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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 31
Originally, we'd planned on some booziness in The Hague; however, Bob's work intruded (small networking problem, some company called KPNQwest...) and that plan was scratched.

Put together some PHP to make a file browser of sorts. Plus points: generates on-the-fly thumbnails of image files. Minus points: chews CPU like a chewy thing, and is wildly insecure.

Off to the bar. And back home to watch Dogma.

May 30
Woo! Hacking! Got my GL mojo workin' after some fiddling with the X configuration and the like. Eventually I discovered that the principal problem revolved around the fact that the DRI stuff was only offering 16 or 32 bpp operation, and the X driver didn't want to do 32bpp. Grr. This needs to be fixed, obviously.

Went back to Amsterdam - mainly to check on what my flight options are as a result of the Aer Lingus strike. They rebooked me for a Sunday flight, using FinAir to bounce me via Helsinki. No, really. Spent a few hours wandering around Amsterdam after that, and I took some photos this time.

Back to O'Brien's in the evening, where Bob & I met up with Pat Connolly.

May 29
Took the train into Amsterdam to see what the place was like. When I got there, it was windy, and trying to rain, and I was wandering in a pretty typical European city, and, well, if the weather's like this at home I won't go into town. Still, I figured I should at least look around; I wandered down a major shopping street, somewhat akin to Grafton street, and about half way down it (at Dam Square) I got fed up and headed back to the station and to Haarlem where I vegged at the house until Bob & Gemma arrived home, after which we went off to O'Brien's.

May 28
I pretty much spent the day vegetating at Bob & Gemma's place, after the rampant movement of the preceding days. And of course we went to the pub. Bwahahah.

May 27
Bob had thoughtfully taken a day off, so... we went to the pub. Hee hee hee.

May 26
Met Bob's visitors as they had breakfast and left (driving back to Germany). Bob's quite enamoured with this notion, I think. Get in a car and drive to another country. It's something of a novelty for us I(re|s)landers. The only other note I have for today is "BEER!" and given that I went to O'Brien's almost every single day, that's probably what happened today. Oh, Bob did take me for a walk around to show me approximately where things were. Alas, his well-intentioned use of different streets (to get me familiarised with the area, he said) only served to confuse me. Aie!

Hmm, I seem to remember Gemma berating us for our somewhat drunken arrival, too, but not in a harsh way. More of a "You guys!" sort of way.


May 25
JoeV arrived over just in time for the start of the F1, which made it somewhat reminiscent of our F1 breakfasts in Dublin last year, although with less people and no Denny's sausages. The Giant Chin, bless him, actually won the race, although I don't think anyone really understands why. Post-race, I took a train to Geneva and found my way onto the flight for my trip to Amsterdam. The flight was uneventful, and I was greeted by Bob at the airport. This is the first time I've actually been in Schipol and left the airport, believe it or not. He dragged me onto a bus which took us from Schipol to Haarlem, where he's living, and dragged me into an Irish bar called O'Brien's before we even got to the house. Hurrah! Lovely Guinness, followed by a confusing trip through the streets to his residence, and a couch (he has other visitors using the spare bed, but they're gone tomorrow). Followed by sleep-of-the-dead.

May 24
Morning: JC and I took the train to Berne so I could look for a gift for my bro's birthday. I had a scheme, I have, and we only had to visit four shops for me to find what I was looking for. In the fifth shop, we met Grigor who was looking for some software to, uh, back up copy-protected CDs. It's our right as Europeans, you know. Well, at least until the EU gets around to licking WIPO's arse and putting the EUCD into force.

The rest of the day happened: bluuurrrrrr. Oh, before the shopping, we stopped at the Pickwick to watch the qualifying. Rather surprising eventual lineup, including the Giant Chin on pole. Feh.

Then we went to the Pickwick, where I made familiar-greeting noises at one of the barmaids, causing JC and Anita to stare at me (hey, I am Pheromone Boy after all). Post-food, we hiked off down a few streets to a rather tidy nightclub (cinema seats! evil!) where Treekillaz" were having a CD launch party & gig. Boy was that fun. Especially the "je suis avec l'orchestre" stunts like free beer, free Zippo-clone lighters, chatting with the band, and so forth. We walked home at some unknown hour, with me occasionally muttering "bastards!" because Final Dawn was still stuck in my head. Go buy Oxygently, you'll understand.

May 23
Joe phoned up sick, so I headed into Berne on my own and managed to avoid getting lost. Woohoo! I am TRAVELLER! See me TRAVEL! *cough* JC told me approximately where to find the Pickwick, which I approximately found, ordered myself a brewski, and slurped it while I waited for JC to finish up with that nasty work stuff. JC arrived, then various other people, including Anita, Marc, Grigor, and Ade, whereupon we all drank more and then scooted off to an Italian restaurant for food. When in Berne, er, eat as the Romans do? Whatever.

On the way home after food (we skipped the previously-planned cinema trip in favour of not rushing dinner) I phoned my brother to wish him a happy birthday, during which call he discovered I was in Switzerland. Compare and contrast with his calling me last year when I was in San Francisco... oh, turns out I forgot to mention that in the SF diary. Basically, I got a phonecall at 8am one morning. I answered, groggily. My brother. He asked what I was doing in bed at (+timezones) hours. I told him I was in San Francisco, to his surprise.

May 22
Joe's place, barbeque, is my note. Now, I know I went to Joe's place with Joe, and I went to Joe's place by myself, and damned if I can place these in the correct sequence, so I'll describe both here. The barbeque was at JC's, by the way.

Heading over to Joe's place, with Joe so I'd know where to go, was basically a bus ride followed by a bit of walking, neither of which I payed a lot of attention to. Joe's gaff is an apartment in a horrendously pink apartment block. Nicely sized, balcony, lots of sunlight. It's near the river; we geeked about a little, then Elisabeth, Joe's SO, turned up, and we walked down by the river and eventually wound up at JC's place in time for a barbeque.

Now, I try to figure out the correct chronology.

It may be that the lasagne happened on the 19th, the barbeque #1 on the 20th, and the above on the 21st. In which case, the entry for today should read as follows:

Today, I discovered just how small the locality is, by getting lost. No, really. First, I took the wrong bus over to Joe's place, fetching me up in the town centre. Then I took the right bus back, but got off at the wrong stop. After some phoning for directions from Joe, I got myself back on track and eventually turned up at his front door. He very kindly offered me a laptop to geek on, and logged into Nerdsholm for the first time in ages. I caught up on email, chatted with the t.b folk, and eventually decided to head home. I got to the bus stop just as the bus I was intending to catch disappeared around the corner, so I decided to walk a bit because the next one wasn't due for 45 minutes. I then proceeded to get halfway lost, but relied on my sense of direction. Which turned out to be a good idea, because the only time I disregarded it, I wound up walking in the wrong direction for a few minutes until the nagging voice saying, "other way! other way!" became too irritating to ignore. Eventually I wound up at JC & Anita's front door, and crashed out.

Dammit, I've just remembered that I made a third trip to Joe's place, and I have absolutely NO recollection of where it fits in. I walked over by the river route we'd taken when going to JC's for the second barbeque, and it was after the lost-on-bus trip, but, er, right. I'll put this down to the fact that I was on a one-beer minimum for every single day of the holiday.

May 21
"Here, you! Tourist! Assemble this barbeque!", said JC, approximately. So I did, and then sat in the grass reading Ender's Game (no, I have never read this classic of Sci Fi, yes I enjoyed it) while JC cooked. Dinner was excellent, and vegging happened again. Hurrah!

May 20
Yet more vegetation; today being a Swiss bank holiday, there was no urge to get up and about. But after a while we wandered into town via bus, and Anita and JC gave me the $2 tour of the place. The old town is kinda nice, if you're into historic preservation and all that, but the bulk of Biel was rebuilt in the 1970s as a "city of the future". Watch the advertising clip for Sheffield at the start of The Full Monty and you'll get the idea. Biel pretty much hasn't changed since they did the remodeling, so the whole place feels terrifically retro, and not in a particularly good way.

Part of the day was spent in the Pickwick, a bar not far from the train station. Quite a nice bar, and a good way to spend idle time. Eventually we wandered back to the house, had a delicious lasagne for dinner (yay Anita!) and then vegged until late. Oh, and more beer. Beer!

May 19
Biel, day 1: vegetation. That's it. Hey, I'm on holiday. JC had warned me beforehand that Sunday tended to be pretty much a non-event, and I can't say I have a problem with this concept. It's aided by the fact that the entire country pretty much shuts down, too. So basically we spent the day lounging around watching TV, movies, and drinking beer. Beer!

JC and Anita's place is a house; it is kinda old, and full of STUFF. Especially swords. Aie!


May 18
Hangover, followed by hasty packing, followed by flight to Amsterdam, followed by flight to Geneva. Whee! Expect the next fortnight of diary entries to be a bit spotty and vague.

The flight was delayed on takeoff by bogons related to (a) the continuing failure of the UK to keep their ATC system running for more than a month at a time (b) a sympathetic ATC failure in Belgium and (c) the fact that one of the flight attendants took ill and had to be replaced before we got off the ground. The fact that I knew the attendant in question is completely unrelated, I swear.

Once we'd gotten underway, some MORON behind me with an onward flight to Zurich whined at the nearest flight attendant about wanting confirmation that he wasn't going to miss his flight. When asked how this should be done, he said that the pilot could put a call through to Schipol.

No, really.

The FA pointed out that as of May 15, Aer Lingus regulations forbid contact with the pilot or other flight deck crew unless there is an emergency on board. Our MORON was not fobbed off by this, making loud protestations about how he made 100 flights every year and that he'd never heard anything so ridiculous and so forth.

Around about this time I thought about asking the FA if she could do anything about the terrible whining noise coming from behind my seat, but I restrained myself.

Eventually, the FA broke protocol and talked to the pilot. The pilot then proceeded to tell us all - via the intercom, obviously - that due to the various ATC cock-ups, all European flights were delayed and chances were that if you had an onward flight it would be as late leaving as we would be arriving. Whiny Moron still wasn't happy and demanded to be seated up front where he could have a customer rep come fetch him as soon as we hit the ground. Personally, I'd have been in favour of throwing him out the door as the plane touched down, but apparently it's dangerous to have the door open at that speed.

We arrived in Amsterdam without further incident, and unlike Whiny Moron I'd allowed a good time buffer between flights to allow for such eventualities as delays and misfiring ATCs, so I had time to get myself confused about the easyJet procedure (what? I don't need a ticket?) and ended up having to drag myself through security and passport control and all that when I could simply have gone straight to the transfer desk. Well, I'll know better next time. I spent the rest of the time noodling with Boxman, a Sokoban variant for the Pilot, although I did briefly and gneefully hook up to the 'net via cellphone (if I'd had an 802.11b card, I could have gotten free wireless access, apparently). I'm sure my next bill will be amusing.

The flight to Geneva was uneventful, and arrived in about twenty minutes early. Anita and JC met me, we had a brief consumption of beverage moment, and then piled into Anita's car and she drove us to Biel.

May 17
Spent most of the day tooling around, wandering into town late in the evening in time to get stuck in rush-hour traffic. D'oh. Met up with some folks in the evening for a few beers. And a few more beers. And so forth.

May 16
More fun and games with Oracle Reports on what turns out to be my last day in the office. Not only does it use an entirely different Locale system to what everyone else has, it also requires configuration to map said Locale system to X fonts. Well, thankfully I'm done with that.

May 15
Something on the production system stopped about ten minutes after I left the office. This is worrying for the office, as I finish up there on Friday. The DBA and I poked around for a bit, couldn't find anything obvious, and just reset the pager alerts to see if it happens again.

May 14
Discovered a slightly bigger Emacs upgrade problem: you now have to tell it explicitly that you want to masquerade your mail address. Fortunately, I kept copies of everything I'd sent since Saturday, because the mails got lost in a loop between me and my ISP.

May 13
More banging my head against Oracle today. Worse, over something I'd solved before; Oracle Reports server doesn't just need an Xserver to run, it needs a window manager.

ISP gone to hell in a handbasket again. Sigh. Maybe it's time I finally got around to doing that smarter dialup script I was thinking about, that round-robins the ISPs if one starts flaking out.

Comment from Ashraf on Friday's events: "I tried to phone you; you answered the phone, and all I heard was girls laughing.".

May 12
Lots of grumbling about today's F1. Rubens Barrichello had it in the bag, and was ordered to leave Schumacher pass him within metres of the finish line. Even Schumacher wasn't happy about it, but Brawn and Todt made lots of handwaving gestures about the good of the team and so forth. Feh.

Redid my pilot-link patch again, this time to cope with the RedHat 7.3 changes. The bits are in the patches section.


May 11
Booked flights for my impending two-week holiday. I'm going to Switzerland and Holland.

May 10
Mild Beerfest to celebrate (?) my departure from the company. Which isn't actually happening until next Friday, but details details.

May 9
7.3 update complete. Yay! Now to find out what's broken. Cursory inspection reveals that I now have Emacs 21, for which I've already had to repair a piece of code.

May 8
Downloading bits for RedHat 7.3 for Klortho.

May 7
Hmm. IOL map toy has broken due to server-side changes. I guess people were abusing it... after some hours (!) of prodding, I got it working again. Whee!

May 6
Books: Finished A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. While I was reading it, I buzzed through Life After God, which gave me a nice counterpoint: Douglas Coupland can write in a way that I can identify with without resorting to irritating literary tricks like stream-of-consciousness writing. Dave Eggers appears to be stuck with the latter. Heck, I used write out stuff like his in college as a form of antidepressant; it never struck me that anyone would have the neck to assemble a few hundred pages of it and call it a book. I've started (re)reading Foucault's Pendulum, one of two books Donal sent me for my birthday last month.

Installed Spam Assassin [sic] on my mail server in response to the recent flood of Klez.E crap I've been getting. Negative: it doesn't configure very well outside the default directories. Positive: the Debian install doesn't automatically insinuate itself into your MTA, so I'm not interfering with the rest of the MX domains on the server.

May 5
Sun! Sun! Sun! as Steve Martin said in L.A. Story. I spent the afternoon strolling around Dun Laoghaire with Ralph and his kids, Rebecca and Ciara.

Tooled around with Wine for a bit. It started the installer for Mobil 1 Rally Championship, but bombed out at the patch installation. I poked and prodded it a bit, but nothing continued to happen. I'm amused by the Guru Meditation crash dialog, though.


May 4
Ow. See previous.

May 3
Beer.

May 2
Mooched around with mapping again. Still nothing new to show for it.

May 1
May Day. Protestors failed to deface McDonalds. Woo woo.

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Waider
Bye Bye Old Job