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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

April 29
Another peculiar movie choice showed up in the Screenclick queue, so we decided we'd go have a look at Netflix. And this is how we wound up watching Emma. Which, for someing ostensibly chick-flicky, turned out to be a whole lot of fun - I can't say I'd buy it, but I'd certainly watch it again.

April 28
Mac Mini not utterly screwed since I can apparently grant named users permission to use ssh, but not All Users (which is probably just as well, but is annoying).

April 27
Comandante is a waste of a really, really great opportunity. Oliver Stone got to talk to Fidel Castro, no holds barred (although there's clearly some restraint on Stone's part with regard to not asking some obvious hard questions) and no cuts, for 30 hours, and this was distilled down to a 90-minute movie. Waste #1, mood shots. You've got 30 hours of footage with a guy who gets no press but bad press in the US, and you choose to show moody shots of Havana with incidental music for a few minutes. Great. Waste #2, inane questions. Stone asked one long, rambling question that could be summed up as "would you like your life to end as a freedom fighter or as a retiree" (although I'm not even clear that that was his intent). Castro pretty much ignores both options and gives forth instead on the ephemeral nature of fame, thus saving an utterly idiotic question from being completely useless. That covers most of the content; the other mishap about this is the form. It's largely done with handheld cameras, apparently before the time of the steadicam or similar motion stabilisers, making it at times difficult to figure out what's going on. Verisimultude, awesome; coherence, crap. Finally, the choice to make the interpreter's voice audible really hurts your ability to follow the interview, because it's at an offset (obviously) from what Stone and Castro are saying, and thus bleeds over what they're saying, and to add to the confusion the whole thing is subtitled in real time with translations which don't quite match what the interpreter is saying. So, in summary, this could have been incredible, and even in its mishapen state it's still pretty fascinating, but mostly it stinks of missed opportunity - and a certain amount of self-aggrandisment by Stone, which might well explain why it's such a mess.

April 24
Attempting to sort out some messed up user accounts on the Mac Mini, and it would appear that I have screwed something up such that I can't seem to create a spare local admin account. I can't quite figure this out, and the log messages are completely unhelpful.

April 23
MBNA credit card services (Ireland) are no longer a thing, so I'm removing support from Finance::Bank::IE, and working in support for AvantCard instead (MBNA's replacement).

April 22
Selene had noticed a problem with her laptop where Word seemed to be running extremely slowly. I dug into it last night, ripped out a bunch of things (all Adobe products, old versions of Java) and then eventually stumbled on the solution: the printer added via Bonjour Printing. Removing this made all problems magically disappear. I will see if adding the printer via "kosher" Windows networking is any better.

April 21
Oblivion: aside from the fact that the plot is basically a bunch of other movies stitched together, this is pretty entertaining stuff. I can't actually tell you which movies it's made out of as that'd give away a bunch of key plot points. There are equally some plot holes that to ask about would constitute spoilers. Suffice to say that you shouldn't think too hard about this, just enjoy the visuals, Morgan Freeman, and the wonderful noises the drones make.

The Magical UPC box has thus far failed to record three episodes of Doctor Who - four if you count the fact that it missed one episode twice - and investigating has on two occasions revealed that a series recording I'd set up had mysteriously vanished. This is continuing to annoy me, and the only deterrent to switching providers is that the alternative is Sky which, well, dancing with the devil and all that. Gah.

April 19
I'm not wholly sure how The American Friend wound up on our Screenclick wishlist, but it turns out that it's not a terrible movie. It is, as I understand it, loosely based on the then-unreleased/unpublished Ripley's Game, that being the same Ripley of The Talented Mr. Ripley. It's a bit absurd, but it passed the time well enough.

April 13
Two movies of not much note: First, The Purple Rose of Cairo, a Woody Alen piece from 1985, is best described by referring to two trivia pieces from the IMDb entry: Allen, asked why he didn't give it a happy ending, said that what was in it was the happy ending, and Allen, told that by changing the ending he'd have a hit on his hands, saying that he made it because of the ending. Make your own mind up, but I certainly felt it was a disappointment.

And second, Notorious: not actually a bad movie, but it's not a classic of the sort that, say, Casablanca is, so what you're left with is an old black-and-white movie with some names you might recognise and a vaguely plausible post-WWII plot. It's a bit ho-hum, basically.

Our UPC box appears to be on strike; it's failed to capture several things we'd set to record, including a repeat to account for something it didn't record last week... I can't help but wonder if it's being affected by similar network problems to the trashy DNS performance I've been seeing on the broadband. I'm giving serious thought to switching to another provider, despite the unpleasantness that might involve (said unpleasantness not limited to dealing with Sky and an unnamed telco).

April 11
Announcing Waider 4.0!

mutter mutter

What's that?

mutter mutter


Announcing Waider 40.

April 7
Turns out Mrs. Waide hadn't seen Casino Royale, which I happened to have in the collection, so we watched that. I still think the "Bond Learns To Trust Someone" bit is totally overdone and telegraphs how it's all going to pan out, but I also still enjoyed the movie. As did Mrs. Waide.

April 6
A little birthday party was had.

April 3
Back from a weekend away spent reading and walking on the Atlantic coast. While I was away, UPC saw fit to not record something I'd set to record - wild guess, someone doesn't know how to handle daylight savings time changes - and also saw fit to have that recurring problem where DNS stops working. I vaguely recall someone telling me once that this was down to the firewall that the UPC cable modem uses, so I've switched most of the things that I'm pretty damned sure I switched off before, but it's still flaking out. I gave up on UPC's own DNS some time ago since I get a better RTT to Google's DNS than UPC's, but this particular problem seems to affect ALL DNS traffic regardless of destination. I'm tempted to run up a VPN to my EC2 instance and use that as my Internet egress...

"Feature" noted in recent Mac Emacs builds: window stops responding to non-alphanumeric keys. Random typing restores normal activity. No idea what the hell is going on.

Despite promising myself I'd do so I still haven't finished moving this site and all who sail in her (basically, me) onto the EC2 instance I hastily set up last month. Since I'm paying for it, I kinda should, really.

Reading: partly due to a friend writing a serialised Bond story, partly due to seeing Skyfall, I took a whim to start reading Fleming's original work. I'm actually pretty astounded at the difference between Book Bond and Movie Bond; most astonishing (to me) is that Book Bond is fallible and vulnerable. There's a bunch of other stuff, as well: Q department doesn't go in for ejector seats and suitcase-sized aircraft (at least, not so far); Bond's romantic attachments actually seem to be a bit deeper than the shallow affairs (ha!) portrayed in the movie; the stupid wisecracks are pretty much entirely absent; the vodka martini isn't obsessed over; the Walther PPK doesn't turn up until 6 books in (and then, according to lore, because a fan wrote to Fleming and told him that Bond's Beretta was a bit crap); and so on and so forth. So far, I'd strongly recommend what I've read.

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Oh. Q2 again.