Thu, 30 Jan 2003
I've collected all the RSS feeds from the
page and am now generating an updates page on the hour using a slightly
modified version of
My modifications allow me to turn off rss feeds that "go bad" for
whatever reason (at the moment I only do it for feeds that don't datestamp
their individual items), and they also let me list weblogs that don't have
Oh, and no, it doesn't handle timezones at all - at the moment it
assumes feed times are in UTC ;)
Hurm. I'd done well not posting stuff about U.S. politics for a while,
but this one had to be mentioned. Atrios
says this is the best weblog entry ever, and I agree. Make
sure you read it to the end.
Wed, 29 Jan 2003
Oddly enough, I can't find anyone who's put a Mini-ITX motherboard in
an XBOX case... ;)
In a shock move, ARIA has said that they
blame pirates for
dropping music sales (in similar numbers to the U.S.) but rather the
other economic factors that everyone else has been pointing to.
I spent the better part of 3 hours last night dancing like an idiot
(which is pretty much the only way I know how :) to Underworld live.
Damn, they do a fine job of performing live.
Tue, 28 Jan 2003
The crappy digital camera is simply too good at losing photos, and my
frustration level has been reached. I've had six days running of not
having any viable photos from anywhere more than 10 meters from the
computer. I fully intend to re-start the project once I get a camera that
reliably stores and retrieves the images. I'm not a happy photographer :(
A friend of mine is looking to set up a fanless PC for home
entertainment purposes. He's spent a while poking around the 'net
before he discovers
mini-itx.com, the home of
enthusiasts of the Mini-ITX form-factor PC motherboards. These puppies
are small and typically come with low-heat CPUs so they need no
cooling. Because they're so small, they can fit in to
all sorts of imaginative
Sun, 26 Jan 2003
Thanks to amk, PyPI now has a
feature. This has been developed along the lines of the
Interface Project (hey, look, another of Ping's projects ;)
The rapidly expanding size and complexity of information collections necessitates new interfaces for exploring, searching, and understanding their contents. The Flamenco project investigates how to effectively incorporate large, faceted category hierarchies into information access user interfaces.
The result is really quite usable. I'll look into the formatting of the
categories some time later maybe. Hopefully I can just do some CSS magic to
format the category "boxes".
Oh, and remember that if you're interested in any of the PyPI code, you can
just grab if from the project page.
Fri, 24 Jan 2003
Another maintenance release of Roundup, my issue tracking software, is out.
Still plugging away at the 0.6 codebase, but slowly - at the moment I'm
focused on work and a little bit of PyPI.
On the PyPI subject, I got the trove
classifier editing part of the form going on the train this morning. I
spent the last bit of the
trip in the city loop (Melbourne's underground train line that just
loops around the CBD) implementing a "latest changes" view and then an
RSS feed. All of this is now installed on the test server.
Autotrace is a very cool
program that, with some tweaking, can produce some very interesting imagery
from regular bitmap images (eg. JPEGs). The output is a vector-based image
(I've output to PDF) - that
means that it's croppable, scalable and printable without a loss of
quality. I've collected some of the images
from my daily photo collection and autotraced them
I've found that the saturated images that the crappy digital camera
produces actually work quite well with the tracing. I think that for a while
I'm going to actively look for shots that would translate well. Assuming
the crappy camera doesn't eat the images before I can download
them, that is ;)
The results (PDF and a PNG screengrab from kghostview) are over
for the pointer.
Thu, 23 Jan 2003
Well, the final big hurdle in the
PyPI project was to get
the server-side software running on the python.org server, "creosote".
Today, with huge thanks to Thomas Wouters, I finally got the pypi sandbox,
apache config and all the rest all working. I won't tell you the URL yet
because I'd like to coordinate the annoucement of the "real" server with the
second alpha of Python 2.3. Fortunately the users who have already installed
the register command will still be able to submit to the index even after
the move, and I'll be able to tell them in a reasonable manner. I've made
sure the command handles HTTP responses other than 200 sanely. This means
when I make the move I can just have the amk.ca server respond with a 302 "go
over here instead", and if we need to do maintenance, I can have the server
respond with 503 "down for maintenance, come back later".
Thanks to plugs from all over, it's getting much more popular, and I'm going to be working
on the Trove browser as a priority now.
Thanks to everyone who's submitted their package info to the index so
Tue, 21 Jan 2003
I've discovered that the camera will occasionally lock up, requiring a
"hard reset" (which involves opening the battery compartment briefly). It also
won't work plugged into my Linux machines, so I have to risk that any photos
taken during the day will actually survive into the evening when I can dump them
onto Rachel's Windows PC.
Ah, suffering for my art ;)
Sun, 19 Jan 2003
OK, it's actually Rachel's, but...
We now own the cheapest digital camera on the market - a $50 (Aussie, that
is) flourescent yellow single-chip effort. It's see-through, but you'll just
have to trust me on this because it's not very good at taking pictures of
I'm going to try to take a photo every day with it. I used to take a lot
of photos - I have a box full of prints from the days when I first got my
SLR. I'm a little slack though, and if it isn't easy to get photos printed, I
won't bother. I moved away from convenient developers, and now don't take
nearly as many photos as I used to.
The digital camera though, well... It takes photos in an instant (really,
they're such low resolution it's actually instantaneous and the whole 20
shot memory can be taken as fast as you can press the button ;)
The quality is ... well, it's apalling. I took a
test shot, standing over
the decking at home. The results clearly show that the lens is atrocious and
the colour/contrast range is pitiful.
But I don't care. I took part in
NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago -
I knew that if there wasn't the specific goal in place, I wouldn't actually
ever write a novel. But now I have. It's not good, but I'm glad I did.
Now I'm going to attempt to take a photo with the crappy digital camera
every day, and my goal is to post it on the web for whoever cares (probably
just me ;) to see. The new "daily photo" link on the right will take you
to the page.
Sat, 18 Jan 2003
Again I'm bitten by Python's sockets not timing out.
time it was in an SMS gateway, and things got complicated very
quickly. This time
POP server polling
in Roundup. Unlike last time, I'll be
able to just use an alarm signal to interrupt the process.
I've updated my log to use the "0+5i_rev2" version of
pyblosxom. In the
process, I also got rid of the table layout for the main log display. I hope
it's still readable! :)
But I have to ask, what's with that version tag?!?
I'm pretty sure PyPI will be able to sort "0+5i_rev1" and "0+5i_rev2"
correctly, but ... what's next? :)
Fri, 17 Jan 2003
James Kew was kind enough to try out the revised portalocker code on
both win98 and winnt. The code itself had an error due to my cut-n-paste.
Unfortunately, it also still doesn't work so he's going to try
a hybrid of the "old" code and the
Seila King code.
has packaged up a pre-release
of the first version of the
SpamBayes will attempt to classify incoming email messages as 'spam', 'ham' (good, non-spam email) or 'unsure'. This means you can have spam or unsure messages automatically filed away in a different mail folder, where it won't interrupt your email reading.
Well, people have started actively noticing my
efforts. And commenting, in generally positive ways. No killer bugs yet.
Some people (hi,
have started talking about the possibilities
of building a Python CPAN-alike. Just thought I'd let people know
where I stand on the issue :)
My aim with the initial version of PyPI was to simply get the thing
moving. As mentioned in the
I deliberately limited the scope of work
to something that I felt I could reasonably achieve with the time available
and have accepted by the community.
Once Python 2.3 is out, and the world starts using the python.org
repository, then I hope that others will integrate PyPI into their
or similar projects.
I'm also hoping that people will volunteer to write things like the
trove "discovery" display that'll let people drill down through the
classifiers to find stuff they're interested in...
The project code is on sourceforge
and I welcome contributors :)
Oliver Rutherfurd sent me an email
saying that he got portalocker working on win98 using the following nt-specific
if os.name == 'nt':
def lock(file, flags):
hfile = win32file._get_osfhandle(file.fileno())
#win32file.LockFileEx(hfile, flags, 0, 0xffff0000, __overlapped)
win32file.LockFileEx(hfile, 0, 0, 0xffff0000,0)
hfile = win32file._get_osfhandle(file.fileno())
#win32file.UnlockFileEx(hfile, 0, 0xffff0000, __overlapped)
win32file.UnlockFileEx(hfile, 0, 0, 0xffff0000,0)
The commented-out bits are the original code. When I
looked into this, people were saying that win98 doesn't even have the
UnLockFileEx methods, but that I'd
have to use the non-
Ex versions. It looks like the reality is just
__overlapped argument. Huh.
Well, I've put out a call to win98 and winnt users to try out the
altered portalocker.py code
and hopefully it'll work on both and I can get Roundup 0.5.5 out. To test
the code on your system, just run it twice. The second invocation should
wait (indefinitely) until you hit enter in the first.
Thu, 16 Jan 2003
Courtesy Ted Barlow and friends. Ted's reason:
I'm anticipating a tough week. But rather than shutting down entirely,
I'm just going to change format. This week, all week, I'm posting nothing
but original politically-themed "How many 'x' does it take to change a
lightbulb?" jokes. Stay tuned.
And I have to say... wow... many contributions from visitors
leaving comments too. My faves from
Q: How many North Korean nuclear devices does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Saddam Hussein.
(The preceeding joke has been brought to you by George W. Bush.)
.. and Tbogg:
Q: How many Republicans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five. The same amount it took to select a dimbulb.
Wed, 15 Jan 2003
My issue tracking software is multi-
platform - I wrote it in pure Python, so theoretically it runs anywhere that
Python is installed. Unfortunately, it's multi-user software, so must lock
its database while one user is making changes - otherwise another user could
make changes at the same time and BOOM there goes your issue
So far my users have been mostly Unix, Windows (NT variant)
or MacOS X users, and they've
been served well. Unfortunately, I've just had my first Windows 98 user try
to use it, and the locking doesn't work there. I've borrowed the
portalocker code from
the Python Cookbook.
Here's latest in the "less useful" thread from the
Cliff Wells wrote:
> Richard Jones wrote:
> > If anyone knows how to lock a file on win98, I'd really appreciate a hint.
> Win98 only supports locking entire computers, not files
> Assuming 98 doesn't support locking files (which I believe to be true,
> but am willing to be corrected on), what I would probably do in this
> case is create a "lock server" using a network socket and have
> applications acquire a lock from it. I expect you could even make the
> API mirror the portalock API (which I've never used and so can't comment
> on) and use it as a drop-in replacement.
> Even if 98 supported file locking, I expect this approach would be
Clearly something quite advanced is required here. I spoke to the Microsoft
After a three-hour session in which I educated them about the benefits of
Python and the features and facilities offered by the language, they came up
with the following suggestion: "Make use of the Microsoft Office locking
algorithm by creating a COM object encapsulation an instance of Word and
have it open a document. If the document is already open then Word wil
report an error that your program can use to determine the lock is currently
Brilliant: shows that all that money I spend on Microsoft support isn't
wasted. I tried it, but unfortunately the COM implementation in Word doesn't
report the error correctly. Microsoft have recorded this as a bug, and will
get back to me if ever anybody fixes it.
tongue-in-cheek-ly y'rs - steve
side of the thread actually looks looks for a solution closer to the
current one. It would
involve detecting we're on Windows 98 and using the msvcrt
module. Using that as a hint, I found another
mailing list. That thread winds up with Sheila King finding her
filename = r'e:\apache\cgi-bin\pylinks\datalog.txt'
from time import strftime, localtime, time
f = open(filename, 'a+')
fd = win32file._get_osfhandle(f.fileno())
win32file.LockFile(fd, 0, 0, 0xffff0000,0)
timestamp = strftime("%m/%d/%Y %H:%M:%S\n", localtime(time()))
win32file.UnlockFile(fd, 0, 0, 0xffff0000,0)
So now I need to find a win98 Roundup
user who is willing to try the code out :)
Mon, 13 Jan 2003
Slune is the first Python-based
release of "OOmadness".
It incorporates several technologies which are Python-friendly:
- Soya 3D,
a high-level 3D engine for Python, designed with games in mind.
a network game engine written in Python using a Peer To Peer model.
There's a couple of other really interesting projects on their site. Lots
of fun to be had :)
Sun, 12 Jan 2003
Python project looks mighty interesting. There doesn't appear to be a website
for the effort yet. The basic outline of the project was given in the
We announce a mailinglist dedicated to developing
a "Minimal Python" version. Minimal means that
we want to have a very small C-core and as much
as possible (re)implemented in python itself. This
includes (parts of) the VM-Code.
Building on the expected gains in flexibility
we also hope to use distribution techniques such
as PEP302 to ship only a minimal set of modules
and load needed modules on demand.
As Armin Rigo of PSYCO fame takes part in the effort,
we are confident that MinimalPython will eventually
run faster than today's CPython.
And because Christian Tismer takes part, we are
confident that we will find a radical enough
approach which also fits Stackless :-)
We are very interested in learning about and
integrating prior art. And in hearing any
doubtful or reinforcing opinions. Expertise
is welcomed in all areas.
The project certainly sounds like a lot of fun, and I'm definitely
going to try to keep up to date with their progress...
Rachel and I bought our house in April 2002. One of the reasons we bought it
was for its large grounds (not huge, but for our budget it's large). It has
an existing well-developed garden that we quite liked too. Not too much lawn,
and no really offensive plants. Generally low maintenance.
A couple of months in we noticed the ivy and jasmine doing their best
kudzu impressions. Some of the more "recent" plants weren't doing so well (it
has become obvious that some were planted just before the sale, and in not
very intelligent places). A few months in, our neighbours renovated their
house and garden. This included removing a large tree that was shading our
fernery, and removing the ivy from their side of the fence.
Prior to owning a house, we'd both either a) lived in a house where one or
more parents looked after the garden, and usually quite well, or b) lived in a
rental property where either the owner didn't care about the garden or they
cared enough about it to look after it themselves. In the half year that
we've had to come to terms with the garden here, we've learnt a lot about
what a garden needs, and in particular what we need to do to the garden to
make it work better.
Now we've got a fernery that needs moving, a pile of ivy and jasmine to get
rid of (half
of which is dead and hanging loosly from the fence), several bushes that have
gotten a bit too enthusiastic that we have to chop back and ... well, the
latest hit us today. It's been really and dry here (most of Australia is
officially in drought) and we were making real moves to help our the ferns. Off
we go to the plant nursery (for the first time, I might add) to buy the
ingredients of the new fernery bed. When we arrive home, we notice that the
daisy beds at the front of the house are black. Not brown, but dead black. A
day ago, they seemed fine (or we would have noticed, I'm sure). Looks like
we have a whole lot more to learn about owning a garden...
Sat, 11 Jan 2003
Anthony's finally got his
weblog online. Lots of
ranty goodness there. Of course, this means I don't get my handy list of
direct via goofey anymore, which is sad :)
staff have listed their picks for top games on any platform for
2002. Their top 50 includes commentary on why they've chosen the particular
game, or in some cases why a game hasn't rated higher.
I can't really comment on any platform other than PS2 - but comments from
site (eg. the comments for the top 10)
indicate that the
gaming community support the bulk of the decisions. In the end, Ico came out
number one, surprising very few. In the words of the Eurogamer staff:
Actually, it was weird, of all the games in the top 50, ICO at No.1 prompted the least argument among the staff.
The 50 are here, split into reasonable chunks:
Other users have noted that the top 10 games lists 7 PS2 games, and not one
PC game. It might not be the most powerful platform, but the games are still
Thu, 09 Jan 2003
Another maintenance release of Roundup, my issue tracking software, is out. Phew. I've got a backlog of feature requests - and thankfully I've also got users who are willing to contribute code for them.
Yesterday was a big Zope3 day for me.
- The day started with Jan, Stuart and myself visiting the proposed venue
of the local Zope3 sprint, Trinity College at Melbourne University. Their
facilities are great - any one of their labs could serve as a sprint location
for us. Because it's Trinity though, they also have a really nice specialist
lab that we'd like to use (it has a touch-sensitive wall-projection screen
that would be awesome for demos) and accomodation and a dining hall...
- We had an IRC conference in the evening in which we ozzopers talked
about the Zope UI and how we could contribute. I said I'd like to try to help
with some edge stuff that doesn't require intimate knowledge of Zope3's
internals, since I'd only just started getting up to speed yesterday. This was
- It was the first time I've downloaded and run the source.
I also ended up checking out the source from the CVS and
even started looking into hacking a few changes in. I ran into a bug though and
spent my time chasing that down.
Tue, 07 Jan 2003
Apple's finally releasing their own
web browser. I always thought it strange that they didn't provide at
least a basic non-IE browser... but I guess there's a lot of factors involved.
The fun part for me is this - extending my "why Open Source rules"
post on Sunday:
For its Web page rendering engine, Safari draws on software from the Konqueror open source project. Weighing in at less than one tenth the size of another open source renderer, Konqueror helps Safari stay lean and responsive. And of course, being a good open source citizen, Apple shares its enhancements with the Konqueror open source community.
So OSX gets a kickin' web browser, and we KDE users get more people
poring over and improving the Konqueror code. That's cool. See some of the
email on the subject, from the sources:
- The original contact with Dirk Mueller of the Konqueror project.
I'm the engineering manager of Safari, Apple Computer's new web browser
built upon KHTML and KJS. I'm sending you this email to thank you for
making such a great open source project and introduce myself and my
- His response
A few of the changes have already happened in "our" developing
version and many of them were on our TODOs. For example just about this
weekend I was working on improving the kjs garbage collector and now I read
that you apparently already fixed the issues I had with it. Seems to me like
a huge christmas gift. Thank you. Thanks a lot.
- Apple's changelog and patches
Here is the second email I promised which details our changes and
additions to KHTML and KJS which were done for Safari.
Sun, 05 Jan 2003
I got a message on the roundup-users mailing list:
I've been studying the source code for the rdbms_common.py
file and was wondering....
why is there under the set() and create() methods, both,
a fireAuditors and a fireReactors invocation, but there
is no such invocation in the retire() function?
Seems inconsistent based on the rest of the code.
And indeed it's inconsistent - it's a bug. One that I probably wouldn't
have noticed because I don't trigger that behaviour in any of my applications
(and sadly I didn't have a unit test for it, but will now :)
Yet one of the users of Roundup happened to look through the code and
noticed the error. That rocks...
Thanks to amk the PEP 301 code for Python 2.3 is
(the test server has been running here for a while now)
Yay, and I've got the python.org bits working - except for having the
cgi-bin write back to the database. Needs sysadmin clues there. I got some
valuable user feedback (read: bug report) too, which helps immensely.
I need to work on the python.org look for it too...
Thu, 02 Jan 2003
Jarno Virtanen presents a couple of links
text data formats. The first, a rant about the evils of XML
frequently goes off the tracks of reasonable discussion, but the main
SGML is a good idea when the markup overhead is less than 2%. Even
attributes is a good idea when the textual element contents is the
"real meat" of the document and attributes only aid processing, so
that the printed version of a fully marked-up document has the same
characters as the document sans tags. Explicit end-tags is a good
idea when the distance between start- and end-tag is more than the
20-line terminal the document is typed on. Minimization is a good
idea in an already sparsely tagged document, both because tags are
hard to keep track of and because clusters of tags are so intrusive.
Character entities is a good idea when your entire character set is
EBCDIC or ASCII. Validating the input prior to processing is a good
idea when processing would take minutes, if not hours, and consume
costly resources, only to abend.
When the markup overhead exceeds 200%, when attributes values and
element contents compete for the information, when the distance between
99% of the "tags" is /zero/, when the character set is Unicode, and when
validation takes more time than processing, not to mention the sorry
fact that information longevity is more /threatened/ by XML than by
any other data representation in the history of computing, then SGML
has gone from good kid, via bad teenager, to malfunctioning, evil
adult as XML.
A brief summary, then: Remove the syntactic mess that is attributes.
(You will then find that you do not need them at all.) Enclose the
/element/ in matching delimiters, not the tag. These simple things
makes people think differently about how they use the language.
Contrary to the foolish notion that syntax is immaterial, people
optimize the way they express themselves, and so express themselves
differently with different syntaxes. Next, introduce macros that
look exactly like elements, but that are expanded in place between
the reader and the "object model". Then, remove the obnoxious
character entities and escape special characters with a single
character, like \, and name other entities with letters following
the same character. If you need a rich set of publishing symbols,
Jarno's second link is to A
proposal: Universal Text Data format (UTD) which has a lot in common with
the above rant.