Older blog entries for RossBurton (starting at number 21)


I really like Ray of Light by Madonna, the semi-electric sound and heavy beats are really cool. The producer is William Orbit, and I've been listening to some more of his work, but nothing I've found has the same feel. Any one know some similar artists? (I've already got some Massive Attack and Portishead albums)


Discovered the blogChalking web site today, seems like a good idea — let Google handle the strain of searching the web for bloggers in certain areas. Anyway, my (slightly inconsistant) blogchalk is:

English, United Kingdom, Bishops Stortford, London, Ross, Male, 21-25

So there you go.

Tube Strikes

Yet another tube strike for London, apparently one of the best (or worse, depending on your point of view) with zero trains running during the rush hour. I'll all for the tube strikes — I don't want to be in a tube crash or fire and die — but I'd really have appreciated it if they had waited two weeks so the major deadline at work had past... :(

However, I survived the strikes and walked from Liverpool Street straight down to London Bridge (took 15 minutes) and jumped on a train to Croydon, so I wasn't too late to work. One person at work who lives in Highbury left his house at 0600 and was in the office at 0700, which is just plain silly!

Digital TV

As you may or may not know, the digital TV licenses were awarded to the BBC, who are going to broadcast 24 free digital channels. This is really good news (the government plans to turn off analolgue is 2010 IIRC) but for mass-adoption of digital to actually happen, the decoders need to be cheap. At the moment, they are selling for around £150, so I believe. I was talking to my girlfriend about this and we agreed that a small decoder which only handled the free channels, and only cost £50, is all that is required to 'make' digital TV.

So, you can imagine I was quite happy when I found out that they will be £50. :)

One problem however: my "local" transmiter is at Crystal Palace, where I moved from four months ago, and now is on the wrong side of London... They make no promises about the quality of reception... This is silly — I live on the Herts/Essex border, in a highly populated area, and there is no local digital transmitter?

Working and working and...

10 more days and I finally get to have some time off from work! It has been totally manic recently, with major deadlines flying past. That is bad, but when it's due to the suppliers of the hardware/software that we are trying to use... it's maddening. Compilers for which the documentation does not match the manual, which is also wrong. Useless support staff. Simulators which randomly crash unless you set a breakpoint on the first instruction. Incomplete documentation, which arrives over time with the phrase "don't you have this?". GAR!

So at the end of the month I get to have a week off, and sleep. Once I've slept for a few days, I think I'll sit in the garden [looks out of window and watches the sun disappear], go and see Cambridge, do some shopping, and release gnome-games 2.0.2.


Is it me, or has #gnome really gone down-hill since 2.0.0 was released? Before the release it was a nice and generally friendly place to be, but now... I don't know. Maybe it is new users joining and just being vocal about things they don't like, and not quitting...

hadess : diveintopython.org is another good Python tutorial, with some groovy list comprehension and XML examples.

Freeze Dried Testicles!

I hate crappy C compilers, and I hate writing math libraries, and I hate it when I have to write math libraries with crappy compilers. For some obscure reason our perfect 64-bit math library totally fails on the 16-bit embedded processor we're targetting. Arse.


Today I discovered the joy of apt-get source -b package, as I rebuilt some of hadess's PPC packages from source for the i386 with minimum hassle. And I thought rpm-build -tb was easy...

Matching Windows

Sawfish (and Enlightenment so I am told) has a wonderful feature called matched windows. For people who have never used this before, they are a set of conditions and actions which are applied when a window is created.

I normally used matched windows to tell X-Chat to be sticky on all workspaces, and Gkrellm not to appear in the window list. Some people make Evolution appear mazimised on a certain desktop.

With the advent of GNOME 2 and the "crack-free" mindset, matched windows were not implemented in Metacity. Havoc's argument against them was that they were used to fix bugs in software, which is often the case &mdashl as in removing Gkrellm from the window list. Gkrellm should do that and is using the wrong hint (fixed in Gkrellm 2 by the way).

However, there are still some instances where matched windows are usefull. I always want X-Chat to appear on all desktops and I can't expect the application to be modified to do this. So I am writing a small window matching program, called Devil's Pie at the moment, using the wonderfully-named libwnck (the Window Navigator Constructor Toolkit I think).

At the moment a prototype works: X-Chat is made sticky as the window is created. I'm currently re-working the design to use GObjects via gob, as hand-coding GObjects with virtual methods is rather mind-numbing. The design is looking good, however, thought the interface will be fun to design. Copying the Sawfish configuration pane is not an option...

Counting Crows

Okay, I've listened to the album more and I think I like it. Some of the songs sound like singles, but the slower moody songs are much better. And anyone out there who was going to get the UK edition on import as it's "special" — don't. The two extra songs suck in a big way.


Thanks to lots of stress at work, my back is in a right state. The ache starts just above my arse and doesn't stop until the top of my neck. This is not good. Just what is the best position to sleep in with an sore back? At the moment I am trying to lay on my back, stretched out, but thats not very comfortable, so I'm tired as well... :(

Just to make it worse, my "asthma" is getting bad again for the first time in three years. I hope it doesn't carry on getting worse...


Scribe is the provisional name for my Dublin Core metadata editor. Python + GTK 2 + pluggable DC sources sounds like a good plan. There are specifications on embedding Dublin Core into HTML, and examples of into PNG, so I don't have to do too much thinking for the primary targets. All I have to do now is think up the architecture, and then start coding. If anyone is interested, please shout.

Counting Crows

Today I bought Hard Candy, their 4th album. Not a bad album, but still nowhere near as good as August and Everything After, which was just sublime. Shame.

Looks like there is a bug in recentlog.html. If a user posts more than once, only the latest entry appears on the recent log list.

End result: everyone sees my ranting at IE, and misses my proper diary entry.

1 Jul 2002 (updated 1 Jul 2002 at 13:31 UTC) »

Arse arse arse.

Why oh why does IE5 not know how to draw a PNG with a transparent background? It draws it black, which sucks...

Anyone know a work-around?


For the first time in a long time, my girlfriend and I had a weekend where neither us were being savaged by hay fever, flu, back ache or work. This felt remarkably good, so I celebrated by refusing to turn my computer on until the early evening for a quick "when is the new Counting Crows album coming out" check (next week, dammit). Saturday was a good day -- long chats in pubs, a bit of shopping, laughing, cooking, followed by red wine and Best Of Luis Theroux in the evening.


Now that I finally have some web space to go with my domain, I can start putting some content up. This led to my routine adventure into metadata...

I want to keep a collection of screenshots and photos online, as we all do. I'm against 100 files, all called screenshot-43.png, so some form of index is required. I'm also against information being in the wrong place, i.e. in a seperate file. The only file which knows what am image is about, is the image. A quick peek at the PNG specification confirmed that the text chunks are have keywords associated with them, so a PNG image can have a creation date, title, author etc.

So, all I need is:

  1. A CGI script which can examine a directory, scan the metadata, and create a titled, date sorted index
  2. A nice GUI tool to edit said metadata

(1) I could code up in a day or so if Apache Cocoon 2 were installed on the server, and I still had my love for Java. Cocoon2 is a wonderful piece of software, and excellent for this sort of thing. However, its too heavy for a single directory... does anyone know of a tool which does this? Or should I just sit down and write it in Python myself...

(2) I suppose needs writing — I remember a Java tool written by a Dublin Core dude, but that only handled JPEG images. I'm thinking Python + GTK + Bonobo + gnome-vfs should be good, and handle the file opening and viewing nicely. Drop in a few objects and edit the metadata of any file desired. All I need now is for jamesh to add the application stuff from gnome-vfs to the GNOME bindings for Python... :-)


"I left gnome-games to RossBurton now..." -- hadess

Well, it's official then. I am the new maintainer for gnome-games. It's all very exciting, getting cvs commit access to gnome.org and committing my first (2-line) bug fix for gnome-games 2.0.1.

Speaking of which, I just found out that GNOME 2.0 RC2 has just been announced. Getting close... can't wait until Ximian release packages so we can roll it out across the office. I just can't stand using GNOME 1 any more...


Recently I finished The Two Towers, and cannot wait for the film to be released this Christmas. Last week I started reading Neuromancer, a book I read every few years forgetting how good it is...

6 Jun 2002 (updated 7 Jun 2002 at 09:30 UTC) »


So hadess looked at the gnome-games patches I sent him over the weekend. Damn, they sucked. A simple task I set out to do and I totally forgot to fix several cases of the problem. He finished the fixes and committed, but I still have some uncommitted changes on my checkout. So now I am going to run through my other changes and make sure that I can play at least one round in every game, dammit. I can make a good patch.


I just installed the Ximian Evolution development snapshots... and damn are they nice. Many lovely 1.2 features and lots of new bugs. Something about me likes a mail client which crashes now and again... I must be mad.

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