A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.
- September 30
- On a whim I shut down the laptop completely, and lo and behold,
the recalcitrant USB port has sprung back to
Taxi (1998) is a much, much better movie
than the useless remake I watched on the 16th. Surprisingly (to
me, anyway) much of the storyline is the same. The traffic-light
sequence made no sense to me, though, given that the drivers
appeared to be ignoring the lights anyway, and the peugeot sounded
like it had been overdubbed with the engine of a Formula 1 car,
but this is another "you gotta see this"
- September 29
- Did some long-overdue hacking on the Big Secret Movie Thing that
I've been playing with for the last several years. It's mainly
secret because the code is awful and fragile. Plus it does a lot
of website scraping which usually upsets
Hot Fuzz: awesomely good. Much like
Shaun of the Dead, it's a pitch-perfect homage/spoof of a genre,
in this case the Buddy Cop Movie. The cast is pretty astoundingly
good, too - Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, Bill Nighy, to name
three - and the plot, well, who cares? These movies are never
about the plot, and even this gets spoofed. The only complaint I'd
have is that some of the cutting in the action scenes was too
fast, rendering them something of a blur, but that's pretty
minor. You really have to see this.
- September 28
- So it appears I've killed (in some unspecified way) the USB port
on my poor beleaguered laptop, probably when I plugged a
power-hungry device into it. As a result I'm looking for PCMCIA
cards that provide USB ports. And the main problem I am having
with the available selection is that most of them come with the
ports integrated into the card, meaning the card has a bulky
protrusion that won't allow me to use my wireless network card at
the same time. The only cards I've found that are "flat"
are on sites in the US, and I'd prefer to stick with local
shipping if at all possible.
The website from which I scrape my TV listings has altered the
page layout, so that's another script that needed
Shortbus didn't quite end up where I
thought it would, but I enjoyed the ride, if you'll pardon the
pun. It's not for the squeamish or the prudish, but there's a
sizeable chunk of romance at the heart of it all.
- September 27
- Stopped into Lou's (relatively) new gaff to check it out. It's
- September 26
- Mom visited, so I could explain techie stuff directly instead of
writing about it!
- September 25
- I've noticed a couple of times now that my laptop gets in a bit
of a state, flipping randomly through workspaces without me being
able to interrupt it. I'm not sure if it's because I was trying
out Komposé, which is a nifty toy to show you all your
running applications side-by-side. This time around when the
laptop got confused, I had to log in from another machine and
restart the desktop. Which, while it stopped flipping around
randomly, has become confused as to how things are laid
out. Nothing too crucial, just mildly annoying.
- September 24
- Still recovering from my little running excursion. By which I
mean "lounging on the sofa not doing a whole
- September 23
- So the problem with the Palm toolset is this: normally, you can
extend long lines of source code by putting a backslash (\) at the
end of the line. The compiler treats this as an instruction to
glue the subsequent line onto it, thus rendering
problem is that the toolset is using an older version of the C
compiler which doesn't understand this notation in certain
situations. I don't know if this is a violation of the C
specification or what, but it's certainly annoying, since the
particular sequence of bits that triggers the bug is present all
over the version 5 developer files. So, step one is to see if I
can patch around the problem, and step two is to see if I can
upgrade the toolset to a more modern compiler. Step three, the
fallback, is to fix the version 5 developer files to not have this
particular layout, but I'd rather not have to do
Ok, that's marginally less annoying: the problem appears to be
that the files are Windows text files rather than Unix text files,
so in theory I should just be able to convert the files easily and
shazaam, job done. I still want to fix the toolset,
Bobby is a bit over-complicated and drawn
out, but interesting enough nonetheless. Interesting use of
archive footage of RFK rather than (for the most part) using a
double, but it's a bit jarring when the movie switches from
whatever the latest in chromatic technology is to 1968-era film
and back again; I think it might have worked better if they'd done
one of those "digitally aged to look like the original
footage" jobs. I also thought it was a bit odd that the
bystander victims in the shooting didn't correlate with the
real bystander victims; were the real ones not cinematic
enough or something?
Accidentally rebooted the laptop, by which I mean I yanked the
power cable and the battery, for some reason, didn't take up the
slack. Gah. This was the whole point of me getting the
- September 22
- So today I ran 13.1 miles in 1:43:57 (official time
pending). Boy do I hurt.
Found an older version of the busted files from the folk at
Palm. Actually, I'm no longer sure who's responsible. Most of the
old Palm developer links on the web wind up on a site for Access
Company, which in turn points at developerpilion.com; meantime,
there's a new developer section on Palm's website which doesn't
appear to correlate in any meaningful way with the Access Company
one. Oh, and whatever old logins I had for this no longer
work. But I digress. Installing version 4 of the Palm-sourced
files instead of version 5 results in me successfully building one
of the demo applications, so definitely the problem is that the
tools don't like the newer files. Now I need to figure out what
the actual problem is. Or not, in fact. Since my own Palm V runs
version 4 of the operating system, I don't have a real need for
the version 5 files.
Now, what was I going to do with these tools again?
- September 21
- Ok, so Palm Pilot dev tools, take #2. Or #3. Or maybe
#24,184. Maybe this is why the Linux-on-Palm effort died out - all
the tools are broken. Or maybe it's just that there's cooler stuff
available to work on...
Contact (1997) was on TV, so I figured
I'd at least leave it switched on, since I remember watching this
when it came out, possibly in the cinema or possibly on DVD some
time afterwards. It's not bad.
Ok, so data point: the pre-built PRC tools fail in the
same way as the ones I built myself, so it's not a problem with my
own efforts, it's a problem with the tools themselves. Actually,
the problem appears to be specifically with some files provided by
Palm themselves which the tools don't like. I wonder if I can lay
hands on an older version of same that actually works.
Ok, so I think I've identified the problem, but that's not to say
I've fixed it. Time for bed, I have a bit of running to
- September 20
- After further poking at the code and some fetching of bits via
Google, I appear to have a working compiler for the
Hmm, I spoke too soon: it's not quite working. I'm getting a
peculiar error, in fact, that makes no sense to me. Oh well, guess
I'll leave it for another night.
- September 19
- Continued trying to assemble working tools for aforementioned
Palm Pilot coding. After various attempts at fixing broken things
myself I did what I should've done in the first place, which is to
go to the PRC
Tools website and dig out the last unreleased code, since the
released code is waaaaay out of date.
Well, that was slightly more successful, but still not quite
Started fiddling with an idea I had for regaining control over the
eleventy-million images I have all over this website, only to have
an image-processing library (ImageMagick) crash on me. That's no
Ah. Turns out I was being a bonehead. D'oh.
- September 18
- Decided once again that I want to try writing a few bits and
pieces for the Palm Pilot. Getting together the relevant tools for
this is essentially a wild goose chase through various websites to
figure out who last touched any of it and what actually
Did the minimal thumbnail/index thing with my Rome
- September 17
- Met up with Lou for coffee and chat.
I'm not sure how I convinced myself that Smokin' Aces would be worth
watching; maybe it was the somewhat all-star cast or
something. Shame on me, it turned out to be pretty crap, with
about zero redeeming features.
- September 16
- Rebooted my main server to pick up an upgraded kernel. In the
process discovered that it won't run Xen kernels, presumably
because it's not a real Intel system (it's a Via C3). My vague
plan-shaped thing was to run it as a Xen system with separate
virtual machines for mail, web, etc. but I'm not even sure the
hardware is beefy enough for that.
[Guide For Mom: Xen is a modification to Linux that allows running
multiple "virtual computers" (virtual machines, or VMs)
on a single physical computer. In other words you get the same
effect as having three or four computers even though there's only
one actual computer present. Useful for keeping things
like a webserver and a mailserver separated from each other
(essentially they behave as if they're on wholly separate
machines) or for testing things when you're short of
Taxi is, ah, pretty awful. Jimmy Fallon
is utterly unbearable, and the only redeeming features are the
car chases and the bike run at the start (think "parkour with
a bike across New York"). Don't bother with this - see if you
can get the chases as clips on youtube or something.
- September 15
- Mostly fiddling with the code I use to back up stuff off my
phone. It's pretty much gotten to the point where I need to rip it
apart and start from scratch now that I know all the ways I can
get it wrong...
- September 14
- Some time ago I added some configuration to my laptop that would
cause it to load up the bluetooth system when I plugged in my
bluetooth interface, and unload it when I plugged said interface
out. Just now while checking for something else in the system
message log I noticed an error from the startup process: the old
setup used allow you to configure a script or action whenever a
bluetooth PIN is required, so that you could have a pop-up
window requesting you to enter the PIN or whatever. Not only is
this no longer a configuration option, but I can't trivially
locate either the point at which it was deprecated or the intended
replacement. I suspect I'll have to unpack a pristine bluetooth
configuration and see if there are any hints there.
[Guide For Mom: bluetooth is a short-range radio network for
connecting things like mobile phones to computers, or car-phone
kits, or phone headsets without using cables. In order to give
some semblance of security, you can set up bluetooth so that you
need to enter a password (PIN) of some sort on both the phone and
whatever it's connecting to. Usually, you only have to enter this
password the first time you connect two devices together, so not
having a pop-up window for the purpose isn't as much hassle as it
might at first seem.]
- September 13
- Did the tourist thing a little, and then flew home again.
- September 12
- Attended a wedding. Congratulations, Georgina and Dalton!
- September 11
- Flew to Rome.
- September 10
- More classics from my cellphone provider's billing application:
Total Unbilled Calls
Evolution's stability continues to impress me: what more can I say
about an application that, on startup, has some arbitrary
component of itself crash with no trace of what went wrong?
I found Watch
The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid (google video link)
pretty fascinating, particularly since I've been a fan of the KLF
for a long time. As far as I'm aware this isn't not the actual
movie they made, it's a documentary covering the lead-up to and
follow-on from the event. The burning itself is quite banal: Jimmy
and Bill standing on either side of an old fireplace, tossing
handfuls of £50 notes into a blazing pile of, well, more
£50 notes. More interesting is their own reactions and the
reactions of others, and the debate over whether it's art
or not. Strangely, no mention is ever made of the fact that it's
actually a criminal act, and the end of the documentary seems to
imply that, nudge nudge wink wink, it was all a publicity stunt
for their next single, an idea which clearly irritates Bill
Drummond. It's worth a watch, if you've got an hour to
Swimming Pool doesn't seem to
have much plot beyond some flimsy excuses to have Ludivine Sagnier
wandering around in little to no clothing for the duration. Can't
say I'd particularly recommend it. I will note in passing that the
French movies applied reasonably well, despite this being a
Belgian movie. Especially rule 8 (water, check; murder,
check; family, check; art, check).
- September 9
- Poking at my mobile phone again. Seems that in order to load it
up with useful applications that can do things like access the
Internet without asking you every time if it's okay to do so, you
need to have them approved by Vodafone. Or you can delete a
particular file off the phone, doing which apparently stops the
built-in applications from working. Bah. This is what
happens when you let a decades-old monopoly design your
Not exactly a stellar sporting weekend for Ireland: dragged to a
2-2 draw in soccer, and looking decidedly dodgy against the
opposition in rugby - we beat them pointswise, but there were a
lot of very silly mistakes.
- September 8
- Went to see Knocked Up at the local cinema,
something of a change from my usual DVD watching. Excellent movie,
with some really good gags and a touch of schmaltz to keep the
closet romantics happy.
- September 7
- Watched most of Kingpin, which, despite some fairly
obvious bad jokes, is actually rather a good movie.
- September 6
- Quiet night lounging around doing, as we say, feck-all.
- September 5
- Well, I ordered it back in May, had the wrong item delivered,
argued with the vendor, returned it, waited, complained to the
vendor some more, and now I finally have a replacement battery
for my laptop. Hurrah for something or other.
Briefly investigated swapping my instant messenger client
(currently XChat with BitlBee) only to
discover my choice of alternative (Pidgin) uses more memory, which
was the specific thing I was trying to address.
- September 4
- Shaft (2000) isn't a bad cop movie, but
the dialogue is positively awful in places. I don't know if this
was an intentional attempt to riff off the original movie, but if
so it really didn't work - even Samuel L. Jackson couldn't save
it. And I'm completely passing over the fact that not
once did the bad guys even put a scratch on Shaft,
despite several close-range firefights. On the whole, it wasn't
terrible, but don't rush out and rent this or
I should probably remove the bits in my Emacs startup file for the
version of Emacs I used use in Motorola some, er, 13 years
ago. Last time I checked, that version of Emacs wouldn't even
compile on any of my Linux machines.
[Guide For Mom: Emacs is an application I use to edit text such as
email, software, this diary, etc. When you start it up it reads a
file containing assorted commands that are generally intended to
customise its behaviour to individual tastes - for example, my
particular setup figures out how big the screen is and then sets
the Emacs window to be as tall as possible within the screen's
height. I started putting things into this file in college and
have brought it around with me from job to job ever since,
accumulating more and more bits along the way. One of the things
I've had to cater for is changes in the application from one
version to the next, or even within the same version but depending
on whether I'm running on Linux or Windows. As for the last
comment, well, compiling is where you take the
"human-readable" version of a piece of software and turn
it into the version that the computer runs (also sometimes
referred to as "building"). The version of Emacs I
started out with stopped building on Linux - due to changes in
Linux - somewhere around 2000, I think.]
I'm not sure if there's supposed to be some sort of message in Secuestro
Express, maybe "it's ok to be rich if you don't rub it in
the face of the poor", or maybe "it's ok to kidnap
people who have more money than you". Hard to say, between
dialogue and narrator (actually more of a chorus) but hey. It's a
slick enough film, lots of jumpy cutting to accentuate the
on-screen action, and probably at least worth a look.
- September 3
- Had a flood of spam due to the spam filter dying on my mail
server. Further investigation revealed that the automatic updates
system had decided it was taking ALL the memory, so everything
else was getting killed off to make way for it. Bah.
- September 2
- Back in Dublin. Still sore.
- September 1
- Off to Tramore/Waterford for a stag party. Paintball, meaning ow
ow ow bruises...
Happy Birthday Donal!
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