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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
Wow. I did not think it was possible for Vodafone's customer abuse to go downhill from the last time I used it, but no: I logged a request through their website this morning, and at around 5pm this evening I got an automated reply telling me I'd get a response in 24 hours. You know, the sort of automated reply you should receive immediately to fob you off for a day. I look forward to seeing the actual response.

March 30
The Guardian seems to have updated both the style and volume of its RSS feed, and neither is for the better. Some of the "articles" are little more than a paragraph of throw-away text, and some of the headlines are clearly just linkbait.

March 24
I can kind of understand why duplicating a picture in iPhoto and then cropping individual bits out of it results in a bunch of pictures you can't break into separate events, but it's a bit annoying. This would be a great place to have copy-on-write functionality.

March 23
Started watching, of all things, Downton Abbey (which seems to have multiple IMDb entries). I am somewhat surprised to find it's very entertaining and very engaging. Maggie Smith looks to be having an absolute blast.

March 22
Clouds and silver linings. The server upgrade was such a mishap that I wound up rebooting it, and lo, backups work again.

Updating a cert on my EC2 instance; I'd forgotten how to do this, but fortunately all the command-line history was there from last time. It's an unfortunate chain of copying, pasting, openssl usage, certutil usage, verifying things, swearing, undoing everything, repeating, and so on.

March 20
The places family research takes you... "Noticed a typo? Sorry, that sucks. Wish we could help." (note, I fully understand their position; it's not a unique one)

Yet another depressingly clunky server upgrade on the Mac Mini. Really, it'd be nice just once to click on, "Sure, upgrade my server" and not have to spend some followup time unscrewing things.

March 19
Fixing the broken journal stuff turned out to be a matter of adding two zeros to a list which could very reasonably have added them itself.

March 7
Upgraded Emacs. Somehow broke the stuff that helps me write this journal. Bah.

I was expecting Joss Wheedon's Much Ado About Nothing to be in the same vein as Baz Luhrman's shot at Shakespeare, but it wasn't, really, in so many ways. And that kinda disappointed me at the start, but I soon forgot that I was disappointed, and in the end it was a really, really great piece of work. Worth seeing.

March 5
Signed up to Greyhound as apparently the bye-laws that have been in effect since Jan 2014 require every household to be registered with an approved waste collector, even if, like me, you use bin tags and recycling bags. In the sign-up I included a very clear statement: no marketing, no giving my details to third parties. My sign-up was acknowledged via an email sent through a third-party email management company (so I suppose I can at least take comfort that if my data goes astray, it will have done so professionally) and today I get a SMS reminder that it's bin day tomorrow, which I have been opted in for without asking. This is, after all, the same company at whom we express surprise when our rubbish is actually collected, and as is far too usual for my liking there are no alternatives available for where we live.

Python-based RSS feed scraper is doing well; there are some encoding issues, but this kinda goes back to the database setup as much as anything else, and I'm going to have to figure out how to manipulate the database for a variety of reasons, not least of which is to convert everything to "native" unicode/UTF-8 support so that all those pesky accented characters come out right. A certain amount of this is, of course, of a similar nature to the classic, "How do I get to ...? " "I wouldn't start from here."

March 3
Finally bit the bullet and switched the fetching & parsing side of the RSS Toy over to the Django-based stuff I've been playing with. In the process I discovered that my noddy little database apparently has too many records to permit me to alter the table structure (about 800k records, and when I try an ALTER TABLE the connection eventually times out). Oh well.

March 1
Install 10.9.2 update, reboot various things, backups break again. Why, Apple, Why?

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The March of 2014 Goes On