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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

November 30
Currently enjoying the hospitality of a good friend while waiting for my car to be serviced. Geeking at a minimum; I've been tipping away at a Gtk/Perl front-end for Yum, because I hate that every time I want to see what a particular package is, Yum wants to assemble a full package list and possibly retrieve new headers. Haven't you folks heard of JIT? As part of this silly endeavour, I modifed the RPM2 module to be able to unpack an RPM header from a memory blob. This is because Yum's header files are basically raw, no-magic RPM headers written to disk in gzip format.

Finished Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask. Brilliant. In particular, the dialogue and character sketching. It's basically a story about relationships - romantic and otherwise - with a little SciFi bolted on to it.

November 29
Drove to Ballina.

Two movies: King Arthur and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The former wasn't quite as bad as I'd expected, although I had a hard time recognising any of the cast beyond Ms. Knightley - I'll have to go IMDb trawling at some point to see where I may have seen any of the other vaguely-familiar-but-nameless actors. It was a bit tiresome that some of the sequences appeared to have been lifted wholesale from Braveheart, with little more than minor rewriting to fit the changed-but-similar setting. The latter movie was great. Michel Gondry is a genius at assembling looped music videos, so I was more-or-less unsurprised when this movie did something similar. The Carrey/Winslet relationship got more and more believable as the story moved on (as we progessed backward through the relationship, if you will) and I'm always a complete sucker for Stupid Couple Tricks, like the whole night picnic on the frozen Charles. Funny thing in the DVD extras; Carrey apparently did a whole bunch of stuff where he's talking to the "doctor" about his past relationships - partly to get in the swing of things, partly for script ideas. At some later point when he and Winslet are rehearsing, they're listening to one of the tapes and Carrey-on-tape says something like "I hate all women", upon which Carrey-in-real-life pretty much freaks out, apologises profusely to Winslet, and then flings the tape player across the room. Method acting, eh?

November 28
Evelyn is unashamedly sentimental, while at the same time being more-or-less faithful to the true story it's based on - a custody battle by a single father to regain his children from State care, which led to a Supreme Court challenge of the relevant law on the grounds of it being unconstitutional. Michael Asimov wrote a good account of the legal side of things; I'm sure some digging around Irish legal websites might actually turn up the text of the cases in question. What I found amusing was the role-reversal of Pierce Brosnan playing a down-and-out Dub, and not quite nailing the accent all the time, while Stephen Rea, more normally (in my mind) the sort you'd put in Brosnan's place, nailed the "West Brit" accent perfectly. The movie also features Frank Kelly, aka Father Jack (you might spot a few familiar gurning smiles), and an astoundingly convincing Irish Lass performance from Julianna Margulies (that'd be Nurse Hathaway from E.R.) If you can cope with the schmaltz factor - which is high - this is a good movie.

With some abuse, I managed to get Mono up and running. The abuse included locating a version of libgal that it was happy with.

After some further HTML abuse, the banking module can now retrieve the account details pages into a more-or-less parsable array of lines.

And now I have a Mono "web browser", which I think is pretty much the "Hello World" of this particular programming set.


November 27
Spent far too long poking at j2me stuff. It's a real pain in the ass to deal with, particularly since I have pretty much zero specs for the target platform (i.e. my phone) and it's all locked up solid so you can't go poking about in the innards. Oh, and my phone doesn't appear to implement any of the features I'd find interesting to play with.

November 26
Some more tooling with the big movie thing.

November 25
Wow. PCX files are ghastly. This is a file format?

November 24
Prodded the banking stuff a little more. I'm working on having it retrieve the current account details at the moment.

Figured out, eventually, what the hell the Pike build was up to - it was checking to see if it could re-exec itself under bash, which it then proceeded to do. This is stupid. Really stupid. In particular, because it explicitly disregards my choice of shell, but also for other reasons such as it loads the bashrc for said shell which gives it rm -i (and of course it doesn't explicitly call /bin/rm to get around this) and because it breaks any inbound pipes, which stops yes|configure from working. IDIOTS.

I've lost a day somewhere, too. I hate when that happens.

November 23
Work was sort of insanely busy today, and then the Intarweb broke.

I discovered a page full of stuff for Sagem phones which indicated that it supports, in addition to OBEX and plain old AT, a propietary STX-LEN-CMD-CRC-ETX protocol. Dear jebus. I can write these damned things in my sleep at this point.

November 22
Tweaked the banking stuff to pull the "minimum payment due" data off the MBNA site, since that's generally about the only other part of it that I'm interested in (the main point of interest being "how doomed am I this month?")

FWIW, the reason I'm trying to get Pike on board is that this nifty DVD-making script is written in Pike instead of something more useful (to me) like, say, Perl. I could go through it and translate it, I guess, but it's a few hundred lines long and I don't actually know Pike.

November 21
Lazy Sunday. Very lazy Sunday. Largely spent untangling the ATrpms repository from my Fedora box, and trying to get the aforementioned Pike working.


November 20
Pike takes an awfully long time to build. Like, really, really, REALLY long.

November 19
Lost In Translation is a truly excellent piece of work.

November 18
Late night in the office, software released. Yay, go me!

November 17
Yay, I have a shiny new 2.6.9 kernel running, replete with NTFS support. Now to figure out why kudzu is dumping core.

November 16
At Tom's recommendation, signed up to Google AdSense. The only obvious indicators thus far are a slight disturbance in the Force, er, sorry, the workshop.

November 15
Lots of logreading. Work, ergo SEEKRIT.

November 14
Sex Lives Of The Potato Men is a very funny piece of work. I'm not sure how portable the humour is, and it helps to like Johnny Vegas, but for a movie with no discernable plot it kept me in giggles (and occasional guffaws) for the duration.

Did a little more tweaking on the giant movie hack. At some point I may have some code to show, but for now I'm kinda thinking it out.


November 13
Acheived today:

Woo, solved the streaming metadata issue: it turns out that the XMMS session serving out the music via LiveICE wasn't configured properly. Now to figure out why both AudioScrobbler and my XMMS hack toy are unable to read the track data that XMMS is displaying.

Aha. The latter is broken because it's reading off the playlist, not the currently-playing track. And XMMS' remote interface won't let you read the track title. So I've made it output the fact that it's merely streaming instead.

November 12
And continuing the frantic.

November 11
Frantically busy in the office.

November 10
Went through a whole bunch of Perl files checking what I'd modified and checking them into CVS, mainly in an attempt to clean things up. Poked at the mailman.pl script a little since I'm not sure the Learn stuff is actually working.

Played with my big movie idea a little more. It now has an asynchronous queuing doohickey.

November 9
Set up some UI stuff for the big movie idea.

November 8
Hmm, the metadata doesn't appear when I listen to the stream in the office. I think this might be something to do with UDP, although I'm really not sure.

Hmm, indeed, running it over a VPN connection gives me the metadata.

Poked at the Finance::Bank::IE stuff some more, so it's getting to the Account Details page now. Haven't parsed it yet, though.

November 7
Hmm, that was pretty spectacular: not only did I somehow lock up Firefox, the gdb process I attached to it got hopelessly confused as well and had to be killed. Of course, it serves me right for running a nightly build rather than an actual release.

I am once again attempting to set up IceCast; having installed a 2.x server I discovered that the original LiveIce won't talk to it, and the guy who's working on the new LiveIce doesn't (on cursory inspection) appear to have picked up the plugin for XMMS which is pretty much exactly what I wanted to use. So I decided, no problem, I'll just build a 1.x server. Nnnngh. This is the first program I've seen that fails to link because the developers used extern int errno instead of #include <errno.h>. What was the point of that, exactly? And there appears to be two sets of variables governing where files get installed, one of which is utterly unaffected by the configure script, so doing ./configure --enable-fsstd has no effect on file placement (although I'm sure it affects where IceCast goes looking for files). Anyway. It'll be done shortly, at which point I'll no doubt discover that it Just Doesn't Work or something.

Yep, it didn't work. It seems like the configure problem is something to do with my .spec file, so that's not IceCast's problem at least.

Wahey! Eventually it works. Now I have to make it add metadata.

...and METADATA. Woohoo! Now I can listen to my jukebox in the office!


November 6
Moved a bunch of furniture around the house. Still not 100% sure of what I'm doing, though. I should maybe ask the landlady if she can put some of it in storage or otherwise ditch it.

Decided I'd do some housekeeping on the computer as well. Threw out Mozilla to stop me from going back to it now that I've decided to stick with Firefox; the latter was crashing on a Vodafone page but grabbing the latest nightly build solved the problem before I could get too involved in trying to debug it. I've also nuked all my plugins and I'm redoing them from scratch so that, you know, I don't have legacy crap lying around.

I'd seen a bit of Jungle Fever before, so I rented it out and watched the whole thing. Largely unimpressed; Spike Lee seems to have put more work into the shooting than the actual storyline, and the fact that I was noticing technical photography says a lot about how little the story grabbed me. It was a generally untidy film, with bits of the narrative left dangling all over the place. I'm sure the greater point of racism is the one that Lee was leaning on, but if you want to put across a message you need to make sure it's in a coherent context.

November 5
Most of the day spent abusing hardware. At work, so you know, all seekrit and stuff.

November 4
Merged some of the smaller changes in BBDB back into the XEmacs CVS tree. I'm somewhat surprised that my CVS access still works since I've not touched it in years.

November 3
Finally got rid of the 2.4 kernel on my work machine; it's been unused for months now, and it hardly seems worth keeping it on board.

November 2
Wrote the beginnings of a script to pull the content out of this diary with datestamps intact, much derived from the gadget that generates RSS for the diary. Which I also fixed some problems with, one of which was REALLY REALLY DUMB. Anyway. The theory behind the extraction is that I can do something more sane with it, like fix all my broken HTML in one swell foop, and generate more useful things like the various <link rel...> stuff that shows up in the headers.

November 1
Hmm, just noticed that Expansys have a neat little "email me when this product's price changes" thing on their site.

Digging through some abandoned lisp code I find:
(if (get-process "server")
  (error "Dougal, I told you NOT to run this!"))


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Waider
Remember Remember it's cold in November