liked all those characters but I was suddenly struck by the fact that they were all warriors and all were named Johnny. But I digress …

I first read "Cobra" almost ten years ago (around ’93 or ’94) and have totally forgotten all about the book except for the main concept – that it’s about a bunch of super-soldiers who fight against some alien enemies. When I took up "Cobras Two" I was tempted to skip the first book since I’ve already read it (even though I can’t remember anything about it) but decided to read it again anyway. I am glad that I did because I find that I love it! It’s an interesting read and I probably see certain things in a different perspective now. While I am never for war (I believe that war should be a last resort and not the first thing you do when confronted by a problem …), the story itself is intriguing – especially the psychological aspects of it. I’m looking forward to the second part since I hope that will not be so much about war as about responsibility – the responsibilities of those with different/higher abilities to society.

Incidentally, cobra is the name of the super-soldiers – they basically are a walking weapon because they have a toughened skeleton (coated with a strong and light metal), super-strength (servo motors implanted in the body to provide additional strength/speed) and implanted weapons like finger tip lasers and sonic weapons – plus, a targeting computer embedded below their brain :-) Yes, I know this is all fiction but I believe that the underlying principle, that those with special/higher/different skills owe a responsibility to society (or as Spider-man/Stan Lee would put it "with great power comes great responsibility"), still stands true.

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Posted by Fahim at 7:51 am  |  No Comments

December 13, 2002

Riding in the rain …

Yesterday had been overall a sort of a down day because of a variety of things but all of that disappeared in an instant when I left work in the evening. The reason? Rain! Rain you ask? Yes, rain :-) It was raining cats and dogs and I rode through it all! It’s a great feeling to have the rain slashing into your face, you doing about seventy or eighty on your motorbike and there being nobody on the roads! I was screaming at the top of my voice and composing a song about riding in the rain at the same time. It went something like “Riding in the rain, ugh ugh, Riding in the rain ugh ugh, Raindrops in your face, stinging like mace, Riding in the rain, ugh ugh!” :p Yeah, I know … stupid :p But it was a totally awesome experience and while I felt as if I would meet imminent death at times since I was swerving and weaving in and out between vehicles at times and splashing noisily and muddily through puddles at other times, I just loved the whole feeling. I should do it more often and simply forget about all the other stuff that goes on in life – the stuff that brings you down :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 7:15 am  |  1 Comment

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