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.

Two Things I Am Hating About iOS5

First, they somehow screwed up the shuffle function. I have an iTunes smart playlist on my laptop that gives me a list of randomly selected “albums” (for classical music, I group each work as an “album” and make the individual movements “songs”). I shuffle by albums, and this way I get random works but the movements within each work stay together and in the right order. Since updating to iOS5, however, when I sync to my iPhone, this list gets shuffled again — by song, dammit. The playlist is still fine on my laptop, but on my iPhone the list begins with the fourth movement of Verklärte Nacht, the second variation from the Enigma Variations, the first movement of Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony, the sixth movement from J. S. Bach’s Overture No. 1 in C, the second movement from Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, and so on. This is not how I want a shuffled list to work! And I cannot figure out how to get my iPhone to go back to just duplicating the playlist on my laptop like it used to. Maybe there’s a setting somewhere I need to set, but I’ve looked around and can’t find one.

Second, the iPhone, or at least the music part of it, now seems to ignore all characters other than letters and numbers in alphabetizing lists. For something like 20 years, I have used a bullet (option-8 on the Mac keyboard) at the start of the name to pull my most important or frequently accessed files to the top of a list, so I don’t have to be scrolling for them all the time. This no longer works — the item with the bullet is alphabetized as though the bullet were not there. Arrgh! I’ve tried several other symbols and they all work like that now. Again, things are fine on my laptop, but screwed up in the Music app on my iPhone. Why did they change this? It’s going to take a mess of trouble to find something else that works (I may have to resort to “aa” if this is now true of all symbols, and “aa” is kind of ugly compared to •) and then change the titles of hundreds of playlists.


Email programs should have a feature that allows you to check a little box in your outgoing message, like the way you can set a message to high or low importance, that is labeled “Do not forward”. If a message is sent out with this box checked, the recipient can’t forward the message, or at the very least can’t forward the message without getting a dialogue box saying something like “The sender of this message has asked you not to forward it. Do you really want to forward it anyway?” All replies to this message — and, yes, forwards of this message, if allowed — would preserve the setting.

Obviously this wouldn’t prevent somebody from cutting and pasting the contents into new message and sending that, if they were really determined to stick it to you. But usually people don’t forward a sensitive message deliberately, but in haste, without thinking it through. The point wouldn’t be to prevent forwarding altogether, but more to remind the recipient that there’s something in the message that the sender might not want others to see.

How often has your friend or co-worker typed “FYI” and quickly forwarded an email message from you to Albert, because she wanted him to see the information or joke or cute baby pictures that you just sent her, while innocently forgetting, in her rush to get to a meeting or something, that a chain of previous messages is preserved in reverse order further down in this message, and that several levels back you wrote something a little bit personal or confidential or maybe even critical of Albert?

Geek Rush

Big hit of geek rush just before lunch break today. I’m testing some new browser-based software for my company today, and I’ve been encountering a recurring problem where strings of MathML don’t display properly. Our IT manager and I put our heads together and figured out how to replicate the problem, tried out a number of variations on the actions that immediately preceded the problem, and tracked the problem down to a very specific glitch. Hopefully the right tweak in the code will take care of it.

Service Battery

I was a bit surprised, maybe even mildly alarmed, to see the warning “Service Battery” of my MacBook Pro last week. It showed up when I clicked on the battery icon in the menu bar to see what percentage of charge I had left in my battery.

I waited a few days to see if it would go away, and it didn’t. Hadn’t noticed any particular problems or differences in battery life, though.

Just on a hunch, I turned my laptop over, opened the battery compartment, took the battery out, and then put it back in. Closed up the battery compartment, powered up the laptop, and clicked on the battery icon in the menu bar. No more warning.