Sat, 30 Nov 2002
Victorian election results: Labor back in a landslide

It was inevitable, but kinda fun to watch anyway. The result of yesterday's election is that Labor have total control of the lower house of parliament, and are likely to control the upper house. Green vote was up by 10%, Libs vote down by 10%.

I watched the coverage on the ABC and it was really interesting that almost no-one thought that the incredible polling by the greens meant anything. Either they're really quite stupid, or they're hoping that the Greens will just "go away" in the same way that the ultra-right of Hanson has. The only commentator willing to say anything was the ABC's election analyst - and the potentials included a rep from the Libs and Labor and two anchors from the ABC. He alluded to some of the following, without actually saying it and without any of it being picked up on by the anchors...

Just a short run-down of the political landscape in Australia as I see it:

  1. Liberal - unlike their name, they are far from liberal, but rather the far-right conservatives
  2. Labor - slightly left-of-center (but with factions all over the place) and have been slowly moving to the right for quite some time. The biggest indicator in recent times was the Federal election in which they sided with the conservatives on social policy
  3. Greens - far-left and staying there
  4. Democrats - hell, who knows ;)

So we've got all the old right-of-center voters (oh, about 10%) who used to think that the Libs were OK deciding that Labor is the less nutty of the two. Then we've got a bunch of voters who used to think that Labor was socially responsible (hey, lookit that, another 10%) who have now switched to the real left-wing party.

And yet the Libs just kinda sit there stunned, not having a clue why they're not getting any votes. They were sent this message last election, when they were dumped from power. Maybe they'll get the message this time. And maybe, just maybe Labor might also sit up and listen to all the people deserting to the Greens.

In fact, on reflection the message from the two major party reps at the broadcast:

Glad it's over really.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Federation Square website

I loaded up the Federation Square website the other day to find out more about some film screenings I'd heard about on RRR. Gah, what a shocker of a site.

Leaving aside the distracting (superfluous) animations, the non-intuitive user interface, the difficulty of finding any useful information (go on, try to find information about film screenings)... Any information you do find is jammed in to that tiny box in the middle of the screen. It's like they're admitting that they have no valuable information to display.

I was so irate, I sent an email. Fortunately, the response I got had the information I needed - a link to the ACMI website where I found information, specifically about the digital cinema program.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Fri, 29 Nov 2002
18,181 votes, exactly

Whoa. Last US election. Three Republicans win the vote. Same winning margin. Exactly. All counted by the same brand of machines. Nah, couldn't happen.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Thu, 28 Nov 2002
PyPI, PyFi and Roundup: a roundup...

I've been working with Toby on the Ogg/MP3 player interface, now named PyFi. Total time spent on it now includes four train rides and a bit over two hours of other time - a total of about five hours (no idea how long Toby spent on the original track listing widget). That's a screenshot of it on the left, showing the minimalist interface and the more useful track/playlist interface. I've selected an album and a single track to play. It's replaced Noatun now as my music playing program.

PyPI is coming along too - slowly adding features (most recently the web roles listing, obscuring email addresses and the saving of the user's login info to ~/.pypirc). I've been thinking that I need to sort the revisions of packages when new revisions are added (using the distutils.version.LooseVersion class to order them). I'll store the ordering in the database as an additional release attribute. The index would then pick the latest version to show, unless the "stable_version" flag is set, and the "hidden" flag is false. Just have to make it less overhead for the submitter - so that if they only want to use the "register" command, they don't have to log into the web interface to edit stuff to hide older releases. Well, that's the plan anyway.

And Roundup... well, I'm very much in user maintenance mode ;) I've got a few bugfixes backed up, and some nice feature patches too. I think I'll get the time/energy to work on this again when PyPI is done. I'll want to get cracking on the tracker once PyPI is done. I guess I really need to draw the line in the sand at which point I can say "enough of PyPI is done, what say you official python people?"

That's kinda scary though ;)

path: /python | permanent link |
Wed, 27 Nov 2002
This Greenish election

The Greens are increasing their popularity with every election in Australia and this one isn't any different. I actually got to talk to my local Green candidate (Bill Pemberton) this morning at the train station. I walked past the Liberal candidate yesterday because I've received half a dozen letter drops from him, so I know exactly what he stands for.

I don't like the Greens' chances in my electorate. Most voters are single- issue. Cutting the traffic on Springvale Road, through the building of the Scoresby freeway (er, or is it the Mitcham freeway these days...) The Greens on the other hand oppose the freeway, and believe that public transport should be boosted instead.

Their tough lines on energy and water (create jobs by investing in water saving measures and renewable energy industries (the largest growth industry in the world) rather than through setting up artificial energy retailers giving us the illusion of choice we ultimately don't need) are also very appealing.

All in all, Bill was quite reasonable to talk to - certainly not a "radical left-wing voice". And that reminds me about my intended rant yesterday. How far to the right can Crikey lean before all the lefties who signed up to him desert... I realise that I'm not a paid subscriber, so I really can't whinge and expect a response :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Extraordinary terrain generation

A friend has been looking at terrain generation systems for a while, and found some amazing examples of the state of the art (note: one of those images is real, the other generated).

The Virtual Terrain Project is a great resource if you're interested in the subject.

ta, rupert

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Tue, 26 Nov 2002
One more stuff-up from the Libs

Rachel reminded me that the Libs have also been caught out this election using the Boom Crash Opera song Dancing in the Storm without the band's permission. The band is considering legal action.

What's even funnier is that the Liberal Party has made this mistake before. And these people say they're our best choice for running the State?

path: /stuff | permanent link |
The Hand Puppet Movie Theatre Presents...

Star Wars - A New Hope

Darth Vader: I am half intimidation, half throat-crushing, and all perfect villain!
Stormtrooper: You never would have guessed he used to be this cutesy, "yippie"-yelling kid...okay, shutting up.


Luke: You fought in the clone wars?
Obi-Wan: Well, technically, I kinda helped start, look, a lightsaber!

ta, anthony

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Mon, 25 Nov 2002
The election "race" trudges on ...

Here's a quickie poll of the major local media, and their reporting on the state election campaign (yawn)

We're in the middle of an election campaign here, and in a desperate attempt to stay awake, the Liberals have made gaffe after blunder after ... well... first the Shadow Treasurer forgets to enrol to vote, thus making him ineligible to actually stand for parliament. Closer to my home, the Liberals are talking up their acceleration of the freeway developments, including the tunnel under the Mullum Mullum creek - which all parties agree to. Oh, hang on... except their bedfellows, the National Party who they need to form a coalition with to form government (normally, and this election seems far from extraordinarily good for the Libs). So that promise is out the window the day they form a coalition government.

Now we have them allegedly telling lies on TV. Companies saying that they're being misrepresented. Now things are getting a little more interesting for a change :)

Of course, the mouthpiece for the Libs - the Herald Sun - runs several pieces (this one smacks of desperation) to try to prop up the Libs' popularity. No mention of the TV ads anywhere in sight... Although they do mention the Nats' plans to "scuttle" the Libs's spending in the city...

path: /stuff | permanent link |
XML rant unjustified

OK, the XML rant yesterday was a little over the top - the minidom package is documented, though I will say that it's only useful if you know what minidom does. There really needs to be a top-level xml package document which outlines the use of the various xml.* packages. Or something. There's an awful lot of XML-handling code - some of it performing slightly different functions than others - and no real guidance to a newbie as to what it all means.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Python MP3 and OGG player, part 2

I spent the time this morning on the train (I usually have about 20-30 minutes) writing the beginnings of the Qt interface for my Ogg/MP3 player. By the time the ride had finished, I had the music playing under play/pause/stop controls. I spent about 20 minutes this morning deciphering the python XML documentation (rant below). Then another 10 minutes being actually productive and parsing the XMLPlaylist into a list of tracks to play.

This afternoon, I've spent about another 20 minutes re-writing that to populate a heirarchical list view in a playlist dialog (which also has by-artist and by-album listing tabs, but they're not filled yet). I can click around the list and change the currently playing track though.

Not bad for about an hour's real work (I'm not counting the time I spent delving into the minidom source to figure how to get at my XML data)

<rant>Really, there's no mention of the XML basics, like how to actually parse a file. I shouldn't have to read the source! It's hard enough that there's four XML packages included with python 2.1 - one of which (the useful one) isn't actually mentioned in the documentation (ie. minidom).</rant>

path: /python | permanent link |
Thu, 21 Nov 2002
Python MP3 and OGG player

I've been getting annoyed with the awful music playing interfaces available on Linux - when compared with the multiple views of the available tracks that WMP has (which is its only good feature, I must add :). So I've been thinking for some time that I should write something that has a track list viewer with filesystem-, artist- and album-oriented tree displays. I really don't want to have to write C++, which what Noatun (the KDE multimedia player) is written in.

So I've been investigating getting into PyKDE again, which is cool because I really like PyQT and PyKDE (and KDE as a whole, really). Writing a Python-based plugin for Noatun would require Python support in Noatun though, and that's not likely to happen.

In the last couple of days, I've been thinking about it from a different angle. I noticed a submission to PyPI: pymad. It's a Python wrapper around an MP3 playing library. A short search later told me that the Ogg Vorbis people also have Python wrappers. Toby (a friend) has already written the track listing viewer (as a part of an ID3 tag editor project). Adding a play button would be pretty trivial at this point... The code to play an Ogg Vorbis file is:

import ogg.vorbis, ao

audiofile = ogg.vorbis.VorbisFile(filename)
dev = ao.AudioDevice('oss')
while 1:
    buf =
    if buf is None:
        break, len(buf))

To play an MP3 file instead, the code is the same except the audiofile is:

import mad
audiofile = mad.MadFile(filename)

We're just plugging the bits together, with some extra high-level logic. That's why I love programming in Python :)

path: /python | permanent link |
Gimboland randomness...

Gimboland has a link to GetContentSize today, so I ran our corporate website through it and it came out at 7.41% - while my personal log (this page) came out at 51%. I guess that's the big difference between a site set up selling a product and a site that have real information on it (or at least thinks it does ;).

He also talked about IR control of PCs and plaing multimedia (or sound in particular). This is a subject that's close to my heart - I'm waiting for the disk that'll turn my PS2 into a multimedia network client :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Wed, 20 Nov 2002
PyPI update

I'm still waiting to hear back from the PEP editors. The older code linked to in the archive here is no longer valid (the URL won't even work ;). If you want to try submitting information these days, go to the PyPI interface and click on "package submission". If you don't have a login, you'll have to create one. Once there, you can choose to download the latest register command module or manually upload information.

If you haven't looked in on the interface lately, I've cleaned it up significantly and added several new features. Unfortunately, users who aren't me (and don't want to apply the distutils dist module patch I've created) will have to wait for python 2.3 to submit Trove classification information ;)

path: /python | permanent link |
Tue, 19 Nov 2002
PEP and code revised

Well, the PEP is off with the editors. Hopefully there'll be no real problems there so it can go up overnight. Then tomorrow morning I'll announce the latest changes to the reference implementation, which have been extensive.

Phew. Sleep...

path: /python | permanent link |
The Doom 3 target platform?

I'm guessing that this card is the target platform that John Carmack had in mind when he started developing Doom 3. I wonder if he was privvy to NVIDIA's plans, or whether he's just made a really good guess at the timeline for graphics card development. The images I link here are generated in real time, with the facial expressions being manipulated by the card's hardware. Oh my.

Images from and article over at Tom's Hardware.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Mon, 18 Nov 2002
More cool stuff than I have time or brain space for ...

"Welcome to Doxpara Research!"

path: /stuff | permanent link |
PyPI update...

Well, I've had a bit of a hack this morning on the train and a little bit more on & off during the day, and I've worked the Trove discriminators into the database schema. I've also written the migration script so we don't lose the current submissions. I'm part-way through working the storage layer to handle the new code - the good news is that most of the upper-level code won't care about the storage changes. The new packages and releases tables split (from the original single packages table) is easily joined to provide the old view.

I've moved over from using the rfc822 module to the new email package shipped with python 2.2.2, which instantly fixes a problem one user had with multiline Description: fields.

The PEP has been updated too - more tomorrow when I finalise the database schema. I figure there should be some mention in the PEP.

I hope to get the new version out tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

path: /python | permanent link |
Sun, 17 Nov 2002
Famous Curves Index

A comprehensive list of famous mathematical curves - with diagrams, histories and related curves. Very cool, and a great resource.

via Danny Yee's weblog

path: /stuff | permanent link |
I want to know who the artists are behind this...

I was just at the local computer "swap meet" and checking out the shiny-new motherboards and graphics cards... thinking that I really didn't need to get any of it because I have the PS2 and I realistically don't have enough time to devote to a second gaming platform.

Then I see screenshots from the latest freelancer. Truly an amazing work of art ...

Sorry, eurogamer, but I had to have at least one image on this page...

path: /games | permanent link |
Fri, 15 Nov 2002
Movie industry free to distribute lies about file sharing, again.

In this article in the Australian IT, Rick McCallum is given free license to spread his version of reality: that file sharing is taking over the world and will kill the music and film industries. He says that fighting this threat is of an importance equal to the war on terrorism.

But he goes on to justify this stance thusly:

McCallum claimed that 50 per cent of music business revenue had been lost due to file sharing in the last few years. "And that's what's going to happen to the movie business," McCallum said

50%?!? Where did he get this number? I haven't seen a single music industry flack be so bold as to claim this. The RIAA or IFPI quote 5% drops in the last two years. Even those who do claim large losses caused by file-sharing are debunked; the global downturn in recreational spending is hurting everyone and yet these industries seem to believe they're immune to that and that it's the evil file-sharing that is hurting their revenues. Note also the studies that show that file sharing actually increases revenue for the recording industry.

It would have been nice to have seen some objective journalism including some analysis of these outrageous claims. Too much to ask I suppose.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Thu, 14 Nov 2002
Kinda quiet at the moment...

I'm avoiding the computer as much as I can at the moment. Need a break. Been putting the finishing touches on the bedside table project - staining is done and the first coat of varnish is drying at the moment. Mostly I drop in on my mailbox every now and then to make sure there's no urgent Roundup or PyPI mail waiting.

There is of course, but people can wait a couple of days for me to finish my vacation ;)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Mon, 11 Nov 2002
... and the 48 hours are over

Phew, that was fun. I got a working game out the other end too :)

For all the info, see my personal files section on the Ludum Dare site. This includes screenshots (even early ones) and my development log.

Now on to voting for the winner :)

path: /games | permanent link |
Sat, 09 Nov 2002
Ludum Dare has commenced

The latest Ludum Dare 48-hour game programming contest has started. Well, it started about 7 hours ago, but I've been coding for it solidly since then :)

My updates will be done on that site, under my personal upload area.

Now back to stopping my sheep from walking through walls...

I'm also hanging out on IRC a fair bit through this, as it's interesting to talk to the other people working on their entries. Quite a lot of fun :)

path: /games | permanent link |
Fri, 08 Nov 2002
PyPI PEP has a number now

My PyPI Python Enhancement Proposal is now official: PEP 301

path: /python | permanent link |
Liberal party lies, damned lies and an inability to count

According to the Liberal party, the Labor government has put on 17,000 new bureaucrats since gaining power. The only problem is that:

"They've been caught out doctoring the numbers ..." Mr Brumby said.
... Liberals assume that any public employee who is not a teacher, nurse or policeman must be a bureaucrat ...
Public employees include hospital cleaners, youth workers, foresters and national parks rangers, museum curators, scientists, teachers aides, firefighters and building inspectors. One in 10 Victorians works for state government departments and agencies, and not too many of these people are bureaucrats. A minor problem is that the bureau figures include all staff of universities, which are nominally state institutions yet under Commonwealth control.

from theage

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Thu, 07 Nov 2002
Buf of course nudity is in the same basket as realistic violence

These f@#$%@#$ idiots can't see their way to allowing adult imagery (ie. nudity) into video games because ... wait for it ... because they don't want realistic violence in video games. The two are inseperable in their eyes. I don't even want to imagine what kind of upbringing brought about that sort of world view.

This is all despite (according to Beverly Jenkin, chief executive of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia):

more than 70 per cent of players in Australia are older than 18, and 20 per cent are more than 39 years old

I also find it interesting that in the US, the larger chain stores will not be selling BMX XXX because it has nudity, but they have no qualms at all with selling Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Wed, 06 Nov 2002
PyPI updated too...

Oh, and I've put the latest version of PyPI up on AMK's machine too. Please, go kick the tyres. Comments to the sourceforge project.

path: /python | permanent link |
New Roundup out

Well, that's Roundup 0.5.2 out, fixing a swag of bugs. Sleep now.

path: /python | permanent link |
Wikipedia coming along nicely

Wikipedia, the collaborative encylopedia contained in a wiki wiki, looks to have been quite a successful project. To get an appreciation of how busy it is, see the recent changes log.

I happened to take a look because someone told me it has a particularly good definition of Python, the programming language. While there, I made a small edit to the last paragraph, indicating that the interactive mode has a scope greater than just people learning.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Tue, 05 Nov 2002
Grand Theft Solid

Woo.. another one for the stocking. It's a good thing EB will halve the price when I trade in two of my old PS games...

Allegedly 40 square kilometres of England's filthy capital, so the blurb goes, and the Free Roaming mode allows you to do just that. Starting off parked outside Sony UK's Great Marlborough street offices in the heart of seedy Soho, you can set off for a drive, and very quickly it's apparent that The Getaway is an astonishing technical achievement at the very least. Anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of London won't have any trouble recognising the city's famous landmarks. And even if you don't, grab yourself a London A to Z and plan your route in advance?
Thus The Getaway is part fun driving capers from A to B, mixed with indoor killing fests. With all the pre release focus mainly directed at the driving aspect, it's pleasing to discover that it's even more fun to engage in armed combat. In this respect The Getaway shares more than a little in common with stealth based action games such as Metal Gear Solid 2 and Operation Winback.
path: /games | permanent link |
Mon, 04 Nov 2002
Ludum Dare 48 hour competition, the second

I've signed up for the write-a-game-in-48-hours competition that'll start at around 1pm our time (that's GMT+11 at the moment) next Saturday.

I only just missed the last one, and this time I have some further familiarity with pygame. I'd like to try out the sprite handling library code before the weekend too, but should be ok even if I have to wing it. Pygame's pretty simple to use. The hard part for me will be the graphics.

We've started voting on the theme (ideas for which came from a prior discussion) - Sheep and Zombies seem popular judging by the comments (sorry, you'll need a login to see that one).

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Sat, 02 Nov 2002
KDE ideas galore

Last week I discovered the "other" category at It contains people's ideas for new looks or layouts of common KDE interfaces, like the various kicker (panel) ideas, and plenty of kmenu ideas too.

Interestingly, most of the submissions are just mockups, but some actually include real code. You have to love open-source :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Index up on AMK's machine now...

over here

The support ticket at my web host came through at about the same time that AMK got the cgi-bin working on his machine. Apparently mod_rewrite directives work just fine in .htaccess files. Ho hum. So now I've got the thing working on both hosts, but I'll stick with the version for now, since it's the one quoted in the PEP.

path: /python | permanent link |
Fri, 01 Nov 2002
Well, that's the PEP off to the editors


path: /python | permanent link |
Module catalog source now on sourceforge...

Or rather, the "Python Packages Index" project, aka pypi.

path: /python | permanent link |