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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
TimeMachine saga: continues. I set up a silly thing today: it looks at the last directory TimeMachine touched, and uses the Mac's speech synth to say, "Now processing ". Which I'm sure will amuse me no end when I forget about it and it kicks off at 4AM. Anyway. It appears that Mr. The Machine has done its thinning, has 365 GB free, and has gone back to backing up? I'm not sure. I didn't realise it did mid-backup thinning. So the long-awaited backup still hasn't completed, but it hasn't crapped out either, so that's good.

March 30
Learned how to use jq's map_values() function today. So of course I'm hitting every single nail with that hammer.

TimeMachine has, if I'm understanding its cryptic logging correctly, managed to free up 314 of 365 GB of old backups. It is, for some reason, encountering backups which it says I don't have permission to delete, something I'll probably have to investigate when it's done with its current round of hoo-haa. At least the laptop hasn't spontaneously gone to sleep for a few days now.

March 28
TimeMachine recovery is making slow progress because: I replaced the battery in the laptop, the old one having become a bit, um, swollen. Despite recalibrating the new battery per advice, it seems to be not quite right because every so often the laptop decides it's going to go to sleep because the battery is low. This happens even with a fully charged battery, laptop connected to the power, and "under no circumstances go to sleep" checkboxes all ticked. I may need to try a second or third round of Mac voodoo, i.e. SMC reset, PRAM reset, and hey, why not Fix Permissions while I'm at it. Anyway. This is relevant because when the laptop does this, it disconnects any running network connections. Such as for example the fileshare to the backup. This in turn causes the backup to crash out, even if I manage to persuade the laptop to quickly wake up again; and this means that it still hasn't managed to complete a full backup since I started recovering this. Well, it has, except for the bit where I said it's thinning old backups, and doesn't consider the current backup complete until it's finished that. The good news is that it's slowly but surely getting through all possible thinning activites it could do, which means it'll eventually get to the point where there's no thinning to be done and it'll just close the backup and TA-DA.

March 27
Season Finale of Star Trek: Picard. Really enjoyed this; I will say that Seven's fight was not unexpected, but I was also expecting the Romulans and Riker to get a bit more involved and that didn't happen, so I'm clearly not on a direct line to the scriptwriters. Nothing major left to hook in a second season - no dangling loose ends (except maybe what happened Romulan Abusive Boyfriend) and no "tune in next season when Picard says, ..." Of course Season 2 can't come soon enough, by which I mean maybe we'll see it in 2021 some time.

March 26
Trying to use pip2.7 to install stuff on an old Mac and keep forgetting that SSL support is broken? Make it work a little longer by using the --trusted-host pypi.org option. Better still, you can put this (and user = True, because you're using that as well, aren't you?) into $HOME/Library/Application Support/pip/pip.conf and then go back to forgetting everything.

Taking this enforced downtime to try and sort out my TimeMachine backups, which broke about uhhhhhh 9 months ago and which I've been disinclined to fix partly because I have Arq doing offsite backups for me and partly because the TimeMachine drive is an old Drobo box hooked up to an old Mac Mini via a USB cable and it's slow. Anyway. It seems that since I last looked, Apple have enrobustenated TimeMachine somewhat, since it has more or less happily dealt with disconnects and unexpected laptop sleeps to eventually back up the accumulated 100GB of differences, and now it's onto the "thinning old backups" phase. What's interesting about this is that I've taken to running df in a loop to watch it go, because there's no progress bar for this, and this is weirdly showing it consuming more diskspace for a bit before eventually freeing up a whole chunk. It claims by the time it's done it'll have reclaimed 200-300 GB; the downside is that until it gets to that point, the backup isn't considered complete, and it'll keep doing the "picking up from where I left off" thing which can take a couple of hours.

March 22
I am impressed (not!) that Google's aggressive spamfiltering changes appear to be ongoing: an email I sent to family members to update them on the general state of things seems to have wound up in more junkmail folders than not. Same source address I've been using for years and it has at least one of the source-verification mechanisms in place AND is configured for opportunistic in-transit encryption, which you'd think might bump the score up a little. If you get email from me with any sort of frequency, or want to, might be best to make sure waider@waider.ie and waider@gmail.com are included in your GMail addressbook - I've no idea if this fixes the problem but it might help, at least.

(and of course in the meantime I've received several unfiltered spam messages from what looks to be a Colombian address.)

Keep Talking, Pal is absolutely brilliant. I saw Rollins live in Vicar Street years back, and I can still remember how he was able to take the audience from rolling on the floor laughing to being on the verge of tears and all the way back to raucous laughter again. He's such a great storyteller. If you've got Amazon Prime, you can find Mr. Rollins here.

March 17
Gmail seems to have chosen this time to file email from previously "good" senders in my Junkmail. I don't particularly want to have an addressbook full of service accounts just so that my email doesn't get misfiled, but apparently that's the best advice on how to deal with this.

Hadn't touched my Perl banking stuff in ages, and I've never gotten around to porting it to Python. Today I went to do some things with it and realised the new additional 2FA gates are breaking some of what I'm trying to do. So after a couple of hours it now supports recognising that 2FA has been triggered, and scraping the code out of the Messages chat database to submit it. Discovered in the process that I've forgotten a lot of my Perl.

(Mrs. Waider says if my account gets compromised by this she will laugh.)

March 16
I didn't discover until afterwards that Jobs is not the same movie as Steve Jobs, but it's actually pretty good in as much as it unflinchingly (and maybe, I dunno, a little gleefully) portrays the Jobs in question as an unrelenting asshole, and in some cases a very petty unrelenting asshole. I understand there's some level of fanboy bickering about the factual accuracy of the movie, but it does seem to gel with a lot of other source material I've encountered over the years, it did have one of the actual people present involved with the script, and all the bickering seems to be about inconsequential stuff like whether or not Woz actually made a tearful farewell to Jobs in the latter's office. In context it's plausible and in-character, so I think the minor detail of whether or not it actually happened (and who would know except the two principals, one of whom is now dead?) is somewhat moot. Anyway. Will have to watch the other one, which I understand pushes somewhat more on the fictionalising end of the scale.

Really trawling the accumulated backlog of randomness here: Wuthering Heights starring a young Laurence Olivier (a name I can no longer hear without thinking of "Laurence Olivier for Diet Coke!") and a similarly juvenile David Niven. I read some version of this story when I was a kid; probably an "abridged classic" publicaiton of some sort, but I couldn't remember much beyond Heathcliff being pretty evil. Watching the movie - bearing in mind that I don't know how well it maps to the book - he comes across more as someone who's pretty hard done by, and Cathy comes across as a complete flake, and in the end I certainly had some sympathy for Heathcliff - but to be honest pretty much every main character in the story is dislikable in some way so there are no real winners in the end. The movie itself is obviously a little limited in some ways, being an 1939 production, but you can't ignore Olivier's screen presence - he looked not unlike an earlier incarnation of Christopher Reeve (particularly when entering the house wearing a cape...) and it's sort of weird to see him as a late 20's heartthrob. I've seen better movies from this era - Casablanca, and some other period novel that had Orson Welles as the male lead - but this wasn't half bad, movie-wise. Storywise, eh.

March 14
I think I read the book, but I didn't remember enough of it to anticipate most of how Doctor Sleep was going to pan out. Also, face-a-likes: trying to persuade myself that Billy wasn't being played by Aasif Mandvi, and Crow Daddy wasn't being played by Snoop Dogg. The story worked nicely, and I'm sure someone spent hours poring over The Shining just so that I could look at the scenes in the Overlook Hotel and wonder if someone had spent hours poring over The Shining... I got a tiny bit lost at the end but it's inconsequential in the overall arc of how things panned out. I might read the book again on the strength of this, so I guess that's a positive recommendation.

We're both coincidentally on time off work - well timed, as it turns out - and doing ok healthwise, in case you're wondering.

March 13
Just finished Agency, William Gibson's latest. A bit disappointed with it, to be honest. Its predecessor (The Peripheral) was good enough that I reread it cover-to-cover because a desire to do so was triggered by reading an interview about Agency. Let me give you someone else's words: A 2-star Amazon Review of Agency (and the followup comment. The power supply got mentioned so often that I was sure it would turn out to be a Signficiant Plot Point, but no, it was just mentioned a lot). I don't feel quite as strongly about it as that, but it does feel like a loosely-connected bunch of vignettes with a background story arc that's more there by necessity of connecting the vignettes rather than the driver of them.

I'll be fair, there's some magnificent dialogue in there, though.

March 6
To Kill A Mockingbird: Gregory Peck! Robert Duvall, although I wouldn't have known that without the benefit of the credits! A Bunch Of Other People! I've not read the book, but I had vague inklings of the story from, I dunno, cultural osmosis or something. Also I knew the names Atticus Finch and Boo Radley, the latter through obviously the 1990s UK band but also an oddball mistaken belief that the name had been taken on by some activist group - I can't figure that latter one out; I've clearly mixed the name up with some other group but for the life of me I can't figure out what. Anyway. The movie is, as Mrs. Waider noted, a bit slow, but then that was the norm for the time it was made, and we both remarked on the controversial nature of such a movie at the time it was made. The courtroom setpiece at the end is every courtroom drama you ever saw, and the epilogue where we actually meet the aforementioned Radley (a youngish Robert Duvall, who I believe I first saw in Apocalpyse Now some 30 years after this movie was made) is surprising but reading some background it makes a bit more sense as we don't quite get how Ewell lost face from the movie portrayal. In any case, I guess I have to read the book now.

Oh yeah. Of course we're watching Picard and of course it's excellent. Engage!

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Beware the Ides, or something.