Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

April 27
Booked my NCT, finally. My choices were either 8 weeks from now, or "a cancellation tomorrow". Opted for the former as there's no way I'd have gotten myself in order for the latter.

April 26
Back from Boston. And you didn't even know I was gone!

(Which, incidentally, is the reason behind the problem I was having with the anchors and dates not matching on this page; apparently the elisp I hacked up uses different methods to generate the anchor and the date. D'oh.)

On the plane back, I watched two and half movies; one was The Spirit, which was so hammy that I think my sinuses were filled with bacon by the time it was over, and that was the airplane cut, too; the second full movie I watched I can't even remember the name of, but it was another one that was on my "wouldn't mind seeing but don't want to rent" list; and the half was Cadillac Records, which actually looks interesting enough to rent out and see the uncut version of.

April 23
The NCT site is now down to telling people to use the phone line only. Fabulous service, this.

Bananaz is a little like Gorillaz: I enjoyed bits of it, but a lot of the time I wasn't entirely clear on what was going on. The low volume level of the documentary as presented by whichever "no, WE'RE the future of Internet Video" website is currently hosting it didn't help. Still, interesting to see some of the creative background to the band.

April 22
Aha. Despite bundling a library for the P2K stuff, it seems moto4lin has its own embedded version of the same thing. The question is, why does it work when the p2kmoto library doesn't?

April 20
The Department of Transport recently indicated that cars without a valid roadworthiness cert would incur three penalty points for the registered owner of that car, and five if the car proved to be unsafe. Shortly thereafter, the NCT site put up a notice on the front page saying people might experience delays on the phonelines due to the increased volume of calls. Shortly after that, the website was reduced to just the notice - everything else, including the online booking facility, has been removed. I guess Access databases really don't scale that well...

Curiously, despite the fact that I can't make the test program work, the moto4lin binary appears to be happily functioning. This is mildly annoying and requires further investigation.

April 18
After a few false starts, I got a newer libusb built; the major stumbling block was that the Fink autoconf installation seemed to be having trouble with the AC_LANG_CPLUSPLUS macro; replacing it with AC_PROG_CXX solved the problem, but I'm not clear on why this is, and trying to debug anything autoconf-related makes my head hurt.

Anyway, even with the new library in place, the P2K calls are still timing out. I have no idea what's going on here.

April 17
I reactivated my account on Twitter in order to try it out as a newsfeed and follow updates from people I'm interested in. I'm using Nambu as a client, and it's pretty slick, but... some of the feeds I was hoping to make use of don't quite seem to get the point. You've got 140 characters in which to put, let's say, your news headline; additionally, if you're a news-publising organisation, you'll want to squeeze in a link to your "original" story, using one of the URL-shortening services. Of the feeds I picked as a starting point, I ditched CNN when the first updates I saw were about some daft "collect a bunch of followers on Twitter" contest, while far more newsworthy things were going on; the Irish Times, RTÉ, and - much to my surprise - the BBC feeds all appear to be repackaged versions of the RSS feeds, which means that the "teaser text" for the story is frequently truncated, usually mid-word; and the New York Times feed appears to steer in the opposite direction, using short, pithy headlines (occasionally including the name of some section of the paper or site, presumably for context) which ultimately serves to underinform me.

I think I'll go back to relying on RSS feeds. I'm not hip enough for this technology.

(And now I find an update on the RTÉ feed that has the URL truncated, so you can't actually chase it back to the original story. Choice.)

April 16
Odd. For some reason the elisp I use to maintain this page has started inserting the wrong anchor tag for the daily entries. Although as I type this I think I know why.

Spent some more time today fiddling around with p2kmoto, which is a library to talk to Motorola phones in P2K mode; the version bundled with Moto4lin had the beginnings of OSX integration in it but it was incomplete. I've been tooling around with trying to make it work, and having fixed the basic problems (such as the fact that the OSX version of libusb doesn't appear to have a way of telling the kernel to get the hell away from a given USB device) it's failing on talking to the device after switching it to P2K mode. I'm not entirely clear why. There's an updated version of the 0.x release of libusb available independant from the main libusb site; there's also a 0.x compatibility layer with the libusb 1.x release. Obviously what I need to do is install one of these and then get distracted by some other abandoned project.

April 14
Redid the OpenVPN stuff using TLS keys, after I found my CA key from my old server (hurrah for backups). I was going to set up a bridging VPN, but (a) the HOWTO doesn't have anything that addresses MacOS directly and (b) there was a non-zero chance of me knocking my server off the net through incautious configuration, so I left it be.

Semi-Pro is the sort of movie my Dad would call "harmless". Mostly, the laughs are giggles or chuckles, although there are a few places where it gets funnier, and Will Ferrell is mainly playing his "overwrought dumb guy" character. Not worth renting, but probably worth sitting around for if it shows up on TV.

April 13
101 Reykjavik was mildly interesting, but I was mainly looking out for locations that I'd recognise from my trip to Iceland in 2006. And I did find some. The movie's an oddball sort of thing, full of quirkiness and a repeated cheesy instrumental cover of The Kinks' Lola, but enjoyable for all that.

April 12
Spent some more time fiddling with the MP3/Perl stuff, and came to the conclusion that the code I'd wanted to use (a Perl wrapper for ID3lib) is essentially unusable because it's wrapping ID3lib's C interface which isn't quite comprehensive enough, and it'd be easier to rewrite the module entirely than to try and coerce it into something wrapping the C++ interface. I also recall attempting this before and abandoning it, but that was possibly because I was too slack to read up on how to deal properly with Perl's internals.

April 11
Happy birthday to me!

April 10
Found a bug in mailman.pl whereby it ran out of files, because I wasn't calling finish() on the object returned by parse(). This might well make the script perform better, too.

Been experimenting with OpenVPN - I used have a PPTP setup but that went away when I moved my server to the Cube. I got a VPN working this morning, and immediately decided to download the Tunnelblick client; disappointingly, it doesn't appear to work with static key configurations, and more to the point it fails silently.

More movies: Wall-E is excellent, in only the way Pixar can be, and I definitely want to see it again; The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice is absolute rubbish, but I watched it anyway; and I gave up on The Wrestler after about an hour in because the version I was watching was very obviously cut, so I'll put it on the wishlist for something to watch on DVD later.

April 9
Hacking on phone backup toys again, which inevitably means arguing with someone else's Perl for handling mailbox files. I think I've managed to kill the major annoyances in the Mail::Folder::Mbox module, which has been unmaintained for most of the time I've known about it and is probably deprecated in favour of doing things more cleverly, but it's code I know how to work with so I tend to stick with it.

Wall-E was a lot of fun.

April 7
Watched V for Vendetta again. Yes, they tweaked the storyline, and put in some Hollywood ick, but I still really like this movie.

April 5
Burn After Reading: not as funny as I was expecting, and in places jarringly violent, but on the whole an enjoyable movie.

April 1
Ireland played Italy at soccer tonight, and came away with another glorious draw; it really wasn't a reflection of talent or anything else but pure chance. Not that that's stopping the pundits from lionising the greens again.

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