..A Freeware Web Search Utility
for Microsoft Comic Chat characters!
By: Sqiz (Derek White)

updated: 28 January 2007

   History of Development  by Sqiz

Click Here
to scroll down to the recent version information!



 

Jan 1998
Having upgraded Comic Chat to Microsoft Chat 2.1beta for the colour text & characters I settle down to do some serious chatting. It's quickly apparent that some room members can see me differently to others, and I am certainly not seeing everyone as the character they claim to be using.

 

6th Jan 98
Found a couple of Web sites with additional replacement characters and decide to knock up a quick program to see which ones I am missing.

Started writing a program using Delphi 1.0 since it's the programming language in which I am most experienced.

 

Version 0.0       
     

8th Jan 98
Although very unstable the program is working and shows me that I am missing a lot more characters than I thought !
Time for a BIG decision now - V0.0 has some serious limitations :

It really does not like long file names.
Web sites are hard coded.
Searching is being done via DDE links to the browser.
Its 16 bit, so although it would run on Windows 3.0 its fairly slow.
Decide to start again and learn Delphi 3.0 as I go along !

16th Jan 98
Ok, I've installed Delphi 3.0 and its patches.
Since this is my 1st Delphi 3.0 program I'll have to develop it gradually.

25th Jan 98
Its looking promising.
Decision - if it works and there is any interest I will release it as shareware.
 

Version 1.0a        1st Feb 1998
Problem - the ActiveX component I've used to search web sites appears to  require special installation before the program can be run on another machine.
This is not acceptable since I want the program to be stand alone using any existing internet connection and without needing modifications to a users system files or registry.

 
Version 1.1a       
       

5th Feb 1998
ActiveX component has been replaced with native Delphi routines.
Alpha version is ready for testing but problems with my Service Provider are preventing me sending it to a representative number of interested testers.

Time for a another decision - set up a homepage to allow the testers to download it themselves ( well I can always learn HTML as I go along ! )
 

Version 1.1b        7th Feb 1998
Homepage is ready ( it may not be much but its home ).
Program is now stable and already fairly useful :

Web sites are now dynamic rather than hard coded.
Horizontal scrolling added to table to allow for more sites.
Status bar added to show web site associated with each character.
Reduced form size to 480x640 for PC's with lower resolution.

 

Version 1.1c        14th Feb 1998
Duplicate homepage has been setup on CompuServe
Added an abort switch.
Consider making searches asynchronous but decide against it for now, most users will accept that somedays the internet is just plain slow.
Added code to allow for users who have not installed Comic Chat !

 
Version 1.2a        21st Feb 1998
Program now uses a secondary initialisation site if primary not found.
Improved flexibility of the search definitions.
Corrected minor problem with the display of the character table.
Added program history to homepage.
 
Version 1.2b        22nd Feb 1998
Clicking a new character now allows the source page to be browsed
( the browser can then be used to download the required character )
Packaged version tested and released.
Added a web page about creating
Ascii Art for use in Chat. 
 
Version 1.2c        2nd Mar 1998
Added newsflash feature.
More graceful handling of a missing webpage.
Allowed user to abort a really poor internet connection.

 
Version 1.2d        3rd Mar 1998
Fixed the following minor bugs
Handle user attempt to search internet before establishing a connection.
Correctly display character names containing ampersands.
Refresh display with any characters installed during the session.

Another decision - my apologies
Creating this small web site has reminded me how much time and effort it takes.
I don't think I would be happy putting in all that work only to have users download the files without even seeing my site first.

For this reason I have decided not to continue working on version 2 with its built in character download and installation features. Instead I am going to concentrate on making the current version faster and extend its search capabilities.
I feel the ability to open your browser on the relevant page is a good compromise.

 

Version 1.2e (requests)        7th Mar 1998
Corrected the 'ChatCheck.ini' error message which was showing two buttons when realistically your only option is to abort.
Added a progress meter to stop you getting bored on slow connections.
Added a button to skip unresponsive or well known pages.

 
Version 1.2f        9th Mar 1998
Added more information to the browse dialog.
Added highlighting by page feature - browsing is now a double-click.
Rewrote URL storage - increasing speed and reducing memory requirements.
Columns can now be moved (drag the site heading) as well as resized.

 
Version 1.2g       
(cosmetic)       
20th Mar 1998
Columns now resize dynamically during searches.
 
Version 1.2h        3rd Apr 1998
Program now detects any new characters you add to your ComicArt directory.
 
Version 1.3b       

 
       

4th Apr 1998
The addition of what I hope will be a major enhancement for those of my friends who use the chat room Softs Color Characters or who are members of Softs Circle.

Basically I have added a popup menu (available by right-clicking) which allows the user to list the nicknames of Softs Circle members, and by clicking on them find out which character the member normally uses and if you have it installed.
 

Version 1.3c        5th Apr 1998
Exotic bug fix.
 
Version 1.3d        12th Apr 1998
Added an installed character indicator to the nicknames list.
Corrected the behaviour of the status bar when viewing nicknames.

 
Version 1.3e       
(with lots of input       
from Meta-Joy)       
18th Apr 1998
Quadrupled the buffer sizes for those of you with really fast connections.
Allowed a characters location to be copied to the clipboard.
More intelligent handling of the slight variations in character names.
Fixed code allowing for users who do not have Comic Chat installed ! .

 
Version 1.3f        23rd Apr 1998
Program now allows searching to be limited to just those locations which have not already been searched during the session.
( This can happen when sites do not respond or the user skips them. )

Finally fixed the bug which caused a new instance of the browser to open, the program now correctly reuses the same browser window.
 

Version 2.0a       
       
28th May 1998
Started testing the Microsoft Chat V3.0 Beta
Added a feature to distinguish between versions of installed characters.

 
Version 2.0b        2nd Jun 1998
Moved the version detection feature to the popup menu.
Modifications to handle new layout of the Unofficial MSChat Add-On Site

 
Version 2.0c        7th Jun 1998
Popup menu now indicates the version of Microsoft Chat installed.
Detection of installed characters now also produces a browsable listing.
Double-clicking a new format character shows its automatic download address.

 
Version 2.0d        11th Jun 1998
It seems Microsoft have decided to call the new version 2.5 !
made the appropriate changes to reflect the downgrade.

 
Version 2.0e        18th Jun 1998
By popular demand the table can now use the entire width of the window.
Status bar now shows automatic download address
Clicking the status bar now allows :
Browsing my web site
Emailing me via the browser
Limited help information (I'm really spoiling you !)

 
Version 2.0f        19th Jun 1998
Made amendments reflecting the latest changes to internal structure of AVB files.
 
Version 2.1a       
       
1st Jul 1998
WOW - added feature which allows you to check all installed characters with automatic download info against the master copies on the internet !
Added legend and moved help to popup menu.

 
Version 2.1b        3rd Jul 1998
It seems automatic download information can appear in more than one position.
Added feature to allow any 'Out of date' characters to be updated with the internet copy as per the embedded automatic download information.
Program is now resizeable to the full width of the screen.

 
Version 2.1c        5th Jul 1998
Fixed problem with some sites incorrectly reporting automatically downloadable characters as being 'not found'.
 
Version 2.1d        10th Jul 1998
Color coding extended J for version 2.5 characters, and L for old characters.
Modified browsing to handle sites with frames better.
 
Version 2.1e        12th Jul 1998
Fixed various minor bugs creating browsable html table.
Added a concealed favourites page to web site (accessable from ChatCheck !)
Created a more intuitive (I hope) scrollbar for the main character table.

 
Version 2.1f        19th Jul 1998
Modifications to allow for foreign language versions of Microsoft Chat.
 
Version 2.1g        23rd Jul 1998
Finally got a copy of the new Microsoft Chat Character Editor (V 0.0.66) and  guess what - the format has changed again - modified ChatCheck accordingly.
 
Version 2.1h        25th Jul 1998
Email from Soft highlighted problems with renamed characters.
Renaming a character does not change the embedded information in it,
and is certainly an infringment of copyright.
Enhanced ChatCheck to detect such characters.

 
Version 2.1i       
 
       
2nd Aug 1998
Trying to work out which characters were being auto downloaded was driving me nuts. Modified ChatCheck so that if it is left running in the background during a chat session (the recommended way to use it anyway); it not only monitors new characters for addition to the table - it now also highlights them and allows you to list them from the popup menu.
The hint setting is now saved between sessions.

 
Version 2.2a

 
       

3rd Sep 1998
Sadly Soft has closed her popular Color Comics site on the Xoom server.
This in turn means that many people who obtained characters from Color Comics are left with characters which no longer automatically download to other users.
(since they point to files at Xoom which no longer exist).

Modified ChatCheck to detect these 'moved' characters and (optionally) correct them so they point to the automatic download addresses of the new Comicchat site.

Revamped the legend display to show all the possible combinations of a characters status without obscuring the search table (you may now hover or click the legend). Made popup menu multi-level to make it appear smaller.
 

Version 2.2b        7th Nov 1998
Rewrote browser launching code for increased compatibility with Windows 98.
Detection of newly installed characters is now much more efficient.
Updated and expanded quick help information.
Better detection of browser symbols.

 
Version 2.2d        12th Dec 1998
Double width columns now selectable from popup menu.
Quick help, legend and hints now tied to function keys.
Better detection of non standard installations.
Some cosmetic bugs fixed.

 
Version 2.2e        18th Dec 1998
Fixed an annoying little bug which made the redirect option unaccessible on the popup menu after a new character had been detected.
Increased 8k section buffer to 32k to cope with the Nexus.
Added code to prevent multiple simultaneous instances of ChatCheck.

 
Version 2.3a       
       
31st Dec 1998
Code changes for browser agent statistics.
 
Version 2.3b        3rd Jan 1999
Previously if you had ChatCheck running on a fast PC and downloaded multiple new characters ChatCheck would occasionally get out of synch and mess up its table - harmless but unsettling - now fixed.
 
Version 2.3c        17th Jan 1999
Cosmetic changes to the progress panel and status bar.
Fixed the problem displaying ampersand's in message boxes.

 
Version 2.3d        12th Feb 1999
Fixed the "CHECK internet for updates" to correctly handle virtual servers, these are sites which do not permit directory browsing and do not correctly return the size of a file on request. Previously this always caused ChatCheck to mark the character as out of date.
 
Version 2.3e        21st Feb 1999
Reportedly ChatCheck was incorrectly handling the addition of a new character if it was added during an update cycle. Although I was not able to duplicate the problem I have now completely replaced the code used to monitor the ComicArt folder - now using a component with a different threading model.

Changed the search function to handle an exclude string rather than merely a single character, this allows correct parsing of some of the trickier sites.

This version now also allows a list of potential new characters to be browsed.
( This feature is activated by pressing F5 after a search ).

 

  27th Feb 1999
Modernised my website.
 
Version 2.3f        6th Mar 1999
Made various dates millennium compliant.
The addition of new characters is now indicated in the taskbar
(useful if ChatCheck is a minimised or a background application at the time !)

 
Version 2.3g       
       
21st Mar 1999
Prevented the deletion of clones from triggering directory updates.
Added fast find (F3) to allow quicker location of installed characters

4th Apr 1999
Created ChatCheck Test Program 1.0a which should help isolate any problems users have with strange configurations.

6th Apr 1999
Test Program 1.0b now test more of ChatChecks modules.
 

Version 2.4a       
       
24th Apr 1999
Major new feature added.
Special thanks to Sherrie, Y-Guy and Thunder for this one !
ChatCheck now has a list of unsuitable characters (nude, violent, upsetting, etc) and can substitute a harmless character for them on your PC.
This allows Comic Chat to function normally but prevents the unsuitable characters from being displayed or even downloaded.

 
Version 2.4b        1st May 1999
A few little tweaks and added the option to keep copies (or not ).
 
Version 2.4c        10th May 1999
I have now given all the characters a rating from mild to unacceptable.
This allows the user to decide how bad a character has to be before it is considered for substitution.

 
Version 2.4d        15th May 1999
Corrected substitution of big characters
(either they are selected or they are not - irrespective of the rating slider position).
Changed the confirmation dialog to be more informative.
Characters that have already been substituted now have a greyed checkedbox to prevent them being selected again.

 
Closed       

July 1999
Sorry folks! After much thought, I decided to remove ChatCheck from service. It was taking most of my waking hours to maintain and my interests were moving into a more astounding area. That is the SETI program.

SETI, (Search for Extraterrestrial Inteligence), has been joined by a group of 'University of California at Berkely' students who created a program, (SETI@home), to aid in processing the data received in listening to the stars.

Among other things, I have decided to focus more of my freetime to aiding in the SETI@home project. Which can use your help too!

To learn more about SETI@home, please visit UC Berkeley's Seti Page! Thankyou!

~Sqiz
 

  J
Version 2.5a       
8th Aug 98
I have given permission to Mermaid_Elizabeth to host my ChatCheck program on her site. This means that she will be managing it for me. She will also be responsible for it's upkeep.

One must download this latest version for continued use since the internal coding has been changed to reflect it's operation now from it's new location.
 

Version 2.5b        18th Aug 99
Due to the large amount of characters now available, the progress panel was maxing out on it's capabilities and stopping in the middle of a WEB search. Though ChatCheck did continue searching and logging, it appeared to most to be locking up.

I changed the 16bit memo used for the progress panel to a 32bit rich text component. This should function just the same as before and allow almost limitless number of characters depending on the memory in your PC.
 

Version 2.5c        27th Dec 99
Mermaid_Elizabeth's site went off line after she cancelled her ISP service for financial reasons. So I reposted ChatCheck back to my site. This version (c) accesses the necessary control files from my site.
 
Version 2.5d        15th April 00
I have my own domain now (http://www.sqiz.co.uk/) and once again had to move the control files to the new domain. So this version (d) will be accessing the files from my new 'Home'.

Mermaid_Elizabeth's site is back! I have decided to keep a 'back-up' copy of Chat Check to run from my new site as a convienence to my friends who use ChatCheck to keep up with all the new Comic Chat Character additions.
 

Version 2.5e        7 May 00
This is the most current revision now! This version is managed by Mermaid_Elizabeth and was edited to access the control files from her newly relocated web site on the WEBB.NET host sites.

Users who have 2.5b will find that it no longer will do a search and are asked to download this version (e) or 2.5d.

If in doubt, get the 2.5e version since it may find some newer sites that 2.5d may not have been updated yet to search.
 

Version 2.5 x         22 February 2001

ChatCheck 2.5e was sourcing it's control files from the website host WEBB.NET. After WEBB.NET closed their doors to free internet web page hosting, ChatCheck 2.5e had become dead and is no longer an active web search utility!

ChatCheck 2.5b had been reactivated to do internet Comic Chat Character file searches and was managed by Mermaid_Elizabeth from her AOL account! But she has closed her AOL account later in the Spring of 2001. Moving to Cable high speed access.

ChatCheck 2.5d was operating and getting it's control files from Sqiz's (the program's author) web site domain! Sqiz closed his site in the Winter of 2002.


 

Version 2.5f 

25 March 2004
Sqiz closed the ChatCheck portion of his web site about 2 years ago. The most recent version is still ChatCheck 2.5f.    GET IT HERE!

Due to 'Windows ME' Code issues, the 'Microsoft Comic Chat' program must be installed into one of the two default folders in order for
ChatCheck 2.5f to operate properly.

(This applies to all Windows Operating Systems).

The default folders are:

C:\Program Files\Chat\
and
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Chat\



 
  17th Dec 2004
Mermaid Elizabeth found a cool little freeware BOX making program called Scott's Box Shot Maker 4.0.

She decided to use it to design a virtual 'software distribution box' for ChatCheck and design a new WEB look for ChatCheck building around the box. The result is this new Web Page Theme / Layout! ( The BOX maker program is a memory HAWG, though ).


TOP

 
 Return to ChatCheck's Home Page
 
 


ChatCheck Copyright 1998-2006, 2007 Derek White aka 'Sqiz'
All other Copyrights and ownerships acknowledged

ChatCheck is hosted by:
Click here to visit/return to Mermaids' MS Chat Resources Link Page
Click The Button

 

This page created by:
Mermaid Elizabeth using bg graphic from:

School Icons Club