Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fixing the slow graphics redraw with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on a Dell Mini 10

I recently bought a Dell Mini 10 (not the 10v) from the Dell Outlet. I got a pretty good deal on it and I like it.

When I got it home, the first thing I did is overwrite the Windows XP install with Ubuntu Netbook Remix (9.04.) This proved to be a disaster. The graphics display was really slow and the monitor aspect ratio was distorted.

After much researching and reinstalling, I found out that the Ubuntu doesn't support the Dell Mini 10's graphic card. After yet more research and reinstalling I found a configuration that works splendidly, though I don't know if it will ever be upgradable.

Most of this is pieced together from this Credentiality blog post and others that refer to it:

First I had to create a bootable thumbdrive to install Ubuntu 9.04, which I did with UNetbootin. You need to use the Ubuntu 9.04 (the "Jaunty" release) as 9.10 does not have hacked drivers.

Once you get through the install, reboot and launch into Ubuntu, you'll notice the screen redraw sucks. This is what we'll be fixing.

After installing and getting onto wireless, I went into Update Manager and changed settings to NOT look for new versions of Ubuntu. (Again, we want to stay on 9.04.)

I checked for updates and found 245 or so. Installed. This took better than an hour. The install forces you to reboot.

Now for the work to turn this doorstop into a spiffy new netbook. You do all this from Terminal.

You'll need to create a special sources.list.d file:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-mobile.list

put in the following content

deb jaunty main
deb-src jaunty main

Save and quit that file. Now, to install a bunch of stuff:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys C6598A30
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-psb
sudo apt-get install poulsbo-driver-2d poulsbo-driver-3d
sudo apt-get install psb-kernel-source


Once rebooted open a terminal and make a backup of your xorg.conf file.

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.bak

Open up your xorg.conf:

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Make the Section "Device" Look like this :

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy"

OK ... reboot one last time and experience your spiffy machine with fast redraw.


* Don't upgrade to the newest version of Ubuntu. You'll be back to the slow, awful redraw. When this happened to me with 9.10, I was unable to find drivers that worked. I had to start completely over, reinstalling 9.04 and going through this again. (That's when I started writing it down for this blog post.) If you figure it out, let me know!

* I wouldn't even do software updates to the current 9.04 release. I did that, wanting to get a new Firefox update, and I ended back at square one, having to reinstall the OS and everything. (Hence the finishing of this blog post.)


Friday, September 04, 2009

Last day for Panel Picker voting. Here are @Statesman panels

Today is the last day to vote for SXSWi panels. @Statesman has four panels out there for you. Please show us some love:

Stream Live Video without the Big Truck

Old Media Surfs the Google Wave

Taking News from Fishwrap to Mobile App

The Yelp Effect: When Everyone's A Restaurant Critic

Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Twitter giveaway yet

A very quick post on this Twitter giveaway by TapTapTap.

What makes this so cool?

* Splash page is awesome design.

* The #2 button to send the Retweet from a page to your Twitter screen is awesome.

* The grouping of the recent entrants is rad.

* The counter is also very nice.

Too bad no one cares about a unit calculator for the iPhone.

And Holy Pimp-my-laptop: $6000 for a MacBook Pro? They are already overpriced before all that.

Monday, May 04, 2009

More on Juitter, a way to stream Twitter on your site

I wrote a piece last week for Old Media, New Tricks on Juitter. You can check it out there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Aggregating Swine Flu news & learning nimbleness

As the swine flu (dare I say) hysteria was building over the weekend, my boss thought it was time to test our nimbleness and mettle. This story is growing -- that's born out in the news tonight that a close-by school district is shutting down for two weeks, right in the middle of TAKS standardized testing -- and won't be going away anytime soon.

So the charge for my team yesterday morning was to build a news aggregation site by the end of the day. Alas, we didn't quite make that deadline, but it was an, um, eventful day. But we did have a site going some 30 hours later, though DNS propagation is still keeping us from seeing it within our own building.

It went down like this:

Domain searches started some time Sunday or early yesterday, from what I can gather. All the good swine flu domains are long gone ... swinefluinfo or swinflunews, etc. Many are for sale, of course. (I hate domain stalkers.) We ended up with, certainly not among the better choices, but it's what we had to work with come Monday morning.

It was about 9ish when my team was brought into this effort. The charge was laid out: Build an aggregation web site under this new domain. It needed basic blog entries, links to other sites, resource links to CDC, etc., simple metrics, maybe a twitter feed and/or news feed. We'd start with Google AdSense, more for SEO than revenue, but we figured we could graduate to Yahoo! APT if we felt need.

The team got together and discussed CMS platforms. We wanted something more than hand-coding. We've done a lot of development work in Django, so that came up, but we've also been doing a quite a bit of work in WordPress, and we were all pretty sure that was where we were headed ... I just wanted to talk it out.

Wordpress was the easy choice, and for ease and quickness we probably should've started at and to get going. But we knew SEO-wise we wanted our own domain. Where do we put it then? We host three external WordPress environments now: An MU environment for our community papers and a more traditional site for our Spanish language daily ( -- both hosted by an external vendor -- and our Collective Vision photo blog, on our own load-balanced servers. That load balancing thing was a trick, so we opted to piggy-back on

That decision has caused much grief for us over the last two days, but I'll get to that.

So Andy Nguyen, who championed bringing WordPress into our publishing environment, started going to work on this new site. Within a couple of hours, he had most everything working ... blog rolls, a juitter feed for the #swineflu Twitter hash tag, blog entries direct to outside stories ... just damn nice, rock star work. He was working with our host, Westhost, to get all going, told me we have to upgrade, used my Amex and we are off to the races. We could get this thing launched by late afternoon, I'm thinking.

What I didn't understand is this upgrade wasn't a simple server reboot that would take a couple of minutes ... Westhost had to move our existing site to a new server, with a new IP address. (For the un-tenchnical, that's like you moving and changing your address with the U.S. Post Office. On the Internet, it takes 24-48 hours for everyone to learn the new address.)

To make matters worse, when Westhost upgraded us, and when we changed our DNS to point to the new server IP address, the new server was not actually up and functional yet. Remember, we had an EXISTING SITE on that old server. So suddenly, DNS started propagating to this new server and it didn't exist! Not only did the site go blank, but we couldn't log into it, we couldn't ssh into the new server, nothing. I thought we were in for a short downtime, but now the Publisher and editors of the site are saying they can't get to it, and I'm learning it could be 24 hours before we get back. This Swine Flu story is huge for them ... this is a Spanish language website where the main following is from Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.

I was sick to my stomach. The worst day of my TSG career. isn't the most visited site we work on, by far, but I hate the way this happened, on what was a really, really big news day for them. They were trying to do the right thing ... good journalism specific to their market, and the rug was pulled out from under them.

It was about 6 p.m. when the new server came up and was back online and publishing. Of course, work on the site had stopped when the server went down, so Andy still had to finish up today and we ended up launching by about 2 p.m. The only initial feature we didn't have that we targeted was the Google AdSense ads, and that's just because we didn't have an existing account and Google has to approve it. They say that could take a week.

Maybe we could've done some setup faster, but I think creating on a new domain in a short timeframe will always be tricky. Anyone have any suggestions on the quickest way? I'm sure this isn't the last time we'll do this. I'd like to make that by the EOB deadline next time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Quick on-page audio player

My paper started a new Statesman News Update podcast (and the blog that goes with it) this week.

Our Internet editor Robert Quigley sent a shoutout on Twitter to announce it. One of the suggestions he got back was the need for an on-page audio player, which we didn't really have in our web toolkit. The reader pointed us to KUT for an example.

Well, some quick research showed they use a free WordPress plugin by 1 Pixel Out for their audio player, but we don't use WordPress on our home page. 1 Pixel Out points out a tutorial by Journalism professor Mindy McAdams that dissects that plugin, which I used to whip up a player in about half an hour.

It took:

* Putting a .js file and .swf file on our servers.
* Putting an MP3 file on our server
* Dropping javascript code on the homepage

I was able to change the size of the player a little, and I could even change colors, but we choose not to at this point.

So, hopefully tonight, when the the new podcast comes out about 8 p.m., you'll be able to play it on our home page!

Next up is how to get that on-page player for the blog to work. That will be a bit tricky since you have to change id's for each instance of the player.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Juitter allows for refreshing Twitter search

During the SXSWi festival, the Statesman hosted the Texas Social Media Awards. It was the brainchild and culmination of months of work by Robert Quigley (@robquig and the voice of @statesman) and honored some 25 people who "get" social media.

As part of this, we had a wonderful party at Ballet Austin, catered by Austin's Opal Divine's and Sweet Leaf Tea. During the social time, we wanted to post an updating Twitter feed on a wall so we could see we could all watch and contribute to the "social" flow of the evening.

That's a long intro to introduce Juitter. This is a little JQuery app (pointed out to us by Stephanie Romanski) that searches the Twittersphere for hash tags and allows you to create a dynamic, self-updating page.

The end result was this page. I was able to put it together in about 30 minutes the day before the party. It took a little javascript know-how, but I'm *by far* no .js wizard or even proficient.

Now, this page doesn't really show off the power of Juitter anymore because no one is tweeting on the #tsma hashtag anymore. However, during the party it did flow along rather nicely. In fact, we started out with "sxsw" as the keyword, and since we were limited to showing 8 tweets at a time, it was too active ... it was difficult to keep up with the tweets before they cycled to the next set. But at the party several folks (@dan360man, @michellegreer, @elisewho) lobbied me to change the Juitter feed to the #tsma keyword, which I did with a quick edit of one of the .js files.

While I think Juitter is a cute little app, it should be totally unnecessary. The old Summize-now-bought-by-Twitter search page would be all we need if it would update with actual tweets instead of onlyh the note at the top saying how many additional entries have been added. Weird that it requires a page refresh.

During one of the SXSWi sessions (I think it was Wireframes for the Wicked) the presenters put up the page and then set their browser to automagically refresh every 30 seconds or so. It looked like they were using Safari, but I can't find the function in Safari 4 for PC. Pretty damn cool feature, though, and *much* easier than editing javascript files required for Juitter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why Twitter wins (again) at SXSW

As SXSW Interactive was ending, I was thinking today why Twitter is so successful in a convention setting.

I didn't make it to the convention center until Saturday, the 2nd day, but I was struck by how awful the phone service was. It was hard to get a call out, and even hard to get SMS messages out, especially from within the conference rooms.

I found out later I wasn't alone in my frustration. AT&T admitted their cell service was slammed by the amount of usage in the area, and I'm not surprised considering the iPhone to BlackBerry ratio was about 10-to-1 (as was the Macbook-to-PC ratio. It was like a flippin' Apple commercial.)

On the other hand, Wi-Fi in the convention center was pretty good. Hallways were sometimes rough, but I rarely had problems getting connections when I was at a panel. I know many folks were relying on Twitter to communicate directly with peers instead of SMS.

But of course there are other reasons it was successful.

* Those panels that encouraged the use of hash tags allowed both those within and out of the panel to follow along easily. I use Tweetie on the iPhone, which has a decent search, so I was able to flip over and see what other folks were saying about particular panels, even if I wasn't following them. Some examples: #sxswid (For panel on OpenID, OAuth in Enterprise; #wickedwire (for panel on Wireframes for the Wicked, which did a good job taking questions from both Twitter and the audience microphone); #sxswomnt (Old Media New Tricks, the panel by @statesman's Robert Quigley and @colonelTribune Daniel Honigman.) #tsma (Texas Social Media Awards) which was a party/awards ceremony hosted by the Statesman.)

* Finding and meeting friends. This is really a no-brainer and really part of what always make the Twitter community cool, even outside of conventions, but it was really handy here. Lunch sessions and flash mob coffee's were set. Meetup locations changed based on crowd control and more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trade show Pano from SXSW

Panoramic iPhone app

This photo was taken at Sxsw interactive at a 10a panel on Sunday. I sent to it by emailing to blogger.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

6th photo on the 6th page

I was tagged by Lessa to show my 6th photo from the 6th page of my Flickr stream, and here it is. Not all that exciting ... it is from an Austin United Capitals soccer camp in Brenham in July 2007, taken on my iPhone and emailed to Flickr.

That email feature is the only reason I use Flickr. I much prefer my Picasa account because I can have unlimited albums, and I really like the embed features it offers.

With my poor math skills, I've deduced that the 6th photo of the 6th page is the 114th photo, so here is my 114th photo in my public Picasa galleries:

From Troop 448 Rifle Merit Badge campout

It is of Boy Scout leaders at a campout in Bastrop at Lost Pines Scout Reserveration. We were there to work on the Rifle Merit Badge.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Testing blog entries from my iPhone

I'm at the UT vs Appalachian State game and the score is 52-30. I'm
bored, so I'm seeing if I can update my blog with my phone. Part of
that New Years Resolution to update this and the family blog more.

UPDATE: I had to come back into the entry to fix the link. It looks like it will convert a url into an href, but you can't write out html. Good enough ... was just testing.

Thursday, January 01, 2009 a great buy for HDMI

I was blessed enough to receive a Blu-Ray player for Christmas. All excited to hook it up, I sighed as I found the HDMI cable in the box. It was about three feet too short to snake through the wall from my 47-inch Phillips LCD above my fireplace to the component rack next to it.

Off to Best Buy to buy a 10-ft HDMI cable, I was stunned to find the Monster cable costs nearly as much as the player itself. Ridiculous.

I went ahead an bought a rocketfish cable for about $90, still an outrage, and twittered my anger to the social media world.

A buddy I work with replied back to try, which he had heard about on an AVS forum. I was able to find a better cord at one third the price, $32 with shipping. It is supposed to ship today, and hopefully I'll have the new Blu-Ray installed before the weekend closes.

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