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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 31
Hurrah! Laptop repaired! Turns out that the RTC's battery leaked, taking out the IrDA port and making inroads into the accompanying netcard/modem combo. And the plastic base as well, apparently. Must be a plutonium battery or something.

May 30
I hate hate HATE Java's "char ain't byte" thing, not because non-8-bit chars are a bad idea, but because Java seems to go out of its way to prevent you from using the one you need to use when you need to use it. For example, your average Java Servlet has a Writer for its equivalent of stdout, so you can't write 8-bit data out because it'll get munged when you're not looking. This is causing me no end of irritation.

May 29
I'm still tweaking Java.

May 28
Spent the weekend in Monaco with Dad and Donal. Writeup to follow.


May 24
Had our official company launch today. Picture the scene: the speeches are done, and people are milling about and being given guided tours. And I'm sitting at my desk, in a shirt and tie, working on a large file full of data. The show must go on, folks.

May 23
Managed to acquire my annual sporting injury during rescheduled five-a-side soccer. I'll write it up on the linked page, but suffice to say it involved my ribs again. Whee!

May 22
Morbid poultry aeration in progress.

May 21
I hate dealing with people over the phone, but sometimes it has to be done.

May 20
Got fed up with lynx's persistent inability to get with frames and tables, and grepped the web for a replacement. This turned up a browser called links. It does frames, it does tables, it may even do SSL. This is an absolute godsend for poor text-enabled me.


May 19
Our rescheduled St. Paddy's Festival is on this weekend, so I spent most of the day in the pub with some of the guys and two Lithuanians. My life is far more exciting than I let on.

May 18
Spent some time cleaning up crap on Gonzo, such as orphaned files (i.e. no packages) and duplicate installations. I've also managed to more-or-less consolidate my Gonzo home directory with the one from the laptop backup, so I can start with rdist silliness when the laptop gets back to keep them in sync. Or something equally insane.

May 17
Had my aerobics session, and then the five-a-side soccer. The aerobics was hilarious, and the five-a-side rules amounted to "if the ball goes in the net, you've scored" and not much else. Far more fun than being sprawled in front of the TV. Really.

May 16
Had a much slower day at the office - mostly tying up loose ends.

May 15
Wildly hectic day at the office.

With very little goading, I stupidly agreed to sign up for five-a-side soccer and aerobics. I shall die, I'm sure of it.

Had dinner with cousins and... my brother. Cleverly, I took the car, so I was able to wave off the alcohol and drink Coke instead. Still knackered at the end of the night, though. Donal goes home tomorrow, so I can rest.

May 14
Back in the office, another day, another deadline.

Another night out with my brother, this time at least in a restaurant. I'm going to die if I keep this up.

May 13
Ugh. I have the makings of a black eye after unspecified contact during the wrestling match. I wouldn't mind except that I wasn't even one of the people involved.

Crawled out of bed to lie, beached-whale-like, on the couch and watch the Austrian F1. Schumacher looked set to win until Montoya defended his corner a little too bravely as Schuey tried to overtake, and they both lost a half-dozen places. Schuey managed to haul back up to third place, and then passed Barrichello on the last corner (team orders) to take second place. Coulthard won, boo hiss.

Another late night; once I got back to Dublin, I went out again to meet my brother for a few more drinks. As if I didn't have enough already...


May 12
The family version of last night's antics, featuring a meal in a very nice restaurant and a wrestling match on the lawn at 6am. I'm not making this up.

May 11
Took a day off work to (a) recover from last night's beer and (b) attend my Dad's official retirement party. My brother put in an appearance, much to Dad's surprise, with a slightly demented toy cow that jumps up and down and laughs. Several speeches were made before some guy started playing lounge-ish music with no less than three electronic keyboards; he shorted out a fuse midway through a song and we all got back to conversing and drinking, which I think is what most people wanted anyway.

May 10
After a false start or two, I got CVS up and running.

May 9
Investigating CVS, I discovered I'd forgotten everything I learned the last time I created a CVS repository from scratch. So I started building Makefiles for things instead. I'll go back to figuring out what to do with CVS tomorrow. Really, though, cvs init should do everything, in a perfect world.

May 8
BBDB mail is building up and I'm not doing any developing at the moment. This is bad, also. Just my luck to lose the laptop in the middle of a burst of traffic on the list.

May 7
After I quit trying to run X, I had no further crashing silliness with Gonzo, which is good. This means I'm still running in text mode, though, which isn't so good. Despite having started my computing career with a 40-column screen, and my Internet career with a genuine DEC VT100, I've been spoiled by the convenience of X Windows. I am filled with shame, or something.

May 6
So, intent on giving myself some comfort while my laptop is away, I set about reconfiguring X on Gonzo. After some fiddling with RPM files, I managed to successfully run Xconfigurator (I hate writing XF86Config files manually...) and started X. Suddenly, the screen froze, and I thought, hah, I've been bitten by some one of those 2.4.x kernel bugs that Alan Cox and various RedHatted folk were talking about, and rebooted.

init: inittab not found

Let me tell you exactly how worrying the above message is: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! AAAA! AAAAAAA!

Visions of valuable portions of my 30GB disk, such as the fresh backup of Klortho, being washed down the drain danced before my eyes while I scrabbled around for my magic boot disk. Bringing up the machine, I discovered to my relief that the partition containing the backup files was intact, and /etc/inittab seemed to be the only casualty - part of the XFree86 log had overwritten it. I did a force-install of initscripts, since I'd not modified any of the original stuff, and presto, booting machine.

So, I've started tackling this potential problem from two angles: I've unpacked some of the backup files onto the second disk, and I've built a 2.4.4 kernel.


May 5
Went to see the Buena Vista Social Club - the orchestra, not the movie - in Smithfield. 10,000 people in the crowd and 5,000 residents hanging off assorted rooftops, and a wonderful party atmosphere. See what you American folk are missing by treating Cubans as personae non grata?

Utterly non-geek factoid: BVSC have sold 34,000 copies of their album in Ireland. That's two platinum discs plus a good start on a third.

May 4
Hurrah! I figured it out! If you set the driver to not duplex the pages in the feeder, it pops up the dialogue about there being no pages left. Of course, this means you can't scan pages one-sided. So in order to get around that, I put in a stupid, STUPID hack that scans double-sided under all circumstances, but if you only want single-sided, it discards every second page. Of course, if I was really clever, I'd get it to autodetect blank pages, but I'm sure someone would find a problem with that ("where's the page I deliberately left blank?") so I'll settle for what I have right now.

It's nice to see that after more than two years of avoiding Java, it still bugs the hell out of me. Actually, that's a little unfair; the above problem appears to afflict the native scanning toys that come with the scanner, so I don't know if it's a failing in the driver implementation or in the TWAIN specification. It's certainly MORONIC.

May 3
Reached the end of my tether with the Java stuff. Problem is like this: scan an entire bin of pages. The code I was messing with, from Gnome.SK, had all manner of fun to do this, but none of it seems to work and I'm getting no help from the doco, running the class files through javap, or emailing the Gnome.SK guys. Gah. So, I went googling and turned up The Victor Toolkit, which includes a pretty direct connection into the TWAIN classes. Yay.

Or not. For some reason, telling it to scan the entire bin seems to result in it complaining at the end of the scan that there's nothing in the bin - arbitrarily. Sometimes it just scans everything and returns quietly, which is what I want. GAH.

May 2
Finally got Klortho backed up. I tar'ed and feathered the windows partition, then did a level 0 dump of the ext2 partition. Once that was done, I set Klortho running the Compaq image-restore program, and presto, one clean Windows box for Compaq to repair.

May 1
More Java hacking at work, plus an approximate assessment of what needs to be done when. Woah. Deadlines ahoy.

More fun and games getting Klortho backed up. I went through a few kernel recompiles after my vfat support went missing, and I still can't NFS-mount, but I'm almost there with the Windows partition backup to the Linux partition, and then I'll do a level 0 dump of the Linux parition over to Gonzo. I guess I should save the boot block, too, or the partition table or something. Although it's probably not strictly necessary.

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Waider
may what, exactly?