Sorry for the messed up RSS feed over the weekend. I noticed on Friday that things weren't working, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I looked at the xml using an older version of Firefox. This older version didn't know what correct RSS was supposed to look like, but it knew what XML was supposed to look like. Modern browsers just choke if the RSS XML is malformed, but this one was able to show me that I'd (like a moron from 1994) used an actual ampersand ("&") in a post's title instead of an HTML "&" element.

As previously noted, I do all this blog coding by hand and the pages are constructed with Shell scripts and SSI (band aids and string, essentially), so it was hard to tell exactly where I'd messed up. Firefox is just too generally helpful to be actually helpful in this case, I guess.

Anyway, I was using this old version of Firefox (Firebird) on an old Win98 laptop that normally just controls X10 plugs in the house because I was replacing the hard drive in my WinXP laptop. At last, having some mostly useless olf hardware around saved my bacon in this case.

Presumably, the problem would have gone away when the offending post fell off the bottom of the feed, and I would have never known what was wrong.

By the way, SATA hard drives apparently have some weirdness that makes it difficult to set one up from scratch as the main boot drive. This is all over the internet if you search for "SATA bootable", but nobody I talked to had any idea what was going wrong for me other than knowing it must have been some MBR problem.

The answer was to install the new drive, restore the system and re-install Windows using the CD supplied by the laptop manufacturer, then clobber everything by cloning the old drive onto the new one. Now we know.

At least the whole fiasco gave me the incentive to finally get the Win98 net connection working properly. It turns out that if you want to be able to access hosts by name instead of only by IP address, the "Enable DNS" checkbox has to be checked. who knew?"

2007.11.13 at 12:00am EST