Older blog entries for RossBurton (starting at number 27)

auspex: So, you noticed why gnome-games is never maintained for a large amount of time by a single person? The code is hellish as much of it has been incrementally edited over many years.

I was the gnome-games maintainer up to... well... a few hours ago now, and didn't really have the time to seriously attack the code and clean it all up. Crufty code is why I was removing games which are not used. Luckily Callum McKenzie (the new maintainer) appears to have more free time that I do, which is good.

I do feel that the games have a far better look than they did in GNOME 2.0, but there is still a long way to go. Hopefully Callum can carry on the way he started -- which was very well, within a day of getting cvs commit access a serious amount of code was committed and a release was made -- and rework the code.

Does anyone set aside a day to refactor, to fix bugs, to close bugs, to look for bugs?

At work we spend serious amounts of time refactoring as required, but I do think this is something which not enough people do. Refactoring doesn't need to be done often, and when it does it has to be done carefully, but a time slot for checking bug reports/fixing open bugs is a very good idea.

auspex: that's exactly the sort of UI issues I am trying to remove from gnome-games for GNOME 2.4. Feel free to browse the bugzilla and file more bugs.

It is possible to get RSS views of people's diaries? I've started to use the wonderful Straw but I miss Advogato. If I could get the recentlog and individual diaries as RSS, I'd be a very happy man.

raph, any chance of this?

Right, I can subscribe to /articles.xml to get a RSS feed of the articles, but /recentlogs.xml doesn't exist.

Is there a way to get a RSS feed of the recent logs from Advogato?


Hmm, I've been lacking in updating the diary a bit... Oh well. Today I am at home nursing a yucky cold, so I thought I'd write an entry.

Work is getting better recently - less assembler, low-level C and debugging, and more Java interface coding. I used to like Swing, but after using GTK+ 2, Swing has some really annoying features. A total lack of a single decent layout component, for starters. To help in the future I am planning on writing a clone of libglade for Swing, so I can design a UI using Glade, and then load it at runtime in Java. I'm not entirely sure how all this would work though, but I will at least need to write clones of the GTK+ layout components.

Book wise - I finished the The Return of the King, The Time Machine, started to read War of the Worlds (which bought back many memories of listening to the vinyl when I was 10). I'm currently re-reading Use of Weapons, and have Iain Bank's latest, Dead Air, sitting on my desk. I hope it's good, The Business didn't really do anything for me.

The best news I've seen for a long time is that Babylon 5 series 1 DVDs are being released in England, contatry to some people. I found play.com does them, with a very respectable discount.

Web Site

I finally uploaded the new layout (stolen from MovableType) to burtonini.com. All I need to do now is find a suitable smalll PHP based content server, which also does URL re-writing. I'd like to use AxKit but my hosting side doesn't run mod_perl. This looks interesting though, so I'll wait for mglazer to unveil the demo site.

URL re-writing is an essential part of the system, as the most annoying part of the dynamic web for me is seing URLs such as http://www.foo.com/page.pl?content=welcome. Totally uncachable by any proxy servers on web browsers, as the content could change every second. Of course, the appropriate cache control headers could be added as well, but then my objection is the vile URL.

Want Pie Now!

http://www.weebl.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/ is just damn cool. The best stuff is in the Weebl and Bob section.


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.

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