George V. Reilly

Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Title: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Released: 2015
Keywords: spy, period, action comedy
Watched: 2 May, 2016

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a moderately en­ter­tain­ing action comedy set in the cold war, pos­tu­lat­ing a somewhat unlikely alliance between CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Ilya Kuryakin, who team up to prevent a nuclear weapon falling into ex-Nazi hands. It’s also the wholly un­nec­es­sary remake of the classic 1960s TV show.

There’s decent chemistry between the three stars, Henry Cavill (Solo), Armie Hammer (Kuryakin), and Alicia Vikander (scientist’s daughter), and the glamorous early 1960s are lovingly recreated. The plot, alas, is uninspired and unoriginal and falls rather flat.


Changing Electrical Plugs

GFCI FTW! Ground-Fault Circuit In­ter­rupters For The Win. Last week, while trimming the hedge, I managed to partially sever the extension cord. The GFCI kicked in so quickly that I didn’t even realize that I had cut the cord before it stopped working.

As a child growing up in Ireland, I was quite accustomed to replacing electrical plugs. Many electrical devices are sold in Britain and Ireland with two-pin plugs. Unlike US two-pin plugs, the British two-pin plugs will not fit into a three-pin outlet unless you use an adapter. Many people would cut off the two-pin plug and wire up a three-pin plug instead.

I’ve never seen this done in the US—no doubt because continue.

ssh IdentitiesOnly

If you get "Too many au­then­ti­ca­tion failures for username" when using SSH, try using ssh -o 'I­den­ti­tiesOn­ly yes' instead. By default, ssh-agent will promis­cu­ous­ly offer many identities. Some hosts don’t like that.

The Unix file Command

I had forgotten all about the file command until it was mentioned in a Stack­Over­flow answer today. If you run file some.iso, it will display the label embedded in the disk image. More generally, you can run file on many different kinds of files and it will do a decent job of iden­ti­fy­ing the type of data.

Review: Spy Line

Title: Spy Line
Author: Len Deighton
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Ballantine
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 316
Keywords: spy
Reading period: 22–23 April, 2016

Spy Line is the sequel to Spy Hook. Bernard Samson is on the run from MI6 in East Berlin after asking unwelcome questions about a slush fund. Eventually they settle their dif­fer­ences and MI6 sends him on a mission to Vienna, where he learns that his wife Fiona, widely believed to be a traitor who had defected to the KGB, was in fact a double agent. Samson is world-weary but shocked to learn that the truth of his wife’s supposed defection had been hidden from him by Fiona and by the handful continue.

Railroad Diagrams (Syntax Diagrams)

Railroad diagrams aka syntax diagrams have never really taken off. I’ve only come across two memorable uses of them, in a Pascal textbook that I used as a freshman and on The former was surely influenced by Niklaus Wirth’s Pascal User Manual, which also used them. For com­mu­ni­cat­ing with laypeople, the simple diagrams convey much more in­for­ma­tion than a textual grammar.

There are a few tools which can generate such diagrams from EBNF grammars, including the online Railroad Diagram Generator and the Railroad-diagram Generator library. Other tools can be found in the answers to the Stack­Over­flow question.

Being A Developer After 40

Adrian Kos­maczews­ki wrote a in­ter­est­ing post on Medium about Being A Developer After 40, and some of the things he’s learned since he started in 1997. My own career goes back to 1984, when I had a part-time job for five years writing graphics software that was used in many live and pre­re­cord­ed shows for RTÉ, the Irish national television station.

I agree with his main points on how to reach age 40 (or 50), willing to continue in the profession of software developer:

  1. Forget The Hype
  2. Choose Your Galaxy Wisely
  3. Learn About Software History
  4. Keep on Learning
  5. Teach
  6. Workplaces Suck
  7. Know Your Worth
  8. Send The Elevator Down
  9. LLVM
  10. Follow Your Gut
  11. APIs Are King
  12. Fight Complexity

#4, #5, and more recently #8 par­tic­u­lar­ly resonate with me.

I’ve spent my entire career learning new skills continue.

Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Title: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Released: 2015
Keywords: spy
Watched: 25 April, 2016

In Kingsman: The Secret Service, “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is a fish-out-of-water recruit in Kingsman, an exclusive private in­tel­li­gence service. The young chav is taken under the wing of Harry Hart (Colin Firth), whose life was saved by Eggsy’s father seventeen years ago. After spending half the movie trying to survive Spy Hogwarts, Eggsy goes out on his first mission to stop the mega­lo­ma­ni­ac billionare (Samuel L. Jackson) who is about to cull most of the world’s population.

Stylish, hyper-stylized, and violent—as might be expected in a movie adapted from a comic book. The violence is continue.

Review: Vengeance of the Hunter

Title: Vengeance of the Hunter
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 213
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 15–22 April, 2016

After the events of Valor of the Healer, the three pro­tag­o­nists went in different directions, but now they must come together again. Faanshi, the former slave girl, is coming into her own as an ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly powerful healer with her new people, the elves. Kestar, formerly a Hawk sworn to expunge elven magic, is a prisoner of the Hawks being taken to stand trial. Julian, his lost hand and burnt-out eye regrown by Faanshi’s magic, is seeking vengeance against the brother who maimed him. Rumors of Faanshi’s power and ac­com­plish­ments continue.

Winding String onto a Trimmer's Spool

I bought a new strimmer last weekend and used it agres­sive­ly today, revealing a once grass-covered pathway that I hadn’t seen in years and edging the parkway in front of my house very neatly. Naturally, I exhausted the line on the spool. I bought refill line and wound it onto the spool. It seems to work better than on my previous strimmer, which would jam or break every couple of minutes. I took more care than in the past and I very carefully and snugly wound the line, trying to minimize crossings or loose areas. I’ve seen a rec­om­men­da­tion to soak the line to make it more pliable. I’ll try continue.

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