Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Rediscovering my blog

Whoa! I have a blog. I had almost forgotten it. Life and work had consumed me and I forgot I had a blog. Well, the problem is I have more than one blog. But still I have not blogged consistently across all of them.

I am not sure what I will end up writing on this. I wasn’t planning to make a post. Basically I have nothing specific to say. But I had a mail from wordpress.com because someone had tried to reset the password for my username and I just came to the blog to make sure that it was not hijacked by anyone else.

In the process I discovered a few things about my blog. I’ve had this for almost 7 years now. And there was a time when I used to be pretty active (in this blog). There was a time when my family used to comment about my posts. People who didn’t know me that well discovered about me through this blog.

Then I got pretty private. I think it happens. I got cold feet about shouting out everything in my mind. And also, Twitter came along. I started to tweet more than I blogged. But then again, I am not a consistent tweet either. I can go for months without a single tweet.

Well, that’s about it for now I think. I don’t know when I will post back here again. There are some things that I would like to talk about. But still my thought train is not complete. So, maybe someday, I will get to those on this blog.

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I don’t know whether it is a rediscovery of the love for writing or the love for fountain pens. But I tend to put pen on paper every day these days to record my thoughts!

I used to like writing when I was younger. During my school days I was pretty good at essay writing and always scored well, be it in Sinhalese or English. I stopped learning languages and literature around the age of 16, and from that point onwards it has been all technical subjects for me. Then, I had to master scientific writing. I learned to keep things concise and to the fact. I lost the art of writing.

Soon after I left school I did a short stint as a journalist. It was for a weekly paper and as a cub reporter. I did it purely because I liked to write. Of course that was also the time I was going through university and after a while I decided to give up my journalistic career and concentrate on my university life including the fun side.

Then onwards it was purely scientific writing., I studied mathematics and physics and I ever considered myself a master of any of those subjects to write about them.

And after I started working, being into IT, I spent all my time with a keyboard. Hence my writing became typing on the keyboard.

Until recently I could hardly write for five minutes with a pen and paper without feeling an uncomforting feeling around the wrists.

But throughout I carried forward my passion for fountain pens. I always carried a fountain pen if I ever carried a pen. I lost a few along the way, most notably though my university career. I remember once while running in the rain, the pen I carried got thrown out of my pocket and fell into a ditch full of water.  I searched for it ended up being wet but didn’t find the pen. I remember how I sad I felt at that loss.

I have also had several occasions where the fountain pens leaked in my pockets. I remember once it leaked on my way to a job interview. Luckily I had some time so I went into a shop, and bought a new shirt and ended up walking out of the shop clad in new shirt and headed straight to the interview. (I landed the job and signed the documents using the pen that leaked!)

Back to the topic, I plan on using all my fountain pens now. I had them packed and nicely packed away in a drawer. But now that I want to write with them, it is time to make use of my collection. After all, what’s the point of a collection if they cannot be used.

Earlier, a refill used to last for a month or so. But at my current rate, I think a refill will only last a week or even less. Therefore all my pens will have an opportunity to scribe on paper in my hands.

But one thing I am in need is a good notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. Most of the notebooks in the market tend to have very thin paper which, when written on with a fountain pen, the ink blots through the page. I would also like something which has a nice bound cover.

I am now finding more ideas for my blogging also through writing. I tend to write my thoughts on the paper and then convert them to blog posts if I feel if there is some significance in them. This post in itself is one such incident.

Enough typing, off to more conventional writing!

I haven’t actively developed moBlog for sometime now. I think it has been about two years since I did anything on it.

But according to my box.net statistics, it is still being downloaded. At least once a day. And occasionally I get requests for features and asking me if I am planning on a new release.

I have been toying with the idea of open sourcing it for sometime now. I am not sure why I didn’t consider it from the beginning. I think it could have gained a lot of momentum had I done it before.

But as the saying goes, better late than never, today I am making moBlog open source. I am uploading the source to codeplex as I write this.

The codeplex url for moblog is: http://moblog.codeplex.com/

If anyone needs any help in setting it up just shoot me a line and I will walk you though it. I will add the instructions needed to get it working on to the codeplex site eventually, as soon as I get some time to write it.  I would also do a roadmap if there is still interest for new features.

If someone wants to join the team and develop the app I welcome you! It would also inspire me to contribute more.

The reason for moBlog becoming inactive was due to my shift from a WM device to an iPhone. That left me without a real device to test the application. When I did the shift I searched for a similar app for iPhone but found none that supported all the platforms that moBlog supported. There is an official WP app for WP blogs, but I couldn’t find a good free app that supported blogger and live spaces on iPhone. If anyone can direct me to one I would appreciate it.

Also, if there is a free version of an app that converts the .NETCF app to iPhone compliant code, I think moBlog will be quite popular among iPhone users as well. I was thinking about porting moBlog to iPhone but I don’t have a MAC to do the coding. So that idea never saw the light of the day.

 

After a long silence on the moBlog front I finally got sometime to work on moBlog. The following are the enhancements done to moBlog:

Ability to work with published posts 
Now moBlog allows you to retrieve the latest 20 published posts in your blog. After retrieval, you can amend and re-publish them via moBlog. You can also delete a published post after retrieval.  You can retrieve the published posts via the Open Posts option. In that screen there is a drop down on top of the screen with the following options:

  • Saved Posts – locally saved un-published posts
  • Published Posts – retrieves the latest 20 posts published on your blog.

Please note that moBlog does not locally store the published posts, so every time you choose the Published Posts option, moBlog retrieves the posts directly from your blog. So if you are charged for the amount of data you are using, be mindful of that.

Editing Enhancements
Now moBlog allows you to bold, underline and italicize your post content body. moBlog would insert HTML tags to the body so i advice you to do these actions at last otherwise your body will start to look like a HTML code!

Removal of ‘Posted by moBlog’
I used this pingback to promote moBlog. But since most of you have complained about it, I decided to remove it. Besides I could not figure out the actual visitors to my site and the pingbacks!

Hope everyone would give this new release a try as well. I have done a bit of tweaks to make blogging from moBlog easier and given more power to authors to post better formatted posts. I personally am not very fond of the text editors that are being used on moBlog, but in the absense of a better, more powerful and FREE editor control that can be used on .NETCF, I am left with no other alternatives. If someone can point me towards an editor that can be used,  I’ll be happy to incorporate that into moBlog.

Please download release 2.2 from HERE

Happy moBile Blogging with moBlog!

Happy Wesak everyone. At least those of you who are in Sri Lanka are enjoying an extended weekend of 4 days this weekend. Some of you have been lucky enough to go out of Colombo. But I am in Colombo for several reasons as there were a few things we had to attend over the weekend.

To start off with there was a ‘bana’ and an alms giving on Friday and Saturday. Then there was Vidara and Thedara’s birthday party. Then there is the fact that my parent company being in the US, requiring me to be in Colombo with broadband connectivity in order to support thier operations. This is one of the things that I will have to do, working on US calendar as my head office. Something I figured would nt be much of a hassle. But in the long run I will have to get some Sri Lankan holidays, at least ones like the Sinhala New Year.

Coming back to Wesak, the recent bomb blast and the security situation in the country will put in a lot of restrictions on the Wesak celebrations. At least people will be a bit reluctant to travel to see the wesak celebrations due to security fears. Even my mother did not go to the usual temple that she goes to obtain SIL as today there is some big program with a lot of big shots in attendance and hence she was scared about being at a locations which is a prime target.

So on this noble day my wish is for peace in this paradise island. May we be allowed to celebrate wesak in  peace and harmony next year wihout the fear of bombs and loss of life!

moBlog has had a pretty good ride. There has been about 1000 downloads of both Pocket PC and Smartphone versions.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I fixed the issues and performed a limited testing. By limited what I meant was the PPC version was tested on a device, but the Smartphone version was only tested on the emulator.

So if you want to test the new and improved moBlog, please download the required versions from the links in this page.

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

This post is to test the latest enhancements for moBlog for Smartphone with wordpress.com.

These enhancements came about as a result of listening to user feedback. Though moBlog only has a small user base, they have been pretty active in using the application, suggesting improvements and finding bugs, all of which would not have been possible, specially with the Smartphone version as I do not own an actual device.

I was earlier paranoid about releasing the software as I had not tested it on an actual device. But after reading “Getting Real” by 37Signals and also due to the limitation of me not owning a Smartphone device I was compelled to release it only after testing it on the emulator. And the user community has been wonderful in reporting issues and suggesting improvements for the application after test driving it in various devices.

Thank you Nick, Pat and all the others for finding bugs and suggesting improvements. Please do keep on sending your suggestions.

Let’s make moBlog THE mobile blogging software for Windows Mobile!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

There were several requests for a Smart Phone version of moBlog. Since the original moBlog application was designed for the Pocket PC’s form factor and it had used a few PPC controls, it was not working on Smartphones. And I heard your requests for a smartphone edition of moBlog and today I am happy to announce the release of the moBlog Smpartphone Edition!

I know this release was a little bit behind the PPC editions, but the reason was that I did not want to release a stripped down edition for the Smartphones. This released edition supports all the features of the moBlog including support for embedding images for blog posts!

So those of you who were using smartphones, go ahead, give it a spin and let me know what you think.

Get moBlog for Smartphones here

moBlog 2.1.0 had an error when you were trying to setup a profile for your Blogger.com account. This was due to a careless error on my part. Thanks so much to Hans and Pat who pointed out the error to me. I have now fixed it and have released version 2.1.1.

Enjoy moBlog with photo blogging support!

moBlog now supports Photo Blogging for WordPress and Blogger platforms!

It was the most requested feature for moBlog! Support for posting photos taken with device camera’s. As far as I know there aren’t that many mobile blogging applications that support Photo Blogging! Hope this feature will make moBlog THE mobile blogging application!

All you smartphone users, yes I hear you. You need a moBlog version that works on Smartphones! Hey, I’m on it! Your patience will be rewarded pretty soon! Now that moBlog is complete with photo blogging, I am on the task of converting it to work on Smartphones!

As usual, moBlog is still in beta. So please let me know if you come across any issues or have any comments! Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

The most requested feature for moBlog has been the ability to upload photos from the devices. Since most devices are equipped with a camera it makes perfect sense to enable photo blogging on moBlog as it will give people a quick way to get their photos in the devices to their blogs.

Of the blogging platforms that moBlog the easiest to get photo blogging working on was the on WordPress. WordPress supports Metaweblog API’s newMediaObject method and it worked like a charm. You can see the first photo uploaded from moBlog on the previous post!

Blogger now hosts the photos uploaded to the blogger.com blogs on Picasa Web Albums. The documentation vaguely mentioned something about Blogger creating a default album on Picasa for Blogger photos, but this web album is not accessible via the API. Hence I devised a crude method of creating an album for moBlog and uploading the photos to that album!

But the biggest disappointment was Live Spaces. Though they support Metaweblog API, their support of that is limited. Specifically they do not support the newMediaObject method. That was a pretty bad decision from the Live Spaces team. If they support a particular API, either MetaWebLog API or ATOM API, they have to support it completely. To make matters worse they do not provide any API to upload photos to the Live Spaces Blog.

I know that Windows Live Writer supports uploading photos to Live Spaces blog posts and similar to Google approach, those photos are stored in a seperate album on Live Spaces. But my problem was I was not able to find any documentation on the approach taken by Live Writer.

In any case, a new version of moBlog will be released in a couple of days with photo blogging support on Blogger and WordPress blogs. Along with that I will be releasing a few more enhancements to the post composition screen with the option to decorate the body of the blog posts.

Look forward to an enhanced moBlog!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

Testing photo blogging from moBlog!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

I have been thinking about what to do next with moBlog. Since the initial release and the subsequent bug fixed version, I have been thinking about where I wanted to take moBlog.

There have been a particular feature request from the those who gave it a try. It is to enable support for posting images to their blogs. Since most of the devices come equipped with a camera this makes perfect sense as it will be great to post those pictures that you capture from your phone. Actually it was something that I also thought of doing, even initially, but differed as I wanted to get the application out as soon as possible. So it is definitely at the top of planned features list.

I have a few other features that I wanted to incorporate as well. If you have used moBlog with WordPress or Livespaces you would have noticed that moBlog currently does not support tags (or labels) for that. Tags are only supported for Blogger posts. This is because I could not figure out, at least with the client code I was using for MetaWebLog API, how to pass the Tags to the API. So this is something I want to incorporate on to a next version: option to tag wordpress/livespaces posts.

Currently moBlog is a .NET Compact Framework application. This deprives all those non Windows Mobile device users of the option to use a great mobile blogging application (do you notice me blowing my own horn here??). So I was thinking about hacking out a moBlog J2ME version as well! Now that is easier said than being done as I have not coded Java in a long long time, let alone tackle the intricacies of J2ME as well. But I think that will be a pretty good challenge for me to get on to a bit of Java coding. I am hoping that coding on Java has become as easy as it is to code on .NET. After all, Java lobby kept on saying that C# was a copy of Java, so I am hoping that those similarities will work in favor for me, coming from a C# background.

But what I actually do next will more or less depend on the user feedback that I get over the next couple of days. Either way, I think an enhanced version for WM with option to upload images will come out way before any J2ME  version sees the light of the day.  But if the demand for a J2ME version out weighs the enhancements for the WM version, I might consider dedicating my time on to that. What do you say?

Since the release of moBlog most of the queries were with how to setup the application. It was evident that a help page was the order of the day.

Today I took the time to write a brief help page on setting up profiles, and also on settings to connect through a Proxy Server (in case you didn’t know, moBlog has support for connection through a Proxy Server!). Please find the help page here (moBlog Help)

As always any comments are welcome, good or bad!

moBlog has had a another release within the space of 2 days.

Since the initial release of moBlog, there has been over 150 downloads. Thank you for all those who gave it a spin. And a couple of bugs were also reported. As a token of appreciation to all those who gave it a spin, I fixed the bugs as quickly as possible and made another release, in order to minimize the inconveniences.

So what’s new with moBlog 2.0.3?

  • Bug Fix – There was a bug when you tried to open a saved post which had categories selected. This has now been fixed.
  • Bug Fix – When saved posts were opened, the paragraph breaks were lost. This has now been fixed.
  • Enhancement – An option to delete a saved profile.

Give this new version a spin and let me know what you think.

Happy mobile blogging!

moBlog Progress

moBlog has had about 140 downloads by now. A few people had left comments asking about how to set up moBlog as well as two bug reports.

I have found and fixed one bug that was reported, but the other I have not been able to simulate. Hopefully, I would be able to simulate the issue without inconviniencing the users!

Well this is another posting from moBlog, while in the process of testing the bug fixes!

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

msmobiles.com has just published a news item about the release of moBlog. You can find it here.

It is official! Though it is in beta, moBlog is released. I have created a page for it on this blog.

Those who wanted to give it  a spin, please go ahead and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your feedback and comments. Looking forward to those!

moBlog is almost ready to be released to the public. This initial release will be released as a beta software as so far the only person who tested was me. Once I receive feedback from a few more folks who are willing to give it a spin, and fix any issues if there are any, then I will take the beta tag off it!

So far moBlog works with Blogger, WordPress and Live Spaces. From a technical point of view since moBlog works on both GData API (to support Blogger.com) and Metaweblog API (to support WordPress and Live Spaces). And technically moBlog will support any other blogging platform which has support for GData API or Metaweblog API. My intention is for moBlog to support as many blogging platforms as possible. If you there is any specific blogging platform that you need moBlog to support, please let me know and I will try to get it incorporated in a subsequent release.

We’ll this post is made from moBlog client itself. After a few more tests are done, hopefully within a couple of hours moBlog will have its official release!

I thought I was alone in this. But seems now more and more people are Twittering more than they are blogging. They seems to be preferring the option of short bursts of thoughts rather than writing a lengthy blog post.

For me Twitter was a more of a quick outlet for what was going in my mind rather than an outlet for my journalling. I just liked to twitter about how I was feeling or what I was upto at a particular moment. And for me blogging was a way to put my thoughts in perspective and trying to put them into words clearly. Blogging to me is writing a book. Something you want to refer to later. Twitter is like writing to a daily. You just write for the moment. It is not particularly for the long term.

But Twitter is a faster and a more efficient way of getting what’s on your mind out there. I would be more comfortable to Twitter teh fact that i am at a waiting longe in an air port waiting for a flight rather than write a blog post on that short fact. In my mind, a blog post has to have aa certain length. It has to have some depth. But a Twitter needs none of that. After all, you only have 140 characters to play with!

And the other fact is the convinience of posting from your mobile. Just put it on a text message and voila! I know, a lot of blogging services offer mobile blogging, but you need MMS or to send an email from your mobile. But Twitter needs just a plain SMS. That is the power of convinience!

You can follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/sampathd

I just noticed something by accident. This blog has passed the 20,000 hits milestone! I can’t believe it. I mean, 20,000 odd times my ramblings have been read by other people! Imagine!

I know, it’s not a very big you might say! There are blogs out there which get ten times more hits in a day! But then, I am not a regular blogger. And this blog has no particular theme or a subject area. These are purely my ramblings, written when i felt like it provided I had the time to do so!

What amazes me is this new medium which Internet has made possible. For a normal bloke, with a regular job and a family, this has provided a means to express his views. And no, I do not have to pay and get some ad space on a news paper! Amazing!

Thank you for all those who even visited this blog once! I will continue to write, when I feel like it, when I have the time 🙂

After sometime found some time to experiment with the new skins on WordPress.com. Finally settled on this one. I liked its minimalistic approach and also the fact that the three column design gives the ability to show a lot of widgets on the default screen space. Hope you like the minimalist look as much as I did.