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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

December 31
Anna Karenina: now there's a cheerful pick-me-up of a story. The stylistic "we're doing this on a stage" thing was mildly distracting at the start, but kinda faded into the backdrop (ha ha) after a while. I can't recommend this unless you're a glutton for punishment; the production is fine, it's the story that's a downer.

December 29
The Golden Compass was good, but it's a shame that they never made the rest of the series.

December 28
Actual data usage during this time, per iPhone metering: approximately 10 megabytes. Perhaps they're measuring my balance in megabits?

One of the Christmas gifts I sent this year came from Abercrombie Kids; for reasons to do with sizes and handwaving, an exchange needed to be made. The site demands a postcode to avail of their "Speed Exchange" service; I'm in a country that doesn't have such things, and no amount of trial and error produced success. So I thought I'd try their "live chat" customer support; I was told I'd need to phone. THANKS, THAT'S HELPFUL. My options for phoning are a long-distance call to the US, or a toll-free number; the toll-free number is (a) incorrectly listed (it's absent the 1- prefix) and (b) non-functional - not only could I not call it from my mobile, but my brother tells me it doesn't work from his landline either, suggesting that they've provided an Irish toll-free number that doesn't actually work in Ireland. So now I'm waiting for a response to an email request for assistance, which I'm told will take something in the order of a business day. Woohoo.

AAAaand the email response just tells me to call the international number. And just now I got a "let us know how we did" email. How do I put this succinctly? YOU DID TERRIBLY.

December 27
More of the same... Johnny English, good for a laugh but a little too reliant on the heavily-telescoped cringey humour that made me steer clear of some "classic" British comedy in the past.

December 25
'tis the season... so far we've watched Bridget Jones's Diary (fun, filled with that unique? British humour that arises when two people labour under incorrect assumptions and the whole movie would unravel in three seconds if they actually aired those assumptions, but no worse for that) and Skyfall (also fun, but I'm supposed to believe the smartest guy in the room plugs a laptop of known bad origin into a secure network with no protection whatsoever?)

December 23
Currently in the midst of converting the Chez Waider setup to non-UPC, starting with provider agnostic WiFi; however, I noticed that my MacBook would periodically lose its network connection for no reason I could determine. Some fiddling about led me to investigate WiFi country codes, of all things, which lead me to a very helpful post on what might be causing your Mac to periodically claim there are, in fact, no WiFi networks in the area. This post is neat for two reasons: firstly, it helped me identify the problem, and secondly, it clued me into the fact that MacOS has a command line that'll show you the currently visible wireless networks. Cute!

Of course, trying to fix this by setting the country on the UPC wireless device predictably failed. I wound up disabling its wireless entirely, then taking over the SSID it was using so that everything should seamlessly transfer to the new hardware. The other discoveries that this fiddling led to are that my UPC wireless modem doesn't actually support Ireland as a distinct country code, and most of the UPC-flavoured networks visible from where my laptop is sitting are configured as Dutch.

December 19
Rush is a rather good movie about the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the mid '70s, but what it does really well is to sell you on the notion that the two main characters are complete assholes. Seriously. No redeeming character features whatsoever. Even absent an interest in Formula 1, this might be worth a look, since it's more about the characters than it is about the cars (IMDb in fact tells me that an initial draft was written on the assumption that the budget wouldn't stretch to any race coverage at all, which might account for the more story-based nature of what could have been an out-and-out petrolhead movie).

December 14
How to claim Tesco clubcard boost points, redux (I seem to recall mentioning this before...): Go to the clubcard site. Don't bother logging in, it doesn't improve matters. Select "Redeem Vouchers", if you can find it. Enter your full clubcard contact details (Every. Time. The whole lot. Including your physical address, which is only required if you subsequently select an offer that requires physical delivery, and two phone numbers, which can be identical, but which are mandatory, and which won't actually be used because if there's a problem with your clubcard they'll email you to ask you to call them). Check all the "Do Not Send Me Junk" boxes. Proceed to the next page, where you get to select which deal you want to avail of, and give an amount from a pull-down list which doesn't match the amount of clubcard vouchers you'd like to use. Proceed to the third page, where you enter the 12-digit code from the clubcard voucher, twice, then select the value of the voucher, then discover that once you've added one voucher the form retains the values you typed in for the next voucher. Submit this form to get a prompt for email validation, which sends you an email, which contains a link to click on, which brings you to the next page, where your order is reiterated. Click on the box to agree to the terms and conditions and submit to get a "Thank you, we have received your order" page. Now wait: first you get an email reiterating the "Thank You". Fifteen to twenty minutes after that, you get another email with the tokens of your choice in them, which you do whatever you need to do with. Hurrah, victory, or something.

How this should work: sign into your clubcard account, select the vouchers which Tesco knows they've sent you, select the offer you want to apply the vouchers to, AND YOU'RE DONE. Worst case, because it's involving third parties, you get a bunch of codes or tickets or whatever in an email or by post (I mean, I can always copy and paste off a webpage or print it, but whatever).

Charitably, I'll assume some portion of this nonsense is complying with some legislation or other, but then, how is it that in order to use e.g. an Amazon gift voucher I enter the code into the website once, and it just works?

December 12
Office Christmas Party, in which we now have enough staff to occupy the same space as was occupied by the queue for Mrs. Waider's citizenship ceremony (although less tightly packed, admittedly).

December 6
The Great Gatsby was an absolute blast. I read this years ago, and the only thing I could vaguely recall about it was a car crash, so it was nice to see that at least I'd been correct about there being one, even if I couldn't recall any other details. As you might expect from Baz Luhrmann, there's some nice mixing of period and contemporary, and the whole thing is a riot of pretty scenery and beautiful cinematography. Never mind that it's also an enjoyable movie as well. Well worth seeing.

December 5
It would appear that the initial release of Yosemite is, in fact, full of leaks. I just now killed of usbmuxd because it had eaten all available network sockets; I've also noted various other things disappearing (most significantly, things that should be handled by dns-sd/bonjour/zeroconf/whatever we're calling it this week) in a way that suggests, whoops, no more resources to do the thing I wanted to do, because I lost track of the fact that I alreadt consumed said resources. Hopefully there's a patch release in the works now that they've had a few thousand, hundred thousand, million, whatever beta testers kick the tires on this thing.

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And so this is ... December