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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 31
Quiet day, mostly shuffling files around between machines in an attempt to set up for upgrading Klortho.

In Monaco, both Ferraris were uncharacteristically slow over the last sector resulting in 5th and 7th qualifying places. Ralf Schumacher is on the front of the grid. Should be an interesting race.

May 30
Messing about with Current, a replacement for the Red Hat Network; looks good, albeit a little complex to set up. I might try installing it at home, too.

May 29
Screw this hacking lark, I'm off to the bar.

May 28
Made a cosmetic tweak to mailman.pl when it's displaying the list of addresses it's left on the heap.

Finally reinstalled Red Hat on the repaired laptop - I decided to do a clean RH9 install rather than trying to rebuild from the stuff I'd saved after the disk crash. Also downloaded a bunch of updates from Compaq for the Windows side of things and used Compaq's slightly flaky but generally impressive System Software Manager (or whatever SSM stands for) to install bits on both laptops. Including BIOS updates, which was cool.

May 27
And back to Dublin again. The car doesn't know what to do with itself; I got over 400 miles out of a full tank at the weekend.

May 26
Flying visit down the country to see my niece and the rest of the family in the area. Minor poking at Mom's machine, which has a CD-RW that doesn't want to W, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it.

May 25
And back to Dublin.

May 24
Drove to Doolin for a company meeting. Much fun was had. Much drink also.

May 23
Happy Birthday, Patrick!

May 22
Rewrote mailman.pl (not entirely from scratch) to actually parse the HTML properly and, better still, to use Spam Assassin to grade the mail. It's rather good. If you have a Mailman list to administer, you might want to consider using this to help.

May 21
This has been bothering me for a while: PXE-booting with the Red Hat default files results in an apparent hang when the kernel is booting. Turns out it's not hanging: it's booting with a serial-port console. Of course, you'll note if you continue reading that the PXE package to which this applies is being dropped in favour of some combination of DHCP and PXELinux. Just as I'd figured out how to get it working, too.

Major Micromail update due to some changes at the ISP. Some rethinking may be required for future updates, but for now it's all okay.

Got my office laptop back today, with a shiny new harddrive. Blank, of course. And wouldn't you know, the magical restore CD wouldn't work. Undeterred, I kicked the living daylights out of it until it did work. Insert usual comments about moronic installers here. Once I'd gotten the thing booted I located the full backup I'd done before sending the thing off - because when your hard drive is under warranty, Compaq won't leave you keep the dead one without charging you for the replacement. More idiocy. I can understand that they'd like to keep it for analysis, but, you know, there are privacy issues. Not just personal privacy, i.e. who the hell is reading information off my hard drive, but also company privacy, since it was my office laptop.

May 20
Tried out LUFS. Wow. It's amazing. It's rough around the edges, but suddenly it's a whole lot easier to deal with, say, synchronising an ftp site with a local directory. I hooked it up to the Micromail website and sat here giggling for a bit at the sheer ease of use. It occurs to me that it should be easy enough to hook this up to a CVS repository and thus make a CVS filesystem akin to ClearCase, for example.

May 19
Spent far too long trying to reshape someone else's notion of HTML. It'd probably have been easier to just dump out the text and use that in a freshly-created page.

May 18
Fantastic Austrian F1. Schumacher managed to briefly catch fire, short-fill the fuel tank, and skid on unnamed engine fluids, and still won with a decent margin to spare. Barrichello also had fueling problems, but for which it'd have been a Ferrari 1-2.

Micromail update, including the first ever banner advert on the site.

The Big Sleep is a great movie, not least because it sticks pretty closely to the Raymond Chandler book. In fact, the weakest parts of the movie are where it deviates.

May 17
Here's something neat: Linux Userspace Filesystem. It uses things like ftp and sftp as a transport mechanism on top of which it sits a filesystem. Upshot: anywhere you can reach with ftp or sftp becomes a filesystem instead of something that can only be accessed with the appropriate application.

WOW. Schumacher messes up on his qualifying lap and STILL beats the pants off Kimi for pole position. Amazing.

May 16
Hurray, Beer!

May 15
I finally got fed up with ILUG and hit "unsubscribe". It's bloody useless at this point.

AAAAAH. Why does Mozilla reset my search engine preference every time I upgrade to a new version?

Found and fixed a stupid bug that stops GtkPerl from building with Perl 5.8ish. This is good. The fact that the bug remains unfixed in the CPAN version is bad. All you gotta do is fix the MY::c_o rule in each Makefile.PL so that instead of the $inherited... line ending in /m;, it ends in /mg;. Then I discovered that the wacky Red Hat folk have already fixed the damn thing. CONTRIBUTE THE CODE BACK, GUYS!

May 14
Helping Donal with Perl, whee!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

May 13
Wahey. Got stuff working today. Woo woo!

I'd tell you about it, but then I'd have to kill you.

Doing some jiggery-pokery with the Micromail site also, but you can't see it just yet.

May 12
Fiddling around with a few Perl things. ILUG continutes to be pretty stupid.

May 11
Lounging on the couch watching movies, mostly. Ah, relaxation.

May 10
Mozilla still has irritating focus problems with the drop-down window you get when you type in the Location bar. The fact that they're irritating makes it all the more surprising that they've persisted through versions 1 to 1.4. I'd like to fix them, but I'm really not inclined to try and wrap my head around the codebase just now. While I'm whining, though (in case anyone's paying attention) the autocomplete stuff would be so much better if it did a full substring search on your location bar history, rather than searching through just the domain names or whatever it's currently doing. I should be able to key in a LiveJournal username that I've visited some time in the recent past and have it dig up the rest of the URL for me, dammit.

I tried out emacspeak for some reason I can't recall, and, well, it broke. Enh.

May 9
Somewhere between version 0.9.5 and 0.11.whatever-RedHat-are-shipping, pilot-link lost the ability to handle TCP/IP connections by setting PILOTPORT to ".". Typically, I actually need this feature. Guess I'll have to hack the source again... meantime I'm using a rebuild 0.9.5 as a workaround.

Lots of messing about to try and get Xine up and running on Klortho, complicated by the fact that the freshrpms build requires even more libraries than it did last time I installed. Gah. It's amusing briefly that it's built to support aalib, but really. Are you honestly going to watch movies rendered as ASCII art?

Started adding some things to the linkfarm that I've been meaning to fix for a while, such as moveable root directory and linkfarm file. This makes it theoretically possible to have multiple linkfarms... hmmm!

May 8
Ha ha! Kevin got not just verbal confirmation but is also expecting email from eircom stating that they have a major problem in the Limerick area affecting, and I quote, hundreds of customers. So much for a minor packet loss issue. I did a little investigation myself and turned up the odd fact that packets exceeding 324 bytes are being dropped somewhere. That's a pretty low MTU by anyone's measure. In theory, I could crank the MTU on the DSL back to 324 and it might actually work, but they're expecting to have the problem fixed by this afternoon so I won't bother.

May 7
Problems with DSL in Limerick. GRR. Of course, eircom deny everything. " oh, there's a minor packet loss issue that we're investigating, but no dropped connections.". Right. So why can't I get a SSH connection up and running over this line then?

May 6
Back in the office, still a bit stuffed up but mostly functional. I seem to time being ill very well; burn off a long weekend, and heal in time for work.

May 5
More movie-watching: The Sum Of All Fears, which wasn't a bad romp either. Apparently it too is trimmed down heavily from the original, but since I've not read the book I don't know what I'm missing.

May 4
New Ferrari, and it came first in Barcelona, yay! Better still, Ralph Firman scored himself a point for Jordan.

Watched The Bourne Identity and Lilo and Stitch. Didn't catch one of the funnier jokes in the latter until I was watching the special features ("punch buggy!"), but it was a really excellent movie. The former was a bit light on plot compared to the original novel, but wasn't a bad movie despite that.

May 3
ILUG has been monumentally stupid all this week. License wars, Distro wars, "this doesn't work for me therefore your claim that it works for you is bogus", people making broad statements with absolutely nothing to back them up... maybe I should just unsubscribe.

Glossary for my parents, who occasionally read this:
The rest is just regular human stupidity in action. Other common issues that result in a lot of hot air with no actual substance are editor wars, where people argue over their favourite text editor; language wars, where people argue over which programming language is "best", and a subset of this, scripting language wars, where people argue over which subset of programming languages is best for scripting, best defined as "a short and pointless program to do something that would be even more pointless if I had to do it manually"; OS wars, where people argue that one Unix variant is better than another, or they're all worse than Linux, or whatever; and so forth. Mostly, the negative side of the argument tends towards, "Once, while using this thing I am railing against, something bad happened, and even if it was ignorance on my part rather than a fault with the thing I was using, I will never again consider the thing in any sort of positive light" while the positive side tends to be similar but opposite. In computers, as in other fields, the answer generally lies somewhere between the two. These common arguments are half-jokingly referred to as "religious wars", and partaking in one is either a sign of zealousness or naïvety, and rarely an actual display of good judgement.

Boy I'm cranky this morning.

I think I discovered a key piece of the RPC puzzle I've been trying to figure out in Samba. Again, though, I've run into some complicated yet arbitrary looking arithmetic calculations that seem to have no connection to anything I've observed, and the guy who could possibly explain them is one of the more non-communicative Samba team members. Note, I do say "possibly" since it may be code that was written so long ago that noone knows why it's that way, or what'll break if you change it. That's what comments in code are for, folks.

May 2
Mini-ITX box arrived in the office for yay project. Rather tidy little thing. I have to put Linux on it and write some software, but really, if I had silly money to spend, I'd consider buying one of these myself to make a stand-alone jukebox machine.

May 1
Added tooltip support to the Monitor toy, mainly so I could have it explain the IrDA hints to me without me having to look up the code again.

The films.pl script has been rendered temporarily useless by RTÉ's decision to render Aertel pages as images rather than text. Hurrah, not.

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