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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
Tweaked the films.pl script once again. Really, I should just can it and redo it from scratch.

March 30
Sigh. Well, apparently 55 years isn't quite long enough to wait for a Grand Slam in the 6 Nations. England ran way with the game, pretty much, and there wasn't a whole lot we could do to stop them.

March 29
Watched France running all over Wales in the 6 Nations. Also watched Ireland beat Georgia at soccer, including an impromptu display of knife-throwing - apparently from the crowd.

Tooled around with an old GPS toy, mainly playing with the satellite tracking stuff as opposed to the actual GPS location.

March 28
Did a little silly hacking with a timesheet app for the office.

March 27
Gave my talk on Samba this evening. Not as big a crowd as I'd hoped for, but it went well anyway.

March 26
More digging around in Windows RPC stuff. I need a few more virtual machines to do this right, I think.

March 25
Ew. I'm writing Windows code. Shoot me, please.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

March 24
One of those running around like a headless chicken days where I really had nothing to show for it at the end of the day.

In case you're wondering, I'm spending so much time on Samba for the office at present that the Snafooz hack and the crap-o-cam have been untouched since I last mentioned them. Gah.

March 23
Klortho, running Red Hat 8, locked up twice on me this evening. Once it took down X completely, and the second time it just sat there spinning its disk for half an hour while I watched X-Files. I am SO not impressed.

Another fun formula 1 race in Malaysia. Surprise pole position Alonso managed to be surprise third-place finisher, too. Ferrari had a pretty crap day but still came home second (Barichello) and, um, sixth (Schumacher).

March 22
Wahey! We beat Wales at rugby. Only just, mind.

March 21
Went to see Tracy Chapman with Clarkey. No geekery to speak of.

March 20
The first of the Doolin talks was on tonight; Kevin Lyda did a presentation on GPG to a crowd of about 25 or 30. I'm up next week, talking about Samba (surprise surprise).

March 19
And more Samba. The LDAP schema changed, but the new one isn't in CVS yet, so I ended up creating the missing bits myself.

I'm modifying LDAP schemas. Two months ago, all I knew about LDAP was what the acronym stood for. eep!

Oh wait, it is in CVS. Dammit, I'd version-locked one of the directories for some reason. Probably when I was tracking a bug.

March 18
Samba. Samba samba samba. I need a break!

March 17
Happy St. Patrick's Day

Wow. I got a pretty sizeable patch into Samba. I should put that up on my out-of-date nethead page.

March 16
Back to noodling with Snafooz. I was right about the missing mechanics. Basically, the cubes are exercises in placing six pieces from a set of six into a six-piece-holding frame. The composites, on the other hand, require for example placing ten pieces from a set of twelve. This breaks my simple placing mechanism, but I've figured out a hack to get around it. I also added a feature to show a wireframe outline of the piece that's currently under construction.

Boy, that was irritating. I made a change to my FVWM config, and instead of restarting the window manager I quit it. Duh.

Stomped off downstairs and plonked down to watch Romeo + Juliet. This would be at least my fourth time watching it. My opinion of the movie is unchanged; the idea is excellent, the soundtrack terrific, and Clare Danes is very, very cute; however, both herself and Di Caprio are lousy when it comes to the emotional bits, resorting to loud braying in place of tears. The use of the original dialogue is extremely clever, as is the branding around the movie - guns branded "Sword" and the like. On the whole, a nice waste of 2 hours. Now where did I leave my copy of the play?

March 15
Met up with Johnathan Vail, his wife Sue, and a travelling bunch of self-declared ugly americans. Fun ensued, as did food and drink.

March 14
Finally finished entering all the piece data for Snafooz, and found a bug in the placement code when I added one of the complex structures. On the whole, though, the mechanics are complete and I need to add some chrome now.

Hmm. While watching it attempt to solve one of the composite shapes I realised the mechanics may, in fact, be missing one piece.

March 13
Spent the evening tooling around with Borland (or Inprise)'s command-line C compiler, the one they gave away for free. In the process discovered with amazement just what a difference adding Emacs to a Windows installation makes in terms of usability. Rediscovered, maybe.

March 12
Continuing fun and games with Samba.

And Snafooz now has four of the six colours done, and I've also successfully set it up to handle adding more puzzles (i.e. the composite puzzles that the website shows solutions to).

March 11
Spent the day in Limerick playing with DSL. PC World rock.

March 10
Implemented a brute-force solving routine for the Snafooz toy, and added one of the Lament textures where the actual logo should be so I can see when pieces are flipped over or not. This led me to a bug in the matrix for the cube. I'm not sure the solving routine is done yet as I'm still finding problems with it and it apparently missed a solution earlier. Still, though, it's kinda fun to watch it working through the permutations and backtracking and so forth. And I really like that it's using collision detection to determine if a piece fits or not.

March 9
Wahey. Snafooz now has working collision detection, and it's using a linked list instead of an array. I need to do a few more things before I'm happy with it, though, including putting some colour in.

Also, a surprise finish to the first F1 race of the season; neither Ferrari driver on the podium. First time in 54 races, apparently.

March 8
x0rfbserver is just a world of wackiness. Or maybe it's just my network: laptop downstairs, wireless link to upstairs, ethernet link to another laptop, on which I'm running a VMware-hosted NT4 box...

March 7
Got the collision detection almost working for the Snafooz toy, after spending at least two hours staring at a completely obvious bug and not seeing it. Anyway, I seem to have the essence of it worked out, and I just need to go back and convert some very lazy coding into some proper code and that should fix the remaining bugs. Then I have to work on texturing and colour.

March 6
Phoned IT Direct and Peats today to ask about DSL stuff. Neither could give me what I'd call a "competent phone experience". The IT Direct guy sounded irritated that I was asking questions, and the Peats guy was just clueless - I got more information from their website than I got out of him, holding the product I was asking about in his hand.

March 5
Integrated the Snafooz code with XScreenSaver, which has currently disabled all the interactive stuff, so I've replaced it with code which randomly picks pieces and puts them into place. Of course, since I've still not done the collision detection it's not able to assemble the puzzle correctly yet. XScreenSaver integration took me about an hour and resulted in far smoother animation than I'd been working with, which is neat.

March 4
WAH. GA100 stopped working. Back to Expansys post haste, dammit. It appears that its cheap price - about 25 quid - reflects the amount of care and precision with which it's assembled; basically the contact pins are no longer making contact because the Palm is too loose a fit in the sled. Anyway, Expansys have a 14-day return policy, and a quick Google has revealed that others have encountered the same problem only to have it solved with a replacement, so fingers crossed.

Found what looks to be a bug in Samba's rpcclient, in the printing section. Yay me!

March 3
More tooling with Samba. Windows' printing subsystem is the same mix of "wow, neat!" and "wow, dumb!".

Expansys delivered some goodies for my Palm V: a USB power/sync cable (not a serial/USB; an actual USB-only cable), a car charger (USB cable plugs into it, which is neat) and a GA100 "GSM phone sled" i.e. a clip-on cellphone. I spent an hour playing around with the latter before going back to more mundane things like trying to get all my data transferred from the old Palm without causing the serial port to be upset. No, really.

March 2
More Snafooz modelling. I also found out who makes them and emailed asking for permission to not get sued if I drop the code on my website cos, you know, it's the wildly successful product they founded their company on. Anyway, the code now allows you to interactively select pieces to make a cube; it doesn't check if you've done it right, though. It also rotates the pieces you haven't yet used at the bottom of the screen. However, I'm now trying to figure out how to rotate the bits you've assembled as a single entity rather than as individual pieces rotating about their own axes. I'm sure I can do something with the Projection Matrix, but I can't seem to figure it out at the moment, so I'm reading doco.

Dad phoned looking for some help with the computer which he'd been poking at for Mom. The computer pretty much sorted itself out, though. As I said before, I do not understand PC hardware.

Bolted a rather silly function onto cddb-mode.el to transfer a marked chunk of text from the current TTITLE line to the corresponding EXTT line. This is so I can more easily fix up CDDB entries where the "featuring" stuff is part of the track title instead of the extended data.

Finally. I seem to have gotten all the Snafooz bits working, although I'm pretty certain I'm doing something wrong. I just worked through the entire yellow cube, and it appears to be functional. The only thing I'm currently unsure about is whether flipping a piece over (some pieces have to go in back-to-front, basically) actually works, since I've got no textures on the shapes to distinguish them and I'm guessing I can't get working colours with glColor() while I'm using a lighting model. Next thing to do is implement collision detection of some sort so that I can have the computer tell me the pieces don't fit together, rather than trying to eyeball it. Currently I'm running just short of 500 lines (including comments and whitespace), FWIW.

Had another go at making the crap-o-cam work with the laptop, this time by switching the laptop's parallel port to Bidirectional - the driver doesn't support EPP, and neither does VMWare for that matter - but still no luck.

March 1
About A Boy is brilliant. I'm sure I'd have laughed as much even if I hadn't been gargling Rosemount Estate Chardonnay. The kid who plays Marcus is an absolute treat to watch; probably the best actor in the entire movie.

Donal phoned me up asking questions about rebooting a Windows box remotely; as a result I punted two machines somewhere in Boston from the comfort of my Geek Room. Go Samba!

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