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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

January 31
Crazy Mac Hacks ahoy!

First, put a git repository on your Mac Server. Store your hacky little wsgi apps in that repo. Make sure the apps have a plist that allow them to be manipulated with webappctl. Clone the repo somewhere into the Server's webserver tree and make sure it all works.

Next, create a launchd job which invokes a script whenever /path/to/your/repo.git changes. The script it invokes should change directory to your clone of the repo, and do a git pull; it should then do any post-processing it needs (such as python manage.py collectstatic for those of us playing with Django), and finally it should use webappctl to bounce the app.

You now have, effectively, a pipeline. Push code to the repo, and it will automatically get deployed. There are no safeguards here to stop you breaking your app, but it's a nice alternative to git push && ssh server && git pull &&, etc.

(yes I have code for this, but it's very specific to my setup so I've not posted it here or in the workshop.)

January 30
Mockingjay: Part 1 continues that annoying trend - was it the Potter movies that started it? - of taking the final installment of a story and chopping it in half. To better tell the story, of course. Not, you know, to make more money or guarantee an audience a year or two from the first half who are attending principally to complete the damned thing. Funny how they were able to fit all of the first book (384 pages) and all of the second (400 pages) into one movie each, but somehow the third book (400 pages) needs two movies. I guess when Suzanne Collins said, "When you're adapting a novel into a two-hour movie you can't take everything with you. The story has to be condensed to fit the new form," someone wasn't paying attention.

ANYWAY. Is it any good? Well, you can't watch it in isolation. You need to have seen the first two, to at least some extent, and you'll gnash your teeth and concede that you want to see the fourth. I'm probably not the target audience by, oh, a couple of decades, so maybe when I feel like Brave Katniss suddenly turning to Whiny Katniss is a bit unbelievable, I'm failing to recall my own youth. Plutarch always seems to be condescendingly smug, which isn't how I recall him from the books, and may just be down to Phil Hoffman's facial expression which seems to naturally hang that way. The action sequences, such as they are, are fairly minimal - there's basically the raid on the Victors' Compound, and the hospital visit which turns into a firefight - so a lot of this movie winds up being just groundwork for the last one. Could you skip straight from the second movie to the final one? Probably - you'd miss a couple of details, like Peeta's fate, but I'm guessing there might be a flashback sequence or some expository dialogue to help those of us with goldfish memories. I think bottom line with this movie is that it's not bad, and it has its place in the series, just that it should really probably have been rolled into the end of the second and the start of the fourth, rather than being two hours of scene-setting for the finale, which is itself a further two hours.

January 29
Dined out at East, the hotel restuarant at the Spencer Hotel. Because it shares space with the bar, the music was a bit overpowering, and the wine prices were positively silly (hotel markup), but aside from those two quibbles it was pretty damned good - I'd go there again.

January 26
Hey Apple.
lumpy:ssh localwaider$ diff -u sshd_config~previous sshd_config
# Change to no to disable s/key passwords
-ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
+#ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes
Cut that out.

January 24
Went to a great deal of trouble to renew the SSL cert for mail.waider.ie, including taking bloody notes this time so I don't forget how it works only to discover that at some point last year I changed to using smtp.waider.ie. D'oh.

January 22
Independant of any actual veracity, The Wolf of Wall Street is a constant barrage of excess, the sort of thing that'd make Caligula say, "ah, hold on there, guys, can you calm it down a bit?". It's hard not to feel that Scorcese and DiCaprio are little more than the title character's latest victims, and where a movie like Margin Call has you somewhat engaged with the characters (ruthless though they are), I didn't find much to engage with in this. Mainly I think it's because the lead character pretty much got away with it (slap-on-the-wrist fines and custodial sentences notwithstanding) and, given the opportunity, would still be doing it again - what little awareness he seems to have of the impact of his actions is wrapped up in glib little slogans like how he'd make better use of other peoples' money (evidently by spending it on hookers and blow, far better than medical care or paying off a mortgage). Not to say there were a whole lot of morals on display in Margin Call either, but somehow this just seemed orders of magnitude worse. I don't know that I'd recommend this movie, to be honest - there are probably better ways to learn about this sort of person that don't contribute to his bottom line.

January 16
I'd heard that John Wick was good, so that's what we watched. The humour in it I loved, particularly the build-up to Wick himself:
Chop Shop Guy: where did you get this car?
Russian Mobster: we stole it from some loser
Chop Shop Guy: that's John Wick *punches mobster*
Russian Boss: you punched my son
Chop Shop Guy: he stole John Wick's car
Russian Boss: Ah. *hangs up, punches son*
The rest of the movie, well, it was kinda so-so action movie. It runs more-or-less like clockwork, so you know what to expect; there are no real surprises. The required violence ranges from choreographed quick-edit cuts away from what's actually going on, to every now and then showing you someone getting brutally shot, which is weird; if it was all the former I'd assume it was for a lower MPAA/BBFC/whatever age rating, but the presence of the latter seems to work against that. The choreography is a little too much; it's not quite at the level of, say, Equilibrium, but it's still very clearly a dance, and sequences like our Mr. Wick waltzing through a crowded dancefloor shooting only the guys in red shirts (yes, really) without anyone getting hit by a bullet that, you know, continued on through its victim was a bit destructive towards the whole suspension of disbelief bit. Still, at the end of the day, the movie makes no pretensions about what it is (much like the first Transporter movie, but without quite the same joyful abandon of said pretensions) and it's a reasonable bit of bubblegum.

January 4
I finished rereading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy, and have the following observations to make: The skip-reading stuff in book three aside, I really enjoyed this (again).

(This will not be a year of bullet-point lists, I promise!)

January 3
Back from a few days in Venice, of which I will say:

Somewhere back there we started watching the original Star Wars trilogy. The Empire Strikes Back before we lit out for the Doge's gaff, and Return of the Jedi when we got back. Of the three, I think Empire is the tightest, in terms of least amount of hammy acting / dialogue; Jedi has a bit too much of the "it is your Dessssstiny" going on (also, if the Emporer foresaw all the Luke stuff, how come he questioned Vader's assertion that Luke was on the shuttle headed for Endor?) The versions we were watching are the post-prequel ones so we got the irritating extra celebration scenes thrown in at the end, plus the airbrushing out of the original Vader from the Three Amigos Dead Jedis vision at the end. I'm halfway inclined to try and dig out unmodified versions of these because I'm convinced that Han shot first the CGI mashed in during the remastering looks more fake than the original model shots; there was definitely a period of time where CGI that looked great in the cinema looked crap when translated to DVD, and maybe this is what I'm seeing, but it's pretty distracting to see the "cut along the dotted line to decompose this shot" tell-tales in the middle of the action.

For reference, Jedi is the first one I can remember seeing; I walked into a cinema in 1983 to a screen filled with Jabba's head, which was pretty startling and memorable. I don't know when I saw the others, so I may actually have watched Jedi with no idea of the back-story (wouldn't be a first; I read the third book of the Hitchhiker's trilogy first, which is really confusing) and, well, if you saw Jedi first then the big reveal in Empire is pretty much blown away.

ANYWAY. Mrs. Waider has suggested we watch the prequel trilogy now, so we'll see how that works out.

Oh, and happy new year to y'all.

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