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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

October 30
The Other Boleyn Girl kinda lost me at about the half-way point where Henry VIII is portrayed as being completely beholden to Anne Boleyn in the face of a split with Rome, etc. (however true it may or may not have been, here it's presented in a pretty heavy-handed fashion) - in other words, not really a movie I'd recommend.

October 28
Resting after yesterday's silliness. Created a quick hack to grab Perl modules from CPAN and generate a bare-bones Fink info file for them.

October 27
Ran the Dublin Marathon today. Well, ran, walked, limped, etc. Go me!

October 26
I think I'd have much preferred it if Sweeney Todd wasn't a musical; I know it's based on Sondehiem's musical rather than the penny-dreadful classic, but still. I would've thought there's enough meat (ha!) in the story to make a non-musical version. Good enough, I guess, but really the whole musical end of it kinda spoiled it for me. About halfway through I started looking up the story on Wikipedia, checking IMDB trivia, etc.

October 25
The Bucket List is the sort of movie that writes itself - there're no surprises (well, one small one, maybe, when the identity of the mountain climber at the start of the movie is revealed) and it's probably the sort of thing that Freeman and Nicholson could do in their sleep, but it's not bad for all that. I think Hawks might have been a better movie along the same lines, but it's been a long time since I've seen that, so I could be imagining it.

October 23
The Cube is now running a version of this website inside my little home network; I've encountered a few issues related to the fact that everything is a version or so older than I've been using - Apache 1.3 instead of Apache 2, a correspondingly older mod_perl, and so forth - but I don't quite feel like running amok and upgrading those just yet. There've been a few more niggling problems related to the differences between Linux and MacOS, such as how to make sure the Fink Perl extensions directory is included in the default Perl include path. Still, it's looking promising. Once the webserver's working adequately, I'll revisit a Fink package for SpamAssassin, since I'll need that for my mail server... the upside of all this gratuitous nerdery should be that I can replace the multiple humming fans in the corner with a single box that just makes occasional disk noises.

October 20
Spent more time than it'd have taken to do by hand fiddling with some code to tell me how much tax I owe on share grants made last year. This is typical nerd behaviour, obviously. And the typical caveat of "but this means it'll be much faster/easier next year" doesn't apply because I pretty much stopped fiddling with the code once I got the (rather scary) number I need to put on the relevant form. Which, you know, is online so if I were sufficiently dedicated I could automate all this stuff... also it's kinda neat that I was randomly running various shell and Perl commands in a couple of windows without realising I was switching between MacOS 10.5, MacOS 10.4, Fedora Core 6 and Red Hat Linux 7.3.

October 19
Spent random bits of the day attempting to get the Cube set up to operate as my web server. Also watched The Matrix on a whim; it's still a good movie, even after almost 10 years.

October 18
I'm going to have to read Pizzeria Kamikaze again, because I've no idea how it compares to Wristcutters: A Love Story. It's a funny and romantic movie, and surprisingly lighthearted given that all the characters are de facto suicide victims. Tom Waits is as usual on top form, and the running gag about the black hole underneath the car seat was excellent, too. Worth a look, although I'm not sure I like it enough to buy it.

October 16
Feast of Love is a very uneven piece of work. For the most part, it's just an average slice-of-life sort of movie, but there are occasional moments that are deeply poignant, or funny, or romantic. It's a shame there's not more quality to the movie, because I really did enjoy the good bits. Also of note: the Oscar-winning song from Once makes an appearance, as does Jeff Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah.

And since my comment on Jumper the other night was pretty oblique: it's hard to expand on it without giving away bits of the plot. The premise is good, although not without flaws: our hero can teleport. At some point you find out that (a) there's a bunch of people who aren't happy about this - homicidally so - and (b) there's a bunch of other people who can teleport. Add love interest, and you've more-or-less got the story. Except someone decided to introduce a Buddy late in the movie, and then not really use him for anything. And the love interest bit is handled really poorly where the hero is doing the I Have A Secret That I Can't Tell You routine; she's basically a cardboard character, a prop for a few scenes and the excuse for the grande finale. I think the fact that it's again an uneven movie (because parts of it are quite a lot of fun) plus the whole Suddenly A Buddy Arrives bit is what makes it seem like a far longer movie than it actually is.

October 15
Evidently Fedora Core 6 is finally so far out of support that it's no longer on the Fedora website. Since August 28th, in fact, although I'm pretty sure yum was working more recently than that. Gah. I really should get around to updating that one server... mainly I'm annoyed that I can't seem to find a legacy repo to connect to - all Red Hat's EOL Linux releases are avaialble on archive.download.redhat.com, for example. Fedora appears to get no such service, alas.

All that aside, I'm somewhat disappointed to discover that even after redoing the XMLTV code using XML::Twig to do progressive non-memory-hogging parsing, it's no faster than before - it takes 9 seconds to parse about 480k of XML data on the box I serve this data from. The Mac does it in under a second. I think I'll need to try this out on the Cube, which I've been considering using as a server since I got it.

October 14
Dependency Hell: redemption obtained. For those not keeping score, the reason I drew attention to the aforementioned Hell is that it's a frequently-cited (and generally false) argument against using RPM, generally supported by fans of Debian's deb/apt packaging system. Guess what Fink uses?

Got briefly distracted with trying to bundle SpamAssassin into Fink, then went back to what I had intended, which was to fiddle with the TV listings stuff now that I've got an up-to-date XMLTV installation.

October 13
Gah, the Fink prepackaged XMLTV stuff is for an older build of Perl. As, incidentally, is the Fink prepackaged Perl/Growl interface. In trying to fix this I wandered into what the RPM-haters refer to as Dependency Hell...

October 12
Spent some time fiddling around with the toy I use to generate TV listings for myself - basically it turns someone else's website into an XMLTV file which I then feed to another Perl script to generate various views of the listings. My version of the XMLTV Perl bundle is a little out of date and I really need to figure out how to cleanly wrap it up as part of, say, Fink so that I don't wind up with arbitrary binaries scattered all over my poor Mac. I still can't believe there isn't a proper integrated package management system. I think Linux has me spoiled in that respect.

Hah. As soon as I start reading up on how to built a fink package, I stumble across a note that Fink does have xmltv bundled already. What's not stated is that you have to be running the unstable tree to get it.

October 11
Jumper wasn't as bad as I'd been told, but it was definitely in need of some polish. For some reason it feels a lot longer than it actually is, too. I suspect this could have been a far better movie with just a little more effort.

October 9
Cashback is your typical "boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy develops insomnia and the ability to freeze time" story. Ok, maybe not so typical. But it is absolutely fantastic. It's funny, it's witty, it's sexy, it's clever, it's gorgeously shot and equally beautifully scored. The only jarring part is the oddly-placed "sinister strings" moment where it's revealed that Boy isn't the only one who can do the time-freezing thing, but the hinted-at darkness doesn't really develop and it just winds up being a bit daft. Cut that bit, though, and this is just 100% excellent. I sense a shopping spree in my near future.

October 6
It's described as a musical, but Once is more like an extended music video with interstitial conversations. It's a fantastic piece of work; I was initially a bit skeptical - since it seemed to be more a showcase for Glen Hansard - but about fifteen minutes in when Markéta Irglová starts in on the harmonies while they're in the music shop, I just got completely lost in the movie. Trying to pick out the locations was fun, too - part of it was filmed not far from where I live (along the Vico Road), although it looks like they flipped the shot for reasons I can't fathom - perhaps the director felt that he wanted both Bray Head in the background and a driving left-to-right shot. The studio sequence was just perfect; the disinterested engineer who starts paying attention as the song picks up, the assorted silliness in the montage, the trip out to what looks like the beach on North Bull island... I suspect I may wind up buying this. Definitely worth seeing, even if you don't like musicals!

October 5
If there's such a thing as an anti-action movie, Garage stands a good chance of being a defining example of the genre. It's extremely well made for what it is, but it didn't particularly appeal to my desire to see things explode while some invincible lead character cracks wise... someone on IMDb referred to this as a tragicomedy, I'd say it's more of a tragedy with an extremely light sprinkling of comedy, most of which revolves around the naivety of the lead character. Hard to recommend this movie based on my usual criteria, but it's certainly an interesting - and accurate - slice of Irish rural life.

October 2
Bad Company was on the box. Seen it before, kinda liked it, and yes, it definitely holds up to a second viewing. Not good enough to buy, but certainly plenty fun.

October 1
Ratatouille was a whole lot of fun. Good story, good gags, animation as beautiful as you'd expect from Pixar - so good that it doesn't get in the way of the story. Well worth a look.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights has been on Sky 1 repeatedly for the last week or more; it's fairly typical Mel Brooks fare: none the worse for that, but not earth-shattering stuff. Worth a look if you've nothing better to do.

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"Where I come from, johoba is the month after September"
- Billy Connolly