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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

January 28
Oh hurrah, time to upgrade all the things again. Bloody exploits.

January 24
Took a spin through some of the CS stuff on Khan Academy. It's pretty neat, other than that the coding exercises engine tended to busy out my browser until I eventually had to restart it (several times), and the grader was pretty finicky about what it would accept (e.g. i++ works, i = i + 1 or ++i doesn't). Small complaints, though for the fact that I actually learned a few things.

Interesting thing with Handoff on the Mac, which continues to not work for me: in the interests of consolidating things, I moved all my iCloud stuff from being split between my original iTunes Store account and my subsequent iCloud account to being all on the iTunes Store account - which isn't an @icloud.com account. Since I did that, Handoff hasn't shown any signs of working at all, where previously it simply worked poorly.

January 16
Evening of hardware calamities. Printer decides to randomly stop working. Wireless decides to randomly stop working. Server decides that a server update in the middle of all of this is just the thing to be doing.

January 15
There's a build of Emacs for Mac which is fully GUI-based, but it has a recurring problem where I start it up, and it never opens its main window - it just consumes a ton of CPU. I've seen this with multiple versions, and of course I've never checked if it's because of my older-than-some-schoolkids startup files, but I figured I'd go google for other victims and maybe a fix.

Safari promptly hung.

It's clearly a conspiracy.

(I did actually try moving my startup files out of the way, but since the problem is intermittent I can't tell if it's just temporarily stopped happening or if that actually fixed the problem)

Also on the Fun With Macintosh front: I got some memory from Crucial, but I haven't been able to install it because the case screws are so firmly inserted that I destroyed a screwdriver trying to remove them (it was a cheap screwdriver anyway). I remember when you opened a Mac by pulling a lever on the case. (I also remember when you opened a Mac by using a custom tool that Apple were legally upset with people for cloning.)

January 11
Tree taken down and stashed away. This is the third year we've used this particular artifical tree, but this is the first year that the cat, in her desire to use it as a personal climbing frame, managed to dislodge several of the branches. Plan for next year: something to block climbing cat.

iDisplay strikes me as one of those niches that Apple will eventually realise is actually pretty decent, at which point they'll implement OS-level support for it, thus putting it out of business; in the mean time, I've gone ahead and payed a tenner for the iPad app and frankly it's pretty damned cool. I mean, it's technologically old hat, but being able to prop the iPad up next to my Macbook and fling various windows across to it while I fiddle about is really, really nice and has already allowed me to work through a "compare data in screen A with data in screen B" task in about half the time it'd normally take me.

January 10
Just watched a great documentary on Pulp's Common People made by the BBC and narrated by none other than Richard E. Grant. Aside from the slightly overthinking bit where they engaged a psychologist, a poet, and a "socialite" (with the most fakey fake laugh ever), and the other bit where they had a composer deconstruct the music and say it's basically beer-hall ragtime and kinda crap, it was really enjoyable. Jarvis Cocker in particular does come across as you'd hope - he's slightly embarrassed by the whole thing, cringes visibly at the playback of the original lyrics track from the studio recordings, points out - as if the producers hadn't realised - the inadvisibility or insensitivty of trying to relocate a girl on whom he based a "rather snide" song; in essence, he comes across as someone to whom all this happened, and he's not trying to take any more credit for it than he's due - and possibly a little less, even - instead of being a monstrous ego on legs. Also really entertaining is the studio visit where they're playing back individual bits of the multitrack recording (somewhat surprisingly still on magnetic tape, which they used for the playback, or maybe that was artistic license in the direction...) and you discover that the simple-sounding anthem is not only composed of the full 48 tracks available to them in the studio, but they layered a couple of instruments into some of the tracks after they'd run out of extra tracks to use. The documentary was in six parts on Youtube; probably not entirely at the agreement of the BBC, but who knows.

January 9
The server that hosts my email is currently making noises about an unhealthy disk, and for handwavy reasons this is nontrivial to deal with. I can easily switch inbound mail to the server that hosts this website, but outbound is more of a problem. Short version, if you're getting bounce messages from my waider.ie email you may want to try one of the other addresses.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a bit slow to get going, but was a whole barrel of laughs. The running gags about Guy Who Does Not Get Metaphors, "I Am Groot!" and noone knowing or remembering Quill's "outlaw name" were all handled well: not overdone, not underdone. Obviously I have problems with the choice of name for the main villian, but I'll let it pass. I mean, it's been YEARS since I've tried to destroy a planet with an Infinity Stone. You'd think people would let these things drop...

January 2
The latest news from the U2 camp on Bono's cycling mishap - that he might never play guitar again - brings to mind the time I went to see Rattle and Hum at the cinema with my friend Shane. It had just been released, and we were in town for a local Irish-language youth group meeting, and we may possibly have skipped out of this early to go see Bono and the lads doing their thing. Both of us being U2 fans, smartarses, and guitarists, we began commenting (probably to the annoyance of those around us) on Bono's guitar-playing, or rather guitar-wearing; he spent a lot of time on stage with a guitar slung across his back, not actually being played. And then about a half hour in - I think during Silver and Gold, he was seen to be strumming, and I said, "Hey, Shane, look, he's playing it". Shane, without taking his eyes off the screen, deadpanned back, "yeah. Kinda spoils the effect, doesn't it?"

No offence, Bono, and get well soon. Oh, and I like Songs of Innocence.

January 1
And a happy new year to you all.

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