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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

May 31
Both myself and Mrs. Waider are a little under the weather, so we figured there wasn't much to be lost by sitting in front of Nic Cage being Nic Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengance. And indeed, there wasn't much to be lost in that movie, since it looks like they lost most of it before they started. Clearly Christopher Lambert and Ciaran Hinds are running out of cash or owe Nic some big favour. Basically: a stinker. Don't bother with it.

May 29
Accidental discovery: vi accepts URLs on the command line. At least, the version on my Mac does. Very cute.

May 24
I had planned on doing a proper, orderly upgrade of the Mac server to the latest OS X revision, then I accidentally clicked, "Sure, Why Not?" instead of "Postpone" on the reminder. D'oh.

Why does it not surprise me that Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs uses the phrase, "beg the question" correctly?

Helpful errors from the Mac: an exclamation mark in a triangle with the text, "an error occurred while updating your service data" and no indication of what I should do about this. Nice.

May 23

Worth noting: two of the local election candidates, Nial Ring and Darryl O'Callaghan, had presences outside the polling station; the latter, to be fair, could have been simply accidental as it was a couple of kids handing out leaflets who may not have known any better and who were gone by the time I came back out; the former, however, was definitely intentional and pushing the boundaries of what's permitted - a car with roof signs and posters on the interior of the windows, parked more or less on the property boundary of the building housing the polling station. I note from Twitter that Mr. Ring himself was encroaching on the grounds of legality at another polling station and responded poorly to having this pointed out to him, and that his supporters were likewise noted loitering at a third (or more) polling stations. Poor show all round, and I'm sorry I didn't rank him a bit further down the ballot paper. I'll know for next time, I guess.

May 22
As described to a coworker today: I had the experience of setting up XChat from scratch for the first time in about, er, 10-12 years, and hoo boy is it ugly. This is not software designed for people. It seems to adhere to a principle of "Most User Surprise".

This does not, however, excuse me entering my password into an IRC channel, and only a few days after I'd finally gotten the hang of typing it. Boo.

May 18
American Hustle was rather a lot of fun. What I didn't realise from the various trailers I'd seen is that Bradley Cooper is the insane one, not Christian Bale. This is well worth seeing.

Attempting to update Garmin GPS. Try "Garmin Express" program. Watch, unsurprised, as it fails to notice that I've got the GPS plugged in. Try my.garmin.com. Watch, unsurprised, as it tells me - like it does every. single. time. - that I need to upgrade the Garmin plugin. Upgrade the plugin, a process which requires me to close my browser. Install, browser restarts, takes some encouragement to find the GPS. Back to the "My Dashboard" page, which appears to have lost all the tabs except "Home" and "My Dashboard". Click on "Home", and get prompted to log in, because somewhere between tab A and tab B it's lost the context of who I am. Click on "Manage Maps", and it - and every other damned link - points me back to "Garmin Express". So, here I am waiting for that to download so it can spend an hour downloading and install an update for the GPS, assuming it actually manages to find it in the first place. Does anyone at Garmin actually use this software, or do they just throw away their old GPS units and pick up a new one from the employee store every time there's an update?.

Yes indeed, as I expected, the updated Garmin Express is unable to see the Garmin device that the Garmin plugin has no difficulty seeing. Quality job, Garmin, quality job.

Ah, and the final beautiful touch: ran Garmin Express on another machine which had previously been used to do all this. It successfully got past the "connect a device" screen without me having to connect a device. Clearly Garmin has no need of software QA, they've got all the quality they need already.

May 12
Er, whoops. Just realised that the updates I thought I was putting here since early last month never actually appeared. Fixed now!

May 10
If I've done things correctly, the python-based RSS toy is now running offsite. If I've done things incorrectly I'll miss a few headlines.

May 8
Back watching Sopranos again.

And once again accidentally reloading all the system services on a running Mac server (i.e. starting them on top of the already-running versions of the same services through incautious use of launchctl), which causes it more or less to lose its mind but not realise it. LOCKING, PEOPLE.

May 4
Right, Downton Abbey up to the season three special all done. Very enjoyable show, although I didn't expect the end-of-contract kill-offs in season three - a bit disappointing in some respects.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was definitely fun, but I think the fact that it's taken almost six months for me to actually get around to watching it says something - although I'm not sure what. I do think that larding this up with the whole Sauron backstory was a poor idea; it'd have sufficed to chop it out (and the silly Dwarf/Elf romance) and let the movie run to two hours rather than have this whole lingering focus on whatever the various scriptwriters felt Gandalf was up to when he wasn't hanging with the dwarves.

Given the various ways in which it glitches, I'm convinced noone at Apple actually uses Spaces. Just now I had a Terminal window go a bit loopy because I'd hit Cmd-Q, which caused the "are you sure you want to do this?" dialog to pop up on an entirely other, off-screen, Terminal window, and I couldn't figure out what was going on until I randomly swapped around a few spaces and then saw the dialog box. Never mind the fact that various apps still have the problem where a dialog pops up while the app is off-screen, and the icon bounces, so you click to switch to the app, but that may or may not work because of the dialog box, and regardless when you do manage to get the app on screen and in focus, the main window is hiding the dialog. Which you can't fix without recourse to Mission Control because the dialog is modal.

May 3
Guardian RSS feed headlines are now actually starting to look like linkbait. "This X will change your life", and the like.

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Summer was nice. I hope it comes back.