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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

December 29
P.S. I Love You could have been awesome if it had maintained the pace of the first half-hour or so; yo-yoing between raucous laughter and heart-breaking sadness so fast it was hard to keep up, and some wickedly good dialogue, especially Lisa Kudrow wandering around the wake chatting guys up (the punchline of that particular gag was excellent), and Harry Connick Jr. (brilliantly cast against type as the unshaven socially-inept is-he-or-isn't-he love interest) saying the most inappropriate things for every occasion. Unfortunately, it came off the rails in a few places, and I really thought that William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was both poorly cast and far too smooth a character, although the perception of smoothness may well have been a side-effect of the casting. On the whole, a good movie, but not as good as it could have been. Oh, and bring a tissue. Or maybe a box of 'em.

December 26
FINALLY figured out how to make CVS run in anonymous mode under Apple's launchd, with a chroot - which is the bit that all those tutorials out there seem to be missing. The key is that in order to support the inetCompatibility option, you need to include the launchproxy program in your chroot environment. With that in place, it all works exactly as it should.

December 25
Merry Christmas and all that. Wound up my day with a rewatching of Pi which really is an excellent piece of work.

December 22
Well, that was entertaining: my phone crashed while I was on a call, and instead of doing its usual trick of power-cycling back into operating mode, it kept crashing a few more times before coming back. Thank you Motorola's quality control department for that fine user experience.

Added bonus crap software: it got stuck sending a text message. Sheesh.

Another in the series of "Why did I want to rent this again?" movies: Flashbacks of a Fool. It seems to be lacking that most essential of movie components, an actual plot. As best I can tell, it's supposed to be a sort of regretful-flashback movie (hah, cunningly the word "flashback" is even in the title!) but really it's sort of "intro; childhood sequences; coda" with no real sense of parallels, narrative, lessons learned, or whatever else you'd expect to find in such a movie. On the whole I think you can safely skip this one.

December 21
Watched the second half of Gone With The Wind (we cheered when Rhett delivered that line), and the first half of The Longest Day (who made up this Christmas schedule? "I know, let's put a grim wartime movie set in the middle of the year on during Christmas!") before driving across the country. I've been travelling, you see.

December 20
So I think the pitch for Mojave Moon went like this: "There's this scene, see, with Angelina Jolie in a shower, topless." "SOLD!" "don't you want to hear the rest?" "nah, you can just make it up as you go along". An utterly bizarre movie which despite being part of the Daily Mail's Rom-Com collection appears to have neither Rom nor Com, and is pretty much a complete stinker. Although admittedly I did giggle a few times.

December 18
Glengarry Glen Ross: lots of swearing, and a hell of a cast. Worth a look, although be warned that it's all about the dialogue as the action and characters don't really go anywhere.

December 17
Closing the Ring: the schmaltz goes up to 11 on this one. And the paddywhackery is way overdone. Not a bad story, but totally overcooked in those two respects.

Shivers is another one of the movies Ruadhrí loaned me, and I think the critic who ripped Cronenberg for this one with an article about how taxpayers had funded it (via the Canadian Film Board or some such) was right to rip it, but not on account of its gratuitious nudity, typically Cronenbergesque gooey F/X, or the fairly poorly shot violence: no, just because it's crap. Well worth missing.

And the second-last from Ruadhrí's pile: 12 Angry Men, an excellent piece of work that would have been made just that little bit better if Lee Cobb hadn't spent so much time being MR. ANGRY DAD. Definitely worth watching, despite this.

December 16
Continuing to shuffle things around: the ext3 partition on the external drive is now a HFS+ partition, and the Cube has been shuffling bits from the DOS partition to the HFS+ partition overnight. As soon as that's done, I'll reformat the DOS partition as HFS+ as well, and that should conclude the partition-shuffling.

Also discovered I'd left my CVS setup incomplete; that's now mostly fixed, although I still haven't restored the anon-CVS stuff - I spent an hour or so last week trying to determine what libraries I needed in order to set up a working chroot environment, got it working, then went off and did something else instead of actually enabling the thing. I have a vague idea that I wanted to see about making a proper launchctl file for the CVS server, and possibly bundling the whole thing up in a Fink package.

Powered up the old webserver to see about diagnosing the crashes it's been having; it consistently crashed on kernel load! So now it's running Memtestx86+ to see if there's anything amiss with the RAM.

John Carpenter's '80s classic The Thing was on the box, so I took a break from the comic stylings of Messrs. Fry and Laurie for some old-school schlocky horror. I believe I last saw this particular movie in the mid-to-late eighties; it's aged pretty well, even the rather gruesome F/X.

December 15
Woo, shiny new Mac software updates. Time to bounce the server...

December 14
Ruadhrí loaned me the entire collection of Jeeves and Wooster; while it occasionally tends towards the sort of cringe-inducing humour that I really don't care for, it's generally pretty good, the theme music is excellent, and the funniest thing is seeing "Dr. House" playing an upper-class English twit. Definitely worth a look, although given that it's several seasons over several discs I suspect I'll be a while watching it yet.

December 11
Chromophobia: how can a movie go on for over two hours, and still leave loose ends? It's an ensemble piece, not unlike Crash, but nowhere near as engaging. It's not particularly bad, per se, just overly long and didn't interest me a whole lot. Oh, plus I didn't really like the "WE'RE TELEGRAPHING SOMETHING HERE... HA HA FOOLED YOU!" trope that occurred more than once.

December 9
Well, the Cube is a little stressed, but it's running; I think the main problem is actually lack of RAM, since it's only got 320MB. Maybe I'll upgrade it for Christmas or something.

Be Kind Rewind: the premise is a simple one, and Jack Black isn't one of my favourite actors, but the third act of this movie really won me over - particularly the final screening, even though it was telegraphed pretty well in advance. A nice little bit of schmaltz, as long as you can put up with Black doing his usual over-the-top routine.

December 8
My stunt iTunes abuse appears to be working, at least in as much as that dropping the XML file into the new server, deliberately trashing the binary file, and then firing up iTunes seems - so far - to have not caused any major explosions or outbreaks of flame. Once it's finished doing its gapless playback analysis, I get to see if it's preserved track ratings and play counts, which appear in the XML file and so should be retained.

Of course, then I'll discover that the Cube doesn't actually have enough muscle for iTunes, a website, a mailserver...

December 7
So, the Cube is now sitting tidily (more or less) inside the cupboard where I used keep the old server. It may yet move from there; the only noise the Cube makes is disk activity, and the wooden base of the cupboard creates a resonance that amplifies that quite a bit. I'm currently attempting to migrate my iTunes library to the Cube, doing which without losing play counts and track ratings is a needlessly awkward experience - why does iTunes provide an export option, but no import option?

Other amusement: the display's USB port apparently provides enough juice to run a keyboard, mouse and outboard hard drive, but not enough to run a keyboard, mouse and iPod. I'll try plugging the keyboard and mouse into one of the other USB connectors when the current round of iTunes silliness completes, and see if the display USB port is any better then. Oh, and the other USB connectors are apparently USB 1.1, which means iTunes tells me I really should use a better connection. Of course, there's a pair of firewire ports on the base of the Cube...

December 6
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead: not bad, but could definitely have been tightened up in places, such as the first scene inside the drug-dealer's apartment. I figure there's a taut 90-minute thriller hiding inside this movie; instead it's taut in some places and drags in others. Still, as I said, not bad.

The opening shot of the guy in the pool at the start of Sunset Boulevard triggered a memory of some sort, and I was intermittently bothered by what it was for the entire movie - had I seen this before, or at least started watching it? Did someone else do a perfect copy of the scene? Eventually, about 10 minutes before the end, it struck me: When Brendan Met Trudy opens with Brendan face down on the street, in the rain, with a voiceover and a similar bit of dialogue. Anyway, Boulevard is an excellent piece of work for the most part, although for some reason I didn't buy Holden's speech to Betty at the end - it seemed out of character, and I couldn't really tell, much like the Bogie movie last weekend, if he was being serious or not. Do watch this movie, though: it's the origin of the "All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my closeup" line, so you should catch that if nothing else.

December 5
Bad Lieutenant: another 96 minutes wasted. Gah.

December 4
Amores Perros: love's a bitch. That's just a translation of the title, as opposed to a comment on the movie. It's quite the piece: pretty visceral in places (enough so that I was cringing for bits of it in empathy with a character's pain), some fantastic music, and a complex time-shifted plot that I'm still not entirely clear I got straight in my head. Worth a look, but not exactly for the squeamish.

December 3
Neglected to add Key Largo to the list of movies watched over the weekend. Wonderful stuff, although just a little hammy in places. And I couldn't figure out if Bogie was supposed to be faking disaffection or genuinely felt it.

December 1
Well, that's bizarre. Since I took load off the crashy server, it's become even more crashy. Anyway, you're now reading this (hopefully) off the Cube, because the crashiness has gotten overwhelmingly stupid.

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Wow. Christmas is almost here.