November 23, 2002

Eddie over at BetaNews has been kind enough to announce the release of BlogMan and the visits to the site sky-rocketed yesterday :p So far however, I’ve heard from only two BlogMan users – one is Greg (who was originally a Blog users, switched to B2 and has now kindly consented to beta test BlogMan) and the other is Josh, who I heard from today. Josh wanted to know where he could post bug reports since there was no BlogMan thread on the forums. That of course brings me back to the subject of forums. I’ve looked at the PHPBBS (I think that’s what it was called) forum and it looks nice and impressive. Of course, I need somewhere to put it up and so probably won’t go with that since it needs both PHP and mySQL. Instead, I think I’ll probably try to find a free remote solution provided by somebody – I just haven’t had much time recently and so never got around to doing any of this. Maybe today since I really would like a nice organized forum that people can search easily.

Not much else in the way of new code or projects – I expect DeViLbOi to spring up at this point and go “PostMan! PostMan!” :p Actually, I don’t know if I mentioned this but PostMan is half-way coded. It works, it can retrieve e-mail and it can display e-mails. I don’t know if I completed the e-mail composition bit but the main reason that I am so reluctant to work on it is the fact that it is so darn slow :p It is slow in retrieving e-mail, actually slower than Eudora and I don’t know why that should be since I’m simply using an Indy POP3 component to do the mail retrieval. Then, it is also slow to display HTML e-mails since I am using my own display engine and not IE (so as to not be prey to VBScript based viruses). The HTML component I use can display HTML text but it will not display images on it’s own. I have to fetch the images individually and then pass them back to the HTML component. This seems to work since I can display HTML e-mail but if you select an HTML e-mail, you have to wait a couple of seconds for the images to be fetched and till then the whole UI stops responding.

I know that most of the above problems can be sorted out by optimizing stuff but in the mean time, I just don’t feel like using PostMan because it is so slow and anything I don’t use, I don’t develop with that much alacrity since there isn’t the incentive for me to do so :p For me all my software starts as personal projects and they take on their own life only if they are released to the public. And they are are released to the public only if I use them and find them useful – if not, they just die a natural death … you should see my hard disk, there are plenty of half-completed projects which never took off because I lost interest or they weren’t that useful after all :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:36 am  |  1 Comment

November 22, 2002

Some interesting comments were given by Duane on the subject of support – he wondered why I/we didn’t set up a chat room for Blog for one thing. This is something that I would be glad to do on some IRC server or other but I have a feeling that most of the Blog users aren’t the usual habitue of chat rooms on IRC – of course, I could be wrong :p The other option is to use IM but I don’t want to do that except on an individual basis since it can quickly become overwhelming to have a bunch of people IMing you about how to set up Blog or any other application. I am tempted to use Human Click, which if I recall correctly allowed a user to contact a live person if there was somebody at the other end or if not, leave a message for somebody to respond to. I’m not sure if Human Click (if that is the name of the service) is still around since this was a couple of years ago, but I probably will look into that as well as setting up easier forums somewhere else. That’s the best I guess I can do at the moment – except to write better documentation and you know, I won’t do that :p OK, maybe not won’t … it’s just that I can’t …

Not much in the way of coding. Greg tells me that the proxy support in BlogMan does not work and he’s done some research into it and given me certain things to look into – thanks Greg! I believe proxy support will be very important in BlogMan and want to get it working exactly right. So I’ll probably be doing some testing today but it’s hard to test proxy support when I don’t have a proxy to work with :p

I worked a lot on Nailer yesterday with Jen – we put the second iteration of the program into action and found quite a few bugs that needed to be fixed. It finally did what we needed it to do and all was well … I think :p I still need to do a few visual changes and then write some documentation and then Nailer should be ready to go. Since I wrote it especially for Jen, she’s going to have to decide what to do with it :p She tells me that she’s going to put it up for download on her site and I’ll probably set up a page for Nailer here too so that people have the usual FAQ, support stuff. Of course, that reminds me that I need to setup pages for BlogMan as well as a few other apps too – I hate doing that since I have to write documentation and stuff but oh well, I guess it needs to be done …

Posted by Fahim at 5:28 am  |  4 Comments

What dreams may come …

I dreamt again today and I think I have started dreaming again … OK, that’s not accurate – I have again become aware of the fact that I dream. I think we always (or almost always) dream when we sleep but don’t always remember that we had dreamt. I have always been fascinated by my dreams – in fact, that was one of the reasons that I wrote "The Mind of Morpheus Mentor" – which of course is still unfinished :p That started originally as a different story, a story which tried to describe how I saw dreams, or rather, a story that described what I thought dreams were – another life that we lived when we slept.

It might sound crazy but I used to wonder if we really rested when we slept or if we just lived another life. Maybe it’s like that old Chinese paradox which goes "I slept and dreamt I was a butterfly and then I woke up and wasn’t sure whether I was a man who’d dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly who was dreaming that he was a man" :p Actually no, I didn’t think that my waking life was a dream – I just thought that both my waking life and my dream life were both separate lives. I would wake up after a full night’s sleep and feel not a bit rested, feel so very tired and lethargic and I’d have had all these dreams of strenuous action. So I used to think that maybe I did do all those things while I slept …

Of course, dream life being usually much more interesting than real life, it is probably just a dream to wish that dreams were real :p

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Posted by Fahim at 5:18 am  |  1 Comment

November 21, 2002

I am going to whine today both here and on Solipsistic Meandering – but I hear you say “so what else is new?” :p But the whines are different – you can read what I whine about on SM over there but here my whine is about the fact that I am drowning in e-mail <g> There’s just too many things going on and there is all the support e-mail to respond to as well as try to do some coding. In addition to the support e-mails on the mailing list (to which nobody seems to respond except for a very few people :p) there are also the personal e-mails I receive from people. Jen believes that I should utilize the forums more to provide support and I agree with her but the problem is the same on the forums – not many people respond and it ends up being me who responds. I know that the current forums aren’t very usable and I am thinking of shifting them over to something which is at least searchable and which also has some other functionality which might help attract people and also let them find what they want quickly. Of course, this would mean I would have to dump the current forums and so lose all the archived answers there but since not many people seem to look at it, that might not be a big deal :p Or, I could link to the old forums from the new ones – wherever I set them up …

But enough of whining 🙂 I redid Nailer yesterday since I realized that the UI was a bit too crowded the way I did the first iteration, plus, I wanted to provide a bit more functionality than the first iteration provided for. So the new UI is very clean since it’s just a list of images and a preview pane underneath with some buttons above the image list to provide the functionality. When you want to create the thumbnails, you click the Process button and are provided with a wizard which walks you step by step through the rest of the process. It gives you several options for the thumbnails – you can specify an exact size, have the aspect ratio of the thumbnails remain unchanged or create thumbnails in proportion to the size of the original image. You can also create thumbnails in an image format other than the format used by the original image.

The next step in the wizard asks you if you want to upload the images via FTP or if you want to copy it locally. If it’s a local copy, you can simply have the thumbnails copied to a folder or additionally, you could also have the originals copied to the same folder or a different folder. If FTPing, the next step gives you the options to specify for your FTP server and again you can copy all the images to one location or copy the thumbnails and the originals to two different locations. I think this provides a lot more functionality than the first iteration. I still have to test it out and hopefully we’ll do that when we create thumbnails for some of the images Jen has and then I will try to get some documentation done and Nailer will go up for download 🙂 Incidentally, somebody asked if Nailer was command-line driven – unfortunately, it’s not 🙁 There are just too many options for me to try and accommodate them all via a command-line interface. It can be done, but I can’t be bothered unless there is a big demand for it from the users – I prefer the GUI :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:59 am  |  1 Comment

Dreams so sweet …

This will probably be my first Solipsitic Meandering entry made from home since I’m going to use BlogMan to do it and it’s going to be a whine – but that’s nothing new for me, is it? :p I had a dream last night that I was in New York and that I’d got a job there. It took a while for it all to sink in and then I was like "Oh wow!! I can see Jen on the weekend!" – curiously in my dream it was Thursday (just as today is) and I was so excited about the whole thing. Of course, I then woke up to realize that none of it was true 🙁 Not that it makes an ounce of difference to anybody else but the dream was so vivid that I really lived it for those moments and so it was all the more shattering to realize that things were what I wanted them to be.

This brings up a point that Edward (who incidentally is a solipsist) made in one of our discussions – he said that if all of this was in his head, it would be better because he could do so much because he could do anything and control everything. To me personally, solipsism doesn’t work that way :p I think all of this *might* be in my head but if so, that it all works according to ground rules that I had already laid down. My life is supposed to be a certain way and even if it is in my head, I can’t really alter it suddenly or become omnipotent. At least that’s my explanation for my life being this way and still thinking that it’s all in my head :p

I’ll probably keep this brief since I have to make two blog entries today (one here and one on The Developer’s Corner) before I get to work. Ah the joys of journaling stuff :p

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Posted by Fahim at 5:50 am  |  2 Comments

November 20, 2002

Reading maketh a full man

I have been meaning to write about what I’m reading at the moment ever since I started this blog but I’ve never got the chance to do so – either I’ve had some other topic to rant on about or I’ve been too busy coding to write here at all. Well, it’s time I did this entry – not that it really matters to anybody, but I just want to write about this particular series – especially now 🙂 So what the heck am I reading these days? I’m reading Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s DarkSword trilogy – I’m actually on book II, "Doom of the Darksword" at the moment. Incidentally, I’d always thought that Tracy Hickman was a woman till I read the back cover of the book and found out that he was a guy – OK, fine, maybe I still don’t realize the gender difference between the different spellings of Tracy :p (Is there one BTW? There probably is, isn’t there?)

I am probably going to ramble around a bit before I come back to the series – let me warn you :p I started reading when I was around six or seven years old and have read voraciously ever since then. For the longest time, science fiction has been my preferred genre – at least, that was the case till about five or six years ago when I began to be seduced by the insidious call of fantasy :p I’d read fantasy before too but I think ever since I discovered Terry Pratchett, I’ve been reading more and more fantasy and neglecting science fiction. Incidentally, I buy a lot of books to read later and so I have many other books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman but this is the first time I’m reading a book by them – and I think I’ve had at least the first two books of the Darksword series for over six or seven years now!

I liked the first book because it was about a world where everybody has magic. Incidentally, this world was supposed to have been populated by people who left Earth (using magic of course) due to the persecution of magic users on Earth. The people were supposed to have been led to this new world by Merlin – a nice touch I thought. The first book was all about how this boy born without any magic at all (and anybody without magic is considered dead on this world since magic is life) forges a sword which can absorb magic – the darksword. Of course, there are many other plot elements such as the fact that the boy will be killed if he’s discovered because anybody without magic is to be *mercifully* put to death on this world.

The second book is about the journey of this boy and his friends to the capital of their country so that the boy can claim is inheritance. The story became even more engrossing suddenly because the boy falls in love 🙂 I think I am a sucker for books with a romantic thread in it – I first started reading Westerns because Louis L’Amour always had a love story in his books :p I have enjoyed the love story so much in this particular instance because it seems to be very realistic – at least as far as I am concerned because I feel the same way as the characters in the books do. Maybe it is because I am in love at the moment or maybe I just get caught up in books but this story calls out to me 🙂 But I am still reading book two and so that’s all I’ve read …

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Posted by Fahim at 7:26 am  |  2 Comments

I am surrounded by so many kind and generous loved ones and friends that I sometimes wonder what I have done to deserve such goodness 🙂 Jen bought me the domain and then when I asked if anybody would like to help with the hosting, Edward tells me that he was planning to get me hosted as a Christmas gift! In the meantime, I had talked to my friend KuhnDog (who has been kindly hosting me at RazorSys for over a year now) about whether I was taking up too much of his bandwidth and he was like “Not at all! And if you want to redirect your domain over to the subdomain I gave you, that’s fine!” As I said, what have I done to deserve such kindness? Thank you all for being so generous to me and now I would like to announce that is open for business and from now onwards, that’s the place to go to get any of my software 🙂

Speaking of software, I did do a new build of BlogMan and uploaded it yesterday. It now works as it should and there is no versioning problems. I do need to get some screenshots and put up a page for it as well as for some other apps which are just there on the sidebar with no home page for them. Plus, there are several utilities that I have developed (WebPrint and Bandit come to mind) that some people are using but is not up for download at all. I need to do all this but there is so little time, darn it! :p

And speaking of so little time and new apps and stuff, guess what? I have another new app ready to go – I coded it yesterday :p Jen needed something which would create thumbnails of given images and upload both the image and the thumbnail to an FTP server. Now when I’ve needed to do this in the past, what I have done is use ACDSee’s HTML album feature to create the thumbnails, delete the generated index.html file and then fire up SmartFTP to upload the images and the thumbnails to my server after linking them all in the correct page. However, this takes way too many steps and if the images are in multiple directories, you have to do some of the steps multiple times. I took a look at PhotoMeister which is a complete image manipulation/retouching solution and it has an HTML album creation tool which also does FTP but my question was what if I don’t want to generate the HTML? What if I just want to create the thumbnails and optionally upload them – which I frequently do? So I created this new utility that I call Nailer :p

Nailer is simplicity itself since there is only one screen to the app and no menus at all 🙂 There is a list on the left hand side which shows the images to be processed, there are buttons over the list to add images to the list, to clear the list and to process the images in the list and there is a preview pane for a selected image as well as a processing options pane below that on the right hand side of the window. You simply add images to the list, set the processing options such as thumbnail size, prefix for thumbnails, whether to FTP the stuff or copy the thumbnails to a local directory and then finally click the Process button and you’re done! Of course, I just had another brainwave – to make the processing options wizard driven so that you are taken step by step through the processing options when you click the Process button and have better control over the final image creation process – such as whether to put the thumbnails in one folder and the actual images on another folder on the FTP server. But that can come later, for the moment Nailer is working and I’m happy about that 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 5:46 am  |  3 Comments

November 19, 2002

Yesterday I did two releases – one was a bug fix and the other was buggy :p The first was the updated code to RenX so that you can rename files with multiple file extensions to have the same extension. You may also have noticed that there is a download link for BlogMan 1.0 Beta 1 on the sidebar (at least on the mirror sites – Tripod doesn’t have it but more on that later) but don’t download that build since it has a minor bug which will probably prevent it from working 🙁 I had originally coded BlogMan 1.0 to have a version number of 1.0 and built the version checking code around an initial build of 1.0 but then I decided to release a beta build and pushed the version number back to 0.91 and forgot to adjust the version checking accordingly. I didn’t realize this till I’d uploaded the new builds and *then* installed it on my machine and ran into the error. Actually, I didn’t realize the problem even when I ran into the error since I thought it was a problem with my data – I realized it much later and it was too late to upload a new build then. I will do so today.

Tripod – well, I couldn’t upload to Tripod yesterday since I was on temporary hold again due to exceeding my hourly bandwidth limit 🙁 I don’t know what Tripod’s hourly bandwidth limit is but what had happened was that WebAttack had listed Blog 7.0 (probably yesterday or over the weekend) and that started the hits pouring in. Yes, I know that Blog 7.0 has been out for a while but WebAttack is slightly behind always :p Anyway, it now looks as if I really should move out of Tripod but don’t want to be left in the cold if anybody who hosted me decided to pack up and leave. So the only other option seems to be to go for a hosted solution with my own domain since then I can always move somewhere else even if my host packed up. Would anybody care to pick up the tab for hosting me at $4 a month? :p Or, provide hosting for my own domain? If so, do let me know and I’ll move out of Tripod …

I seem to be working on multiple projects constantly these days 🙂 I worked on BlogMan and RenX yesterday and I also worked on my Perl/mySQL tagboard. I added an Admin login option and used a cookie to store if the Administrator was logged in or not. The logging in and logging out seems to work fine and then I added the option to display detailed information about each post. I was having a little bit of problem getting that to work since I can’t test the code on my local IIS installation. Anybody have any idea why Perl can’t seem to write to a text file under IIS but the same code works fine on an Apache server? I’ve checked and rechecked the file and directory permissions but again, since the permissions aren’t the same under Windows and Linux, I am not sure that I’m not missing something there. I’ve been testing my code by transferring each little change to the remote Apache server and that takes a whole lot of time. Oh well, eventually I’ll have the tagboard doing what I want it to do – as the man trying to drain the ocean with a tin cup said “It’s just a matter of time” :p

Posted by Fahim at 6:02 am  |  4 Comments

November 18, 2002

Money, money, money …

I guess money *does* rule the world and makes it go round and not love. I sometimes feel that I am very naive about the world and my expectations about people because I expect everybody to think the way I do and think that people, their feelings and especially those you love, are important. But I constantly find myself rudely shocked to find that everybody does not think this way. (Yes, I know, another one of my cryptic statements/comments :p) Oh well, I guess I can’t change the people around me and I certainly will not change the way I think either just because everybody else is cynical.

But it does bring up the interesting question as to what I should put first when another person who seems to think money is more important is involved. Do I still deal with them with my principles intact or do I deal with them on their terms? I’m beginning to think maybe I should simply deal with them as they would deal with me – probably pragmatically from their point of view but coldly from my POV. Interesting … Oh well, I just started on the first step to be a coldly cynical person I guess. Heck, we all have to grow up sometime – or that’s what I’m told by others who think I am totally out of touch with reality and the world.

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Posted by Fahim at 12:11 pm  |  5 Comments

After a little uncertainty and moving about, I am back at Tripod (of course you may be reading this on one of the mirrors :p). I will not go into the full details of my vanishing trick since it is all detailed in Solipsistic Meanderings; so go read that if you’re interested – or read Jen’s more terse account of the events :p

I did work on BlogMan, RenX and the tagboard code over the weekend. I fixed a problem with BlogMan in that it will not save Movable Type default settings for entries and I thought I had it all fixed but I made an entry yesterday and noticed that the defaults were still not set. So that needs a bit more tweaking right there. I added the option to either rename the file name itself or the extension in RenX and uploaded a new build (now version 1.5) to the servers but made the download the same file and so it will be downloadable from the same old link – no change there. However, after I did the upload I realized that while you can replace a portion of an extension according to a given pattern, you can’t select multiple files with different extensions and rename them so that all of them have the same extension. So I added the ability to do that too but have not uploaded the new build yet. Maybe today …

The tagboard – well, I did get the tagboard working so that it now writes all data to a mySQL database. It even checks the database to see if the table is there and if not, creates it before inserting entries. It then takes the last x number of entries (configurable) in raw format and then parses them for smileys, swearing etc. and displays them on the tagboard each time a new tag is added. This way, you are never dependant on the settings you had in effect when you set up the tagboard – which is what most tagboards seem to do – they parse the entries at the time they are entered and store them in formatted form. You can change your settings at any time and you will get your entries displayed according to the new settings with my code. Now I want to add an Admin login option so that the admin can ban a user or delete their comment. Once all that works, I think the tagboard will be ready for distribution. Of course, this might take a while since I’m working on the tagboard while doing a few other things as well :p

Posted by Fahim at 5:10 am  |  No Comments

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