Older blog entries for RossBurton (starting at number 9)

Web Space

I finally managed to get one of my ISPs to turn on my web space, so http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/burtonini/ is finally live. Highlights include PyGTK and gtkmm files for Garnome, and a Debian on the IBM ThinkPad X22 installation guide.


My small tool to assist in Debian upgrades is ready for a 0.1 release. Basically it lists the packages for which there are upgrades (it currently processes an apt-get dist-upgrade command) and lets the user select which upgrades he wants to apply. It will then generate a script to download/install the selected upgrade (either directly with apt-get, or a script using ncftpget.

I find this very usefull as I can generate scripts at home (dialup connection) to download package upgrades I want (ignoreing ones I don't) which I can take to work and run there (256K leased line). Hopefully I can get this online over the weekend.


I've checked out Garnome from CVS now so I can generate patches adding GTKMM and Gnome-Python support. These patches are trivial but they will help spread the word as it were, and help get stuff ported. Expect them online over the weekend aswell.

GTK+ in Python

Python and GTK+ so rock. I've been working on an adapter class which makes a GtkTreeModel look like a Python list. There are some major limitations (its not a tree, just a list) but it's very handy being able to treat a GtkTreeModel as a list:

for item in model:
  # Here item is the object which represents
  # the row in the model. How cool is this!

I'm using a descriptor object which tells the GtkListModel class how to map between rows/columns in the tree and attributes on an arbitary object. Very groovy.

As with everything else, I'm going to finish this off soon and push it online somewhere. Damn I need some good webspace.

Flamage in gtkmm-list

There has been some heavy bitching in gtkmm-list for the last few days. Nothing as bad as the "viewports/workspaces" threads in desktop-devel which have been very annoying, but it was amusing watching the definition of "a C++ progammer" used as flameage.

25 Apr 2002 (updated 3 May 2002 at 13:43 UTC) »


Oh My God. Last night I left the office at 17:15 which normally means I walk into my house at 19:00... except last night it was 20:45! :( There was a fire at Cambridge Heath (barrels of oil or something burning in the arches) which meant all trains were diverted. The trains were packed and slow so I got a bus to Stansted Airport which was supposed to be fast... of course I found myself sitting in traffic, crawling our way out of London. That sucked.

Of course, the trains are still screwed today so at least I get a Work At Home day out of it! Luckily today is Makefile Hacking Day so I can do this at home...


Just finished the Armogeddon series of books by Robert Rankin. Excellent stuff! Weird and wacky with lots of sex, violence and gratuitous running gags. Now what to read next...

I still have Heliconia by Brian Aldis sitting on the shelf — but I couldn't get into that last time. I dunno.


Still waiting for beta 4...

My Programming Python book finally arrived — all 1250 pages of it. Now at last I can learn Python without having to read other peoples code and the language reference.

Thinking about re-writing Jeroen's Bugzilla-Buddy in Python for two reasons:

  1. To learn heavy-duty GUI Python
  2. To try and make it work for me, as it crashes dramatically at the moment
Obviously it does work for Jereon so (2) should be sorted out, but (1) is still a good reason as far as I am concerned.

In Dire Need Of Webspace

I have a domain name of my own, and web space on many British ISPs. However, these ISPs are either terrible, slow, or put advertising on the sites. Anyone willing to host my domain (it will only be a small site -- a diary and some small programs I've written) or know of a free/cheap hosting service? Thanks!


Python is now my new favourite language, I'm about to order the O'Reilly book to complete my knowledge. I love the loose OO it allows, and the relaxed code it lets me write. It will never replace Perl for my string manipulation (c'mon, =~ rocks), but as a language for writing quick GUI applications (import gtk) it is fantastic.

To top all of that, jamesh has written a Bugzilla module for Python... finally I have the tools to write the Bugzilla backend into Evolution I have always wanted (it been on my personal To Do One Day list since I first saw Evolution, back in the days of Evo 0.6). All I have to do now is get bonobo-python running without passing null pointers everywhere. Damn and blast.


Decipher turned out to be an interesting novel — lots of what-could-happen-if situations applied to quantum gravity (ha), particle theory, the history of humanity etc etc. The bibliography is long (~6 pages I think) so the man had done some research at least. Just don't read it if you are doing that sort of thing for a living...

So my next book is an oldie which has been sitting on my shelf for a long time: Armageddon 2: The B-Movie by Robert Rankin. Its the usual stuff — people from the future who are married to Jesus' twin sister; Elvis from the past with a talking time sprout called Barry in his head; etc etc.


Some time this week Vicky and myself are off to see K-Pax — is this a thumbs up or thumbs down I wonder? I've seen very mixed reviews, but personally I like Kevin Space (American Beauty was brilliant) so I think I'll like it.

What else have I watched recently? Evolution was a laugh, The Commitments was brilliant, and Ghostbusters is still sitting on the shelf in its shrink-wrap, waiting to be played.


Well, haven't I been good. I've applied the GTK+ 2.0.2 patch onto Garnome so that it builds sane GTK+ libraries, and have added gnome-python and gnomemm. jdub already has the GTK+ patch and I'll mail him the Python patches in a few days — i.e. when I know they work. Speaking of which...


...I've started looking at Python again. Many thanks to jdahlin and MCArkan for putting up with me in #pygtk.

Python has its oddities (only one constructor per object), but it also has its nice sides (supplied documentation web server). On the whole I'm not sure about it yet — I'm learning by writing a small GTK+ application. Once I've read the language tutorials and written more than 20 lines I'll be able to comment.


Today I finished the Rediscovery of Man and started on Decipher which Allen dropped on my desk Saturday.


GNOME 2 rocks. That's all I can say!

Well, maybe I could elaborate. The icons are beautiful (thanks Tigert and Jimmac!), the layout is more consistant, GTK+ 2 looks much better. There are a few niggles but I filed plenty of bugs. The major bummer in GNOME 2 Beta 2 is that the Sawfish configuration doesn't work, and the window list does not ignore Gkrellm.


Well, last Friday I finished 3001. An interesting, good book but still lacking the magic of 2001. If you liked this series don't let me put you off, read it all — they are good books. I just expected more.

On Monday I started reading The Rediscovery of Man, a collection of short sci-fi stories by Cordwainer Smith from 1930-40. The man had a plan — the universe he wrote in starts at 2000AD and goes up to 16000AD. I've only read two of the stories so far but they are interesting and well written, the 20th century is an ancient time which not much is known about.

Once I've finished that I really must finish the Armageddon series by Robert Rankin. Often funny, always sureal, sometimes good is a good summary of his work. He will never better his excellent Brentford trilagy (four books, of course) however.

IBM ThinkPad X22

My laptop is remaining ever diligant in its haul to work and back every day. The one problem I have is that I cannot get it to hibernate in Linux! If anyone is reading this (doubt it) and has a recent IBM laptop which hibernates in Linux, could you mail me.

24 Mar 2002 (updated 24 Mar 2002 at 13:00 UTC) »


I finally got fed up waiting for the GNOME 2 packages to appear in Debian Sid (the "crypto-in-main" event is finally happening, when crypto-related software doesn't have to be in "non-US"), so I grabbed Garnome 0.8.

A full day of downloading and compiling later (this is a 550MHz P3 on a dial-up line) and I've got the GNOME 2 desktop for real! Excellent stuff guys. I've been running some of the applications at work but this is much better.

Now of course, I start filing bugs...


I'm now reading 3001. 2061 was a bit of a let–down — as he explored life on Europa the concepts were good but it seemed that too much of it was just taken verbatim from 2001 and 2010. That ruined the feeling of "new territory" for me as entire chapters were familiar. Then again, ACC does acknowledge this at the end of the book. Also Heywood "ascending" to the same level as Dave and Hal seemed contrived, a bit hacky.

3001 is a return to form — so far (1/3 of the way through) it is an analysis of the current state of humanity, although Poole is about to go to Lucifer (né Jupiter) which will be fun. The tension is building as the last line of 2061 was "and the Monolith awoke for the second time".


This weekend my partner's father and step-mother came up to see us. As they have not been to London often (you don't really have the opportunity when you live in Plymouth) we went to London to do The Tourist Thing. Harrods, followed by meals in restaurants, then off to St Pauls Cathedral for a quick "oooh" and then down to the Millenium Bridge, sans wave motion. That bridge gets 9/10 from me, it looks really good and has an excellent view of the river. Then we wandered down Bankside and Southbank to the Millenium Eye (can you see the theme here yet?).

The Eye is really cool — I hope they keep it as a permament stucture. For a measly £10 you get a 30 minute ride which goes up 135 feet. The view is fantastic, even though the day we went it was cloudy. Amusingly enough we could see where our old flat in Crystal Palace, south London was, as there is the TV transmitter for south London about 500 meters away.

Damn. The last diary entry was almost a year ago (I will keep a diary, I will).

When I'm not doing real work (porting code to various embedded chips, hacking on compilers) I am starting to play around with the brand new GNOME 2 environment. It is so much cooler than GNOME 1, and I am going to write a few programs to learn the libraries:

  • An apt-get wrapping Druid to automate the tasks of updating my rather weird Debian APT setup.
  • A blog editor — several of these exist already and I am sure I saw one written for GNOME. I may just try the Mozilla one I saw yesterday. However, a pluggable GTKHTML2 editor application would be cool.
  • The long–term goal is to produce a decent XML editor. Conglomerate looked very cool but is now dead. Pollo is also a very nice Java tool — a merge of the two written in GTK+ 2 would be good. Of course for now there is always XEmacs+psgml+DTDs...

On a totally unrelated note I have been reading like mad recently. A few months ago I started reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series from start to end. I had read most of the books but reading them without a break gave me much more insight into the characters — there are far more cross-references than I even thought.

I have just started reading Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 series. Last week I read 2001, which proved to be far better than I remembered (last time I read it was ~1995). Although Kubrick's film is excellent, it is missing some magical omph that the book has. Saturday just gone I started to read 2010 in the bath. Why oh why did ACC decide to base 2010 on the film of 2001 instead of the book? The resulting confusion is pretty hard to keep track off, I may have to watch the film again if I have the time.

What else is going on? For Christmas I bought myself a present: an IBM ThinkPad X22. What a toy! It's very handy now that I don't live very close to work, and have a 90 minute commute to do. If anyone else has one of these (or similar) and has got hiberation working, could you email me please?

Well, haven't I been busy recently. I decided that I wanted to learn C, so I picked up the C book by K&R, read it to learn the differences between Java (which I know well) and C.

Now, pick a subject... hmm. Galeon. That could do with XBEL (XML Bookmark Exchange Language) support.

Thus for the last few days I've been talking to the Python XML SIG about extending the XBEL specification while coding up XBEL import/export for Galeon. Good fun!

On another note: my Caffine t-shirt and fluffy tux from Think Geek turned up yesterday. Tux is so cute, I've got to buy more.

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