August 18, 2002

Ludlum’s current book that I’m reading “The Prometheus Deception” is indeed proving to be pretty good stuff. Maybe it’s not “hist best thriller yet” as one reviewer is quoted on the back cover – especially since that would make it his best thriller ever as he’s gone off this mortal coil. While I liked the last two books I read, “The Matarese Countdown” and “The Sigma Protocol”, they didn’t have the page turning quality that I was used to with some of the earlier Ludlums. But it’s back in spades with “The Prometheus Deception” 🙂 In fact, I was hard pressed to go to bed last night instead of continuing to read till “just the next chapter” :p I guess this is due to the fact that he’s at last got a conspiracy that I can’t predict in advance or maybe it’s just that he’s got a tangled relationship around the protagonist and two women – the first his wife who left him suddenly and the other a beautiful agent who entered his life just as suddenly. Whatever the reasons, I have a feeling that I’ll spend most of today reading 🙂

In fact, “The Prometheus Deception” is so good that it has almost brought back a bad habit of mine – reading ahead. At one time, it was so bad that I’d start a book, read the last page, skim back a few pages and then skim back a few more and so go on till I knew quite a bit of the story and then stop reading! This went on for quite a long time till I finally had to put an end to it by consciously forcing myself to read books from the beginning to the end and for a while it was really hard to do so! Anyway, I’m going back to my book, coding will have to wait till next weekend :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:28 am  |  No Comments

August 17, 2002

Has it ever happened to you that you’d hear about a movie, look at the title or read a plot summary and then decide that it didn’t look too good and then later find that it was excellent and kick yourself for not watching it earlier? Seems to happen to me quite a bit – but with a slight twist in that I know that the movie would be good, buy the DVD and then can’t summon up enough enthusiasm to watch it after the fact :p “Bridget Jones’ Diary” was one such movie since I’d bought the DVD weeks (if not months) ago and then I didn’t watch it for the longest time and then found it to be excellent. Now the same thing has happened with “K-PAX”.

I like movies with Kevin Spacey since his acting is always top-notch but I never seemed to find the correct time to watch “K-PAX” since I always seemed to find myself in the mood for a mind-numbing action flick rather than a quiet contemplative movie like “K-PAX”. In fact, I was almost going to watch “The Replacements” again today instead of “K-PAX” but changed my mind at the last moment – and am extremely glad that I did so! It’s a great movie, some might find it a bit boring since there is no fast paced action but it is another one of those great human movies that make us think about what it means to be human and how we deal with the world and the people around us 🙂 The movie sets the mood (at least for me…) from the opening sequence itself – the music and the slow fading in of names as well as the opening shot itself sort of prepares you for what follows and the story never let down till the very ending. I loved every moment of it and am now looking forward to watching the movie again with the director’s commentary – but not just now since I’ll probably have to go in to work today to attend to a couple of things. But I guess I’ll watch the alternate ending before I do :p

Posted by Fahim at 9:15 am  |  No Comments

Blog 6.1 is finally out 🙂 Actually, Eddie over at BetaNews released it before I could announce it since I had the files all uploaded to the server yesterday itself and he asked me nicely and I said that he should :p I have to come home and do all the site changes etc. before I can make an announcement and so usually for me, a new release is a two day process – the first day I create the build, update the docs and upload it to the server from work and on the second day I announce it 🙂 Incidentally, the three people who tried out beta builds of 6.1 (that’s you – Jason, Tyran and Phil <g>) should not try updating their Blog setup using the installer. You should run the upgrade and extract the files to a different directory and then copy over only the TXT and EXE files – this is especially important if you’ve defined new snippets.

I’ve also updated the list of sites using Blog with a few new entrants and added a few more questions to the FAQ that might be helpful to somebody out there 🙂 Not that I see many people reading the FAQ, they seem to be content to simply shoot off an e-mail to me and wait for my response rather than to go do a little bit of reading. While I don’t mind helping people, I hate it when they don’t take the time to refer to the available resources before coming to me – so I’ve now started simply pointing people back to the FAQ if the question is answered there :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:32 am  |  No Comments

August 16, 2002

Don’t you just hate it when they release a revised version of a book with extra stuff in it and you’ve already got the older version? I guess this is pretty similar to when I buy a DVD and then find out that they are going to release a special edition with lots of added features on but at least with books this hasn’t happened so much in the past. Maybe they’ve decided to take a leaf out of the DVD makers’ book because it seems to be happening much more frequently these days. As some of you may know, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan and also a hardback hater since I prefer the less bulky paperback (yes, those two facts do have something to do with my rant – let me get to it :p). I’d bought PTerry’s (incidentally, Pratchett’s called that by his fans – don’t ask <g>) “The Last Hero” a while back in hard cover since it was an illustrated book and historically, they haven’t released the illustrated hardcovers of PTerry’s works in paperback (at least not with the illustrations ….) But now what do I hear? I hear that not only are they releasing a paperback edition with illustrations, they are adding 16 pages of new illustrations! Argh!! Save me from marketers and people out to make a buck!!! The same thing happened (if I’m not mistaken) with PTerry’s “Science of the Discworld” – or something similar, I forget the exact title – since they added two extra chapters to the paperback edition. What a gyp!!

But enough of my ranting, since most probably it’ll do no good anyway – not unless it inspires somebody to start a global network of people who’ll boycott all such consumer-gouging efforts by marketers :p I received an e-mail from somebody saying that they’d settled on Blog as a corporate-wide tool and wanted to register it and pay for it. I sent him the usual e-mail about how Blog is freeware and that if he’s worried about the nag screen, then he can simply purchase the relevant component for me and that I would release a new version immediately with no nag screen … No word from him since then :p Ah well … guess everybody will have to put up with the nag screen for the rest of their lives – or till the developer decides it’s not worth it to have the nag-enabled version and puts a timer or something on it :p I’d be up a creek with no paddle (or even a canoe for that matter <g>) if that happens since I still haven’t found a suitable alternative which has all the features of PlusMemo and is free. I guess, we’ll deal with it when we get to it.

Did one more bug fix in Blog yesterday – The link to older entries dialog now displays dates that have entries in bold. It makes it much easier to select older entries to link to instead of having to hunt around from date to date. I think that about completes the work on Blog 6.1 and I should be able to make a release today. As long as I don’t get bogged down at work – guess we’ll see.

Posted by Fahim at 6:43 am  |  No Comments

August 15, 2002

Another couple of bugs squished in Blog :p Tyran noticed that the current date does not get displayed as bold when you make an entry unless you switch to a different month and back – I knew of this problem but was hoping nobody would notice it :p Ah well … fixed that yesterday and in the process created a new method to bold all dates with entries for the current month so that I can always call that method from anywhere – in case I find another such instance. In fact, I think I have already found a use for that procedure since I noticed later that the link to an older entry dialog’s calendar does not display dates in bold when there are entries for that day 🙁 Now that I’ve gotten used to that feature, it’s irritating when I find it missing :p Of course, since the link to older entries dialog is on a different form, I guess I will have to simply replicate the procedure on that form as well. Ah well … at least that’s another fix that somebody won’t have to point out to me 🙂

The other bug was something that Nigel had discovered a while back and had mentioned to me but I hadn’t been able to isolate the cause till yesterday. Turns out that if you have a Blog tag in the entry itself (the only two tags you can currently have in the entry are BlogExt and BlogImgDir) and the line with the tag is the last one in the entry, the last character of that line gets dropped. This was due to a bug in the original BlogExt tag parsing code which got replicated when I added BlogImgDir handling since I simply copied and modified the code – that’ll teach me not to copy in the future :p The funniest thing is that I received an e-mail (actually two e-mails <g>) from Tyran today about the same bug 🙂 Fortunately, it’s fixed and we can move on to the next bug … whenever it appears that is!

Posted by Fahim at 6:49 am  |  2 Comments

August 14, 2002

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my colleagues (a member of my team actually …) and he invited some of us from work for dinner. I was supposed to go there with my friend Robin and so I went over to his place to meet up with him. His Mom asked me where I was going and I said that it was to a birthday party and she goes “But Christopher said that you were going to a farewell party?” (his Mom calls him Christopher because that’s his given name – Robin is actually a sort of a non-hyphenated combination last name …). I knew there must have been some reason for Robin to say that he was going to a farewell party and so I tried to sort things out by appearing to be a total git who didn’t know why the party was being held :p Since, I normally appear scatterbrained to most people anyway – it wasn’t too hard <vbg>

Incidentally, Robin and his family are Jehovah’s Witnesses and they had some people from their church over when I went over there … So when I asked Robin about it later, he tells me that members of their faith don’t celebrate birthdays and while he and his family aren’t really strict about it themselves, that his family doesn’t like to sort of lose face in front of other members of the church and so that he’d told them that he was going to a farewell party to ease the situation. And then of course, I had to come along, blurt out the birthday party bit and spoil the whole thing :p Of course, Robin’s Mom called him and asked him about the whole thing later while I was there and he was able to patch things up by telling her that I was totally clueless about most things and that I’d got it wrong <g>

Anyway, we went for the party and had a pretty good time. Of course, the bad part was that I didn’t get home till after 12:30am and then had to get up again around 6 o’clock for morning prayers 🙁 I know I’m going to have to make up for the lost sleep some time this week unless I’m to walk around like a zombie 🙂 The good thing of course is that the weekend is almost here … Darn, where does the week go these days?

Posted by Fahim at 6:57 am  |  No Comments

August 13, 2002

The much anticipated (I don’t really think so :p) and the much delayed Blog 6.1 still keeps on trudging forward. Tyran found a bug with the new BlogNext and BlogPrevious tag code in that sometimes it points to the main page instead of the next or previous page. I did some debugging and realized that this was because of a logical bug in the code which would mostly crop up only if you were using Monthly archives. That’s fixed now. At the same time, Tyran suggested an improvement to the HTML code snippet feature – to place the cursor between the beginning and end tags if no text was selected in the edit window. Did that too. I think I am ready to release Blog 6.1 unless Tyran (or Phil – to whom I still haven’t got the beta yet actually :p) find any more bugs.

I’d like to run through a full private beta cycle before I release Blog 6.1 since that way I can be sure of not having to do an interim bug-fix release while I work on Blog 7.0. The next release is going to involve quite a few major changes and depending on what has been completed – it might be awkward to try to release a bug-fix release in the middle of development. Of course, there is the alternative of fixing the code from the 6.1 release and then migrating the changes to the work-in-progress code as well but I always hated that approach since there is the possibility of missing something and introducing a new bug. Anyway, everything’s moving along – slowly yet surely.

Incidentally, for those of you waiting for PostMan – no, that project has not been dropped :p Nevrona released Indy 9.0 final a few weeks ago and so I can really get to work on PostMan but I want to do the Blog 7.0 release before I get to that just because of the enormity of the changes for Blog 7.0 – I just don’t think I can hold all those ideas inside my head :p Plus, I don’t anticipate any major changes to Blog after 7.0 – at least, not at the moment <g> – and so I’ll have more time to devote to another major project such as PostMan 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:18 am  |  3 Comments

August 12, 2002

Another fairly busy weekend :p Had an office party Friday evening since five or six people are leaving the company and they wanted to cut costs by holding a joint farewell party <g> The party went on till late but I was tired by midnight and decided to get out – guess I’m getting too old for these shindigs :p Got home and got to bed around one o’ clock but had to get up again around six o’clock for prayers. Went right back to sleep after prayers and didn’t get up till around 9:30am 🙂 I was still recovering from the party though and I don’t think I did much except to read “The Eleventh Commandment”. If I feel this sore and lethargic after a night out where I did not drink, wonder how the ones who really drank beyond their limits feel the next day? Fortunately, my friend who tapped out last time and started puking wasn’t that drunk this time – in fact, I dropped him home before I got home 🙂

Sunday was again quiet. I begun a new Ludlum that I didn’t know was in my library since my brother had bought it while I was in the US. It’s called “The Prometheus Deception” and is billed as “the best Ludlum ever!” on the back cover. Not sure how well it stands up to the rep though since I haven’t even gotten beyond the first chapter yet. The reason I haven’t had much time to read was because I had to attend another wedding! It must be the season for weddings since my friend Imthi got married last week, I’ve heard of at least a couple of more weddings this week and then had to go for this particular one where our neighbour’s son was getting married. I went because my Mom wanted to go but didn’t have anybody to go with but didn’t expect anybody to be there that I knew but strangely enough, turns out that I know the groom :p No, I’m not being facetious here – though they are our neighbours, I’ve never seen the son since I was abroad when my parents moved in to our current house and by the time I came back, the son was abroad. So I’d never seen him before but I realized at the wedding that he had been part of a company which supplied computers to my former (and current) employer. Guess, it’s a small world after all 🙂

Somebody requested photographs from the last wedding. I would have taken some if I’d known anybody would be interested 🙂 Of course, this time I couldn’t take any since it was a stranger’s wedding (or at least I thought it was and didn’t take my camera :p) Maybe the next one – whenever that comes up 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:29 am  |  No Comments

August 9, 2002

A friend of mine wants to do a local version of “The Wheel of Fortune” on TV and since they don’t want to spend a fortune to build the set <g>, they decided to do the puzzle squares by having them projected on the wall from a computer screen 🙂 So guess who was asked to come up with the actual program that would display the puzzle squares on the computer screen? Yes, moi :p I’ve been working on a prototype for the past couple of days and had something workable – nothing major, a full-screen app that simply draws a grid on the computer screen. You can customize the background, the fill color for the squares and the font that the letters are displayed in.

I showed it to my friend and he agrees that it’s on the correct track but he wants actual squares instead of a grid, he wants the squares with a correctly identified letter to blink and reveal a letter at a time instead of simply revealing the letters as they are typed and a host of other modifications. Not really sure that it’s an interesting project at this point since there isn’t too much of a challenge to it and I’ve done most of the basic work. I have a feeling that I’ll have to change the way certain things are done, however. Currently, I keep track of each typed letter and if it is in the current word and is not a duplicate, I add it to an array which is used later in displaying the letters. Since I’ll be drawing squares, I feel that it’ll probably be easier to come up with a structure to keep the coordinates of each square rather than to calculate them on the go each time. If I create such a structure, I could also probably keep track of the letters displayed in each square and whether they are visible or not …

Posted by Fahim at 6:32 am  |  4 Comments

August 8, 2002

I’ve actually made some headway in releasing Blog 6.1 🙂 I was able to find and fix the bug with customized code snippets not staying for long on the toolbar but disappearing after a couple of restarts of Blog – of course, I just thought of another possible scenario! What if there was no icon defined for a custom snippet? Does the caption display or does it become a blank button? I guess I’d better test that today too!

Tyran pointed out a couple of bugs that needed to be fixed as well. Tyran mentioned that Blog gives an AV (Access Violation) each time he starts the latest version – a beta build of 6.1 – and I realized that to do an upgrade to 6.1, you’ll need to delete your Blog.cfg file and lose all toolbar customizations! Sorry 🙁 In case, I forget to mention this in the docs, remember to delete the Blog.cfg file if you are upgrading :p Tyran also mentioned that you can now run multiple instances of Blog without any problems and I realized that I’d changed the component which makes sure that only one instance of Blog is running (actually, I’d made the changes to be used in Scope …) and that I’d never integrated the changes into Blog. Now it works fine again – though not quite transparently since you can see the second instance start up and then disappear. Oh well, eh? :p

Incidentally, I notice that Delphi 7.0 is going to be released soon. I’d realized that Delphi 7.0 should be around the corner since JBuilder 7.0 is already out (and I’m using it :p) but I couldn’t find any reference to JBuilder 7.0 on Borland’s site and so thought maybe it wouldn’t be for a while yet. Today, I read on the Addict (the spell-checker component I use …) newsgroup that they are expecting Delphi 7.0 soon. Wonder what the new changes are? I guess, I’ll upgrade anyway – if I can get my hands on Delphi 7.0 that is :p – but I always like to know what’s new. I hope that they’ve fixed the type library importing for the HTML library under IE 6.0 since I can’t do any work on Scope till they do. It was supposedly fixed with Delphi 6.0 SP2 but it still doesn’t work for me 🙁 Maybe it’s because I’m running XP? I don’t know …

Posted by Fahim at 6:32 am  |  No Comments

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