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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

October 30
Dangerous Parking is another in the long line of movies that I have no idea why I rented, but this is a good one. Ostensibly the story of an alcoholic movie director, it's spiced up with voice-over sarcasm and assorted messing around with chronology and reality. The end result is sad, occasionally gross, rude, and overall, funny throughout - even the sad bits. Definitely well worth a look

October 29
While reading the collection of references in ISC's DHCP server, I came across RFC 4388, being a description of the DHCP leasequery process. The short version of this, if I'm reading it right, is this: I have a dhcp lease. I am participating in a network conversation of some description. My lease renews, my IP changes, and the router which was sending traffic to me asks the DHCP server where I've gone. This seems rather a nifty feature to have, but I'd never heard of it up until now despite tinkering with this stuff for several years. The power of reading docs, eh?

October 28
Nambu continues to be flaky. Two basic problems: it seems to create a shadow on screen larger than itself (and possibly cause such shadows to appear for other apps), and every so often it claims to be unable to write to its own database, which causes it to go into a CPU-chewing, fan-spinning sulk. I am suspecting a 64-bit-related bug (e.g. my file pointer just got inconceivably large and suddenly became a negative number) and since they're currently in private beta for the next version I've started looking around for a replacement.

October 26
The TED people appear to have updated their podcast such that it no longer works on my iPod. Bah.

October 25
As I look forward to another week of my body clock trying to figure out what time it is, and various teams in the office cope with the fact that time has shifted here but not in the US, I find via a post on the Unix Timezone Database in Jon Udell's blog the following gem:
From Paul Eggert (2001-03-06):
Daylight Saving Time was first suggested as a joke by Benjamin Franklin in his whimsical essay "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light" published in the Journal de Paris (1784-04-26). Not everyone is happy with the results.

Thanks, Ben.

Apparently part of my Perl-vs-Fink woe is caused by Fink unilaterally declaring affinity for 32-bit systems over 64-bit, which breaks the linkfarm tool thusly: the system default is for 64-bit, but Fink modifies the shell environment via /etc/profile.d. All good so far. The problem is that when I invoke the linkfarm tool from Emacs, it bypasses the shell environment stuff and goes straight to a 64-bit shell attempting to read a Storable file that was created by the 32-bit Perl, and kaboom. Fixable, but irritating. Gratifyingly, John Gruber (a man far more Mac than me) encountered the same problem recently, so I don't need to feel so bad.

October 24
Playing with keyboard navigiation in Javascript for the RSS toy this morning. I assure you that there are perfectly good reasons for me to keep hacking on this when I could just use Google Reader, there just isn't enough room in the margin to fit them in.

October 23
I seem to recall a review of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer which said, "it does exactly what it says on the tin: there's a Mummy, a Tomb, a Dragon and an Emperor." And that's all true. It's nowhere near as good as the previous Mummy movies; it's a bit flat, they've dropped some of the cast, they've tried to do the passing-of-the-torch-to-the-next-generation routine, there's a cheap hook for another movie, there's an even cheaper attempt to explain why Rick's wife is no longer Rachel Weisz (or that's what it seemed like, anyway); in summary, even regarded as a bubblegum movie this is a bit disappointing. It's not terrible, just not something I'd be inclined to recommend.

October 22
For the record, the Fink stuff is mostly back in order, as long as I remember to run my perl scripts using /sw/bin/perl5.8.8 instead of as-is. And as long as I remember not to put /sw/lib/perl5 into PERL5LIB. Grr.

October 21
It's kinda stupid of me, but I didn't realise that the Palm's Favourites application actually updates based on, er, which applications are your favourites - i.e. the most-used applications gradually bubble to the top of the list.

Speaking of the Palm, I noticed that it wasn't doing the sync-with-iLife thing any more, and investigated; apparently Apple have gotten tired of Palm's failure to update the Palm Desktop for Mac from a PPC application (two major versions behind the Windows binary, at that) and dropped support. So, despite jwz's frequent complaints about what a piece of crap it is, I've installed Missing Sync, because the alternative is to hack something together out of the old pilot-link bits, and frankly I left that behind years ago.

(Obviously the real alternative is to get an iPhone, but let's be realistic here, eh?)

I restored Nambu to working order by ditching the entire set of prefs and support files from my home directory and restarting it. For some reason when the login page appeared, it was out of focus. Bizarre.

October 18
The X-Files: I Want to Believe is little more than an extended TV episode, with pretty much no references to the previous movie other than a prevalence of snow. As episodes go, it was a bit ho-hum, and had the feeling of a low-budget made-for-TV effort rather than an actual, y'know, movie.

October 13
Ran into some sort of 32-bit vs. 64-bit hassle with one of the Perl modules in Fink, which also appears to be what's causing the linkfarm toy to bail out. So, I'm attempting to work around the absence of all my favourite packages from the 64-bit release by rebuilding them all locally. This is, of course, made more interesting by the fact that a lot of the packages are also not built for Perl 5.10 (MacOS 10.6 standard), but for Perl 5.8.8 (MacOS 10.5 standard).

This isn't helped by some of the 64-bit packages also being horked, dammit.

And then a bright and shining light was shone:
twong:~ waider$ arch
# what the...?
twong:~ waider$ system_profiler SPSoftwareDataType | grep 64
64-bit Kernel and Extensions: No
which led me to an article which says Snow Leopard will boot to 32-bit mode by default. Ok, back to the coalmine.

October 12
Speed Racer is another movie that I saw some of on a plane; about the last ten or fifteen minutes. It's actually a whole lot of fun, although the amped-up shades of red in some of the scenes were making my eyeballs vibrate, I think. The comic relief of kid and monkey was a little overdone, and there was some missed potential to use them as heroes of the moment, rendering the scene where they run wild in the factory little more than a distraction. Oh well. At least the Wachowskis didn't try to write any romantic dialogue. The movie's worth watching, but it's an odd combination of kids' movie and action movie. It certainly looks like it'd make a great video game...

October 11
I've had the Snow Leopard (i.e. OS 10.6) DVD for more than a week, and finally got around to installing it last night before heading out for the evening. Inspecting the results today, I find: Fixes as I figure them out: fink basically needs to be reinstalled, since I was running a CVS release and the in-place update apparently only works from a point release. On top of that, the 64-bit version is more or less wholly populated with packages I don't want, and the ones I do want aren't available yet, so back to 32-bit land with that.

GrowlMail gets fixed by installing, running the GrowlMail uninstaller, then installing again.

Linkfarm problem turns out partly to be the fact that I stored the data using Storable, which is sensitive to platform architecture, Perl version, and probably moon phase. Even after fixing that it's still broken, however; I suspect something like implicit character encoding when reading from a command or some such.

No idea what the Time Machine issue was; I've switched it from AFS to SMB to NFS so often I can't remember which route it was taking any more, but it's taking the NFS route now and appears to be constrained only by the fact that it's ultimately landing on a drive connected via a USB 1.1 interface with a 12Mbit/sec top speed, and the upgrade is looking for me to do a 20GB backup. So that's gonna be running overnight, I guess.

Further Fink cleanups provided by realising I'd forgotten to re-enable the unstable tree when I reinstalled it from scratch; this appears to have fixed a whole lot of what I was missing, although there are still a bunch of unsatisfactory things like modules that haven't been rebuilt for Perl 5.10.

October 3
I abandoned the airplane cut of The Wrestler, as it was very obviously butchered to make it "safe", so it was interesting to see the full-length version. Not sure how keen I am on Aronofsky's love of the follow-the-actor point of view, but the movie was quite engaging.

October 2
After much fun and games, I got Time Machine working on my non-Apple-Approved network storage (a USB drive hanging off the back of a Cube, of all things); the thing they don't tell you in all those guides to making it work is that backing up 40GB of data to a relatively slow medium is going to kill your laptop for a couple of days, particularly network access.

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And 2009 went where?