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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

February 28
Dropbox has spontaneously stopped working on one of the Mactops. I am somewhat at a loss as to why; a clean reinstall even using a different user account makes no difference, which suggests it's a system-level problem, but damned if I can see what. The Mac Mini on the same network (i.e. with the same route to the Internet) is having no problems. In digging I discovered that Dropbox is made at least partly with Python, so I thought maybe my Gramps hacking had done some damage; comparing with a backup of when it was last working, I do indeed see some modified .pyc files, but nuking them doesn't appear to have fixed things. Perhaps a point restore of system level files is the next step. I wish these things would either Just Work, or Break Verbosely.


February 17
Source build of Gramps is proving to be a two-steps-forward, two back process; right now, for the third or fourth time, I've decided things are sufficiently muddled to require a reset and do-over.


February 16
The Bourne Legacy is another fourth-outing movie that's surprisingly good. Proably what makes it work is that while they've abandoned Matt Damon, more or less, they still weave it into the fabric of the existing Bourne mythology - the movie version, at least, since Ludlum's version disappeared around about the first ten minutes of the second movie - and while it's hard to place it exactly at least part of this movie is contemporary with the others - which is a nice trick. All that aside, this movie stands on its own merits, for the most part - I was a little disappointed with the inevitable demise of the "super hitman" who was introduced, fleetingly, towards the end of the movie, and who disappears with an equally fleeting glimpse of his ending, making him really little more than a cardboard prop to wind up the story. But that was the only thing I didn't much like - the rest of it is a good solid action movie. Indeed, the first 30 minutes of the movie is so densely packed with detail that I thought a good deal more time had passed. Watch this one.

February 13
As noted I've been tooling around with the family tree lately. I'm using a piece of software called Gramps, which is a bit clunky (it uses Gtk as a one-GUI-fits-all toolkit, which works about as well as one-size-fits-all pants...) but is working sufficiently for me not to be too bothered. I did want to try building it from source to see if I could address some of the more annoying bugs, like the fact that selecting text in an edit window causes a stack-trace dialogue box to appear with some complaint about the clipboard, but so far I've completely failed to get their Wiki directions working. Part of the problem seems to be system libraries pretending to fulfill dependencies that they don't actually fulfill, alas.


February 9
I "taped" (DVR'd? Time-shifted? What do the kids these days say, aside from "torrented"?) Knowing a good while back, and only got around to watching it now. Basically it's a pile of mediocrity, with Nic Cage at the helm (some would argue that he's also mediocre, but I'll leave that be). With about 30 minutes left to run, she and I were wondering how they were going to fill the time; answer: poorly. It's one of those movies that on the face of it is barely acceptable, but as soon as you start thinking about the premise, or delve below the surface of the plot, you start getting into all sorts of difficulty and eventually conclude that the movie doesn't have anything below the surfce, it's just all surface. Oh well. I've seen worse.

February 8
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: you'd expect a movie franchise on its fourth outing to be getting a little stale, but this still keeps up the quality of its predecessors. There are some great laugh-out-loud moments, a good general story line, and little reliance on tried-and-tested gags from the earlier movies. Worth seeing.

February 4
Looking for Richard has been on my list of things to watch for years, and I can't even remember at this point why that might be. However, it turned up during the week when, coincidentally, English historians are revealing that a body they dug up is that of the Richard of the title, Richard III of England. It's a documentary of sorts, but it's also Shakespeare's play; the point is to explain the plot to you, interwoven with Al Pacino and (some very big-name) friends apparently making a movie of the play, although I'm not 100% sure if the movie ever got made (IMDb will reveal all) so it feels a bit like Man of La Mancha in that respect. It's funny, it's engaging, they do bits of vox pop about Shakespeare and consult experts in both drama and royal history, and really this is a complete blast. Definitely worth waiting around for.


February 1
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was terribly disappointing. If I'd not read the book (and an excellent read it is), I'd have had no clue what was going on. Granted, there's a relatively large dramatis personae, but what hurts this movie is the disjoint way in which it's put together. Yes, it's about digging in the past, but perhaps doing that via constant flashbacks wasn't the best approach. Added to that, I noticed at least one instance of sloppy editing (where the Russian Voice asks if the switch is off, and unless you've read the book you won't know what he's talking about or why the person he's asking though it was off), and the whole bit about making a character gay when it really added nothing to the story, or the character, was just a pointless distraction particularly given the other gay relationship already present in the story. Ultimately, this was a huge waste of both acting talent and source material, and I want to see the TV adaptation now to see if it's any better.

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Waider
And how was January for you?