September 17, 2002

I’ve been trying to help Jen to upgrade to Blog 7.0 and all I’ve succeeded in doing so far is to wipe out all her entries. I feel terrible since I know how I would feel if I lost all my Blog entries and had to enter all of them from the archives. And I didn’t even ask her to take a backup when we started the archive process because I was so sure that it would be a breeze. I guess it’s true – pride comes before a fall :p She says that she’s got a backup and so I’m hoping that we’ll be able to recover her posts today – guess we’ll see …

On the coding side of things, I’ve actually got Blog 7.0 Beta 4 ready as well. Beta 4 is all bug-fixes (unless I slip in this one extra feature that I’ve been meaning to add but have forgotten to …) but the major change is in the installer. There will not be an upgrade build from Beta 4 onwards since I’ve completely redone the installer so that it will be a smart installer. It will check each and every data file and copy over data files only if they aren’t present – this way any new database files will be added but existing ones will not be overwritten. Since this makes the options of a Full Install and an Upgrade install void, I have taken out the install choices and made it a much more streamlined installer. I intend to do a few more changes to the installer, test it a bit more and then release Beta 4.

So what was the feature that I forgot to add? The ability to orders posts any way you want – currently you can have it either in normal order or reverse order by date and time. But you can’t have posts by reverse order by date but normal order by time or vice versa. So I want to change the existing reverse order option so that it actually becomes too options – reverse order for date and reverse order for time and depending on how the combinations fall, that is how the posts will be ordered. Most probably, that will make it to Beta 4 as well – unless of course, I forget again :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:50 am  |  3 Comments

September 16, 2002

It’s 3:00 am in the morning and I can’t sleep – so I thought I’d announce Blog 7.0 Beta 3 :p But first, an apology to all the people that I ranted about yesterday saying that nobody read the posts here before upgrading – I had totally forgotten that BetaNews also hosts a download of Blog and that people who download from there wouldn’t see any of my posts. I’ve asked Eddie at BetaNews to put in some basic instructions for upgrading users who might want to use the installer version of Blog to upgrade – hopefully, that’ll prevent any further disasters or loss of data.

Very important note for existing Blog 7.0 beta users! This upgrade should not be installed on top of your existing Blog installation! The upgrade contains some files which will overwrite certain data files – I couldn’t figure out how to do it in a uniform manner that would not mess it up for everybody and so had to come up with this not so optimal method. First, run the self-extracting exe for the upgrade and extract to a temporary folder. Now copy over only the Blog.exe file from there to your Blog directory. These instructions only apply to existing Blog 7.0 Beta users (Blog version 6.90 and above …) If you are a Blog 6.0 user who wants to upgrade, you can simply extract the upgrade to your Blog folder but still I’d advice extracting to a temporary folder and then copying over since that way you’ll always know what’s being overwritten and stop if it looks as if something is wrong. If uncertain, ask me …

So what’s new in Beta 3? First of all, there was a bug that was reported by Dominion even before the release of Blog 7.0 – about custom snippet toolbar buttons disappearing when you define a new custom snippet … or even open the definition dialog and click OK, for that matter. I had waited till I got Blog 7.0 out the door before tackling this problem and it turned out to be a doozy to fix but it’s done now – at least I think so. Lemme know if I broke anything in the process :p I’ve also fixed the major bug in Beta 2 where you couldn’t post more than one entry without an error message popping up. I think I also might have fixed the Invalid Media problem with backups but not too sure on that one since I don’t have the problem on any of my machines – turns out that the compression component I was using had a patch to fix that particular problem and I hadn’t applied the patch. Now I’ve applied the patch and so let me know if the problem persists.

Incidentally, I’ve pulled most downloads (especially the Blog 7.0 Betas) from the Tripod site since that’s my main site but they were constantly suspending the site temporarily due to excess bandwidth usage. So if you run into any 404’s with Tripod (as you will <g>), simply download the beta from one of the mirror sites listed in the sidebar.

Posted by Fahim at 3:02 am  |  2 Comments

September 15, 2002

First of all, I’d like to ask the people who are posting bugs in comments to kindly stop doing so. I would prefer to keep the comments to just … umm… comments <g> and use the forums or direct e-mail to me for discussing bugs. This way, there is a proper track of it without me (or another user) having to hunt through all the comments to find something. I’ve been receiving quite a few bug reports and I’ll discuss the bugs in a bit (and thank you for all the bug reports, I appreciate them!) but that brings me to another point that’s been bothering me a bit.

When I say “beta release”, I do mean it. It’s partially tested software, could be buggy and you certainly aren’t supposed to install it over your production system! I release the software only so that those adventurous souls out there might install it as a *separate copy* and try out the new features and let me know of any bugs they might find because I probably will not discover all the bugs there are because I probably will not use all the different combinations and permutations of features. The other things is, I would expect you to read the notes on these entries here before you install any release – while I do try to keep the documentation updated, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and any important information that I’d want you to know is given right here. So don’t just go and install the release without reading about it first – it just creates too many problems and I just don’t have the time it would take to give support for all the problems you create for yourselves by doing so …

As for the bugs, there seem to be two specific ones at the moment. The backup feature doesn’t seem to work on some machines though I have no idea why and have yet to identify a common-link among the users for whom it doesn’t work. The other one is a bit more serious since it prevents Blog 7.0 Beta 2 from being used in a production-level capacity – you can’t make multiple entries for the same day. I will try to get this fixed and Beta 3 out by tomorrow but remember, beta software is not for everybody :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:58 am  |  No Comments

September 14, 2002

One very important fact that I forgot to mention yesterday when I released the Blog 7.0 Beta is that you have to run Blog in Server mode for anything which relies on e-mail to do the work – such as remote entries, comments and the digest feature. So, if you want comments on your site via Blog, then set Blog to Server mode (as long as you don’t have it auto-publish on timed intervals, Server basically works almost the way Standard mode does except for checking an e-mail account before each publish operation …) and fill in the information for the POP and SMTP servers and the e-mail address asked for – this e-mail address is used to fill in the To: value for comments, digest subscriptions etc. and so is important. Now you should be set to go.

However, I should mention one thing that I keep on forgetting to mention. It would be wisest if you get a separate e-mail address (with POP access not a web based one …) if you’re going to use the comments system or have a heavy-traffic digest list. Why? Because you’re liable to end up with confusion otherwise. Most e-mail clients seem to complain if you try to connect to the same server from two different apps at the same time – so if you have Blog in Server mode and are publishing and your e-mail client is doing an automatic mail check at the same time, the results are going to be unpredictable. Worse yet, if your mail client is set to not leave messages on server (as I would think most people would be apt to …) and you check your mail before Blog does, any Blog relevant e-mails (comments, entries, digest subscriptions) would be lost since Blog will never see them. So to avoid all this confusion, I’d say get a different e-mail address for Blog but then again, if you have a certain way of working and are totally disciplined, you might not have to … But don’t say that I didn’t warn you :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:19 am  |  5 Comments

September 13, 2002

Ok, even though I haven’t got any feed back from the private beta testers yet <g>, I’ve decided to release a public beta of Blog 7.0 🙂 There are several reasons for this: a) I realize that the private beta testers do have their own lives and might not always have the time to do intensive testing b) a larger group of people will always find more bugs more quickly c) I’m using the current build and don’t have any problems with it (but of course, I’m not using any of the newer features :p) d) I realize that there are a lot of people eagerly awaiting the public beta (and one of them’s you, Steve :p). So taking all of that into consideration, I decided that I might as well go for broke and do a public beta – so there it is on the side bar 🙂

A few words of caution before you go ahead and upgrade – or do a completely new install. I’ve included both an installer version and the usual self-extracting upgrade. If you are an existing user, it would be safer to use the self-extracting upgrade than the installer and even if you use the installer, make sure that you select the upgrade option *and* see that the data files option is deselected in the installer. I really wouldn’t want Blog to overwrite your data files. That of course brings us to the second point (or should this be the first point?), always backup your whole Blog directory before an upgrade, just in case …

Anyway, it should be fairly simple for new users since all they have to do is use the installer and then start learning all about Blog while looking out for the bugs in 7.0 :p But for existing users, after the upgrade, take a look at the Blog.txt file (especially the What’s New section and the section which explains the Blog tags since essentially that’s all that’s changed since the last release …) and the new Templates.txt file. The first will explain all the new Blog tags that you can use to get features such as Digest subscription/unsubscription and comments working while the second has basic template examples for all the new types of templates as well as the older journal template with all the new tags put in. So take a look at all that, modify your existing templates and start blogging – and of course, let me know when you find a bug or encounter a problem 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:13 am  |  3 Comments

September 12, 2002

Ran the Blog 7.0 beta through further tests and discovered some major bugs. For instance, there was an infinite loop in the digest sending routine which would keep on sending the same digest version of entries to the list of subscribers ad infinitum – it had sent out around 400 e-mails to me before I realized what was happening and killed Blog :p Fixed that, added a new feature to allow the user to be able to manually send out the current period’s (week or month) digest and did some other minor tweaks and fixes and the next beta was ready. I’ve uploaded it and let the beta testers know but haven’t heard of anything from them yet 🙂

On the other hand, I decided that it was time I upgraded my own personal blog to use Blog 7.0 and I set about it yesterday evening. The conversion went off fine and everything seemed perfectly OK till I noticed a problem – new categories that I added weren’t being immediately displayed; I had to log out and log in again before they would show up. Now I’d made particularly sure that this worked fine when I first coded the new component to display the category list but somewhere along the way some code change must have broken that. So, I sat down and modified the component again till it worked the way I wanted it to. Of course, that means another beta build :p

However, I think this release is stable enough as it stands to undergo public beta testing and so I am hoping to release a public beta this week if possible – perhaps on Friday. This will mean that I’ll need to at least add some explanations for all the new Blog tags to the documentation – perhaps I should also add some sample templates since there are now all sorts of templates in Blog. If I do manage to get the documentation completed, and there is no major bug discovered today, expect a public beta to be announced on Friday – if not …

Posted by Fahim at 6:02 am  |  No Comments

September 11, 2002

I tested further features in Blog 7.0, did further fixes and though the full feature set has still not been fully tested, released a private beta :p I haven’t checked my e-mail yet and since the private beta currently is limited to just three people, there might not be anything for a bit but I will probably open up the beta testing once I am satisfied with my own testing of Blog 7.0. In the meantime, if you told me that you wanted to be included in the beta testing for Blog 7.0 and I didn’t e-mail you, let me know and I’ll tell you where to download it. I have a sneaking feeling that I promised to let a few people know about the beta but had misplaced there e-mails – I need to start a beta test folder now :p

Oh yeah, just after I’d uploaded the beta builds and e-mailed the testers, I discovered a bug which might not allow the testers to proceed at the beginning itself :p There is a new backup facility which lets you backup the Blog data files and the INI file from within Blog itself. I knew the backup facility worked fine since I’d tested it but then I decided to add a backup prompt just before internally upgrading Blog to a newer version and I didn’t test that particular bit since I’d already tested the backup option and of course, it was buggy :p I mean the interaction between the backup operation and the consequent upgrade operation. So I figured out what was wrong and fixed it but when I tried to upload the new build, some of the mirror servers started giving me trouble. I finally left it at that but I’m not even sure which build the beta testers are using now – hopefully they’ve read this post and know what’s happening :p

At least, we’ve entered the beta testing phase but I still have to test the comments inclusion and exclusion features and the actual sending out of a digest. The latter is probably going to be the most irritating to test since the digest publication is an automated function which takes place only on the first day of the week or the month – maybe I should add a menu option to manually trigger the event? I think I should, it’ll make my testing easier and probably help out some poor user who can’t get the digest out for some reason and now has to wait till next week or month <g> Darn! I said no more features but what the heck …

There was a slightly funny development on the whole burglary issue yesterday. Our neighbour from Kurunegala called yesterday to tell us that there was a sarong (it’s a kind of garment you tie around your lower body – worn instead of pants) on the kitchen floor and that it hadn’t been there the previous day. Immediately, we started thinking that another burglary had taken place and that the thieves had dropped the sarong. Of course, we hadn’t left any clothes behind this time and so the question was where did the sarong come from. Later it turned out that my cousin had come around to make the house was OK, taken a bath and had left his sarong on the kitchen floor :p Ok, maybe it wasn’t that funny …

Posted by Fahim at 6:06 am  |  No Comments

September 10, 2002

Anybody who has scrolled down the sidebar on the page would have noticed a new addition – fan signs 🙂 When Jen left a comment about “fan signs” today I was wondering what they were. I’d seen pictures of people with Bun Bun from Sluggy Freelance or some other character from User Friendly painted on some part of their anatomy but I’d never equated these pictures with fan signs. I though they were simply pictures snapped by the people working on those comics at a convention or something – not something that the fans had sent in of their own volition. Now that I have received the first set of fan signs of my own (thanks a lot, Jen!), I think it’s really cool. So send in your own and I’ll be sure to add them :p

Posted by Fahim at 9:14 pm  |  No Comments

Still no luck with a Blog 7.0 beta 🙁 I got to work yesterday and it turned out to be one big blur from that point onwards – added to the fact that it was a Monday was the fact that I’d not been in on Friday and half of Thursday. Things just seem to pile up. Then, half the people didn’t turn up for work and some of those who did, went back since yesterday there was to be a major political rally in Colombo and people were coming in from all over the island. Major traffic jams were expected and people were told to go home if they thought they’d have problems getting home later due to the rally and guess what? The one who left lived nowhere near the rally taking place :p Ah well, people are so very predictable sometimes …

I did stay at work till normal closing time but there was a lot to be done and just as I thought I’d got through everything and was ready to go home, it turns out that nobody wanted to print a particular article that was supposed to go out yesterday evening and we had no replacement! So I sat down and wrote another but I was totally pissed off – I think it was unfair to get pissed off since I’d received the article in the morning and had thought it wasn’t totally suitable myself but had put it in anyway since it was hard to find replacements at the last moment. Perhaps the people who didn’t want to publish it were right but sometimes I think a dissenting voice isn’t such a bad thing myself :p

Anyway, the outcome of all of this was that I was beat by the time I got home and I just didn’t feel like working on the computer and so I basically sat around and tried to read and then went to bed as early as possible. Maybe today the beta will be ready – who knows? :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:06 am  |  1 Comment

September 9, 2002

The RazorSys site has been down for the last two days and since my mail is routed through their server, I had no way to access my e-mail or to send out any mails either. I hate when that happens since I feel totally cut off from the rest of the world. Oh well :p

Nothing much has been happening any way since I just haven’t been able to find the time to do any further coding. I do want to get the first Blog 7.0 beta – probably a private beta at this stage – out some time this week but what with work piled up and all the other things going on around me at the moment, I’m not even sure of a time frame. Incidentally, if you wrote to me within the last few days and don’t hear from me today, your e-mail never reached me – so write again 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:11 am  |  No Comments

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