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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

July 31
Or three. Actually, this evening we visited Ralph.

July 30
Bob is in town, so we went for a beer. Or two.

July 29
Tried out new Linksys switch. Whoops, forgot it'd have a US power supply. Dug out a suitable power supply. Hooked things up. DHCP doesn't work. I can think of a reason for this that doesn't make sense to me, but for now I'm back to 10Mbps, dammit. I'll try bouncing it off the geeksrv and see what they come up with.

July 28
An interesting enough F1, although it got a little boring towards the end. Michael didn't really have anything to worry about from the get-go; the promising Jordans didn't fare quite so well, with Fisichella getting hosered by his first pitstop after a non-spectacular start, and Sato driving a steady but mostly uneventful race to finish 8th. Fisichella wound up somewhere before the end with a busted car, alas. Oh, Sato did put on a decent show at one point, overtaking Villeneuve. Stick it to the BAR team! Woohoo!


July 27
My brother Donal and his fiancée stopped by; they're doing pretty much a circuit of the country over the course of a week. He brought me the dinkiest little 10/100 hub I've ever seen (actually, it's a switch, which is better still) and a thinkgeek shirt, woohoo! Another one for the tshirts page...

Of course, by "stopped by" I mean we spent a few hours in a pub, a restaurant, and another pub. Whee!

F1 in Germany this weekend; Schumacher (M) on pole, Schumacher (R) on P2. Giancarlo Fisichella on P6! And Sato again was holding onto P10 until he got pipped in the last few minutes to end up at P12. Jordans are looking good!

Oh, and I got my hair cut, too.

July 26
Had a look at BitTorrent; the idea's nice, but I need to read up more on the technology to find out how it's abusing my connection. Plus, strictly speaking, it's a server benefit - after all, I still have to fit whatever it is I'm downloading through the 128k pipe on the back of Gonzo. Oh, plus a side-effect of its modus operandi appears to be that partial downloads are worthless - you have to wait for the whole thing to download before you can make use of it. Which sucks, a little.

July 25
Waider at idle, so to speak.

July 24
Tweaked some pages with my HTML 4.01 strict compliance toy. Which I amusingly named "comply.pl". Ironically, none of the diary pages have been run through this particular wringer yet.

Small bug in the Micromail site today, a result of the consolidation work I'd done. Not huge, but annoying that I missed it.

July 23
Kate cleaned up the rest of the pix (the ones I'd forgotten to scan), plus I've updated the identities based on input from a few Nerdsholm folk. I'm still astounded at the number of people I managed to capture on film. Also slightly disturbed at the everpresent plord and s9.

July 22
Kate processed my HOTT.BOB pix for me, which led to my discovering that I'd failed to scan in four of them.

I'm captioning and getting input on missing identities at the moment. I should also take the opportunity to finish my report on the events of the weekend. It's only been SEVEN YEARS, after all.

July 21
Compressed backups working nicely, yay!

Well. That was an interesting race. The upshot is that barring Grumpy Old Ron getting some sort of satisfaction from the stewards (the man is such a sore loser), Michael Schumacher is the 2002 World Champion.

Got my replacement Apocalypse Now: Redux DVD today. Woohoo, it works. The only other copy in the shop was scratched as badly as the one I wanted replaced, so they had to send me to another branch to get a working copy. Tsk tsk.

Micromail update. I've pretty much finished consolidating the CGI scripts, and made modifications to support the transition to the new site which I'll subsequently have to rip out once it's transferred, but for now it'll all work.


July 20
Unwhee! Hangover! AIE! MEDIC!

The Formula 1 scene got replaced by the evil universe version overnight. Fisichella won't be racing due to smacking into a tire wall in excess of 100MPH and sustaining mild concussion and memory loss (not major; just no recollection of the accident beyond losing his front wing); Arrows won't be racing due to ongoing boardroom discussions, although they did roll the cars around the track once to clock a non-qualifying time and thus not actually miss the racing, as far as the regulations are concerned; Button is being punted from Renault next year, to be replaced by Alonso; Button says he has a drive confirmed for next year, so someone else is going to lose a seat; Eddie Irvine managed to get his Jaguar briefly up to 6th in qualifying; Button managed fourth for a period of time; Raikkonen not only outqualified the Big Chin (again), he outqualified Ralf Schumacher; Sato held onto 10th place for most of the session, being pushed down to 14th as the last ditch efforts came home at the end; Schumacher Senior had two lap times disqualified for missing corners - one due to a pretty major loss grip at the the back of the car, ironically just after Martin Brundle had spent some time enthusing about the Ferrari's stability and its solid back end; and finally, as I was getting to grips with all of this, I find that the FIA has agreed that Frentzen can drive in place of Fisichella tomorrow, on condition that (a) there are no contractual difficulties and (b) Eddie Jordan can persuade the other teams to allow it (cue Mills Lane: "I'll allow it!"); remember that Frentzen left Jordan rather acrimoniously, with lawsuits and talk of a faxed firing notice and other unpleasantness. Bizarre. As Murray Walker frequently put it, anything can happen in Formula 1, and usually does.

Fiddled around with my scanner; I had to download a new driver to make it work on the Win2K laptop, and then I started scanning stuff in. The first thing I scanned was a paper cutout Badtz-Maru that bc sent me (AnotherBug sent me the original one, which got lost in one of Klortho's repair trips) and then made it my desktop. Of course, having scanned it at 300dpi and not rescaled it for the screen, I have a huge OBEY-like pair of eyes and a beak on my desktop now. Unintentional, and hilarious.

Next, I scanned a few pix of one of the DSPs dressed as The Crow (for a New Year party some time in the 1990-1994 timeframe, probably 1993 or 1994). Will post on site soon, once I've cleaned 'em up a little.

And now I'm scanning my HOTT.BOB pictures. Muahahah.

July 19
Whee! Beer!

July 18
More Micromail, including setting up a mirror of the new site, which is tricky enough as it uses a toy I'd not seen before to handle sandboxing CGI scripts. Also found a bug in one of the scripts where I'd "improved" the code; apparently /^$_$/ can't be handled as I wanted it to be.

Switched Klortho over to using compressed backups. That should stave off the occasional disk exhaustion (hasn't happened in a while, though) until such time as I get a proper backup mechanism set up. Sometime before the year Thud, I guess.

Had a brief fiddle with ripping CDs on Gonzo. The notion I have is to further hack my hacked copy of Gronk such that if I insert a disc, it checks if it's already been ripped, and if not it starts ripping it. Thing is, the drive on Gonzo that will rip is dead slow at same and spends a lot of time on error correction. I should probably throw away the drive that doesn't rip and replace it with one that does, since CD drives are, like, dirt cheap at this point. Further hackery here would involve using a tool like, say, discid to snag the disc's CDDB id, then querying FreeDB for track info, and preparing a clearance page on Gonzo's web server where I could check that the data is sane before committing it, at which point the rips would be mp3'd, tagged, and integrated into the jukebox. I'm sure I'll achieve all this after I've got the backup device mentioned above. Thud.

July 17
More UserMode Linux tooling. Also more Micromail tooling.

July 16
Curses. I bought a copy of Apocalypse Now: Redux at the weekend, and the damn disc is flaking out. Won't play at all on the new laptop; stops midway on my actual honest-to-goodness DVD player, and, well, I'll try it on the old laptop, but if it's failing 2 out of 3 bits of hardware then I'm bringing it back and asking for either another copy or a refund. In fact, I think I may well bring my laptop into the shop with me. Consumer power, yeah!

July 15
Had a look at UserMode Linux. I'm currently trying to figure out how to modify the RedHat installer to work with it, as although there's at least one generic installer on SourceForge, the damn thing got confused over i386 v. i686 versions of the same package. Well, duh.

Bought and read Zodiac yesterday/this morning. My third time reading it, second time buying it (my original copy is, funnily enough, in Boston, where the novel is set). I really, really like this book.

July 14
I like this prefilling idea. Today will be dedicated to (a) getting out of the house for a bit and (b) doing necessary things with the Micromail code. The former may or may not involve a movie.

Now to see if I can actually stick to the plan.

Well, not bad. I saw Minority Report which didn't suck to quite the extent some people told me it would; oddly enough, it had, for me, a similar mismatched pacing problem to Mission: Impossible - at the end of M:I, I was ready for another 20 minutes or half an hour of movie; with MR, I was ready to walk out, film concluded, at about 15 minutes before the end.

Micromail, on the other hand, well, I got some of the code changes done (including use strict in the main script, woohoo!). I then ran into a problem testing. I'm trying to migrate the code to a new site, but, well, the site I'm migrating to is supposed to be the secure site, and the damn thing won't let me connect with HTTPS unless I give it a valid certificate saying You're Allowed. And heck, I used up all my HappyNet tokens years ago.

Note, I can connect using HTTP just fine, but this is pointless, since the ISP wants me - well, Micromail - to have two entirely separate accounts so that Micromail can have a non-secure site that feeds into a secure one. Which is laudable - secure data on separate server and all that - but doesn't help me right now.

Oh, I was also briefly scuppered by wuftpd insisting that the UID range 1-99 included 502. Indeedy.


July 13
I am prefilling this diary entry to persuade myself to accomplish something today: I am going to try and get my damn driver porting effort completed. For at least some value of the word "completed".

Oh well. It was a nice idea. Alas, I'm stuck on a firmware reset problem at the moment, having gotten past a subtle bug caused by an omitted line. D'oh.

July 12
I fired up the A3010, hooked to a generic 14" monitor, and lo, it worked. The screen's a bit wobbly, and it makes a noise like a carcrash when it starts, which I guess means that something is wrong, but heck, it's working.

July 11
Played around with the emu10k1 driver - both kernel and non-kernel versions - trying to get the auxillary inputs working, to no avail. I really think this project is a dead loss; I plug this card into a Windows machine and all propietary code aside, I get a half-dozen sliders on a mixer that do what I expect. The Linux driver, on the other hand, requires me to try and figure out how to route the sound from input to output, and how to control that sound with a slider on the mixer, and in the end it's simply not worth the effort.

July 10
Spent most of the day hacking on modifications to spamass-milter to get it to consign tagged spam straight to the spam bucket. This required dealing with both C++ and STL. Ick.

Had a look at bodging Klez filtering into the copy of SpamAssassin installed on my server, but it wasn't trivially easy to accomplish so I left it alone for now.

July 9
I went to the trouble of finding out how to build RedHat distributions so I could do a proper yet from-local-disk upgrade of Gonzo; alas, the from-local-disk upgrade wanted me to have local ISOs rather than the unfolded distribution, so I just frobbed the up2date version instead and set it off.

Did some more work on the Micromail site; I have several different versions of the ordering system including mirrors of the live versions, and I'm trying to consolidate them all and at the same time make changes to suit the new site layout. Which is fun, to say the least.

July 8
Discovery: Kernel Hacking - specifically driver hacking - is not hard, and is fun.

It's doing it well that's hard.

July 7
Wow. What a fantastic race. Schumacher won, easily; Barrichello stalled on the formation start, started in 21st, and fought his way back to a second place finish. Fisichella and Sato both did quite well, although Sato's engine blew up 8 laps from the finish, and Fisi was just outside the points. Alas. Still, a good result from a relatively poor qualification.

A little work on the Micromail site as they're moving to a new web setup shortly. Also caught up on some far-too-old email, leaving the embarrassingly-old mail to accumulate further time.


July 6
Yay Formula 1! A fantastic qualifying session (albeit a slow start), resulting eventually in a Montoya/Barrichello front row, with poor Schumi in third. Awww.

Healthwise, feeling a lot better, although unfortunately I don't think it would be a smart idea to mix it up with the crowd at Whelans where Tenacious D are playing. Bah. I was looking forward to that gig.

July 5
Last night's predictions of ill health were indeed correct. So I'm networking wirelessly from a comfy chair with hot drinks and so forth, and a head that feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool.

In July.

Argh.

July 4
Retrieved the code from the office, got the driver working again. Apparently I'd hacked it some and done some silliness with the patches. Just as well I'd not gotten around to reformatting the machine in question... now happily wirelessed. Oh, and I actually RTFM'd and got the driver working under Windows 2000 as well. Yay!

Not feeling too well, mind you. Blerk. Whatever I've been staving off for the last few days is evidently catching up on me.

July 3
Hmm. Hacking at the ZoomAir driver again, and I can't seem to make it work. Of course, the code I had working is on a machine in the office and I rather stupidly don't appear to have a local copy.

July 2
A bunch of us from the office went out to Worldport's abandoned premises; they're auctioning off whatever's left to the best offers. No wonder Worldport went bust; even the loading bay had an Aeron chair in it. To say nothing of the 52" gas plasma screen in the office next to the CEO...

July 1
Spent much of the evening working on a script to clean up my HTML and kick it into roughly compliant shape. I've done the most important bits so far, and am looking at hooking it up to the validator so I can get an automatic check on the pages.

The government sent me a present today: Potassium tablets. Nice that they care.

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Waider
We didn't win the World Cup, but we'll be back!