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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

December 29
Ant-man was a HEAP of fun. I will confess that a plot twist I expected didn't materialise, and I found Mr. Bad Guy bore more than a passing resemblance to a certain CEO of a Seattle-based IT company. But that's all handwaving; about the only thing I didn't like - and I guess, somehow, I wasn't meant to like - was Luis, and that was more mild annoyance than actual dislike.

December 26
'Tis the season and all that. I've watched a whole heap of Harry Potter, and a few other random things, but the only new thing is Mission Impossible - Fallout which was ... ok. The whole "Tom does all his own stunts!" thing is a bit tiresome, because then you have to have a twenty-minute helicoptor chase to show off Tom's flying skills, when really it'd have been better to try and tie up the 15-minute deadline in real time (apparently they overrun the deadline by 7 minutes; it felt like half an hour). I recently watched someone's YouTube opinion on the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and how it was accidentally great, and one of the points the guy made was that an action sequence should advance the plot or the characters in some way, and not simply be in awe of its own spectacle, and by that measure this movie fails repeatedly. Anyway. It's a bit of bubblegum, it's overly long, and it works out pretty much exactly the way you think it does.

December 23
The General was pretty decent, and seems to have at least some connection to the reality of the situation - Gleeson does a pretty good job of actually looking like the man he's portaying. There are still some liberties taken with historical detail, but to be honest I don't think anyone's got the actual truth of any of it so it probably doesn't really matter. It's a dark movie - well, you'd expect that with the subject matter, I suppose - but done well and worth watching.

December 22
Hitchcock isn't quite what I expected, since I didn't realise it was actually about the making of Psycho as much as it was about the eponymous director. It was also about his wife - long-suffering and very supportive, as portrayed. Helen Mirren I think probably carried the best of the acting in this. It's an interesting piece of work and I enjoyed it, but I find now that I want to know more about the man for whom it's named.

December 20
Earlier this year I watched an interview from, oh, probably some time in the nineties where the Edge talked about his guitar playing and it was both fascinating and enlightening - I hadn't realised, for example, that he makes extensive use of alternative tunings. Last night I watched an hour-long review of his stage equipment with his guitar tech (who both amusingly and annoyingly seemed to have a good deal of trouble getting words out of his mouth in the right order to express what he was trying to say) and it was... eye-opening. The alternative guitar tunings thing is on another level entirely - specific guitars with specific tunings, with backups for specific songs - but Edge's attention to all the tech that goes into making his particular sound is incredible. Like, because they're using wireless rigs, he wants to make sure he's getting the same sound as if they were plugged in, but he doesn't want to touch any of the guitar setup, so he's tweaking the capacitors in the wireless rig and listening to the sound and tweaking again until he's happy with it. The legendary pedalboard looks kinda mundane in this context; it's just a bank of switches hooked to a rack-load of gear and, uh, five (mostly) vintage amplifiers which for aesthetic reasons are all sitting out of sight next to the guitar tech's workspace during the gig. The non-mundane parts of the pedalboard? There're pedals to adjust the parameters of the delay he's using, so he's not having to tweak the dials on stage. There's a distortion pedal of a particular vintage rebuilt into the body of a wah-wah pedal to give the distinctive guitar sound in Elevation. And there's pedals to tell the band he's ready to go with the song, which is kinda funny, to be honest - I mean, sure, it's probably necesssary for "lemme dial in these fifteen effects and then we can go", but still.

And I'm reminded that there's a bit in the performance of Sunday Bloody Sunday in Rattle and Hum where he's been laying into the guitar - it's a very emotional performance - and suddenly realises he's on the wrong side of the stage and needs to hit an effect, and basically starts playing... almost filler on the guitar while he legs it across to his pedalboard to hit the magic button.

Anyway. That's two Edge revelations for me this year, and I've been a fan of U2 for a very long time.

December 17
One of the Advent of Code puzzles has me stumped. I'm sure I've got the correct answer, but the site says no, and I can't find the problem. My code's working fine with the examples given, so that's not helping. The puzzle is effectively a 2D version of Conway's Life where you get a bunch of patterns to apply to the current generation that will produce the next generation. I've manually worked through about half a line from the initial setup to generation 1, and it all looks sane, so I'm left scratching my head at this point. There's a second headscratcher but I've not put quite as much effort into validating my approach - it turns out the spec for the puzzle leaves a little ambiguity, so I'll need to play around with that a bit.

December 16
The Advent of Code thing finally completed its work - with the right answer - and the subsequent puzzle I knocked out in about 10 minutes including runtime. Go figure. I'm probably missing a trick with the long-running one. In any case, I've another slightly long-running one going now, and I'm kinda chafing against Python's multi-dimensional array handling.

December 15
I'm sure the TV listings said Die Hard 5, but we wound up with Die Hard 4, so we watched that.

December 12
Managed to complete a few backups eventually. So now I need to figure out what I'm doing next; put the RAID unit back on the older server, or move everything to the newer server? Maybe this'll be a Christmas Holiday project!

The circus in the UK... they can't even properly organise a revolt. It's all too stupid to make up. Oh, and BBC weren't helping matters by trying to run "live" coverage of the outside windows of the 1922 Committee's offices while the count was happening, having the guy on camera saying inane things like, "maybe their hands are cold and that's why it's taking so long". Anyway, all over, now we're back to petulantance vs. obstinancy while the slightly bemused, slightly confused rest of the EU looks on wondering how the hell these people managed to conquer a quarter of the planet only a few centuries ago.

I have been noodling around with Advent of Code 2018, a fun little site that gives you two programming puzzles each day and builds up a picture as you solve the puzzles. I got stuck a little a couple of days ago with one of the puzzles because I'd solved it using brute force and then the followup puzzle was "now do the same thing scaled up 100 times". After a couple of days it became obvious that it wasn't going to complete any time soon, and worse I'd not put any progress indicators in the code so I'd no idea if it was at 9% or 90%. So I did a little hacking about this evening (in the process discovering that Python allows you to do array[index:] = new_array_values) and my canary run went from 45 seconds to under 10, so I'm now rerunning it along with some progress indicators and it's already 20% of the way through. Shuold be done tomorrow, I guess. There's nothing stopping me from moving on to the next puzzle in the mean time, but I figured I'd do them in order.

December 8
Just doing a quick fsck...
/dev/rdisk2s2: fsck_hfs started at Sun Dec  2 10:54:05 2018
/dev/rdisk2s2: fsck_hfs completed at Sat Dec  8 07:12:15 2018
Now to see if it'll run a backup.

December 7
Company Christmas Party, where there was an actual old-fashioned carousel. Indoors.

December 2
In an attempt to remedy the backup situation, I'm switching the backup drive to a slightly beefier machine (for handwaving reasons it needs to be a network share, not directly connected). That means it's basically spent the last 11 hours verifying the drive, and there's no progress bar to hint at when it might be done. Tum-ti-tum.

December 1
I have established a pattern of backup failure that goes like this: So, the thing about this is that each time around the loop, the probability of failure increases because there's more data to back up (unless the machine you're backing up is entirely unused, and even then it's still generating some level of churn on the disk from time to time). I appear to have hit a tipping point on this where I can't rely on the backup drive to be reliably available for long enough to complete the backup.

I am so glad I have Arq as an offsite backup while I'm trying to figure this mess out.

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Woop, 12-18 is here.