TiddlyWiki and Chrome

The hard drive on my work computer failed last week, so now I have a new hard drive with a clean installation of everything. Our head of IT recommended switching my default browser from Firefox to Chrome, so I did that, but when I did, I discovered to my dismay that TiddlyWiki stopped remembering things like my user name and where to save backups. I use TiddlyWiki for my reference notes — things like chunks of XML or MathML that I want to be able to find very quickly and copy and paste into another document. I’ve amassed hundreds of them, but they don’t save me much time, compared to entering the code anew, if I can’t find the one I want very quickly.

(TiddlyWiki, I’ve found, is less good for my project notes. I want to be able to have anywhere from five or six to maybe a dozen or more project notes open at one time, and be able to switch among them and jot new items down in them quickly. TiddlyWiki is good for switching quickly among notes, but it’s a little more trouble to make additions, partly because you’re forced to think more about format. So I use Notepad++, a great text editor, for project notes and other “active” notes, and TiddlyWiki for “reference” notes that I want to refer to quickly but don’t need to make frequent changes to. It’s worth taking a little more time to think about readable format for a note you’re going to be referring to over and over again for months or years to come; not so much for things you need to jot down but that won’t be needed a week from now.)

Anyway, the problem in a nutshell is that TiddlyWiki is a Java-based program that keeps your notes in an HTML file, and you look at your notes and make changes to them by means of a browser, like Firefox (which I used to use) or Chrome (which I’m using now). Your preferences for things like user name and where to save backups are kept in a cookie. And, unlike Firefox, Chrome doesn’t let you save cookies from local HTML files, only from websites. Argh!

There are various ways to work around this, and I probably wasted a good half hour searching the Internet and reading about the somewhat complicated workarounds other people have used, before I found the simple solution that is built right into TiddlyWiki already. So I’m jotting it down here in case I need it again two years from now and I’ve forgotten what it was, or in case somebody out there is searching the Internet for a simple solution to the same problem.

All you need to do is open the “SystemSettings” tiddler. In the right sidebar, click on the “More” tab and then the “Shadowed” tab and select “SystemSettings” from the list. Into this tiddler, insert the settings you want to make permanent for this file. (Permanent in the sense that they will persist no matter what machine the file is opened on.) For example, mine right now contains:

txtBackupFolder: backup
chkSaveBackups: true
chkToggleLinks: true
txtUserName: Scott Marley

To find the terms to use for the options (like “txtUserName”), click on “options” in the right sidebar, and then on “AdvancedOptions” at the bottom of the box that appears.

That’s it. Took me all of thirty seconds to fix once I knew what to do.

As a side note, with Chrome you also need to be sure that the file “TiddlySaver.jar” is stored in the same folder as your TiddlyWiki HTML files or you won’t be able to save changes. If you’ve lost the file, like I had (because I hadn’t needed it with Firefox), you can get it again by downloading a fresh copy of TiddlyWiki at TiddlyWiki.com.

Speaking of Sin

You want to talk about sin, I’ve got one for you: inventing simplistic, imaginary, absolute rules about the world in order to make you feel more knowledgeable and in control and self-righteous than you really are, and then hurting other people in the process of trying to make the world fit your ideals so that you don’t have to do the more difficult work of making your ideals fit the world.

Random Thought

On the one hand we have Todd Akins saying we shouldn’t let women have abortions due to rape because women rarely get pregnant from rape. On the other hand we have Mike Huckabee saying we shouldn’t let women have abortions due to rape because there have been any number of wonderful, valuable people who were conceived during a rape.

Didn’t the Republicans used to be better at the talking points thing than this?

(I am not holding my breath for Gov. Huckabee to tell us about all the wonderful, valuable people who were born to unwed teenaged mothers.)

Die Fledermaus at Opera San Jose

I should probably mention what I’ve been working on. Opera San Jose is doing a production of Die Fledermaus in the near future, and they want to do all the singing in German but all the spoken dialogue in English. But the director, Marc Jacobs, dislikes all the English translations he’s been able to find. (And rightly so, in my humble opinion — I know of only two that manage to be better than godawful, and even those two, though they do capture the spirit of the original, are wordier and less sharp in the writing than they should be. And don’t get me started about the horrible, horrible version the Metropolitan Opera did in the 1940s or whenever it was.)

So Marc read my Bat out of Hell, an adaptation of Die Fledermaus set in Berkeley in 1998 at the end of the dot-com boom. He loved it, but of course he can’t use it because the company insists that the production must keep the story in late-19th-century Vienna and keep the singing in German. So Marc asked me if I’d write a new translation of the spoken dialogue.

Ordinarily I say no to this sort of thing — this stuff just doesn’t pay well enough for me to take time away from the projects that interest me more. But in this case I’ve had it in the back of my mind for some time that I might want to write a more or less traditional English-language version of Die Fledermaus. Alas, though Bat out of Hell has been produced more times than any of my other librettos, it has not been produced as many times as I’ve been told “We’d love to do it, but we’re committed to a traditional production.” And as I said, none of the existing English-language versions are first rate, so a really good one might well catch on and bring in some extra income for me.

So writing the dialogue is one step in that direction, and this production gives me a motivation to get that done.

Another thing that interested me about this production is that, though they’re keeping the story in Vienna, they’re updating it from 1870 to 1890. I gather that the reason has more to do with wanting to give the production a Belle Epoque look and feel than anything else, but Marc mentioned that he was also going to make Dr. Falke a psychoanalyst à la Sigmund Freud, and that caught my interest.

So I’m having some fun with the idea that Gabriel, Rosalinde, and Adele all have secret fantasies and desires that they’ve been repressing in various ways, and that come out at Orlofsky’s ball — sort of a tongue-in-cheek take on Freudian psychology.

I’ve finished my first draft of the whole thing, and I’ve done the final polish on the first act — with the one exception of the beginning of the third act. It’s become traditional to build up the part of Frosch — a small part in the original — into a star turn for a good non-singing comic. (This was first done by Max Reinhardt for his lavish, all-star 1929 production in Berlin, and it was so widely imitated that practically everybody now thinks it was written just that way in the original.) Marc has asked me to do the same thing here, as he’s got a good comic for the role.

The way this is usually done, though, is to give Frosch a big comic solo drunk scene. I dislike that approach, partly because drunk scenes seem facile and not all that funny to me, but more importantly because it steals the thunder from Frank’s drunk scene that immediately follows it. Two drunk scenes in a row is two too many for my taste, but Frank’s is important to the plot and embedded in the music, so it pretty much has to stay. So whatever Frosch is given to do right before it shouldn’t make it seem like a weak echo.

Hence, in Bat out of Hell I wrote an entirely different sort of comic turn for Frosch at the start of act three. I can’t use anything like that one in this production, though, because the things it satirizes are modern. So I’m trying something very different. But still, not a drunk scene. I’m hoping to finish it tonight. We’ll see how it comes out.