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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

July 31
Phone still dead. Ann-Marie says some of the shops in the area have notices up about not being able to process credit cards, because they can't get auth codes. Heh. Hadn't thought of that.

July 30
Phoned Eircom about the fact that my home phone is dead. Turns out there's some local circuit outage, and they don't know how bad it is, nor how long it'll take to fix it. Service with a "fuck you". And to think I'm a shareholder in this pissant company.

July 29
Crawled through over 300 messages in my BBDB mail folder, responding and deleting where I could. Now I only have 275 messages in the folder.

Montoya got jinxed again, leaving Ralf to win the race with Barrichello second. Jordan scoreless again, bah. Big smash at the start when Schuie lost his gears and Burti used the stationary Ferrari as a launching ramp.

I so like the Nokia CardPhone, too. I'm typing this while sitting in the sunshine downstairs from Gonzo, and there are no cables connecting me to anything. Yet I am online. This is the nearest thing I get to 802.11 networking for now.

July 28
Beautiful day. Exorcised hangover, drove back to Dublin, watched Montoya take pole position in Hockenheim, cycled about for a bit, had a visit from my dad, watched Code Rush, decided to hack.

This is a familiar feeling, btw. I watch a movie or something and feel inspired. It usually passes, though.

Code Rush is full of familar scenes, too. People sitting around watching a guy trying something at a computer, and cheering when it works. People in the office at 4am, not necessarily trying to catch a deadline, merely caught up in the whole thrill of progress. (Yes, I said "thrill". How often does your job induce that feeling in you?). Phrases involving the word "Doomed" being bandied about casually, in a ha-ha-only-serious fashion - I've lately taken to using the phrase "Run screaming from the building" in favour of "doomed" but the sentiment is the same.

It's nice to know I've had something of the Silly Valley experience without having actually lived there.

So, hacking. Right. Well, I started off looking at my PPP setup on Gonzo; for some reason, kicking it up in demand dial mode means that ifup never returns. Actually, ppp-watch never returns. This irritates me. I had a quick look and decided it wasn't sufficiently irritating to justify wasting time on it - it works, and that'll do for now. I'm not in full demand-dial mode yet anyway since I have to go fiddle with the phone line until I get the parts in Maplin or somewhere to do a proper run to my room.

Writing the diary entry led me to investigate why it is that the linkfarm isn't updated when you save a page. Turns out I was calling my own script incorrectly. Like, DUH. This in turn prompted me to get it to just linkfarm the page you're saving.

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the Emacs byte-compiler output can't be parsed for "ERROR IN FILE FOO LINE 42" information?

Huh. Looks like Esat's modem bank is on the frotz again. LCP timeouts, unclean links, dropped connections, unanswered phones. Lovely, guys.

July 27
I RULE, dammit. After swapping support requests with Oracle and getting a PPD file from HP, I decided that the only way I was going to get the problem solved was to fix the damn thing myself. So, I hand-hacked the PostScript until the printer was happy with it, then hacked the PPD file to reproduce the changes I'd had to make. Then I went rifling through the techdocs on Oracle's site looking for a means of getting the damn reports in A4 format; reading one document, I found a link to a second, which had an unlinked reference to a third; so I adjusted the URL to something that looked appropriate and ended up with a page that basically said, "Hack the driver". Er, nice one, Oracle. I guess you don't sell many databases outside that lump of rock to the west of me, eh?

And then to the bar, where I had to convince a few people (cow orkers included) that I was not, in fact, a native of said lump of rock. Odd.

July 26
Built a 5-line CGI script to kill the Discoverer-breaking cookie, and lo, it works. Well, for arbitrary values of 'works'. I managed one OutOfMemory error that I can't understand, and it messes up the JSP site that you're supposed to be working within by virtue of having to destroy the cookie. ARGH.

July 25
Played with Discoverer instead, culminating in the discovery *ahahahhah* that trying to link directly into a Discoverer report from a JSP page falls foul of some silly cookie crap. I spent some time trying to frob the cookie with JavaScript to no avail.

Tag Rugby week 3: We won! We beat the Woolpack (local pub) 14-8! HURRAH!

July 24
I can't persuade Oracle to use a PostScript printer. Larry Ellison needs to be force-fed his own products from this viewpoint.

Nokia CardPhone discovery: PIN entry. AT+CPIN="####" is the magic. Don't forget the quotes!

July 23
Spent a frustrating hour poking and prodding Gonzo to try and solve the demand-dial problem. Eventually found several problems, including (1) ifup ppp0 doesn't exit; (2) the phoneline had come disconnected while I wasn't looking; (3) the modem's IRQ changed while I wasn't looking, and a years-old script wasn't expecting that. GAH. Still can't mount /export/share, either.

July 22
Eventually remembered where I'd stowed the main computer cables. Weirdness: Gonzo had apparently moved /dev/modem from ttyS3 to ttyS2 while I wasn't looking, PPP demand-dialing has stopped working, and for some reason attempting to mount Gonzo's /export/share partition results in an NFS server error, but it's fine to mount /export/share/src. Oh well. Life is always such FUN with Linux...

Fixed a silly problem in the diary-helper Sunday-handling code using a most disgusting kludge. I hate Emacs' internal time/date format.

July 21
Movin' house, mostly. Where are all my damn cables?

Unpacking prematurely interrupted by the neighbour, who invited me over to his barbeque. Where I stayed until, oh, 2am or something. Good omen for the new digs!

July 20
Rolled a bunch of stuff into production, and that's about that.

Back at the ranch, I'm packing everything up for the move to Dalkey. Somehow there doesn't seem to be quite as much stuff to move, or maybe I'm packing it up better.

July 19
There isn't any really nice way to mix HTML with executable code, and I think that's the bottom line. It doesn't help that there doesn't appear to be a sane, easy-to-install Emacs mode for editing this crap, either.

July 18
Tag rugby night. Injuries this week: hamstring, groin, and for myself, bruised knuckles and a banged-up knee. Oh, and we lost 16-3, too.

July 17
I hate "it should be doing this" vs. "well, it's not".

July 16
Wildy varied day in the office. I think everyone in the group, including my boss, had reason to come by my desk and ask me something about what they were doing. As did several people not in my group. At this rate, I'll be the shadowy figure behind the company's operations by the year end. Muahahahah!

Fed my eTrex log from the Ballina trip into my map toy; in the course of this, I discovered that the GPS::Garmin module does not work as documented, and I also threw together a little Perl to read the output file from GPSman (a Tk/tcl thingy for playing with Garmin stuff that I could never make work before).. More ideas sprout as I watch the toy painstakingly plot data. Like, say, zoom options and stuff.

July 15
Whee! New digs! As of Saturday next, I'll be moving a couple of miles towards the sea.

July 14
Drove to Ballina (look it up, it's in Mayo). Used Nokia Cardphone to dial into net and then VPN'd to office. Did some magic, and it looks like I've at least saved the data that I thought was lost, but I've given myself a rollback option to the data that's known good. Hurrah!

I then proceeded to hang out in Ballina, which included watching a giant sea serpent parade down the main street, and drink.

July 13
All hail the superstitious powers of Friday 13th.

July 12
Inexplicable problems noted. Witchdoctor requested. Chickens backordered.

July 11
Tag Rugby League Day (Week) 1. Results: we got beaten 21-9 by a younger, fitter team (who says that old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill?); one of our number has a hairline fracture of the elbow which may need surgery; and I managed to injure my ribs and my previously-broken finger again. Nothing more serious than bruising, thankfully. Remember, kids, this is a non-contact sport!

July 10
Did some more printer kicking, and lo, it works. More or less.

July 9
Did an update for Micromail.

Poked around some more stuff in BBDB, including fixing something I broke last night. Doh!

July 8
Mmm, lazy diary hacks. Tasty.

Ditched Wine, installed WineX (the Direct3D-supporting version), failed to be impressed. Wine at least gets to the menus for MM2; WineX simply cores.

Did a little fiddling with the IrDA port and presto, Linux can see it once more. Neato. Also hacked at the diary helper some more, so it knows about appending to existing entries.

Did some more work on the BBDB label completion stuff. There's code in the file-reading section that scares me just to think about. I mean, jwz has a good excuse for knowing about the byte-compiler internals, but REALLY now.

Had a look at getting ViaVoice and my laptop soundcard to talk to each other. Got distracted and went driving instead. MMM! NEW CAR! WHEE! *cough*

July 7
"Urk. BRIGHT LIGHT. Ow. Sore head. HEY. Where the hell am I?" about covers the morning. Watched the Lions get pretty soundly beaten by the Wallabies (rugby, in case you're not aware) and then drove back to Dublin.

Wrote up a bunch of lisp to do much of the formatting I use for the diary. It's clever enough so far to fill in blanks for the days I've missed between "today" and "date of last update" if they're in the current month. Gotta make it run across months next.

July 6
Drove to office. Enjoyed drive. Oh BOY am I happy with my new car...

About the most exciting thing in the office for the day was the update at 17:30.

Post-update (and once we'd verified that the system appeared to work...) there was a party nearby, so beer, beer, beer, barbeque, beer, beer, guitar sing-song, beer, beer, bee *CRASH* *SLEEP OF THE DEAD*

July 5
"'allo John, got a new motor?"

Yes, Veggie, my trusty Ford Fiesta, has been retired in favour of a two-year old Nissan Almera 1.4 Sports. Whee!

The mail-extr thing is a case issue - downcasing the double-ess symbol turns it into a pair of 's's. So maybe I can ignore that and go right ahead with using it.

July 4
Ran into assorted Grues in a database and passed the problem off to the Oracle wizard for consideration.

Played Tag Rugby in the evening, and won a bunch of goodies for my troubles, including freebie tickets to see Van Morrison.

July 3
ARGH. mail-extr would like to convert that nice German double-ess thing to, well, two 's's. Um, WHY?

July 2
Tweaking more JSP/HTML pages, mostly. Did some work on getting BBDB and mail-extr.el or rfc822.el to work together. Doomed to failure, really. Never mind that Emacs and XEmacs have divergent versions of mail-extr.el. Eventually came up with a disgusting brute-force thing that does mostly what I want, and posted that to the list.

July 1
Installed the latest Mozilla build, ran it for about five minutes, then went back to Netscape. It's not that it's bad or anything; I'm using it most of the time on my office machine, but it's just a little too different in its out-of-the-box configuration from what I'm used to. Little things like the default "command" key being Ctrl instead of Alt, presumably to lure all those pesky Windows users into La La Linux land. More and more I'm thinking jwz has the right idea: stick to Netscape 3 and screw everything else.

Michael Schumacher won the French Grand Prix, with both Jordan cars finishing for the first time in five races. Trulli even got two points for the team, yay!

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Maybe people wouldn't have stabbed him if he hadn't claimed a month.