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Hacker's Diary

A rough account of what I did with Emacs recently.

June 26
Finished up season 4 of The Blacklist tonight. As season endings go, it was almost perfect; the only thing to mar it was no sooner had they revealed the BIG SEEKRIT than Dembe immediately undercut it. Come ON. Interestingly, with a few small edits they could've made this the series finale - I wonder if they were expecting their renewal not to come through? Anyway, roll on Season 5.

Oh, and I note that tossing $PROTAGANIST off a bridge isn't necessarily fatal, despite the lingering shot of a face-down body floating in the water.

June 22
The Blacklist has indeed settled back down a bit. Still slightly silly; Liz will periodically remember that she's disgusted with Reddington and mouth off at him, before continuing to work with him exactly as before, and more recently Navabi has taken to randomly blowing up about stuff for no reason other than that I guess the writers wanted to "develop her character"? I dunno if painting her as Angry Impulsive Woman is the best approach there...

After listening to Three Castles Burning's Bloomsday piece, I decided to tackle Mr. Joyce's magnum opus once again. I've had an ebook "Variorum Edition" knocking about for a month or more without loading it onto the Kindle, so doing that was the first job. Only after I'd started reading and mentally tsk'd at some obvious typos in the text did I go and read the notes on the edition: it's a compendium of five editions, the early ones being reproduced warts and all which means the typos, annoying as they are, are historically accurate typos. I'm debating whether to read all five or to skip to one of the later editions.

In any case, by sheer coincidence I was not only in Leopold Bloom's neck of the woods today, I was on the very site of his home. It's long gone, but there's a plaque to commemorate it.

One of the things that didn't make the transition from my old phone to my new phone was Signal. I don't really use it, nor do I have much use for it, but three people have chosen to contact me that way for whatever reason. So I've reinstalled the app and all, but Signal's "migrate to new device" feature completely failed to work so I just gave up on it. I have no idea if this impacts people trying to get in touch - I'm assuming it might. If this is you, the number you use to reach me on Signal is the same one you can use to send me a SMS... and there's that email address I've had since 1995, too.

(Wiping the old phone was a bit of a clown show as well - it prompted me for my Apple ID password so it could turn off stuff, and it locked up at that step. So I tried again, and this time it kept cycling through the password prompt for Apple ID. So I went to Settings and signed out of iCloud and ta-da, suddenly it worked. This smells like multiple independent identity processes failing to play nice with each other.)

June 14
So we're into season 4 of The Blacklist and it's gotten kinda silly, with the whole "Luke Liz I am your father" shtick, and the purported reason for the show to exist - the Blacklist - relegated more obviously to a means to Red's ends instead of being front-and-centre with a little twist at the end showing how Red benefitted. The last handful of episodes in particular have been an irritating shell game of trying to get Liz, Tom/Jacob/Whatever, and Precocious Newborn all on the same side of the Red/Others dividing lines, ultimately all coming unstuck due to some silly basic failing on the part of people who are supposed to be good at this sort of thing. Liz, in particular, is quite possibly the worst anticipator of peoples' actions I've ever encountered, and she's supposed to be a profiler.

I guess we'll grind on in the hope that they'll get over OMG LIZ HAD A BABY AND BETRAYED EVERYONE and get back to previous form at some point.

June 6
I did not get around to investigating the email-to-RSS idea. I got distracted by some other things, including a previously-mentioned-here reverse-engineering task which yesterday fell down a rabbit hole of ".NET app compiled to be cross-platform - iOS and Android - bundled up in Apple DRM" which is apparently a thing people do.

June 4
Warren Ellis' thinking-out-loud-in-public site, LTD, has a piece that approximates to why the site exists. He links out to someone else's piece on the tools they use for their site and that guy (Matt Webb) mentions using an email address to drop stuff into his RSS reader, because email is a terrible place for long reads. And that gave me a bit of an "A-ha!" moment, because email is a terrible place for long reads, and a chunk of my undisposed email consists of long reads that I've started into, not finished, and neither returned to nor deleted. Given that my RSS reader is a hand-crafted thing, it would be trivially easy for me to wire it up with such a channel - an email address that gets turned into reader entries - and I think I'm going to maybe fiddle with that idea this weekend.

For the curious (all two of you): this site is entirely hand-written, but tool-assisted. I use a modified version of jwz-html-mode to write HTML generally, with a specific pile of junk attached to it for writing "diary entries" (I hate the word "blog" and make disproprtionate efforts to avoid it) which uses simple templates to create new files each month and somewhat automatically links one month to the next. There are a few additional hooks in there, such as one which allows me to look up IMDb entries from the text I'm editing rather than flipping to a browser window, finding the relevant movie, copying the link, inserting the title text, etc. and another that's supposed to allow me to consistently link words to posts but which is broken in some way I've never bothered to figure out since I noticed it wasn't reliable.

Everything is written locally on my laptop, and then there's one of those evolved shellscripts that does the actual site update - updating the movies and books links, checking the entire site for broken internal links, and checking the format of the entire diary before using rsync to upload any changes to the public-facing server. Off the top of my head, this mess encompasses Emacs Lisp, Bash script, Perl, Python, and awk. I've occasionally migrated bits of it from one language to another but for the most part it's one of those terrible things that isn't sufficiently horrible to replace.

(somewhere online there's a good quote from a former coworker along those lines. Damned if I can find it and for some reason it's not in the quotes file.)

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