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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

September 30
Starting with this, I managed to successfully post a metric from the Airport Express to CloudWatch. Fun things that made this non-trivial: the shell on the Airport Express and indeed many of the tools are part of busybox, so a lot of bash syntax doesn't work; there's no grep, awk, wc, cut, etc. so string manipulation and testing becomes entertaining (e.g. string-slicing using dd...); the version of openssl is old, so some of the HMAC stuff doesn't work as originally written; and the version of curl doesn't recognise the signer on the CloudWatch endpoint. ALL SOLVED, dammit.

September 29
I'm not clear on how I stumbled across The Spaces Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson; I've been making a concious effort over the last while to look for books by non-"traditional" sci-fi authors, i.e. not the regular slices of gammon, and sometimes I jump through Amazon's "more like this author" link and land on a gem. (Too often I wind up in listings of exactly the authors I'm trying to skip, though.) The general gist of the book is that someone's figured out how to send people to parallel universes, but there's a catch: if your parallel self is still alive, you die rather messily in the process. So you can only go to universes where your counterpart has already died. Naturally enough, the poor are better able to travel because their circumstances are always poor and rags-to-riches fairy tales are rare to non-existent. Our heroine is one such and... to get further into the details would give away some of what makes this such an excellent read. As with a lot of good science-fiction, the sciencey details (how the parallel universe travelling works, in this case) are glossed over because they're not important - a thing happens and you're there. Or messily dead, as the case may be. The first twist is a good one, but you get hints of it; the second twist is a bit of a doozy, and the third twist is... I dunno. I don't think it's obvious, but maybe I was slow on the uptake, and it is a logical extrapolation from various details you're being fed through the story, but at the same time it's the sort of thing that requires a mental leap or a change in perspective so maybe I'm not slow on the uptake after all. In any case: I'd strongly recommend this book, and if Johnson writes anything else I'll be all over it like a cheap suit.

The only thing I can't understand is how this has such relatively low ratings where I saw them; will need to go and peek at some reviews to satsify my curiousity on that front.

Virgin Media: still doing surprise reboots. No apparent correlation with the temperature readouts I'm getting.

Elementary: still not terrible, and in fact quite enjoyable so far.

Stupid shell tricks: using dd, tail, and sed to emulate wc -c because I'm trying to write something for a restricted environment that for some reason doesn't have either wc or any immediately obvious replacements.

September 25
I am highly likely to be the wrong market segment for Jupiter Ascending but I still think the Wachoskis can't write dialogue, particularly not romantic dialogue.

September 21
So of course now that I'm monitoring it, the Virgin box hasn't rebooted in a whole week. I'm beginning to suspect thermal failure; poking around the wholly undocumented API has uncovered a thermal readout from two points in the system (in god knows what units, since neither C nor F seems to fit) so maybe throwing that on a graph along with log messages and reboots might be interesting.

Mere hours after I'd made this observation, of course, the modem rebooted. "yay".

September 16
We are enjoying Elementary. Sure, it's got its problems, but it's fine.

My continued frustration with Virgin Media led me to spend an evening hacking together a scraper for the web UI. It doesn't yet do anything useful like posting the output to CloudWatch, but I can at least see that the modem rebooted ("due to power reset") seven times in a ~48-hour period this past week. Also the logging is weird: the reboots are recorded, but the most recent log message since a reboot seems to be in a circular buffer of length 1, i.e. you only get the most recent one.

September 5
Voracious TV habits continue... just watched episode 1 of Elementary which ... wasn't terrible. I mean, obviously some TV exec in the US looked at Sherlock and figured, "what if that, but in America, and the sidekick is a woman?" And of course I can see in the Pilot they're already trying to set up romantic tension, make Holmes less of an insufferable tosser, etc. but still ... not terrible. We'll give it a spin (Amazon Prime currently has all 7 seasons, so I imagine if we stick with it we'll see its inevitable decline as they rehash old plot lines (well, what else can you do when the source material is effectively static?), play the game of will-they-won't-they, write out characters whose actors have decided they've had enough, etc. etc.)

You can tell I have high hopes for this, can't you.

September 2
The Night Manager: that's a wrap. The denoument was pretty clever, in the end. We really enjoyed this despite my minor issues with the casting. (also I mentioned the possibility of Daniel Craig making a decent Dicky Roper; IMDb trivia tells me Tom Hiddleston was apparently tipped for Bond at one point. Definitely can't see that.) (also also Tom Hollander isn't really a short guy, he's just constantly surrounded in this show by hulking giants. Like, giraffe people. Seriously.) (ok, he's a bit short. I'm taller than him, for instance.)

Surprised by git, again: working in the waider branch, unpushed changes in a different branch, checked my upstream was set correctly, git push, watch in horror as it pushed both my intended branch and the different branch. Thanks, that'll do nicely.

(My office setup doesn't work like this. My config is minimal, but apparently the fault is that I have default = matching in the [push] section. So I don't have that any more.)

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September. September? SEPTEMBER!!!!!