Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 30
Got an invite for the new Google Maps. Clicked on it. Got a banner saying my browser (Firefox) was unsupported, which went on to tell me which browsers are supported, which list included... Firefox. No version specified, either.

May 28
I can't help but feel that Bastille were in the studio listening to Pompeii on playback and saying, "HELL YES". Very catchy piece of music.

May 27
It took me a while (mainly watching in half-hour sections while working out), but I finally watched all of Metropolis. The version I saw seems to be somewhere between the heavily-cut version and the near-full restoration, but still ran to about two hours. Interesting piece of work. The scale is rather fantastic, and some of the effects are, in their own way, better than some of what subsequently passed for cinemacraft. Hard to enjoy this, admittedly, since the film quality is a bit rubbish - high contrast, frequently difficult to make out what's going on in both the foreground and background - and the acting, in the style of the day, is seriously hamming it up.

May 26
More movies: Brave is exactly what you'd expect from Pixar - a well-done story with beautiful visuals, and a healthy dose of humour wrapped around a serious core. Well worth seeing.

The Amazing Spider-Man: I preferred Sam Raimi's origin story, to be honest, even if this one is apparently more true to the comic book origin story. Maybe it's just that, in the end, this felt like a movie crammed with things and yet felt strangely flat and empty. I did like the humour and exhiliration of Parker learning his new powers, but I felt (again) that Raimi's take on this was better, and Parker-post-spiderbite was really a bit of a dick, compared to (yet again) Raimi's, who was a dick until he understood the whole "actions have consequences" shtick. So, sure, blockbuster movie and things explode and what not, but I wouldn't rave about it.

I've a vague idea I'm missing out another movie I saw recently, but it could just be a made-for-TV feature-length Sherlock Holmes.

May 24
It says pretty clearly on my Linked-In profile that I'm not seeking job offers and will mark any I receive as spam. This apparently is invisible to roughly one person a month, the most recent of whom ended with an instruction that I not reply, rather than I phone or email some other person. Spammy AND rude.

May 20
Two health-related things I've encountered recently: firstly, Allie Brosh writes about depression. This is actually the second of two, with something like an eighteen-month interval between the two, and I'm torn between recommending you read them in order and recommending that you skip the first one outright because the important stuff is in the second (i.e. the one I linked to). So, decide for yourself. This is an astonishingly frank, in places hysterically funny description of being on the receiving end of a bout of clinical depression. I can't make claims about how applicable this is to all depression - the comments on the piece itself have a few positive remarks in that direction - but the really, really key thing in here that was an eye-opener for me is her description of people trying to cheer her up. The short version is, if you're listening to someone telling you how they feel (or in this instance, how they don't feel at all), make sure you've actually heard them before offering advice. (Or telling them what to do with their dead fish. Read the piece to make sense of that.) This is incredibly powerful, clever, and stupidly obvious advice that I've certainly missed and that I imagine many other non-depressed people have, too. In summary, why aren't you reading this already? Waider.IE will still be here when you're done, and it's much less informative.

The second thing is a TED talk, a website, and an app: it's all called SuperBetter and it's all about literally gaming your health. Probably the best explanation is the TED talk, where Jane McGonigal talks for 20 minutes and promises you you'll have gained 7 minutes on your lifespan if you follow along. (Caution, embedded video starts playing as soon as the page has loaded; you may wish to stop it and pick one of the downloads to stash it away for later viewing). I've signed up on this with my gmail account, if you decide to sign up yourself and want to invite me as an Ally - I'm declining the opportunity to spam a bunch of people with links to an app they have no interest in!

May 17
Surprisingly, the Total Recall remake turned out to be not a bag of crap, although there was definitely an amount of "don't think too hard about this" going on, and Colin Farrell can't seem to hold an American accent straight for more than 30 seconds at a time before the Irish starts bleeding through. Still, entertaining stuff, worth a look.

Finally got a complete Gramps build, but it crashes on startup. Seems to be a bug involving glib (that's g-lib, rather than "smooth-talking") vs. Xcode4.

May 14
Almost had a working Gramps build, then discovered I was pulling from the wrong source repo. GAH. After I'd filed bugs, too. DOUBLE GAH.

May 12
Watched the oddball Korean movie, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring which was sort of predictable and dull but set in very beautiful surroundings. Actually rather relaxing to watch, to be honest. Wouldn't pick it out again, though.

May 8
So it turns out that (a) the gtk-osx stuff that Gramps uses is in flux and (b) that flux has broken the damned thing twice in the last week. I've filed two bugs, one with a patch and one without (as I can't quite figure out how to fix the problem yet).

Phone activated. Even with staff (presumably) on the premises I still had to choose non-obvious IVR options to talk to someone.

Turns out the gtk-osx guy is pretty reponsive. Three bugs filed today, all closed within the day with fixes. Small bugs, to be sure, but that's still a decent turnaround.

May 7
AvantCard (MBNA's buyers) are doing a great job with their new site. Right now, it won't let me add a second card to my account (last time I tried it didn't recognise the card, now it simply doesn't offer me the option) and when I tried to visit their FAQ section, I got a Sharepoint error. Classy. There's also this gem: "Selecting your statement is straight forward. Simply select the statement month you want to view and click Select. This will open the statement details to view.", which is in a "Tips" box right next to the main text which reads, "Coming soon...".

Got me a shiny new JebusPhone, but I am having no end of difficulty registering the SIM for it. It would appear that after 5:30 the entire Vodafone support staff goes offline and you're left with an IVR system that leads you around in circles, refers you to the website, and just generally refuses to help. Some competitors of this excuse for a telco and indeed some variants of this telco in other countries allow you to simply enter your SIM number into an online form (online! what a concept!) and away you go. Le sigh.

May 5
Trying out the Gramps build-from-source option again, this time using a user account expressly created for the purpose.

Of note: The build-from-source version definitely disagrees with whatever version of xz I had installed (I can't even recall what I installed it for - I turned up a compressed file at some point that required it, I think, but even that's a hazy recollection).

May 4
The twice-mentioned Screenclick oddnesss dropped a Korean-language movie on us. Faced with that, we chose to eschew cultural world cinema and instead wartched Quantum of Solace, which was a good deal more fun (at least, I imagine it was. The Korean movie still awaits).

May 3
After noting the oddball stuff Screenclick had queued up I went and rescrubbed the wishlist, and so we had Men in Black III to watch, which is awesome. Ignoring the fact that it's third in a franchise, this movie would stand on its own barring the fact that if you'd not seen the first two you wouldn't know the MiB backstory, which doesn't get any expository backfill here. Taking on board that it's a sequel, though, makes it so much more impressive that it's as good as it is. It's laugh-out-loud funny in places, it's got a good line in adrenaline-loaded scenes, it's got a bit of poignance, a bit of romance, an Apollo 11 launch... what's not to like?

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Is time moving faster, or am I just getting slower?