A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- February 28
- Ok, so in order to change an Exim box from primary to secondary
MX, aside from the obvious DNS changes you just need to take the
relevant domain out of the local hosts list. That was easy. How
come it was such a pain to find out?
I also put in a sitewide redirect for the alternative location of
my old website to sling traffic at the new location, since it
appears quite a few things are pointing at the wrong
Spent far too much time trying to talk sense into a laptop running
SuSE Linux 9.0. The biggest
problem was that I didn't have any install media to hand. The
second biggest problem was that it being a laptop and a 2.4
kernel, there were "issues" with power
management. Installing a 2.6 kernel cured that but broke some
other things, and the 2.6 kernel in question is old enough that it
predates the actual release version of 2.4 so a scratch-built
kernel is probably in order. I've since set our fileserver
building a yum repository for SuSE, which may prove interesting
since all the public repositories, while nominally "just
RPMs" are really Red
- February 27
- Urk. Managed to trip the main circuit breaker in the house this
morning (possibly due to the combination of electric heaters
running...) which in turn appears to have fried the PCMCIA card
that linked my DSL line to my LAN. The DSL box also has a USB
interface so I'm going to see if I can get that up and running; in
the meantime there's a LAN, and the Internet, and an air gap. I
guess it means my LAN's secure, at least...
After some jugging, the LAN's back on the net. Silliness
continues. And further investigation reveals the culprit to be my
toaster, which has apparently croaked in some ELCB-tripping
And yay, we beat England at rugby. That puts us three for three in
the Six Nations, and puts England zero for three which is pretty
startlingly bad for the World Champions...
Added a little more Wireless Extensions goop to the WLAN
driver. Trying to figure out what SPY does, exactly, so I can see
about implementing it; it seems to be a means of measuring signal
strength to something we're not connected to, and I'm not sure if
I can manage that.
- February 26
- Shall We Dance? is not a movie I'd have gone to see by myself, but my
parents had planned on seeing Sideways
and when we got to the cinema it was sold out, so we ended up
watching a Gere/Lopez rom-com instead. And it was surprisingly
excellent - plenty laughs, a bit of schmaltz, and some spectacular
- February 25
- Tooling around with an Emacs version (ish) of Notational
Velocity, which seems like a neat idea.
- February 24
- My 11Mbit wireless card appears to be marginally insane, but
only under Windows: it's decided to communicate only in infrequent
bursts, going by what I can see from various clients trying to use
it. I have no idea why this suddenly started happening to a card
that was working perfectly well last week. It still works fine in
but then the Linux drivers don't start out by downloading
temporary firmware and using that as the card's brain, which is
what the Windows drivers do.
- February 23
- Drinking with friends in Bono's hotel, thus a
certain lack of geekery. Although we did discuss the Star Wars
movies at some point.
- February 22
- Purple Rain is mostly what you'd expect from a vanity project: crap
writing, crap acting, and the occasional bright spot to alleviate
the general crappiness. The performance of the title song is
outstanding, and Apollonia's all cute'n'stuff, but the rest isn't
worth wasting your time on.
- February 21
- We started using Mozilla
Calendar at work. It's nothing special; just another
ical-based piece of software. In the interests of syncing data
before it got out of control, I had a look at parsing the
.ics files in Perl
which would then allow me to spit them out via Coldsync to my Palm or
whatever. The story so far:
- Net::ICal is a disaster zone. Don't bother
installing it. About the only useful thing it seems to do is turn
a .ics file into a Perl structure, which to be honest isn't
exactly impressive. All the potentially useful methods are
commented out or on the wishlist.
- iCal::Parser relies on a module built with the
peculiar Module::Build module which I've never
encountered before and whose prime feature appears to be that it
doesn't work with cpanflute. This has so far impeded me
If you're using Mozilla Calendar, btw, check out Apple's Calendar
Found a really dopey bug in the WLAN code which I'd introduced
when I made it work on 2.4; I could've sworn I'd tested the 2.2
code that remained, but apparently not.
- February 20
- Mr. Deeds
is an excellent piece of work, well worth watching. It's somewhat
predictable, it's schmaltzy in places, but it's very well executed
and that carries it. Particularly amusing is Emilio, the sneaky
butler ("I fear you are underestimating the sneakiness
sir."), and the whole rescuing-cats-from-the-fire shtick. Oh,
plus the final shot is hilarious. Go see it!
I'm redoing my Wireless Extensions patch for the Linux WLAN driver, since the
original was a bit of a mess. I figure if I completely implement
the version with the last Red
Hat 6.2 kernel update (that's version 10) I'll have at least a
base for futher development. I've already compiled the 7.3
wireless tools SRPM on 6.2, and it built without a hitch, so now I
just need to make the driver react to what iwconfig and
friends do to it.
Ok, most of the read stuff for Wireless Extensions v10 is now
implemented to a reasonable degree of accuracy. Go me!
Time to call it a night:
[root@fozzie wireless_tools.23]# cat /proc/net/wireless
Inter-| sta-| Quality | Discarded packets
face | tus | link level noise | nwid crypt misc
eth1: 0001 0 0 0 0 0 0
(fozzie is a 486 running Red Hat 6.2, in case you're wondering,
and like the 386 running Red Hat 1.1 (!), its CMOS battery has
expired and so it occasionally loses its mind. But it's good
enough to use as a testbed for this stuff.)
- February 19
- Finally got around to cleaning up (somewhat) the mess that was
formerly known as "the desk in the bedroom". Currently
going through a stack of hardware trying to figure out what's
alive and what's not. Oh, and throwing caution to the wind, the
MiniITX box is running Gronk again. Low load this
time, though; it's using mpg123 as the player, and it's not
That's kinda amusing: my 13-year-old 5.25" drive still
works. The floppy that's been in it for the last five years or
more is a bit dead, though.
- February 18
- Poking at the office current server, I discover
that someone has created "The Next-Generation Package
Manager" for FC3 (possibly also older Red Hat systems) which, er,
well, why doesn't someone actually finish the current
generation, instead of building these half-assed systems and
declaring them to be better than everything that preceded
them? Oh, plus this new toy is called "smart", which
isn't very, er, smart, since there's already a well-known package
with a very similar name (smartd, which is a monitor for low-level
diagnostic events on IDE drives).
- February 17
- Bloody hell. Software releases coming out my ears.
Also, I need to read up on the tech I use a bit more.
- February 16
- Ocean's 12 is a little too clever, especially by comparison to the
fairly direct plot in the first movie, but it's definitely
fun and worth a look.
- February 15
- Added a little more to the junkmail cleaner. Now, the real smart
thing to do would be to bolt this directly onto my mail server to
stop the stuff before it even gets onto my disk.
- February 14
- Nnnngh. Silly bugs. I hate 'em.
Also, the DSPsrv is back, but I'm keeping my site and mailserver
on my home box. Heck, as I said, I've been meaning to move 'em
here for ages.
Also, here's some shiny new code: a text/HTML/WML timetable
doodad for the DART.
- February 13
- I've started piecing together an editor for my del.icio.us stuff. This
has been interesting, in particular chasing not-quite-bugs in code
I'd already written. del.icio.us
is an intriguing idea, and whether it succeeds or fails it's a
really useful way of sharing bookmarks across several
machines. Since I've moved all of my non-private bookmarks there,
I should probably back up my collection at some point...
is an interesting take on Ulysses, although I'll need to
finish reading the book to find out what went in and what was left
out. One thing that did catch my eye was the ingenious use of
the camera where exterior location shots were required; it's shown
nicely as the credits start, where a shot of Bloom standing in
front of Trinity College pans around to follow him as he walks,
revealing a far more contemporary Westmoreland Street complete
with pedestrians, buses and a minor traffic jam.
- February 12
- Much faffing about to not much effect. I did watch Ireland
pretty much stomping Scotland into the ground at Murrayfield.
I'm still appalled at how long rpmbuild -ba kernel.spec
- February 11
- Woo, software release today.
Installed filelight (including hacking source, reinstalling KDE
developer libs, etc.) to find out where the hell all my diskspace
has gone. Discovered, surprise surprise, that it's taken up by
Lotus Notes (long, whiny story) and a Win2k config for VMware (shorter, no less whiny
story). Plus a bunch of other stuff, but those are the two main
Ok, that's stupid. I delete ONE FILE from filelight, and it
rescans the entire space I'm viewing. Which is ~waider,
consisting of 5GB in 50,000+ files. Takes a bit of time,
- February 10
- Grr. I've been tooling with a CGI script that alters its output
depending on the environment it's run in: if you run it as a
command-line, it takes options from the command-line and produces
plain text; if you hit it with a WAP browser, it produces WML; and
if you hit it with a proper web browser, it produces HTML. By
playing with this I have discovered that
So much for smart programming.
- Mozilla claims to
be able to handle WML, even though it can't
- My phone claims to have no preference
between HTML and WML, despite the fact that it can't process a
simple HTML form;
- My provider (HELLO AGAIN VODAFONE) is
caching stuff they shouldn't be, including CGI scripts and expired
Went on a cleaning rampage through the /tmp directory,
throwing out or otherwise dealing with stuff I've collected over
the last few days or weeks for the inevitable "round
- February 9
discoveries to date:
This last bit is how I know it doesn't
need to be visible on the USB bus, and makes me hopeful that I
should be able to hack it into operation with WINE. Right now, the MP3 manager
runs but claims that the device has been disconnected, so
evidently it's making some sort of syscall that's not returning
the expected value.
- Can't use the bulk MP3 convertor
without installing SoundStage
- Can't run the on-device MP3
manager under WINE (I'm not
sure why; it doesn't apparently need any support files beyond
those that are actually on the device, and it certainly doesn't
need the device to appear on the USB bus)
- CAN run the
on-device MP3 manager under VMware by mapping the
pseudo-SCSI device that Linux
sees as a raw disk
- February 8
- Das Boot has been sitting on my table for the last week waiting
for me to get around to watching it, and I finally did so
tonight. Very gritty portrayal of life on a sub, with particular
emphasis on the hopelessness of being cornered by faster boats
with nowhere to go but down, and on the cramped lifestyle aboard
the boat. Oh, and the ending's a real bitch, too.
- February 7
- Email and web for waider.ie now comes right into my house, which
I'd planned on doing at some point but I guess there's nothing
like a hardware failure to force me into action... I still need to
tweak the old mailserver to let it know that it's a secondary MX
now, but that's a minor detail.
One thing about the changeover is that I've realised that my RSS toy is a total resource
hog. I've started tweaking it to be less so, but it'll take a
while - basically I'm converting it to pull from a database rather
than scraping crap out of the filesystem every time you hit the
- February 6
- 12:30ish: server is coming back and leaving again. I guess one
of the other admins is on the job (Hi Dave!)
Hurk. Turns out that one of the bits holding the heatsink on the
chip snapped, resulting very shortly thereafter in a cooked
CPU. RIP motherboard. We're currently limping along on a spare
motherboard and this site has moved (i.e. if you can read this
you're on my DSL line right now).
New toy! My brother got me a Sony Network Walkman NW-S23 for
Christmas, but for various handwaving reasons I didn't actually
get it until now. I will have to have words with the Windows-only
software but whee, this is going to be an improvement to in-car CD
or carrying my old MiniDisc player around... and I'm curious to
see if Sony's
decision to support MP3 natively will affect my particular
piece of hardware.
- February 5
- And back to Dublin again. The photos I took at the wedding were
uniformly crap; I need to tool around with the camera's notion of
light settings and point of focus and suchlike because I got a lot
of well-lit shots of people's backs, dimly lit shots of things I
wanted to capture, and random blurs. Grr.
22:20ish: wah! where's my server gone?
- February 4
- Off to Clare for a wedding. About the geekiest thing I did was
to preload my mapping toy with maps of the area...
- February 3
- Typical: I implement a workaround and then the thing I'm trying
to work around gets fixed. Bah.
- February 2
- Hurrah! Final outcome of my mortal battle with Vodafone: a
callback from the supervisor, who herself was apparently having
some trouble getting the Terminals people to call her
back. In summary, the unit is broken as designed; the repair shop
should have made this clear to me the first time I gave them the
phone; I shouldn't have had to spend three months plus an hour of
phone time trying to find this out. (Note to other Sagem My-V55
users: the "Photo Album" option on the camera menu
doesn't, and can't ever, work.) I did get some compensation for my
troubles, so that's okay.
New adventures in hardware: finally, after several attempts over
the past few years, one of my Enterasys "Silver"
wireless cards is now a "Gold" card, i.e. it's capable
of strong(er) encryption.
- February 1
- I should know better than this. I go to all the trouble of
neatly tucking a machine into the spare corner of my desk, then
switch it on and get beep codes. Every other time I set up a new
box, I leave it strewn all over the place so I can get at the
innards and find out why it's beeping. Crap.
The phone saga has not yet resolved itself, but today's update is
that it appears that the phone does actually ship broken, cannot
be fixed, and the tech support supervisor is waiting on a callback
from the handsets division to confirm that this is indeed the
case. I can't really understand how it is that Vodafone sell an
own-brand phone with features that don't work, and more to the
point why, if the handsets division is aware of this deficiency,
it's taken me three months to find someone who can pass that
information on to paying customers.
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Woah. What happened to January?