Welcome to shitalshah.com V4

It's that time of the year again: Upgrading the technology stack behind my site! Actually, much more than that. I'd been neglecting to post here for very long time. Pretty much everything that could happen to prevent me from posting often seem to have indeed happened in past few years. There have been indeed lots of glowing moments of insights, clarity and awesomeness which all now slipped away from my keystrokes to remain buried in the fragile volatile memory of mine. Only thing I can say is, you, poor reader!

People have argued that social media will spell the end of posting on personal websites and blogs. In reality, social media has so much optimized itself on to sharing statuses, links, photos etc that it is rather dull tool for meaningful longer writings especially technical writing. I guess no one in social media currently cares about ability to syntax highlight the code, add LaTeX equations or embed latest commits from Github repos.

The decision to revive this website came with many choices. From the way back in 1990s, I'd insisted to build my own computers for my home and write my own software for my homepage. I enjoyed doing both because I loved obsessing over all the tiny details of hardware specs and software behavior. But then two things happened: Writing blog engines with all bells and whistles started becoming a full time job and 2nd, it's hard to beat MacMini on size, specs, price and ability to run MacOS as well as Windows. Of course, I could dumb down my blog engine to minimum, but then where's the fun?

Result is that last year I finally bought MacMini instead of building my own desktop. This year I decided to shelve my old SyFastPage framework as well as new ccBlog project at least until I'm done with other more important things. The decision got much easier by the fact that WordPress has finally evolved in to something that is robust, easy to use, hackable, extensible and has enormous community support that would be hard to replicate.

These days any hacker can't possibly make a choice to use WordPress without looking at Jekyll and its semi-clones. Initially I was excited by the whole concept of throwing away fat server side stack and having every change archived at Github but as I thought more about it I felt Jekyll wasn't passing this litmus test: Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler.

If you think about it, even though modern CMS/blog software dynamically generate pages using their fat footprints, for most of the requests content is served right off of the cache. In essence, these fat complex infrastructures are static site generator but storing their generated content in memory instead of disc. This actually enables simplicity in use which would be otherwise be sacrificed to keep technology stack simple.

So the new version of this website is mostly WordPress and I'm pretty happy with everything so far. The reason for "mostly" because I'm still running some code that I wrote using ASP.Net. The ability to use WordPress side-by-side your own code and override any WordPress idiosyncrasy is very important to me. This gives me an escape hatch to write my own code for whatever I wanted using whatever stack I preferred. The source code of old version of this website will remain available like all of my open source projects.

In past, I'd kept content of this blog more personal and less technical because at that time social media didn't existed and many of my friends and family would have glazed their eyes over technical content. Thanks to social media, I can now continue posting all those personal opinionated blurbs there and use this website for sharing something more serious. If you are interested in the former you can follow my social feeds.

Updates - Spring 2005

I would be writing all New York City related stuff at Metblogs rather then my own blog. This makes sense because lot of people who aren't in this region doesn't need to get those NYC stories. On the other hand, my NYC related writing will now reach to much larger audience. Check out some of my entries there about cool New York events, restaurants and such stuff.

On the other site news, you might have noticed new skin and more FireFox friendly design. I also decided to give away the engine that my website runs on (C# code I wrote almost 4 years ago) along with entire source code for this website (thats in VB.Net just for fun). Nothing special but main highlights of the engine is that it accepts raw HTML file as the base template and embeds your dynamic ASP.Net WebForm content inside that HTML. It also provides navigation control which runs off of XHTML templates and XML.

If you like my free utilities, don't forget to check out the massive updates in my Software section. It has now many more of my programs and utilities that I kept it to myself. Specifically, the one called Browser History Analyzer analyses your IE history (support for FireFox coming soon), builds MS Access database and gives you tons of amusing info about your browsing habits such has the queries you fired on search engine, how do you refine your keywords progressively, how much time you usually spend on a page, how much time you spend on browsing and so on. Whilte still in development, it also features extensible architecture to let you make your own plugins. I've also put the link for article I wrote for CodeProject about how to show Explorer's progress dialog in your apps.

Finally some Alaska trip photos also have been added. Yenjoy :).

NotepadX Preview Is Out!

This is the thing I needed since like 3 years now and I started writing it by myself early 2003. But I knew something like this should have been already out there and I was probably wasting mytime in doing it all over again. So I decided to write several reusable application components rather then app itself and then build the app as a "demo" of components. I used NotepadX for about an year as a solo user while evolving and writing more code to make it better. And just now I felt it's pretty sophisticated and stable enough for other people to preview it. For non-geeky users, NotepadX is a powerful utility to maintain their data. For programmers it's lots of reusable interesting source code.

Warning: This program was written circa 2003-2004 and last updated around Mar 26, 2004. It is currently considered obsolete. There are no plans to update it and no support is provided.

NotepadX is now archived at Github

New Version Of This Site Comming Soon

The new look[s] and content is soon coming to replace my current web site. This new version will feature something called themed site - i.e. I can make my site look like anything I want in minutes! This concept is not new but as I wanted to take care of all small details, it took me 30 hours of heavy duty ASP.Net programming and couple of missed meals last weekend to accomplish this - in most ideal way I could think of. Thanks to all rain and cool air coming from my window - which kept me working long long hours. There will be change in content too. I'm planning to delete some of them. So just in case, you'd liked it, save it in your own machine before it disappears! Apart from that, I'll be moving my blogs to my own blogging tool. These blogs are currently hosted on blogger.com and that thing SUCKS! They charge for their crappy blogging software and still 50% of the features I want are missing. I'm just tired of looking around for another blogging service and so I got to write my own - my next mission.

My New Photo Albums

I'd become little lazy in putting up my photos since last many many months but now I just looked back and thought these ought to be out there or at least some of them! So here goes my Saturday night updating my photo albums! But in this blog I want to talk little about taking photographs. First, you do not need bulky pricey cameras. The good photos you capture entirely depends on the angle, moment and your judgment rather then technology embedded in camera (gee, and you still call me a geek!). Almost all photos in all of my albums so far were taken from mere 1 Mega pixel digital cameras which had all necessary functionalities but weren't the high end ones (HP C20 and Sony DCR-100). The key to get good photographs is just to get out more. And every time. Make your will exceed the difficulties posed by weather or other circumstances. For example photos in my new album on Verrazano bridge were taken on one of the cold day in winter with chilling winds. I still remember my hands were frozen at the point of getting numb even after wearing gloves and I couldn't hold my camera still! Yet in other album on Sun rising from behind the New York City it was even more brutal - I'd forgot my gloves! You won't feel the chilling winds in those beautiful photos but it were there. If you ask why others don't have these photos, it's for simple reason: they weren't out there. One more thing, you might want to avoid any retouching of your digital photographs unless you really want to do some modern artsy thing. The only thing I would allow on my photos is resize and 90 degree rotate. However tempting it might be, absolutely no enhancements of any type - the world deserves the truth the way you saw it! Finally I must thank the pool of positive feedback last year for these photographs but I guess I do not consider myself an artsy or even dedicated photographer. Infect much of the time I intentionally do not carry my camera or don't take a snap even if I had one. You do loose capturing some magnificent views but you don't loose moments :). My new photo albums can be viewed from my site.

First Of Blog - How To Carry 10,000 CDs With You

This is my first blog... wonder why didn't started this already! First what's Astrila? I can't tell for sure but it probably means "sparkling snow in star light" in Eskimo's language. Well some don't agree however. I've my personal web site at http://www.ShitalShah.com - that's my name Shital Shah. This blog I'll be using for jotting down quick unbacked findings and here's few samples. I'm always on look out for new music. Already have few thousand songs here and there, but too much is not enough! There are now two online music services available: Yahoo' Launch and Lycos' Rhapsody (it's playing "Pure Moods III" right now on my laptop). The Yahoo Launch is free and it will sequence up the new music for you by looking at your likings and ratings. Very cool. It did correctly picked up many of my favorites from some of the sample ratings I gave to it. A relief for someone like me who have exhausted out of choices. It has tons of online free videos. That's super cool because MTV sucks at showing music videos these days and I desperately needed some on-demand music video service. And here it goes! Saying that, however, Launch collection isn't really very big - i.e. it doesn't have 10s of thousands of songs - just few thousands. There steps in the Rhapsody. They charge $10/mo and you can listen online to their collection of some 10000 CDs. It's like carrying that many CDs to your work or a hotel or Starbucks :-). You can even burn selected tracks to CD for $1/track. But there is no videos. Many of my favorites I found there: Matchbox 20, Lincoln Park, Enigma, Moby... Some I didn't found were Jewel, Enya and many others. So it's kind of balanced collection but imagine, full CDs - right there waiting to get played! These days if anybody recommends me any album/artists I first listen on Rhapsody and they think about buying it.