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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

September 23
A Serious Man is described in IMDb (among other places) as "a black comedy"; either this ignores the absence of a crucial element - said comedy - or the comedy is in people watching this movie hoping that it will make some sort of point before the credits roll around (spoiler: there isn't one. Give up now.) Reviews I've looked at describe this movie as a labour of love and other such things which indicate that, as far as cinematography and what not go, this is truly brilliant, but I was hoping for something I could sit down and enjoy for a couple of hours, and frankly this ain't it. If you're in film school, great, watch this, otherwise, AVOID.

September 22
The King's Speech was more enjoyable, I think, for its portrayal of the Royals as "normal" people than for the historical context - which, apparently, was bent a bit out of shape to improve the narrative. The dynamic between Firth and Rush is believable as that between a patient and his therapist, and Colin Firth ripping into a swearing fit is one of the funnier moments of the film. I can't quite say I felt it was Oscar material (I think it picked up 4!) but it's definitely worth a look.

September 21
Jury still out on the backups thing. The laptop is quieting down a bit, but it's also spending a lot of time doing the backups and putting a good deal of error messages into the system log.


September 17
We got a cat. We wanted a cat that was housetrained, sociable, happy to be indoors, and, if possible, a little stupid. Somehow, that's exactly what we found: last night, Bonzo lay on the edge of the sofa, lost her balance, fell off, and did the "I totally meant that" bit. Twice. As for the rest of it, she seems happy enough indoors, she's definitely housetrained, and she's so sociable that she likes one of us to be near her when she's eating, and will "walk to heel" around the house.

We got her from the Dublin SPCA, who have an amazing facility on the southern edge of Dublin city, and who very obviously took excellent care of this cat for the three months she was living there.

I made another attempt to solve the problem I've been having with my Time Machine backups; it seems like the laptop has gotten stuck in some unspecified way on indexing, so what I did was shut off all the indexing, then remounted the backup volume on the Mac Mini (where it actually lives - it's network shared to the laptop), then reran an indexing on it there. So far this appears to have stopped my laptop from running its fan at maximum RPM, but I thought I'd fixed it before and the problem came back so I'll withhold my judgement just yet.

Groundhog Day is one of those movies released while I was in college without a VCR and/or money for the cinema, so I never saw it back when it was doing the rounds, and somehow have managed to not see it until now. It's pretty good; some bits of it are definitely laugh-out-loud, some of it is the same sort of shtick as Ghostbusters, which is hardly surprising considering the Ramis/Murray presence in both. Worth a look.

September 11
Salt is... humdrum. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, for its genre (action movie, things blow up, people get shot, etc.), but there's nothing outstanding about it - there's a half-dozen movies just like it that you could equally well watch with the same brain-shutdown, popcorn-consuming attitude and not actually miss anything.

Did a bit more hacking on the Java version of the RSS toy. It seems like Eclipse gets a bit upset if you don't run it for a while; typically, my interaction with it involves a period of work, a period of ignoring it, and then a long, long period of clicking things randomly (like refresh, and various properties) until it starts working again. Anyway, I've managed to rip out a bunch of stuff I wrote as plain JDBC SQL and replaced it with some Hibernate stuff, which makes for a whole lot more tidiness.

I got distracted a little (no!) from the Java hackery by the question of the character set in use by the database, prompted by a comment from one of my random newsfeeds which directed me to a page on making sure your entire web-based app uses UTF8 from top to bottom. It's actually proving to be quite tricky, not least because I had naively used String in places where byte[] might have been more appropriate such as in password hashes.


September 10
I've had persistent trouble lately with Spotlight indexing on the laptop's backup drive; the general symptom is that the laptop spins its fans up to maximum RPM and stays that way until I get fed up and put it to sleep. Today I've forcibly removed all trace of Spotlight files from the various partitions, sparsebundles, etc., restarted both the laptop and the Mac Mini where the backup drive lives, and now it's off rebuilding the index from scratch (I assume). It would be really nice of the Spotlight interrogation tool (mdutil) gave me more information, like "I'm reindexing this disk for the fifth time because I keep getting stuck on this one file; maybe you could delete it?"

September 8
Forgot one movie from the list: It's Complicated which, well, if you've seen the trailer, you've seen all the good bits. Alec Baldwin is sleazy, Meryl Streep is apparently asthmatic, and the scriptwriters are AWOL. Don't bother.

September 5
Been a bit swamped since the last update, but there's a bunch of movies in the backlog:

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Waider
Remember, Remember... oh, wait. That's November.