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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

August 31
More vague tooling with the ZoomAir driver. Sometimes I think it'd be better to just rip it apart and rebuild it around one of the more solid drivers, like the Orinoco one.

Also tried to find a bug-or-feature in smbfs whereby it's mapping filenames incorrectly despite the fact that it's supposed to map them correctly, if you follow that. This led me to discover that the header file for smbfs appears to have this bogus notion of whether you're using version 6 or version 7 of some arbitrary interface, which, grr, is wrong wrong wrong. Trying to fix this.


August 30
Visitors departed, so I lounged for the day. Lounge lounge. Somewhat confused by having taken yesterday off work, thus being convinced today was Sunday rather than Saturday. Poked at the ZoomAir driver half-heartedly.

Bob reappeared later and we went off to Dalkey for beer, chinese food, and general socialising. Whee!

August 29
Hmm. Indeed, the problem with hanging-on-boot-with-demand-dial-ppp still exists. Not good. Also, wvdial is far, far worse at detecting connections than it should be, even in stupid mode. It doesn't help that some part of my TA/USB/tty chain drops the "CONNECT 128800" more often than it sends it, meaning wvdial is convinced that the dial failed. I made a half-hearted attempt to get it to detect that PPP traffic is being spewed down the line, but it didn't work. More investigation required.

Bob and Clarkey both turned up in the afternoon and we went off to Dun Laoghaire to watch Pirates of the Caribbean (again, for me; first time for them). AAAR!

August 28
Still on Samba. Oh, and while trying to clear out crap on the Win2K partition, I told it to remove an Unknown Device which appears to have deleted most of the hardware entries in the Device Manager. Go Windows!

Found a stupid bug in the RSSinator to do with invalid filenames which might explain the fact that timestamping was going awry.

Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai kinda struck me like Unbreakable - a good idea, but I'm not wholly convinced by the execution. C++ programmers can map that comment to Class/Instance, and philosophers can do some analogy with Plato's Horse, I'm sure.

Went to see Jack L at Spirit with Clarkey and others. What a fantastic gig!

August 27
Busy busy busy. Chasing Samba stuff again.

August 26
Hmm. My new RSS aggregator doesn't seem to be working as well as I'd hoped. Drat. More research required, or perhaps I should just give up and use Amphetadesk.

Further on the dialup thing: it appears I don't need diald; the default Red Hat stuff should "just work". The only recollection I have of it not working is that when you're in demand-dial mode, the invocation of the dialup fails until the first dialup occurs, because of that irritating ppp-watch process. Which in turn means that if you reboot the machine, it stalls until such time as a connection occurs on the dialup interface. I wonder if that's been fixed now? Also, despite apparent workarounds in the various scripts, you really, really need wvdial installed for the Red Hat toys to be happy.

Red Hat 9 vs. XScreensaver:
(fortune was removed from the distribution due to uncertainty over its ownership/maintenance/license/something)

I've had this console program knocking around for a while whose eventual intended purpose is to provide a screenful of information useful to me and also to monitor my dialup connection to see if it should be killed off or not. I'm sure there's umpty million programs out there to do this, but hey. So I did a little work on it tonight to display the time since the last-seen packet on the interface it's monitoring.

August 25
Bah. Microsoft SUCK. You can't restore a Windows 98 backup to Windows 2000. I am going to have to build a Windows 98 machine just so I can get those files.

After some abuse, I reconfigured my PPP dialup on Gonzo to conform to Red Hat's expected setup. Next, I'm going to try and set up diald again.

Donnie Darko is a strange but excellent movie.

August 24
Hmm. RSS gadgetry still needs work. It looks like the BBC feed modifies all the stories each time it changes, which means I keep getting clusters of BBC stories.

Weirdness with my own RSS feed also. str2time was returning dates one in advance of the correct publication date.

F1: No luck for Ferrari, but boy did Renault have a good day! Two spectacular accidents: Ralph Firman hitting the barriers during practice at about 150MPH having lost his rear wing, and Barrichello hitting a barrier slightly more slowly having lost his left rear wheel. The wheel itself went bouncing off down the track.


August 23
Wahey! I have figured out the hardware lock on my system restore disk.

Added an option to mailman.pl to allow it to use its own user prefs file, so you can configure SpamAssassin specifically for handling mailing lists without affecting your regular SA setup.

Effects of letting the magic smoke out of a capacitor: Whoops!
That's a Hayes ISDN TA, btw. I managed to repair it by scavenging a replacement capacitor out of an old phone. No, really.

August 22
Started working on a toy to aggregate the RSS feeds the way I want 'em - interleaved in date order. I'm trying to come up with a reasonably sane way to handle the feeds that don't datestamp individual entries; probably keep a cache of retrieved items, so the first time you hit such a feed it'll flood the aggregate page, but thereafter the crap will filter out.

Had to fix that dealy with the unescaped entities in two places. Jeez. You'd think noone ever tested this code. Actually, screw that, I'm going to fix this damned module. Mind you, I finally read the RSS spec and, well. Urgh. Horrible.

Wow. Got an email to tell me that my mailman.pl script is doing the rounds at the IETF, apparently. Someone's contributed support for Mailman 2.1.

Fiddled around some more with the RSS toy. Hopefully it should now begin to build a proper aggregated page for me. Next step is some two-way integration: move the stuff from snorq into the RSS toy, and allow the RSS toy to generate a Pilot-friendly version of its output.

August 21
Whee. Another XML::RSS bug. When it's escaping stuff to put in the description section, it doesn't correctly handle stuff that's already escaped. Wahey, not.

Muahaha. Figured out - I think - how my recovery disks are hardware locked. A little experimentation with a CD burner should prove me right... what would be nicer, of course, is to figure out how to stop the frickin' things from reformating my hard drive. As is I'm doing a full backup of both OS partitions on Klortho before doing anything.

August 20
After some more tweaking, the RSS toy now makes use of the Last-Modified header as a "last updated" watermark for sites that don't publish this information in their RSS feeds. Of course, it innocently believes the lastBuildDate header if there's present in the feed, meaning that BoingBoing appears to be permanently out of date. Way to go, guys.

Not Another Teen Movie isn't bad, but overdoes the self-aware meta-commentary a bit. Having a character saying, "I'm the token black guy" is funny in the trailer, but doesn't cut it in the movie, especially if it's used repeatedly. Some of the send-ups were excellent, though.

August 19
Meh. The XML::RSS module will not save items that don't have a <title> attribute set. Which, er, is Warren Ellis' entire RSS feed, for example. Fixed with ad-hackery.

Added next/prev links to the film listings script to further cater for my inherent laziness.

August 18
Off to Roscommon again. Applet working, but still horrible.

August 17
Tooling around with Borland's command line C compiler for Windows trying to make a systray applet. Oog.

American Pie 2 wasn't quite as good as the first, but still fun.


August 16
Found out what was stopping Mozilla from being placed correctly by Fvwm - as of Mozilla 1.4 it seems that you need to add the NoPPosition style to whatever else you'd been doing with Mozilla.

August 15
Drove to Kingsland Observatory to play with a Windows/Linux network.

August 14
Silly hack, from a suggestion on #dnalounge: Random Pokey plugin for xscreensaver. Requires Perl, LWP::UserAgent, and xview.

Fixed some RSS bugs: firstly, putting datestamps on the individual entries in my own RSS feed, and secondly, fixing the ETag stuff which I'd inadvertently screwed up in the RSS aggregator. Having done that, I tweaked the output some more to make it nicer. Next thing is to split it up so that the updates are separate from the HTML that appears in my sidebar.

August 13
Hmm. It appears that NFS problems I've been seeing of late are correctable by using hard mounts instead of soft mounts. In My Day[TM], hard mounts were a recipe for network-wide lockups. Apparently that's no longer quite the case. Mutter mutter, young people these days, mutter mutter.

In the interests of being nice to servers, etc. I set Mozilla to fetch pages only when they've changed - presumably this makes use of ETag and/or Last-Modified headers. Alas, LiveJournal's friends page doesn't appear to play ball with this. You'd imagine a site that consists almost solely of dynamic content would be interested in reducing their workload, wouldn't you?

With some effort, managed to persuade the Linux MALsync client to load up a server-provided configuration file. It should be possible to make a fully equivalent-to-the-Windows-version conduit at this point. The code still needs a little tweaking, like duplicate detection, but it's mostly there.

Catch Me If You Can wasn't a bad movie, either. It appears I'm renting a succession of "Not Bad". It'd be nice to get a "WOAH GOOD" once in a while.

August 12
Discovery for the day: jwz lied! Windows-1252 isn't ISO-8859-1, it's ISO-8859-1 with horrible Microsofty extensions that cause all manner of problems like broken XML. BAH. More details at the excellent Codepage & Co.. Using this new-found knowledge, I've been able to work around parsing Blogger's broken RSS feeds.

August 11
Woohoo! GO ME!
2003-08-08 18:08  jra

    * source/: include/rpc_dce.h, libsmb/clireadwrite.c,
    rpc_server/srv_spoolss_nt.c: RPC fix from Ronan Waide
    <waider@waider.ie>. Tested with rpcecho.  Jeremy.
Took me ages to find and fix that, it did.

Weirdness. If I have a /lib/modules/[version]/pcmcia directory, my PCMCIA stuff doesn't work. Inspection of the kernel spec file suggests it's a NPTL thing.

Tweaked the APM Monitor to handle ACPI as well. It's a bit clumsy at the moment; it parses the first live battery it finds and converts that data to an APM-like string so I don't have to recode the rest of the toy. Also made APM respect the fact that the BIOS might have a better idea about battery power remaining, since ACPI does, in fact, have a better idea about that. In the process, it appears that some of the COMPAQ CAN'T WRITE ACPI weirdness in my laptop BIOS prevents the battery from recharging when you put the power back on. Tidy, that.

August 10
Having finally gotten Coda running on the laptop, it promptly blew up on me. Bah.

Went to see Pirates of the Caribbean in the cinema - first movie I've been to in ages. It's a wonderful romp, with plenty swashbuckling and some good laughs.

Also Micromail update.


August 9
Eep. Bad hangover. Spent most of the day planted on the couch trying to get Coda up and running.

August 8
Santa in the office, or, our memory order from Komplett turned up. One of the guys claimed the speed increase on his box was such that he could see through time now. He also complained that he might actually have to do some real work.

The office Current server was one of the beneficiaries of the memory order. It's now happily running and serving out Red Hat 6.2, 7.2, 7.3 and 9, which about covers the machinery in the office. Plus I have it rsyncing off the local mirror on a nightly basis to pick up errata. Yay!

Helped my local barman with his birthday celebrations.

August 7
Shallow Hal wasn't a totally useless movie, but the idea could probably have done with better production staff. The end credits featured clips of the people being credited - grips, gaffers, caterers, artists, the lot. Pretty funny. The movie itself had few belly laughs, though, and Joe Viterelli's Oirish Accent was bloody awful.

August 6
More fun and games with Current - in attempting to mirror a Red Hat 7.3 directory, I blew away the 7.2 directory that the machine built last night. D'oh.

And I had yet another fun trip to the House of Suckweasels that is Compustore: I wished to purchase 4 sticks of 128MB PC133 SDRAM. They didn't have any SDRAM in stock. At all. None. On top of which, when I asked the guy behind the counter about memory, he told me I had to press the buzzer at the other end of the counter and wait for someone to come out to me. This counts as "service", apparently.

August 5
JamesC joined Doolin today. Whee!

Bitlbee is definitely the business. What I particularly like is that I could, say, run it on the DSPsrv box and hook into it from all over.

More fun and games with Current - the default Red Hat 9 configuration for the web server makes the web server's log directory accessible only to root. Current tries to access a logfile there as the web server user (typically apache) after the web server has dropped root privileges, and, get this, it fails horribly and non-intuitively if it can't open the logfile. Careless, that.

August 4
Finally got enough of the Linux Wireless Extensions bolted onto the ZoomAir driver to allow it to work just like a real wireless card - plug it in and it goes. It's still a bit hacked up, but it obviates the need for me to manually attach it to my WLAN, at least.

August 3
Ok. I've tried Cheesegrater and Portalizer, Bloglines, and Amphetadesk, and I still haven't got what I want from RSS. The main thing I want is that the feeds get merged according to their timestamps, not sorted by feed. I may just have to beef up my own rss.pl until it does that.

Juan Montoya pretty much ran away with the German Grand Prix, and Schumacher senior would've been second except for the small matter of a puncture. The worst of it was that this allowed David Coulthard to take second, and more to the point allowed Ron Dennis to be all smug about it. GAH.


August 2
Wow. Montoya on pole after a ripping qualifying lap.

Fozzie and Blimp have spent all day trying to compile a SVGAlib version of XMAME, due to complex source code and crappy machinery on which to compile it.

Finally got around to watching the copy of The Trouble With Harry that Annette loaned me. Enh. Not wildly impressed.

Tweaked Mozilla's startup script to hook it into aRTs (or however you're supposed to capitalise that) so that I can enjoy the sound from flash animations, etc. without having to do any sillywalking. It's nice that there are fifteen different ways to talk to /dev/dsp from multiple programs, but, enh. Windows had this sorted years ago.

Tweaked makerpm.pl to respect your local RPM macro settings.

August 1
Set up Current on another machine in the office, this one with a bit more diskspace than my last attempt.

GNEE. Using lufs to mount the Red Hat files off a mirror, rather than downloading them all to the local drive. That way Current can still serve 'em out.

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Waider
This month, I will mostly be using emacs.