October 15, 2002

I guess I was rather cryptic yesterday when I said that I was refused entry to the US and so I had better go in to full details – especially since things are kind of up in the air at the moment and so I won’t be starting any development work till I sort out where I am going and all that. So bear with the dreary tales of my day-to-day life till normal transmission resumes with details of ongoing development work :p

Anyway, it all began with me going to the US embassy here in Sri Lanka and applying for a visa to enter the US. I had a greencard but that had expired in May and as far as I knew, I was out of status and needed a visa. But the consular officer at the embassy told me that I was still in status since I it hadn’t been a year since I last left the US and that I could re-enter the US even though I had an expired greencard. I showed him my greencard and asked him if he was sure and he said that I certainly would be pulled out at my port of entry in to the US by the INS but that they would hold a quick inquiry and decide my case and that while there as a slight chance that I would be deported, that most probably I would be let into the country. Of course, he preluded all of this with “I can’t give you any legal advice but …” :p I was further told that the only way I would get a visa would be if I were to hand over my greencard voluntarily.

Since I can still remember all the hassles and procedures and checks and stuff that had to be gone through to get the greencard, I decided to hold on to it if possible and so I decided to forego the visa and enter the US based on the consular officers assurance. I should have reconsidered my decision when I contacted several US immigration lawyers via e-mail and all of them told me that as far as they knew, there was no law such as the one described to me by the consular officer but by that time all I wanted to do was get to the US and I disregarded these warnings completely – yes, idiotic but what can I say, I never claimed to be in the genius category :p

When I tried to get my ticket (which was one-way …) Continental airlines raised a fuss because it was one-way and my greencard had expired. I called the embassy and they wanted Continental to call them, they did and then they issued my ticket and said that I was a “special case”. Then came the day of my journey and I got as far as Zurich on Sri Lankan (the national air line) and then had to transfer to Continental. I got my boarding pass fine and then had to go through security – they immediately pounced on the fact that my greencard had expired. I told them what the US embassy had told me but they were adamant that I could not travel with an expired greencard. Since I still wouldn’t give up, they called their INS contact in the US and he said that I would not be allowed into the country either – I wanted to talk to him myself and tried to tell him what the US embassy had told me since I at least wanted to get to my port of entry (which was Newark …) and talk to a US INS officer since I was sure they’d see some way out but it was like talking to a brick wall. The INS guy simply ignored me and said nothing doing.

So that was that! I was in Zurich and Continental (who had issued me a ticket even though my greencard had expired …) was now not letting me enter the US because if I was deported, they’d have to pay a fine of $ 3000. I was furious since they should have thought of this at the time they’d issued me the ticket and I wanted them to call everybody from Continental in Sri Lanka to the US embassy in Sri Lanka but of course it was a Sunday and nobody was there. Since I had no visa for Switzerland, I had the option of staying in the airport the whole day and trying to contact somebody the next day or coming back to Sri Lanka and trying to sort out matters here in Sri Lanka. I opted for the latter. Since it was Columbus Day yesterday, the US embassy here was closed and so I need to talk to them today. The saga continues …

Posted by Fahim at 6:24 am  |  1 Comment

October 14, 2002

I’m back to posting but unfortunately, it’s not from the US 🙁 I left Sunday early morning for the US but got only as far as Zurich before they told me that I could not enter the US. I was basically stranded since I had a one-way ticket to the US but was able to talk to the airlines and get a ticket back to Sri Lanka but now I am back where I started 🙁 I still need to get to the US and so I guess I’ll start the whole routine of talking the embassy, verifying my status etc. all over again. God willing, I hope to be back on a plane within two weeks (yeah, I haven’t had my fill of airplane food yet :p) but that’s an optimistic estimate. Guess we’ll just wait and see how it turns out …

Posted by Fahim at 5:54 am  |  3 Comments

October 10, 2002

Blog 7.0 final is out 🙂 I have done all the fixes that I needed to do, added the last few features and even updated the documentation so that it is fairly up-to-date – though it might still be a bit arcane for a normal user to understand :p I will be here only for the next two days since I will be departing for the US on Saturday night (Saturday morning for the folks in the US …) and I probably will not make anymore journal entries till my journey is complete but I will continue to check e-mail and so do let me know if you have any problems and I will try to provide support as usual. The download link is (as usual) on the sidebar so go on, download and enjoy 🙂

On a different note, my journey will be for about twenty-seven hours and I am supposed to arrive in on the same day I leave here since my flight actually leaves early in the morning of Sunday though I will be leaving home late at night on Saturday. There are certain possible problems/difficulties in this trip and so I hope all of you will keep a good thought for me so that things will work out well 🙂 I will probably start updating the journal again once I’ve reached my destination and like the Tags:
Posted by Fahim at
8:18 pm  |  4 Comments

Since the only area in Blog 7.0 that seems to have problems is the digest feature (and since not many people seem to want to use it yet :p), I decided to prepare to release 7.0 final and then tweak the digest feature as we go along. With that aim in mind, I added a few final touches to the current Blog build yesterday. One of these was a feature that I’d discussed before – converting double carriage returns to paragraphs and single carriage returns to line breaks, so that your entry will appear legible as you type and will still appear the same way you typed it when it is published. Of course, I realized that current entries might get broken if I do it this way since there might be people (like me ..) who explicitly used a line break tag to achieve line breaks and relied on a single carriage return to be a paragraph. So in order to maintain backward compatibility, I added in an option which would still do that – if you want Blog to. As an added bonus, I added a sub-option which lets you use two line break tags instead of a paragraph tag … and I changed all internally generated Blog tags to be XHTML compliant – or at least I hope so since I am not completely sure about how far I have to go to be XHTML compliant :p

I probably would have released Blog 7.0 final yesterday except for a few minor things that I’ve forgotten or need to do. The first thing is that I need to update the documentation and it’s still not done – in fact, I might release as it is since I want to get this release done before I leave and I’d feel more comfortable if I was available for tech support for a couple of days following the release to combat any major bugs that might have been missed. Tyran mentioned one of the other things but I forgot to implement it. In Blog 7.0, there is no way to refresh a preview since the preview and comments/category displays toggle back and forward on each press/click on the preview button and if you rely on the preview window, this can be very annoying. So I intend to add a right-click context menu for the preview window which allows you to refresh the view. The last is something I had totally forgotten but was asked for a while back – the ability to edit/delete comments sent via the remote comments system. Now, I still don’t feel letting people edit comments is totally acceptable (but there are exceptions such as when you want to run a family-friendly site and people intentionally/accidentally swear ..) and so am not going to allow an edit feature – instead, I’ll let comments be deleted totally. You might say that encourages censorship too but you also have to let the site owner have control over his/her site too. Darn, when did coding Blog become a moral issue? :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:02 am  |  No Comments

October 9, 2002

One of the data tables in Jen’s installation of Blog corrupted yesterday. I had hoped that the new Repair option in Blog would fix the problem but when Jen tried, it didn’t seem to do anything. So I got her to send me the data files and when I ran Blog at my end, I wouldn’t even get the main screen due to the corrupted data file! So I added code which would detect data file corruption at the time of opening the main screen and fix the corrupted files automatically. Of course, this would work only for files needed by the main screen but since you can access the Repair option once you have the main screen open, you shouldn’t have any problems with repairing all the other files if they do ever become corrupt. I ran the new code through it’s paces and it seems to work fine but we’ll see how it does in the field, so to speak :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:34 am  |  1 Comment

October 8, 2002

Over the weekend Edward McCain found several bugs in the latest build of Blog. Not only did he help eliminate (at least we think it eliminated it …) that infuriating “list index out of bounds” error but he discovered several other problems which caused errors in Blog. Not cotent wiht that, he went on to discover a couple of more bugs in the Purge Entries dialog which has probably been there since that option was added – shows what a good tester I am :p Oh yeah, he also found a curious problem with the calendar control in that we can only go back to October 1752 – not sure about the year but it’s somewhere around there. This of course seems to be either standard Delphi or standard MS behaviour but it was an interesting thing …

I’ve fixed all the other bugs – can’t do anything about the calendar control – and probably am ready to release Blog 7.0 final except for the fact that I am no too happy with the digest functionality yet. So I might just wait till I have got to the US, settled in and had time to contemplate the digest functionality a bit more before I do the next (and hopefully the final …) release. Oh yes, another bug which has come up is Blog not recognizing that there is an Internet connection when you have a cable Net connection. I’ve heard about this once before but the person who reported it didn’t seem to be willing to help with finding the cause but now Andrew has come forward to work with me on this. Anybody else on cable who has this problem or had this problem and sorted it out?

Posted by Fahim at 5:25 am  |  7 Comments

October 5, 2002

Thank you one and all for your kindness in wishing me luck on the trip to the US and suggesting possible places I can relocate to 🙂 It always warms my heart to hear from all of you and to know that I have so many good friends around the world even though I have not met any of you! But then again, maybe someday we will meet – because I’ve been hearing about these Blog Meetups (sorry dont’ have a link since I’m at home …) where bloggers can set up locations to meet other bloggers in their area. Sounds like a neat plan and I might actually drop in on a few meet-ups in my area when I get to the US 🙂

I’ve been doing further work on Blog with the kind help of Edward McCain who has been forwarding me bugs as he finds them 🙂 We almost thought we had the “list index out of bounds” error in our grasp because Edward sent me his whole Blog directory (running 7.0 Beta 5) and I could see the error myself. But then I switched to Beta 6 so that I can debug the error and it went off! Weird is no the word for that particular error :p Of course, since then Edward has found two more errors – I fixed one but it was really late by the time I got the second error and so I decided to leave it till another day …

Oh yeah, I got my tickets yesterday and I am supposed to fly out on the 13th, so there’s only about a week more to go before I leave Sri Lanka. So don’t expect too much in the way of coding from me in the week to come … Ohio, here I come, woo hoo 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:12 am  |  4 Comments

October 3, 2002

I probably shouldn’t have posted the e-mail from yesterday since it’s turning into another “OS religious war” :p I really don’t want the “my OS is superior to yours” comments since I don’t believe any OS is superior – the choice is a personal one just as almost anything else in life is. The reason you find a particular OS to your liking depends on your requirements or even your current situation. So, as I told somebody privately in response to their comment, “The point is not whether Mac OS is superior to Windows or not – I’ve used Windows, Mac, IRIX, UNIX and various distros of Linux as well as OS/2. Each one is good for in its own way. But there is a way to ask a developer for software to be ported to your platform of choice. I’ve had plenty of people ask me politely if I’d consider porting Blog to Linux and I’ve always told them why I can’t do it. But to have somebody who seems to know nothing about the OS he’s championing, talk down to me and tell me why I should develop for his platform is a bit too much …” I loved the comments this particular entry generated since that’s probably the highest number of comments any entry of mine has generated <g> but let’s drop the “holy war” shall we? :p

In more cheerful news, Blog 7.0 Beta 6 is out (and the download link is on the side bar and the downloads page …) 🙂 Turns out the problems I was having were stupid ones created by myself rather than any problem with PlusMemo or the spell-checking :p The problem with PlusMemo had been due to the fact that I had downloaded the latest PlusMemo to the same directory where I had had an earlier build of PlusMemo and both the distro packages were named the same – I had a download manager doing the work and it automatically renamed the new distro and I simply uninstalled and reinstalled the old distro :p The old build wouldn’t work with the new spell checking component (since it required the latest PlusMemo) and that’s where my problems started. Once I figured that out and got that sorted out, I still got all words underlined as incorrect and it took me a while longer to figure that one out – guess what the problem was? There were no dictionary files <vbg> I’d had all my Blog files get deleted the last time I tried to fix the dual-instances of Blog deleting files problem and I’d thought I’d restored everything but obviously, I’d left out the dictionary file – and that caused such a big problem and a delay in Blog development :p

Anyway, once I got all that sorted out, I was able to test the latest functionality that I had put in. Incidentally, I added a slight twist to the HTML stripping code for the digest – now, it replaces line break tags with a single carriage return and line feed (CR/LF) combination and paragraph tags with a double CR/LF combination. It seems to work fine in testing but I’d still like to find out how useful you find it. Incidentally, I just had another idea for Blog itself – should I change the current behaviour where all CR/LF combinations generate a new paragraph to a single CR/LF generating a line break and doulbe CR/LF generating a new paragraph? That would actually make the text typed in Blog look a lot more legible and also remove the need for explicit tags quite a bit … Again let me know what you think …

Now on to the last (but not least <g>) bit of news. Remember the “secret” project that I was talking about a while back? Well, it’s not so much a project as a journey – I am returning to the US in a couple of weeks or so 🙂 I don’t know for how long since there are several factors involved in determining the duration of my stay but I will be traveling there and hope to be in Ohio if I even gain admission to the country (yes, there is some doubt about that :p). Anybody know of any good jobs available for a developer who knows several languages, in Ohio? 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 5:32 am  |  5 Comments

October 2, 2002

This is an e-mail I received yesterday from somebody – I will not comment on it since the words that came to my mind at first were unprintable :p Draw your own conclusions …

“I have an interest in using blog, but I can’t use damn .exe downloads because I use a Macintosh instead of crappy-ass PCs running Windows (which really blows). Can you at least MAKE something for people who use Mac OS X? Or AT LEAST something running the classic Mac OS. Please. SOMETHING!!!!!!! and make it a zip file or something. I can’t use these .exe downloads. I can’t stand it when people just make software/freeware stuff, and they only make it to where PCs running Windows can use it. Wake up! The ENTIRE WORLD does not RUN on Windows!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are OTHER OSes TOO!!! Especially Mac OS X (Which actually runs on UNIX if you dont know jack about a Mac). That’s probably the biggest non-windows OS out there. Or, the Classic Mac OS. Following in 3rd, is Linux. PLEASE dont limit your audience to JUST windows users!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The world is BIGGER than THAT!! (and You deserve to have more people liking you and using your goods than this.) I’m begging you. Don’t limit your a! udience to just the people who use the crappy OS on the shoddy machines. You deserve to do something better than this.”

That’s the whole e-mail and the only thing I can say is that if it were that simple to write apps for Windows *and* Mac, a lot more people would be doing it … but insulting/haranguing developers and their development platform is really not the way to influence people and make friends :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:34 am  |  14 Comments

October 1, 2002

Things haven’t been going so smoothly lately. I opened up Blog to test the changes I made day before yesterday and turns out I had somehow broken the spell-checking since every word I type was underlined in red. I thought maybe I’d somehow switched the entry box to use Unicode since I had changed the font on the main form to a scalable font but switching the font back did not help. I was looking at the PlusMemo website since that’s the component that I use for the entry box and realized that I was a couple of releases behind. So I upgraded and guess what? The whole she bang stopped working! Now I can’t even run Blog and if I try to remove the PlusMemo component off the form, I get an AV in the Delphi IDE and I have to shut the whole thing down 🙁

The good things is that Raymond Courteau who develops PlusMemo, responds blazingly fast to support queries. In fact, besides the guys at Addictive Software – whose great spell-check component they were kind enough to donate to me for free -, Raymond is about the only other guy I know of who responds to support queries so quickly – and, I’m not even a paid user of theirs! Anyway, Raymond did write back last night and wanted more details, which I sent to him but I have a feeling that the time difference is going to be a bit of a problem in resolving this issue quickly. Till I can get that sorted out though, I don’t think I can proceed with Blog 🙁 Of course, I could always drop back to the older version of the component but then I’ll still have to find the reason for the spell-check not working and if it is a Unicode problem as I believe, I don’t have the Unicode version of the older component … Ah well, we’ll see I guess …

Posted by Fahim at 5:37 am  |  No Comments

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