Archive for March, 2004

Get Well Soon, TiVo

My TiVo has been acting a bit fishy for the last week or so. A little sluggish in the menus at times; an occaisional stutter or lag during playback. I’ve been meaning to reset it to let it clean up its swap partition.

Tonight when I flipped over to my TiVo, it appeared to be paused 45 minutes into a hour recording. This seemed odd, since I’m the only one who uses the TiVo and I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave anything paused. Attempting to play the paused program yielded no change. The menu button did bring up the menu, eventually… overlaid on the paused show. I tried the live tv button, and changing the channels. The Live TV guide worked, but the paused program never changed. Eventually, I went to the menu and rebooted the TiVo.

After a brief pause, I saw a graphical TiVo start up screen. A minute later, this changed to a “Almost ready” prompt. Shortly after this I got a new message, which pleases me not.

A severe error has occurred.

Please leave the Receiver plugged in and connected to the phone line for the next three hours while the Receiver attempts to repair itself.


If, after three hours, the Receiver does not restart itself, call Customer Care at 1-877-367-8486.

It’s been about 20 or 30 minutes. The message hasn’t changed. At first I heard lots of hard drive noises, but now all is silent. I haven’t seen the yellow light indicating that E.T. is phoning home either. I’ll probably be in bed before the 3 hours is up. Come morning, I may have an expensive door stop.

Get well soon, TiVo. I guess if I can’t watch TiVo I’ll just surf the web.


John Gruber has released Markdown, a plain text to (X)HTML language and tool. It is similar in function to Textile, which I’ve been using since I started this blog. Markdown‘s formatting is inspired by plaintext e-mail formatting, and has the added advantage that Markdown-encoded text is, basically, legible; even more so than Textile-encoded text. To really see this in action, look at the Markup-encoded version of the Markup home page. This really sold me on the idea of using Markup here on the blog. At some point I intend to do a rigorous, feature-by-feature comparison of the two at some point; for now I just want to play with Markdown.

Markdown (the tool) is implemented in Perl, and is both a command-line tool and a Movable Type plugin in a single file. I had intended to write a Blosxom plugin for Markdown, however, is also a Blosxom plugin! Very nice. One caveat – You must rename the file to Markdown in order for Blosxom to recognize it as a plugin.

As written, Markdown-as-Blosxom-plugin processes every entry as Markdown-encoded text. This would require me to convert all of my existing entries, which I’m not looking to do. Instead, I modified slightly to work like the Blosxom Textile plugin– if the Blosxom story header includes meta-markup: markdown, then Markdown is invoked to process the story text (requires the meta plugin). The modified story() looks like this: sub story { my($pkg, $path, $filename, $storyref, $titleref, $bodyref) = @;

    if ($meta::markup eq 'markdown') {
        $$title_ref = Markdown($$title_ref);
        $$body_ref  = Markdown($$body_ref);

So how does it work? You’re soaking in it. This entry is written Markdown. So far, so good. I’ll post again later on my Markdown-vs-Textile impressions.

Update: The code above is obsolete. A much more robust version is here.


As I noted at the time, Mozilla Firebird 0.7 was upgraded (and renamed) to Mozilla Firefox 0.8 in early February. I’ve been using Firefox 0.8 since the day it was released on my Windows PC at work. I works wonderfully. On my OS X Powerbook, however, things are different.

I downloaded 0.8 for the Powerbook the day it was released, and tried it out. Within two minutes I had decided that I do not like the new “default” theme for OS X, Pinstripe. No knock on the fine folk(s) who put the theme together; but I simply dislike it. The actual pinstriping is fine, but the buttons, tabs, etc. were so different from Qute (the default theme for 0.7 and non-OSX builds of 0.8) that I found it distracting. Adding insult to injury, Pinstripe is incompatible with the Tabbrowser Extensions extension, which I find indespensable. After some searching, I found the home page of Arvid Axelsson, creator of the Qute theme. According to his FAQ, Qute should be available for Firefox for OS X “Relatively Soon”. Having read that, I closed Firefox and returned to Firebird 0.7 to wait.

It’s been three weeks since 0.8 was released, and Qute is still not available for OS X. Being that I stayed home (sick) today, I decided to give 0.8 a try again. I still don’t care for pinstripe, so I decided to try some other themes. I tried three or four, and all had the same problem… scroll bars are missing. They are functional, if you click in the right place, but they do not render. I’ve had this problem with themes on OS X before, in older versions of Firebird. I went looking for a bug in Bugzilla, but couldn’t find one. This seems unlikely, so I wonder if I searched correctly. I may try again later, and then submit a bug if I can’t find it already written up.

So, I’m back to using 0.7. I don’t especially mind, but I’d rather be using the newest version. I do think that changing OS X‘s default theme, or at least not including Qute in the distribution, was a poor decision. One of the biggest selling points of Firefox for me is that I can use the same browser on OS X and on Windows. Without the availability of the “default” theme on all platforms, however, it doesn’t feel like the same browser.