Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vent time.

I hate bad software. Having been a programmer for over 20 years, I know what it takes to make a good application. And it drives me up the wall paying for anything substandard, even if it was only $25-$50. Further, I had been pretty satisfied using Microsoft's Front Page for Win 98, ignoring the flaws with it, because it wasn't that hard to use and I could work around the limitations. But, then my laptop crashed, I had to upgrade to Win 7, and Microsoft stopped supporting Front Page on the later versions of Windows. So I looked around a little and found what was purported to be a decent low-end (meaning cheap) HTML editor called Coffee Cup.

Man, what a nightmare. Seems that the CoffeeCup programmers only want to focus on stylesheet support for fancy-looking commercial websites. That's not what I need for creating code to be used on TSOJ.manga.org. What I need are simple tables, and links to images on Mediafire. CoffeeCup doesn't support tables well (they've got menu items for inserting rows into tables, but according to the CC support staff, there's no plan to implement the code for it), and it refuses to do relative addressing of page links. To insert rows I have to go into the code editor and do it by hand, which is a pain if there are a lot of tables. Plus, there's no support for column-wide selections so if I do insert a row I then have to go in by hand and reposition the individual cell contents one at a time if I don't want a gap in the middle of one column. What I want is column selection ala Excel. For page links, I'm writing the HTML on my PC, then uploading it to manga.org. I don't want to hard code the page links, because I can't test them prior to uploading them to the server. But, if I do make them relative, CoffeeCup messes up and prepends "D:file\\" to the beginning of the link every time I switch views. This breaks the link even for testing on my laptop. So I'm forced to use hard links and give up the idea of local testing.

But I can live with that. In fact, I have been living with it for the last 9 months. What finally tipped me over the edge was when I was updating the Garo Special Issues webpage to add a table for Katsumata Susumu. This required that I put a new table in between the entries for Yuu Takita and Kuniko Tsurita. I'm using CoffeeCup's own copy-paste functions, and suddenly, the entire page is broken. Every time I switch between Code View and Page View, CoffeeCup adds duplicated code for both the Susumu and Kuniko tables, doubling the length of the file. Delete the offending duplication, and it just comes right back the next time I look at the finished page. Delete the page, start from scratch and add a new table for Shinji Nagashima, and the problem resurfaces all over again. I lost a full day messing with this.

Originally, I wrote a visual basic script to automate the process of generating the webpages for the regular Garo issues because of how long it was taking to do it by hand. I hadn't extended the script to the special issues because I only had 1 or 2 volumes to contend with at the time and rewriting the script didn't seem necessary. Not any more. Being fed up with CoffeeCup, I spent another hour rewriting the VBS to include special issues. Now, instead of the 30 minutes it would take to hand-edit the HTML in CoffeeCup (even when it didn't mess up), I can just run two scripts and everything's done in less than a second. This is a major deal, since I've got 3 more special issues that I picked up from Mandarake recently.

Which brings me to my next major announcement.

The Mandarake store in Akihabara seems to have gotten rid of 75% of its used Garo back issues. I went in around Dec. 17, thinking that I'd grab as many issues from 1970 as I could to work on them during the Christmas break (when my office is closed) and there was nothing there. Everything from 1964 to 1985 was gone. The shelf space was taken over by old copies of Shonen Jump instead. I didn't have time to ask the staff where the Garo issues went, but later I headed over to the Nakano store, and the Akihabara issues weren't sitting on the Nakano shelves. Nakano did still have some older issues, so I grabbed what they had up to July, 1971, which wasn't much. Mainly 4 special issues (Shinji, Katsumata, Seiichi and Ikegami), and 3 regular issues between Jan. and June, 1971.

In any event, I am getting tired of working on Garo, and had been planning on stopping when I got to the point where Kamui-den ended in July, 1971. But, if Mandarake is cleaning Garo off it's shelves, then I'll be finishing that much sooner. In any event, I've still got enough issues lined up for two months, at my current 1-a-week pace. I may take a break after that, but I don't know what I'll tackle next. I was thinking of sampling COM, but most of the COM issues disappeared from the Akihabara shop as well, kind of killing that idea. Nakano does have some COM issues, but it's a pretty small selection. The last time I was at the Shibuya store, there was nothing for either Garo or COM. So, at the moment, it looks like I'll be continuing the Garo features here on Nihon-go Hunter for no more than 2 more months.

End of vent.

1 comment:

  1. sorry to hear you're getting tired of working on garo!

    ReplyDelete