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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

December 31
I've been subscribed to Apple TV for a while now; I signed up to watch Slow Horses and, eh, never cancelled because it's like a fiver a month or thereabouts. Last night I was trying to figure out how to filter on "things I get as part of my subscription" and I eventually just gave up and watched the satellite box instead. For an Apple product - and yes, some of you may laugh heartily and knowingly at this - the UI is pretty atrocious. It's very glossy, certainly, but trying to separate out "can watch this 'for free'" vs. "can rent this" vs. "sorry bucko, purchase only" just drove me to use a different medium entirely.

I'm sure I can claim that some form of diminished responsibility caused by side-effects of the COVID booster led me to watch the rebooted Karate Kid; it was almost entirely predictable and picked up a few beats from the original, but I felt denied that we didn't get a showdown between Jackie Chan and whoever the evil martial arts instructor guy was.

Rounded out 2022 with a couple more Clint Eastwood numbers: Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool, i.e. the last two Harry Callahan movies. These are so-so. Lots of 80s music and fashion, which is fine, except for the bit where the editor decided to insert really frantic music with the volume up during the climax of the first movie to the point where it was distracting from what was going on. Jim (James!) Carrey and Liam Neeson both making early career appearances in the second was kinda funny, especially that Our Liam had an English accent. Also Guns'N'Roses hanging around the funeral and later on the pirate boat - hard to miss that it was Slash firing the harpoon even if he kept his face hidden. The RC car chase was kinda funny, but the ending was a bit flat. I think as a series of movies, it's best that it stopped at this point before it got to the point of self-parody.

Oh, and somewhere in there we finished season 2 of Slow Horses, which was great; I am a little miffed, however, that Spider appears to be hale and hearty for the third series.

December 30
Another Christmas Classic, John Carpenter's The Thing. One of those horror movies where the horror is so shlocky it's more funny than scary.

December 29
Part four of the series covered a few things close to where I grew up, but skipped the section of the river I'd've been most familiar with. Mildly surprising as there was another Big House there, property of a former MP. But I guess they had to pick and choose what they covered.

December 28
Picking my way through Cois Móire, a four-part series following the path of the River Blackwater from its source in Kerry to its eventual outflow into the Youghal Bay. It's a fascinating combination of history, geography, trivia, community, and so forth. On a more personal level, part of my ancestry seems to have followed this river back and forth from the 1800s onwards, so there are quite a few localities along the route that I know from researching family history and it's interesting to see them "in the flesh". The narration is largely in Irish with English subtitles, and while I'm relying on the subtitles I'm surprised at how much of the Irish I can follow. It's also interesting and occasionally amusing where I can follow the Irish as it diverges from the English; the subtitles are a translation of intent rather than literal word-for-word, so when the English subtitles say, "the money ran out" for an ill-fated project, the speaker is, to the best of my knowledge, literally saying, "the arse fell out of it". I've watched three of the four parts and will be digging back in for the final part tomorrow.

December 27
Seasonal acquisition: a ReMarkable 2 tablet. I had already noodled around with one enough to be impressed with the tech but was curious whether I'd be able to avoid having to use the official cloud syncing; turns out there's a few options for that including a whole cloned sync server that allows you to stand up your own syncing. So I'm tinkering with that right now.

Watched Magnum Force again.

And yes, the Christmas Classic checks notes, Die Hard. Ho ho ho!

December 26
Today's bubblegum: Goldfinger and Bumblebee. Goldfinger was fine: a bit silly, but not quite as silly as Bond gets in later years. Bumblebee was, eh, I'm about three and a half decades outside the target market, but it was ok.

December 25
An Inspector Calls: I thought this was magnificent until we got to the final act. A little light setup, and then David Thewlis shows up and dismantles everything. It's a clockwork piece, sort of like Martha - Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence; everything gradually cranks into place to form a beautiful piece of construction. But then the final act, and it sort of pulled the rug out from under the whole thing, then shoved it back in again, sort of, and, well, that was all sort of disapointing.

Also watched: Two Mules for Sister Sarah. Best described as "light".

December 22
Vikings: done.

The final episode was ok. A bit flat, I think, but also they'd sort of painted themselves into a corner with three storylines in three different countries. I was most disappointed that Hvitserk didn't get to fulfill his alleged destiny with respect to Ivar. The "Ubbe Goes To America" storyline was probably the best finish of the lot, with the two lads sitting on the beach talking bollocks to each other while wrapped in blankets, watching the sun go down. Kattegat, eh, weakest of the three - the whole arc of the story just felt a bit lightweight. I guess this is the problem with killing off all your main characters before the series winds up: you're left with noone to carry the flag to the finale. Well, except that one wild crazy guy.

December 18
The constant appearance of "What Elon Did Next" stories on alleged news sources (BBC, RTÉ) may be the thing that drives me to implement article-level filtering in my RSS reader.

December 17
Rewatched Le Mans '66 which was as much fun the second time as it was the first time. I note with some amusement that one of the goofs called out on the IMDb page (twice!) is about how Matt Damon wore his cowboy hat as Carroll Shelby. (insert eyeroll here...)

Also recent watching: Electric Dreams which is a bit hit-and-miss but mostly enjoyable, and the second season of Slow Horses wherein Gary Oldman continues to wallow in the role of Jackson Lambe.

December 11
I had heard all manner of good things about Everything Everywhere All At Once, but to be honest it felt like it was really heavily front-loaded with expository dialogue to the point where it'd almost have been worth doing an intro title or a voiceover or something, instead of having this drawn-out explanation for what was going on. Once it got going it was certainly a bit more entertaining but honestly I think I could have spent that two hours a little more usefully.

December 9
Whee, new season of Slow Horses and it's awesome. Totally cracked up when Lamb pulled Cartwright's "going away present" out of the drawer...

The Mac once again experienced that peculiar failure mode where something crashes, and the desktop session no longer has access to any credentials. I've had strong suspicions that my fiddling about with lsp-mode on Emacs is at least linked to this, if not entirely responsible, and to be honest I've neither quite gotten it fully configured nor stopped it from periodically being more of an intrusive annoyance than a help, so I've decided it's time to junk it.

Ah yes, and Vikings. The mid-season finale in season six was, well, disappointing. I mean, obviously they're trying to do different things with how they shoot epic battles - including not shooting them at all, for Ælle's fight with the sons of Ragnar - but this was, I dunno. It felt like they planned something more, but then ran out of time, or money, or just gave up. The whole bit with Ivar and his crew going around the back way, climbing the cliff, etc. seemed to come to nothing, and then suddenly we have Ivar facing Bjorn in the middle of a pitched battle that I can hardly see Ivar making his way through on his crutch, much less then getting the drop on Bjorn. It just felt like a massive anticlimax. Of course, Bjorn gets his big heroic exit at the start of the second half of the season, but that alleged finale just left a sour taste.

December 2
So, er, that's it for season one of The Peripheral, is it? I was trying to figure out how they'd wind down to a finale and the answer appears to be "let's set up Season 2" which is, quote, actively in production, although we'll see if that survives the current economic climate. It's been quite enjoyable, even though it's departed fairly dramatically from the source material at this point; it's still roughly in the spirit of the source, at least, which is what you want from an adaptation. And the production is excellent. Ah well, just in time for the second season of Slough House to kick off...

We're still watching Vikings: into the final season at this point, and approaching the mid-season finale. Enjoying it, still, but it also feels a bit like they ran out of ideas so I'm gonna assume there will be a couple more heroic battles shot in the artistic style of whoever's directing, someone will eventually give Ivar what he's deserved for many episodes, Harald will fall from a great height on his head due to his own stupidity, etc.

I've been tinkering with using AWS SSM to manage "on-prem" hardware, i.e. a crusty old macOS machine and a Raspberry Pi, and I gotta say trying to debug failed Run Commands is a bit of an adventure. I've currently taken to cloning the official commands, patching them locally, and inspecting the results of the scheduled runs to figure out what's going on.

December 1
macOS Ventura: it's crashing less. It's still crashing, and the problem still smells like something going awry with Thunderbolt, and the fact that it's segfaulting seems... problematic to say the least, but in any case I'm struggling on while I wait for a 13.0.2 release.

Vikings: tonight's episode killed off the longest-running cast member. Oh well. Sorry to see her go but I guess the, ah, Gods had decided it from the outset.

Having an odd but irritatingly familiar ZWave issue at the moment, whereby a TRV is reporting its current temperature, but nothing else. It should have readouts for valve open percentage, battery level, and a few other things, but no, I'm getting temperatures and that's it. Which is annoying because I'm trying to understand its current behaviour and this isn't helping.

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