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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

June 25
So just as I'm writing an email to customer support, I figure I'll give the app one last try, and lo it's started "Downloading Europe..." We had some internet weather yesterday evening which might have played a part in the slow transaction processing but still doesn't account for the completely obtuse user interface.

Plus, now I need to endure the "we timed out downloading a 4GB file, so let's START ALL OVER AGAIN. But before we do, we'll pretend the download succeeded, and try to unpack the files! Whee!"


Almost forgot, we watched Jane Eyre staring ORSON WELLES and an uncredited Liz Taylor (as a child, obviously). Well made, visually striking, but then it turns out Mr. Welles had a hand in the making of as well as chewing up all available scenery every time he was on screen. An awesomely talented lad.

June 24
Currently suffering a hideous dose of manflu. Bleh.

Once again, TomTom Home proves itself to be Not Made For People To Use: I start it up, it insists on downloading a "Critical Update", runs the installer, restarts itself, and says, "A critical update is available" and my only option is to acknowledge this and watch the app exit. This is very, very basic stuff to be getting wrong. From previous experience, I'm guessing I'm going to have to manually download the "critical release".

Manual download. Install. App pops up a window - blank - that is stuck in the foreground so I have to move it around to close the installer app and clean up. Blank window shows spinning pinwheel of doom for a minute or so, then pinwheel and window disappear and "Application is not responding".

Force Quit and restart. "Your device is up to date". Go back to top level. There's a splash there saying "update available". This is just made of shit, basically. Maybe they've only one person in the office with a Mac, and when that person's not around they just churn out the Mac release and hope it works.

(Note, you can't click on that "update available" notification - you have to click around the app, which has many non-functional options, until you find the thing that lets you download the update.)

Ok, Map Update, and my subscription has run out. Click through the buying option. Redirected to the website to pay. "If you have purchased new maps or map updates you will find them in My Maps" There is no "My Maps" section in the app, and the app is still prompting me to buy the map I just purchased.

(In case you're wondering, I've actually tried to sort out problems like this with their customer service before. Took months, literally. They wound up having to extend my subscription because I couldn't use it when I'd paid for it.)

Aha, despite the fact that I have not one but THREE emails from my purchase, all suggesting that I have paid money for goods/services, the order on the website is still listed as "Inprogress". I wonder how long that takes? Maybe they can only sell during business hours or something.

June 19
Wrapped up season 8 of the X-Files. Dogget's first season: he's kinda not really the new Scully, and Scully isn't really the new Mulder. Dogget's sort of half-way - he's not in-your-face skeptical except when the plot needs him to be. And then Skinner's all, "sure, aliens, no problem". The "Scully's Baby" thread, particularly the finale, makes little sense and just feels like an obvious hook to retain viewers. As for Mulder when he does show up? How has he not been arrested for intruding on crime scenes? How does he even intrude on them?

But anyway, we'll be starting season 9 shortly.

Really impressed with Vodafone's site makeover.

Er, NOT.

Nice job, Vodafone.

June 18
MapMyRun's response to GDPR is to require me to grant them the right to ship my data wherever. And I can't download my data without signing up for their premium membership. So I'm going through what I've posted there, saving what I feel is worth keeping, and nuking the rest, in advance of deleting my account.

June 15
Justice League is another movie that I'd heard some poor reviews of, but turns out to be actually pretty fun. Goofy flash: fun. Sarcastic aquaman: fun. Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and SECRET MYSTERY SUPERH aw seriously have you not seen the posters, promos, cast list, etc.? HENRY CAVILL. It's RIGHT THERE. Anyway, yes. All fun. Zack Snyder does need to be prevented from directing anything else until he can see beyond the physical attributes of his female cast (seriously, gratutiutous cleavage and butt shots are not a crucual part of the story) but other than that this was definitely a lot better than expected.

June 13
I regret to inform you that The BBC are at it again:
2018-06-13 10:05:02Minnesota raccoon's daring skyscraper scramble transfixes internet
2018-06-13 10:35:02Minnesota raccoon hailed as hero after skyscraper climb
2018-06-13 13:05:02Raccoon hailed a hero after Minnesota skyscraper climb
2018-06-13 14:35:02Raccoon hailed a hero after Minnesota skyscraper climb
2018-06-13 17:05:02Daredevil raccoon's Minnesota skyscraper climb

I mean, it's not like anything else important is happening, right?

June 9
Went to The Last Ship, Sting's musical based on the shipbuilding town and people of his youth. I've been looking forward to this and was only slightly disheartened to discover that the man himself wouldn't be on stage. To be honest, that was a bit silly in multiple respects; the musical performances by the male singers could all have been Sting if you closed your eyes. As musicals go, this isn't Oliver or Annie, a point to which the chorus draws your attention at the interval after one of the characters has collapsed on stage after a beautiful duet rendition of the title song. The chorus, in fact, reminded me a bit of Elaine, "your tour guide through South Central Los Angeles" from that Ice Cube track on account of this particular change in tone!

The cast: superb. The music and singing: superb. The story: well, it's The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain except the Englishman is a dockyard crew or maybe the dockyard foreman and the hill is a ship and the parish priest was excised from the UK/Ireland run of the show and... what I'm trying to say is that the story's a bit derivative, but if you've read this site for long enough you know that I don't care about derivative if delivery is done well, and delivery was indeed done well. The set:

The set needs its own paragraph, basically. It's the uncredited cast member. A simple enough layout: a large backdrop that could be a dockyard gate or the inside of a ship, a gallery accessed by steps that could double for part of a crane, some movable bits in the foreground to make a bar counter, or dockyard detritus. Ah, but then. There were screens on rails that could be raised or lowered left, right and center stage, and with various lighting and projection they could be made opaque or transparent or somewhere between the two. These provided a street scene, a church, a house interior with a sudden fade-in of a couple dancing in the background as the older version of the male partner told the story in the foreground, and for the finale, well, of course, it turns into The Last Ship. Above the backdrop was another screen on which was projected skylines appropriate for the plot point at hand - the bow of the ship under construction, shipyard cranes, a lighthouse, and so forth. I'm giving it all this praise, but the real magic of it was that it wasn't a cast member - it supported the story without being a gee-whiz effect distracting you from what was going on. I'm just a nerd who takes note of this sort of thing.

Anyway. A very enjoyable afternoon, and I'd have happily walked out the door and back in for a repeat performance.

June 8
47 Ronin was a fairly straightforward action / drama movie; no real surprises, a couple of decent fights, and the somewhat expected outcome with minor variations. So basically a passable way to spent two hours.

June 4
SCORCHIO! Weather here is spectacular, so fiddling about with computers is somewhat minimal, as is media-observation.

Having said that... still chomping through the X-Files, now season 8 (the one where Mulder mainly appears in the credits, falling into an eye). It's kinda funny seeing Scully completely flipped to Mulder's "I want to believe" point of view, but I guess after seven years of exposing her to assorted phenomena they kinda had to do something about the increasingly silly skepticism. We've just passed the point where Mulder's decided to show up to work again, and in a very short number of episodes - possibly from one to the next - Scully went from "I'm pregnant and noone can tell" to "I'm VERY PREGNANT" which was a bit weird since nobody seems to notice. Well, whatever. Alien baby or something, everyone's just shrugging and going "X-File" I guess.

There are, of course, constant jokes chez Waider about Robert Patrick changing into a metallic man to pursue whoever's pissing him off this week. He never does, disappointingly.

As mentioned, saw Neil Gaiman doing a sit-down talky thing, and as a result I'm finally reading Sandman; my cohort in college were mostly mad fanboys of this (and also, curiously enough, Tori Amos who subsequently turns out to be a friend of Gaiman's) and to be completely honest the fanboy thing kinda put me off ever looking at any more than bits and pieces (I seem to recall reading Death: The High Cost of Living at some point). Anyway, reading the graphic novels now after consuming a large percentage of what Gaiman's done since, it's interesting to see him with rough edges trying to craft a story where he knows what he wants but doesn't quite know how to get it. I don't mean it's bad, just... it's not the work he'd produce if he did the same thing now; it's a bit more raw, a bit less smooth.

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