Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

November 28
Pfft, I barely have the PTSB funds transfer code working and they update the site. Boo.

November 27
Thor is a bit silly, but essentially does what you'd expect: a bunch of stuff blows up, there's a bunch of cheesy gags (how many times can we knock out the big guy before it stops being funny?) and the dialogue is pretty much a bit-part player in the whole affair. Not must-see stuff, but whiles away the evening.

November 26
Recording here for posterity how I recovered the lost backup drive: Turn off all indexing (that basically means unloading com.apple.metadata.mds). For good measure, use mdutil to disable indexing. Use hdiutil to attach the sparsevolume and it might be recoverable with a simple fsck. If not, unmount it, then use hdiutil convert to clone it onto another drive. Two or three attempts to attach the cloned image eventually resulted in a recovered image, albeit with a bunch of files (looks mainly like bits of the TEX installation from Fink) in the lost+found directory. Nuke the old image, hdiutil convert the new image into the old image's location (possibly overkill), try to run Time Machine, note that it's tried to create a whole new image, stop Time Machine, open the whole new image, pull out the files that identify it as a backup for the machine you're backing up, drop those into the recovered image, and in theory you're all done. There were a few attribute-writing errors from the first backup, but it looks like it's all working at this point.

November 25
Well, that's vaguely amusing (I know why it happened, mind you: putting the laptop to sleep while it was doing a backup pruning operation):
Nov 25 07:16:26 twong com.apple.backupd[98308]: Backup failed because the destination disk was ejected or disconnected unexpectedly!
Nov 25 07:16:29 twong com.apple.backupd[98308]: Backup completed successfully.

November 24
iPhone now booked in for a service. If you want to reach me by phone, I'm checking my voicemail when I remember to, or you can use my work number if you have it. Failing that, I'm pretty much always near an email client.

I did a bit of epic filesystem twiddling and thought I'd finally managed to get my backup disk back together, only to fire up Time Machine and have it declare the whole thing null and void. Not sure what the problem is here, but it may be permissions related, or it may be that the disk image really was irretrieveably corrupt (although I can actually mount the filesystem now, which I wasn't able to do before) and I may have to just toss it.

Hmm, after a bit of futzing around it looks like I might actually have got it working. Permissions, copying a plist file or two from the new sparseimage it tried to make, and resetting the Time Machine prefs, and now it appears to be actually doing a backup.

November 22
Phone still dead, and as luck would have it I don't have another microSIM-using phone available, so right now if you want to get in touch try email. The lack of a phone since Sunday morning has been surprisingly unstressful, although admittedly I've got the iPad to provide random commuting amusement. It's just a shame it doesn't have an SMS app (it's downright weird, but also a shame).

November 20
Not a good day for technology chez Waide. The cat upended a cup of tea, which flooded over a couple of Apple power supplies and splashed my Otterbox-encased phone, which resulted in one dead power supply and, so far, what looks like a potentially dead phone. Aside from that, I made further attempts to fix my Time Machine backups only to discover, or perhaps cause, irretrievable damage; ironically, disktool suggests backing up what I can and reformatting the disk. Thanks, disktool. That aside, the hacked version of AirPrint I had managed to get working stopped, and no amount of fiddling will recover it, DNS once again did its "not forwarding TCP queries/responses" things, and to top it all off our UPC connection went into its usual catatonic mode at about 2am and stayed that way until I rebooted the modem at 8. AWESOME.

November 19
Chalet Girl: remember those movies you watched as a kid in the '80s, where the good guy gets the girl, the bad guy gets his come-uppance, everything works out happily, etc. etc.? This is kinda like that. There's no real bad guy, per se; the good guy is the good girl, but gender was never strictly adhered to in this sort of thing, and she's not entirely good. The whole thing is completely clichéd, including (as long as you watch the credits) Bill Bailey's expected happy ending; about the only thing I'd really fault this movie for is that the lead is occasionally just a bit too lippy, a bit like Juno. That aside, though, a good enough lightweight piece to distract you for 90 minutes or so.

November 18
Water for Elephants was fairly lightweight, and I was a little distracted by the lead guy being "that vampire dude" and trying to figure out if the other lead guy was "french guy from The Matrix" (no, but there's a resemblance). It's not bad, but it's not must-see, either.

November 15
Fiddling with PTSB stuff still. Should be about ready to post it, really.

November 14
Hurrah, iTunes Match is launched! Boo, it's not available outside the US :(

November 12
Got an email from Revenue advising me I needed to download their updated signing cert. It's another a self-signed cert. Are proper CA-signed certs really that expensive? Also, it might not be a bad idea to offer the updated cert over a HTTPS link to mitigate against man-in-the-middle attacks...

Big Fish (last watched October 16th, 2004) is still as much fun the second time through, and it's been long enough (seven years!) that I couldn't quite remember the details. Lovely ending, too, although I don't think it really needed the "and so I became my father" coda. Maybe that's for people who didn't quite get it from the preceeding scenes.

PTSB stuff now working well enough to manage funds transfers, but needs cleaning up and some tests. Tests! They're great, they are!

November 11
Source Code: despite the awful choice of title (in what way is it relevant that is meaningful to non-software people? in what way is it relevant if you are a software person, without stretching a metaphor to breaking point?) this is actually a pretty decent thriller. It has shades of Groudhog Day, 12 Monkeys, Run, Lola, Run, etc. and deals reasonably well with the Grandfather Paradox. More to the point, it's got an explicit ending rather than leaving you guessing the intent of the authors. Worth a look.

Wait, wait, wait. Now I've had a think about it. It's still worth a look, but I've realised there's a minor problem with the ending, which I can't really describe in detail without spoiling it somewhat, so I'll just say, "Who is the guy at the end of the movie?" There are a number of questions that follow from either answer to that (at least, I can only come up with two possible answers), and I guess it speaks to the movie's skill and sleight of hand somewhat that I didn't immediately notice the problem. There was a second thing I couldn't quite figure out, but I've managed to resolve that by thinking a bit more, and it gets filed under "Handwavy Science Words", so that's ok.

November 10
Just as I figured out what I was doing wrong with PTSB funds transfer, they took the site down for maintenance. BAH.

November 9
The spurious SSL error turns out to be from a newly paranoid https.pm, which wants me to either explicitly disable SSL cert verification, or install the Mozilla::CA module. I'm assuming this is a response to the Diginotar (and similar) incidents.

Since I was touching the Finance::Bank::IE code, I figured I'd start on implementing funds transfer in the PTSB module. I'm already looking at how I can merge the BoI code into this. Also, I recently acquired another online account which I should probably look at building out.

November 8
Weird. Same DNS problem again: can't do TCP queries against the Mac Mini from the laptop, iPad, etc. Reloading the DNS config is sufficient to fix it - I changed the log level from INFO to DEBUG, hit "Save", and everything started working. So something somewhere is periodically breaking this. Grr.

November 6
Kagemusha: neither of us has any idea how this wound up on the DVD wishlist. It's not bad, but it's not particularly enthralling, either - I imagine it's something that's of interest if you're a Kurosawa fan, or a japanophile, or something like that.

All my Perl banking toys appear broken, probably because I've disabled my Fink installation and they can't do SSL any more. Then again, there's this:
# HTTP status = 500 Can't verify SSL peers without knowning which
# Certificate Authorities to trust

November 3
High-tech and all as the Revenue's website and services are, they should really consider not using self-signed certificates when sending email. Kinda conveys the wrong message.

More Hibernate abuse, and I think I've finally got the joined tables stuff working, although I fear it may be overly complex and full of problems. I also found a HUGE error in my tests, where I'd inadvertently used assert instead of assertTrue. Fixing that revealed a bunch of tests that were actually failing, so now I've got those sorted as well.

November 2
I noticed that some stuff I used include here from technorati.com was no longer working, and went to investigate, and discovered they've had a site makeover. New features: The actual thing I was looking for was the little site badge that hooked back into my technorati page. Time to delete that account, I think.

November 1
One problem I have with this whole iOS5 over-the-air syncing to the Mac Mini is that it throws up modal dialogue boxes from time to time (usually "an unknown error occurred") and that kills syncing until I fire up screen sharing and click "ok". Perhaps some applescript will fix this (he said, in the same tone as people use when they say, "perhaps a regexp will fix this").

Using Keynote to mock up a photo layout. Someone somewhere is unhappy about this, I'm sure.

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Winter this year doesn't seem wholly different from summer