April 30, 2003

Of love and loonies …

I watched this made for TV movie called "Don’t Tell Me Secrets" (at least I think that was the title, not so sure now) a couple of days ago that that made me want to write this entry. It was about this woman who is a lawyer and has just divorced her husband who is also a lawyer (at least I think they’ve just divorced – I missed the beginning of the movie). She is involved in a case where her client has been raped and then threatened not to go to the authorities. The woman persuades her client to prosecute and her ex- becomes the attorney for the defendant, Sean. Her client ends up missing, Sean keeps on following her and making threatening remarks and she is haunted by memories of her mother with whom she had a disagreement years ago and who disappeared never to be seen again.

In the midst of it all, she finds love in the form of a shoe salesman who used to be an attorney but gave up practicing law after some harrowing incidents in his life. Her client turns up dead but she can’t prove that Sean did it due to insufficient evidence. In the meantime, she gets threatening letters and she is not sure who is doing it whether it is Sean or the new guy in her life who seems to be so mysterious in certain ways. I will not go into all the details but in the end it turns out that the orchestrator of all this drama is actually her ex- that he wanted her back and so had tried to scare her into needing him. He’d actually unleashed Sean on her knowing that he was guilty and it turns out that he had even murdered her mother because she was against their marriage.

Over the top? It seemed to me so. Why would anybody ever do all these things to somebody that they claimed to love? But then again, I guess that depends on *your* definition of love – whether it is a selfish love where you want to (or need to) *own* the person you claim to love or a selfless kind of love where you just want the other person to be happy, wherever and with whomever that they like. To *me* love should always be of that second type but unfortunately, I don’t think that kind of love is that prevalent. Everybody wants the kind of love where you have the person you love with you – sometimes even if they don’t love you. What sort of a relationship would that be? A very unhappy one is all I can say …

The movie made me sad in a way … for the woman, for her mother, for all the suffering that they had to go through – just because one person was selfish in their loving. This was just a story but I do hear of such incidents quite a lot here in Sri Lanka, where a lover will kill the object of his affection and then take his own life. What kind of a choice is that – kill what you can’t have? Isn’t that really childish? I don’t know … Sometimes I do really wonder about the human race … but then again, I guess these are the things that go into making us what we are and when we are able to overcome all these baser instincts of ours, we will become worthy of the name "human" – if we haven’t wiped ourselves off the face of the Earth before that, that is :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:45 am  |  3 Comments

First of all, I’d like to thank James O’Donnell for sending me “The Thomas Crown Affair” off my wishlist – it’s the original version of the movie and something that I’ve been looking forward to watching for a long time. Thanks a bunch Jim :-)

I started work on the next release – whatever it is going to be yesterday again. I had gone back to the original 7.1 codebase – the one without the WPTools WYSIWYG entry field – for the 7.11 and now I merged back the 7.11 changes to the WPTools version. I’m still not sure if I will release 7.11 or complete integrating WPTools and release the whole thing as 7.5. At the moment, I’m leaning towards the latter idea since I’ve just realized that the planned feature list is going to be huge and that there are going to be some major changes – so that would mean a long beta cycle or releasing all the features in bits and pieces in incremental versions till we hit 8.0 and that looks to be a better idea at the moment to me.

However as it may be, since the new entry field is going to be WYSIWYG, I had to add a lot of new toolbar buttons for text formatting but I couldn’t get these buttons to work properly till yesterday. I finally figured out what was wrong and had the bold and italics options working. This incidentally will invalidate the built-in custom snippets bold and italic functions. I am not sure how I’m going to handle this but I have a feeling that it will somehow tie into what I’m going to talk about next – the plain HTML editing option. I was going to include an HTML editing option anyway, but I was going to make the WYSIWYG editing the default. However, talking to Jordan made me realize that some people might actually prefer to edit in HTML without all the spiffy WYSIWYG goodness <g> – so now I’m thinking of how I could set it up so that people can choose what their default editing option in Blog is to be – for the moment this is not going to be a major problem with the UI but it will become a bit more complicated when I merge in BlogMan. Guess I’ll just have to look at the UI a lot more closely :p

Another problem (albeit a minor one) is doing nice icons for all the new toolbar options :-) Sinesolis did such a great job with the spiffy, true-colour icons for Blog that I feel ashamed to include drab monotonous icons for underline, ordered list, unordered list etc. along with the existing icons. I might try to see if I can do something using Axialis Icon Workshop but if not, I’ll simply not bother with it for the moment and go with whatever icons I can get and figure out what to do once I actually have a release going :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:25 am  |  3 Comments

April 29, 2003

Blog 7.11 is in the works – the main defects to be fixed were external Blog tags not being parsed for the archive table of contents and cut and paste via keyboard shortcuts behaving weirdly due to the fact that I had bound CTRL+C and CTRL+V to the entry component and so it was overriding the general cut and paste functionality. I fixed all that and as a good measure threw in a feature that a user requested – the ability to define the maximum number of posts on the main page up to a maximum of 9999 instead of the current value of a maximum of 99. Now I’d never thought of having more than 10-20 posts on the main page due to the load time problems but if you do only one or two lines of entries per day, I guess 99 entries might not be that big. Anyway, if somebody wants it and it doesn’t create a problem for the other users, then my policy is to add the feature in :-)

I was about ready to do a release when I decided to hold the release till I can figure out whether adding support for the MS Media Player 9.0 blogging add-in was going to be too hard. However, I never got around to checking into that completely since I got side-tracked by another issue – that of adding support for other language fonts, those using unicode. I’d done bits and pieces of stuff to add other language support at different times but never had somebody to test it out and let me know if it all worked when it was implemented since the person who had requested the feature was long gone by then. This time I had Daijoubu, who was willing to help me with getting Japanese font support working with Blog. I thought it might be fairly simple, switched the PlusMemo component to a unicode one and sent off a new build to Daijoubu. While that build was fine for making entries, they still weren’t being saved as unicode and I realized that all the internal string manipulation functions were ANSI and that they would have to be changed to unicode as well before true unicode support was possible.

Since this seems like a fairly big job, I am kind of inclined to go with an interim 7.11 build and then go for 8.0 for the unicode support or to do a 7.5 build which would have the WYSIWYG entry box and unicode support before going onto the full 8.0 release. I don’t know which route I’ll take but I am certainly back to coding Blog – at least in a hesitant kind of way :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:25 am  |  No Comments

April 28, 2003

Look and learn?

I was talking to Jordan yesterday and she made a remark in talking about little girls dressing up in revealing clothes that made me start thinking along a completely different track. What she said was (and I quote) "Men will always look. Period. Always. It’s a thing with you guys – you are visual creatures. Many years of study and porn have proven this." But what started me thinking was not so much the "little girl" angle as much as the "men will always look" bit. I told her at that point that as a person who does not *always* look, I resented her remark and no, I’m not trying to sound holier-than-thou or to say that I’m some kind of a saint (far from it :p) but I was curious as to how others looked at this particular issue – both men and women.

Now when I’m in love with somebody, I just don’t look – it’s automatic … not something I force myself to do consciously. And to me, that seems natural – if you love somebody, you obviously should be happy being with that person, want to be with that person – so why would you go looking at anybody else? Of course, I too look at a pretty girl if I’m not otherwise attached and as Jordan said, I think that bit at least is natural – it’s just the *always* look part that bothered me :-) Incidentally, this is something that I’ve noticed about other people – that they might be in love with somebody but that does not stop them from drooling over somebody else. Is that normal? Is that how everybody else behaves? I don’t know … I’m just confused and trying to understand. I can always argue on the other hand that there is nothing wrong in just looking – it’s just that I don’t know how a majority of people look at this issue.

Now I’m not talking about being possessive and not wanting your partner to look at anybody else. I’ve gone through that in my own time. I have been in a relationship where I was faced with both extremes – this girl didn’t want me to even talk to any girl online (let alone look mind you) while she wanted to be free to do whatever she wanted to do – including go out to bars and dance with other guys … all this while claiming passionate love for me mind you. I never could reconcile that attitude with love. And of course, in my time, I’ve been guilty of being extremely possessive so I certainly can’t claim to have been so innocent myself but again, this is not what I’m talking about when I talk about the "looking" thing. I’m not talking about not doing something because your partner does not like it or because it is considered bad form – but rather, not doing it because you naturally don’t feel like it. But again, this might simply be a matter of individual preference and if so, all I can say is each to their own :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 8:18 am  |  8 Comments

April 27, 2003

Guys, girls and the Gilmores

I often talk about "The Gilmore Girls" – it’s funny, quirky and in a sneaky sort of way it satirizes humanity. All the people in Stars Hollow (that’s the village shown in the show) have some sort of a quirk and while it might seem impossible for so many idisyncratic people to be in one place at the same time, if you think about it, you will realize that most of these quirks are actually exaggerations of characteristics displayed by people all around us. Be that as may be, I’m going to talk about "The Gilmore Girls" in relation to relationships, yet once again :p

I’ve talked before about how Rory while in a relationship with her boyfriend Dean, seems to be attracted to Jess at the same time but seems to be unaware of what all this really implies. (Yes, I know I’m talking about characters in a TV show as if they are real people – bear with me … or you know where the X is, click it :p) This is the kind of attitude that I just can’t put up with though I can find explanations for Rory’s behaviour, I still get angry about it since this is the kind of thing I’d hate to have happen to me in a relationship. But first the background – Rory, is a very intelligent girl – quiet, bookish and dreaming of going to Harvard one day – who normally spends her lunch time with a book and her lunch. Dean on the other hand, is your average active teenager – into sports, cars but not really interested in books and stuff. Their relationship seemed to have nothing in common but still they seemed to like being with each other and very much in love. In to this scenario stepped Jess, dark and brooding, always in trouble but with a hidden-side because he’s actually very intelligent and widely-read.

As the last few episodes progressed, it has become more and more evident that Rory likes spending time with Jess and while Dean can see her slipping away, all he can seem to do is cling on to her even harder – which just drives Rory even further away. All this is about par for normal human relations but what I find reprehensible is the fact that Rory just won’t admit to even herself the fact that she likes Jess and that she now finds nothing in common with Dean. To me, it seems that she should simply tell Dean how she feels and move on since that does not keep Dean hanging on, hoping against hope that things will work out and will save him further heartache when she finally does tell him that it’s over – as she eventually will have to. Yes, this is a TV show and a character has to behave the way it is written but then, I think the writing is wrong – or maybe they thought that Rory would be the kind of person who would delude themselves as to the true state of affairs, but even that seems doubtful given how intelligent and mature she is in other areas. So the verdict? I’m just sorry for poor Dean – but then again, given that I’m a guy, most people would say that that is exactly how I would react :p

On the other hand, I watched a Tamil movie today where this guy and girl get married but the girl finds out after the marriage that the guy had had a child from a previous relationship and she divorces him – it’s a cultural thing, "society" in Asia expects the woman to be "pure" (their words not mine) when they get married and while it does not apply so much towards the man, there is a bit of it there too. Even after the divorce, they continue to be friends and both the guy and girl discover that they love each other – another one of those Asian things, you *usually* don’t know your spouse before marriage. Each one is on the verge of telling the other about their love but circumstances (and perhaps their own fears of being hurt) conspire to make them think that the other person loves somebody else. So the guy tries to do what he thinks is best and tries to get the woman married off to the guy he thinks that she loves and the woman tries to do the same for the guy. In the end of course, they discover the truth and get re-married.

Now that is a state of things I can more readily identify with – maybe it’s all cultural and I can’t understand the Western viewpoint but can empathize with the Indian perspective. I really don’t know if that is the case. But I do understand how you could love somebody but yet would let them go silently – it’s because you love them and want them to be happy and while to tell them first might be wise, there is also the fear that you might put an obligation on them to return your love (well maybe obligation is too strong – just that you would be burdening them to some extent) and you don’t want that because you love them. So you remain silent and try to get them together with the one you think they love. As I said, maybe I’m conditioned but *I* certainly prefer the second story to the first …

April 26, 2003

Dilemmas for dawdlers

My grandfather is on his deathbed – or so my mothers says. Of course she told me the same thing last week or rather, the week before. So what has this got to do with anything? Well, it’s got to do with a war of principles. My mother wants me to go see my grandfather before he passes away. Now normally, I would have no problem with this except for the fact that there is some hypocrisy involved here. My grandfather is not exactly the nicest of men – he believed that money ruled everything and spent his life in the pursuit of money, he tried to control his family by way of his wealth and even during the last few years, while he was bed-ridden, one of his chief topics of conversation was money – who made how much and so on.

Now I won’t try to judge him, he is entitled to live his life his own way – as we all should be able to do. He did what he did and I have no problems with that nor do I hate him. In fact, I’ve gone to see him during the last few years whenever I could when my brother and my father wouldn’t for their own reasons – I have no idea what the reasons are, I never asked them since I figured that their reasons were their own, who am I to question them? My mother did visit him from time to time while he was sick but I don’t know how many of her sisters did or how many of my cousins did. However, now that he’s on his deathbed (or at least seriously ill …) I suddenly get asked (or rather, *almost* told …) by mother to go see him. Again, I can’t say for certain that *is* the reason – but it smacks to me as if trying to make me conform with what’s *expected*. Here, everybody gathers at somebody’s deathbed when they are near death because otherwise "people" would think that they abandoned their relatives and didn’t care for them.

This to me is total hypocrisy! If you don’t care enough to see somebody and to talk to them and to be with them while they are alive, why would you suddenly change your actions when they are dead or ready to die? I don’t agree with that sort of action and will actively change my behaviour to not do that sort of thing. If my grandfather wanted to see me, I guess I would go but I know he couldn’t care less. Plus, "seeing him one last time before he dies" makes no sense to me – I’d rather remember him as he was in his prime – shouting, laughing, being who he was, rather than the way he is now – bed-ridden and in pain. Am I just justifying my own refusal to be at my grandfather’s side when he’s passing away? Maybe I am – I can’t say for certainty that I’m not making excuses – in fact, this is what I’ll probably be told by my parents and others – that I’m merely making excuses. But to me, I’m doing what I think is right.

In the end, this is all any of us can do – be true to ourselves since we cannot please all the people in the world anyway. My two cardinal rules are: be true to yourself and don’t hurt others if you can help it. In this case, I think I am abiding by those as far as I can though I am not so sure that I might not be hurting my parents by my actions … Ah well … nothing is ever easy, is it?

April 25, 2003

Raving rant ….

Sometimes things just keep on getting weirder – or maybe I am paranoid and imagine that they are weird to begin with :p I usually do my blogging in the morning before I leave for work but for the last couple of days, I can’t dial-in to my ISP at all from home in the mornings. Enemy action? Probably not – but I immediately start thinking that it’s weird that I have no dial-up in the mornings now but things are fine in the evening – at least it was yesterday. Maybe the guy in charge just sleeps through the night and does not get up till about 8 o’clock or so and by that time, I’m already at work. Another mystery to be solved … one of these days :p

I use BlogMan to make these posts since it gives me the familiar interface of Blog and provides spell-check and a thesaurus while letting me post to my Movable Type installation on my server. However, I discovered yesterday that I can’t retrieve older posts from the server (posts that I did not make from this machine – otherwise the post would be in BlogMan of course …) because the latest release of Movable Type has changed some of the API functions. Argh! Why can’t they make up their freaking minds in the first place so that I don’t have to keep on updating the code? Now I’ll have to figure out which version of MT is on the server and depending on that, call a different version of the API function – if that is even possible that is!! Sorry, I’m calm now …. and barely frothing at the mouth :p Oh well, another bit of code to do and I just don’t feel like coding. I’d like to roll into a ball and just lie there dreaming and thinking … but oh well, we can’t always have what we want :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:46 am  |  No Comments

April 24, 2003

Prose, Poetry and Philosophies …

I’ve actually become kind of stable again – and that’s a scary thought in and of itself :p I’ve had a better night of sleep than I’ve been having for the last few days, realized why exactly my slumbers have been so restless and have also come out with all of that if with no new insights but at least with the confirmed conviction that we have to treat the world simply as with the outlook that "people are people", that each one of us is different and has different reasons for doing what we do and while we might understand the actions of others, that it never pays to try to define an analogue between ourselves and another person and try to define their reasoning that way :p

However, the preceding nights of sleeplessness did allow me to think and during one of those long hours of lying in bed willing slumber to come to me, I began thinking of all those things that have influenced my philosophy about life and I realized that to a great extent my life has been shaped by stories. OK, now I’m mixing things up – at that point, the thing I realized was that there was a lot of poetry involved in my philosophy, the bit about stories came later when I thought more about it but it made better narrative sense to begin with stories :p Ah well, let me do it the way I originally thought it out – to heck with narrative sense :p

Poetry has always had the power to inspire me, to make me think and to define how I conduct myself in life. There is Rudyard Kipling’s "If" which has given me lines such as "walk with kings nor lose the common touch", "make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss, and lose and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss" to follow as axioms in life. I just quoted those from memory since once I knew the whole poem by heart but have just gone back and re-read it and see that there are many more lines but that I might also have fallen down on some of the advice. But the poem is beautiful and it has made a lot of sense to me in the past and it still does. But there are others like James Henry Leigh Hunt’s "Abou Ben Adam" which defined my thinking about religion, God and humanity; Percy Bysshe Shelley’s "Ozymandias of Egypt" (and of course, it’s prose counterpart that I always remember as "This Too Shall Pass") and Robert Frost’s "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" has defined how I try to meet problems and perceive myself and what I do; and of course Robert Frost’s "Mending Wall" which defines my relationship with most people – though I might have taken the words slightly differently than Frost intended them to be :p

I was thinking about all of this later and I realized that stories had influenced my course in life as much as poetry had – stories like the ancient tales of mankind in the forms of Greek/Roman, Norse, Hindu mythology; stories from books that I’ve read, movies and heck even comics – "with great power comes great responsibility" :-) This makes me wonder though, when you base your whole life on works of fiction, does your life become a fiction too? :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:35 am  |  No Comments

April 23, 2003

Reality and reliability …

Maybe it’s because I’ve been running on less sleep than usual but reality has begun to wear pretty thin for me recently :p Trish, in discussing a different post I’d made earlier, made the comment that the difference between reality and dreaming was that reality seemed to be "heavier". While this made perfect sense at that point, now even reality has begun to seem very light and insubstantial. Certain things which happened over the week seem to be just figments of my imagination and I keep wondering if they happened at all or if I simply imagined them? If I didn’t have concrete evidence to the fact it did indeed happen, I’d be even questioning my sanity at this moment … actually, that’s not true, I’ve always questioned my sanity – but then again, I have always questioned the sanity of the rest of the world too :p

I know this is familiar grounds – me debating reality and whether we can believe what we sense as being our environment or events taking place around us. One of my theories is that this whole world and everything that happens to me might all be in my head – hence the name for the site -. Some of the things that happens to me might actually vindicate this theory since some of it seems to be pure wish fulfillment but then again, since some of the things I most ardently wish for seem to come almost to hand and then always be snatched away might seem to indicate that I might actually be somebody else’s figment of imagination and that they might be having fun at my expense by bringing my dreams close to fulfillment and then snatching it away again – like king Tantalus of Greek myth who was fated for eternity to be in a pool of crystal clear water and have delicious grapes growing right over his head but have both the water and the grapes recede out of reach whenever he reached for either. Yes, it’s just me being self-pitying … things aren’t that bad :p

All of us have problems of one kind or another to deal with. It’s just that at times our problems seem so huge that they completely obscure the fact that others have problems too. This is mostly due to the fact that our troubles are so close to us whereas other people’s troubles seem so far away. However, sometimes if we pay any attention to another person just once in our lives, we might discover that compared to their problems, ours are nothing at all. As long as we remember this and remain strong, nothing can overcome us – whatever life, ourselves or the gods throw at us … or so I sometimes think … but then again, that’s when I’m not feeling the threads of reality to be so tenuous that I think I might drift away in just a moment :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:13 pm  |  4 Comments

Things have been rather chaotic, hectic and a bit confused as you might find from some of my entries on SM and I’ve sort of fallen out of the habit of making my daily entries here – especially given that I didn’t have much in the way of tech stuff to talk about. I haven’t really felt like coding and so have been taking it easy, dabbling in video, audio and most recently Flash. I’ve always felt ambivalent about Flash since while it did look nifty, I just couldn’t seem to accept as part of “pure” web design. So, while I’d think of using Flash, in the end I’d steer clear of it. However, a friend needed to work with Flash recently and so I got involved and in the process I actually came to do a bit of work with Flash, though it was not Macromedia’s product that I used but rather Swish. It’s a neat product and pretty easy to use and while I don’t think I’d still be tempted to use Flash since my taste in web design runs towards the KISS principle, I can at least pretend to myself that I know something about Flash now :p

I’ve also been contemplating getting back into coding but wasn’t sure what project to take up – I know that Blog 8.0 needs to be worked on but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get back to Blog immediately and so was actually contemplating the often mentioned PostMan, which is actually an e-mail client. The greatest problem that I’d had with PostMan had been the slow HTML rendering but now I thought I had a solution which might overcome that problem. But I was debating whether to try that or get back into Blog and so did neither till one of the Blog users, Lena, decided the matter by reporting a problem with archive table of contents templates. I started looking into the problem and discovered that there was a bug in the code that needed to be fixed. I fixed that but since I was already on a roll, I decided to fix a few more issues.

A couple of bug fixes later, I had a release that I was beginning to name Blog 7.11 when I received an e-mail from Collin where he mentioned that it would be pretty nifty if Blog could support the new Windows Media Player 9.0 option to display it’s playlist in blogs. I had seen the blogging add-in for Media Player 9.0 mentioned on the MS site but had not given much attention till now but now I went over there and downloaded Media Player 9.0 and the blogging add-in. However, I got no chance to look into it any further since I was distracted by other stuff but if it looks as if it’s a simple thing to implement, I’ll probably add that feature to Blog 7.11 before I release it :-)

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Posted by Fahim at 6:00 pm  |  1 Comment

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