< | >

Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

August 31
Wow. Esat's modem contention during Friday daytime is pretty sucky. Maybe I need to look into implementing some sort of dialing pool on Gonzo where it bounces around until it finds someone willing to answer the damn phone... of course, it's not helped by the state of the phone line, and there's no sign of the repair people at 4pm. I did say Friday afternoon as opposed to evening.

Drove to Killarney via the "scenic route". The Hotel Europe is pretty swanky-looking, but I found enough rough edges to be unimpressed. And why am I in Killarney? I've been invited to the wedding of a friend of mine from school. John and Breda have finally gotten around to their big day, and I'm gonna be watching. Also checking out the bridesmaids, of course...

Oh, and the Eircom guy never showed up. Really, what a shower of tossers. I wonder if switching to NTL means it becomes their problem to get the damn line cleaned up?

August 30
Hmm. I'm now on the XEmacs CVS access list for their copy of the BBDB package. I pointed out, with some amusement, that I don't actually use XEmacs except to see what I've broken in BBDB...

Office drinks. 'nuff said.

August 29
Phone seems to be mostly fixed. I phoned the helpdesk people again after it dropped the line and refused to give me a clean dialup, and they said they'd fixed it and there was no fault showing at the exchange. Since I'm off on Friday I asked 'em to call around then and verify that the line is clean. I'm certainly getting less trouble than I was, but it's still dropping the connection often enough to be irritating.

August 28
It really bites that Java doesn't have a macro language available to it by default, for stuff like conditional compiles (you know, like debug builds) and, well, macros (like writing the same damn piece of code fifteen times over).

August 27
Phone line seems to be clean. Hurrah! Hopefully this is the real thing, not a temporary cessation of noise like in the last couple of weeks. I should probably invest in a 56k modem at this point.

Hahah. I spoke too soon. No sooner had I downloaded email and the 2.4.9 kernel patch than the line got noisy enough to drop again. In theory, if they don't fix it before tomorrow, we can claim, oh, £20 off them. Unless they deem the fault to be due to "circumstances beyond Eircom's control", which is generally the case.

The nice folk at Slashdot have changed their URLs somehow that breaks snorq. It also puts your username and password into the URL history in Internet Explorer, which is really beginner-grade stuff to avoid. Nice one, guys.

Applied my shiny new kernel to Klortho. Seems to work okay so far.

August 26
Spent most of the day at my parents' house fixing computers. Discovered Windows 98's System File Checker in the process. Also discovered a virus on Mom's computer, infecting WSOCK32.DLL. Unfortunately managed to break IP connectivity in the process of recovering from this, which fact I discovered after I'd left for Dublin. Whoops #2.

August 25
Drove down the country to visit my niece and her family, also my parents. Also to fix up a computer for my brother; the latter plan stumbled somewhat when we discovered that his current case is too small and is AT, not ATX. Whoops.

August 24
My cousin's birthday party this evening. Drink!

Ann-Marie tells me that a phone-fixit guy called around this evening "to listen to the line". He repeated last night's findings, i.e. that it's an external problem. I seriously do not understand this company.

August 23
Oh hurRAH. Damn phone line is glitching AGAIN. I swear some tosspot at Eircom is reading this, and randomly frobbing my line to see what I'll write next. As luck would have it, of course, there's a half-meg email sitting in my mailbox, and I don't have anything set up for partial downloads. Mutter mutter bloody mutter.

Wow. Service, of a sort. I phoned up again to complain, and this happened after I'd established who I was, where I was calling from (the phone company doesn't have caller ID?) and what was wrong:
Phone Guy: Okay, can you wait two minutes and I'll call you back. I want to see if the fault is internal or external to your line.
Waider: Uh, sure, okay.

time passes

F/X: Ringing Phone
Waider: Hello?
Phone Guy: Mr. Westgate?[1]
Waider: Uh, yeah.[2]
Phone Guy: It's Eircom again
Waider: Uh, yeah. (thinking, "I gathered")
Phone Guy: The fault's external to your line. We won't need access to your premises to repair it.
Waider: Uh, okay. Cool. Thanks.[3]

[1] My roomie has the phone registered in her name. Despite my logging the fault under my own name, the Phone Guy made the incorrect assumption.
[2] But it's best not to confuse the issue by pointing this out.
[3] Yes, I know, I should've ripped into him, asking him why the hell this couldn't have been determined last week when I first reported the fault. But I'm too nice for that, and besides, is it his fault that some other phone jockey is an idiot?

In other news, I finally found the Compaq Auto (as in Car) Adapter that had been delivered to the office by DCB, who used, once upon a time, give a damn about customer service; it took me a whole nine days to get a proof-of-delivery docket from them so I could find out who'd signed for the delivery at our office, and then when I opened the box I found that they'd sent me the wrong adapter. This in addition to not responding to their sales email address ("a lot of people are on vacation, so that mailbox isn't looked at"). So I've asked about return and replace; if I don't get an answer by tomorrow, I'm cancelling the order and placing it elsewhere. What is it about getting good customer service in this country? Why is it so damn HARD?

August 22
How did I get to be a SQL developer, exactly? Not that I'm complaining or anything, of course. But how?

Started hacking at BBDB again, since I've been kinda lax lately about that.

August 21
Assorted CVS toolery at the office today.

Phoneline at home suspiciously well-behaved. This happened before, mind; I registered a complaint, got a note saying nothing was wrong with the line, and simultaneously the problems went away.

August 20
Redid my pilot-link patch to accomodate the newest version from the Plucker people. It's now pretty much entirely a malsync-only patch, which is just as well as the original malsync patch site was dead the last time I checked.

August 19
Hungarian F1 day; Schumacher easily won the race, giving him the Drivers' Championship for the second year running and for the fourth successive time. Barrichello's second ensured Ferrari their third consecutive Constructors' Championship. Jordan didn't do so well; Trulli was hampered by a refuelling problem and then mechanical failure, and Alesi was still learning to drive his new car, although his tenth-place finish was pretty good for a first outing.

Dialup problems cleared up long enough for me to determine that I couldn't VPN. Man. If it's not one thing, it's another...

August 18
Lazy day. Watched "Air Force One" (not terrible, but certainly not Harrison Ford's best work) and "Stealing Beauty" (a must-buy soundtrack, definitely; the film was rather pretty, too).

August 17
*sigh* Dialup still causing grief. But at least the POP server in the office is behaving, and it looks like IMAP's working well, too. Although not from outside.

Spent the latter portion of the evening at a wedding.

August 16
Whoever designed the components of HTML forms should be shot. Twice. With a shovel. I mean, why is a textarea not just another <input...> tag? Or why can't you specify that one of these components should be big enough to fill available space, as opposed to a fixed number of characters or whatever?

August 15
Dialup seems to be okay right now. Maybe the lack of rain has helped.

August 14
Donal flew in from Amsterdam this evening. Beer was had. Whee!

August 13
Phoneline problems have mysteriously cleared up. HRM. Further investigation reveals that it may well be a REN problem; plugging out the phone on the same flylead as the modem seems to cure the problem. I'm still getting LCP timeouts from Esat, mind.

Of course, as soon as I'd written that, the connection went back down the toilet and gurgled at me. Actually, I can hear the static on the line. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH.

At this point, having gone through cable-swapping, kernel frobbing, and more reboots of Gonzo in a week than I've previously had to do all year, I'm beginning to think I might need to ditch my infernal modem and get myself yet another box to pile in the corner. Whine.

August 12
Still having problems with the dialup. I think maybe I'll phone Eircom tomorrow and see about having the line tested. In the meantime, I've given in to inevitability and switched back to cellphone dialup. Welcome, as the man said, to the world of the future.

August 11
Cured my "can't mount /export/share" by moving stuff around until I could mount the damn thing. BFI, and all. I still don't know what the problem is.

Dialup still flaky; e-merge still better than Esat. I've decided to rebuild Gonzo's kernel; as soon as I started on a 2.4.7 build, I noticed the Slashdot announcement that 2.4.8 had been released. Gah.

August 10
Did a little more work on the vcal toy (it now knows a bit about recurrence rules).

Having some pretty bad problems with my dialup - the line keeps dropping, or failing to connect. I wonder if the line's noisy or something. I can't decide if it's just Esat, either, although the e-merge connection seems to be a bit more stable.

August 9
Bit hungover this morning. Apparently I was complaining to someone about music at 4am; I certainly don't recall that.

Got the vcalendar hack approximately working; it feeds what it finds into Emacs' diary file, so in theory Emacs should alert me when I have a meeting to attend. Then I started reading the iCalendar RFC and it made my brane hurt.

Went sorting through some more ancient sourcecode, and found a toy I'd half-written ages back to help you to read Japanese by looking up the character under the cursor and displaying it in the minibuffer as you cursor through the text. I can't recall why I stopped hacking on this; possibly something to do with the monstrosity that is Emacs' foreign language handling. After some fiddling, got it to do lookups on possible character meanings as well as pronunciations.

August 8
Started hacking a little elisp to deal with text/vcalendar crap, since that's what the boss uses to schedule meetings and suchlike.

Tag Rugby finals: we won. From the wrong end of the league, i.e. we got the Wooden Spoon. Which still entitled us to a plaque, which was cool. And, of course, much carousing thereafter.

August 7
Gonzo seems happy with 2.4.7; also, the SB Live! driver grew a /dev/sequencer while I wasn't looking, so I'll have to see if it actually works with my Korg now.

Updated Micromail's site for August.

August 6
UGH. Won't someone please tell the Irish weather gods that summer is supposed to be about sunshine, not rain?

Bought a line-out-to-cassette gadget for my car, so I can use the minidisc player in the car. It works reasonably well; sufficient bass causes it to distort horribly, though.

Building a 2.4.7 kernel for Gonzo.

August 5
And today's acts: Ash, Stereo MC's, Texas, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Placebo, Teenage Fanclub, The Avalanches, Feeder, The Sawdoctors, and a whole host of depressing bands in the Witnness Café tent while we sat outside drinking and chatting.

August 4
Spending today and tomorrow at the Witnness Festival. Today's attended acts: Dope Smugglaz, some english pianist/violin combo backing a northern-irish singer, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Eagle Eye Cherry, The Walls, The Waterboys, The Charlatans, Stereophonics, Faithless.

August 3
Ugh. Hangover day.

Hurrah, phone back. Downloaded Robert Fenk's changes to BBDB, and uploaded mine.

Did some more hacking on the diary helper; now it knows all about month rollovers, except for the entry back-filling code. Saves me a few more file edits.

August 2
Kevin's second-last day today. For Kevin's "benefit", we went out on the town after work and pretty much destroyed ourselves, really. All good fun, of course.

August 1
Today, we "went live". Tons of free food in the canteen!

Tag Rugby: beaten 14-2 or something. The main reasons for this were (a) we were playing against the invitation team, i.e. the insane folk who turn up hoping there's a spare game going, and (b) the referee seemed to know less about the rules than we did, leading to much confusion and the awarding of a penalty try for no good reason. Oh, and (c) we kinda sucked, anyway.

Still no phone line. Bah.

previous month | current month| next month

I'm making progress; I'm banging my head against the wall at a faster pace.