A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- January 31
- Johnno texted me at about 7:30
to come to the
pub. What else could I do but comply?
- January 30
- Yay! My new battery arrived from Dabs. Now if only I had something
to put it into...
- January 29
- Sent the laptop back to Tri-Tec
- January 28
- Looked at Glade; it reminds me of
XDesigner, only not as immediately intuitive. After a while I
kinda got the hang of it.
Happy Birthday, sis!
- January 27
- Hmm. The mouse seems to have restored itself
Reading through my BBDB
folder resulted in about 50 deleted messages and two pages of
notes on things that either need fixing, documenting, or checking
if they're still broken. Yeesh.
- January 26
- And now my mouse is starting to
misbehave. Truly this is indeed the laptop of
I built a fresh copy of Transgaming's WineX, and much to my
delight it failed to crash when I tried it with Mobil 1 Rally
Championship. However, it also failed to grab the keys or
mouse correctly (or something) and took over the entire display
with a window I couldn't hide or interact with. So, um. Not quite
a runner just yet. Further experiments with Unreal and Incoming
revealed other problems, although after sitting there for a good
launched into its opening sequence - complete with animated icon
when I minimized the window! Neat! Alas, it blew up when I tried
to maximize the window. After a little more frobbing I got the
game going, but it seems there's definitely a problem with grabs -
it grabs the mouse, but not the keyboard, I think. I played around
with running it as a managed window, and a few other things, and
eventually decided that it's something to look at some other
day. Yes, I am aware there are specific details on
making Unreal work on Linux. There shouldn't need to be,
Added the Incoming
soundtrack to my jukebox while I had the disc handy.
Wrote up a page to cover the bunch of patches I've accumulated over the last
while. I should probably freshen the older ones, as they may no
longer apply cleanly. I've started with pilot-link out of the
simple necessity to have it working. So that's up to date, at
least. I've modified it at the RPM level; the new spec file (&
patch) defines a perl-PDA-Pilot package which can be
switched on or off from the specfile, and builds in the build root
thanks to some abuse of MakeMaker.
I like this: honesty
in online sales. I'm buying a new battery from these
Went on a mad cleanup spree through my src directory,
with some success in cleaning up things I've not touched in ages
or that have been superceded.
Microsoft's VPN client is
an awful piece of junk. I get better performance and service out
of the PPTP client for Linux.
The really irritating part of the Windows client
is that if for any reason it doesn't connect first time, you have
to reboot or at least log out and log in again before it'll even
try connecting again.
- January 25
- Converted one of my share toys to €,
since it's a bit pointless telling me about
PTV have changed their mailer format, so I need to update my
Hacked on the diary
helper again. Now it's a little more sane about how
C-o works. Next, I need to go over the back-filling
Perl/Tk is, at times,
frustratingly awkward to work with. I can't tell you why, or I'd
have to kill you. I should probably go learn Perl/Gtk or
Manual-reading. It's a great hobby. I should do more of it. Then I
wouldn't be manhandling cookies when HTTP::Cookie can
manhandle them for me, for example.
And another discovery, although less, um, whatever: Mozilla's bookmarks sidebar is
an excellent way of managing your bookmarks. You know,
rearranging, renaming, that sort of nonsense.
- January 24
- Wow. My laptop's really in a mess. I should
... go out and watch LotR again, and then
meet up with some friends in
- January 23
- This laptop is doom incarnate, I'm sure. I
tried to phone Tri-Tec, the
people who carried out the repair, using the phone number listed
on the delivery docket that accompanied the box. It was a
disconnected number. Then I noticed that the address on the docket
was also incorrect. So I phoned directory enquiries, and
discovered that they didn't have a listing for Tri-Tec. Eventually
I resorted to Google (after
trying a few likely web addresses) and turned up their site, which
listed the phone number, which I called, and it rang out the first
time. Second time, though, I got onto the person whose name was on
the delivery docket, and explained the problem. Fine, she said,
send it back, but get a new RMA from Compaq support. So. Laptop will
be going back for what is now trip #4 to the repair shop next week.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to clean up the mess I made of the
laptop. Basically, instead of doing a patient restore of the
system, I installed RedHat
7.1 (I had the CDs lying around), admired KDE for about 20
minutes, and then restored the old files straight over the running
system. Now, this is bad for all sorts of reasons, but mainly
because I now have fifty billion extra packages installed that
aren't registered with RPM, so
it's going to be "amusing" cleaning them out again. I am
currently contemplating a tool to assist with
- January 22
- Laptop returns from repairs; they replaced
the entire monitor section, including the casing. Which means I no
longer have Badtz Maru on the cover, boo. And once I'd gotten the
machine up and running, I discovered that the new display has a
single-pixel glitch running the entire height of the
screen. GAAAAAAH. So, now I have to return it to the fix-it people
(who I was going to commend for prompt service) and get
the job done properly.
That last set of hacks I did to the diary helper code
seems to have wrecked it utterly... I guess I need to fix all
that. Oh, hmm. It helps if I keep the diary entries
"well-formed" as they say in XML
- January 21
- Email from repair people to tell me it's
fixed and they're sending it back. Cool!
- January 20
- And now, the Win95
install. It couldn't find the mouse (which I'd cunningly plugged
into COM2 instead of COM1, but other than that it was pretty
straightforward. Bear in mind this is 1996/7 Windows (OSR2)
versus 2001 Linux.
The desktop was a lot snappier but it ran into a slew of problems
with the NE2000, which I ripped out and replaced with the
Etherlink card... which worked just fine. Spent the rest of the
day testing various bits of hardware, and throwing things
- January 19
- Happy Birthday Hannah!
Returned from "down south" (hey, why not go SCUBA diving this year?)
with more computer parts - Pentium 133 on a Zida Tomato 5DVX
motherboard with 32MB of RAM, an AT case, and an S3 ViRGE video
card. I decided to do a head-to-head Win95 vs. Linux
comparison on the machine, to which end I loaded up RedHat 7.1 with the GNOME desktop (stop laughing, you
at the back) and discovered exactly how hungry it is for power,
disk and memory. The installation itself was fun; I couldn't find
a working CD-ROM, and the various IDE drives I have are all
damaged in one way or another, and I finally got it installed with
a net install from Gonzo
where I'd mounted the CD. Changing CDs was entertaining...
RedHat's installer didn't
seem to be happy enough to go graphical, either.
After bootup, Linux
swore blind that my 3c509 was, in fact, 2 3c509s, complete with
unique hardware addresses, neither of which seemed to want to
accept DHCPOFFER packets. I couldn't convince it otherwise (bear
in mind that it was able to install from this network card) and
tossed it in favour of a NE2000 clone (D-Link, I think)
- January 18
- Found my way to the approximate area of the
appropriate business park to drop in the laptop, but Maporama was a little
misleading about the precise location so I had to resort to asking
directions. Eventually located the repair shop and left in the
laptop, after which I drove down the country for my niece's
- January 17
- Discovered - much to my amusement - that the
HP LaserJet in the office runs an FTP server that you can use to
print files. Really. Simply put the file and watch it
print. I got a fit of the giggles after that.
Talked to the nice people at Compaq and got a RMA number for
my laptop. I'll drop it off for repairs tomorrow after I've done
the prerequisite backup-and-install-original-disk-image
Finally saw Johnny Mnemonic, which wasn't quite the utter crap I'd been told it
was. The cyberspace sequence was fantastic, and the rest of the
movie was reasonable. I'm not gonna say it was a GREAT movie, but
- January 16
- After the frenzied efforts to get the
release out last night, I chilled out this evening by getting back
to some assorted archiving duties that I'd put off for a bit too
long... i.e. cleaning up the pile of floppy disks that's been
thrown on the floor for the last two weeks.
- January 15
- Oh good GRIEF. Now my laptop backlight
appears to have died, and it looks like that's not covered by the
warranty either. Of course, I can't tell for certain yet, because
the warranty page says, "does not apply to screens X and
Y" and when I follow the link to find out what screen my
machine ships with, it tells me, "we recognise the serial
number as belonging to model BLAH, but we don't have any details
for model BLAH".
And that's why I'm typing this in text mode on a 14-inch
Still, I did release BBDB
- January 14
- Back in the Arklow office. Urgh. Commuting
- January 13
- Helped Andy determine that his single-floppy
router wasn't working (looks like it can't find the network card,
and it doesn't have a console to allow you to manually fix
it). Neat idea, though - having your router/dialup box be a
floppy-only low-grade machine, so that you don't have to listen to
the gentle whine of hard disks all the time. I may well have found
a use for the disassembled 486 sitting in the
I had planned on getting a BBDB release out this
evening, but it remains to be seen if I achieve that
goal. The issue of supporting assorted versions of Emacs is a real
- January 12
- BPC's roomie, Andy, has a scary number of
computers in his room. And the new Wolfenstein game is very, very
- January 11
- Off to Bath to help BPC with his 30th
Turns out that MBNA's site isn't hosed after all; it's apparently
"a browser issue". GRR. Irritatingly, it works better in
Links (although I still can't log in).
- January 10
- Modified the advert server to
properly wrap the fortunes it prints.
MBNA's online access to credit card details has been offline with
a "500 Server Error" for the last couple of
days, with no explanation. In fact, the front page still invites
you to log in.
- January 9
- A little more Micromail work, mostly cleaning
up non-essential references to what's now being referred to as
"the old currency".
Wrote the beginnings of an automated test system for BBDB, and used it to fix a
few more oddball bugs in completion.
- January 7
- Hmm. Clearing your history, or maybe it's
your cache, in Mozilla
deletes all those nice little icons. I can see why that might be,
but I think it's wrong.
- January 6
- Gave the scanner some abuse with the help of
Anthony Sale's GT6801
driver, and after some false starts (hack the makefile for
modversions, make sure the USB stuff is loaded), I got as far as a
failed IOCTL on the device. Well, better than nothing, even if
it's still not usable...
Hacked the diary
helper to add some more heuristics to C-o, so
it now allows me to extend an existing diary entry. It's not
terribly bright, but then it doesn't have to
Aigh. Noticed that Gonzo
had far too much stuff listening on the external (dialup)
interface, so set about configuring it all away. This is not quite
as easy as simply editing hosts.allow, since I don't even
want these services listening on the outboard
interface. Plus, not everyone pays attention to those files. I
could just firewall off the whole lot using ipchains/iptables, but
I'd be happier not to rely on that being present!
Started copying all my old floppy disks to the zips I bought
yesterday. I should, of course, have started doing this before the
disks deteriorated beyond use...
A little reading, and I discover that my wireless card is indeed
Prism-based, and covered by WLAN NG. D'oh.
Klortho hard-crashed while I was playing with the WLAN stuff, so I
took the opportunity to take Gonzo
down as well and relocate things in my room some more. Gonzo
received a pair of USB sockets in the process (USB on the
motherboard, but I never bothered with the sockets) and also I
managed to fry one of the USB ports. Fortunately, the other is
fine, and I have a hub. AND the room is almost presentable
Built Emacs 21.1 to
investigate a possible build problem with BBDB, and discovered that
the fontifed-buffer stuff is much, much faster. Also, Emacs 21.1 looks suspiciously
like XEmacs did when it first
appeared. It's only taken GNU
nine years to catch up...
Did a big compiler-whining cleanup on BBDB. I discovered that the
reason the VM compile
is so quiet is that Kyle switches off a bunch of warnings! I'm
more inclined to fix the source of the warnings where
possible. There are several different fixes, none pretty, and all
used arbitrarily, which I will fix up in the next release. For
now, though, I'm gonna spend the rest of this week making ONLY
bugfix changes, and then release at the end of the
- January 5
- Made a brief attempt to clean up the room,
then left for CompuW^HStore who were blathering about a sale (I
don't like 'em, but they're the nearest well-stocked computer shop
to me). I now have an Artec Ultima 2000 e+ scanner (not Linux-friendly,
it seems), a ZoomAir wireless PCMCIA card (haven't checked Linux-friendlyness
yet) and a half-dozen blank Zip drives. Damn you, impulse shopping
Hrm. It appears that my PCMCIA support broke while I wasn't
looking. I wonder what caused that? Perhaps when I reverted to
using stock RedHat kernels
instead of home-grown ones... a quick poke at the config showed
that I didn't have a PCMCIA package installed (although I did have
the tools, from a source build) so up2date --install
kernel-pcmcia-cs and the problem appears to have been
For the driver, some poking around led me to ftp://ftp.linux-wlan.org/pub/linux-wlan-ng/,
where there appears to be some source code and even RPMs. Alas, the RPMs are for the NG
WLAN stuff, which doesn't apply to my humble card... oh dear. I'll
have to *gasp* actually compile stuff?
Huh. Just noticed that my fiddlings with iso-10646 appear to have
rendered (hah!) my Japanese files into little blocks
- January 4
- Ah, finally the weekend. I might be able to
catch up on some of the sleep I missed this
Ran elp on BBDB
reading and displaying my entire database. No, not Emerson, Lake,
and Palmer! Emacs Lisp Profiler. Interesting stuff, if you're
interested in bumming cycles.
- January 3
- Set my office Emacs and xterms to use
iso-8859-15 fonts, and frobbed the keymap so that AltGr-4 produced
a €-sign. Then Exchange blew up at me for some reason when I
sent an email with a € in the subject line.
I gotta say, I really don't like how it looks. It utterly fails to
blend in with the characters around it, and it looks like a
stylized 'c' more than it does an 'E'. Here's a ¢-sign, for
completeness. €1 = 100¢ =
- January 2
- Dunno how I hadn't heard of this before. Xkeymacs
is a systray toy that gives all your Windows
More Euro fun and games.
- January 1
- First hack of the New Year was to assault my
assistant to cope with the year rollover. Which was harder
than I had expected, largely due to the haphazard way in which I
wrote the code.
Euro launch seems to have happened more-or-less as
planned. Damn but these coins are fiddly.
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