Emacs Supremacy

I use Emacs to control the stereo, so 95% of the screen is Emacs:

But I like to have a clock there too, so since I started this thing (in… 1997?) I’ve also had an xwatch in the corner. The other night I decided that this was completely and utterly untenable:

So I thought “it must be easy to make an SVG based clock, surely” and looked forward to some hacking, but unfortunately Ulf Jasper wrote an SVG clock back in 2011, and it’s on ELPA, so I just used that instead. (I tweaked it slightly to get the look I wanted.)

Look! Emacs rules supreme over the screen!

To get the look I wanted, I had to delve into portions of Emacs I’ve never seen before, but to remove the borders/continuation markers between the two buffers at the bottom (one showing the songs and the other the clock), I had to:

(set-face-foreground 'vertical-border "black")
(set-display-table-slot standard-display-table 0 ?\ ))

There you go.

Useful Consumer Review

My wifi saga has been long and painful. Using a single AP, no matter how monstrous, just hasn’t worked in this flat: I’d get miserable bandwidth whenever not within two meters of the AP, and some parts of the flat got no coverage at all no matter where I put it. I guess wifi doesn’t like brick walls?

So I tried mesh setups, and that helped: I got coverage in the entire flat, but bandwidth was miserable. I mean, like 5Mbps and stuff. The last iteration was with Ubiquiti Amplifi, and I could probably have lived with the miserable bandwidth, but a bigger problem was that is was unstable: It required rebooting from time to time to force the units talk to each other again.

But! Earlier this year I finally put in some VLAN switches so that I could watch Netflix. (It totally makes sense.) So now I could install a real multi-AP wifi network where the nodes communicate with each other over cables, like god intended.

So for a few months now I’ve had Ubiquiti Unifi, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’ve got three nodes, which gives me complete coverage, and I get like 125Mbps from the couch I’m sitting now.

Setting things up was a breeze once you get past all the strange neologies Ubiquiti uses, calling the controller a “Cloud Key Gen2” and “2.4GHz” for “2G” and calling the APs “devices” and etc etc etc.

And they try to upsell you on switches. All the gadgets are powered over ethernet, which is really handy, but any PoE switch will do.

But it’s been completely stable: Haven’t had to reboot the network even once, which is a first for me with wifi.

Of course, Ubiquiti are asshats, but eh whatevs. I assume that everything on the wifi is unsafe anyway, so I don’t care that much. What I do care about is this:

The APs are extremely sticky. If my laptop is connected to one AP, it’ll stay connected to it, even if it drops to 1 bar and 2.4GHz, and I have to either reconnect on the laptop or in the app. (It’s pretty easy in the app — there’s a “reconnect” menu item that’s quick and speedy.)

One problem with the app, though, is that it usually crashes when you open it.

Details! It’s not like anybody expects a hardware maker to be able to write functioning software.

So I give this thing all the thumbs up, because this is probably as good as it’s going to get, because: Wifi sucks, and it always will.

NFLX2019 November 8th: Let It Snow

Let It Snow. Luke Snellin. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

My prejudices immediately told me that this was going to be a horrible teen comedy thing. But it’s not! It’s a fun teen comedy thing.

The actors are charming (it’s an ensemble thing) and the interlocking plots (FSVO plot) are all kinda interesting (and intersects in interesting ways) and there’s a handful of lines that made me laugh out loud. And there’s nothing annoying here: Not even the soundtrack.

It’s just like a total delight. I mean, it’s not the best movie ever or anything, but it’s just fun.

Oh, I should get the furniture in from the balconies…

Anyway, I’m just 30 minutes in, and I do so hope that there’s not going to be a third act with All The Drama. But I’m not holding my breath.

[time passes]

OK, I took the furniture in while er watching the movie.

Wow! The weeds that totally took over the planter are still green! That stuff is indomitable.

[more time passes]

Yeah, like clockwork, The Dreaded Third Act rolls in, bringing all the drama that we didn’t miss from the first two parts. Why do filmmakers do this?

I subtract two stars for the final thirty minutes.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 1st: Holiday in the Wild

Holiday in the Wild. Ernie Barbarash. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

This is initially just confusing, because they’re sending off somebody to college…

… but which one is he? Is the one in the middle or the one on the right? Who’s playing the teenager here?

(It’s the one in the middle, and he’s cast for this way-appropriate-age role because he’s Rob Lowe’s son.)

Oh yeah, Rob Lowe is in this, in addition to Kristin Davis (from Sex and the City), because this is one of those Netflix movies that’s a “let’s have two famous actors in a comedy and see whether that just like works” thing.

And he plays a guy in Africa who’s a game warden, a pilot and a painter. Yes, you guessed it: Romance ensues.

The movie is almost crass in the way it piles it on.

The shots from southern Africa are really pretty. They could be from a really posh ad campaign for safaris.

It’s just so limp. Davis and Lowe are fine, but there’s no repartee; there’s no zing. I get that it’s supposed to be sweet holiday fluff, but it’s less than fluff. There’s just nothing there.

And like clockwork… when there’s one third left, the “third act” starts, and with that a bunch of contrived drama.

I predict that this will not become a sentimental holiday evergreen.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 1st: The Man Without Gravity

Hey! I’ve read that book. The Cloven Viscount?

The Man Without Gravity. Marco Bonfanti. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

Fourth movie of the night!

Wow. An Italian movie? I think this is the first Italian Netlix Original? There’s a buttload of Indian ones, and a handful of Spanish, but other than that it’s mostly American.

But no, this is exactly like an Italian movie.


If you don’t like this movie, you are a monster. The Man without Gravity is very touching and poetic.

*rowr* (Monster sounds.)

This is a cute movie, but it drags. The performances are pretty weak and the storyline isn’t really there. There’s humour, but it’s just not that funny. And it’s really difficult to buy the central character’s conundrum: OK, he has an overprotective mother, but he veers between seeming stupid and clever in a way that’s just… convenient for the plot. I just lost interest.

I realise that this is probably meant as a parable and stuff, but it’s just unbelievable. Not the flying part, but that anybody would give a fuck. “Oh yeah, he’s like the Blue Man Group. Whatever.”

But I did enjoy the last third of this movie, when it’s just simple romantic thing.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 1st: Drive

Drive. Tarun Mansukhani. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

Third movie of the night: This is an Indian action movie or something? “DROVE”?

As in “it drove me crazy”?

The titles at the start seemed to say something about Israel? Is this an Indian/Israeli thing?

And now there’s dancing! Yay!

What spectacle. After the titles, I’m definitely intrigued.

Oh I see:

Drive begins like a wannabe Dhoom (2004) and ends like a dumber version of Dhoom 3 (2013).

No I don’t!

This is the goofiest shit I’ve ever seen.

That’s harsh. 2.3/10 on imdb? I wonder what happened! Nothing scores that low. Was is brigaded? Why!? This is intriguing!

7/7 found that useful!?

There’s 170 reviews of this movie on imbd, and they’re all kinda like that. Saying this is the worst movie ever, but not really saying why, and they’re all written by people from India (is my guess from the er I guess you could call it English). I mean:

Hm… Is this the explanation?

People from India are embarrassed that people from outside of India gets to watch a super-silly comedy slash action movie from India? Could that be it? Hm… I think there must be something more behind this. The reviews and votes look part of some campaign or other, anyway.

This is a better review:

Whether Drive is so bad it’s good, so unwatchable that it’s watchable, a crack-a-box-of-wine-and-invite-your-friends-over-for-a-hate-watch is debatable. I’m too bamboozled from the overwhelmingly stupefying experience of it to make a clear assessment right now.

OK, the CGI car chases are stunningly bad… but nothing makes any sense whatsoever, which I admire. You have to work hard at making a movie this stupid.

I’m amused, entertained and bemildred. I mean bewildred.

I have never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies, and I kinda doubt that they’re this funny and exciting, but this almost makes me want to check them out.

Because this is hilarious.

The actors are fun to watch (and the female actors are always impeccably lit), and the editing is on point for maximum fun.

The dancing bits aren’t really integrated into the movie at all, but appear as, like, music videos appearing randomly. But the dancing is impeccable and the spectacles are er spectacular.

It’s really too bad the CGI is really, really horrible.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 1st: The King

The King. David Michôd. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

OK, second movie of the night, and it’s a longer one.

I guess you could term this a… post-Game of Thrones historical drama? That is, it’s “gritty”. But it does aim for more realism than Game of Thrones, I guess: The hairstyles are bad and the actors have artfully greasy hair. And… I think that’s it? (I mean, Westeros is a fantasy land where they had invented shampoo.)

It’s pretty ridiculous and feels oddly small. I wonder what the budget was: Netflix only announces the budget when it’s megabucks, which makes me suspect that this had a smaller budget than web sites saying this is a “big budget” movie thinks. And it’s something about the crowd scenes: They only have enough extras for one line of people when they’re trying to do masses of soldiers. I guess they spent any money they had on that mud-bath at the end.

Yeah, that’s pretty accurate:

Moments where interest is snatched from the jaws of boredom come just often enough to keep you from switching to one of Netflix’s many other offerings, but it’s not enough to recommend starting The King in the first place.

This movie is just kinda annoying. I mean, to me: It’s a generally well-liked movie, so the stuff I find annoying is probably not what a lot of other people react negatively to. It’s stuff like how they just trust the images enough not to put a bed of dramatic “music” under most of the scenes. How the characters can deliver the most pompous lines without anybody finding them just a bit ridiculous. The way the colour grading makes everything beige. The way people are whispering-speaking.

It all just gets on my tits, but this isn’t a bad movie, really. I mean, not really. I guess it’s an original take on a war movie: Instead of being all “war is hell”, this is more “war is boring as fuck, dude”.

So I’m not sure whether this is a movie people who enjoy watching these kinds of movies will enjoy watching? Or perhaps the “progressive” tics of Henry V makes it a “yeah! dude!” kind of thing? The young guy with his magical, grizzled advisor proving all the fuddy-duddies wrong?

Anyway, I hate it.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.