February 9, 2004

Upgrades and Off-the-Air messages

by skrenta at 9:32 AM

Over the weekend we upgraded our infrastructure to support faster indexing and serving of the news. As part of this update, we had to take the site down for a few minutes. Sites generally have a standard message they put up when they're off-the-air; Mark Fletcher of Bloglines recently talked about his, the plumber.

Here at Topix we use the old Indian Head Test Pattern. I remember seeing this on the TV in the wee hours of the morning when I was a kid. This was generated in monoscope tube, a vacuum tube with a metal plate containing the test pattern image which was scanned to produce the output. Essentially it was a camera tube that could only see the image on the inside of the meta plate. Since vacuum tubes needed time to warm up, the test pattern generator was usually left on all the time, so the station could cut over to its output at a moment's notice. More about test pattern generation. Test patterns from around the world.