Are you a Help Vampire?

I was going through the RSS newsgroup feed for borland.public.delphi.thirdypartytools.general (say that 3 times quick) and noticed someone had this link in their signature. It’s pretty damn funny and I think everyone has come across a help vampire at one time another.

I’ve always wondered why some people post first and think later. I very rarely post to newsgroups and instead enjoy the process of working out how to do something. Otherwise how are you going to learn?

If I’ve got stuck with a particular programming problem I tend to discuss it with other peeps at work. I don’t ask for an answer as such, more like tell them what I’m thinking and does it sound right and do they have any suggestions… which incidentally is what the Help Vampire Spotter’s guide suggests a help vampire should do.

Talking problems through is actually a great way to straighten it out in your head, because in order to tell someone else its got to make sense. The number of times I’ve been stuck on something that has caused me to think it round and round in circles and get no where, but by just telling someone else, I get the answer.

You’ll feel a bit of dick spending 5 minutes telling someone your problem to just go “Oh, I get it now, nevermind… thanks”, but it’s worth it.

BlogJet on Windows Live Writer

I posted early on my initial thoughts on Windows Live Writer and how it’s a bit lacking in comparison to what I normally use, BlogJet. Dmitry Chestnykh, BlogJet’s author, posted on his blog about the similarities between WLW and BlogJet. Unfortunately because his native language isn’t English (it’s Russian) he used terminology that a few people seem to have taken the wrong way. Saying WLW is a rip-off is bit over the top when they are just similarities, but you can easily understand what he means.

WLW is very similar to BlogJet, scarily so, but equally there are only so many ways you can write a desktop blog publisher (for want of a better term). Perhaps Dmitry should be flattered that it is so similar? My initial run through of WLW was that whilst it worked, it gave me no compelling reason to stop using BlogJet. BlogJet just works!

It’s a proven application and I can’t see the logic in why it should suddenly become free, as was suggested in the comments on the BlogJet blog. Me, I’m looking forward to BlogJet 2.0 :)

And yes I would pay to upgrade.

Windows Live Writer

Given everyone seems to be messing about with it at the moment, I thought why not join in! Yep, this post is written with Windows Live Writer. Hmm… I’m not quite sure what’s with the default setting for the view. It appears to have downloaded parts of my site and put it as a background… but as you can see from this screenshot it’s a mess.


Changing the view to Normal instead of the Web Layout gets round that hurdle.

That said I do like the Web Preview option:


Annoyingly I can’t seem to align the above pictures in the centre. I only have text wrapping options of left, right or inline. I’d the ability to ignore all that and align it…

like the text in the sentence like you would a paragraph.

Actually the alignment shortcuts of ALT+L, ALT+R, ALT+E don’t work either, like do in Word (and BlogJet). Oh and I can’t pick .png images, only .gif and .jpg. I tend to do all my screen shots (excluding the above) as png’s.

I’m not keen on the initial set up either. It was able to detect I’m using WordPress but it wasn’t obvious to me as to what info it wanted. The first page of the wizard wanted the address for my blog but there was no indication that it was going to work out what I was using.

BlogJet takes a different approach asks you the type of blog engine you use to start with and then fills in all the relevant settings. A far more obvious way of doing things. It’s got some nice addictions but the basic fundamentals for editing aren’t there yet. However if they sort those out, I can see unfortunately BlogJet losing a lot of business. Back to BlogJet for the time being me thinks.

Edit: I have subsequently used BlogJet to edit this post since I had typos and also WLW was soooo slow at updating an existing post.

Where does the time go?

It’s been a hectic couple of days. Did various wedding related things since it’s only 5 weeks away! Things like holiday insurance (since we’re going to Italy)… oh and a suit! Kate wasn’t keen on me wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

So I’ve not really been at a computer much and when I have, I’ve been getting on with MPQ Archive. Speaking of which it’s pretty much done. I’ve got all the map downloads sorted and uploaded. There are 22 reviews I couldn’t find maps for so when the site goes live I’ll stick them up as a list. Going through the old news posts though it seems that most of them are really long standing ones I couldn’t find downloads for back then, so I’m not holding out much hope.

I’ve also added an archive listing by file which is a directory style list of all the files for download on MPQ Archive. This includes ones that haven’t been reviewed as well. I’ve tended to put up all maps by certain authors since it’s nice to have them as a backup.

I’ve included two types of list. One with all files in alphabetical order split into so many per page and the other by alphabetical grouping. Kind of like on ftp sites, 0-9, a-c, d-f etc. Here’s a couple of screen shots of it:

MPQArchiveListing1 MPQArchiveListing2 

Not particular impressive, but useful I hope.

All I’ve got left to do is sort out the interviews. The html for them is a real mess and I’ve found that quite a few are of Quake 2 authors and I don’t have the maps, so I’ve been off hunting for them! I’m also waiting on some proper site logos from Jay, but hopefully that shouldn’t too long.

Then I can invite some people in for testing, see how it all holds up. I actually have a date in mind for when it’ll all go live too, which will probably only amuse me. Looking at the readme for phdm1 might give you a clue…

Site Map of Royal Blackburn Hospital

Not exactly the most useful of updates, but I was at Blackburn Hospital earlier in the week and unfortunately the listing on the NHS site didn’t have a site / layout map (most hospitals do). So I got one whilst I was there and I’ve scanned it as a PDF and uploaded it for all to see! Nice of me I know.

Royal Blackburn Hospital Site Map – PDF File – 561KB

Small print – I accept no responsibility whatsoever for any errors or omissions in this site map

MPQ Archive Downloads

One of those jobs I’ve really not been looking forward to has been sorting out the map downloads. The initial pass of the 500 maps (I was wrong in a previous post on the number of maps, I was using old review tables) came back with about 400 that I had. With a bit of tweaking to my map finder and searching the interweb I’ve brought it down to just 22 files missing out of 520 in total. There are also some that are apparently “ok” but I need to go back and check them.

The majority of those 22 that I can’t find are… how shall I put it… not that brilliant anyway, but for completeness sake I will try to get hold of them. Although finding and K:\Games\Quake\id1\maps\ might be difficult! I’m going to knock up a list at some point and post it here and on func_msgboard, see it that gets any takers.

In the mean time I’m going to mark those maps as download wanted, so when someone goes to download them, they’ll be asked if they have it (yeah daft logic I know since they’re trying to download it) but you never know, it might spring up some results.

Amazingly for some maps the original download urls still worked, and the same was true of some author websites such as StarGazer’s Map Observatory. Ok, so it’s not been updated in four years but at least it’s still there *cough* PlanetQuake *cough*.

In terms of where to search I used Google and Yahoo but they’re not very helpful. PlanetQuake and Telefragged are littered with broken links, and PQ in particular is full of broken sites due to the their constant need to change the site urls. Why? Who the hell now wants an url at!? Yuck.

In the end I was looking in three places for maps, mirror of PlanetQuake, mirror of idgames2 (off and most ironic of all the Rocketland mod upload section (yes, run by Rocketman).

Through staring at the various reviews, odd things have cropped up. 3 maps were reviewed twice (all by Joe Hunter). I reviewed them first time around and then 21 months later they were submitted again and Fat Controller reviewed them. Thankfully, we gave them the same marks (except for one, differing by just 0.5). Shows I wasn’t complete off base! Also browsing through the comment content showed that Pingu had a stalker, Ashley Lauren, who commented on most of his maps usually with “mapping god” or “master”. Very strange.

Hungarian Grand Prix

What an eventful race, easily one of the best for a long time, full of ups and downs from start to finish. The two second qualifying penalty Alonso incurred didn’t seem to count for much and he put in a stunning opening stint to go from 15th to eventually fighting Jenson Button for 1st. Especially so given the wet conditions and his overtaking move on Schumacher was cracking.

Unfortunately Alonso suffered a broken drive shaft (sounds painful), although initially it looked like one of his rear tyres hadn’t been attached properly after a pitstop. Things looked down as Schumacher was on for finishing in the top three, but hesitation on Ferrari’s part as to whether or not to change from intermediates to slicks cost him. Pedro de la Rosa snook past him and a shunt with Heidfeld attempting the same move saw him retiring with deranged steering… again painful sounding.

The result of which was almost a status quo in the championship with just 10 points in it (Kubica in the BMW was disqualified for his car being under weight, so that meant Schumacher finished 8th, gaining a point). With just five races left and Renault’s return to form it’s going to an exciting finish to the season.

Oh, I suppose being English I should be over the moon that Button won his first Grand Prix, but to be honest, I’m not that bothered. It’s good news, but it was helped along with some good luck. Hungary is an odd circuit so it’s doubtful that there will be a repeat performance elsewhere. Will it mean a Mansell like career take off? Wait and see me thinks.

Turkey is next in three weeks time.

Another MPQ Archive Update

No screen shots on this one, just waffle. I’ve gone a bit overboard on what I originally planned to do and I think I’m now officially in tinkering mode. I didn’t intend on having user accounts and therefore the ability to comment but I have added that back in. I think my logic was that it would be cool to have people comment on the old reviews. Not sure if that’s a good idea or not?

Of course I couldn’t just put this stuff back in like it was on the old MPQ. Comment spam is now a problem so I’ve used a combination of user accounts and CAPTCHA’s to hopefully stop it. And I couldn’t just put in a plain comment input, I’ve had to do a preview screen as well since that’s what you have to do now. Also because I added user accounts I needed register, login, logout and edit account screens… oh and a reset and email me password option.

Then there’s download tracking, i.e. counting how many downloads a map gets. More for personal interest than anything but that led to a bunch of code, a new table and a list maps by download option. I did attempt this on the original site but never finished the code.

Anyway, this is definitely a bad case of feature creep!

I think though, other than bug fixing, I’m done coding. I’ve decided to draw a line (actually I can’t think what else to add… well other than the option to input reviews, but I don’t want to go down that road!) What’s left to sort out now is data related, like messed up formatting in review / article text, map downloads, review images and misc text and pages on the site. I’m hoping to get that done in the next week to have something ready for testing not long after, but we’ll see.