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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

July 31
Continued stunt installation attempts.

July 30
Attempting a stunt FC6 install. Failed due to the network card (wireless) not cooperating, but that only leads me to attempt further stunt installation the next time around.

July 29
Experimenting with transcoding video for the iPod. For some reason, mencoder (which reads everything) writes an mp4 file that I'm not happy with, and more to the point that my podcast hack isn't happy with (I have no idea how the iPod itself regards it) so I've been trying to figure out how to coerce it into something useful. Failing that, H264.

Party at Bob's. Yay Bob!


July 28
Half-watched Clear and Present Danger which is sort of mindless but does have a classic demonstration of How To Ambush A Convoy.

July 27
Javascript abuse. Hurrah.

July 26
I really need to do some more work on the RSS toy, because right now it's not working as well as it should. I could always abandon it in favour of, say, Google Reader, but I like my own tacky interface...

July 25
Pan's Labyrinth: not sure what to make of this. Beautifully shot, quite engaging, but somewhat off-kilter. Probably worth a look, on balance.

July 24
Music and Lyrics is almost perfect. As described to a friend - "a romantic comedy with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore" - it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Grant's character is a less shallow version of his role in About A Boy, and his absurd yet deadpan dialogue works perfectly. And it's a romantic comedy, so it's got all the clichés - the initial dislike, the thrown-together-by-circumstances bit, the disagreement, the final resolution - and it's all done by the book, but that's what makes it so good. It's like playing a well-known piece of music: everyone knows what to expect in content, so it's all down to the performance. Other than a few tiny bits that didn't quite fit, this is about as good as rom-coms get. This is going on my shopping list.

Things I have not been hacking on: RVP and libnw. If you're waiting on either of those, sorry, but I'm kinda bored with them, and I've lost a lot of the external motivation for working on them for various reasons (of which the principal one is deprecation in a couple of forms). Of course, I'm always happy to accept patches...

July 23
One of my vodafone site-scraping toys broke because of the appearance of full dates. In fact, if I were to guess, I'd say someone's using Perl to do the site now, and using scalar(localtime()) to spit out dates. Freaky.

Ah, there's the problem: str2time can't deal with "IST". Have to convert it to "BST". There's some sort of a political joke here, I'm sure.

Hey, what the hell? dodgeit.com is now dodgit.com (no "e"). That's vaguely annoying in a "can't really complain about free services" sort of way.

July 22
Lazy day.


July 21
Poked at the airodump/aircrack stuff to see if it would break into my own wireless network. Result: no. This is down to a failure in my understanding of the tools, I'm sure, but I fail to understand why there are 57 command-line tools when you wind up cutting and pasting data from one to the other in order to try and make it work.

July 20
Tweaking home-grown, home-used toys. Including the aforementioned podcast thingy, since I'm not 100% happy with how iTunes reacts to it and I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I'm running KDE again. I'm also running the IRC/chat client I've been mostly not running for the last month or so. One or both of these things accounts for the increased sluggishness of my laptop, I'm sure. But I really don't want to buy another laptop, dammit; this one still works.

July 19
Over The Hedge was pretty good; plently laughs and some good parodies. The plot was fairly unimaginative, but that's not really important. Worth watching!

Investigated the podcast transcoding thing a little. It seems remarkably difficult, given the wealth of free tools available, to find something whereby you can say "turn this into ipod thingie" without having to detail frame rate, aspect ratio, etc.

July 18
Hacked up a little podcasting tool to dump the various things I download (movies from google video, for example) into somewhere that the iPod will automatically pick them up. Right now it just deals in file formats that will work unmodified on the pod; ultimately it should transcode anything that doesn't work. And I'm sure someone's done this already but I didn't see it in a trivial search so I'm deeming it Not done.

Legally Blonde was on TV, and turned out to be rather surprisingly good. Not sure I'd have gone to the trouble to rent it out but it's probably worth it. It is, as my dad would say, "light", but it's also pretty well done.

July 17
Nacho Libre was a bit flat, and surprisingly Jack Black wasn't really playing one of his usual over-the-top performances despite the fact that I think this would have really benefitted from it. Just about raised a smile, but little more. Not really worth it, frankly.

July 16
Met up with Ruadhrí for a few beers. Just one or two, honest. *urp*

July 15
Pretty knackered after yesterday's exertions. Not really up to much as a result.


July 14
Went to the Phoenix Park. Ran for about 34 minutes. Got a t-shirt.

Die Hard 4.0 (why oh why was this renamed for European release from Live Free Or Die Hard?) was a whole bundle of fun. Despite the bubblegum nature of the movie, the suspension of belief held up for pretty much the duration, although ironically I drew the line at the hovering supersonic jet which I subsequently discovered does actually (sort of) exist. I loved Kevin Smith's cameo role, and as someone else noted, Willis seems at times to be chuckling almost out of character at the sheer silliness of the proceedings. But it's good summer blockbuster silliness, and well worth the watch. I'd happily watch this again, in fact.

Running With Scissors: a strange movie. Mostly quite funny, despite (I think) some attempts at poignancy. Brian Cox looked curiously like, I dunno, Ian McKellan or someone, and Joseph Fiennes most definitely looked like Jason Lee. I quite enjoyed this, but I suspect it's not for everyone.

July 13
Hurrah for Friday the 13th. Bleh.

Still putting up with Evolution + Exchange Connector, since the alternatives are either to use Outlook (bleh, redux) or use an IMAP connection which means that folders such as Calendar, Contacts, etc. are no longer special, so they don't get special treatment. In fact, I can't see a way to tell Evolution to treat an IMAP folder as e.g. a calendar.

To be fair: I did eventually find the signature setting; it's on the very first page of the account config. I have no idea how I missed this before because it's pretty damned obvious. On the other hand, changing this setting causes a resync of the entire folder tree from the server. As does changing my out-of-office status, which is rather stupidly put on the account page instead of elsewhere in the preferences panel where it used be.

Oh yeah. I was going to whine about the lack of non-modal next/previous keys (I'm a diehard VM user at home, and I'm used to sensible behaviour in this respect) when I re-examined the menus and discovered that while "]" works when you've got the message list selected, Ctrl-"]" works regardless of context. Non-ideal, but acceptable, I guess.

July 12
Working some on the giant secret movie project (remember that?). It's still secret, of course. I found one really stupid bug, though. Typically, it was a regular expression. I think there's probably an unwritten law of programming languages that goes something like

It's been a while since I wrote up a rant. Here's one on web user interfaces, which frequently make me unhappy. It's not a very good rant, really, but hey.

I crashed my iPod today. Locked up at the start of a track and had to be reset. Tomorrow I expect my watch to crash. Even though it's an analogue watch.

July 11
Day off from the office, mainly spent, er, shopping. No, really.

I crashed my phone today. Not sure if it was using the webbrowser while it was doing a periodic mail check that did it, or just browsing to a site it couldn't cope with, but the screen suddenly went blank, and then the phone reset itself.

July 10
My Super Ex-Girlfriend was about what I expected: kinda funny, but not one to absolutely go out and search for.

Rebooted the webserver as it had a long-running rmmod process wedged in place that I'd forgotten about, and also because it's not running the most recent kernel.

July 9
Had a movie to watch, but decided to catch up on a bunch of stuff instead, including responding to some emails dating back to, er, last month. D'oh...

More fiddling with maps and data... Google's MarkerManager is a bit disappointing. I'd expect them to provide something that would try to intelligently handle grouping of multiple icons; you could give the MarkerManager a function to generate data with, and it could then call the function and determine if markers overlap or whatever at the current mag level. I guess there's still the issue of too many non-overlapping markers, but I think that's less of an issue.

Interesting AGAIN. It appears that the day after I mention the bogus traffic data, it's been mostly cleaned up. Unfortunately they've also dropped out about 100 points, mainly from the suburbs (where I live). And strangely enough the datestamp in the file still says April 2005.

Well, that was kinda-sorta annoying: the message manager on my phone doesn't quite do context menus. I selected Options->Cleanup->Inbox->Read while Email Messages was highlighted,and it happily tossed the messages in my SMS Inbox. Gah. Only a day or so's messages, but still.

July 8
Interesting. This morning my credit card provider's website claims I have no accounts registered with them. That's reassuring, I guess it means I don't owe them any money...

And equally mysteriously my registered accounts returned.

Did a bunch more messing around with maps. Dublin Traffic has an interesting set of points for the city (as well as the more interesting live traffic data between those points) in that some of the locations are a little carelessly placed. The Johnstown Road, for instance, appears to go from the N11 to random parts of the Dun Laoghaire area to the far side of the M50 ring and back again, despite the fact that in reality it's a fairly short and direct route from the N11 to the Rochestown Road...

Munich was interesting in as much as Spielberg's introduction pitches it as a sort of "asking the hard questions about taking hard action" thing. The whole informer group in France was also interesting, particularly given that the film is based on a book which, according to the director, has never been challenged (only complained about, vociferously). On the whole I think this may lead to a bunch of Wikipedia reading for me...


July 7
Had a walkthrough of the Proj sourcecode to see if I could figure out the bare minimum required to convert ITM to Lat/Long, but really it's too generic for me to grasp without really digging into it.

Aha. A good description of the UTM-to-Lat/Long process. That took way too long to find.

After some mucking about with that page I identified two things: firstly, I can't make it work, and secondly, the Perl module for UTM seems to have a degrees/radians problem. I think the problem with the former is to do with needing to work the origin's longitude into the equations somewhere other than as a simple addition at the end, although I'm not 100% sure about that. More reading required, I guess.

Having been once again annoyed by the Windows drivers for talking to the Motorola phone's more obscure components, I installed moto4lin on my laptop. Wow, what a difference! Works pretty much out-of-the-box. I still can't get my own CA cert onto the phone, however, even following some pretty good instructions on the topic. Also, it'd be nice if instead of having a file browser for my phone, I could mount the entire phone as a filesystem. You know, like how the USB drive on the phone normally operates...

Wait, I spoke too soon, my phone now has the waider.ie CA cert installed. Cute! Alas, the mail client still claims the cert is invalid. Gah.

Aha, more enlightenment. The mail cert was self-signed. After learning how to be my own CA, I redid the mail cert, and now the phone connects without error. Excellent! In theory this means I can now make my phone slightly more like a crackberry by having it check my mail periodically...

July 6
Office drinks followed by party at Lou's. Didn't stay too long due to work commitments, though.

July 5
Fiddling about with various things. Had another look at Stikkit, but noone appears (as yet) to have written a conduit to synchronise it with gnome-pilot, knotes, etc. There's a perl module with sparse documentation which should facilitate some easy hacking, though. As it stands, Stikkit only makes sense if you use it for permanently-connected scenarios, and for that to be the case I'd need a much beefier handheld than a Palm Vx and no reluctance to spend cash on mobile data.

July 4
I can't say anything nice about Evolution, it just goes and crashes on me. This morning: wait 40 minutes for it to sync with the server. Watch it crash with no explanation. Restart it, and watch it crash immediately. It's obviously written with the expectation that the underlying transport (in this case, a flaky connection to an Exchange server) is responsive and reliable, and has absolutely no capability for handling deviations from that. And this is, I presume, what Novell push as part of their Windows Integration...

July 3
I really liked The Million Dollar Hotel, and I'm not really sure why. It's an odd movie, with quite the cast, and a fair bit of U2 (Bono scripted it and has a cameo and there's a ton of U2 music on the soundtrack), and I guess it's just really, really well-made.

July 2
Mission Impossible III is probably the best of the M:I movies: it doesn't suffer the pacing problems of the first, or the sheer silliness of the second. Definitely worth watching.

July 1
Well, it's July. You can't smoke in the UK any more, and you can't walk around outside in Ireland without both sunblock and heavy rain gear.

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Waider
rain, rain and rain