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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

June 30
Doing weekend stuff. No geeking.

June 29
Fiddling with mapping translations again. Amusement was had.

June 28
So today I didn't have a single Evolution crash, probably because I was treating the application with kid gloves. It can be a little frustrating to deal with, but for the most part it's now doing what I want, so we'll laughingly call this a success and move quickly onward.

June 27
More on Evolution 2.x vs. Exchange: it's astonishingly slow, and equally astonishingly fragile, but it uses less modal dialogues than the 1.x version which means that when it breaks (and it will) you get a transient message instead of a pop-up message that needs to be acknowledged. The fragility is a real pain, though, followed by the extreme lack of speed on startup. I'd like to think the latter might be mitigated by a clean shutdown, but since I haven't had one of those yet I've no idea.

What the hell? There appears to be no way to set my default signature for an Exchange account. All the help texts refer to an Identity page which doesn't exist on the account configuration...

June 26
DSL apparently reappeared at 12:30am. Hurrah! No explanations forthcoming from official sources, as expected. This is the service I pay for.

An Inconvenient Truth isn't something you can really rate, I guess. It's worth watching, if only to wonder where the Al Gore of this documentary on global warming was during the presidential election; he's entertaining, he's interesting, he's funny, and frankly he looks like a perfectly acceptable choice for a president even for raging Republicans. Of course, the fact that he'd be down on the oil industry and the car industry and so on probably wouldn't help so much. The eye-opening stuff in this is the raw figures; everyone knows the global warming arguments and counter-arguments, but it's hard to claim the current round of warming is cyclical when you're looking at how it dwarfs any previous warming period over the last 650,000 years. You MUST watch this.

I'm trying Evolution 2 with an Exchange Server again. I guess I'm really a masochist at heart... so far I have learned that you shouldn't set it to automatically synchronise local folders, and completion based on your Outlook address book is probably a bad idea as well - both these seem to lock up the client for indeterminate amounts of time, and the latter has the added bonus of potentially popping up a window which grabs your keyboard/mouse, preventing you from doing anything else until it comes back from whereever it went.

June 25
Kubrick's Lolita: I'd love to know who's responsible for the "Woody Allen on speed" performance Peter Sellers gives on the deck of the motor lodge, to say nothing of the slapstick with the cot, and Seller's later appearance as the school psychologist. It's pretty awful, particularly compared to the both the book and the more recent remake of the same film. Plus, the whole thing was about an hour too long, even though huge chunks had been cut out of the original story.

My DSL vanished at about 8am this morning. Rumour has it that it's on account of a backhoe incident at my provider's office on the outskirts of the city, which I haven't bothered confirming as it seems everyone else who asked got a pretty blasé "not much we can do" response.

June 24
Naïvely hacked at some Perl that does UTM conversion to try and make it do Irish Grid conversion instead. Ended up with a point several degrees off where I expected to find it, so that's not right. If you're curious, the Ordinance Survey of Ireland has a description of the Irish Grid. Right now I am looking in despair at umpty-million online convertors, pay-for convertors, and so on. Gah. It looks like I should be using Proj, but for some reason the build I have of it doesn't appear to know about the Irish Grid.

Hmm, after some fidgeting with files and what not it appears that cs2cs +init=world:irish does what I want. Yes, indeed, the world should be declared Irish by default.


June 23
Spent some time trying to figure out someone's coordinate system (which turned out to be Irish Grid), followed by trying to find something that would explain to me how to map from that to GPS coordinates. Seems like there are a whole lot of online convertors, but a lack of easily locatable descriptions of the required math.

June 22
Went to see Peter Gabriel (supported by Starsailor, who I missed, and Crowded House, whose signature "Take The Weather With You" was just finishing as I got to the venue) at Marlay Park, which was an exercise in getting very, very wet and then standing around in clingy wet denims watching a fat, bald, old guy do a pretty good impression of That Guy From Genesis... ok, it was actually pretty fun, but the rain was a bit of a downer. There was a real 80's feel to a lot of the music, with that distinctive slap-bass-and-synth-brass sound that everyone used, and Gabriel still has that distinctive warbling voice.

June 21
Since I've been neglecting RVP a little of late, barring the minor work required to make it Pidgin-friendly, I resurrected my RVP server tonight and started poking at it. I've skipped on the auth section due to previously-mentioned problems with my fake NT domain which frankly I can't be bothered trying to diagnose; however I'm now seeing a variety of oddball errors from the server that indicate that the client is doing Weird Stuff. How peculiar.

Ok, that turns out to have been on account of the server not knowing its own name. Also peculiar, but not quite as peculiar as what I thought was going on.

June 20
And again:
8:45Phone AutoGlass to book windscreen repair. Details taken, told that someone will call me in the next half-hour.
9:40Phone AutoGlass, navigate IVR, guess which of their three centres my case was assigned to, guess incorrectly, try again, eventually get through to a surly mechanic who says that "maybe we called you and your phone was switched off" and then "oh, we'll have to order that windscreen in, it'll take about a week". So I tell him I'll go elsewhere.
9:45Book with AllGlass. Again, their central office tells me someone will call me back shortly.
10:45No sign of a callback. Phone central office again, am given the dispatcher's name and told she'll phone the responsible repair centre straight away to find out what's happening.
11:40Phone central office again and get a different dispatcher, who phones the repair centre while I'm on the call and tells me the centre will phone me back immediately.
11:45AutoGlass customer service phones to ask if anyone called me back. I tell them I cancelled my call with them two hours ago.
11:45AllGlass repair centre calls back and tells me to bring the car in at 2pm. FINALLY.
I really have no idea how I attract this level of abuse.

And speaking of: ebay vendor eventually offers me an RMA. The vendor is still insisting, bizarrely, that the battery that was shipped should somehow work with my laptop despite the fact that it's a completely different size and shape to the one I was looking for. I have no idea why they can't just accept that it's a simple shipping error, but at least I can return the damn thing and (hopefully) get the right one now.

And one for the road: Worldpay apparently can't find my details in their system and want me to phone them to sort this out. I guess I should feel that my credit card number is secure if the people I gave it to can't find it...

June 19
Why is it that everything I touch that involves customer service dissolves into a terrible experience? Just now I asked Worldpay (credit card processing people) why the steps in their FAQ didn't work for me in updating my credit card details. I got the relevant FAQ entry quoted back at me with no further information. Like, DUH. The support mail I sent them through their difficult-to-find customer support page clearly indicated that the FAQ entry didn't work.

I'm not entirely sure what I thought of In The Cut. It's a decent enough thriller in the approximate style of Sea Of Love, but there's an amount of fiddly camerawork (mostly revolving around soft focus) that I found pretty distracting. Worth a look if you don't mind the constant blurring at the edges.

To keep people happy I've put my CVS changes into RVP 0.9.6a; now the icons for Pidgin go in the right place. No other changes of note so I'm not bumping the version number any further.

June 18
New toy, a present from the brother (no, the other one):
Waider (klortho.waider.ie) $ > sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 320.0 GB, 320072933376 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 38913 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 38913 312568641 c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
First thing to do is turn that into an ext3 filesystem, I think...

June 17
Watched Donegal v. Tyrone (Gaelic Football) which featured a disappointing performance from Donegal, not least because two players got sent off, and then Waterford v. Cork (Hurling). There were 8 goals and 33 points scored in the latter game. Waterford won by three points, but only because they were saved at quite literally at the last minute by the crossbar... a mostly clean game (a few warnings, bookings and yellow cards) and certainly an excellent exhibition of good hurling.

Back to Dublin, via my brother's place to see my nieces. TIRED NOW.


June 16
Wipers and other car issues fixed for NCT retest. Rewatched the end of Pirates II. Ok, I think I've got most of it now. I probably need to watch the whole thing with no alcoholic assistance, though. At least I feel I'm about set to watch the third one.

Ballina to Youghal, passing through Thurles just before the GAA fans were released onto the streets. A well-timed move, even if I didn't know about it until Dad told me later. Also wound up driving on backroads from Clonmel to Youghal that I've not been on in years and mostly didn't remember.

June 15
Dublin to Ballina. Entertaining when your wipers are faulty and break twice on the way.

Watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest again. Made the same mistake as last time, except this time it was wine instead of beer. So while I was initially giggling at the bits I'd maybe laughed at the first time around but couldn't remember, I didn't actually make it to the end of the movie as I was falling asleep.

June 14
I, er. I seem to have lost track of today. D'oh.

June 13
The vodafone-to-flickr hack now understands embedded ImageMagick commands, so I can indicate that pictures should be rotated before being uploaded.

Seller now says to send a picture of the item to help sort out the problem. If this drags on any longer I'll be cancelling payment and getting ebay involved. Right now it's a genuine packing mistake, albeit with a foot-dragging corrections process. Any longer and it's officially fraud.

I couldn't really get into Before Sunset. It probably doesn't help that I've not seen Before Sunrise, but that aside I thought it came off like one of those conversations a guy has with a girl when he's trying to convince her he's some way mature when really he's just trying to figure out how to persuade her into bed. Which, well, you can get those down the pub on Friday night.

June 12
Oh yippee. The seller says that he can't accept returns unless it's a quality issue. Well, yes. How about the item you sold me doesn't have the quality of being the item I purchased?

June 11
Bought laptop battery on ebay. Wrong battery was shipped. GAH.

June 10
And back to the safety of the Pale again...


June 9
Off to the wilds of Westmeath to The Garden Party.

June 8
I still hate python. That is all.

Left my phone at home. Jury-rigged a SMS forwarder for it, thanks to it sitting within bluetooth range of an internet-connect laptop. Gnee gnee. Of course, it's only useful until the battery runs out, which I suspect won't take too long with the bluetooth stack running intermittently.

June 7
Fiddling about with the phone somewhat. It seems I could in theory use it as an input device, since it's got full keypress event reporting.

Clerks 2 was kinda standard Kevin Smith fare for the first two acts (wordy, filthy, occasionally just plain funny), but the third act really pulled out all the stops and made the whole thing worth watching. Then again, I'm a sucker for the sort of sentimental stunts contained therein, so it may not be to everyone's liking. I did find some of the cuts to be distracting (such as the Dante/Randal argument at the back of Mooby's); the fact that I'm noticing cinematography rather than following the story is usually a bad sign. On top of that, the whole "Jay Does Music Videos" bits were pretty pointless.

More iTunes annoyance: it appears I can choose between "iTunes can find your iPod" and "Windows won't give a Drive Not Found" error. I've no idea what's causing this, and the recommended solutions don't appear to be working. It's a minor annoyance, to be sure, but it's still an annoyance. Maybe I should get a Mac...

June 6
Finally got around to applying QTFairUse to my one and only iTunes-purchased track (Tori Amos' Crucify). After a few false starts (it wants iTunes shut down to back up the files, but running to do the conversion; it doesn't seem happy with the iPod syncing while it's converting) I wound up with a shiny new m4a file which plays on whatever the hell I want to play it on. This is how music is supposed to be, dammit.

Of course, I should probably check if this is one of the tracks that Apple will allow me to "upgrade" to non-DRM for a small fee, but hey, I've already done that for free.

June 5
More python coding. What do you mean, I need to import a library for <arbitrary function> - isn't that part of the standard built-in stuff? Why not? Gah, redux.

Totally fixed the hell out of my wipers. Well, got them operational again. I suspect parts will need replacing in order to effect a more permanent fix.

June 4
Bank Holiday Monday. It rained. Gah. Someone please fix the weather.

June 3
Finally visited the much-blathered-about Dundrum shopping centre. It's painful for me to get to it, the entrance to the carpark is, rather perversely, on one of the narrowest roads in the area, and my wipers broke just after I got inside the carpark, which made for an interesting drive home in less-than-dry conditions. Still, I came away with a shiny new pair of Nike Air Pegasus running shoes, since my current pair are a bit weak in the cushioning department.


June 2
Once again my Samba domain is all screwed up. I tried nuking the entire thing (since it's, like, a "PDC" and whichever of the other two machines I remember to join to the domain) and recreating the config from scratch, but I can't for the life of me seem to get winbind working properly, and that's the one part I really want. Hopefully the rest of it is working well enough to reactivate my crappy RVP server, however.

A History Of Violence is, unsurprisingly, quite violent; it's slow to start, but pretty compelling once it gets going. Worth a look.

June 1
Spent all day learning Python. Bitten twice by the stupid indentation thing. Seriously, anyone who tells me this helps you write clearer code is getting a thumping.

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Waider
June-o what? It's midsummer!