Creating .pgn files with Fritz 12

Whenever I study anything, be it a programming language, a chess thingy or whatever, I like to keep my own notes.

Usually I use OneNote for stuff like notes on programming languages and recipes and things, however recently I tried to study chess openings in the hope that it would assist me in beating Fritz and generally becoming a better player.

Chess is a bit weird because I really need planty of diagrams to help me grasp something, and if it moves so much the better. Reading a book only gets me so far. What I needed was a way of playing through a game, opening or endgame, and keeping notes as I went.

Fortunately, chess has a standardised text file format, .pgn, or ‘Portable Game Notation’ which allows you to transfer moves and comments between different software platforms. Thus, if you can find a way of making a .pgn file containing moves, games and commentary you can share it between chess programs on different devices (e.g. Chessmaster/Fritz/Arena on the PC, ScidOnTheGo on your Android Tablet etc.)

Creating a Huge Great Annotated .pgn File Using Fritz 12

  1. Green Button -> Create a new database
  2. Navigate to a suitable folder on your hard drive to put it in
  3. Important:Select .PGN in file-type drop down. If you don’t, you’ll create Chessbase database, which is useful, but not quite as portable
  4. Name it
  5. Click ‘Create New’
  6. This creates a new .PGN file at your chosen location on your hard drive
  7. Important: do ensure that the file type is set to PGN! It defaults to Chessbase database format, and if you’re not careful it will generate a Chessbase Database with its myriad little attendant files instead. It’s dreadfully untidy.
  8. Go back to the Fritz Board, and start creating/annotating games:
    1. Start a new game (Home -> New Game)
    2. Turn the engine off (Engine -> ‘Switch Engine Off’ box; you have to do this every time you start to create a new game. If you don’t, Fritz will jump in and start moving pieces about)
    3. Move the pieces around
    4. To annotate, right click a move in the Notation Window and select ‘Text before/after move’. Enter Text into pop-up window
    5. To add a variation, rewind and enter new move on the board. A popup will ask what you’re up to, choose ‘Add New Variation’
    6. Repeat until you’re done with the game/study you’re creating
  9. Click Green Button->Save->Save
  10. Enter details of game in the window that pops up (player names, game result, date, tournament etc.)
  11. Click ‘Save’ and the game will be appended to the .pgn file
  12. Repeat from step #8 until you have a whacking great .pgn file with loads and loads of games/studies/notes on it

Fritz’s interface can be a trifle opaque at times, but it’s a very powerful and useful GUI once you can find your way around it!

You can add the ‘New Database’ and ‘Save’ options to the quick toolbar as well, which is very handy if you use them frequently.

Dustland

Resident Dust
The guys who have been drilling holes in the walls and inserting pins have gone. I am alone in my castle now, and there’s a thin layer of terracotta talcum powder over everything.

If you attack a brick wall with a drill and a masonry bit, it generates a large amount of fine pink dust, even for the smallest hole. The fifty-odd, inch-wide, two-foot long channels into which the ‘pins’ have been inserted generated an absolute shitload of the stuff.

It was in the hall, the bathroom, even the living room (which I’d attempted to seal off as best as I could). Still, not feeling too bad, especially since Moon dust made its way through the seams of the NASA space suits worn by the Apollo astronauts.

On the way home from work I bought a mop, in a sort of attempt to arm myself for the worst when I got home.

OK, it wasn’t too bad. The Kitchen’s pretty much finished now, and the Drilling/Pinning is done, and the guys had made a good fist of attempting to clear up. Still, everything was covered in shit.

I cleaned the kitchen a bit, and then filled the bucket to clean the bathroom floor. I picked up a bit of speed and had a crack at the hallway, and yep, everything started to look black and shiny again. The study (well, half of it) and the front door was next.

It was only when I stopped to admire my handiwork that I realised my crass mistake: brick dust isn’t soluble, so what I’d succeeded in doing was make a kind of brick-dust ‘paint’ which looked OK when wet, but left interesting brick-dust patterns when it dried.

I can’t seem to get rid of it, and so I’m considering turning my flat into a theme park called ‘Dust Land’, where children can come and play in the dust and eat dust-flavoured ice-creams.

Work

Mainly jQuery and something involving JSON. Also nearly finished a set of sites, and am upgrading a photo slideshow thingy on the server

Anything else?

No. It’s all covered in dust. There is nothing else.

General update #918264

Dream

Last night I had a shockingly bad dream. Or rather a sequence of dreams. I’d gone to sleep in the study on my new air bed, because sleeping on the Futon in the living room was killing my back. I dozed off, and was awoken by two pairs of hands viciously grabbing me. I woke up with a start, only to be lunged at by a towering spectral figure in the corner of he room. This woke me up (again), and I found I was blind and paralysed. I tried to open my eyes but couldn’t. I freed my hands, and attempted to open them manually only to succeed in tearing my own face off. And I woke up, with a start, again.

I noticed a theme here, and realised I was stuck in a bit of a loop of ‘false awakenings’. In the current one, it was very dark but I could tell that the furnituree in the study has in the wrong places so I knew I was still dreaming. Once I realised what was going on, I wasn’t unduly worried and set about finding a way to wake myself up. I manged to gain some awareness of my physical body, but unfortunately my consciousness wasn’t quite conscious enough to move it, and I was still suffering from sleep paralysis. Took me ages to wiggle, shout (well, go ‘mnurgh…’) and generally get myself out of that.

Once I’d woken up (again) I did a quick reality-check: I could say my own name, remember my bank account number and where I was, and the clock next to me was showing sensible numbers and not a peculiar arrangement of suns, moons and fish. That’ll teach me to eat Chilli late at night…

Scammers

I keep getting phone calls from Indian guys trying to tell me that my bank is going to repay me something-or-other because of some PPI-or-other I apparently took out. Thing is, I have no debts, no PPI or anything like that. I am 100% solvent, apart from a residual index-linked Student Loan (which I could pay off easily, but the money’s earning more interest than I’d save by paying it off – besides, they’re in no rush for it).

When a phone call starts with a barefaced lie, I usually let them ramble on until they hoist themselves with their own petard. With this guy I asked him which bank was involved and how much it could be, and which loan the PPI was for. He didn’t know. I’m truly curious as to how many people fall for this bollocks. I explained to him eventually that I knew this was a scam, and that therefore he was a criminal, and asked him if his parents were proud of his career.

The Weekend

This weekend’s going to be egregiously busy. I need to clear out the study, take stuff to the dump (thanks witz66 :), move stuff from kitchen to Study for use over the next fortnight, and other stuff I’m storing needs to go into the bedroom. I also need to ensure I have enough clothes washed to last me two weeks (14 pairs socks, 14 pairs boxer shorts, 10 work shirts, 2 pairs trousers) and that everything’s ironed and hung up. I also need to obtain some dust sheets.

This is all easily do-able, so I’m not mightily fussed by it all now. In a fortnight’s time I should have a new kitchen, and in three weeks time once the bathroom’s done the bedroom’s being finished.

The Witcher: $4.99!!!

Blimey, you must get this if you have even a vague interest in RPGs…

http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/the_witcher/

It only needs a reasonable PC to run (anything bought in the last couple of years should do), 8GB download, no DRM… Possibly GOG’s best deal ever!

Seriously, I love this game: the stories, the characters, the bawdiness, the graphics… A real classic. And I still haven’t reviewed it.

Bricks and Plaster, the ongoing saga

Spoke to the lovely woman who lives on the top floor, Camilla. She doesn’t mind having her wall hacked to bits on the 16th May, so I’m going to send the wall-hacking guy up to her first, then the folks on floor two. That should take two weeks, by which time the Kitchen should be finished, so I’ll be abel to get the stuff back in there ready for the Wall guy to start work on my floor.

Best to do things like this consecutively rather than concurrently.

Visual Basic

I have a Visual Basic Assessment tomorrow.

¬_¬

I haven’t ‘revised’ as such for this, because I’m actually using it as an assessment of my baseline VB skills. I’d like to work with .NET more, but have an awful feeling I may end up doing Java and Velocity stuff.

General Update #7623519

Blogger

After reading an entry by Mr ron_broxted on Livejournal, I’ve decided to syndicate this Blog on to Blogger as well as Livejournal. I’ll also be starting an on-off Web-stuff blog where I’ll be keeping a record of things I’m doing with jQuery, CSS3 and other web/media technologies, which I’ll be feeding via RSS on to my website.

I still have no plans to use Twitter or Facefriend, and no amount of hectoring, cajouling or ‘everybody else is’ stuff is going to change that, unless I actually find a use for it. Meantime, the ever-illuminating Stanford.edu site has some interesting stuff on Facebook:

Stanford: The psychology of Facebook

Sleepless

Thanks to work being done on the bedroom, and the fact that the walls still need plastering, I’m still sleeping in the Living Room on the Futon. It’s a bit like sleeping on a pile of logs with a thin blanket thrown over it. Poor old Ms Rhapsody has had exams, and so we’re both rather stressed, and as a result neither of us are sleeping particularly well.

Worse, she gets twitchy in the night and keeps me awake. I get narky and kick her back. I can’t sleep in the Spare Room, because the noise of the boiler and fridge in the kitchen next door keeps me awake, even with earplugs in (other things that keep me awake are things like the mains hum of rechargers that have been left in, and the butterflies in the garden – that’s how much of a light sleeper I am). The Bedroom’s out because of the state it’s in, and that leaves the Study, which from Monday will be functioning as an impromptu kitchen.

Around 6am the upstairs neighbours get up. They are both lovely, and I couldn’t wish for friendlier, nicer folks upstairs, but one of them is a ‘heel walker’, who feels the urge to walk endlesslessly from one end of the flat to the other, many many times each morning between six and seven with accompanying ‘stompstompstomp’ sound effects.

Ms Rhapsody gets up shortly afterwards, and the shower makes a loud whining noise like an old dog.

Ideally I’d have my very own special, soundproofed room with blackout curtains. *sigh* Maybe one day.

Dealing with the aftereffects of insomnia

I know a fair bit about insomnia (on an experiential basis anyway), having suffered from it on and off since I was young. what I’ve always struggled with however is coping with the after-effects: that tired, shivery, brain-dead, emotional feeling you get for most of the following day. This was depicted beautifully in Fight Club, and many a day I’ve spent in that dopy, unresponsive state.

Unfortunately, I need to work during the day. I have websites to build, bugs to fix and meetings to attend in which I must be alert enough to be able to discuss said websites and bugs.

What to do? There are many websites, articles and books about preventing insomnia, but being advised to take some valerian root before going to bed isn’t much help when you’re staggering around like Keith Richards the next day. I had a look at the physiological effects of sleep deprivation in the hope that something there would give me a clue.

As it turns out, lack of sleep increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol contributes to oxidative stress in the body, impairs memory and general functioning, as well as making you feel awful. At least, that’s what I found out after a bit of Googling and Wikipediaing. On this basis, drinking a pint of coffee seems somewhat unwise, because too much caffeine also increases levels of cortisol too.

Eventually I hit upon the following, counter-intuitive combination of measures:

  • 1 x Revive! Effervescent vitamin and mineral supplement drink thingy from Sainsbury’s. Not Berocca, because that’s got Aspartame in it, and Aspartame is the Devil’s Talcum Powder.
  • 2 x Kalms tablets (these contain Valarian and Hops in a sort of sugary shell, like herbal Smarties)
  • Lucozade (the original), or some other glucosy drink
  • Some porridge, or a flapjack (for the slow release carbs)
  • Loads of water
  • Camomile Tea
  • Open the window

…And I kept my head down and took my time over things.

I also took the step of warning my colleague that I hadn’t slept, and so would probably be a bit slow on the uptake. I rearranged my workload to deal with some simpler, more routine tasks as well.

It worked splendidly. I got through the day without any major disasters, without going to pieces, and with a vaguely normal blood pressure instead of the ‘thud thud thud’ of a stressed blood system.

For the avoidance of doubt, the above stuff probably won’t help with the shocking catalogue of cognitive impairments listed here:

Wikipedia: Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance

…But at least I managed to get through the day feeling vaguely human and comfortable.