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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 31
There's a Murphy's Law corollary here somewhere, I'm sure; I found a bug in the Sony NW-S23 access stuff whereby it was trashing the directory of files. Turns out that one of the few places I wasn't checking for a successful write... wasn't writing successfully. All fwrites are now checked, as is the small cluster of fputc's.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was entertaining, but not brilliantly so. The sepia look was pretty nice, but I think more live-action scenes, especially the period street scenes, would have served the movie better than the distractingly obvious CGI shots, and the constant soft focus had me fiddling with the projector lens until I figured out it was intentional. The aerial combat stuff was excellent, Jude Law carried off the lead role admirably, and Giovanni Ribisi made for a great comic relief/hero's sidekick. Worth watching, but there are better movies. In particular, I'm curious to see how Sin City, which uses similar filming techniques.

May 30
I hate writing resumés. Hate hate hate.

May 29
Revenge Of The Sith is definitely worth seeing, but doesn't completely excuse Lucas for the first two. In particular, I came out of the movie thinking that if he'd moved elements of III back into I and II, he'd have had a shorter III but a far more satisfying trilogy. Your mileage may vary. Lots of action, tons of lightsaber fights (yay!) and only a modicum of Lucas' major weak spot, romantic dialogue.

The other happening this weekend was the European Grand Prix, which plainly illustrated the silliness of the "one set of tires per race" rule. Raikkonnen flat-spotted a tire mid-race, badly enough that in his final lap the suspension snapped, dumping him into the gravel. More to the point, he barely missed taking another car with him. How is it that reducing the safety of these cars is supposed to improve the sport, exactly?

May 28
A little Greasemonkey work to fix a website that seems to be set up for... IE5? Bizarre. Anyway, if you use DVD Rentals (aka Screenclick), here's a greasemonkey script to make the wishlist editing work in Firefox.

Spy Kids 2 was on TV so I kinda half watched it while doing other stuff. Not bad, although I think that, like the first movie, Daryl Sabara's acting is a bit weak. Ok, so he's a kid, but Jake Lloyd was more convincing in The Phantom Menace, and younger.

May 27
Hello Bob! Hello Pub!

May 26
Not a good day, although I did some useful hacking on Lotus. Not that it's worth anything.

May 25
One more piece of the Lotus puzzle: if you're missing the Lotus COM objects, you probably need to (re)register nlsxbe.dll.

Well, that was utterly surprising: put 54Mbit wireless card in laptop, install NDIS Wrapper and some Windows drivers, and bring up the interface. Exactly that, no glitches.

On the whole, Confidence is a good movie. It's a bit rough in spots, and you never quite believe anything (after all, it's all about grifting) but the plot carries it through. Worth watching.

May 24
Big code merge. Oook. I've never done two-way joins with CVS before. I'm reasonably impressed with it, although I'd have been utterly lost without Emacs' vc-resolve-conflicts.

May 23
Dinking with the RSS toy again. Found a rather silly timestamp bug in some new code I've been trying out.

May 22
Well, for what it's worth, the race was mostly a procession, with a mild bit of excitement mid-race when there was a, er, traffic jam. No, really. Raikkonen carried off first place, but I really couldn't care less at this point.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is, true to form, different from every other version of the Guide. Mostly it works, although I disliked the needless change of the shape of the Heart of Gold (it's supposed to look like a running shoe, dammit, not a giant golf ball!). The Trillian/Arthur love story thread was a bit clunky, but maybe only because it's not part of the original plot. Ultimately, it's a moderate success, and nowhere near the doomy disaster that various propellor-heads were proclaiming when it appeared.

May 21
Woo, Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Except I've totally lost interest in F1 this year, possibly on account of the fact that the more the FIA changes the rules, the less interesting the sport gets. Oh well.

May 20
Down t'pub with James and John. I fell over James' bike on the way home, resulting in a huge fit of laughter and some mild bruising.

May 19
Collateral has a good premise, but the execution (hah!) could've been a lot better. In particular, the only part of it that felt like an edge-of-the-seat thriller was about 1:36 into a 2-hour movie, which is a bit slack. Even aside from the languid pacing, there were a few meaningless pauses (the sort that felt like driving behind someone who brakes when they're already 20 below the speed limit) which were, I think, on account of the director trying to inject, you know, meaning into it. Waste of time. I said it before, I'll say it again, it's all about the BRANE CANDY. If I want something meaningful, I'll go to an arthouse theatre.

May 18
After much abuse, websearching, further abuse, some shouting, and a few code runs, I eventually managed to cow Lotus' db.Search() method into doing what I wanted. From Perl. There is still a world of clunkiness here, but less so.

Another addition to 1001 10-line scripts for nonsensical purposes: parsing a log of my electricity meter since I'm currently trying to get a handle on daily usage.

May 17
Tooling around with the magical XMLHttpRequest object that has the web all a-flutter. I'm a little disappointed that fetching a HTML page with it doesn't seem to give you a usable DOM unless the returned value is proper XML - it'd be nice to figure out some javascript for, say, Greasemonkey, and then repurpose it as a generic bit of code for in-page use.

May 16
It's all about the movies this week... Galaxy Quest is absolutely inspired. Great idea, fantastic execution. I spent most of it laughing, and then I watched the deleted scenes and laughed some more. Tony Shaloub is an absolute show-stealer.

MiniITX box crashed this evening. GRaaargh.

May 15
Between seeing various bits and pieces over the years and reading at least part of the book, I already knew most of the storyline of The Deer Hunter, but it was good to finally see the whole thing from start to finish. Much like another De Niro classic, Taxi Driver, it was probably a shocking movie when it was released, but given that I've seen Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Born on the Fourth of July, I feel I've already covered the ground that this would have been otherwise revealing to me. I was somewhat bemused by the notion of a bunch of Russian-speaking guys going off to fight the Red Menace, and Meryl Streep was extraordinarily pretty in this movie. Much like Fourth of July, the Vietnam War itself is almost incidental in the movie despite its huge bearing on the storyline - very little coverage is given of it, the movie being more about the group of friends before and after the war. Worth watching, even if only to say you've seen one of the classic Vietnam movies.

Disabling DMA access to the hard drive seems to have worked wonders for the crashy MiniITX box. I guess now I need to try stressing it with something else that uses DMA, just to see if it's the drive DMA or DMA in general.

May 14
Attack of the Clones was on RTE Two, so I watched that. Mostly spent time clicking on a confirm button related to SEEKRIT MOVIE PROJECT, though.

Happy birthday, Dad!

May 13
Apollo 13 isn't a bad movie, but I can't take Tom Hanks seriously no matter how hard I try. I am, however, interested in reading more about the ill-fated mission, which, incidentally, took off exactly three years before I was born.

May 12
Through inertia more than anything else, I ended up tooling with the SEEKRIT MOVIE PROJECT which I've not really touched in a while, and ended up with a HTML interface to stuff that I'm actually pretty happy with. This is sort of a big deal, because I'm generally against the widespread use of HTML interfaces. But if it works, it works.

May 11
Well, the slow network hack didn't fix it. Bah. Now what?

Having gotten fed up of waiting for oocalc to fire up for a minor accounting task, I've hacked up a perl script to do the job. Major advantage being I can code in some heuristics to have it guess what the input means, as well as the speed of the whole thing.

Pitch Black had a really promising opening, but the stilted dialogue, cardboard characters, and crap scripting ultimately made this a poor Alien clone.

May 10
Mostly fruitlessly poking at the supposed-to-be-a-PVR to figure out what's causing the intermittent but annoyingly frequent freeze/crash. I've found one suggestion, unconfirmed, that this particular board has DMA conflict issues, which would gel with what I've been seeing - combined heavy network and disk use seem to trigger the problem. One suggestion was to turn the ethernet down to 10Mbit and see what happens, so I'll try that.

I also had an entertaining time trying to fit a floppy drive to it in order to do a BIOS reflash. First there was the issue of figuring out which of my floppy drives are still working, followed by the search for a working cable, followed by the permuting of cable positions until I found the one position that worked. Easily 90 minutes of stupidity.

May 9
Hah. I just noticed that Vodafone's rather ridiculous online photo album has a typo in the javascript. Brilliant.

May 8
More hanging out. Also, watched most of Three Amigos, which was kinda funny (especially the search for the Invisible Swordsman), and then, back home, Hellboy, which I rather enjoyed. Good story, good music (the first time we meet the adult Hellboy, Tom Waits' Heartattack and Vine is belting out), and sufficiently convincing SFX that they were part of the story rather than the main feature of the movie. Given that I had no previous knowledge of Hellboy, I have no comparisons to make with the comic series, and from the posters and trailers I'd seen I didn't realise the two stubs on his head were filed-down horns - I'd thought they were some sort of Biggles-like goggles... I did find myself going "Huh?" a little at a few points, maybe because I'm not familiar with the original, or possibly because I was suffering from sleep deprivation.

May 7
Drove to Tramore, hung out with Dalton, drank beer. The Phantom Menace was on TV, so we caught the last half of that.

May 6
Since I'm driving down the country this weekend I was tooling with my mapping stuff a little. I'd assumed, having done some reading, that I would have to convert my GPS coords to UTM or ITM in order for them to show up correctly on the map, but this doesn't appear to be the case; I've got a coastal outline of Ireland in GPS coords, and it fits more-or-less exactly to the map images I've grabbed. Maybe it doesn't matter at really low zoom levels? Also, whether by accident or to combat leeches like me (!), some of the maps don't seem to align properly.

May 5
Halfarsed MySQL conversion is far enough along to run with, so I'll try flying that for now. It still does far too much work, but I'm impatient.

May 4
Having written a sum total of two GreaseMonkey scripts, I will say that it is bloody impossible to debug, although this should improve when 0.3 is released as it allows logging to the javascript console..

Converted half the RSS Toy (the feed-grabbing part) to stash its data in a database instead of on disk. This is part of a cunning plan to not kill my webserver by thrashing its disk to death.

May 3
Buffalo Soldiers was a bit uneven, but on the whole was a pretty good flick. Parts of it felt very much like a more serious Police Academy or Sergeant Bilko.

Finally uploaded my Finance::Banking::IE stuff to CPAN, gnee gnee.

May 2
Hmm. First time ever using Emacs' Version Control Conflict Resolution. Simple, tidy, and it worked. Yay!

May 1
Ok, so now I need to go look up that old FAQ chestnut, "How do I determine available/free space on a filesystem?"

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Hurrah for May