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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

January 25
Did my 25th Parkrun this morning. I've actually been walking the Parkruns since injuring ligaments in my foot last year; it's probably fine now, but (a) I'm paranoid and (b) it's always good for the Sanctuary Runners to have someone walking as some people are put off by the running. I'd hoped to do 25 inside 2019 (it's not hard; it just means running every second week, really) but the fun and games with the house meant that I wound up missing quite a few. Anyway, aiming to break 50 this year!

January 21
This sort of thing resonates with me because we've got an iPad 1, an iPad2, a bunch of "old" iPhones, a couple of effectively defunct laptops, and a few end-of-life Kindles knocking around, and it seems a shame to toss out (even to recycling) a functional piece of hardware if it can still be put to some use that isn't overly contrived. We used have a small whiteboard in the kitchen for planning what to cook during the week, and at some point in a fit of hackery I built a little site using Django to serve the same purpose, and made it so that its appearance on the iPad 1 roughly matched the physical whiteboard - including having a few fridge magnet words stuck to it that you could drag around. It's gone through various iterations since then; there was, at one point, a version that ran a clock that floated around the screen and grabbed the latest BBC News podcast for playback, but that wasn't anywhere near as useful as I thought it'd be. The current incarnation has a list of recipes we commonly use with references to the book they came from and a list of ingredients (and the all-important "IF YOU COOK THIS ON SATURDAY, START ON FRIDAY" note for things that marinade), and it's got a half-complete hookup to our online grocery shopping. So it's not just a contrived use for the iPad, it's actually sufficiently useful that I keep trying to figure out where the best place in the kitchen to mount the iPad is.

I figure we could probably turn another device into a digital photo frame. I do like the other thing Warren linked to elsewhere, which was bus timetables displayed on a disused Kindle. The "Experimental Browser" is good enough to run a bit of javascript or otherwise do page refresh, apparently, and from there it's just a matter of hooking it up to a source of live scheduling information. The guy who built it had a bit to say about optimum placement of the display, too - no use putting it somewhere you'd see on your way out the door because you're already committed to leaving at that point and information about the bus will only tell you whether it's worth sprinting or not. He eventually found a nook next to his toaster that worked for his morning routine. We have a display for local bus services in the office I no longer work in (or had, anyway - I haven't checked if it's still there), but it had the problem of being placed in reception so you've already decided you're leaving by the time you can see it.

January 18
We watched all of Jack Taylor over the last few weeks - Donal had recommended it, and it turned out to be on Prime in its entirety - and, well, oh dear. As Donal put it, [he] wouldn't read the books after watching the series. This is doubly damning since there's a quote floating around from the main actor about how "working from the books gave them access to such wonderful dialogue" or something. It's not wonderful. It's clichéd smartassery that's all a hundred years old. Of the show itself: the main actor couldn't seem to settle on an accent. I'd allow "Scottish Actor Can't Do Galway", but this was more the case where the accent changed from scene to scene and sometimes from sentence to sentence. The stories were ok, but very uneven. Then they introduced annoying sidekick, who they then sort of staggered over writing out, before introducing a second annoying sidekick, and a third sort of sidekick but not really but definitely annoying. We will pass over the whole issue of the female lead being swapped out. I felt like the thing was just starting to work at the end of season 2 (or episodes 5 and 6), and then completely reset back to a not-really-working thing when they renewed the series, changed the titles etc. for season 3 / episodes 7 and onward. Ultimately a case of something that could have been good, but wasn't. I think I got more enjoyment out of Single-Handed, even though I missed most of it.

January 17
Focus was ok, but of course the trouble I always have with a con movie is that I wind up mistrusting every single thing that happens. I really liked the New Orleans pickpocket sequence, mind.

January 16
House settling continues.

Briefly perplexed by my laptop repeatedly shutting down until I remembered that I'd reset the SMC as part of the battery install previously mentioned which... discards your power-saving prefs, among other things.

The Marshmallow Expermient for drivers: choice between "nose your car into this tiny gap now, and cause gridlock for the next 30 minutes" vs. "wait two minutes for traffic to clear a little, then proceed". Based on a completely unscientific observation of Dublin traffic this evening, 100% of drivers opted for the first choice. Better to gain a metre and lose an hour than to lose a metre and gain an hour, or something. Also laughing at the BMW which ostentatiously accelerated past me at sufficient speed to lift the rear wheels when he hit the speedramp slightly further up the road; he then had to brake and for all I know is still somewhere on the mess that is South Lotts/Pearse/Ringsend while I'm sitting at home on the sofa.

January 5
Replaced the battery in my "mid-2012 MacBook Pro" - it's still charging and running just fine, it just got a bit ... swollen. Which is apparently a precursor to fire and explosions and that sort of thing, especially if you're a Samsung phone. I figured best play it safe. iFixit sent me a battery replacement kit: one replacement battery, one spudger (!), one screwdriver handle with three interchangeable bits, and a small packet of Haribo jellies. Changing the battery was fairly straightforward, with the minor detail that during calibration it charged to 45% and insisted for the next several hours that it was at 45% and would reach full charge in 4 hours, and continued to insist on this state of affairs even when I plugged out the power cord. Restarting cleared the problem and it's now showing ~77% charged and promising to be done in an hour. As a bonus, I can use my trackpad to click on things again, and the laptop doesn't seem to run quite as hot.

Oh, and the old battery is inside two non-flammable containers out in the garden, whence it shall be transported to a place of execution recycling next weekend. Like I said, best to play it safe.

January 3
Agatha and the Truth of Murder was light, but fun. Plot, character development, a little real-world fact woven into the fiction.

January 1
And a happy new year to you too.

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