A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- March 31
- The Day After Tomorrow was pretty much what I expected: a bunch of
"Gee Whiz" setpiece shots (L.A being destroyed by
tornadoes, New York vs. Tidal Wave and then Blizzard, etc.) with a
thin layer of alleged story holding them together. If you want a
good (and recent) disaster movie, try Twister
(small scale disaster, but well made) or even Armageddon,
both of which put a bit more effort into story and character
(despite one reviewer's claims that the latter promises no such
thing; sure, it's not high literature, but it's at least got
some story and character development). TDAT
also features that wonderful Hollywood Global View: Freak Weather
Destroys Such Places As New York, L.A., Des Moines, Boise, Bad Ass
(TX) And, Er, EuropeAndNorthernAsia, as represented by two tiny
set pieces whose distinguishing features were a blizzard with some
RAF helicopters (Scotland), and a street with oriental signage and
people (dunno. Tokyo? San Francisco?). At least Armageddon had the
decency to run a chunk of space rock up the Champs Elysses.
My attempt to hack the Sony stuff into the stock mpg123 plugin is
confounded by the mass of global variables in use in that
module. I'm not quite clear on what's going wrong, but after a few
track skips the module loses track of which file it's playing and
thus the conversion matrix no longer works.
Went back to the commandline stuff plus generic library routines
to manage the Sony format instead, and spent an entertaining hour
or more trying to figure out how to handle ID3 tags without having
to write my own parsing code. Eventually gave up on ID3lib after discovering that a
function I needed in the C interface didn't actually seem to be
implemented - despite being declared in the header file. Tried
libid3tag instead, which is more useful to us C types but is less
documented. Eventually got it working and went back to the library
routines. At this point I've gotten it to add a folder to the
device, but it doesn't fully write out the playlist as I've not
finished that chunk of code yet. Also there are a few sort of
"this works, but needs to be revisited" spots in the
code. With luck and a bit of effort I'll finish the library stuff
over the weekend and go back to playing with a plugin for
- March 30
- Hmm. This new unified repository format as proposed by the Yum
people isn't a bad idea, except that Fedora Core's up2date doesn't
use it. Argh. I guess I have to maintain both index formats until
that gets fixed.
Ow. That hurt. Machine locked hard, for no reason I can
detect, but I strongly suspect SMBFS. Plus, when I rebooted it, I
thought half the keyboard had died, but it was just NumLock being
engaged without the light coming on...
- March 29
- Per yesterday's comments, started out by making a standalone
build for the mpg123 plugin. Not too difficult, although I still
know nothing useful about the whole auto* toolchain.
- March 28
- I totally rock, I do. I've fully decoded the (non-ATRAC) music
files on the Sony player, and decoded enough of the playlist files
to understand them, and built a plugin for XMMS that will play the files
right off the Sony when it's in USB drive mode. Go me!
xmms /media/NW-S23 gnee gnee giggle giggle
Actually, what I've got is essentially a heavily modified
mpg123 plugin. I should really see about folding my
changes into that, and allowing the Sony files as just another
thing it can handle. Tomorrow, maybe. Right now it's time to
- March 27
- Minor tweak to the films.pl script to allow
me to filter what channels it shows me. No point in seeing
listings for channels I don't have... and yes, I do have an XMLTV
version of this knocking around somewhere!
Wow. Out of curiosity I went digging at the files on my
MP3ATRAC3 player. Looks like the "ATRAC3" files
generated by the on-device conversion tool are MP3 files stripped
of their tags, run through an isomorphic convertor, and bolted
onto a 32-byte header.
- March 26
- Tears Of The Sun is pretty much a Vietnam war movie in the mould of
Apocalypse Now for people who can't identify with the Vietnam war. Lots
of gritty "horror of war" stuff, disobeying orders to do
the right thing, etc. etc. etc. Not actually a bad movie, but not
essential viewing either. Amusingly, I spotted pretty early that
Hans Zimmer was involved in the music.
- March 25
- Happy Birthday, Mom!
It's nice that Red Hat's
up2date tool now supports yum repositories, but it would
be nicer if they fixed it so that it can recover from broken
repositories by e.g. jumping to the next available
Huh. I'd just decided I'd redo the rather nasty code I'd used to
talk to my phone using gsmlib, and it turns out
it doesn't build on Fedora Core. "yay."
- March 24
- I watched Danny
O'Brien's "Life Hacks" talk from last year's Notcon,
and one of the more interesting snippets that cropped up was some
guy who was looking at his filesystem by mtime - essentially
identifying groups of files modified on the same date. It's a
novel way of looking at stuff, so I hacked up a bit of Perl to play with it. Can't say
I've any idea what to do with this, though!
Finally switched the home box to using spamass-milter
so that definite spam gets rejected before it even reaches my
mailbox. We'll see if that improves the state of my spam
From the "works better if you plug it in" department:
the wireless mouse works a lot better if both mouse and receiver
are on the same channel. And despite the modern wonder of wireless
technology, the Palm
cradle needs to be plugged into the laptop in order for syncing to
work. D'oh and double d'oh.
And for good measure, the problem with the IrDA stuff appears
simply to have been that the incredibly crappy Sagem IrDA
implementation had crashed. Power-cycling the phone appears to
have solved the problem.
- March 23
- Right, I think my laptop is finally somewhere approximating
Fedora Core 3. I'm still slightly concerned that disk partitions
appear to be overlapping, but I'm not going to worry about that
just yet since it'll require a full disk scrub to
Modified my junkmail handler to cope with the changes in SpamAssassin 3.x.
Aha. IrDA stuff is broken because I'm now using udev,
apparently. I need to learn a whole new device management
metaphor. This breaks a few other things, including my Pilot syncing, but I shall,
as ever, cope.
- March 22
- Mean Machine is an absolute barrel of laughs and definitely worth
watching. Simple enough premise: footballer gets sent to HMP
Broadhurst and trains a team of convicts to play a soccer match
against the guards. The match itself takes up the last 35 minutes
of the game, and is a comedy all by itself. Vinnie Jones plays the
footballer, with an ensemble cast of the usual (English) suspects
on his team.
- March 21
- Hmm. My ACPI/APM toy is busywaiting, and my IrDA toy is
completely broken. Not good.
- March 20
- XChat 2 is like XChat 1's
ugly cousin. This is not helped by there being no migration of
settings from XChat 1 to XChat 2. I started hacking up a perl
script to do so, got as far as discovering that the semantics of
the network groups have changed, and punted the thing in favour of
simply getting back online. Maybe tomorrow.
- March 19
- More BAH. We lost to Wales, AND France pretty much trashed the
Italians, so we didn't even get second place in the rugby. Also,
there was a F1 race in Malaysia this weekend but I payed it little
Laptop is crawling towards being more FC2 than not, but still
- March 18
- Laptop slightly crippled through upgrade attempts. Fedora Core 2
is kinda halfway onto the machine and I'm relying on updates to
clean up most of the mess; the problem is waiting for them to
install. XChat 2 does not import the XChat 1 settings, which is a
pain in the ass, because that's my connection to all my
messaging stuff. Gah.
I watched Solaris,
the 1972 movie that spawned (eventually) the recent George Clooney
outing, and you know, with a little editing it'd be pretty hard to
choose between the two. This is helped by the fact that the
Russian leads do, in fact, look not entirely dissimilar to Clooney
and McElhone, and the DVD print is easily good enough to stand up
next to current direct-to-DVD offerings. The English dubbed audio
track seems to be missing bits here and there where only Russian
is available, but I went back to the menus and switched it to
Russian audio with English subtitles if only to hear how this was
originally supposed to sound. The extras don't amount to much,
although there is an interview with Natalya Bondarchuk years after
the movie which is interesting and informative and definitely
worth watching. It's definitely worth watching if only to
appreciate that the Cold-War Soviets were as capable of turning
out a decent SciFi movie as the Americans, modulo the occasional
over-long tracking shots and the whole Following Man On City Roads
bit in the first part. Speaking of length, the only reason I can
imagine that the marginally-sub-three-hour movie is spread over
two discs is that they includeded three different Dolby 5.1
soundtracks, since both discs appear to sport the same bonus
features. This movie held my interest far better than I'd expected
for 70's sci-fi (2001: A Space Odyssey being one of the most boring movies I've ever had to
sit through, and with a time-dilating fever at that) and seems far
more modern than its age would suggest.
- March 17
- I broke Skype. Or rather, it broke itself when I tried to upgrade
from the 0.93ish beta I've been running to an actual 1.0
release. It apparently can't parse its own language files, making
the UI completely useless.
Road Trip was actually not a bad movie - no gross-out jokes,
despite the presence of both Tom Green and Seann William Scott, a
reasonable plot, and some pretty good laughs. Also stars Paulo
Costanzo, aka Michael from Joey... playing a guy who's
smart to the point where he's somewhat excluding the more mundane
parts of life. Typecast, anyone?
Why does Fedora Core 3 hate my laptop?
- March 16
- NNNNGH. Not once, but TWICE today I clicked "close other
tabs" instead of "close this tab" on Firefox. What
a stupid, irritating thing to do. Worse, what a stupid,
irritating, easy thing to do.
Hart's War was on TV this evening, and I ended up watching it pretty
much out of not being inclined to do anything else. It's not bad,
but it felt at least partly like someone sat down in a
brainstorming meeting and said, "Courtrooms are great! Wars
are great! Let's have a courtroom... in a WAR!" and everyone
went out for martinis.
- March 15
- Still impressed with Last FM,
although it's a bit inclined to shovel heavymetal at me at the
Had a brief look at doing some scripting in Open
- March 14
- Last FM is a lovely idea, but
dammit it's a pain in the ass to make the radio station work in
Firefox on Linux.
I eventually resorted to telling Firefox it knew nothing about MP3
playlists, upon which clicking the Personal Radio button gave me a
dialogue box asking if it should open it in realplayer. Now,
that's more-or-less what I wanted, but how does it even know to
ask if I've told it not to handle the damn files? Anyway, it's
working now, but I'm afraid to find out what I've broken in the
- March 13
- Further inspection of the cursor key at fault reveals it is, in
fact, unrepairable - the rubber boot is actually broken most of
the way around, so the first time you depress it it turns halfway
inside-out and doesn't come back. As I say, it's still usable,
just the tactile feedback is all wrong.
City Of God is grim, and the flashback explanation of the shooting of
one of the principals towards the end comes across as a bit
contrived, but definitely this is a movie worth
- March 12
- Bah. Ireland 19, France 26. Bah, bah, bah.
- March 11
- One of my cursor keys is a bit flaked out; it's no longer
returning to the unpressed position properly. I went to the
trouble of dismantling it, which was a far more involved process
than I expected, and after fixing the rubber boot that's supposed
to cause it to pop up, I reassembled it, only to discover it was
still flaky. It's not actually sending bad signals or anything,
just the tactile sensation from it is all screwed up. Shame,
Out socialising in Northside Dublin this evening. Mr. Computer
came along a little wardriving en route.
- March 10
- Hah. First DVD sent to the office arrives the day after it was
posted. I'm a dummy for not doing this sooner, although I
shouldn't really have to change my delivery address to
get a reliable postal service. Maybe I should write a
sternly-worded letter, although it might not get
- March 9
- Further arguments with autoconf/make/header and RPM, although I think I've got it
working at this point. Doesn't mean it's pretty or that I like it,
Since the post office persists in either not delivering my mail in
a timely fashion (4 days from the city centre to my house?) or
delivering it to my upstairs neighbour, I've switched my DVD Rentals delivery address
to the office. Tune in next episode when it turns out they can't
find that, either.
Hmm. Mozilla calendar has a
task list, on which items have both a checkbox to indicate that
they're done, and a "% done" thing. These
aren't linked, i.e. when you set "%done" to 100%, the
checkbox for "done" doesn't update.
My plan to make the WLAN code use the pcmcia wireless bits is
slightly stymied by the fact that, er, they're not present in the
Red Hat version I'm
baselining on (6.2). No, they're in the source, but they get
overwritten with some Red
Hat-specific code during the build. Hmm. Plan B
- March 8
- How or why does anyone build GNOME tray applets? The hoops
that need to be jumped through are insane, never mind trying to
move from GNOME 1 to GNOME 2, and REALLY never mind trying to
build on Red Hat and SuSE from the same source. I'm
sure I must be missing something really obvious here.
Also, the less said about the whole autoconf/make/header mess, the
better. Good grief. This makes things easier?
- March 7
- I'm really getting carried away with this Mozilla calendar doodad. I've
just set up DAV services at home so I can keep a calendar there. I
don't like DAV, but it's what the calendar uses.
- March 6
- Fisi managed to lead pretty much the entire race (which I didn't
watch). Schu left the track with Nick Heidfeld after not gaining
very many places at all. And miraclously, the two Jordans finished
I have no excuse other than "it was a REALLY lazy
Sunday" to defend my watching Stepsister From Planet Weird, but once I'd started a sort of horrific
fascination took over. Some of it wasn't bad, per se, but the
dialogue sounded like it had been written by the same guy who
wrote that l33tsp35k document that Microsoft posted recently -
you know, an adult's view of how kids talk. Yes, yes, I know, I'm
hardly one to be in a position to judge this correctly, but hey,
if I think it's crap, what's an actual kid going to make
- March 5
- Off down the country to see Sheila being an
actor. Actress. Thespian. You know the routine. Much laughter,
also beer, and no geeking to speak of.
Oh, and we're back into F1 season again, if anyone still
cares. Fisichella leads the charge at Albert Park, and Schuey is
down in 18th due to, apparently, inclement weather.
- March 4
- More tooling with WLAN. For some reason the automatic
dependencies aren't working right, so when I modified a shared
header file the module started crashing and I didn't realise what
was wrong until I'd spent rather too much time backing out several
days' worth of changes. Having figured it out I've started
implementing the Wireless Extensions write ioctls, so at some
reasonably close-at-hand point I should be able to switch the
PCMCIA config over to using the Wireless Extension tools instead
of the wlanctl tool provided with the WLAN drivers. At
which point I will possibly consider it to be 0.3.5-pre2 or
- March 3
- I am slightly confused by SuSE. Having finally got the yum
repository set up for it, yum is finding newer packages than SuSE's own update manager. Er. WTF?
Having spent some time digging around the WLAN driver's
"SNIF" code, I think I can get it to implement the
Wireless Extension SPY stuff. I'm unclear on why it's not seeing
my 11Mbit network, though. Gain 1 clue, Lose 1 clue, Net 0
- March 2
- Thanks to a tip from Eric, I have no more grief with my
multi-install machines and their ever-changing SSH keys: my config
file now has per-machine entries for these boxes which include
(I already had the StrictHostKeyChecking bit, the
UserKnownHostsFile is the secret sauce that makes it so I needn't
ever care about changed host keys). Thanks, Eric!
- March 1
- Still waiting on SuSE repo to build. La la la.
Shaun of the Dead was a good laugh; I recognised at least one tip of
the hat to one of the original "...of the Dead" movies,
and the opening buildup was truly excellent. It flagged a bit
during the pub sequence in order to make a fairly slack point
about the lead character's inability to plan, but aside from that
it's definitely one I'd recommend.
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"March is supposed to come in like a lion;
this year it's more of a snow leopard" - TV Weatherman