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Being The Geekly Diary of Waider
(may contain traces of drinking, movies, and sport)
July 07
Virgin Media decided I didn't need at least some of my Internet access today; it seemed from casual inspection to possibly be Cloudflare-connected sites, but I also lost the ability to connect to my home network from the outside, which was mildly annoying. Maybe it's time I finally set up some sort of firewall/NAT-climbining VPN.

Revised assessment of DVD tools:
  • mplayer recognises 9 subtitle streams in this disc, but only copies one of them, and strips all the language tags from the output.
  • ffpeg can't cope with this disc at all, turning a 2-hour movie into a 5-minute track. But at least it detects all the subtitle streams...
  • I can reproduce the ffmpeg behaviour in mplayer by using dvdnav://1 instead of dvd://1 which should tell me something except I've no idea what.
It's possible that I may get better results from mencoder or also from just giving up on this disc entirely.

July 06
Making use of the DVD Archive! We watched Johnny Mnemonic (the Japanese edit, for that is what I own) and I forgot that there are a few bits of unsubtitled Japanese dialogue in it, but nothing you couldn't figure out from context or that necessarily affected the storyline. I have the Japanese edit because I read an interview with Gibson some time after I'd seen some other (international? American?) edit and thought it wasn't bad; in the interview, Gibson talked about the push-pull with the studio and how the end result was a Sony movie, not a William Gibson movie, and how the Japanese edit was the closest to what he intended. I don't know, at this point, what the actual differences were, but I immediately popped open Amazon Japan and ordered the movie. What I like about this movie is that for me, at least, it really captures what Gibson wrote about the Matrix (no, not the Watchowski one) in visual format without losing much, or anything in the process. The intercuts between Johnny wearing his goofy datagloves and visor (check Dina Meyer, in character or not, mocking the gloves), and the VR view, really gels with the whole "cyberdeck cowboy" routine in the Sprawl stories. I particularly liked how the act of hacking something, or even pulling data from something, was characterised by physical movements, some of which seemed to almost map directly to bits from random Gibson stories. Pulling in the bridge from All Tomorrow's Parties et. al as the home of the LoTeks is a bold move, but it works; Dolph Lundgren's preacher character, not so much. (I have no idea what that was about.) Overall this is still a bit of a rough movie, but I do like it.

July 05
Busy week at work, so further investigation of Dealing With Awkward DVDs was limited, but I've got this far:
  • mplayer -dumpstream can rip things that ffmpeg can't. That's annoying.
  • mplayer -dumpstream either has no useful controls over what it dumps, or has terrible documentation, or both. That's annoying.
  • mplayer -dumpstream appears to only dump one of the subtitle streams or ffprobe is lying to me. I actually suspect the latter. Both of those are annoying.
  • ffmpeg -metadata does not seem to be able to tag the subtitle streams with a language. It tags the audio streams just fine. That is, you guessed it, annoying.


Changing Lanes was ok. I recall seeing the trailers for this, possibly in the cinema, but it took me more than 20 years to actually get around to watching it. Ben Affleck's change of heart seems... somewhat contrived, and William Hurt is... I don't know what William Hurt is even doing in this movie.

June 30
I've had a hacky little plugin for the office laptop for ages which detects that I've plugged in an external USB keyboard - using three different product/vendor codes, although I can't quite recall why three since there's the ancient Kensington in the office and the slightly less ancient Dell at home - and then manually remaps a few keys. This is because Apple's native keyboard setup, in its wisdom, only provides a single control for swapping around the Alt and Windows keys when mapping to Option and Command, and this single option means the right-hand keys aren't laid out correctly. I recently got a new office Mac, and this little plugin worked just fine with the minor exception that the half-dozen lines of Objective C it uses won't work when compiled on Apple silicon, but oddly the x86 binary works just fine. However, the new Mac threw up another problem: the key to the left of 'z' is '~/`', but the Mac insisted that for the outboard keyboard this was '§/±' and there was no immediately apparent pointy-clicky way to set it otherwise. So yesterday I tried to figure out how to fix this as part of my hack, which uses hidutil to remap the keys, but nothing in the documentation seemed to reveal what the magic keycode for the '§/±' key was. I eventually resorted to a loop which remapped a keycode to 'z', then I pressed the key, and if it produced a 'z' I knew I'd found the right one, and if not it'd move onto the next keycode. After a couple of minutes I had both keycodes, added them to the script, and presto, all I have to do now is stop trying to compensate for the fact that these keys were incorrectly mapped for the last, er, couple of months.

(Of course, that was too easy. I subsequently discovered that it's now reporting different keycodes to XRDP depending on which keyboard I use. This might be an artifact of tweaking the settings while XRDP was running, or it might require further consideraton.)

("Why are you using XRDP, Waider?" is a whole other saga that I'm not getting into.)

Added a touchscreen LCD to the DVD-ripping Raspberry Pi. Well, it's a LCD screen right now. Apparently setting it up as a touchscreen is not something that magically happens, and it doesn't come with any documentation. I see a previous version from the same manufacturer required you to cable a USB port on the screen to one of the USB ports on the Pi, without actually supplying a cable to do so. Cheeky. Anyway, as a simple LCD screen it's allowing me to monitor what my hideous script is up to (currently: identifying any rips where I managed to lose the langauge tags along the way).

June 29
Sleeping Dogs was a decent piece of work. We kinda figured it out before the big reveal, but it was a good reveal nonetheless.

Converted a part of my hideous DVD-ripping scripting from "run loop to collect data, then process" to "yield from loop to caller", and much to my surprise it not only worked first time, but it worked the way I'd intended it to.

June 28
Master Gardner is slow and thoughtful, but not boring. I will admit I expected more reckoning, but when it came to that it was actually pretty restrained.

June 26
Swallowing my distaste and using mplayer to do the initial extraction and then feeding the result to my working pipeline results in ... streams losing their language tags. WTF? I'll need to figure out where these are getting dropped, because it has a knock-on impact: if the audio stream isn't tagged with the language. the TV's player defaults to an audio stream that may not be the right one - it may be an audio commentary, for example, or an entirely other language.

June 23
Recovering some of the duff DVD rips and trying to do so repeatably if I can, but there are definitely a few holdouts and it's a bit annoying that multiple tools are required to handle what is essentially the same process. The touted promise of open source is that if one person solves a problem, everyone gets to benefit from the solution, but that runs hard into unmaintained software, divergent views of how a task should be broken down resulting in any integration of other code being a non-starter, egos who don't want to deal in code they didn't write themselves, etc. and the net result is waves hands in all directions.

June 22
Muzzle was a bit dopey, really. Not much by way of a story, no real plot twists despite various hinting, fairly silly ending. I've seen worse, and it had its moments, but I wouldn't exactly recommend it.

June 21
Shutter Island: it's funny that the trailer seems to portay this more as a horror movie than a thriller movie, or at least that was my take; it's pretty much straight-up psychological thriller. Much as with The Bookshop I'm not exactly happy with it because it works out pretty grimly in the end, regardless of how you interpret it.



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