September 8, 2002

Well … back in Colombo after a few days of gadding about and looking at prospective brides, securing the house etc. We decided not to complain to the police since they’ve been totally useless and inefficient as far as the two other burglaries are concerned. From what we can gather, they do know the parties involved (at least in the case of the first break in at the Kurunegala house ..) but won’t make an arrest because they weren’t “taken care of” – basically weren’t given a bribe. I find this rather irritating and disgusting since that shows a total breakdown in law and order in the country but then again, I’ve been hearing similar (or rather worse) stories from my Indian friends about the situation in their country and so I guess I can’t really complain. It’s just unfortunate that people who are appointed to a position of public trust immediately start working in a manner that erodes that self-same trust.

Added another seven or so sites to the list of sites using Blog and this was actually a short week! I might soon have to go in for a two-column layout for the list of sites and use a smaller font :p A particularly interesting case are this site and this site. On first looks, they might appear to be two entirely different sites but then if you read the contents, you’ll see that it’s the same site – just using two different templates. It was made by Jenny, who is one of the newest Blog users to join the fold :p, and I like the fact that she has actually exploited Blog to it’s full extent in publishing to two different sites with two different templates! While I publish the same blog to multiple sites, I’ve never used multiple templates and I think this is the first time anybody has done so with Blog 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:36 am  |  2 Comments

September 6, 2002

Couldn’t upload even a private beta of Blog 7.0 yesterday since I was taking the afternoon and today off from work and I was in meetings from almost the time I got to work till the time I left work 🙁 The meetings were basically about me being part of another project group – this time to do a full spectrum multimedia campaign including TV, radio, print-media, posters, street drama etc. While it looks like an interesting project and could provide some good experience, I’m really not sure that I want to be saddled with more work since I already manage about three groups (five if you count the newspaper teams as three separate teams …). Plus, my boss asked my friend Robin and I to come up with a proposal for another new project within two week’s time while we’re doing all the other stuff. I came back to my current employer because I liked the people I had to work with but I’m beginning to remember the reason that I left – they just keep on piling you up with work :p Of course, the fact that a lot of people are leaving the company might also have something to do with the distribution of work being the way it is …

Anyway, I left around noon, got home and left for Kurunegala with my parents. It is over two hour’s journey and guess what we discovered when we got there? Our house had been burgled again! This is the second time for our Kurunegala house since I got back (and I’ve been back only for about eight months …) and the third time in total if we include the Colombo house. This time they took all the clothes in the house (even the sheets off the bed) and a small TV. We’re beginning to think that soon we’ll find even the house gone when we arrive one day 🙁

Posted by Fahim at 5:54 am  |  3 Comments

September 5, 2002

Further bug fixes, improvements I forgot to add and minor new features were all added to Blog 7.0 yesterday. Unless I forgot something major that I intended to include in this release, I think that’s as far as new features go and there will now be a freeze on feature addition. I started the testing yesterday and was able to go through the stuff like the new templates, the new archival tags, the displaying of entered comments and the links for creating new comments and the categorization displays – it all worked fine! Yes, there were certain things where there were bugs in the code or logical errors and I had to fix them but now it all works fine :p But I still haven’t tested any of the stuff that works off of e-mail – digest subscription/unsubscription, how comments received via e-mail are handled, the deletion of existing an entry by the same author for the same date and time if the message body is empty (yes, I added that as well) or even the replacement of an existing entry in the same scenario if there is a message body. I’ll have to do all of that sometime today – or if I don’t have the time, release a private beta anyway since I’m going to be away from my computer for a couple of days …

There are a few caveats to the new features however. The remote editing and deleting of entries will probably work only from Blog running in Client mode since the date and time for the entry has to be exactly the same down to a fraction of a second and I don’t think you can set those values specifically from an e-mail program – even if you resend an older e-mail, (which Eudora and a few other mail clients allow you to do even if Outlook doesn’t :p) I’m not sure that the client sends it with the older date and time – it probably inserts a new time at least. So if you want remote editing/deleting, you’ll probably have to use Blog in Client mode to do the original entry as well as the changes. While not as flexible as being able to blog from anywhere, this is better than nothing … I hope <g>

There are also going to be a few mysterious setting droppings when you switch to the new build :p I’ve had to rename some of the INI file settings – especially for Server/Client mode e-mail stuff and for some stuff on the Firewall tab – and so you might find that old settings that you had have disappeared. Go through each tab of your options dialog carefully to make sure that you have everything set the way you want. Oh yeah, categorization is not retroactive and will not assign a default category to all your existing entries – you will have to do that manually if you want to go that route. I’m simply planning to use categorizations from the current point onwards and that’s that 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:03 am  |  No Comments

September 4, 2002

Unless I’ve forgotten something, the major work on Blog 7.0 is done 🙂 I finished the archival by category feature yesterday and changed the archive generation UI so that the user can decide whether to generate archives by date or by category. Of course, auto-archiving is still done by date since it would be impractical to do it by category. There’s a bunch of new Blog tags (I have the distinct impression that I said this before :p) and I think one of the biggest problems is going to be documenting all the new tags and what they do and where exactly they can be used, since some of them can be used only in specific places or in combination with specific tags.

Templates have become ubiquitous in this release :p Now you can select templates for the display of comments, for the digest which goes out to subscribers and for the new categorized archives. Coupled with the new Blog tags, this is going to give you a completely new range of display features and options. Hmm… that sounded very much like an advertisement :p Well, maybe not that many new display options but you will definitely spend a lot more time customizing templates if you’re going to use all the different options available in the new release. Of course, I still haven’t created any of the new templates yet since I haven’t tested most of the new features but I should probably get started on that sometime today …

Posted by Fahim at 6:16 am  |  3 Comments

September 3, 2002

Tyran was kind enough to volunteer to do some proper documentation for Blog. I know he’s got a full plate in front of him already and was reluctant to ask him to take up something I know is going to go on and on and on since such a lot of things change with each release of Blog (you should see the changes list for the next release :p) but he said that he’d still do it. So thanks a bunch Tyran – you’re a gem 🙂 Incidentally, Tyran already sent me a proof of concept that he’d built around the current Blog.txt file and to me it looks great! I couldn’t even recognize that it was the same document at first because it looked so different 🙂 It’s got a table of contents, a proper index and a search facility and when done, will be a great help to all new users – hope you’re all properly grateful to Tryan :p

Incidentally, I’d intended to pan a movie yesterday but forgot all about it when I got carried away by my rant :p The movie was “Doctor T and the Women” and is it just me or does anybody else think that it is one of the worst movies ever made? It tries so hard to be a “women’s” movie (at least that’s how it seemed to me …) but ends up being extremely condescending and patronizing towards women – not to mention negative. I hated it from start to end and only went through the whole thing in the hopes of finding something redeeming about the whole experience but there just wasn’t anything!

I’ve started working on Blog 7.0 again and I made a slight change to one of the Server mode features based on a discussion I had with Anders Nystedt. He mentioned the fact that if he’s using Client mode to remotely post, that he sometimes submits the same post twice and that crashes Blog server. Now this is a known defect but still something that shouldn’t happen. So I had a little discussion with him about it and decided that it would be better if the post could somehow be handled. So now what Blog does is that if a post with the same date and time already exists, it checks the author and if the author is the same, it replaces the existing entry (incidentally, that provides instant remote editing facility – ta da!) but if it’s by a different author, then it logs the error and skips the e-mail. I just realized that I can extend the same principle to delete an existing entry by having the user send out a blank message body! Anybody else think that’s needed?

I also added a proper log file to Blog. Currently it’s not customizable and will automatically backup the current one and recreate a new one when it reaches 100k but I might decide to make the file name and the file size limit options controlled from the Options dialog – not sure yet since I don’t really see the need for customization here (at least not for the file name) but I might change my mind. Oh yeah, the log now records when Blog was started and shutdown as well 🙂 In case you’re wondering why I’d added a log file at all, it’s mostly for the benefit of Blog Server users since a server means you will leave it running unattended but would obviously want to know what happened – especially when something goes wrong.

Posted by Fahim at 6:16 am  |  No Comments

September 2, 2002

“They” say that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. This is a saying that I particularly dislike. Well, not because I don’t like breaking eggs – though here in Sri Lanka they have (or used to have – not sure now with the mass producing farms and such …) what was called “Buddhist eggs”; they were basically unfertilized eggs since the Buddhists do not like the taking of life of any creature and since there was no life involved in an unfertilized egg, they were OK with eating it. But I digress. What I don’t like about the whole breaking egg theory is the fact that while it might not be a big deal to break eggs – it becomes a big deal when you transfer the metaphor to human beings. You can’t hurt people to achieve your ends and then say, “oh well … you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!”. That’s inconsiderate and unfeeling!

Why am I going on about this? Well, we went on another one of our now-becoming-routine trips this weekend to look at another prospective bride. My parents liked her, my brother says he liked her (not sure since he has a habit of not being contradictory unless necessary :p) but I didn’t because I’ve told my parents that if I’m to spend the rest of my life with somebody, it will have to be somebody that I feel an affinity to. I don’t know how I can express it better (and that’s probably what’s frustrating my parents as well since they don’t have anything concrete to go on …) but that’s not the problem. The problem is the other side – the bride’s side. I feel bad about going somewhere, meeting somebody and then saying “no, won’t do” when they probably have a lot of expectations and hopes. It’s all fine to say that it’s about the rest of our lives for the both of us and that we have to make the correct decision but what about the people who feel rejected or whose hopes had been dashed?

It’s very different for parents here in Sri Lanka – their responsibility does not end with their children growing up and getting out of school. They have to find them good partners, get them married and usually it doesn’t even end there since they are involved in their children’s lives even after that as well. So, they go to a lot of trouble to ensure that their children are married to a good family – they check on the family, they check on the groom and basically they try to make sure that their son (or daughter – actually, particularly more so in the case of a daughter) is going to a good family and that they would be well cared for and happy. Unfortunately, the part that they miss out on is making sure that the two people involved do match each other since there is no fool-proof method to ensure that. Now they at least let the people talk to each other but things were so strict in earlier days that all you could do was look at the prospective bride (or the prospective groom) and declare your acceptance or not – in fact, my Dad says that his parents had fixed his marriage without his consultation at all :p Maybe that’s the best thing after all since my Dad and Mom are one of the happiest couples I know but can I (or any of us for that matter …) afford to take that chance with our own lives? :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:05 am  |  3 Comments

September 1, 2002

I finished the last Ludlum in my collection – “The Hades Factor” – sometime last week. I was losing momentum while reading that book anyway since it was a collaboration between Ludlum and another author and I didn’t like the pacing as much as I do the rest of Ludlum’s work – maybe I was subconsciously thinking that it wasn’t really a Robert Ludlum novel because it was a collaboration :p Anyway, I did finish the book and since I’m all out of thrillers, I decided to go back to fantasy and read another one of my regulars – Terry Pratchett. Strangely enough, this was the last book in my collection from Pratchett that I hadn’t read and it was a collaboration too :p This time the collaboration was with Neil Gaiman, whom I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about but whose work I had never read apart from a couple of issues of the Sandman comics – and I’d never really gotten into those, if I recall correctly after about five years that is <g>

I’ve tried to read “Good Omens” (that’s the book BTW) for a while now but couldn’t get up enough enthusiasm – again I suspect that the fact it’s a collaboration has something to do with it but it could just be that I’m getting tired of reading … There have been periods when I get tired of reading continuously and need a break. So I decided to take a break yesterday and watched movies. I watched “Lucky Numbers”, “Meet the Parents” and “Fight Club”. “Lucky Numbers” gave me a few laughs but I hated Lisa Kudrow’s character and Travolta seemed to be hamming it a bit – especially at the very beginning when he meets people at the restaurant. I had some laughs towards the end of “Meet the Parents” and had a sappy tear in my eyes at the romantic conclusion <g> but basically thought that it was rather an annoying movie – maybe it was Greg’s (Ben Stiller’s character) stupidity throughout most of the film in stumbling into one disaster after another or maybe I just was feeling a bit impatient at all of the improbability but it just didn’t work for me except towards the end.

Now “Fight Club”, what do I say about it? This was the first time I watched it since the very idea about guys getting together to beat each other to pulp was kind of repulsive to me but people kept on telling me how brilliant the movie was. So I finally decided to go ahead and watch it. It is certainly a good movie (I won’t spoil the plot for anybody who hasn’t watched it) and there is one particular revelation which left me astounded since I didn’t expect it (or rather, I saw it only as the revelation began … I didn’t anticipate it) and the central characters are extremely interesting *but* I don’t know whether we really need such dark and dystopian movies when the world all around is grim enough as it is. I don’t know what it is about David Fincher – first “Seven” and now “Fight Club” – but he seems to revel in the movies that portray the deepest, darkest, basest parts of humanity. Maybe it’s art but I just don’t think I want any of it right at the moment, thank you :p

Posted by Fahim at 7:16 am  |  1 Comment

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