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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

January 27
SourceForge got hacked. Ouchee. Mainly this affects me because that's where Fink is hosted, and I can't say I'd be enthused about pulling system-level code from a compromised server.

January 21
Serpico was good, particularly for being made so soon after the end of the events described in the movie, but suffered one minor problem in my eyes: too much story and/or mismanaged pacing. Essentially I felt that the film's tendency to have vignettes of slow-paced drama with months or years between them was a little disorienting, particularly when there were few cues to the fact that time had shifted forward dramatically across a scene change. I don't want to be spoonfed the timeline, but a hint or two here and there that Time Has Passed wouldn't have hurt. Still, a good piece of work and worth seeing.

January 18
After 15 years (!) I've finally decided to change my domain registrar; should this website or my email vanish over the next few days (a) you'll know why and (b) GMail works.

Of course, this is fraught with "humour"; the email advising me of the transfer process is a misformatted multipart/mixed with an attached RTF document that has a typo, and the Irish Domain Registry's whois server directs you to a missing web page when you try to expand a "person" NIC record; and the registrar's site wants me to upload a scanned doc but won't accept it if it exceeds 5MB, which it doesn't tell you until after you've tried to upload. I should probably at least point out the first to the relevant people.

January 16
Funny People mostly fails on both counts. The main problem with the movie is that it doesn't have a clear idea of what sort of movie it wants to be, and the secondary problem is that it spends over two hours trying to figure this out. Yes, there are laughs, yes, there are a long line of impressive cameos, but really, there isn't a movie that I'd recommend you watch. Which would seem to be a fairly crucial thing to be lacking.

January 15
The Interpreter was decent enough. Good plot, well executed, but I can't say I cared much about (note, "about", not "for") the much-hyped detail that it was filmed in OMG THE ACTUAL U.N. BUILDING. In the movies, where, to quote Warren Ellis, "every planet in the known universe [looks] like Vancouver", actual physical shooting location is kinda unimportant. Anyway, that's hair-splitting nonsense, the movie itself is worth a watch.

January 12
New Moon: the continued tales of a whiny teenager who makes incredibly poor decisions. Another terrible movie: too much slow motion (again), dragging dialogue (again), and possibly one of the worst cliff-hanger endings ever.

January 11
Finally finished one of the books that's been dragging on my reading list for the last several months. The "original" King Arthur collection of stories is not exactly great literature, and I can see why people would write abridged versions and polish it up and what not before offering it for general consumption. Of the remaining two books on the list, Darwin's Origin of Species and Mueller's The Burghers, both are poorly written, but at least the former has some historical context and some actual structure. The latter is basically a collection of poorly written articles, so not only is it unpleasant to read, it also repeats itself a lot, so you get to the unpleasantness multiple times. I think I need to read something a bit more fun next.

January 9
Part of my continued attempts to move stuff off the Cube and onto the Mac Mini included running into a bug in id3info, which I can't currently trace because debugging a libtool-built piece of code with gdb is too damned annoying, and doing so on MacOS is doubly annoying. In addition to that, there's a bug in MP3::ID3Lib which I should perhaps look into, too.

January 8
At least part of the book version of The Iron Man appeared in a schoolbook of mine, probably during primary school. Before watching the movie I could remember, vaguely, a description of a tractor bitten in half, and the robot reassembling itself. Watching the movie, it came back to me that the boy's name had indeed been Hogarth, but I can't remember much else about the book so I've no idea where the movie departed from it. It's good, though, and makes me want to go and dig up the book again for comparison if nothing else.

January 7
Another rewatch: Wall-E. Nice to snag it off BBC HD for that extra bit of resolution!

January 6
I picked up a refurbished Mac Mini server just before Christmas to take over from the Cube, and I'm finding the MacOS X Server Tools to be a mixed blessing. It's really nice to be able to edit mount points and such (although I couldn't get it to update the NFS exports file and resorted to doing it by hand), but the DNS and DHCP editing leave a lot to be desired. I run a split-view DNS for historical reasons, and the DHCP server inserts forward and reverse records into DNS, and there doesn't appear to be a useful way to get the Server Tools to duplicate this setup. Which is fine; I can just copy the files across. But my concern is that the Server Tools will at some future date decide to stomp on my custom config. I've been looking around to see if there are any docs on how to write new service plugins for the Server Tools, but I've not found anything as yet.

Kinda funny that Apple Product Security emails are signed with a PGP key, which Mail.app doesn't support natively, instead of S/MIME.

I read the first Twilight book about a year before I became aware of the hype surrounding it, and didn't think it was anything other than a bit of fluffy fiction. Twilight the movie is, on the other hand, actively bad. Full of terrible dialogue, excessive slow-motion, voiceovers - even the "highlight" of the vampires' appearance, the whole sparkling-in-the-sunshine lark, looked like rubbish. I couldn't recommend this even if the source material wasn't flawed.

January 4
Installed the Skype v5 beta for MacOS. Not impressed with the new layout as it wants far more screen realestate to just site there with a buddy list.

January 3
When I was a young and impressionable lad, I read a story in Reader's Digest where God spoke on the radio and as proof of his identity, he submerged the entire continent of Australia for a minute. Or caused it to be submerged. You get the idea. Being young and impressionable, I took this as reporting rather than fiction, and at some point found myself in a classroom vigourously insisting that God had, in fact, submerged Australia, while the bemused teacher (the headmaster of the school, as it happened) tried to talk me out of it. I can't say I recall being embarrassed by the whole thing; I think at the time I was ultimately convinced that I was right and he was wrong, and by the time I figured out my error it was all well in the past.

I mention this on account of the current quasi-submerged state of said continent. Anyone heard any deities on the radio recently?

(Actually, "quasi-submerged" is probably wildly inaccurate, and reflects my reading only the headlines associated with the current state of Oz rather than digging into the articles)

January 1
Inadvisable stunt sysadmin to start the year: log into box, switch to root, then update the UID of the user you initally logged in (including chowning all those files). There will possibly be a "Fix Permissions" episode after this...

Well, that worked surprisingly well. Although I did reboot the machine just to be on the safe side.

I didn't actually know there was a Hulk "reboot" (what a terrible term), but I rather enjoyed The Incredible Hulk, not least because of the tie-in to Iron Man that pops up at the end (a small but well-done detail). There are a few ropey bits in the movie, but it's the sort of flick where you don't much care about those because the rest of it works well enough.

Also went to the cinema to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; I'd seen a few comments along the lines of "meh", but to be honest, this delivered pretty much all I expected. I had one or two minor gripes about what appear to have been editing choices (such as the fact that we don't learn explicitly why the Potter crew go from referring to Voldemort by name back to referring to him as "You-Know-Who", even though it's hinted at in the Lovegood scene) but on the whole, I enjoyed this and am looking forward to the conclusion.

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