Thursday, September 27, 2007

HHC help file format gotcha

back in my days working with NCompass Resolution and Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS), I began an MCMS FAQ that was published in CHM and HTML formats. I used to write the topics in Resolution (and later in MCMS) and then I had my ASP script that dynamically produced an HHC table of contents so that Microsoft Help Workshop could create a full-text search version of the document.

well that was back in about 1999 and I obviously didn't remember all the lessons from back then. today I was working with basically the same setup (minus MCMS) for Metalogix Software's SharePoint migration solutions.

I was creating a new CHM and found that Help Workshop will compile the file, but the result was, "This program cannot display the webpage".

I found the answer after looking at the broken .HHC file and a working file side-by-side. so here's my little test. can you see the difference?

this is a--greatly simplified--broken .HHC file:

<!--Sitemap 1.0-->
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Foo Directory">
<param name="Local" value="Foo Directory/index.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="1">
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Topic1">
<param name="Local" value="Foo Directory/Bar.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="11">
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Topic1">
<param name="Local" value="Foo Directory/Foo.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="11">
</object> </li>

and here is a working .HHC file:

<!--Sitemap 1.0-->
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Foo Directory">
<param name="Local" value="BarDirectory/index.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="1">
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Topic1">
<param name="Local" value="BarDirectory/Bar.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="11">
<li><object type="text/sitemap">
<param name="Name" value="Topic1">
<param name="Local" value="BarDirectory/Foo.htm">
<param name="ImageNumber" value="11">

answer below...

- click for full-size image

answer: the help file directories must not contain spaces in their names. "Foo Directory" will fail, "BarDirectory" will work. now that's a gotcha that the app should catch and report.

BTW - this same error will appear if you don't select a "Default file" inside the Help Workshop project options. however, in that case, everything works once you click on a topic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amazon targeting for Halo books

a friend of mine shared a funny little fact with me today. it turns out that Amazon is targeting customers of my Halo 2 battle guide for the new Halo 3 Official Guide.

- click for full-size image

Halo 3 finish the frustration

I previously whinged about my Xbox 360 crashing. now I'll vent a little bit more. the replacement machine literally crashed within five minutes of turning it on. so the biggest game launch in history is upon us, and I'm left out of the rumble until I get the replacement replacement. arghhh!

I just sent the Xbox Global Marketing team an e-mail about these issues. as a professional courtesy, I'll give them a chance to respond before I publish the e-mail.

update: they did respond and said that they are taking the problem seriously and have allocated roughly one billion to deal with defects.

as if to mock me further... MS is sending me e-mails reminding me of what I'm missing.

- MS e-mail about the Halo 3 launch

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dal Water Polo Chocolate Lake

these weekend the Dalhousie Water Polo team borrowed some water from the ducks as we had a BBQ and game in Chocolate Lake (in Halifax). I've posted many photos on my live space.

- warm-up has a whole new meaning...

- game on!

- why are three people checking me? I hope we scored on this play.

- out of Chocolate Lake towards the hot chocolate

- here's your new facebook pic John

- good day...

listen to O'Reilly blogs

O'Reilly has added a cool feature to their blog pages. for example, you can listen to this blog post of mine about Halo 2 modding.

the site is powered by ReadSpeaker, which is an app that will read the text on website pages.

I'd be upset that the app can't pronounce my last name, except that it can't pronounce 'Xbox' either.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dalhousie Water Polo web monkey

it looks like I'll be taking over as the web monkey for the Dalhousie Water Polo team. if anyone out there wants to send me their 2c regarding possible improvements, please feel free.

this is also a good excuse to use my jenn animation again...

- I really should create another one like this. I have shots of her doing the same thing

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Metalogix SharePoint migration

during my days with the Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) team, I worked with a Microsoft partner called Metalogix Software. at the time, they were the best option for customers who wanted to migrate any sort of website to MCMS.

since then, MCMS has been discontinued as a separate product, but some of the functionality of MCMS has been added to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). with this change, Metalogix adjusted their focus. today, their primary business is sophisticated SharePoint migration solutions.

my latest gig is going to be some contract work for Metalogix. I'll be helping them build up their product documentation and FAQ resources.

- Metalogix Software's SharePoint Site Migration Manager

Monday, September 17, 2007

XNA book download and forum

the sample code and other files that go along with Microsoft® XNA Game Studio Creators Guide can be found at: (look for the "code" link on the left side, just under the cover image)

thanks to Pat, the forum for the book is here:

if you have any questions about the examples, go to the forums and ask away.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I was visiting the office of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia today and they reminded me that I don't have any sort of online CV. so here goes...

Stephen Cawood B.A.
Published Books

Augmented Reality at Home
Author 2008 - Pending
ISPN: 1-934356-03-4
The Pragmatic Programmers, LLC

Microsoft XNA Game Studio Creators Guide
Author - 2007
ISPN: 007149071X

The Black Art of Halo Mods
Author - 2006
ISBN: 0672328046
Sams Publishing

Halo 2 Hacks
Author - 2005
ISBN: 0596100590
O’Reilly and Associates

The Unauthorized Halo 2 Battle Guide: Advanced Combat Techniques
Author - 2004
ISBN: 1592007007
Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade

Microsoft Content Management Server 2002: A Complete Guide
Author – 2003
ISBN: 0321194446
Addison Wesley Publishing Company

Recent Articles

E3 2005: War of the Consoles ... Almost
March, 23, 2005 - The O’Reilly Network

Career Experience

Program Manager - March 2002 to October 2004
Microsoft Corporation, Office Server Team
- Managed feature teams through the software development cycle.
- Designed and wrote specifications for various Microsoft Office server features.
- Founder and co-author of the Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) FAQ. The MCMS FAQ is published on (HTML and CHM formats) and contains thousands of developer-focused questions and answers about MCMS.

Web Developer – October 2001 to March 2002
Microsoft Corporation, E-Business Server Group
- Program Manager/Lead Developer for the MCMS sample applications project. Managed, developed and shipped MCMS sample applications.

Team Lead - August 2001 to October 2001
Microsoft Corporation, Product Support Services
- Helped customers, partners and Microsoft Consulting Services personal with MCMS issues.

Team Lead – October 1999 to April 2001
NCompass Labs, Product Support Team
- Researched and resolved technical issues related to the use and development of web sites running NCompass Resolution content management software.
- Developed sample applications using the Resolution Publishing Application Programming Interface. These applications included a bulletin board, a version of John Conway’s ‘Game of Life,’ and a dynamic image gallery.


Awarded these Microsoft patent awards:
- Dynamic Link Control Object (MS#309976.1/M&G#60001.0437US01)
- Version Availability (10/997391)
- Unified Navigation (MS#309421.01/M&G#50037.290US01)


Bachelor of Arts – English Literature - University of British Columbia - 1998
Creative Writing Diploma – Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts – 2007

where do you buy books?

until recently, I have to admit that I didn't put much thought into where I bought books, but now that I'm more involved with the publishing industry, I have a better understanding of what's at stake.

if you want to support your favourite small press, or your favourite author, you should try to buy their book directly from the publisher. for example, if you were to buy my Augmented Reality book from the Pragmatic Bookshelf site, both the publisher and the authors would get a larger percentage of the sale than they would if you had purchased the book from a large online retailer. this isn't always the case, but quite often it makes a huge difference to the publisher.

now, I'm not suggesting that anyone should stop buying from the big retailers. I'm sure that most of my books will still come from sites such as Chapters and Amazon. however, when I'm not looking for a bestseller, I'll make more of an effort to see if I can help support a small press or a promising author.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kejimkujik Park, NS

last weekend, I finally made it to Nova Scotia's Kejimkujik Park. while camping at Thomas Raddall park, we made the short drive to the "Keji" seaside adjunct and did some walking.

- a friendly creature on the trail

- "feed me Seymour!" -- it's Nova Scotia's carnivorous pitcher plant

- a great beach that we'll have to visit next time

- a white sandy... and Canadian... beach

- inviting but chilly

- great visibility

Monday, September 03, 2007

X-Canada Newfoundland

to complete my journey across all of the Canadian provinces, I made it to Newfoundland this summer. here are some highlight reel shots...

- the Bonavista lighthouse. you have to take a picture of a lighthouse or you're not allowed to leave "the rock."

- some great "flower pot" scenery

-hmm, what was this formation called again?

- this is what puffins look like when your telephoto lens is broken. as it turns out, they're quite small.

- Cape Spear, the easternmost point in Canada. it's closer to Europe from this point than Vancouver.

- there aren't any any snakes or skunks on the rock, but there are spiders.

- the village of Quidi Vidi

- the legend goes that Newfoundland fishermen received cheap paint from the government to paint their boats. some wily soul decided that he would save some money by using the brightly coloured paint on his home and the practise caught on.

- looking down at the Atlantic Ocean from Signal Hill in St John's