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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

February 28
Watched Dead Man and Intolerable Cruelty from my vast DVD library. The former is a quirky Jim Jarmusch piece with a a surprisingly long list of "name" actors, and Gary Farmer's Native American is a hoot. The latter is classic Coen brothers, with George Clooney doing an absolute star turn as a highly successful divorce lawyer who may have met his match. Both well worth seeing.

February 24
All I can say about Scrubs season 7 is, "damn you, writers' strike". Eleven episodes instead of twenty or more, leaving a big hole in what we'll loosely refer to as the "plot". Oh well, roll on season 8.

February 22
I saw My Cousin Vinny in the cinema when it was released, and my abiding memory of it was that the entire cinema was laughing so much at the first half-hour or so that we almost missed chunks of dialogue. Re-watching it on my own some seventeen(!) years on, I'm not sure I can even pick out the bits that caused so much hilarity, although I'm guessing the double entendre-laden conversation in the jail had a lot to do with it. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie the second time around; it's a solid piece of comedy courtroom drama, and definitely something I'd happily watch a few more times.

I downloaded VirtualBox, Sun's entry into the VM arena, some time back, but for some reason it had trouble with a Fedora installation, failing at the DHCP stage every time. I've just now installed the latest version and it's successfully churned its way through a Fedora 8 install quite happily. Now to figure out if I've actually got a use for it, or if it was just something I wanted to tool around with in lieu of clearing down various to-do lists...

February 21
Doomsday is a reasonable apocalyptic movie; nothing special, sprinkled with plot holes (why do they bother with full-on environmental suits when they don't have an airlock in the APCs?) and - as you'd expect from the guy who made Dog Soldiers - lots of splatter. Whiled away my Saturday afternoon nicely, but I wouldn't say it's one to rush out and rent.

One of my coworkers loaned me In the Shadow of the Moon, a documentary about the Apollo programme told by some of the participating astronauts. It's not bad, although it's a shame they couldn't have persuaded Armstrong to appear in it. Mike Collins would, I suspect, make an entertaining storyteller for the entire thing all by himself - very expressive, funny, and self-deprecating. Nice little touch at the end where they got each of the participants to address the question of the landings being faked; I do like the story I heard about Aldrin punching someone who confronted him with that some time in the last few years! Worth a look if you're at all interested in the moon landings. Also, there's about an hour of extra footage on the DVD that's in some cases better than what they included in the main feature.

February 20
I started watching The Brylcreem Boys during the week, and only got around to watching the rest of it tonight. It's one of the many movies that was so long in coming to me via the rentals queue that I'd forgotten why I'd added it to said queue in the first place; within about ten minutes I was giggling at Gabriel Byrne hamming it up as the commander of No. 2 Internment Camp during WWII. The paddywhackery is strongly played up, and Jean Butler of the original Riverdance performance takes a turn on the floor at the local céidlídh, but it's easy to forgive the clichés as intentional fun. Well worth watching.

February 15
Ok, that's just freaky. I took the CPU fan off the crashy ITX box because it's sufficiently aged and worn to make grindy noises, and the box stopped crashing. I will be quite peeved if it turns out the magical fix I couldn't find was simply to disconnect the damned fan.

February 12
So if you take an action movie, and remove anything that isn't an action sequence, you get Shoot 'Em Up. It's pretty ridiculous, the dialogue is crap, and it's just not as good as The Transporter which went for a similar all-action style but actually carried it off. I have no idea why Clive Owen would sign up for something as bad as this, but I guess he has to pay the bills somehow. Not really worth seeing, but probably not so bad that it needs to be actively avoided.

February 9
While He's Just Not That Into You was less "chick flick" than I expected (not so many tearful/romantic/romantically-tearful scenes, basically) it was still definitely in chick-flick territory. However, it was also a lot of fun, and very funny in places, and there's a whole lot of "Wow. That is so true.". Not quite the female version of High Fidelity, but certainly in the ballpark.

February 8
Webserver backup solved in a really grungy way: a loop which just tries to remote-login and sync the files to my backup drive. The remote login has an activity timeout of 30 seconds so if the box dies (as it's continuing to do) the loop just kicks back in again when the box reappears. This is working surprisingly well.

Mainly being Mr. Domestic today, but I did watch a bit of the Scotland/Wales match, wherein Scotland threw away several near-misses in favour of being defeated by the visitors.

February 7
A "d'oh" moment: spent ages trying to figure out why the changes I was making to my mod_perl setup were having no apparent effect, before realising I should've been making the changes to mod_cgi's setup...

Spent some more time trying to figure out if it's possible to set up iSync to talk to my phone. Even the much shopped-around advice to take an existing Motorola iSync plugin and tweak it came to nothing.

Six Nations Rubgy is back! Half-watched the England/Italy match, in which a poorly-performing England beat a more poorly-performing Italy, and then was pretty much glued to the Ireland/France match in which both teams excelled but Ireland ultimately claimed victory. A good solid win to start the tournament, let's hope we can keep it up.

Further attempts to try and make the old webserver stay running long enough to copy files off look to be doomed to failure. It's rebooting fairly reliably on network access at this point. On a hunch, I tried disabling the onboard ethernet and sticking in a PCI card, but it didn't even get to the login prompt before crashing.

Southland Tales: great music, seriously awful movie. I mean, parts of it almost approached "so bad it's good" B-movie territory.

February 5
Apparently adding Google Gears to my browser should get me GeoIP-based location support. Except, well, it didn't, and it didn't even give me an error message; it just quietly failed. Not a very impressive result, really.

Back to trying to get my Apache 2 setup working on the laptop, so I can hammer out the bugs before putting it onto The Cube. Got my RSS toy up and running fairly quickly, and it's actually rather speedy when not quite so hampered by having the database and the webserver competing for scarce resources. On the whole it looks like it should be a fairly clean drop-in replacement for the existing setup. I've set the relevant Fink builds running, which is probably killing the webserver somewhat right now.

Also, I am mildly irritated to discover that MacOS 10.5 comes with a command-line tool for investigating which bits of software belong to which package (pkgutil), but 10.4 does not, despite using (as best I can tell) an identical file format for the relevant data.

Huh, odd "feature" in Apache's logging: if you define a logging format using LogFormat, and you misspell the name of the format either there or on the subsequent CustomLog line, all you get in the logging is whatever word you put at the end of that CustomLog line. Discovered on laptop rather than server, at least (server is still building things).

February 4
Had a look at Google Latitude. Not supported in Ireland, and surprisingly apparently no GeoIP support. Pressed a few buttons and possibly sent "Please Join Google Latitude" to a whole bunch of people, so sorry if you got one of those, I'm trying to figure out how to cancel all of them. Sheesh.

My usual candidate for Best Customer Service Ever (which admittedly is a fairly easy contest to win in Ireland) is ScreenClick, aka Them Wot Sends Me DVDs In The Post. Today they sent me some promo email for their sponsorship of the Jameson Film Festival which, to the best of my recollection, is the first time they've sent me something that could best be classed as spam. A shame, really. The bigger shame, however, was that the unsubscribe link - run via a company who I'm not linking to as they're an email marketing firm and that's not something I support - was broken when I tried it, perhaps from the flood of irritated customers attempting to unsubscribe. Tut tut.

February 3
Trying to recopy some stuff off the old webserver - the one that successfully ran hardware tests for a day - and it's back to its old crashy ways again. Pfft.

The Spiderwick Chronicles was kinda fun. A bit like Inkheart in terms of target audience - young adult, essentially - and a little younger in storyline and theme, but I enjoyed the hour and a half it took to watch it. There's constantly a dark edge to it throughout, and what humour there is in it is coloured by this constant foreboding - and the humour is fairly skimpy, anyway. Worth a look.

February 1
The spelling mistake in the title of The Pursuit of Happyness bothered me when the posters for the cinema release were all over the place, but of course it's a reference to part of the story. The story itself is fairly predictable; I wonder how much it differs from the story on which it's based, as the version presented here is fairly standard Man Triumphs Over Adversity fare complete with moments of false hope and subsequent knock-backs. Nice way to while away a couple of hours on Sunday, but it's hardly must-see stuff.

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