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Being The Geekly Diary of Waider
(may contain traces of drinking, movies, and sport)
November 14
A couple of years back, in the course of pursuing family history, I took to investigating one of the local landowners who had a named "Big House" next door to the house I grew up in (albeit one that was demolished a number of years before I was born). Having found out a few things and then run into the inevitable brick wall, I put together a page about Arsallagh House, including my hope that someone who knew more might stumble on the page and contact me. And this did indeed happen: a descendant of staff who spent part of his youth on the farm attached to the house reached out and over the course of the last two years he's sent me recollections and pictures which I've duly arranged into a document for posterity. And for good measure I'm meeting him for lunch today. Hurrah for the interweb!

November 13
Checked my database schema. I'm already using "MediumBlobField", something I created myself to map to MySQL's "mediumblob" column type - so it shouldn't be trying to interpret the data, but somehow it is. I hate it when I've not only thought of the obvious fix, but I've also tried it, forgotten about it, and it hasn't actually worked.

November 11
Token war story for the day that's in it: my great uncle Jack emigrated to Australia in 1916. He then signed up for the Australian Imperial Force, who promptly shipped him all the way back to Europe, where he was a driver with the third artillery brigade in the north of France. He returned "home" to Australia - apparently without incident - after the war ended, and during WWII worked in a munitions factory. I have a copy of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Jack's ship-out details scribbled in pencil inside the cover; whether this was Jack's book that found its way back to the family home, or whether it belonged to one of his siblings who used it to take note of Jack's transport, I have no idea.

November 10
Found the UTF8 error that's been bugging me. Turns out it wasn't the wineglass glyph; it's a bunch of spurious bytes in the file. I should probably have my code write an unparsed blob of data to the database rather than trying to interpret it as UTF8.

November 09
Big Hero 6 was a HUGE pile of fun. It's a reasonably well-worn plot (indeed IMDb trivia points out multiple parallels with the plot of I, Robot and I'm sure if you removed replaced the robot character with a person you could dig up a raft of other similar movies), but that's not to take away from the rendition of said plot - it's tight, the emotional beats are well placed, and the overarching sense of silliness is never far out of reach. Probably the only mild complaint I'd have is that Fred's character grated on me a little; I'm not sure why, to be honest. I also found it a little curious that the Valley-Girl-ish Honey Lemon - voiced by Latina actress Genesis Rodriguez - is the only one who pronounces Hiro's name Japanese-style, i.e. with the "r" as a "l"/"r" blend, and this isn't a subtle note, it's fairly obvious. Shrug. Someone knows why they did it that way, I guess. Anyway. Barrels of fun, go watch it. Also, there's a post-credits sting, so don't miss that (we did and had to go dig it out of YouTube).

November 08
I've been using macOS' log command to investigate what my TimeMachine backups are doing. They failed consistently for about a month and finally managed to recover earlier this week, but they're still not fully stable (a high churn rate on a section of the filesystem probably isn't helping). The log view of what's going on is certainly more informative than the UI, so for example instead of a power bar you can see how many GB and how many individual items it's copied or plans on copying.

Except not.

After the initial backup, which looked fairly sane, the last two or three have basically started out telling me they're going to copy X GB and Y items; both have then proceeded to copy about 10% of X, while the item count racks its way up to Y. Then Y starts increasing, so a progress bar would look like "copied 100% of 10 files", "copied 100% of 20 files", "copied 100% of 30 files" etc. I'm sure that this makes sense to someone, but I ain't that someone.

Anyway. The aforementioned filesystem churn is due to a piece of code which has been caching data rather lazily into individual files; I've now moved all that into a sqlite database so it should cut the churn a bit.

November 05
Really enjoying the new series of Doctor Who. It's silly, it's fun, it's touching, it's dramatic... it's what the show is supposed to be, I guess.

Observation from the recent trip Down Under: traffic in Sydney - cars and pedestrians - was extraordinarily well-behaved by Irish standards. Cars giving way to pedestrians; pedestrians mostly waiting for traffic signals before crossing roads, even when the roads were clear; cars stopping at stop lines rather than half a car-length across; cars stopping as the lights turned red, rather than the lights being a warning to the stragglers to accelerate. I can't say it's universal, since I was only there for two weeks and had a limited scope of wandering, but it was depressingly better than similar situations on my commute. The only exception to this general good behaviour were cyclists, and those, in the main, were "gig economy" delivery cyclists, almost all of whom seemed to cycle on the pavement, in the wrong direction on one-way streets, etc. What's weird is that I saw few enough non-delivery bikes, so I don't know if the Cycling Asshole is restricted to the deliverers, or if it's how bikes work in general in Sydney. I did notice that the discard-o-bikes were, as with every other city I've heard about so far, thrown pretty much anywhere. Like, not even propped against something - just dropped on the ground.

I have no theories here. I did notice equipment for detecting cars breaking red lights, and maybe if one segment of the road-using populace is forced into compliance, the other segments mellow out. Or maybe the pedestrian crossings are better managed - more frequently favouring pedestrians, for example - that people feel less inclined to cross when the signals say not to. And of course maybe I was just in a bubble of good behaviour and the rest of Sydney is a more familiar free-for-all.

October 26
Voted. It's disappointing to see the scale of support for Casey in the exit polls; interested to see the actual figures at the end of the day. If you voted for Casey you are a bad person and should feel bad. He's a disgrace as a person and as a prospective politician.

Solo: A Star Wars Story was a whole lotta fun. I liked the bits of fanservice I recognised - the dice being the obvious one, but also the blaster, the Kessel Run, the card game for the Millennium Falcon, and a few others - but I see from IMDb trivia that there was a whole lot more for people who'd read the books, watched various other bits of the Star Wars universe, or even played some of the games. The movie doesn't buckle under the weight of this, however; it's nicely paced and has a decent plot to carry things along. I did have a slight headscratch at the initial big heist, but I can't really expand on it without spoilers, so let's just say I didn't wholly buy Val's actions if her motivation is supposed to be to get Beckett out of his debt to Vos. But that's a small thing, and I'd happily watch this again.

(also still amused at people tying themselves in knots to explain the Kessel Run "12 parsecs" thing rather than accepting that hey, George Lucas maybe thought a parsec was a measure of time and noone challenged him on it until after it was canon...)

My RSS Toy has been complaining for, uh, months about one of the feeds containing an invalid UTF8 character. This is coming from the binary portion of the database driver, i.e. outside the python code that makes up the RSS Toy. I've been trying various things to understand this and eventually concluded that the driver is actually broken, because the character (a wineglass: 🍷) is perfectly valid. I've tried MySQL-python, mysqlclient, and (most recently) PyMySQL, and all are showing the same problem, so I guess at this point I should just consider throwing away the database entirely (since maybe it's the database that's generating the error?) and use something else.

October 24
Return flight movie-watching: watched Ronin, an otherwise decent movie spoiled by De Niro basically repeating half his lines. Maybe he was hoping to get paid double or something.

Flying was to Oz for work and play.

October 11
Airplane movie-watching: I skipped a huge chunk of Baby Driver, in search of bits featuring driving. Disappointingly few given that the movie's ostensibly about a virtuoso driver. Glad I didn't pay for this; the only thing I'll note about the movie itself is that Our Hero went remarkably quickly from reluctant participant in crimes to, well, killer.

The Green Hell was a little difficult to watch as the audio was in German and the subtitles weren't great, but it's a fascinating combination of historical footage, interviews, and the occasional voiceover piece; the focus is on Niki Lauda and his infamous Nürburgring accident, but it also touches on more general issues of F1 safety.

And I watched a bunch of Preacher episodes. Still awesome, still funny, although to be honest the season finale felt a bit more like "we ran out of time" than an actual finale.


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