Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

February 28
Urrr. Looks like the coredump bug is in code I thought I'd fixed ages ago, and I can't see why it's happening - although I can think of a few scenarios, I'm not clear if any of them are coming into play. Time to think on it some more, I guess.

February 27
Hmmmph. There's a core-dumping bug in the librvp code, possibly only triggered by my shiny new server, but that doesn't matter. The problem is finding the damn thing; it only breaks after a number of hours (probably when the subscription renewal kicks in) so I'll have to leave it running overnight to catch the bug.

February 26
Kung Fu Hustle is lots of fun, and I really like what Stephen Chow does with CGI - it's sort of the opposite of the subtlety in the first Matrix movie: it's so over-the-top that you believe it, rather than being so seamless you believe it. The parodies are funny, too. Oddly, there's a big disconnect between the subtitles and the dubbing in a lot of places, in some cases missing out entire jokes. And once again I find myself wishing IMDb actually explained movie connections and parodies, rather than simply listing the titles of the connected/parodied movies.

After no small amount of swearing and abuse, the half-baked RVP server I use for testing is now fully database-backed. This has one immediate benefit: it doesn't get screwed up on locked sessions like the old code did. It has several minor benefits in terms of code cleanliness, because it's far easier to do a SQL select than it is to go parsing random crap out of a deep Perl data structure like an array of arrays or whatever. And I think I've also found one of the more annoying bugs in the RVP client, viz. dragging hapless strangers into multi-user chats as soon as they try and talk to you. I'll need to test it a little more before I'm sure it's fixed, however. And I really need to get back on top of the to-do list, as I'm overdue a release for bugfixes if nothing else.

February 25
Watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin while hacking on the RVP server, which was about as much attention as it required. It's not bad or anything, just not terribly engaging. Or fast-moving. Or surprising in any way, shape or form. The RVP server, meanwhile, has acquired some more ACL support.

February 24
Another pub evening, this time meeting up with some coworkers who work elsewhere in Dublin.

February 23
Table quiz, in which we came second, and won... nothing. Bono donated a signed poster from the Vertigo tour which was auctioned for over €500, and an Irish rugby shirt signed by the team went for €400. Which was nice, as this was a fundraiser for a school.

February 22
Trying to get an alleged multimedia machine to record some sound. Who came up with this Alsa crap? You need an astrophysics degree just to understand the volume control...

Eventually got it to work, I think. Saved the stuff audacity captured and will poke at it again tomorrow. I need to get this out of the to-do list so I can give back the turntable I borrowed!

February 21
Ok, client does notice I'm online. Just that I'd screwed up the buddy list in changing hosts. Now trying to decide if it'd be more correct to store buddies as user@domain or user@rvpserver.domain; MSM does the latter, but the former survives a server migration.

Working on someone else's hardware, I am reduced to trying to find a working floppy disk in order to load up a network driver so I can go about doing the rest of the downloading directly. Oh the humanity. It feels like the 1990's all over again.

February 20
Got the RVP server up and running on an internal host (actually my laptop) using MySQL to handle the session stuff that I'd previously done with files. This is good, since I ultimately want to move all the session management from a hash stored in a binary blob to proper tables; this will allow me to do things like looking up things by view and by subscription-id, which right now are horribly hacked. In the process I found bugs both in the session-mangling code I use to create the initial session blob, and the RVP client code that's supposed to handle the case where you don't have a _rvp._tcp SRV record. So, yay, bugfixes. Next, figure out why the client doesn't notice I'm online when I've just logged in...

February 19
Down south fixing computers, visiting family, and ... writing Perl. Windows XP's network sharing stuff is pretty impressive; the master computer provides reasonably sane DHCP, NAT and firewalling out of the box which is a nice change.

February 18
I've disabled my local hacked-up RVP server for two reasons: firstly, it keeps locking up my web server, which is bad; and secondly, I really need to rewrite it so that it does things like ACLs properly so that I have a proper testbed. I'd intended to chuck out a new version of librvp this weekend, but various things have intervened to prevent that and this server-fixing scheme won't help either. I've done a few things to the codebase, as noted over the previous few days, but I'd like to strike at least one of the bigger TODO items off the list before I do another.

Did a bit of a cleanup on the fileserver, which just like real-world cleanups largely involved moving things around and hiding everything in ~/tmp...

February 17
Out for a few beers to wish Ruadhrí and his wife a happy departure from Dublin...

There's a bug in RVP multi-user chat which basically prevents you from getting out of said conversation, and drags in anyone else you talk to even if you're sending them a private message. I've an idea what's causing it, but it sure bugged me today when I was trying to spend the day without using Windows.

February 16
fix fix fix... rebuilt a dead PC using a spare motherboard and chip that I had lying around - which, in fact, I didn't realise were working components! Also hacked on the RVP idle stuff some more, only slightly interrupted by the aforementioned hardware abuse somehow causing the ELCB to trip, resulting in sudden shutdown of my poor servers... maybe I should invest in a UPS.

February 15
Made an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the Gaim away message mechanism; it's a little, um, inefficient in places. I think I've nailed it down, though, which brings me back to trying to figure out why idle-detection/setting isn't working; not helped by the fact that Gaim itself seems unwilling to trigger the idle stuff, never mind my own code.

Hacked at my already-hacked version of mod_ntlm_winbind, trying to fix the stuff for Apache 1.3 that I broke so I can pass it all back to the owner in at least the same state as I got it.

February 14
Hmm, DVDRentals made a small tweak to their site which breaks some scripty stuff I'd been doing. Fix fix.

Death to Smoochy wasn't quite what I was expecting, but was pretty funny - there's at least two excellent slapstick moments, and some hilarious one-liners. Well worth seeing!

February 13
I'd pretty much figured out whodunnit in The Gift early on, but that didn't spoil it for me. Well-made piece of work, with (among other things) Keanu Reeves in another startlingly good role as a menacing redneck.

February 12
I missed about 20 minutes of Comic Book Villians due to a phonecall, but what struck me most about it is how it turns oddly violent after appearing initially to be a pretty much straightforward battle between the forces of good and evil or, er, the man who loves comics and the man (and wife) who loves money. An odd movie, funny in places, but I'm still not 100% clear on why I rented it, and I kept expecting Kevin Smith or Stan Lee to walk through the background (recognisable characters were, in fact, "that geeky kid from Road Trip", "Phoebe's cop boyfriend who's on Boston Public now", "The Dread Pirate Roberts", and "the eldest son from Malcom in the Middle").

Car healthy, drive back to Dublin frustrating in spots but mostly a breeze in part on account of the new motorway.

February 11
I built a firefox 1.5 RPM for some older Red Hat machines, and today figured I'd put together one for my FC4 laptop. Firefox would like something called Cairo (wasn't that a Windows codename at some point?) to be present, which you can disable through the config; unfortunately, someone made the Pango code dependant on Cairo, so you have to switch off Pango as well. Bad developers, no cookies.

Modified my TV listings stuff to use a sorted list of channels, which was harder than it should have been due to the fact that this code has accreted so much junk over the last few years.

Found a bug in the RVP plugin idle code, whereby it never actually sets your state to idle. D'oh. Currently trying to clean that up and figuring out that maybe there are a few more plugin-global variables that I don't need.

Off to Ballina in the evening to pick up my car. Well, to hang out and eventually pick up my car.

February 10
Tiiiiired. Didn't get anything done today, not even a movie watched.

February 9
In a radical departure from getting useful, visible work done, I've been tweaking not one but two seekrit projects, one alluded to on this diary more than once, the other mentioned here outright but which I've dug up, put under wraps, and proceeded to completely stall on. Curses.

February 8
More bug reports for librvp, which I am working my way through. Also trying to clean things up a little, e.g. unifiying the various places that mention the away states.

February 7
I didn't read The Dark Half, but George Romero's adaptation of it is pretty decent, albeit almost completely lacking in recognisable names (excluding maybe Michael Rooker). If you're at all familiar with Stephen King's work, none of this story will be a surprise to you, but that doesn't really detract from it.

February 6
Picked up a few more loose ends on the RVP code; nothing much else of note happening.

Caught a few movies over the weekend: the original Back To The Future, which is still a great flick, Something's Gotta Give which seemed to lose its way about halfway through, up to which point it had been pretty good and even Keanu Reeves' performance was impressive, The Outlaw Josie Wales which is pretty stock "gruff man of few words takes on all, triumphs" Clint Eastwood fodder, and most of Scary Movie 3, which had some laugh-out-loud moments plus a bunch of predictable ZAZ-style humour. Not bad, but I'm not sure I'd pay to see it.

This evening's viewing, Kiss of the Dragon: not so good. Looks like a lot of the action was cut for a lower age rating, which makes it somewhat less interesting. Plus, the fight sequences aren't a patch on those choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping. On the whole, I wasn't really that impressed.

February 5
Back in Dublin, car still in Ballina. Good trick, eh?

Doing some minor code cleanup with the RVP stuff for the next release, including trying to cut down on the number of things flagged with "I should fix this" and similar comments. One of the people testing this keeps coming up with new and interesting test scenarios I'd not thought of (thanks, Pete!) so hopefully this is galloping toward something pretty damned stable.

February 4
Away in Ballina for the weekend. The Ireland v. Italy game was a waste of time, to be honest. Hooray, we won. We didn't deserve it, and if the referee had made proper use of the television offical we'd probably have lost.

February 3
Well, DAMMIT. Stupid crashing bug in 0.5, which I've now replaced with 0.5a. The 'a' stands for 'aaaah, sorry'.

February 2
Fixed up most of the things flagged to me yesterday and today in the RVP code, the net result of which is librvp v0.5 is mostly a bugfix release - I've not added any significant new features. Enjoy anyway, as it's now 27.41% less likely to crash and destroy your office building.

February 1
I rather enjoyed Y Tu Mamá También; it's an odd mix of road trip, coming-of-age movie, social commentary, and oddball humour, but it works really, really well and is shot beautifully. Definitely worth watching. Oh, and the DVD menu music is a blast.

Got a bunch of bugs/fixes for librvp stuff, which is neat.

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