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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

October 29
Just remembered, we also watched Vincent, in which Leonard Nimoy plays Theo Van Gogh eulogizing his brother - and, to some extent - giving a biography of sorts - on stage in Minneapolis. It's really, really good.

October 27
Trying to figure out what's preventing SSH connections to one of the EC2 instances I manage. It seems to be running perfectly happy aside from that one thing, and that one thing is the one thing I actually need to debug it.

On the plus side I've actually scripted the annoying series of commands to diagnose it - shut down instance, detach drive, attach drive to another instance, give me a subshell where I go do stuff, then when I exit the subshell it puts everything back the way it was.

Well, I've found the problem, sort of: sshd privilege separation and, maybe, systemd are combining to fail. I say "sort of" because I'm still trying to figure out how to work around it, short of downgrading to a version of sshd that allows me to disable privilege separation until I've figured out more specifically what the problem is. I suspect I'll be building an old sshd and sticking it on some random high-numbered port or something to figure this out.

(out of frustration I installed a telnet daemon. Then discovered I don't have a telnet client. *flings laptop out window*)

October 26
Sweet Home Alabama: predictable, harmless, well-enough made. Whiled away the time but I wouldn't rush out and watch it again.

October 25
Exciting new behaviour in Catalina which has bitten me twice now: Python process run via cron has a persitent error; the Python process doesn't exit (nor does its cron parent) resulting, eventually, in process table exhaustion. Especially fun because to fix it you need a couple of process slots to sudo & kill cron.

October 21
Reading an article where a guy reviews code from when he started programming from his current perspective as a seasoned developer. One thing caught my eye:
In general, the Virtual Dom concept pioneered by React.js has proven itself in many production environments, and it has shown that you can in fact model GUI components as immutable data structures. With a Virtual Dom, your code would indeed throw away the old immutable virtual window object and create a whole new immutable virtual window object, but the framework would do the grunt work of making sure only the bits of the real window that differ are actually changed! That way your code works largely with immutable copies of the window (which are less prone to bugs involving accidental/hard-to-track-down mutation) while the user would see and interact with a single, long-lived, smoothly-updated entity: the best of both worlds.
Unless I'm mistaken, that's pretty much how the curses library works, and that predates React by a long way... (Wikipedia doesn't give an exact date, but Rogue, based on curses, showed up about 1980 apparently.)

For the record, this is one of the oldest pieces of my own software; a 68000 assembler written in Sinclair SuperBASIC, with one of the few comments in the code identifying it as "assembler v2.0 16/12/91" (I vaguely recall the preceeding verion was pre-1990).

October 18
Updated the laptop to Catalina. So far: nothing dramatic, but surprise surprise the GPS software from TomTom won't work. 32-bit apps have only been deprecated for, like, two or three OS releases.

October 11
I will confess to not knowing anything about Nina Simone other than that she sang a few songs I recognised, and did so rather awesomely. No idea of nationality, background, even what specific era she belonged to. So pretty much everything in What Happened, Miss Simone? came as a surprise. Born in segregated America! Trained as a classical pianist by a white woman who saw her play at a church revival! Played in bars to support her family when she mysteriously failed to get into a very white music school! Married to a man who basically was her version of Elvis' Colonel Parker! Turns out he was also an abuser! Got involved in the civil rights movement! Hung out with Malcom X, MLK and the like! (and, uh, Bill Cosby. Oh well.) Wrote protest songs! Got pretty much dropped from the entire music industry because of it! Fled the country! Turned into an abusive parent! Was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder! Triumphant comeback! Only died in 2003, something I'm sure I should have been aware of! This is a great documentary, and well worth watching even if you already knew all of the above. In addition to various archive footage, there's also some interview time with her daughter to colour things out.

So after that we flipped around the channels and found Jaws, which had been running for about an hour. So we watched that.

October 5
Well, that was weird: somewhere in the swings and roundabouts - OS upgrades? random editing? - my contacts got mangled such that the links from my contact card to Mrs. Waider's went from "spouse" to some sort of URL-encoded variant of "Spouse", which meant that "Siri, call my wife" stopped working. It's a bit disappointing, because one of the things that impressed me with Siri early on was it reacting correctly to "give me directions to my wife's office", and figuring out why it no longer recognised the relationship should have been unnecessary and certainly wasn't broken in an immediately obvious way.

We watched Exposed mainly because I'd seen it was a Keanu Reeves movie I didn't know anything about and it was available as part of our Prime subscription; it's an odd movie. Essentially I like the general ide of it - you're guessing at the facts when it becomes obvious early on that something is distinctly wrong - but I think ultimately the setup is too long, there's a few too many complicating elements (the dog, the husband at war overseas) - and in the end it all feels like it could have been much punchier if some of that had been cut back.

October 3
Spent a good chunk of time trying to script the process of updating SSL certificates on a MacOS Server.app-managed machine. It is needlessly complicated and has a couple of one-way doors from a scripting perspective, at least on the older version of MacOS I'm dealing with; for example, if you add a private key without an access list, there's no way to fix that without using Keychain Access to delete the private key or manually add the access list you want. I got about 90% of the way there and parked it.

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Octo-ber should have eight somethings.