George V. Reilly

Review: Let's Hear It For The Deaf Man

Title: Let’s Hear It For The Deaf Man
Author: Ed McBain
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Copyright: 1972
Pages: 229
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 30 April–6 May, 2016

It’s Spring and crime is heating up in the 87th Precinct. A hippie has been found crucified, a cat burglar is leaving kittens at the scene of the crime, and the Deaf Man is taunting the detectives again, sending them clues of his upcoming crime. We see blackly humorous slices of life in the big city as the cops work their cases.

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Title: Captain America: Civil War
Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Released: 2016
Keywords: Marvel, superhero
Watched: 5 May, 2016

The United Nations wants to rein in the Avengers, after the huge damage due to their various battles, notably in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony Stark (Iron Man) is feeling guilty about the deaths they’ve caused and wants to go along. Steve Rogers (Captain America) has grown dis­trust­ful of government agendas and doesn’t want to sign the Sokovia Accords. When his old comrade, Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier), is framed for a terrorist attack, Rogers and some friends end up outside the law and Stark and others try to stop them.

This is continue.

Review: Spy Sinker

Title: Spy Sinker
Author: Len Deighton
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Harper­Collins
Copyright: 1991
Pages: 434
Keywords: spy
Reading period: 24 April–3 May, 2016

Spy Sinker, although it was written after Spy Hook and Spy Line as well as the previous Berlin Game, Mexico Set, London Match trilogy, tells the parallel story of how Fiona Samson came to be one of MI6’s most effective double agents without her husband Bernard’s knowledge. Told from the per­spec­tives of Fiona and of her case runner, Bret Rensselaer, we see her under increasing strain as the date of her “de­fec­tion” to East Germany draws near, which is compounded once she’s alone in East Berlin. She never quite cracks continue.

Review: Victory of the Hawk

Title: Victory of the Hawk
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 211
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 22–29 April, 2016

After the Vengeance of the Hunter, the Anreulag, the creature known as the Voice of the Gods, has gone rogue, waging war on the Adalonian empire that controlled her for centuries. The Order of the Hawks have found the long-hidden stronghold of the elves. The humans of Nivirry and the elves are throwing off the shackles of Adalonia, but the Anreulag has no regard for anyone’s lives, human or elf. Faanshi, Julian, and Kestar may be able to stop her but it won’t be easy.

A satisfying conclusion to continue.

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.

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