Hacker's Diary

A rough account of I did with Emacs recently.

October 31
Humma. My laptop battery is definitely somehow ill. Or perhaps it's the part of the laptop that does the charging. Hrm.

New version of XScreensaver out, with my fix to vidwhacker included. Yay!

October 30
Did some work on SEEKRIT PROJECT X which I may mention if something comes of it.

Discovered that my laptop has an ill battery. Also discovered that my laptop is under warranty until April 2003, which fact I will use to cancel the first discovery if it proves that the ill battery is, in fact, a dead battery. Or if the screen gets any worse (the base-to-screen connector is not in the best of shape).

October 29
Back to Dublin. For some reason my spam quotient has gone WAY up lately. Read some more of the procmail manual to try and fix this some.

October 28
More office calls, also more partying.

October 27
Hrm. Somehow my 2.2.18 tree ended up with a 2.0.36 version header file.

Someone sent me a PGP5.0i-encrypted message, which GPG refused to decrypt, cryptically (hah!) complaining about a disabled algorithm and then claiming my passphrase was wrong. Seems Nick Petrely was right about Open Source developers being sucky with error messages. Anyway. The problem was/is that IDEA is patented and thus isn't included with GPG by default. And bolting it on is pretty trivial, but noone seems to have actually documented it. So here's how to do it:
  1. Fetch the GPG source.
  2. Fetch some convenient IDEA code; http://www.gnupg.dk/contrib-dk/ has some that will do nicely.
  3. You did check the signatures on those downloads, right?
  4. Put idea.c into the cipher directory.
  5. Apply the following patch to add IDEA into GPG's default set of ciphers. I've also signed the GPG-IDEA patch so you can feel safe and warm.
  6. ./configure --whatever, make and optionally make install, and you're good to go.
  7. Don't forget to re-SUID the gpg executable if you want to get rid of that pesky message about unsafe memory.

There. Now you're fully IDEA-enabled, and probably breaking some laws too. Don't you feel rebellious?

For the remainder of the afternoon, I went west, playing with my GPS toy along the way, and spent the evening partying in Ballina. And taking some calls from the office.

October 26
Embarked on the 386 recovery plan again. It's rather tricky to build a zImage kernel with enough bits to boot the machine - I can't use bzImage without a newer version of LILO on the box. You also find non-obvious interdependencies, like you can't build SYSV IPC without /proc support being present also.

October 25
Some discussion on the bbdb-info list about the right way to handle conflicting expansions, i.e. where (say) Real Name and mail address both match the stub-to-be-expanded.

October 24
Waiting for the nice telecomms people to show up and fix my damned ISDN line. I predict one of the following outcomes:
  • The guy has to cancel because a previous customer caused him GBH and he's now on his way to the emergency room.
  • I go outside for thirty seconds and return to find "we called but noone was there to let us in".
  • The line checks out perfectly, the equipment checks out perfectly, but nothing actually works.
  • "Dunno. Never seen one o' them before."
Suffice to say I'm not exactly holding my breath in anticipation of a broadband connection by this evening.

Rebuilding Linuxconf (finally!) in the interests of updating my m4mailconf source with the patch for same provided to me some time ago.

I take it all back. I HAVE ISDN!

The explanation, such as it was, that I received was approximately that when the Big Fault happened at the end of June (yes, June), a 1,200-pair join had to be dismantled, dried out, and remantled. In the process of remantling, they crossed a few phone lines, caused some previously good lines to become useless, and broke a few connections entirely. Somehow, my house seems to have been on the receiving end of all three of these. Since the ISDN wasn't in use, noone noticed, so the problem went unreported.

Building Linuxconf proved to be more fun than I'd anticipated. Wxxt, the windowing toolkit it uses, doesn't build out of the box with the latest toys - I'm guessing a more stringent GCC is to blame. So, I've made a Wxxt Compiler Placating Patch. You'll need to modify the spec file to include this if you're building from the spec file.

October 23
Upgraded Eris (the desktop box at work) to RedHat 7.2 using up2date. Remarkably painless; I thought I'd broken CPAN in the process but it turned out to be some duff index files on one of the mirrors. Shame that CPAN doesn't seem to notice that by itself.

Went to see Paul Brady at Vicar Street; he brought on Van Morrison for a few songs, which was pretty cool.

October 22
Emacs 21 was released today, which no doubt means more fun for BBDB.

October 21
I still cannot for the life of me figure out why Netscape insists on trying to do a DNS lookup on localhost. And, of course, ends up pulling in www.localhost.com. I've got as far as determining that it's something to do with Proxy Autoconfig - I think - but beyond that I'm stumped. Perhaps I should just punt it and go for Mozilla instead.

October 20
This has been a rather unproductive week on the hacking front.

October 19
No really.

October 18
Damn these tourists and their beer-drinking!

October 17
D'oh. All I need to do is build a kernel and use sneakernet to put it on the 386. Screw the bootloader; it's got one already!

And then I couldn't get 2.2.18 to build, either, so I'm trying 2.2.19 now. What happened all my source trees?

October 16
Noticed the laptop running a bit sluggishly; turns out my Netscape process had managed to clock itself up to 350 MEG.

Hurf. 2.0.36 will not build without some abuse. Turns out that mkdep coredumps in the fs directory; I snagged a newer mkdep and used that instead. Then the compile bombed out with some arbitrary crap I didn't quite grasp. Argh.

Fixed the Bobbins link in snorq to not care if it's a GIF or a PNG, and added a link to the latest from jwzrants.

October 15
Oh look. Another card from the phone company, this time for the ISDN line: we visited but couldn't gain access. No date, no crew number, no phone call to either of my daytime contact numbers. Perhaps I should try another letter of complaint, since that at least got me some positive attention the last time, plus it'd make a nice list of the continuing recurrence of the above - there's obviously a significant fault with their CRM system/practices if they keep making the same basic mistake with the same customer.

Micromail website update, the second this month. Isn't it time you bought some books?

Added a rule in my procmailrc to catch spams that put a numeric tag on the subject line.

Hauled down an old, old kernel to see if I can reconstruct Fedex's boot sequence, and thus determine what's busted.

October 14
Medic! We have a man down!

Tooled around with the old 386 a little, for no good reason. Built a 2.2 kernel which it refused to boot from. Hmm. It's crashing while reading the disk, and I'm not sure I want to start debugging x86 assembly language.

More work on BBDB. I think I'll try and release 2.34 this week, or the weekend by the latest.

October 13
The actual Meal-which-is-not-the-Meal. More drink, too.

October 12
Many DSPs in pub for Gemma's "Not The DSP meal 2001". Quote of the night from BPC for his perfect timing and inflection of the phrase "He's Swiss." - you had to be there, really.

Fiddling with PGP/GPG. Seems like the keyserver web is a bit messed up.

October 11
The ISDN line is live on the system, it says, but Sales have handed it off to Faults "just in case". At this point I can't do anything but laugh.

Mind you, to give credit where it's due, my local head engineer is being really nice about all this, in a "it's beyond my control but I appreciate your annoyance" sort of way.

October 10
"Hi, I'm just checking on the status of an ISDN line that's supposed to be transferred to me... it's been transferred?...*ten* *days* ago?...uh, thanks."

Of course, it's not actually working, as you might expect.

October 9
Finally got around to upgrading VM to 6.96 (made awkward by my leave-mail-on-server hacks to the POP module), probably shortly before Kyle announces the 6.97 release.

Drove to the office with the GPS toy and the laptop with the mapping and the plotting and muah bwah hah. Obviously I need a life. Heck, I was even listening to a badly-mixed '80s CD.

Slurped down some data from GIS Data Depot, which has all manner of fun freebies categorised by country. Of course, you still have to read up on the various GIS file formats. Still, I've now got a DTED map of Ireland, whatever that is. Oh, and roads. Probably dating from about a decade ago, I'm sure.

Good grief. The DTED spec is a big freakin' PDF file full of IMAGES.

October 8
Got my in-car PSU for the laptop today. Muahaahha!

Citizen Kane problem was down to it being a no-region disk, which my RPC-II DVD drive apparently didn't like. Google, download, flash the firmware to RPC-I, and we're all happy again. Whee!

Did some work on BBDB's completion function. I've sort of implemented it along the lines of jwz's intertwingle idea, at least as far as the concept of a unique person being Name + Email goes. Now I need to optimise it and make sure it at least behaves approximately like people expect the existing completion to work. This isn't necessarily a rewrite; it's more of a verification that the completion works. For now, anyway.

October 7
Humma. Looks like I'll need to grab the Linuxconf source to rebuild my tarball and SRPM files for m4mailconf.

Looks like the Citizen Kane DVD simply doesn't like my DVD drive. I'll have to reboot to Windows to make completely sure, though.

Cleaned up a mass of duplicate files on the laptop, in the interests of not wasting quite so much space. I should probably just get a bigger hard drive for it, though.

October 6
Fiddling about with Richard Gooch's devfs in combination with my 2.4.10 kernel. Looks like a neat idea!

Modified the diary code a little to not insert blank lines unless necessary (hard to explain unless you actually use the code!).

Modified snorq to add Last-Modified dates to entries where they're available.

Discovered a minute bug in RedHat's gpm setup routine while continuing the devfs fiddling: you can set the mouse device using DEVICE=/dev/whatever in /etc/sysconfig/gpm and /etc/sysconfig/mouse, but the gpm init script does if [ -n $DEVICE ] instead of if [ -z $DEVICE ].

Ran up Emacs 19.34 to see what I've broken. Amazingly, BBDB works.

devfs is indeed pretty tidy, but as yet I'm not going to roll right into it. In testing what worked, I noticed that Xine was complaining about being unable to play DVDs. Switching back to a 2.4.9 kernel without devfs doesn't appear to have fixed the problem, either, so I'm not sure what's going on there. Might just be the DVD I was trying to run (Citizen Kane).

Someone sent me a patch for m4mailconf to make it build under current versions of Linuxconf. I've offered the entire project to him as I don't use Linuxconf quite as much as I used to.

Finally managed to get WineX (Transgaming's hack) to run MadOnion's 3DMark2000 toy, by switching off access to DGA - it seems that something in either Transgaming's code or the GATOS ati.2 drivers blows up. The resulting system clocked a whopping... 6 3DMarks. This by comparison to, um, 500 (I think) in native Windows mode.

Found a bug in gnuserv, too - gnuserv-running-p always returns t after you've called gnuserv-start, regardless of whether the process is actually running or not. tsk tsk.

October 5
Managed to get both Oracle and SMB authorization built into Apache HTTPD, neither of which is quite what I wanted.

Spent the evening in the pub helping someone I hired at a previous job drown her sorrows on being made redundant.

And the phone repair man called to the house. Again. At 11:35 on a weekday, without making any contact with me prior to the call to say he'd want access to the premises. Now, are these people lemmings or what?

October 4
It seems I'm not the only person who thinks eircom provide a less-than-sterling service.

I got a disk in the post from Tony Firshman containing the contents of my old QL microdrives, including my fabled 68000 assembler written in SuperBASIC. A comment in the file indicates that it's version 2, written in December 1991.

Modified VM's MIME parsing so that it'd correctly display Sircam messages... damn virus authors don't adhere to standards, mutter mutter.

October 3
Played with Transgaming's WineX for a bit. It still crashes my X server, after tying it up for a very long time. I should probably be a good netizen and debug it.

October 2
Whoops. One minor bug in the Micromail update - due to, would you believe, an omitted period. D'oh.

Phone line still a nuisance. Eircom guy says they're putting their new magic debug toy on it. I made sure he had both my cellphone and office numbers before he hung up.

Persistent networking annoyance: firstly, the aforementioned failure of ppp-watch to return on my main server; secondly, the insistence of pump (I think) that the dial-up connection I made last night is authorative on what should be in my resolv.conf, despite the fact that the interface said data came from no longer exists.

Grabbed the kernel patch for 2.4.10 and noticed that it has a new USB-serial driver which may actually correspond to the toy I have here. Woo!

October 1
Added Euro (€) prices to my brother's diving website. Using some Emacs lisp, of course.

Also converted Micromail's site to Euros, which was "slightly" more difficult.

Eircom left a message on my phone again. The landline. You know, the one I said not to call during work hours. Smart folk, them.

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