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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
Yay! Schumie wins again! This time, in the Ferrari F1-2002, which acquitted itself admirably despite the Bridgestone tires being unsuited to the temperatures in Brazil. Whee!

New phone works after all. I did a bit of the "take battery out, put battery in, do mystic chicken-waving routine" and lo, it switched on. I'm quite impressed with it, my only minor gritch being that my guitar-playing fingernails don't quite get on with the small keys. Still, they're hard keys as opposed to my old Nokia's soft keys, so there's no chance of me putting a thumbnail through the surface of the key.

Installed NT 4 on the spare pentium box on a whim. Then downloaded something like 30MB of security updates from Microsoft. This is the more secure version of Windows, or at least it was back whenever it was released.

I'm toying with the idea of making a multi-boot box if I can find some way of PXE-booting the damn thing, and also if I have space for the bits on Gonzo (which now has about 250 discs' worth of MP3 files - all legal, mister RIAA...)

Books: Finished Better Than Life, also Backwards, which is the one written by Rob Grant. Somehow it seems slightly the worse for not being a co-write, as the first two books were.

Late, LATE Micromail update.


March 30
Bought a new phone - a Siemens S45. It's GPRS-capable, and Vodafone are supposedly switching on their general-access GPRS service on Monday.

Oh the humanity. First, I discover that the salesguy forgot to give me the PIN for my new SIM card. Duh. Having gotten around that (enter random numbers until card is blocked, retrieve unblocking code from Vodafone website, enter new PIN), the new phone wouldn't switch on. At all. ARGH. This is hardly encouraging. And meantime, my ISP decides to have a collection of random outages: IPCP timeouts, dropped connections, stalled connections. WONDERFUL. There are times when I absolutely detest the excuse for a telecomms infrastructure in this supposedly technologically advanced country.

Went to the local for a few pints of the black stuff, to make up for yesterday's forced abstinence.

March 29
It's Good Friday. The government says I can't go to the local for a few pints of the black stuff, but it remains strangely silent on the subject of my spending the day in the office.

March 28
Spend some time digging around in Oracle's proprietary undocumented ROS scripting format; it should be pretty trivial to transform it into <buzzword>XML</buzzword>, less the sequential numbering of objects, which would be far more useful for CVS than the current incarnation - change an object early enough in the file, and every single object in the file gets renumbered, resulting in massive diffs that should in reality be one-line changes.

I actually spent a lot of time parsing the format. A basic XML transform is pretty trivial and I should do that first.

March 27
More tooling with disk recovery. Glade is still perplexing me in some places, but at least I can just hack the XML it generates as a save file. Or so I thought, until I upbefuct it. D'oh. At least I have a working backup...

March 26
It appears that there's a stupid memory-leaking bug in Oracle's Forms server, which is maybe one of the reasons they're ditching it in the next release in favour of a servlet. I'm sure buzzword-compliance is another reason.

Started hacking the linkfarm code to use a few more Emacs features and a bit less CPU.

March 25
Discovered how remarkably easy it is to create mirrors with Solstice Disksuite today. Like, REALLY easy. I wonder if anyone has made a similar nice toy for Linux' metadevice stuff?

Cleaned up the What Movies Are On TV Today? script some more; it now does a better job of fetching the listings, and links to the relevant page if it can't find a listing; also, it automatically detects CGI or command-line mode and modifies its output appropriately.

I started one of the new books last night, Enigma Variations by Irene Young. It's another Station X memoir, albeit from way down in the ranks from what I can tell.

March 24
Spent some time adding filters to snorq so that I can cut down on the amount of crap I'm feeding to my AvantGo client. So now it's down to 500K from 900K, which is good.

Finally debugged at least part of my What Movies Are On TV Today? script so that it now links to IMDb, has a marker for what's on now, has an anchor for what's the next movie to start, and works in CGI mode so you can query it instantly.

Finished Red Dwarf this morning.


March 23
Went poking at rpmfind again, also gnorpm. There's a really useful tool somewhere inside these two, struggling to get out. Not helped by people like Sunsite UK failing to keep their RDF stuff up-to-date.

Reading at the moment: Red Dwarf for the DART, Sophie's World, The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age, and Homepage Usability for the bedside. Everyone else seems to keep reading lists or mention books, so I figure I may as well join the herd. Baaaaa!

This would be about my fifth time reading Red Dwarf, phase two of my attempt to finish Sophie's World, and the others, well, The Hacker Ethic was a mistake and I'm sorry I bought it, but I'm determined to finish it, and Homepage Usability was a freebie from Willy at Micromail which I'm kinda skimming now and again. It's more of a coffee table book than a bedside book.

GRR. Every so often, my ethernet card (on the laptop) dumps a bunch of eth0: Too much work at interrupt, status=0xffff. and stops working. ifconfig down and up and it's fine, but in the meantime all network connections get royally screwed. This is probably one of the eepro bugs that the ILUG people mentioned recently.

Went to town, bought stuff. I bought a computer cable for my mother. At her request. No, really.

Played around with The GIMP some and remade my Google logo. I even wrote a quick Perl script to generate a palette file from an arbitrary image. The GIMP seems to do this, but for some reason I preferred my own version. I am obviously a giant ego on legs, or something.

The gnorpm/rpmfind silliness continues: the rpmfind fullIndex file uses lower-case "rdf" while gnorpm expects uppercase. Sigh. This is a real shame, because the rpmfind index is about 50 times bigger than the RedHat one.

March 22
Hurrah! Friday! Beer!

March 21
After a bit of kicking and screaming, managed to tie the GNU JSP Engine onto the side of Apache/JServ. Now I have a JSP environment, woo woo.

Tweaked my ifup-local script to take note of the domain provided by DHCP and switch the domain name of Klortho based on that. Just another step towards fire-and-forget networking...

Noticed that my version of rsync wasn't doing anything useful when talking to a more up-to-date version on my website, meaning that every time I went to do a site update it wanted to upload the whole thing. So I upgraded the local copy, hindered only slightly by the fact that there are no RPMs for it... not sure the result has worked, though. More investigation required, I think. Aha. Default behaviour change. You need to explicitly tell it to preserve file timestamps now. I hate default behaviour changes.

March 20
Slight tweak to the Micromail site to correct an error from Monday's update.

Put an Apache JServ on Klortho for experimental purposes, or something. Also finally got around to applying the CodeWeavers Crossover 1.1.0 patch, which has been sitting on my hard drive for ages.

Discovered file-relative-name, which allowed me to cut about twenty lines of absolute crud out of my linkfarm code. Yay!

Went poking at my GPS toys again, and discovered that MapQuest have changed their technology such that it doesn't work with my MapServer bits any more. Fine. I'll just have to ADAPT, dammit.

March 19
Poking and prodding at some disk-recovery software. I have a bunch of floppies to try it out on.

March 18
Offloaded one of the Too Many Computers in my room today. Phew.

Micromail update, too.

March 17
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Schumacher Senior failed to win due to a minor incident with Montoya, leaving Barrichello to fly the flag for Ferrari until his engine blew up. Some bits of controversy, such as why Montoya was given the first ever "drive-through" penalty, and why Williams weren't tapped for having slicks by the end of the race.


March 16
Yay! Schumacher out front on the grid again, still in last year's car.

March 15
Beerfest with some ex-Stepstone folk.

Turns out that Oracle are dropping support for everything except their own SCM in the upcoming release of the application server development tools. The rest of the EOL documentation doesn't make for hopeful reading, either.

March 14
Integrity-checking 180GB of disk can take quite a while, even if the disk is clean.

March 13
Got fed up of the morons who are nimda/code-red scanning my server, and put a little PHP honeypot in place. Scan away, assholes.

March 12
Further puzzlement with my little home network: ssh does some DNS lookup stuff that should be resolved locally, yet it isn't. Looks like I need to do some reading and reconfiguring.

March 11
A crap day at the office, rounded off nicely by something hitting my windscreen and making a semi-circular crack in it. GAH.

Went through my list of things that need fixing in BBDB only to discover that Robert Fenk has, in fact, fixed quite a lot of them! So I transferred my attention to the Ardmore Diving website instead.

Finally decided to roll Gonzo up to RedHat 7.2, probably shortly before 8.0 is released. But hey.

March 10
More movie-going: A Beautiful Mind is not quite the tearjerker I was told it was, but is certainly an entertaining film and makes me want to read about what Nash came up with.


March 9
Went to see Ocean's Eleven (the 2001 remake, not the 1960 original). Excellent heist movie, regardless of what anyone might tell you about clichés or the inherent badness of modern remakes of classic movies (I'm looking forward to seeing Jean Reno reprise his role in Les Visiteurs when Just Visiting turns up here in the next few weeks, too).

That pretty much set the tone for the day, with the idiot box providing my afternoon, evening, and night entertainment. An episode of Voyager dealing with repressed memories (why oh WHY do they even bother with Important Social Commentary Episodes?); Scrapheap Challenge featuring drag racing, specifically featuring a drag-racing car with a single-gear automatic gearbox, said gear being... reverse (they clocked a respectable 19-second 1/8th mile going backwards before rotating the axle for the subsequent runs); bemusedly watching some coverage of the Crufts dog show; Babe (last shown over here around Christmas) (yes, I did watch this kid's-book movie from start to finish, more than once); Hudson Hawk, which wasn't as good in some places as I remember, and was better in other places, and overall is still a movie I like; and finally, failing to find anything further of interest in the TV listings, I watched Sid and Nancy, which was, well, um. Gary Coleman is brilliant, and I guess the agenda of the movie is to portray Nancy Spungen as a whiny bitch who destroyed the Sex Pistols, but, um, don't lay it on heavily or anything, yeah? It was a bit short of flashing "Evil Wench" across the screen, but not far short. Plus there were these pointless arty shots of, for example, Sid and Nancy kissing against a garbage unit while trashcans fell in slow motion around them. Wait, wait, this is a metaphor, right? I know metaphors, I is educated, dammit. Overall not worth the time I spent on it, but since the rest of the day was a write-off anyway it was no big deal.

March 8
Went to a party. Didn't come home. I like parties like that...

March 7
Went rooting through DLLs trying to figure out how Oracle's Developer 2000 does version control integration. Figured out after a while that what I need to do is build a DLL, and set the VCS registry stuff to "CUSTOM". Now to see if I can build a DLL...

Found a lovely quote over on Live Journal. "My room is crying out, "Clean Me", but I am showing it tough love."

March 6
Wrote enough of a UTF-7 encoder/decoder in lisp to work for most of the thusly-encoded mail I get. Boy is UTF-7 weird.

March 5
Progress Quest has, predictably, become a victim of its own success. All Your Vorpal Serrated Bandyclef are belong to us.

Finally got a program working to use Eirpage's highly dubious web interface to send pager messages, as they're apparently yanking the email interface.

Tweaked a small bug in the readline code for cddb-mode.el; it's still not 100% correct, but at least it doesn't generate errors.

March 4
Bad Thing: having Wine, VM, a bunch of terminal sessions, a bunch of Emacs windows, and Mozilla running when you kill your X Server. Good Thing: wget continuing on after the terminal that owned it was whisked away, especially when it's in the middle of a 200MB download that can't be resumed if it gets interrupted.

March 3
And again with the dominating Ferrari - only one, since Schuey junior chose to have a first-race incident again, albeit slightly less damaging to non-racers this time. ITV's commentators estimated the cost of his gaffe at approximately 10 million pounds. Big brother proceeded to blow the doors off everyone else and finish with a deeply comfortable 20-second lead because, well, noone could keep up. With last year's car. Bwahahahaha!

Back at the BBDB again, since I've been neglecting it a little too much of late. Bad maintainer, no karma!


March 2
Whee! And we're off, with the Formula 1 season's first qualifying session demonstrating that Ferrari's old car is better than everyone else's new cars. Go Schuey!

And then Ireland kicked Scottish butt (43-22) in the Six Nations Rugby, including one fantastic 3/4-length-of-field run from Brian O'Driscoll ending in a try. YAY!

March 1
Tweaked my up2date cleanup script to behave itself when the verbose flag is not specified.

Hmm. Seems like tabbed browsing actually has most of what I want, if I just figured out where to look for it.

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Waider
Beware the Ides of March. It's standing behind you.