Command-line SGA Extractor released

Permalink 08:44:43 am, Categories: Dawn of War, Programming, 178 words  

Relic's Dawn of War game (and the Winter Assault expansion pack) use an archive format called SGA. These SGAs contain all of the files that the game needs in the way of models, textures, sounds and stats/abilities. Extracting these files means you can edit just about all them, and some of them need only minor hex-editing to be converted for use in an entire new race (e.g. the WHM and WHE files for models and their movements and the RSH and WTP files for their textures).

Having already created a .Net library that can be used by any application to allow it to open, examine and extract from SGA files and then used it in specific Halved Marine Mod and Quartered Marine Mod installers, the command-line extractor makes a generic tool that can be used by anyone and can especially be used by the different Mod Teams out there to keep the download size of their mods smaller (for those with .Net installed).

Ladies and gentlemen, I present, for your viewing pleasure, the Command-line SGA Extractor!


FloridaHomesDirectory ready for go-live!

Permalink 09:31:33 pm, Categories: Web Design, Programming, 195 words  

For the past few months, I've been working on a new website and a new use for my CMS.

The latest website to run on the system is FloridaHomesDirectory.co.uk, the new Florida holiday villa listing website that is being set up and run by my girlfriend and her mother. The website aims to link holiday makers with the villas they want, all through a small set of search filters. Each villa will be listed with a photograph and a small description, ensuring that visitors can see what they are getting before they click through to the villa website.

The site isn't live quite yet, we're waiting until the New Year for the actual launch, but it should be fully functional now.The site design has also been checked in a variety of browsers. Mozilla 0.9 chokes on the styling used for forms (but then it is quite a few years old now!), Opera 6 wasn't too happy with some parts of the styling either, and Netscape 4 manages to get confused by the hitcounter (stupid thing) but other than that all versions of IE, the latest Firefox and v7 and above of Opera handle it fine.


More anti-spam coding

Permalink 07:42:19 pm, Categories: Programming, 379 words  

Since the original "Junk Removed From Logs" post, I've still had referers getting through and I've had some comment spam as well.

Although it's always going to be an uphill battle, I'm willing to keep blocking different keywords if it means less junk in the logs and comments.

Some of the words I've blacklisted so far include (but are not limited to):

  • realty
  • prescription
  • mortgage
  • medications
  • pharmacy
  • texas-holdem and texas-hold-em
  • brand names I know and things that are probably brand names but I've never heard of e.g. cialis, viagra, amoxil, meridia, prilosec, propecia, prozac and phentermine

This list might ignore some valid referers, but I'd prefer that over referer spam in my logs. The blacklist has also been applied to the URL field of the comment box, so any spam in there will get a "sorry, the URL is potential spam" message if they try to submit spam comments. That one's the safer one, as although someone might blog "how to stop texas-holdem spam" and have it in a referer address, they're less likely to have it in their real URL that they enter for making a comment.

Now to leave it a while and see how the extra keywords go, adding more when I find what gets through :)

Update (the next day): Last night's bombardment of spam (including some comment spam) appears to have been fought off without a single casualty! Not even a single comment or referer got through that shouldn't have :) Hopefully the trend will continue with the comparative lack of successful spammage.

Update (11th December): Two nights and only two bits of spam got through :) One was from a completely impossible to detect domain with no give away page (hoodia.op-clan.com) and the other has what appears to be another brand name that is now getting blocked. Approximately a dozen referer spams have been blocked, though, possibly a little more.

Update (12th December): One more comment got through last night, although it had no URL in it anywhere, just lots of variations on "buy phentramine" or something. One referrer got through again, but again it was with a brand name of drug so it won't get through again. Soon enough I'll know all of the drug brand names and have them all blacklisted!


Winter Assault Pattern Switcher released

Permalink 04:52:57 pm, Categories: Dawn of War, Programming, 118 words  

I should have post about this earlier, but I forgot, so the post is here now.

On Sunday, I added a new version of the Dawn of War Pattern Switcher. This version adds Winter Assault functionality, allowing the importing of Imperial Guard textures and the launching of Dawn of War: Winter Assault.

The latest Pattern Switcher still works with plain Dawn of War, but if you don't have Winter Assault installed then the "Launch" button will throw an error.

*has a sudden realisation* Hmmmmmmm, maybe I should have handled that better. Never mind, hopefully people aren't that dumb!

Anyway, the latest version of the Pattern Switcher is available at the normal location: http://skins.hiveworldterra.co.uk/PatternSwitcher/.

Payment for articles?!?

Permalink 09:08:25 am, Categories: General, 446 words  

OK, so this post doesn't really cover anything I'd normally blog about, but it just has to be posted for the same "it's just so stupid" reasons as I post the list of strange searches.

Someone has, overnight, posted on the Hive World Terra forums with the topic (and I quote exactly) "im interested in writing for Hiveworld terra". They then go on to say the following (again, completely uncorrected):

I was wondering if you would consider paying for writing scenarios, campagins, research, background information or anything else you miight think of. i wont ask for too much and I will gladly write somthing for you for free in order to give you a sample of the kind of work id write. If you decline I would like to know if you can give me any other places I could turn to. Thanks, Sam

Now firstly, why should I pay anyone to write content for me? I can make content, other people occasionally submit content for free (the site only gets around 90-100 visitors per day, with a good chunk looking to illegally download a copy of a codex, so contributions are infrequent) so why should I pay someone?

Secondly, I'm sure Games Workshop Legal would be up in arms about someone charging for a derivative work when it wasn't them or a retailer stocking their product. They're picky enough as it is, even when you're not making a profit anywhere!

Thirdly, if that post is anything to go by, then why would I even want his work? (I'm assuming 'his' from the name Sam and the username 'theguyyouknow'!) There are a few typos in there, the grammar could definitely do with improvement - Fundamentals of Capital Letters and Apostrophes for one thing - and a new paragraph or two might have been useful. I know my grammar isn't always perfect, and I might make the occasional typo, but as a presentation of "do you want me to write for you?" he could have done better. It's almost like saying "I want to write programs for you" and then presenting a small program that errors and exceptions and doesn't do all of what it should do! One thing that might explain it, though, is his email address - aol.com, never normally associated with good spelling and grammar (or good service, or good anything really :D)

If he's interested in writing for HWT then I'll gladly accept his work. If, however, he is interested in writing for the money then he doesn't stand much of a chance in the fan-community at all.

Now to wait and see where the topic goes from here and whether he actually bothers coming back!