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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

September 30
I'm not really sure what to make of One Way. For one thing, I don't remember putting it on my wishlist... anyway. It's disjoint, it misses at least one obvious scene (where does the General go at the end, eh?) and it feels like they weren't sure how to finish it so they kept tacking bits on. Not the worst thing I've ever watched, but not worth losing sleep over either.

September 26
Running once again fails to kill me: I've just done a personal best 1:37:06 half-marathon, and I could probably have shaved off that six seconds, too, but who cares? I beat my previous best, I ran far faster than I expected, and I feel great. GO ME!

September 24
Curses, MBNA have made another minor tweak to their layout which causes minor breakage to my parser. I've updated the Finance::Bank::IE code to cope, look for 0.18 on a server near you shortly.

September 23
I'm not clear on why people raved about Oldboy: it's an ok puzzle movie, but I found the antagonist's motivation to be pretty weak, and the ending was pretty disappointing. There were some nice humourous touches, but on the whole I wasn't particularly impressed.

September 19
I've been desparately trying to avoid picking up the Palm App Store as a new toy to play with, and I've not entirely succeeded. I spent a good deal of time in the last week playing with a file full of HTML and javascript test snippets trying to determine what the Palm T|X browser (Blazer 4.3) is capable of, and the frustrating answer seems to be "less than it promises". For example, it appears to have various Javascript functions to create HTML elements, an essential requirement for dynamic content, but none of them seem to work. It has IFRAME, but it doesn't seem like you can dynamically change its source (I've not yet checked to see if you can put a form into an IFRAME and use javascript to dynamically submit it, however). None of these are essential requirements for making a cleaner Palm App Store, but they're part of the chrome you don't notice on the iPhone store until it's absent - things like being able to append content to a search results page without page-flipping or reloading, or being able to dynamically update the search results based on what's being typed into the search box.

Anyway, I'm not going to do any more with this. Really. I'm going to channel the time into some other project that I've abandoned, like maybe making the RSS toy mobile-friendly, or something.


Finally I'm up to speed on Potter movies: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is probably the best of the series so far, certainly a whole lot better than I expected from the review I read in advance of the show. A nitpick: the title of the movie gets short shrift. Really short shrift. Disappointingly short, even. On the other hand, Snape gets to be a bad guy of substance, somewhat, and the horcrux-in-the-cave sequence is excellent. About the only thing I really missed was the battle at Hogwarts that leads to Snape's moment, which was cut in favour of a bit of dialogue. Worth seeing, all told, and I'm looking forward to the conclusion. Conclusions.

September 18
Watched Office Space again tonight. I've always felt that things get a little sloppy for a bit after they've found out how much the scam makes them in a weekend, before tightening up for the close; this time around it seemed less slack. Of course, I've lost count of the number of times I've watched this movie, so the familiarity might help somewhat.

September 16
And yet more Potter: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix makes a few major departures from the book, the only one of which I don't particularly agree with is how Umbridge finds Dumbledore's Army - both the person who gives it away and the means by which Umbridge catches them. Oh, and once again Snape's role is relegated to a minor one, and I'm really starting to wonder how he's going to get pulled back into centre stage for the last two three movies.

September 13
Spent the day doing an assortment of fruitlessly nerdy things: installing an old copy of Windows 98 in VirtualBox to get at some old backups, only to discover I had already unpacked them at some point in the past; poking around at a few Palm software sites to see if anyone else had tried a better App Store than the rubbish from Palm themselves (instead, I found a review that confirmed everything I'd already discovered); and spent a while following an endless loop of links related to getting a Mac talking to the innards of a Motorola phone, all of which boiled down to "this works if you do a silly little dance which noone has figured out how to automate".

September 12
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was definitely a further improvement on the series; again, the acting was better and the story tighter. I still feel that the continued playing down of Snape's role is only hurting the story, since he's supposed to be the wildcard is-he-or-isn't-he villain throughout the series, and there's barely been a hint of anything other than petty dislike for Potter since the first movie. Brendan Gleeson played Mad-Eye Mooney rather well, although I must admit that the eye in question was, well, questionable; and Ralph Fiennes as Tom Riddle was excellent, although I didn't much like the way they addressed the "nose flatter than a snake's" - it looked exactly like what it was, post-production editing. On the whole, though, this was worth seeing.

September 11
Having tooled around with the AppStore on an iPhone, I figured I'd see if there was anything similar for the Palm; there is, but it's lacking in the sort of polish you get from Apple which is really disappointing. No inline ratings. 5 items per page on search results and no option to change that. Non-uniform layout on the search results, so the list looks uneven (although this may be a Optimised Mode vs. Wide Mode thing; how hard would it be for Palm themselves to get this right?) The unstyled page (i.e. before the CSS arrives) looks awful. Needlessly large fonts. Even basic things are crap, like enforcing entry of a zip code in the User Profile despite the country being set to non-US. I think this is pretty clearly a swing and a miss.

Oh, and best of all, I found something I wanted to download, and the served MIME-type was wrong, so my Palm was unable to download it. Classic.

Wow, the failures keep coming; the search function doesn't return any results for things that are definitely in the catalogue, and the top "top seller" gives me a blank page.

September 10
Tropic Thunder was far better than I expected, given the presence of Jack Black and Ben Stiller; it was actually a pretty good comdey/action crossover, and I'd happily watch it again. Nothing earth-shattering, just a bit of mindless fun.

The Opera Mini experiment ended rather abruptly: either the JVM or the browser makes my T|X crash. Even when I'm not using the JVM or the browser. I will have to inspect the recently installed files to see if I can completely delouse it after this failed experiment.

September 4
Continuing my Potter indoctrination: as with the others in the series, I was interested to see what got left out of the movie conversion of The Prisoner of Azkaban. The immediate thing I noticed and felt was wrong was the omission of who authored the magical map; thinking back on it later, I thought Snape's role had been completely pared down from the book, to an extent that I thought was damaging in the larger story. Still, there's a definite improvement in the acting over the previous episodes, and this was a pretty good movie all told.

September 2
On a whim I put Opera Mini on the Palm T|X. It's actually pretty impressive, other than putting the Exit option in a really-easy-to-hit place.

A moment of "what the...": I looked at Vodafone's range of phones for pay-monthly customers, and saw something I liked, so I logged in to see about ordering it, and as an upgrade from my current option it's actually €40 more expensive than the "anonymous" price. I can't really make sense of this other than "screw you, customer!"

September 1
Happy Birthday, Donal

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