A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- June 30
- Back on the BBDB trail again; I fixed a
configuration bug, found a bug in the finger code, and then
implemented a new feature in the ftp code.
I'm trying to clean out an overpopulated downloads directory; in
doing so, I found something I'd meant to RPMify, so I went back at my makerpm.pl script again
and made it actually work a bit better. Of course, as soon as I
noticed that the package I was working with had a spec file
already (broken, but saveable), I gave up and used that
Added a function to cddb-mode.el to split
a multi-artist list of TTITLE lines out into TTITLE and TARTIST
- June 29
- Eek. Another hangover. Ow,
I bought a computer desk, because all other things aside it's
really hard to get into hacking while I'm sitting on the floor
cross-legged... after putting it in place, and rearranging the
room to cope, I somehow had MORE room than when I started. I can't
figure this out. Maybe the desk has negative volume or
something. Anyway. I now need to get a new chair, because my
current one is rusted at the wrong height, meaning the only
practical way of using the desk is to put my feet up on it and put
the laptop on, well, top of my lap, funnilly enough. Also, my
current chair doesn't have wheels, and I really want a
wheely chair. Zoom! Zoom!
- June 28
- Thanks to AjD, my home page is now
HTML 4.01 strict/CSS2 compliant, and still looks approximately the
way I want, i.e. I got rid of the nasty box around the Google logo. Of course, you
losers with crappy browsers probably won't notice
- June 27
- Followed by a hangover. Goddammit, how did
that happen? I had three pints of beer and nothing else, and it
wasn't even particularly smoky in the pub.
Catching up on the book log, since I've been neglecting it:
Enigma Variations was not a bad read, but not a
terrifically good one. Its connection to Bletchley Park was through
the author's working there, but she doesn't have a whole lot to
say about it even though it's now declassified. Most of the book
was concerned with her partner/fiancé/husband who joined
the fledgling SAS and then became part of the biggest loss they
had during World War II. Coincidentally, one of the 21 other
people on the missing plane was from the same county as me. Wow.
I've started on The Years of Rice and Salt which my
parents bought for my birthday. It's interesting, but the random
free verse that kept appearing in the first section was
irritating, as was the end-of-chapter "read the next chapter
to find out what happens next" refrain. That's the sort of
thing I'd expect to find in a kid's book, which this
The Hacker Ethic, or whatever it's called, continues to
irritate me, and I continue to swear I'll finish it. That, or burn
it, I guess.
Added ScaryGoRound to
- June 26
- Lordy. More diary backfilling
required. Anyway, laptop returned with fully-functioning screen
and everything else. Popped the 20GB hard drive back in and all is
well. Next, Micromail
Followed by BEER.
- June 25
- YAY. Laptop repaired. Will, no doubt, take
another day to get back to me. Fuck you very much, UPS.
- June 24
- Met up with Audrey and got the full story on
her "I was run over by a boat in Cambodia"
episode. Woah. She's very lucky to be alive. Also, it's just as
well I'm not particularly squeamish.
Got a note from the repair people to say they'd received the
laptop, followed by another to say the repair would be delayed
while they waited for parts. Here's the UPS tracking log, by the way, for
the journey the laptop took to get to the repair shop:
|Date|| ||Time|| ||Location|| ||Activity|
|Jun 24, 2002|| || 9:36 A.M.|| ||DUBLIN, IE|| ||DELIVERY|
| || || 5:27 A.M.|| ||DUBLIN, IE|| ||OUT FOR DELIVERY|
|Jun 21, 2002|| ||7:56 P.M.|| ||DUBLIN, IE|| ||ORIGIN SCAN|
| || || 9:52 A.M.|| ||DUBLIN, IE|| ||PICKUP SCAN|
| || || 7:44 A.M.|| ||DUBLIN, IE|| ||ORIGIN SCAN|
|Jun 20, 2002|| ||11:14 A.M.|| ||IE|| ||BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED|
(Hideous coloration courtesy of UPS)
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, in order to send a package via
the express service from the south of Dublin to the North
of Dublin, a distance I've covered in rush-hour traffic in under
two hours, took UPS THREE DAYS
including a depot stop.
- June 23
- Went to Maplin. Bought the smallest
torx driver they had; I had misgivings about the markings on it
(Torx 7), but the head looked about the right size. I even tried
measuring it to be sure. Got home, dammit, it's too big. Die, Compaq, die. Oh yeah, you
already have, kinda. The New
Forumla 1: Barrichello wins, Schumacher second. They didn't play
team switcheroo this time. Oh, and Fisichella made a rookie
mistake to make sure that neither Jordan was in contention, the
idiot. And the Giant Chin and Montoya managed to take each other
out rather amusingly.
- June 22
- Went to town, had coffee, met Pete in the
Levis shop, bought too many clothes off him. D'oh. Arrived home to
realised I'd forgotten to buy a torx screwdriver to dismantle the
disk caddy in the new laptop. See, I want to put my home laptop
drive in it, and the caddy is new, improved, get your hands off it
already you non-approved person. And it requires a torx
screwdriver that's something like 1.5 or 2mm across. The smallest
torx driver I have is, like, bigger than the head of the
screw I'm trying to remove.
Made a brief trip to Woodie's DIY (hur hur, he said
"woody") to check if they had anything useful, also to
check if they had the necessary bits for me to renovate the old
bench out back. It looks like a stolen park bench, but that's no
excuse for not renovating it. I could always put a name plaque on
it, like "Donated by Waider" and sneak it back into one
of the local parks. Which would make for a fun conversation if
Someone In Authority caught me, I'm sure. "no, really,
officer, I'm putting it BACK.".
- June 21
- Laptop collected at 9am. Still hadn't
arrived at repair shop, on the other side of Dublin, at
5:30pm. Er, what? This is UPS'
Went to see Hardball, a Keanu
Reeves feel-good redemption movie. I'm a sucker for this sort of
thing if it's done well. Which, IMHO, this is. Enjoyed it,
laughed, almost cried, etc.
- June 20
- Put a bunch of XML-related stuff on the new
server for one of the other developers. I should really be
packaging this stuff into an RPM for easy
Called Compaq support to get
the laptop booked for fixin'. Contrary to the irritating message
on the support phone line, you cannot book your service call over
the web. Idiots. Oh, and despite my super-duper warranty, they
can't collect the laptop until tomorrow.
Went to see Spider-Man, and
enjoyed it. It's not the greatest movie in the world, or anything,
but it's a damn fine comic book/superhero conversion. Some
excellent funny bits where Peter Parker is learning about his new
abilities, some nice action sequences, and the CGI pretty much
blends into the movie when you're in a cinema. Which is good,
because the isolated CGI shots on the TV trailers were pretty
- June 19
- Woohoo! New laptop! Compaq Evo N600c. This
is a rather nice piece of kit. Now I can finally get around to
sending the home laptop in for repairs again.
- June 18
- Went on a mad binge of package upgrading on
one of the work servers. In the process, hacked at updateme.pl again. I am
thinking that what I really need to do is boil it down into a
simple piece of non-replicating code, but that could be said of
many of my hacks...
One of the guys in the office has a dead hard drive. As best I can
tell, Netscape/Mozilla decided to scribble all
over the start of his hard drive. Or maybe the filesystem did
it. Either way, his journal inode was, in fact, a little GIF of a
stop sign. Kinda appropriate for the effect that had on the
machine. I decided, in my infinite kindness (and more to the
point, my nerd genes) to try and recover as much of the disk as
possible. This entailed me looking at a lot of disk recovery
tools, reading their READMEs, inspecting their requirements, and
discarding them. I eventually settled on scripting some tomfoolery
with debugfs, one of the e2fsprogs toolset. This, would
you believe, is far better than any of the recovery tools I was
trying. If I'd been more inclined to hack it, and my laptop LCD
had been working, the plan of action would have been approximately
to iterate over every inode, see if it's collecting any inodes we
already know about (i.e. it's a parent directory of something
we've seen), make a note of that fact by discarding the thing
we've already seen, and do until end of inodes. At end of inodes,
extract everything you've got. Then instead of a
lost+found directory of 57 million files, you get a
structured tree with only the toplevel names missing, and several
of them are guessable (such as /usr, /lib,
etc.). But instead I just extracted all the inodes and did the
above sorting manually.
- June 17
- Aha. SMTP AUTH nailed. Turns out I was
missing the Cyrus SASL PLAIN/LOGIN support. Once that was in
place, a quick sendmail.cf tweak got everything
working. Yay! I rule!
Also, fixed my dialup problem by having it expect ~
instead of CONNECT at the end of the chat
- June 16
- Oy vey. Spent several hours trying to figure
out what was wrong with my parents' computer, only to discover it
was the Klez.E virus which I now know far too much about. I then
spent several more hours cleaning it up before driving back to
Dublin, during which journey I narrowly avoided collecting a COW.
Oh yeah. We got beaten on penalties by a Spanish side that didn't
deserve the win. Boo, hiss.
- June 15
- Got my wireless stuff running on 2.4, so I
sat downstairs watching TV with the laptop on my lap hooked to the
net via the box upstairs. GNEE!
Later on, drove down to my parents' place to surprise Dad for
- June 14
- Spent most of the day in the office poking
at SMTP AUTH to no avail. I'm missing something here and I've no
idea what it is.
- June 13
- Visited supplier of laptops today on
unrelated business. Laptops tomorrow, maybe. Or maybe not. Hope
Having got the linux-wlan driver working, and patched to provide
RSSI info in /proc, and then bundled all that into an RPM for RedHat 6.1, I'm upgrading the
6.1 box to 6.2 to do a rebuild again. I'm upgrading the other 6.1
box to 7.3, at which point all hell should break loose as I try
and get the driver working under a 2.4 kernel. Confused by all the
numbers yet? That's 802.11 for you.
- June 12
- After "soggy" comes
"crunchy". Ick. So I dismantled the
keyboard in the slimed area, and cleaned it up as best I
could. Don't try this at home, kids! (Yes, I know, My carpet is
horrible. Not my choice or anything.)
Shiny laptops arrived at the office, only to be sent back again
because they were one model down from what we were supposed to
get. As soon as my new laptop turns up, I'm sending Klortho in for
- June 11
- Hurrah! Ireland are through to the second
round of the World Cup! So of course I had to go drinking.
Which is why I managed to splash Yop (a yoghurt drink) across the
right-hand side of my laptop. D'oh. No apparent physical damage,
but the keyboard's a bit, uh, soggy.
- June 10
- Booya! Got the wireless network running Linux-to-Linux
at last, albeit still without link lights. The solution to the
last bit of the puzzle was to swap the PCMCIA-to-PCI card with the
Video Adapter, and then force the PCMCIA-to-PCI card to route all
IRQs via PCI rather than ISA. Presto, working. And it only took
about a dozen reboots to figure out.
The dialup failure I mentioned yesterday seems to be some sort of
oddball timing problem. It may be that the USB stuff is generating
interrupts in some way that is causing the PPP daemon to drop
characters. It certainly appears to be set at the correct line
speed, though. HMMM.
- June 9
- After a little tweakery I managed to get the
3Com USB ISDN TA that Bob gave me some, er,
months ago working. The (theoretical) advantage of this is that
it'll run fast enough that the connection isn't getting throttled
at the TA/PC connection to 115k down from 128k, giving me a
whopping 13k of extra bandwidth. Woo woo. First trial, doing a CVS
update on Wine, and I got
144000 b/s in and 168000 b/s out, compared to 108000/122784 on the
Hayes Accura. Woah.
On the down side, it seems to be failing a bit more often on the
connections, but maybe that's just temporary insanity on the part
Flushed with success, I went back to hacking on the wireless LAN
stuff, and after some abuse came up with a working setup on the
laptop borrowed from the office. Strangely, the link light doesn't
come on. I still haven't got the non-laptop one working, either,
meaning I had to run a kludgey Windows plus
half-arsed proxy setup in order to get from the laptop to the
server and on out to the Internet. Still, it works, and it works
all over the house, too.
- June 8
- Shopping in Maplin again today. They're
going to think I'm paranoid about getting lost, and also addicted
to constructing cables.
Finished rereading Foucault's Pendulum. It's an
entertaining book, although a little spoiled by Eco's constant
foreshadowing early on in the story, and the occasional reminders
that The Plan is an invention. Lest you get carried away, I
- June 7
- Secure IMAP, check. Chasing down why it
wasn't working was complicated by the fact that it was logging
(via syslog) to three different places, and the initial
error was a bit offputting (concerning a duff response from an
ident query, which apparently can't be switched off -
it's an xinetd feature).
Tried playing with the WLAN card again, this time in a laptop from
the office that's running a 2.2 kernel. And it's claiming to
fail the self-test, which isn't even as far as the
desktop-with-kludgey-PCMCIA-card got. Rather disappointing. My
next trick will be to get all the exact versions it's supposed to
have been tested with, and see if I can make it work with
those. After that, it's Hammer Time.
- June 6
- Investigating secure things, like secure
IMAP and so forth. Hmm hoom.
Cleaned up my room in lieu of doing anything useful. If you're
waiting for me to do something with BBDB, my busted monitor is
preventing me from doing any serious hacking (spare monitor is
blurry) for now, so apologies.
I've backfilled some of the diary entries for the Europe
trip. Possibly once I'm done backfilling I'll collect 'em into a
proper trip report. But don't bet on that, either.
- June 5
- Got another phone today - work phone. Hmm. I
could turn into Techno Bill at this point.
Went out cycling, damn near killed myself with the
- June 4
- First day at the new office. Gotta love it:
one of the machines was running xmatrix when I arrived
in, and there's a LotR poster on one wall. Oh, and a Pac-Man
poster on another wall.
- June 3
- Please bear with me while I shake the
memories of the last two weeks into a format suitable for filling
out the missing gaps in the diary. But don't expect an entry like
"Beer!" to get much better. Photos from my little
excursion are over on the hairballs page.
New geekery toy: Acorn A3010. Allegedly will run Linux,
- June 2
- Back in Dublin via Helsinki. No,
really. I have a
picture of a Helsinki Airport bus to prove it.
Compare and contrast: I spent a week in two different countries
where there's a good public transport infrastructure that has a
strong tendency to run on time; on my return, the national airline
is on strike, taxis are near impossible to find, and the commuter
rail service is partially closed while they rebuild a bridge -
besides which it and the busses are on Sunday Service anyway,
which means they run far less often. Bah.
- June 1
- Hurrah! Ireland drew 1-1 with Cameroon in
their opening World Cup match, giving a fantastic second-half
performance that should have seen them win the
In less amusing news, my laptop screen has AGAIN decided to stop
working. Bob has suggested that I leave it powered down for a bit,
so I'll try that and see if it improves the situation
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Ireland for the World Cup!