November 15, 2002

Of visas and vicious assistants …

I called the US embassy yesterday since I wanted to inquire into going to the US again and find out if it was even worthwhile to make a visa application. I have spent around US$ 2500 already (not saying that Jen – who is the main reason for my two trips to the US – isn’t worth it mind you, I would spend hundreds and thousands of times that amount if I had the money but that not being the case, I’d like to save what I have if possible) and didn’t want to spend another US$ 100 on a visa application and then find that I am rejected. Plus, if I got rejected for a visa here, I can’t reapply for a certain time period – not sure how long but I think five years was mentioned …
Anyway, I called the embassy and asked if I could talk to a visa officer. The person I got was a Sri Lankan employee of the embassy and she says that I can’t talk to a visa officer just by walking in and that I should apply for a visa. I told her that I’d already been to the US twice, had problems with the INS and wanted to explain to the visa officer the situation and get his/her opinion before I applied for a visa. She says, "I can’t tell you anything about it!" and I asked her if she was a visa officer and she said no. So I told her that I wanted to talk to a visa officer and she says "The visa officer does not answer the phone!" and I said that that was fine but that the last time I had visa problems, the lady I’d spoken to had asked me to simply come see a visa officer and that was all I wanted to do. She says, "You can’t speak to a visa officer and I can’t help you. So bye!"

I was seething by this time but there really was nothing I could do. I could try walking into the embassy but she’ll probably be there since I had to go through this same assistant the last time. I want to call the embassy again and see if I’ll get a different assistant since I know there is another lady who is more helpful. But in the meantime, I’m stuck with a decision as to whether to spend $100 (which I don’t mind so much but I do mind not being able to apply for another visa for five years) or to just walk in there and try to talk my way through. I hate it when Sri Lankans do this to you – from what I hear, this is always the case since they seem to get this sense of power over us poor mortals by doing this.

Of course, since I seem to be stuck here for the moment and all I really want to do is to be across the Atlantic so that I can at least be close to Jen, I think about all I can do is look for a job over there. Of course, finding somebody to sponsor me would be the tough part – I am even willing to pay the sponsorship fees (as long as they aren’t over a couple of thousand bucks of course) and pay my own fare over there if somebody would just hire me. Only problem is finding somebody like that :p There are no CEOs of large corporations reading this blog are there? :p If so, how would you like to hire a coder who can work in C/C++, Java, Delphi, C#, FoxPro, Oracle, VBScript, Vantive and a host of other languages/development environments? 🙂 But seriously, if anybody can help me out in this (know any people who might be willing to hire etc.) I’d be forever grateful – anybody?

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Posted by Fahim at 11:40 am  |  No Comments

I am still working on the tag board :p It took me a whole day to figure out what needed to be done for version 2.0 and then it took me like an hour to do the coding for version 3.0 and *I* think version 3.0 is more complex since it uses a mySQL database to store the tags :p The biggest problem I faced with 2.0 was that I wasn’t debugging it properly :p I would make a script change, upload to server and then run it and it would say “Server error” but not provide me any useful Per errors. I continued to (stupidly <g>) make changes in the dark and upload to server for most of the day till I realized that it just wouldn’t work that way. So I enabled IIS on my machine, set Perl up to handle CGI requests and had pinpointed the error in a matter of minutes 🙂 Once I got that sorted out, the rest was a cakewalk.

I haven’t worked with mySQL before and so don’t know how fast data access and response is. I have created the new version of the tagboard to add new tags to the database and then recreate the whole tagboard display again from the raw input so as to incorporate any new formatting/smiley rules that may have been added to the code since the last run. Most tagboards I have seen do the formatted output once and so code changes to the formatting aren’t applied to the old entries. I know my method is slow but what I’m interested in finding out is how slow :p If the response time is acceptable, I think I will stick with my method since it gives a lot more flexibility to the user/coder. If this works, then it’s on to version 4.0 which will add administrative access and the ability to simply click on a user and ban them or delete their post and I think that will be it from me for this session of Perl coding.

I haven’t been slacking on other coding stuff while working on the Perl stuff though. I’ve also managed to add B2 support to BlogMan, incorporate proxy support for all the API calls and even got started on the documentation :p I hope to release the first beta today (or at least upload all the screenshots, BlogMan page and the distro today) though the announcement itself might not come till tomorrow. I want to test it out one more time on Movable Type before I do that though and that will probably come in the form of a new entry for SM since I do have a rant about the American embassy (or rather the Sri Lankan personnel working there) and the whole visa process :p

In the meantime, I have received several more interesting ideas suggestions for Blog but the only one I can remember is one from Duane about having a set of default settings for Blog. Duane wanted this so that he can setup Blog a specific way and then send it to a friend so that they don’t have to do any setting up. Since the Blog configuration is spread over multiple files, the only way I can think of to do this is to have two options “Save as default” and “Restore Defaults” where the former would actually copy all the data files and the Blog.INI file to a special directory (probably named “defaults”) and then the latter will copy the files back from there. Seems like a good idea to me actually – what does everybody else think?

Posted by Fahim at 5:32 am  |  No Comments