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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

April 27
Hacking about with the GoPro; there's a slightly abandoned Python module for interfacing with it, and with a small amount of kicking I got it working (needs python3, also doesn't recognise my firmware as being a HERO+). Then for some reason the "gpMediaList" API call (list all media) wasn't working, so I hacked around that to fetch all the data off the camera; then the next time I connected to it the gpMediaList worked just fine. I think there's a bit of latent flakiness around this that I've also seen on the USB interface where it was unable to retrieve files from the camera using the desktop app, but was fine with the phone app. And because it's a four-year-old model I'm not expecting firmware updates to patch the glitches any time soon.

April 26
Gradually reeling in the Marvel Comic Universe: Doctor Strange is fun and thoughtful and visually mind-bending. Cumberbatch does a nice job of both arrogant surgeon and somewhat hapless accidental hero. Rachel McAdams is a bit wasted in this; her role seems to mainly to be a prop for Cumberbatch and someone for him to be dismissive of - would have been nice to see her given a little more to do with the role. But, as the movie says, it's not about you, or something. Anyway. Good flick, worth a look. We're one short of being able to watch Infinity War and I see from the BBC's coverage of Very Important Things that there's another Avengers movie to catch after that. I'm sure we'll catch up eventually.

April 21
The long-running saga with the failing TimeMachine backups was eventually resolved by moving the disk array from the creaky old Mac Mini (2009 era) to the slightly less creaky Mac Mini (2011? 2013? can't recall). There were a few epic backups while the system caught up with everything, and there was an unscheduled "Drobo is protecting your disk so don't do anything with it for the next ten days" but now I'm back to hourly backups that complete within the hour they're running in. I'm still faced with having something like 1TB of backups for this laptop that really should be thinned out a bit, a process that TimeMAchine doesn't support particularly well.

April 19
Having watched the first Elizabeth movie last week we figured we'd watch the second one (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) this week. This is definitely more or less as I remember (although I'd missed the minor detail with Babington's pistol) and again, it takes some historical liberties in the interests of presenting a more pleasing story with less characters - ironically enough, Rhys Ifans' character is an invention to compensate for the fact that the real person in his place (approximately) had been killed off in the previous movie. Anyway. Good movie, but maybe use it as a springboard for your new-found interest into Elizabethan history rather than a core reference.

April 16
Did a slightly hard cutover to Python3.6 on a bunch of stuff running on this server. I'd done a lot of work some time back to make it compatible with both Python 2.7 and 3.6, but given 3.6 is end-of-life this year I figured I'd just switch that big ol' lever over to the new version. Turns out everything wasn't quite ready, and a bunch of stuff I'm sure I'd fixed and tested under both interpreters was suddenly not working, but it all looks ok now.

minor explosion followed by some dull thuds in the distance.

Mostly ok.

April 13
"Let's get a bunch of has-been action movie heroes and make an ensemble movie! How could it possibly go wrong?" Answer: The Expendables. I think the problem is evident in the credits when you see that Stallone has writing and directing on this. And the thing is, it's not a terrible movie that you wind up mocking for being so terrible; it's just a bad movie. It has no rhythm, it doesn't do the running gag (Stallone and Statham's knife vs. gun routine) properly, the dialogue is terrible (particularly Dolph Ludgren's) and in a movie with a name like this, it turns out none of them actually is expendable, including the guy you thought they killed off. (Sorry if that spoiled anything for you. You shouldn't have watched this movie.) Mrs. fell asleep while it was on, and I think that was a better use of the running time.

April 12
Someone (well, probably everyone) told me that Inside Out was worth seeing, and they were not wrong. There's a hint of a setup for a sequel, which I'm currently hoping they don't make, but this is an absolute gem of a movie.

April 5
I'm reasonably sure I'd seen Elizabeth before, but not 100%. Anyway. Minor historical tweakings aside (e.g. bringing Bishop Gardiner back from the dead just so you can kill him off again) this is a pretty good movie. It's also neat that they made a sequel a decade later - which I definitely have seen - to tell the second half of the story, although the end titles on this don't suggest that they'd originally planned to do that.

Other televisual entertainment is being provided in the form of the second season of American Gods, which continues to be awesome, and funny, and occasionally a little bit schlocky (I'm reminded of stories of Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow and wanting to make sure he got splattered with whatever unpleasantness happened to be available in any given scene) and in some ways deeper than the book was; I recall Gaiman saying that they'd run in a few different directions in places to cover ground he hadn't, or something to that effect. Anyway, about the only negatve I will pile on to it is that the plot is moving kinda slowly.

Last of the gogglebox roundup is The Gymkhana Files, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Ken Block's Gymkhana 10, which also has a bit of Ken's "day job" as a works driver for Ford, and some other bits and pieces. If you've seen that youtube video of the guy blazing around San Francisco in a hopped-up Ford? That's Ken, and that's Gymkhana 5; somehow I feel like they never quite managed to top it, although driving donuts around a jet being towed on a runway in Dubai is pretty cool, and almost losing a 1400-horsepower all-wheel-drive Mustang off the side of a cliff on Pike's Peak is also fairly eyecatching (ok, so technically that's for Climbkhana rather than Gymkhana). Watch the show, then watch the videos on YouTube and wonder how many takes it took to get that shot of the car's spoiler scraping along an armco barrier - and how much of the car they trashed in the process.

In other news, or as mentioned in my random twitterings: I got myself a refurb/unboxed GoPro HERO+ (that's the 2014-era model) to try out. Attached it onto the bike in what seemed like a fairly useless place: the left side of the carrier, so aside from a portion of the picture being essentially the back of my left leg, it also was low and on the kerb side of me as I cycled. But it was a shakedown test to see what the camera was like so I wasn't too concerned. I left the camera on default settings, viz. full HD at 50fps.

Turns out it was the perfect spot to capture a car which attempted to go around me as I traversed a roundabout and then veered straight into me. Traffic was moving slowly, so no damage to me or the bike (car may have suffered some paintwork damage on the driver's door from handlebars/brake lever). Some impolite yelling at the driver ensued, along with some (mildly amusing) commentary yelled by another passing driver in a broad English accent. Serendipitously, the Gardaí were out placing traffic cones just after the roundabout, so I was able to grab one and both report the incident - along with the car's registration - and show him the video playback on the spot. He asked me to provide the video and make a statement, which I did today. Outcome of this is dependent on the management chain at the Gardaí but it was a far more positive experience than previous instances of reporting this sort of thing (to be fair, it's my first time reporting an incident where a car has actually made contact with me, and the video probably helped hugely.)

(I'll note for the record that I'm mildly surprised this has to be put to the management chain to decide whether to prosecute, since it seems like fixed-charge penalty notices are issued roadside for similar infractions, but I'm not au fait with the specific rules here.)

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