27 January 2002


Went to the Australia Day fireworks on Saturday night. I
cycled into the city to see them, which was worth it (didn’t
get stuck in a traffic jam — just had to dodge pedestrians
on the way home). The fireworks looked so much better in
the city (I went just a little past the narrows bridge).
There were fireworks being let off the tops of the buildings
in the city, off the narrows bridge, and off the barges in
the middle of the river. At one stage, some small
tough-ducks were driving past about 50 metres away and
letting off some smaller fireworks. One of the embers from
these smaller fireworks landed about 2 metres away from me!
(on the esky belonging to someone sitting nearby).


I have been looking at reviving an old Sony NEWS NWS-1580
workstation. This is from a line of 68030 based unix
workstations made by sony in the early 90’s. It had been
left off for about 5 years, so wouldn’t boot at all.
Apparently the problem was with the battery on the NVRAM
chip, so I will try and get a replacement for it (its an
MK48T02B-25 chip, which was also used in a number of Sun
boxes). While I had the system open, I decided to take a
few photos of its insides:


While searching for information, I ran accross the NetBSD/news68k
, which gave a button combo to press to boot a system
with a discharged NVRAM battery, or new NVRAM chip. Using
that combo, I was able to get the system to boot NEWS-OS 3.3
(a BSD-4.3 derivative).

Once the system is running nicely, I might look at
transfering the OS off the 180MB disk onto a spare 2GB SCSI
disk I have (provided I can find the installation tape). I
could probably fit two 3.5″ disks into the space the current
5.25″ disk takes up, which would mean I could put NetBSD on
it too. I can also fit in another 8MB of RAM, which should
be helpful (it takes standard 8 or 9 chip 30pin SIMMs). I
will also look for a AUI -> 10Base-T tranceiver, so I can
hook the machine up to the network (6 COMM ports can only
get you so far …).


On the PyGTK development side, we now have bonobo
bindings in CVS, using jdahlin‘s
orbit-python bindings for ORBit2. We now have support for
libbonobo, libbonoboui, bonobo-activation, nautilus views
and panel applets (most of this work is thanks to jdahlin).

I have also been looking at doing some automatic
signal/property documentation for GObject wrappers. Rather
than calculating all this documentation up front, I decided
to use the cool new descriptor support in Python 2.2. This
is essentially a generalisation of the rule that maps
functions in a class dictionary to methods on instances.
Rather than this being a special case in 2.2, functions
implement a tp_descr_get() function, which gets called
asking the function object to return itself in the context
of the instance. This generalisation has made it trivial
for support for static methods, class methods and properties
(objects with setter/getter functions) to be added to the
language. I used this for my automatic documentation hack.
I set __doc__ in the class dictionary to a special object,
which implements the tp_descr_get() slot. The
tp_descr_get() slot looks up the information when
instance.__doc__ or class.__doc__ is requested and returns

This worked great for the instance.__doc__ case, but
class.__doc__ was always returning None. On further
investigation, I found out that this was caused by the
type.__doc__ property descriptor (“type” is now a new style
class, rather than just a function for getting the type of
an object. It serves as the standard metaclass), which took
precedence. I have a patch for python now that gets rid of
the property and makes __doc__ on new style classes work
more like old style classes (and lets you have unicode doc
strings as well).

The upshoot of this is that typing help(‘gtk.Widget’)
lists all the signals and properties of gtk.Widget (provided
my patch is applied).


I am going to l.c.a
next week, which should be a lot of fun. Looking forward to
meeting everyone there (including gman and
malcolm). Looks like I will be fixing up
my grandmother’s Windows XP box while I am over there as


I submitted a talk proposal for GUADEC 3, so it looks like
I will have to write up the paper. The talk will be on
writing GTK 2.0 and GNOME 2.0 applications with Python.
Looking forward to a free trip to Spain 🙂.