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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

July 31
More slight tweaking to the TV Movie Listings script to cope with Network 2's Cinepicks slightly better.

Discovered what was wrong with the crude leftshift in setiposition.pl: it wasn't aggressive enough. Fixed that, and also got the script to discard data for people who are off the bottom of the graph.

I'm still thinking about it and playing with it, but on balance I think Bitlbee is pretty cool.

Fired up Fozzie (that's the old 486 that used be my main box once upon a time) and started building XMAME on it. I want to see if it's got enough horsepower to be a gaming cabinet.

Network 2's voting public opted for Terminator, so I watched that.

July 30
Okay, so yesterday's "fix" to the RSS Aggregator actually seems to have broken it in a pretty weird way. D'oh.

July 29
Sigh. Back to work...

Tweaked the RSS Aggregator to handle ETag and Last-Modified/If-Modified-Since headers, so that it's a bit kinder to whichever websites I'm hitting.

Happy Birthday Anita! To celebrate, a bunch of us watched Highlander and The Italian Job.

July 28
Searching for an open pub in Bristol! Aie! The journey home. Meeting JC, Anita, and my parents for a few drinks.

July 27
A garden party. People drink again. Croquet.


July 26
Hangovers occur. Espresso milkshake. A sing-song.

July 25
Dr. Casey marries Lisa. People drink to celebrate.

July 24
Temptation.

Oh wow. AIM on Emacs. That's so wrong, I just have to try it out.

Modified films.pl to special-case Network 2's current marketing hoo-ha, Cinepicks - they list two movies, and decide which one to show based on a premium-rate phone-in.

July 23
I got fanmail for my GDB filk today. Hee. It's bad to encourage me like that.

Took a break from 802.11 nonsense to do something else: got XMame running on one of the laptops. There's something distinctly wrong when a 450MHz laptop can't emulate a 10MHz 68000 coupled with a 3.5MHz Z80 without dropping crap into the sound feed. That said, I could probably construct a reasonable facsimile of my all-time favourite arcade game with the bits in the spare parts bin.

July 22
The Blackrock/Sandyford feeder bus service SUCKS. Bigtime.

GRR. It doesn't help that Blogger changed the date spec while I was trying to correct it, either.

Driver update: and now we have Ad-Hoc/Infrastructure querying. No setting just yet. Despite implementing pretty much an entire 802.11 MIB on the card, the Network Mode indicator - my best guess at what dictates Ad-Hoc/Infrastructure - doesn't conform to the specified values. On the other hand, looking at the existing driver it seems to be the right register to play with, so. Also, I discovered I have source for the firmware, or at least part of the source, which might help me in my efforts.

July 21
I can't really complain, since I've still not read the specs, but why the hell is Blogger using a different timestamp format in its RSS feeds compared to every single other feed I collect?

Rebuilt malsync, avec specfile, so I can get back to synchronizing my pre-RSS crud onto the Pilot. I really should do some merging there... hmm. Upgrading the client software - which requires me to ditch all my existing AvantGo bits - results in a segfaulting malsync. I could fix this, I guess...

More driver tweakery. Nicknames now work. I'm slowly working my way down the output from ifconfig, also trying to read the 802.11 MIB and figure out how to map it into the information I need. My understanding is that the drivers I'm working with allow the greatest level of tweakery at the 802.11 level of any of the wireless drivers, but that iwconfig and friends don't support all of it.

Two movies tonight: Bridget Jones's Diary and Akira. The former was funny, with some laugh-out-loud moments, but way too many twists - it was like they'd write an ending, not like it, and instead of rewriting it they'd tack on a bit more movie to yank the story around to the opposite conclusion. Lather, rinse, repeat. The latter movie was a bit opaque in places; AjD tells me it expects you to have a certain familiarity with Manga, which I don't have. At least it doesn't have the thing that normally bothers me about japanimation - a static scene with a camera pan to represent action, instead of actual on-screen movement.

July 20
Wow, what a race! As Tony Jardine put it, "we lost count of overtaking moves after 30...". In the end, Barrichello took home a well-deserved first place, and Silverstone got to take away a little more controversy.

Bashed at the ZoomAir driver some more, and now you can use iwconfig to get/set the SSID. Only another two dozen ioctls to implement... eep.


July 19
My ex-roomie is in town, so we met up for lunch. Pretty much spent the rest of the day doing a passable impression of a couch-mounted cabbage, although I did hack on the ZoomAir wireless driver a bit.

Oh, and Barrichello's on pole for the Silverstone Grand Prix. Go Rubens!

July 18
Pete and Annette called over and we watched Rear Window with the assistance of the big screen from the office. Excellent movie, complimented by excellent company. Also pizza.

July 17
Picked up JC and Anita from the airport to ferry 'em to the train. Sure, there's a bus service to do this, but hey, that's what friends are for, dammit.

July 16
Tweaked the 2Mbit wlan driver some more, so it's less abusive when it can't allocate a useful I/O address for itself. I'm not sure why, but it won't work at 0x110, while it works fine at 0xa00. I can fix that by tweaking the PCMCIA config options, but I'd rather it figured this out itself during init.

July 15
Bleah. Found a bug in the script that's supposed to update the workshop that stopped it from working for the past while, probably since I upgraded to Red Hat 9. Anyway, fixed now, even if I need to read some more to find out what the actual problem was.

Some sillywalking around the Mini-ITX website: the selfbuild cubid system listed at £242 on their bundles page, when clicked on, brings you to a list of hardware totalling 242 quid but not including the hard drive. The last two I bought included hard drives when they were shipped anyway. This time, I bought two together and got no harddrives. And customer support insisted that there were six items on the list, not five (the missing item being the hard drive). Bah.

July 14
Added fairly blunt CAB creation to cabarc, since someone asked me if I could. It's awful for now but should produce sufficiently usable CAB files for the guy to get started.

July 13
Woke without hangover. Wow. How the hell did th... oh, best not to question these things. Lying around reading several graphic novels (Preacher, Daredevil, Ronin, Calvin & Hobbes (ok, so that's not a graphic novel) and inroads on Death: The High Cost Of Living) and comparing "gunshot wounds" before wandering into town for Lunch, then to the airport, then home, where all the pain and hurt is now starting to materialise. I think my thighs just realised they got their first major workout in, oh, this century. And they're not happy.

And you know, I barely even looked at a computer this weekend.


July 12
Up bright and early to be hungover and driven in cars to a paintball site, where many were wounded, some got highly irritated, and much fun was had. Also, the Blue Team (us and assorted randoms) kicked ass. Like, totally. To the point of capturing the flag that had never before been captured. Back to Bath, shower (ho ho! the redundancy! ho ho ho!), food, beer, beer, beer, DEAR GOD LADY YOU'RE TWENTY YEARS OLDER THAN ME AND YOU'RE DRUNK AND YOU'VE JUST MANHANDLED MY POSTERIOR STOP NOW AND TAKE YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOU, beer, beer, beer, let's go home, beer, beer, beer, Tim, how much whiskey have you had?, oh wow, is that sunrise?, zzzzzzZZZZzZZZzzZZZ.

July 11
BPC's stag weekend. Almost missed the plane - but didn't, yay, then sat around in Bristol Airport waiting for BPC and his chariot to arrive, then sat around waiting for Diarmuid's flight so we could all move together. Off to Bath, a quick stop for groceries and BEER BEER BEER, a cheer for the Mystical Beer Bush of Bath (which story I really should put up on these pages), then back to the house to eat the food and drink the BEER BEER BEER and generally party a bit until we all fell down in Sleep Of The Dead.

July 10
Managed to get ACPI working with a hacked-up DSDT segment to replace the busticated one that's built into your average Compaq Evo N600c... the irony being that Compaq are one of the creators of the ACPI spec. Of course, now I can't figure out how to get power readings out of it. I did find a bug in my APM monitor, though, which I've fixed.

Aha! I need to load all the ACPI modules! Which also allows me to do silly things like manually enabling the fans. Seems to have disabled the standby button, however, which I seem to recall reading about elsewhere. Guess I'll have to do a bit more research into this.

Driven is a so-so movie with some fantastic music.

July 9
Wow. With far less pain than I expected, I converted the Linux-WLAN 2Mbit drivers to build against a kernel source tree instead of requiring kernel source AND pcmcia-cs source. I've started patching in the Linux Wireless ioctls as well so I can throw away the wlanctl framework and the rather hairy scripting in /etc/pcmcia. The only thing the latter has to its credit is that it joins any available network as opposed to having to be specifically configured for one. Also discovered that the 2Mbit Zoom cards will talk to the 11Mbit Orinoco/Enterasys card as long as the Zoom cards get to set up the BSS.

July 8
Tweaked my website update script to include my shiny new (actually still a work in progress) Diary RSS feed. Yay me!

July 7
Into office early to preempt any disasters. Generally successful.

The replacement mouse-button unit for Klortho showed up, yay! Fitting it was quite literally a snap.

The Dish is a pretty decent movie. Bonus points for all the goodies on the DVD, including archive footage of the 1969 moon landing.

July 6
Hangover, recovery, Salthill Airshow. Wow. The Red Arrows ROCK.


July 5
Off to Galway to meet up with my sister and drink copiously. Especially the drinking copiously bit.

July 4
Weekend plans somewhat impacted by office requirements. Bah.

July 3
Casablanca, on the other hand, is an excellent way to spend an hour and a half.

Happy Birthday, Sheila!

July 2
Unbreakable is a slow movie, with an interesting premise, but the more I thought about it afterward the less I liked the execution. Oh well.

July 1
Tried to get pam_ssh working on Qaz. Failed so far. Bah.

RSS: It's a neat idea. It's evolving. It's pretty easy to code up RSS-based stuff. On the other hand, can people maybe try and agree what goes in a feed? I've picked out almost a dozen feeds I'm interested in, and, well, some don't have a publishing date so I've no idea when they were last updated. Some have item summaries, some have item excerpts, and some have entire articles. Most of them cause the XML::RSS module to whine loudly, forcing me to close STDERR while I'm running my aggregator as a CGI. Oh, and at least one (Hello, William Gibson) only ever contains the most recently posted entry, so if I miss an update in the feed then I'll never know without going to the originating site which, er, was the thing I was trying to avoid by using RSS in the first place...

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Waider
"Winter In July" isn't just a song.