Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 on Dell Studio 1555

I recently got a new laptop, a Dell Studio 15(55). Of course the first thing I did when I got it was wipe it (remove Windows 7) and install Ubuntu 9.10.

To make a long story short, I had some problems with the laptop display (though plugging in an external monitor worked fine). The issues had to do with Intel's GMA and integrated graphics support.

The first problem was during installation. After the initial live boot/installation menu (pic below) I would get a blank (lit black) screen.

First I used Ubuntu's alternate installer. Then on the installation menu:
  1. Select the Install Ubuntu item (don't press Enter yet)
  2. Press F6 and select (X) the apic=off option
  3. Press F4 and type nomodeset as input
  4. Press Enter to install
After installation or a restart though you'll still get a blank screen until you permanently set the nomodeset option.
These resources helped me solve the problems:

To get things working I had to set the "nomodeset" option in the Grub2 (boot loader) configuration.
When using the default kernel-mode-setting (KMS) option in Ubuntu 9.10, users with Intel 82852/855GM cards will find that they are unable to use the Xv extension for playing videos. This may show up as high CPU usage or stuttering during video playback, or a failure to play videos at all with some applications. As a workaround, users can add the option nomodeset to the kernel boot options in the grub config (for GRUB 2: edit /etc/default/grub and add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX, then run sudo update-grub; for GRUB 1: edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add nomodeset to the line beginning with # kopt=, then run sudo update-grub), to disable the use of KMS
From the above excerpt:
  1. For Grub2 (the default for Ubuntu 9.10), edit /etc/default/grub
  2. Add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX
  3. run sudo update-grub
Then you should be good to go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I finally created a Delicious account.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chrome Browser is Fast

The Google Chrome browser for Linux (Ubuntu) is incredibly fast.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I've "soft" launched my latest endeavor:

Our first application we call the Better Business Card for Android. This product grew from the idea that if you have a smart phone, you shouldn't have a dumb business card. The goal is to merge the purpose of the business card with the capabilities of your mobile phone.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently released it's latest kick-ass cloud service: Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service). It is, simply stated, a managed EC2 instance of a MySQL database service.

I'm creating my first RDS database now for a new site/service I'll be releasing soon. My only request, so far, would be that they add support for it to the AWS Console.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

South for Django

Just made good use of South for database migrations for my Django application. Like most good things in the Django community "it just worked." Magnificent.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) today. The whole process, including downloading about 1 GB worth of packages, took little more than an hour. And so far it's flawless. I wonder if the upgrade to Windows 7 is similar?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Droid compared to iPhone

TechCrunch has an excellent comparison of the iPhone and the Motorola Droid (coming very soon).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New AppEngine Features

The latest version of Google's AppEngine (1.2.6) contains two nifty new features: the ability to receive incoming email (which is turned into an HTTP request) and the ability to delete an app.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Django and OpenID

I finally got Django + OpenID working (quite easily in the end) using django_openid_auth (after some struggles with some of the older Django + OpenID packages).

django_openid_auth is actually made by the developers of LaunchPad, who help out quite a bit on Ubuntu.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Redbird Logo

New Redbird logo... excellent work Brett...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Android Phone: T-Mobile myTouch 3G

I got a T-Mobile myTouch 3G phone today. So far it's awesome.

The new phone required signing up for a new T-Mobile account, in addition to my Verizon account. Now I wish Verizon would hurry up and start offering Android phones. It looks like the first will be the Motorola Sholes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Simple Android

Simple allows programmers to quickly write Android applications by using the components supplied by its runtime system. Simple programs are form definitions (which contain components) and code (which contains the program logic). The interaction between the components and the program logic happens through events triggered by the components. The program logic consists of event handlers which contain code reacting to the events.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Working on new

I'm working on a new website (
  • The site is hosted via Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2)
  • The server's operating system is Ubuntu Linux
  • The site is written in Python, using Django
Powerful combo...

Early Android 2.0 "Donut" build available

Android's official code repository has been updated with a bunch of new Donut (Android 2.0) code. One big improvement is support for CDMA wireless networks, e.g. Verizon and Sprint.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Android Phone Avalanche

There's currently only 2 Android Phones on the market. By the end of the year (less than six months away), there will be almost 10 times that number. I am going to get me one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Chrome OS

Wow, Google's announcement of Google Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system for netbooks on up, has certainly sparked a lot attention.

A few of my thoughts in no particular order:
  • I have yet to see an software that runs "in the browser" that is anywhere near as good as my IDE for development
  • I love Ubuntu, but I would consider using a Google OS, but only if its better
  • Apple doesn't care much
  • Add this to the long list of things that is chipping away at Microsoft, but it is no nuclear bomb
One terrible article I read said "this is the beginning of an era of Google dominance, the likes of which we’ve never seen before." By "the likes of which we've never seen," he really means "since Microsoft was so dominant less than a decade ago." And he thinks "Apple is shaking in their boots." Wrong, wrong, wrong. I think Apple absolutely loves it when Microsoft and Google pick on each other.

Whatever... it's exciting to wonder and imagine, but we'll have to wait six to twelve months to see how exciting this announcement really is.

Friday, July 3, 2009

iPhone vs. Android Development

David Green gives a thorough, though somewhat biased, review of iPhone vs. Android development.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Smart Phones: Open Source, Android, and iPhone

I'm not an iPhone hater, I'm really not. I definitely understand the appeal and right now iPhone is the undisputed champion of smart phones. But it's just a matter of time before more open (e.g. open-source) platforms take back a lot of ground. I'm betting on Android.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flex Drag-and-Drop: The Definitive Tutorial

Flex After Dark has just published a new (our first) tutorial on how to Drag-and-Drop in Flex.

lets you move components and transfer data in a Flex application via the mouse and ubiquitous "click-drag-drop" paradigm. All Flex components support drag-and-drop operations with the proper enablement.

Click here to learn how to Drag-and-Drop in Flex at Flex After Dark...

Digg Profile

My Digg profile:

Google App Engine 1.2.3 with Django 1.0

Up until recently Google App Engine only had pre-1.0 Django support built-in. You could of course jimmy it to work with 1.0, but it was a little unnatural. Now with GAE 1.2.3, Django 1.0 support is baked in. Google App Engine + Django = Nice!

Friday, June 19, 2009

App Engine Task Queue API

You can now perform offline processing on App Engine by scheduling bundles of work (tasks) for automatic execution in the background.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ubuntu Fixing "Papercuts"

Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, is launching a new project to improve the usability of the platform. The developers aim to identify and resolve 100 minor bugs that negatively impact the Ubuntu user experience before the release of the next major version in October.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Google Maps API for Flex/Flash

The Google Maps API for Flash lets Flex developers embed Google Maps in Flash applications. Similar to the JavaScript version, this ActionScript API provides a number of utilities for manipulating and adding content to maps through a variety of services, enabling you to embed robust, interactive maps applications on your website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Flex-Spy allows you to inspect and dynamically change most properties and styles of the visual components in your Flex application. You can - for example - try out a specific width or a background color for your component before changing it in your code.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mahalo Flex

I am now the proud, but reluctant, owner of the Adobe Flex page at I'm not sure if I like that anyone can claim any topic, but I plan to be a good steward of the page. Also, I am willing to hand off ownership of the page to a deserving, Adobe-employed maintainer if asked.

Adobe Forums

I am now a top contributor on the Adobe Flex Forums. I don't feel too bad tooting my own horn because it's a reward for helping others learn Flex. Besides getting help on the forms, another great way to learn Flex is at Flex After Dark.

Monday, June 1, 2009

ImageMagick Conversion

One great thing about Linux is that you can find efficient command line tools for just about anything. Currently I've been using ImageMagick's convert command line tool to convert all the pages in a PDF to separate images of just about any format. It's great and takes almost no time.

convert -quality 90 -resize 800x600 -density 300x300 Fxad_DragDrop.pdf Fxad_DragDrop.png

Note, the density parameter is important. Adding "-density 300x300" significantly improved image quality, while adding "-density 600x600" consumed my machine's processor until I killed the process.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dajax = Django + Ajax

Dajax is a Ajax library for Django. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but this is my reminder to do so.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flex After Dark using

The Flex After Dark website has been updated and is now using, the CSS framework. I have to admit, at first the idea of a "CSS framework" just sounded kind of ridiculous. But after struggling with semi-complex CSS layouts over a couple of weeks, I started to get it. Overall, I'd recommend looking into a CSS framework, and seemed the best simple-to-effective ratio for me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Adobe Profiles has a single login system, but makes you maintain several profiles for different areas of the site. I've collected them here for no particular reason.

Help Profile:

Forums Profile:

Adobe Groups:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flash Remoting for Python

AMFast (Flash Remoting for Python):

First AppEngine Deployment

I got my first app up and running Google AppEngine (GAE) this week. Overall the experience was pretty good. The only hangup was that it took a while for the app's indexes to build (over an hour). But after that, everything is humming.

I will do some more lengthy write ups in the future about the application and the experience, but for now I'll summarize:
AppEngine + Django = Nice.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Get Dropbox

Dropbox is a free, ridiculously easy service for syncing files across computers. If you use more than one computer regularly (e.g. desktop, laptop, office) it will painlessly keep files in your "dropbox folder" on each system synchronized.

How it works:
  • Install the executable (it stays in your sys-tray)
  • Select your "dropbox folder" on your system
  • Drag files into the folder
  • Booyah, you're in sync
You can even browse, download, and remove files from the web-based interface. They've done it right.

If you're not already using it, it's definitely worth checking out. Use this referral URL and we both get extra space:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Linked In

My LinkedIn profile:

Ubuntu 9.04, Django, Google AppEngine

Today's tasks:
  • Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 (done)
  • Get Django 1.0 working on Google AppEngine (done)
  • Work on Feed aggregator for Flex After Dark (in progress)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 Is Here

Ubuntu 9.04 is here! I plan to upgrade to Jaunty Jackalope this weekend. Last time I upgraded from 8.04 to 8.10 it took a few hours, but mostly for the downloading. Overall it was an easy and pleasant experience. I'm looking forward to trying out the latest version of Ubuntu and Gnome.

If you're still using Windows... why? Do yourself a favor and try out Ubuntu. You can download it, put it on a CD/DVD and try it without having to install it. You'll thank yourself (and the thousands of developers behind Linux).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Haystack with Whoosh Support

Haystack is a pure-Python library for adding search to your Django application. It has support for Whoosh as well. I'll be looking into this as a possibility for Flex After Dark's search functionality.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Before Website Launch

Before you launch your next website, make sure you perform these essential checks and test cross-browser compatibility. Both links courtesy of Smash Magazine, a great resource.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Creole Parser

I'm using a Python package called CreoleParser extensively on the Flex After Dark website. The package helps with parsing Creole, a wiki markup syntax. It is a truly excellent package in terms of functionality and organization.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Whoosh is a fast, featureful full-text indexing and searching library implemented in pure Python. I'm currently taking advantage of this awesome package to add search support to Flex After Dark.

The package is especially nice for a couple of reasons:
  • It's pure Python, so it's easy to setup and use
  • It's similar to Lucene, which I've used before
  • It works, and works well, exactly as you'd expect it to (no surprises so far)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two for Soup

I read two posts almost back to back pertaining to Beautiful Soup (Python tag parsing) today, so I thought I'd share them together.

First, Beautiful Soup and Python 3.0...

Second, Beautiful Soup used in a very simple web crawler...

Monopoly... Optimal Strategy

I'm a big fan of board games, including Monopoly. The problem is I can never get anyone to play with me. I guess one reason why is because I find articles like the following interesting: a surefire strategy to winning a game of Monopoly (

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flex After Dark

I'm currently working on Flex After Dark, a site for learning about Adobe Flex and related technologies. I'm just getting started, so stay tuned for some updates.

Technologies I'm using for the site include: Flex, Python, Django, Ubuntu, and EC2.

Ben Edwards Blog

This is the blog of Ben Edwards.