March 13, 2003

Server trouble and other miscellanea

I’ve been unable to publish the entry I made on Monday for the last few days because my host has been in the process of upgrading their server. At first, it was CGI trouble in that I could not execute any CGI at all and then it was the inability to access mySQL from Perl. I did some investigating yesterday and discovered that they didn’t have the DBD::mysql module (which allows you to connect to mySQL databases via a Perl script) was not installed. So I let the people at the hosting company know and it turns out that they’d overlooked this particular module – so I guess it was a good thing that I mentioned it to them instead of waiting patiently for a few more days for the problem to go away by itself :p Anyway, it all got sorted out and I was able to finally publish my entry from Monday, yesterday.

However, since a few days ago, my e-mail volume has suddenly and strangely dropped. Granted, most of the e-mails I’d receive in the morning when I checked e-mail for the first time was spam, I still think that I’m suddenly receiving less e-mail. Maybe they set up a spam filter while they were at it – I hope not since I hate spam filters because they don’t let me decide what is spam and what is not and stops everything before it even gets to me. I guess I’ll need to look into that some time soon but not today since I’m going to be particularly busy (and out of office) today.

So where am I going? I’m going to do a story about what we in Sri Lanka call a “communal” incident – basically an incident involving two or more ethnic or religious groups. This particular incident is interesting in that it happened in a majority Muslim fishing village (Muslims are generally a minority in Sri Lanka since they constitute about 8% of the total population) where there was one lone Sinhala family (the Sinhalese are the majority in Sri Lanka since they constitute about 70+% of the population). There was a dispute about land which escalated to violence and the end result was that the Sinhala family was driven off from the village. They went to their relatives in a neighbouring Sinhala village and the people there got agitated at what happened and they came back to retaliate. There were clashes and the end result was that three Muslim youths were killed. This happened over a year ago but the anger and the hurt is still there under the surface.

I’ve talked to both sides and as is usual in such a situation, I get conflicting stories from each side which puts the blame on the other. However, both sides blame the police saying that the police was on the side of their enemies and that if the police had done their duty, the problem would not have happened in the first place. Reading between the lines, it seems to me that the whole thing is mostly political since the mayor of the city (as well as the MP – Member of Parliament – for the area) is a Muslim. The whole land problem seems to have started because he was being a typical politician and told both sides what they wanted to hear … plus, the man who seems to be mostly involved in this all from the Muslim side on the scene, seems to be a major supporter of the mayor. There is more to this and I’d like to write it all down at my leisure when (or should that be if?) I get back from the shoot.

Is there some doubt as to whether I will return from this shoot? Probably not but then again you never know since it is still kind of touchy situation and it is possible that something I say and do will set things off :p I do intend to push this as much as I can to do a story which shows the sheer stupidity of such a situation where people think it’s a religious or ethnic problem and blow things out of proportion when it actually is just an altercation between two individuals. But I guess we’ll see how it turns out …

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Posted by Fahim at 6:56 am  |  No Comments

I actually managed to work on three different areas of Blog yesterday and so work on the 8.0 release has officially begun since I’ve archived off the 7.1 code :p I actually had time to check out the web-update component and it seems to be almost working <g> – almost in that it downloads the update information, detects the updates, downloads them and then has problems with copying the updates over from the temporary location for some reason or another. I was in the middle of figuring that last bit out when I started having Net access problems again and decided to shelve that for the moment.

I then began working on the Blog code and split off some of the utility routines into a different package. Delphi packages work like Dynamic Link Library (DLL) files in that you can create an application using the package, distribute the package along with the application (instead of having the code compiled into the final application itself) and have things work fine. This way, I can separate code functionally in to different packages so that updating Blog in the future will be as simple as updating a particular package or maybe just the main executable. If I finally make the decision to merge Blog and BlogMan (the jury is still out on that one …) I will put the metablog API into one package, the regular Blog functionality code into another and the individual blogging utility support code (for Blogger, MT, B2 etc.) into their own packages so that everything is separate and self-contained. Not sure if this is workable but the first step on that road has been taken.

Once the code separation compiled successfully, I replaced the main window’s editor component with WPTools instead of PlusMemo. I had to do some code changes to accommodate the component and had to do some further stuff to support HTML but it does work beautifully in that it loads existing Blog entries (don’t think images will work though – so I’ll need to do something about that) and shows the formatted text instead of the HTML code 🙂 I did realize that I was going to have a few problems though – the main one is going to be how to allow people to do their own HTML tweaks since you can’t type in HTML tags directly into the edit window – at least I don’t think so since it didn’t work when I tried. This also invalidates the existing custom snippet option … unless I provide a separate HTML edit tab and this should work since WPTools also has an HTML tag edit mode which is pretty nice. So I’ll have to look into how to get that going.

The other problem is that I will not be able to highlight the words from a Find operation as easily as I did with PlusMemo – though I might be wrong here since I haven’t looked at the WPTools help totally yet. In this case, I can keep PlusMemo to display results from a find operation but that would mean that you’d have to view those results in HTML mode instead of WYSIWYG mode. But the good news is that WPTools support find operations (as well as find and replace) within an entry and so I can add that support in to Blog. Images are going to be another sore point in that I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to handle them. The existing image directory tag will probably have to be done away with (actually not done away with totally since it can be useful for other things – but done away with as far as inline images go) and a new method to be figured out. Since WPTools retains links to images, I will also have to figure out how to do the whole image upload thing on subsequent uploads. Yes, I know of all the possibilities but each of those has problems but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I actually get to it …

Posted by Fahim at 6:39 am  |  No Comments