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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

August 30
Happy Birthday, Lou!

August 29
Spent some time reading and experimenting in order to make some display changes to the RSS toy; in the end, I came to the conclusion that there isn't an in-line way to do what I want to do with SQL, and that I'll either need a more complex database query or a bunch of post-processing. Mainly, I'm hampered by the fact that GROUP BY on (unique column, non-unique column) is picking the first non-unique it finds when I'd like it to pick the last, and changing this behaviour appears to require me to apply a temporary table or similar.

August 28
I'm not sure why I rented Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, but it wasn't a complete loss. It's kind of your average action movie featuring vampires versus werewolves. Not a whole lot more to say about it, really.

August 27
Just noticed that I completely failed to mention the 10-mile run I did on the 15th. My time - 1:14:24 - was the worst I've done over the distance by about a minute, but I felt a lot better about it than I did about the 5-mile last month. On top of that, some more seasoned runners said the windy conditions made it a bit tougher than it otherwise would have been, so maybe I've got mitigating circumstances on my side. My stopwatch time was 1:14:15, and according to the site there was zero difference between my chip time and my race time, so I'm more inclined to believe my own timing on this one. Roll on the half-marathon next month!

August 26
Thunderbird try, fail:
Warning: There has been an error reading
  data for calendar: [Calendar Name].  However, this error is believed
  to be minor, so the program will attempt to continue. Error code:
  READ_FAILED. Description: 
/usr/lib/thunderbird/run-mozilla.sh: line 131: 17553 Segmentation
fault      "$prog" ${1+"$@"}
Minor error, eh? This explains why my Thunderbird session has vanished every morning, but the underlying question appears to be "Why does the calendar disappear from Google Calendars periodically?"

August 25
I've only recently gotten around to reading the books (I'm on 6 of 7), and I've only ever seen one of the movies. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets isn't a bad rendition of the story, but it's a bit clunky in places - some of it is just poor delivery on the part of the actors, and some of it is jarring cuts (or scripting, perhaps) such as when McGonagall explains to the class what the chamber is supposed to be, when an in-character McGonagall would have told Hermione to stick to the lesson at hand. Plus, it's LONG. I mean, this is one of the short Potter books, and the movie is a two-hour epic. The net result? I'm not sure I'd recommend it beyond any interest you might have in seeing how the books transferred to film.

August 23
I'd forgotten some of the details of Donnie Darko, most notably the fact that they cycle en masse to Grandma Death's house in a scene that seems vaguely to be mocking the escape in E.T.... This one's in my collection, so that should tell you what you need to know about my opinion of it.

August 22
Kicking and Screaming was a good deal better than I expected for a Will Ferrell movie: Ferrell's over-the-top "I am a man-child" routine is irritating when it's out of context, but here he mostly keeps it reined in and delivers a pretty entertaining comedy.

The Visitor is a charming and sad tale of illegal immigrants in the US, although a bit predicatable in attitude. The relevant govenment branch (ICE? what's that?) is dutifully portrayed as capricious and evil; the immigrants are, of course, completely faultless (aside from being illegal), talented, intelligent, and utterly likeable; and there's the helpless American caught in the middle who discovers how badly it sucks to be an immigrant (and, in passing, discovers himself somewhat). It is well made, for all that, and worth seeing.

August 19
Zack And Miri Make A Porno surprised me. You'd expect that Kevin Smith plus a movie with "porno" in the title would equate to something that dwelled a little overmuch on the seedy side of life with a bunch of rapid-fire dialogue to point out the bits you'd missed, but no, it turns out it's actually a pretty straightforward romantic comedy. Yes, it does have the rapid-fire dialogue, and it's not exactly squeaky-clean, but it is funny, and sweet, and somehow it all actually works.

August 10
Today's site outage brought to you by apt-get dist-upgrade. I did not do this.

Transporter 3 was, frankly, disappointing. It's like they took all the bits that made Transporter 2 weak, and added more of them. To review: the first movie was a no-nonsense action movie which starts out with the hero in a ten-minute car chase. The second movie had "character development", but still started with the hero in a fight, followed by a car chase. The third movie starts with the hero... fishing. I kept expecting the car chase (which was cut into the fishing shots, and was barely shown at all) to end with the car dropping into the water next to our fishing hero, but no, the point of the hero fishing was that he was... fishing. That's it. At the end of the day, this is a very, very average action movie, and while it's not so bad you should avoid it, it's not exactly a must-see either.

August 8
Step Brothers has Apatow's typical too-much-information toilet humour, but aside from that turned out to be a pretty good movie. It's not high art, but it's good for a laugh.

August 7
Fixed the MBNA code. Finance::Bank::IE 0.17 should appear on various servers.

August 4
MBNA appear to have rolled out a new website, which (predictably) breaks the Finance::Bank::IE stuff. Annoyingly, the only material change appears to be to move the password onto a separate page. Apparently this somehow "better safeguard[s] the privacy and security of [my] personal information". If you can explain how, please email me as frankly I haven't a clue how this is supposed to be an improvement.

August 3
Had some dealings with Windows Vista and its "are you sure you're the person who just asked me that question" security boxes. Wow. How insanely annoying.

August 1
Happy ninth birthday, Geek Diary.

Needless hassle figuring out why my tunnel to a MySQL database wasn't working: if you use localhost as the hostname, it helpfully defaults to a local (filesystem-based) connection instead of a TCP connection. Specifying is enough to fix this, however. Now I need to see what sort of persistent connection I can set up (I'd rather not use SSH tunnelling if I can help it; a cert-locked stunnel instance would do nicely).

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Wettest July on record, and no improvement in sight.