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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

February 27
Well, go us! We beat England at Twickenham (again). Of course, we couldn't do it without scaring ourselves silly and running it down to the final minutes of the game with the potential to throw it all away, but that's the Irish international sports team for you: if we're not already the underdog, we try and force ourselves into the underdog position.

Not to be outdone, Scotland are attempting to cling to the bottom of the table by concending to Italy.

Movies watched this weekend: Coraline (second time) and Intolerable Cruelty (uh, fourth, I think).

February 26
I didn't watch the game, but Wales lost to France this evening. Oh well. Roll on Twickenham...

February 24
Moon is another gem. Definitely worth seeing, probably more than once.

February 22
Continued Linux Printing Fail:
waider.desktop$ lpstat -t
scheduler is running
system default destination: [some printer]
waider.desktop$ lpr ~/Documents/whatever.txt
lpr: Error - no default destination available.
That'll do, Linux, that'll do.

February 19
Doctor Zhivago is quite the epic, complete with a 4-minute overture and a similarly lengthy slice of orchestration at the interval (yes, interval, even in DVD format - it's when you flip the disk over). Beautifully made and quite engaging, I do feel it's the sort of movie that you have to see because it's such a biggie - wheter or not you enjoy it is immaterial. As it happens, I did rather like it, but I wouldn't rush out and watch it again a second time.

February 18
Looking For Eric is a bit slow starting off, and the accents (choose between strong Mancunian and incomprehensible - deliberately so - French) are tough, but ultimately it's a gem of a movie. All sorts of nice lessons about admitting to your mistakes, standing up for what you believe in, trusting your friends and so forth if you want that kind of thing, but it's also funny, charming, touching... definitely worth a look.

February 14
Six Nations: England overcome Italy, but it's not exactly a walkover.

February 13
Six Nations: Scotland threw away what looked like a guaranteed win over Wales, and Ireland apparently chose the knock-on as their match-winning move with predictable results.

February 12
Creation is pretty decent. Not run-out-and-watch material, but enjoyable. I'm not even entirely clear why it'd cause such a fuss among the usual suspects since Darwin's actual ideas get fairly short shrift; the story focuses more on the man himself and his interactions with his family.

February 11
Today I shopped for a bike. Or rather, today I gave up on the places I'd been checking out and went to these guys, and frankly I'd recommend them over any bike shop I've ever been to. Darren (who features in the videos on the "maintenance" page) showed me around their work-in-progress store, gave me a bit of background on the bikes, had me take a few out for a test-drive, and chatted happily to me throughout about the pros and cons of the various things I was looking for. While I wound up picking a more expensive bike than I wouldn't initially have opted for, I did wind up picking one that I knew I wanted, and Darren didn't try selling me anything I didn't actually need (or want). I'm getting this through the somewhat convoluted Bike-To-Work scheme, so it'll be a few weeks before my new wheels are in my grubby mitts, but that's bureacracy for you... Go visit this shop (it's just down the Luas line a bit from Jervis Street) even if you're not looking for a bike. They're going to offer bike parking facilities and shower / change facilities for cycling commuters, a bike maintenance bay and a second-hand bike service in the near future, and they're already doing the maintenance and (obviously) sales. Above all, go to this shop to encounter proper customer service, something we're traditionally not very good at in Ireland. You can tell them that Ronan sent you if you like, but I don't think it gets you anything extra.

And no, I don't get a cut for pimping them, although they did laugh and suggest it wasn't a bad idea...

February 9
Vodafone's website: not very bright. I noticed I hadn't updated my address when I moved last year (I get electronic billing, so it hardly matters) and decided to fix that. The form wouldn't let me leave without filling in an alternative contact number. So I put in my Vodafone number, and it accepted that. Oh yeah, and I still keep getting this sort of thing:
We're sorry, an error has occurred. Please review the error below
There was a problem retrieving your Directory Enquiry details (MA-DE-00)
I've reviewed it. It's a terrible error message: it's uninformative and needlessly cryptic. Who should I notify?

February 8
Spent far too much time at the office configuring hardware. Firstly, I replaced a somewhat crappy NVidia card (which exhibited slow scrolling in Firefox and pretty much nothing else) with a slightly less crappy ATI card, only to discover that the autoconfig tools didn't work, the vendor-provided drivers crashed the machine hard, and eventually I had to settle for reorienting my right-side screen rather than spend yet more time figuring out how to get the driver to rotate it. After that I figured that if I set up printers locally instead of via a print server I might actually be able to use the duplex option and save some paper; after uninstalling and reinstalling CUPS, I went looking for the Dumb User config options and failed to find them, eventually resorting to restarting things and manually editing things and swearing at things until...
E [08/Feb/2010:16:09:26 +0000] PID 7498 (/usr/lib/cups/cgi-bin/admin.cgi) crashed on signal 11!
Linux will really break into the desktop space this year, I promise! (ok, to be fair, I'm running a somewhat older version of KDE, but seriously now.)

While I'm bitching about Linux things that fail, I should note that RSA's current SecurID PAM module (v6.0) will crash with a segmentation fault unless you specify in its config a passcode prompt - which it won't display. Fantastic.

February 7
So here's an example of the Fink vs. CPAN annoyance I was referring to earlier: the system install of XML::LibXML looks like this: LibXML.bundle: Mach-O fat file with 3 architectures, while the Fink version looks like this: LibXML.bundle: Mach-O bundle i386. Building from CPAN directly gets me the system version, too.

Digging a bit more, it seems that Fink installs an older version of libxml2, and many packages appear to rely on it (apache2, dovecot, mysql and daemonic, for example); and the Fink base install doesn't appear to recognise the system version of libxml2 as satisfying this dependency. Perhaps if I tweaked that... ok, so according to VirtPackage.pm, this should get picked up in the scan for pkgconfig files, and that produces system-pkgconfig-libxml-2.0, which unfortunately doesn't provide libxml2 (it does, but the package fiddling doesn't spot that). Seems like the solution is a fake package.

Ok, fake package created, dependencies satisfied, Fink now confused about the installation of perl588-core for some reason. Sigh.

Scotland v. France: Scotland never quite let go, but they never really looked like catching up, either. A shame, but they were definitely outmatched.

February 6
It's Six Nations season again, and the opening matches were fairly hallmark settling-in ones: Ireland v. Italy started well, got bogged down, and finished reasonably well with Ireland the victors; England v. Wales was evenly matched for most of the first half, then England pulled ahead for a bit, then basically seemed to stop playing while Wales kept pushing and eventually got their reward, but immediately lost their momentum and finished up losing. Just as well for England, given their Twickenham Centenary and all.

Wild Hogs is fairly predictable and mildly amusing. That's it, except to note that I still don't much like Martin Lawrence, and the John C. McGinley gag needed using only once, really.

February 1
I am once again facing the fact that backing up ~70GB of data over a wireless link to a slow drive may take several days.

I'm a bit frustrated with the way Fink works, or fails to, on Snow Leopard. Specifically, there's this whole choice of 64-bit versus 32-bit which seems not to play nicely with the installed Perl, which appears to happily support both (through building bundles containing both architectures, as best I can tell). The reason this is annoying is that it's plainly broken on account of some design choice in Fink, because if I install a binary module from CPAN directly, Perl happily builds it in such a way that it doesn't crash the first time I try to use it, which is what the Fink version does.

Or maybe that was just a fluke with some random module I tried using. Either way, annoyance.

While looking for a useful helper for working with Ruby, I found PLEAC, which is basically an attempt to redo the Perl Cookbook for other languages. A neat idea, although serious work on it seems to have petered out some years ago, and the build system is fairly strict Linux plus My Exact Home Directory.

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Wait, it's February? But I was just getting to like January!