Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
Mainly watching TED talks and the odd bit of TV this week. There are two DVDs of dubious provenance (i.e. I don't recall adding them to my list, and I'm not sure why they're there) sitting next to the TV that I may get around to watching before the end of the week, or maybe not. I did watch the rest of season 4 of Single-Handed, which I'd never seen before and which led me to be APALLED that my TV license money is being put to good use. It's clichéd, sure, but it's still damned entertaining and quite well-made. I may have to look out for reruns of the earlier seasons, and upcoming new seasons.

In the interim, I've also been noting our shiny new government has taken rather hastily to abandoning election promises: the most recent of these is that the reversal of the minimum wage cut has been put on an indefinite timescale, meaning (usually) "we'll leave it be and hope people forget about it". Shame they didn't do the same with bringing up the "untouchable" corporation tax in the financial discussions in the EU.

Interesting discoveries with MacOS X Server Admin Tools and DNS: Create a slave zone for 1.168.192.in-addr.arpa. Add a master zone for some random thing. Add an A record to your new zone with an IP address in the 192.168.1 subnet. Try restarting your DNS server, and watch it fail because it now has two definitions for the 1.168.192.in-addr.arpa zone. Ouch.

On the other hand, transferring a zone from one NS to another was surprisingly simple, given the handwringing I found online: I was able to copy an existing zone file into /var/named/zones, stick a GUID on top of it, create /var/named/db.<zone> based on existing files in the same directory, update /etc/dns/publicView.conf.apple, and reload BIND (using rndc, just like a real server...) and there was my zone. It even shows up correctly in the Server Admin Tools display.

All this is part of moving things off the Cube so I can shut it down in favour of the smaller, tidier, headless Mac Mini. The only thing left at this point is some monitoring stuff (MRTG generating graphs from DNS latency and cable signal strength) and some paranoia (ssh reverse tunnel for when my public-facing DHCP lease expires and I need to get into the box to fix it).

March 25
Happy Birthday, Mom!

March 24
We recorded Superman Returns over Christmas, but didn't get around to watching it until now. It's not a bad piece of work, but there are a few bits that are excessively cheesy (such as the whole Divine Saviour Mortally Wounded While Saving Humanity sequence), but they're so in-your-face that I can't help feeling that Bryan Singer was deliberately poking fun by doing them. The disconnect with the bits of the Superman screen conversions I've seen and can recall was a little jarring, too. On the whole, though? Popcorn movie. Fodder. Chewing gum for the brain. Don't expect any more than that from it.

March 21
Aha, it looks like the blib directory was included because of some Eclipse mollification I'd indulged in. Silly me. Pulling all that Perl into Eclipse also reformatted everything, mutter mutter.

March 20
Trying to put together a release of Finance::Bank::IE including all the latest changes, and bizarrely Devel::Cover is now reporting on coverage for my test files, and the build files (blib/), and not at all for the actual files being tested. WTF?

March 19
Slowly but surely getting the Mac Mini into shape to take over from the Cube (not sure what I'll do with the Cube once I'm done, mind you!) I've been trying to do as much as possible using the Server Admin tools, but some things had me reaching for the config files to try and sort out. Setting environment variables in httpd config, for example. And while I've managed to get the outgoing mail reporting its from domain correctly (@waider.ie instead of @mail.waider.ie) it seems like something that should be handled a little more gracefully through the addition of masquerade options on the control panel, rather than lying to the config about the server's name... (also discovered that my upstream SMTP server requires a domain name that works in the HELO line).

Eclipse vs. file permissions was on account of it (as best I can tell) setting the uchg flag on the source directory. An interesting way of stopping you from working on the files outside Eclipse, but a little aggressive, which is why I'm not 100% sure it was actually Eclipse that did it.

March 18
A bit mad: Eclipse appears to have unilaterally decided to make all my perl scripts user read/execute only, and refuses to allow command line tools to change this. Updating within Eclipse works fine, though.

RSS Toy successfully running on Mac Mini without using Fink - I just set up a CPAN install directory for the "few" modules this code needs. Which of course has me thinking maybe I should ditch Fink entirely, as I no longer need most of it...

And: Godfather III. In which the most interesting parts of the story, for me, were the bits that were loosely based on John Paul I and the Vatican Bank rumours of the early eighties. The movie... I dunno. My general feeling is that they should have stopped after the first movie, since it's the most compelling storyline - the gradual corruption of the son that the Godfather hoped to keep "clean". As noted, the flashbacks to young Vito in the second interested me more than the Nevada storyline. And the third movie, really, there's nothing that I could single out as worth watching it for, but it's not that I'd write off the entire movie - I guess I've seen a good deal worse, and I did find it sufficiently entertaining to actually watch the whole thing without getting distracted by, you know, dust motes or the moon outside the window or something. Take from that what you will.

March 17
Kinda neat: crypt (Unix password encrpytion algorithm) in JavaScript.

March 16
Godfather II - wait, so this is the "best" one? I can't say I'd rate it higher than the first one. It seemed to take forever to get going, and a lot of the storyline concerning Michael seemed... uninteresting. Fascinating to see a young, slim De Niro with a full head of hair, who doesn't repeat every second line of dialogue he's given.

March 13
I'm still hacking around on the Finance::Bank::IE stuff. I should really make an effort to actually release what I've got: a good amount of code coverage, offline testing, etc. What it really needs at the moment is for me to scrub the test files of any personal information, and then I think it's as done as it's going to get for the moment, despite some code that is begging to be refactored.

As part of teaching myself more about Java, and also as part of moving stuff off the Cube (and out of the realm of Fink), I've started porting some of my current CGI/Perl stuff to Java servlets running on Tomcat. It's slow, given that this is technology I don't know, but I'm making some progress.

It would be kinda nice if UPC's DNS servers didn't, from time to time, stop responding or dropping so many packets between me and them that I can't get a lookup for anything. Maintenance of a live server, or whatever the hell it is they're doing, at 19:45 on a Sunday evening doesn't strike me as the sort of thing with low customer impact.

Eventually tired of "Host news.google.ie not found" errors and restarted the modem. Lo, everything is fine once more. Grr.

March 12
Rewatched A Bout De Souffle. My recollection of the last time I watched this (August 2004) was that I hadn't thought much of the plot, but I really liked the look; rereading what I actually wrote, I'm now wondering if I'm confusing it with some other French movie. Still, yes, I do like the look, and I guess my comments about the dialogue still stand, but I'm not so sure about it being a must-see movie.

March 11
I'm not sure how it is that either I've never seen The Godfather, or I just can't remember any of the details past the ambush on the causeway, but tonight I watched the whole thing, start to finish, and quite enjoyed it. There's a few things about it that I'd flag up, though: once or twice, movie time seems to take a huge leap forward - such as Michael's return from Sicily, and then from there to his (second) marriage, and from there to them having a toddler. And the car bomb thing is weird in that there are no repercussions - no vendetta, no vengance, no Michael running around in a blind rage, just "cut to a year later" and we're moving on. It's hard to mark these as editing for time, since the movie runs to three hours, but it's also fairly minor stuff. I have the second and third of the series on the DVR waiting to be watched, so I'm looking forward to those.

March 7
Eclipse: the continued saga of the world's most annoying teenager and her persistently poor decisions. I know, I'll make these guys FRIENDS by telling them both I love them! What could possibly go wrong? La la la. To be fair, this wasn't quite as bad as I was bracing myself for, and I'm even a little interested in seeing how the story pans out (having not read any books beyond the first), but it's hardly must-see stuff.

March 6
Assorted Fink issues now appear to be resolved: CVS access is back online, the hostname resolves, and the issue I had with installing gd2-shlibs turned out to be because /sw/bin/libtoolize wasn't executable. Bizarre, but easily fixed.

Hot Fuzz is a little gorier than I remembered (especially the cathedral incident) but is still an absolute riot. If you've not seen this, whyever not?

March 4
So it appears the most expensive part of using Amazon's RDS for a database is - for me, anyway - the 12¢ per hour to run a "RDS Small Instance". Perhaps I'll consider moving all this stuff to SDB, if I can figure out what that would involve, but really, as it stands it's not a huge expense. Cheaper than my phone, for example.

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March already?