Ok, lets tackle these one at a time.
The slightly elevated spot issue really isn’t an issue at all. it won’t do much to affect the lighting as the actual sphere is invisible once the ‘dupliverts’ option is activated. But if it really concerns you, the spotlight needs to be in exactly the same location as the centre point of the sphere for this to work.
In fact, now that I look at your screenshot again, I can see that your centre point is in the wrong location, meaning that you’ve probably moved the vertices into position in editmode. If you had just created a sphere, gone into editmode, then deleted the bottom half of the sphere, the centre point would be aligned to the bottom loop of vertices. It wouldn’t be in the centre like your screenshot shows.
Try this for an experiment. In object mode, move the sphere around. You’ll notice that the centre point moves with the sphere. Now go into editmode, select all the verts, then move them. You will notice that the centre point stays in the same location regardless of how you translate the mesh. This is a very important distinction in Blender, as the objects centre point is used for a hell of a lot more than just rotation. Dupliverts, textures, and a lot of the modifiers use them as well.
These ‘bugs’ are simply your lack of understanding of the program and how it works.
Also, the dupliverted spotlight trick is a very out of date lighting rig that was popular about seven years ago. There really is no need to use it at all. You should be using Approximate ambient Occlusion, which will provide cleaner and more even light, better shadows, and will do it a lot quicker.
it took me 6 months to do something that only took me 3 hours with the trial version of 3dmax.
Ok, that is bordering on the ridiculous. The only way this is true is if you tried it once, didn’t use blender for 5 months and 29 days, then decided to do a little research on the matter. It took me 3 months to get proficient with Blender, and that was with version 1.8. At the time there was almost zero documentation and the interface was much harder to understand.
As for the textures, they are mapped incorrectly. For us to help you with this, a screenshot isn’t going to cut it. Are the textures uvmapped? If not, what mapping type are you using? A .blend file would be the best option here, as we can take a look at what you are attempting to do.