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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

June 30
Man, this weather is depressing. Rather than go to the gym or even out running as I'd intended, I pretty much spent the entire evening moping about the house doing nothing of significance. Where's the frickin' sunshine already?

June 29
Went to see... Tron at the Irish Film Institute with Lou, although we skipped out for food instead of attending Ken Perlin's post-show workshop. The screening itself was actually pretty underattended for such a cult/geek classic, and the film had obviously seen the wars as there was a lot of noise on-screen - particularly at the reel-change points. Still, a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Finished off my movie-watching weekend with Romeo Must Die which oddly enough I don't appear to have ever commented on before; it's quite a good piece of work, and what I hadn't previously noticed is that there's a giant musical spoiler around 54 minutes in if you know your Stanley Clarke music...


June 28
Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence is an absolutely perfect romantic comedy. Seriously. There's not an ounce of fat on this; it's edited down to exactly what you need and nothing more. I saw this years ago either at a friend's place or on TV, or possibly both, and was bowled over by how well done it was - despite the fact that I could rarely recall the exact sequence of names in the title. Anyway, I finally bought a copy for myself and it hasn't lost a single bit of its shine in the possibly ten years since I first saw it.

It appears that my Bank of Ireland online problems are actually some sort of browser-related nonsense - IE and Firefox both appear to work normally (or as close to normally as is possible - the site is a poorly built piece of junk even on a good day) but Safari and my little Perl modules are apparently excluded. More spelunking required. I've sent an email to their tech support about the fact that my primary browser is locked out, and it's not even one of those bleeding-edge whack-jobs that public-facing IT departments generally refuse to officially support... of course, this being a bank, their 24/7 website is supported by Monday to Friday staff, so I guess I get to spend the weekend trying to figure it out for myself. The main problem with that, of course, being the difficulty of tracing data over SSL streams.

Lust, Caution is sort of "Mata Hari goes East"; it's beautifully shot, and generally a well-done piece, but it's another two-hour-plus piece of work, and I really wonder why it seems to be so hard to make a "short" movie these days. Of course, as usual I am criticising without being able to suggest an actual fix, so take that as you will. Anyway, probably worth a look unless you've got an allergy to subtitled movies or something.

Further digging on the BoI problem reveals a few things:

June 27
I thought my Perl code for talking to BoI's website needed work, but I appear to be having exactly the same problem when using a browser - it keeps telling me that my session has timed out, so I can only assume that the site itself is at fault.

Moved my nameserver. Don't ask. Let's just say there's a bigger plan, but I hate plans.

Also did some experimenting with work-related stuff, despite it being a day off... never mind. I'll get over it.

June 26
There's already a tool out there to pull modules from CPAN and turn them into RPMs, but that didn't stop me from writing my own some years ago, and I keep adding bits to it as I encounter new and interesting ways in which to break it. So I made a few more changes to it today; cpan-to-rpm.pl (snappy name, eh?) is, as ever, sitting in the workshop.

Tonight was supposed to be a gym night in lieu of last night, but dammit the telemetry system was broken again. I did a little bit at the gym, but left after about half an hour. I have a day off tomorrow, so hopefully it'll be fixed. Adding to the annoyance is that I turned down a coffee'n'gossip invite to go to the broken gym. And I considered, and decided against, going to the sister gym in town to which I also have access as part of my membership. Gah piled upon GAH.

Lions for Lambs: isn't quite an anti-war movie; it's more a movie about how your choices affect your life, with the war in Afghanistan as an illustrative metaphor. Pretty good stuff.

June 25
Tonight should have been a gym night, but aside from being a bit worn out, I have an actual backlog of movies to watch. And so: Stardust is the second Neil Gaiman-linked work I've seen this year, and it's almost perfect. Robert De Niro as a gay pirate is particularly ingenious casting; the pretty girls are pretty, and the dashing hero is indeed dashing once he stops falling over himself. My only minor complaints about this are that aerial shots are used so much that you start noticing them (Ok, I get it. Rolling hills. Beautiful English countryside. Can we move on?) and the finale is a bit, well, flat. Minor quibbles, and a small price to pay for probably the most unconventional swordfight I've ever seen, and an excellent (and growing) chorus of dead princes. If you haven't seen this, you're seriously missing out.

Minor hacking (no, really!) on the chunk of Perl I wrote to scrape things off the Vodafone website; they've had a makeover recently, and the code I used to grab my phonebill wasn't working any more. Small change, and now it works. Hurrah!

June 24
Met up with Ruadhrí for drinks and chat.

June 23
Gym night. I remember when this journal/diary was full of geek stuff...

June 22
Lazy day observing a typical Irish midsummer: pouring rain, with occasional bursts of sunlight to lure you out into the pouring rain. The problem, I guess, with moving to some other place to get better weather is that you are instead exposed to stuff like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, or obnoxious tourists. Or all of the above.


June 21
So yes, I actually paid money to see Sex and the City. And despite the fact that it was far too long, I enjoyed it. The excessive length was caused by the fact that Everyone Had To Have Their Story (I presume this was the subject of contract negotiations) and so instead of a simple Girl Meets Boy, Boy Ruins Girl's Life, Girl Gets Support From Girlfriends, etc., you had a story for each of the four main characters. The whole thing was clichéd to hell and back, but what would you expect? Oh, and that Louis Vutton bag was hideous. Looked like something out of a clown costume. Please tell me this was a joke on behalf of the fashion-knowledgable on us simple denim-and-tshirt folk.

June 20
Web server spontaneously rebooted. I am again reminded that should upgrade it as it's a little, uh, out of date with respect to the OS version. Of course, what I really should do is turn The Cube into the web server. If nothing else, it'd be one less noisy fan in the house (although the webserver is largely a fanless machine anyway, with the exception of the totally overspecified power supply in the box).

June 19
I was totally good and passed up office beers in favour of a trip to ... who am I kidding? I believe the office has a mortgage on my liver at this point.

June 18
Yet more office drinks. Dammit. I'm supposed to be living a healthier lifestyle.

June 17
Downloaded the official Flickr upload toy for Mac. It's not quite how you'd imagine it if, say, Apple had written it, but they're too busy pushing MiniMe. Er, MobileMe. Yes.

June 16
Some drinks with visiting Seattle coworkers, one of whom knows far too much about the EU for someone who doesn't live here!

June 15
Parents departed.

Interview was recommended to me by a coworker, and it's a generally excellent piece of work. The moodswings in it are a bit manic, but the dialogue (and it's all about the dialogue) is generally excellent. Not quite sure about the ending, either - as a spontaneous move it didn't feel genuine, but hey. Watch this, it's good.

Land of the Blind is an odd piece, set in a country that seems at once contemporary and set in some completely different time, and is in places a little confusing as flashbacks, flashfowards and just random flashes cut into the storyline. It owes a lot to 1984, and various quips in the dialogue seem to have been trawled from the sort of "101 witty things you've only heard 40 times" emails that circulate on the internet. But having said that, it's not a particularly bad piece, and is probably worth watching as long as you don't actually put any effort into getting hold of it.


June 14
Gone Baby Gone: Ben Affleck in, apparently, excellent mainstream directorial debut shocker. Fantastic movie, if dark; beautifully shot and acted and all the rest of that. Well worth seeing, although you will need to pay close attention to the dialogue due to the so-thick-they're-sliceable Boston accents. Unless, of course, you live or have lived in Boston, in which case you'll be complaining that that's not how people theah speak at all.

Parents met the President... of the GAA. Also the real President.

June 13
Day off work. Exercised my laziness muscle. Parents arrived later.

June 12
Met Cathal for drinks, wherein funny stories were told.

June 11
Gym night.

June 10
Um. Seem to have missed a few days here. I seem to recall working late and then eating out, though.

June 9
No, I am still not buying an iPhone, even if they do come down to $200 (which I'm assuming will in fact use the magical exchange rate of 1 dollar to 1 euro instead of being about €130 at current exchange rates). I'd more than likely kill it somehow shortly before scratching it to an unreadable mess.

June 8
Retro hardware hacking continues. Basically I've got what is (I think) a custom Cyberguard VPN device, which is really a tiny Linux machine (160 BogoMIPS, 32k, two ethernet ports, one CF wireless card, a smidgin of flash memory to act as disk), and my crazy idea is to somehow graft it onto a cheapy 3com hub, thus allowing the hub to have such useful features as being a wireless client with NAT and DHCP and other things. Ideally it'd be a bridge, but NAT is actually sufficient for now. The really fun part of this is that it's a custom device, running a bunch of code for which I don't have source, so I'm having to reverse-engineer a lot of how it works. There's a web GUI, but it's not proving entirely useful; there's some sort of internal config that gets dealt with by one of the opaque binaries that then magically sets everything up. In theory I have an entire source tree that would allow me to rebuild the interesting parts, such as the kernel and a lot of the tools; in practice, my only means of accessing this device is over a functioning network connection, since it doesn't appear to have a serial console or other means of unscrewing it should I do a bad flash write or whatever. But just now I've got it up and running as a wireless client, happily forwarding packets to the rest of my network. I should be able to network-boot a device over this, although I may have to figure out how to disable all the iptables crap it comes with by default (as noted, it's supposed to be a VPN device, so the iptables settings are pretty paranoid). I should note in passing that the box I'm still using for a fileserver is 320 BogoMIPS plus 32k, so this isn't by any means an underpowered piece of hardware. And I have access to more of them, potentially. Fun, fun, fun!


June 7
Spent most of the day fiddling with some old hardware trying to make it do some new tricks. More successful than I expected, too.

June 6
Office drinks. Whee!

June 5
Having both seen and read 24-Hour Party People, I was already familiar with the Ian Curtis story, so nothing about Control was particularly surprising. It's a well-made piece, albeit a little over-long, and it's shot in black-and-white which really lends to the mood. The actor playing Curtis seems to pretty much nail the vocal performances, too, which is impressive. I'm still not much of a Joy Division fan, but I think watching this at least put the music a little more in context for me.

June 4
I spent most of the (damp) commute home coming up with reasons to skip the gym, then went anyway. Pretty wiped afterward, though.

Completely forgot about the Finance::Bank::IE fixes: I've bundled them up and pushed them to CPAN (although somehow I managed to lose track of whatever tool I used to do the upload to PAUSE last time...)

June 3
I notice that Irish Rail are finally offering mobile-friendly real-time train times, only about three or four years after I put a CGI script on my website to do the same thing...

When I joked in the office that Infinite Justice sounded like an American military operation, I wasn't aware that it was the name originally chosen for Operation Enduring Freedom before (apocryphally) someone realised it might be offensive to Muslims. Anyway, the movie seems to be based on the story of Daniel Pearl, and is quite an excellent piece of work - definitely worth seeing.

June 2
Yet another gorgeous day! Walked around for a bit, did some work on my bike, and generally kept with the non-computing theme. If this keeps up I think I may have to abandon the "Hacker's Diary" title...

June 1
Another lazy, sunny day. Rewatched Death at a Funeral in the late evening when the sun was long gone.

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Waider
Wahey! Sunshine!