Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

April 18
It Might Get Loud was good, but not as good as I'd hoped - I've seen some extras floating around on YouTube that didn't make it into the final cut, and some of them I understand might be available on the DVD version (I watched this on iTunes). Some of the sound mix was off, as well - initially I couldn't make out what Jimmy Page was saying because we were going from wailing guitar noises to soft-spoken Englishman and back again, and the dynamic range was a little too much. Still, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this; there's something pretty funny about seeing three guitarists sitting around jamming and the only thing different from your average three-guys-with-guitars jam sessions is that these guys are musical legends, because they're doing the thing where one guy is calling the chords to the other two, or one guy's playing the wrong chord, or one guy is watching the other for the changes, and I'm sure there were bum notes and jams that fell apart in gales of laughter. Worth a look, anyway. Fun fact: the view out the window of The Edge's studio includes the area I lived in about a year after the documentary was made.

April 17
The final Middle Earth installment, The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies was frankly rather disappointing; I think making The Hobbit a triology was a poor idea as two feature-length movies would have adequately covered matters, and it feels more like they wound up with two and a half movies and instead of cutting they padding things out to make a third. I basically felt like I didn't care what happened to any of the characters involved, so when the inevitable tragic deaths occurred I was more bored than anything else; the whole bit where Thorin has his sudden moment of clarity in the gold-floored hall was overdone and, again, boring; and frankly if it wasn't for Billy Connolly basically playing himself, this movie would have nothing to recommend it.

April 16
Got a letter from Irish Water today, which I assumed was the much-heralded first bill.

No.

Approximately, it said that I'd registered for direct debit - thank you! - by phone, and because of the whole brouhaha over PPSNs, all the phone recordings had been deleted and I would have to resubmit my direct debit details again.

This is so full of crap I can't understand it. First, I didn't register by phone; I registered on paper, and somewhere in Irish Water there's a record of that fact because I have a letter confirming it. Second, the implication here is that they have no way of telling if people registered by post, by phone, or by whatever other means. Third, apparently they didn't bother putting the details from the phone calls into a back-office system, or if they did, instead of 'UPDATE customer_table SET PPSN = NULL;', they did 'DROP customer_table;' and only then realised that they'd no way to re-enter the data... I have no problem with paying for water, since I'm going to be paying for it anyway through taxation, and I'd rather have the opportunity to get a rebate for conserving water than to have an assumption made about my usage, but this sort of utter muppetry is exactly the kind of nonsense that plays into the hands of those people who are under the delusion that potable water is free and infinite.

April 12
Just back from a wee trip to Norn Irn - Belfast, to be specific - for my birthday. At the hotel, we watched X-Men: First Class and Van Helsing, both of which I'd seen before (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) and neither of which I'd particularly change my opinion of on second viewings. I will note that I'd forgotten most of the alleged plot in the latter; about the only things I did remember were the Quasimodo/Jekyll and Hyde routine, and the rotary crossbow. I didn't even remember that Hugh Jackman was the lead actor... oh, which reminds me, Jackman's cameo in the former was perfectly done.


April 4
I was given to understand that, the whole "we only use 10% of our brains" nonsense aside, Lucy was in fact a good sci-fi movie.

This is not correct.

Lucy is a sci-fi movie, correct. But Lucy is not a good movie. And it's not that the aforementioned 10% nonsense makes it a bad movie; no, it is the incredible inconsistencies and plot holes and general stupidity that make it a bad movie. For instance, early on in the movie Lucy has established that she can deal with a room full of people with guns simply by making them go to sleep. So the next time she encounters a room (well, okay, a corridor) full of people, does she make them go to sleep? No, she proceeds to individually float them to the ceiling, while they try to punch her, and the last guy she has doing a mime-style invisible wall gag. I understand that a movie is supposed to keep you interested / entertained by not repeating itself, but you know, Run, Lola, Run did a perfectly good job of entertaining me despite repeating the core plot three times over, while this dreck had me rolling my eyes so much I felt dizzy by the end of it.

In summary: NOT A GOOD MOVIE.

April 3
Life of Pi: I wasn't a huge fan of the book, possibly because it was overhyped as an award-winning novel by the time I got around to it, and I had no idea what to expect from it (not necessarily a bad thing), and ultimately I wasn't particularly taken with a story of a boy on a boat with a tiger and spirituality. The movie, however, I enjoyed a good deal more; it does run into something of a similar problem to the book, in that there's only so much you can do with castaways in a boat in the middle of the Pacific, and the panoramic shots and sky-for-water tricks and what not get a bit tiresome after a while no matter how beautifully composed they are. Funnily enough - possibly because I was somewhat peeved with the book by the time I got to it - I had no recollecton of the alternative story that Pi tells at the end; it serves as a grounding to the whole thing, somewhat, but equally it's just another story (which is the point you're supposed to take away - spoiler!) and I think the somewhat whimsical nature of the main plotline detracts a little from the impact this might otherwise have had. In any case, it's not a bad movie, and certainly if you've read the book you'll probably want to see how it turns out on screen.

Also: MEERKATS!

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Woohoo! Q2!