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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

March 31
I saw Hellboy II: The Golden Army in the cinema when it was released. Ironically, I saw it instead of The Dark Knight, which was sold out: The Dark Knight ate HBII's lunch at the box office and was at least partially responsible for the fact that there was no Hellboy III. Anyway. At the time I said "easily as good as the first movie" but having watched it again... no, it's not. It's still pretty good, and fun, but the first one still wins. Also I cannot save myself from eyerolling at the "Irish" stuff.

I note that one of the TRVs I recently recovered has fallen off the network again. Wonder what it is about them that this happens chronically to some and never to others? (Other than being shoddy hardware/firmware).


March 30
The storage array would like me to know that due to my disc-copying spree it's down to checks notes a mere 2 terrabytes of free space and would I consider maybe upsizing some of the disks? Currently I have about 90 discs copied for 554GB, so I figure I can handle about 300 discs without upgrading anything or culling the weak ones from the herd or whatever. I guess I'll check how many discs I've left before making any calls on this.

I am apparently not exposed to the current xz security threat because all the at-risk systems are too old. I'd suggest there was a lesson there except those systems are probably susceptible to other vulnerabilities...

Came across Hellboy in my DVD collection. So we watched that. Ron Perlman is just perfect in this role; I was startled to discover that someone thought it would be a good idea to reboot it without him. Apparently they were proven wrong about the "good idea" bit, though.

Waitasec. Apparently we actually watched the reboot in 2019. And found it not good. I guess it's safe to say it was quite literally forgettable.

March 29
Ok, kinda funny: VLC on an Apple TV box can browse the individual video files from the DVD backups I'm making and play them, but it won't pick up the IFO files to manage stringing the videos together or providing menus or what have you. VLC on macOS, now, that'll do the whole thing, but isn't hooked up to Le Grande TV.

A Star Is Born was so-so. The music is impressive, and Lady Gaga has an astoundingly varied vocal range, but the story is a bit meh.

March 27
Ripping continues. I have discovered a number of Disney-sourced DVDs claim to have bad sectors on them, which I understand is part of Disney's copy-prevention mechanism. dvd-backup cares not for such hijinks, but for now I'm choosing to set these to one side until I verify that the copies actually work.

March 24
Since I've more or less completed the OpenHAB-to-Pi4 migration (it's in better shape now than it was on the Pi3 or the Mac Mini, so there's that) I've turned to another project: turning a stack of DVDs into some form of network-reachable archive on the NAS. My main focus here is getting the movie off the disc and onto something like a DLNA server that several things in my media stack can access without additional software. To this end, dvdbackup and ffmpeg in concat mode seem the most likely contenders, plus a bit of scripting to automate the process sufficiently that I just need to periodically take one disc out and put another disc in.

Amusing discovery: feeding an extracted, concatenated .VOB file to QuickTime Player as a MPEG file (by simply changing the file extension) causes it to play all the audio tracks simultaneously. Not ideal, but amusing.

One of the things I'm trying to do here is lossless copying without really knowing quite enough about this space. I know at this point that a .VOB file is just a slightly specialised MPEG-PS file; what I don't know is if I can easily losslessly extract the data streams from it and recombine them into a more widely compatible container without transcoding the entire thing - essentially I want to pull out the main title and the main title audio, best available version, and dump them bit-for-bit into a container format that all the toys will be happy with. As a step up, using a container format that allows retention of multiple audio streams would be nice but I rarely sit through commentary tracks or have a need for audio description.

(also implicitly I'm not valuing the time I spend hacking around with this - there are off-the-shelf toys I could buy to do the job, I'm sure, but where's the fun in that?)

At this point I have ~20 lines of shellscripting to do the backup-to-NAS part. I'm still thinking about how best to manage the container/codec thing; it looks like Synology's DNLA server doesn't like MPEG-PS files, and apparently the big TV only wants MPEG-TS or MPEG-PS.


March 22
The Banker was an absolute blast. Samuel L. Jackson playing himself, of course, and a surprise turn by Local Man Colm Meaney. Also obviously an object lesson in structural racism.

Been meaning to get this done for ages but of course there was a saga, to be related in a later entry.
screencap of Twitter's 'your account has been deactivated' screen
Buh-bye you horrible Nazi cesspool.

March 19
Finishing up some cleanup around the OpenHAB migration to Pi to capture some of my add-on scripts in a more OpenHAB-friendly way, e.g. don't run things against the OpenHAB REST interface if OpenHAB isn't running.

March 18
Cute: you can link notes together in the Notes app by doing context-click -> Add Link and then typing the name of the note you want to link to (with search/autocomplete).

March 17
Someone wanted to watch 2001: A Space Oddyssey and that's two hours we're not getting back. It's marginally better when you're not feverish and suffering time-dilation effects, but only marginally. Everything just takes so damn long to happen. You get the sense that Kubrick thought his audience would be too slow to make the connections at the start so we spend hours - days! - watching a bunch of guys in fur suits learning to beat each other to death with bones. And slow panning shots of the spacecraft: "we spent months building this bloody thing so we're going to show you every square millimetre of it". Sigh.


March 16
Well, Ireland won, but France v. England was the best game of the tournament I saw. It was like the French decided that if they moved fast enough it didn't matter how many mistakes they made, and it worked, and it briefly looked like England would play them at their own game but the English went back to "ground the ball and use brute force" and the French ran off with the game again for a while. Tight finish, but the French kicker placed a winning 47m kick right between the posts with two minutes on the clock and, unlike a certain other team facing the English, the French held onto the ball long enough to make that the winner.

March 15
Upgrade looked ok in the trailer but was really not great and went for the stupidest ending. Oh well.

On the plus side, I recovered the two lost TRVs so now the Pi4 is talking to all the things.

March 14
Yes, the crappy USB2 hub appears to solve the immediate problem. Now booting OpenHAB on the Pi4 to see what else needs work.

...and it works! Yay! Now to recover the two TRVs which have, once again, fallen off the map. And a few other things I'd been planning on doing once I made this work.

March 13
Turns out there's a hardware issue with the Aeotec ZWave stick: thread and thread. The upshot appears to be "use a USB2 hub to connect it", or "get the nextgen stick, which you can't identify by sight". Fortunately I have a crappy old USB hub lying around.

March 12
Hmm. Tried copying the rest of openhab over today and... the USB dongle doesn't show up for work. Tried in two different ports, no dice. The Pi4 has 4 ports, so I guess I get to try two more. Also kicking myself for not making note of the steps I took to migrate over my toys from the Mac Mini (2x python, 1 of which uses MQTT).

March 11
Slacking off on my updates!

Computers are terrible. Ireland vs. England was terrible. The referenda were... not great for whatever reason you like. Read some good books, watched some good movies and some indifferent TV, and swore at various bits of software. The usual, really.

I did not realise - because how would I find out easily? - that I needed to reinstall my Homebrew setup for the new mac in order to avail of native binaries. So I've done that, and I'm considering the remaining mess in /usr/local, its origins, and what's likely to break if I clean it up with the big rm hammer. I only have Homebrew installed in the first place because certain things I want to use require it and the alternative is the sort of manual package-building bonanza I'd have automated if I was doing it 20 years ago; I really, really dislike having to use it but much like democracy, it's the worst thing ever except for all the other things I've tried.

I've finally moved part of the openhab setup: the database is now running on the Pi4. Still need to move the rest of it.


March 2
Dune Part Two was frankly a bit disappointing. Very pretty, to be sure, but it sort of went on and on and on and on and then just stopped. I'm sure there's a whole lot of fanservice in here, or stuff that gets filled in if you read the book, but that's kinda missing the point. Oh well.

March 1
Progress! The Pi4 is booting onto the network now and I have remote access. Still need to install OpenHAB etc. but that's much easier to do when I have access to the damn thing.

The Gentlemen feels a lot like Lock, Stock, etc. for the modern era. It has a similar multi-stranded plot of people who somewhat unintentionally come into conflict or alliance with each other. Also it starts out really slow to the point that you might start to wonder when it's going to get going, but it does, and it's worth it. Also very funny, even if a lot of it is dark humour. Oh, and Colin Farrell is a joy in this.

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Waider
Zooming through 2024