Friday, May 28, 2010

Indexed GIFs Cannot Be Displayed by Browsers

To save everyone else from wasting a day of their life on this, if you're getting "the image cannot be displayed because it contains errors" messages in Firefox, don't spend hours of your life trying to figure out what's wrong with your code. Check the images first.

I'm working on an application that displays images (GIFs) from a document scanning system, and due to where the images are located in relation to the webapp, I'm using CFCONTENT to display them. No matter what I tried, I could not get the images to display properly.

After much head bashing (my poor wall) I decided to grab some of the images directly. To my surprise, they couldn't even be displayed in the default image viewer in Ubuntu.

The GIMP to the rescue. I opened one of the GIFs in GIMP and they're all indexed GIFs. I changed the mode from indexed to grayscale and saved the GIF, and voila, all is right with the world. So my very hard learned lesson of today is that indexed GIFs cannot be displayed by browsers.

Good thing it's a long weekend and Open Source Bridge is next week, because clearly I need a break.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oil reaches Louisiana shores - The Big Picture


All of the images of the aftermath of the STILL ongoing oil spill from are amazing, but this one really hit me. If we don't learn big time from this one and make serious changes in what we're doing, we deserve nothing less than what we get.

It's too bad we humans have the astoundingly bad combination of tremendous power and even more tremendous stupidity, because it's the animals and the environment that take the hit.

Friday, May 21, 2010

xkcd: Infrastructures


Todd Rafferty sent this my way on Twitter. Kind of reminds me of someone ... ;-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

CFMeetup this Thursday! "Living in the Cloud: CFML Apps on Google App Engine"

Our 12pm (US ET) talk on Thursday May 20 will be "Living in the Cloud: CFML Apps on Google App Engine", with Matt Woodward & Peter Farrell.

TOPIC DESCRIPTION: (provided by the speaker)

If you want to take advantage of the power of cloud computing but want to focus on applications instead of server infrastructure, you owe it to yourself to check out Google App Engine. Google App Engine lets you deploy applications to Google's infrastructure with the push of a button, and the best part is that for many applications it's entirely free of cost.

In this presentation we'll discuss both the benefits and downsides of living in the cloud, outline how Google App Engine differs from other cloud solutions, and demonstrate how to build and deploy a simple CFML application to Google App Engine using Open BlueDragon, which is the only CFML engine compatible with Google App Engine.

If you're interested in running your CFML applications in the cloud come get in on the ground floor, because with a few simple tips and tricks, it's all clear skies.

Peter Farrell and I will be doing our OpenBD on Google App Engine presentation from cf.Objective() on the CFMeetup this Thursday at noon Eastern. See you there!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moving to the Cloud | The White House is the first government-wide system to move to the cloud. The move is part of the Administration’s overall efforts to cut waste and fix or end government programs that don’t work. By migrating to the public cloud, the Recovery Board is in position to leverage many advantages including the ability keep the site up as millions of Americans help report potential fraud, waste, and abuse. The Board expects savings of about $750,000 during its current budget cycle and significantly more savings in the long-term.

I continue to be pleasantly shocked when I see how progressive the current administration is with information technology. Very cool stuff.

Decentralize the web with Diaspora — Kickstarter

Personally I think Diaspora is vital to the future of social networking on the web, so I donated to the project on Kickstarter. The guys behind it are very passionate about the project and I think the goals are amazing: let you share what you want bur your data remains yours. I can't wait to see where this goes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Creating a Network Like Facebook, Only Private -

A few months back, four geeky college students, living on pizza in a computer lab downtown on Mercer Street, decided to build a social network that wouldn’t force people to surrender their privacy to a big business. It would take three or four months to write the code, and they would need a few thousand dollars each to live on.

They gave themselves 39 days to raise $10,000, using an online site, Kickstarter, that helps creative people find support.

It turned out that just about all they had to do was whisper their plans.

And so the backlash begins--I've been predicting for a long time that the era of "privacy is dead" wouldn't last, and the shot heard 'round the world in this case was Facebook's recent actions around privacy.

I applaud these guys for taking this on. Someone needed to and I think there will be a pretty huge uptake of this before long. Make sure and read the transcript of Eben Moglen's "Freedom in the Cloud" talk if you haven't already. Great food for thought.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We're Hiring! (Jobs @ AW2.0)

We've been working hard at aw2.0 to build a strong solid foundation and our future is strong and exciting.  OpenBlueDragon has been a resounding success and coupled with a number of our portfolio companies, we are looking to expand and are looking to recruit both senior and junior roles in the Java and CFML/ColdFusion world.

An opportunity to grow a small dynamic team, you will enjoy the buzz and the excitement within a company that is focused on getting things done the right way.   Proper software engineering principals with no short cuts.  We can't afford short cuts, the projects we work on involve billions of requests per month and terrabytes of data.   If you want to learn and get involved for scale, then we are for you.

Utilising the latest cloud technologies we push the boundaries far and are continually evaluating the latest services and offerings to see how we can maybe deploy these for our clients at a later date.

Our work is exclusively for the equity/venture capital world, supporting portfolio companies.

Location Location Location

We are based in one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland, in the southwest town of Dumfries.  The quality of life is much more laid back with none of the hussle bussle of the city, no rush hour, and no pollution.   The cost of living is significantly reduced compared to the rest of the UK, and you'll find your hard earned money going a lot further here.  But don't worry, you'll find our package worthy of city rates.

With good rail and road links you are never too far away from the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is where we do a lot of travelling.   Opportunities for international travel is available, so make sure your passport is valid!


We are looking for the following roles:

Our recent hires are quoted as saying: "best job I have ever had"

By the way, if you are happy in your current role but you know someone who could fit the bill, then please pass their resume to us, and if we end up hiring them, we'll give you £500 bounty for your trouble!

If you're in Scotland these are fantastic opportunities! Based on my interactions with Alan and Andy on the OpenBD project I can see why their recent hires would say it's the best job they've ever had. And if you're interested into getting into cloud computing in a big way, there's no one more on the frontlines of cloud computing than AW2.0.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Take Action: Tuesday May 4th, is the Day Against DRM |

Today is about taking time out of your usual routine to speak out in favor of a DRM-free society. We do not have to accept a future where our interactions with computers and published works are monitored and controlled by corporations or governments.

Here's my suggestion for an action item: free yourself completely from iTunes. I can't even begin to tell you how much easier it is dealing with all my media since I got completely off of iTunes over a year ago.

Refuse to continue to buy DRMed media and it'll go away. eMusic, the Ubuntu One Music Store, and Amazon's MP3 store are all great places to get the music you want without putting up with DRM.

Adobe ColdFusion Anthology Now Available


Congratulations to Michael and Judith Dinowitz and to all the authors involved for putting together such a fantastic resource that all CFML developers must have on their bookshelves.

I'm proud to have played a small part in this project by updating my "Mach-II Fundamentals" article which appears as chapter 26. Can't wait to see the actual print version!

My Pecha Kucha Presentation at cf.Objective() 2010

I had a great time doing this, and thanks to enterprising technologists in the audience all the Pecha Kucha sessions were captured on video. Thanks again to Bob Silverberg for organizing such a great event at cf.Objective()!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Restoring Tomboy Notes After Upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04

Quick tip since this took me a while to hunt down. If you format and do a clean install of Ubuntu 10.04, you'll of course back up your home directory first, in which case you'll have anything you had in Tomboy available to restore. What took me a bit of time to track down is where the Tomboy notes are stored since they are no longer in ~/.tomboy.

Turns out they're now in /home/YourUserName/.local/share/tomboy So after your upgrade, just shut down Tomboy and restore all the .note files from your backup to this directory and the notes you backed up will appear when you launch Tomboy. I actually had to launch Tomboy twice to get them to show up, but they're there now.

10 Applications You Must Install On Ubuntu Lucid Lynx

This time around Ubuntu 10.04 is touting some great UI and design changes. Moreover, this being an LTS release, there are all the more reasons to go with the fresh install route. So if you decide to do so, come the 29th, here are some of the Ubuntu applications that you might want to install on a fresh Lucid Lynx install.

Nice list of stuff you'll want to install after doing a fresh installation of Ubuntu 10.04. If you haven't yet tried it, Chrome is REALLY nice on Linux (though Firefox is still my daily driver, it's nice to have an alternative browser particularly as a web developer), VLC is a must have, and if you weren't aware Ubuntu no longer ships with The GIMP pre-installed.

I could take or leave the Checkgmail but it's a nice example of what can be done with the new MeMenu in 10.04, but Gnome Do is great if you haven't tried it (I just learned about this one myself a couple of weeks ago), Beagle is a really nice Spotlight-like app, and hey, if you want your Linux box to look like a Mac, there's even a Dock app.

The only one not on this list that I think should be there is Back In Time ( which is very similar to Time Machine on the Mac. I have yet to try it on 10.04 but it was just set and forget on 9.10 so hopefully it works on 10.04.

Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client on 64-Bit Ubuntu 10.04

I outlined much of this in a previous blog post, but since things are slightly different (or at least were for me) on Ubuntu 10.04, I figured I'd do a follow-up while it was fresh in my mind. Note that if you're on 32-bit Ubuntu AnyConnect works out of the box so you don't need to do any of these steps. The issue is that there is no native 64-bit AnyConnect client for Linux so you have to install some 32-bit libraries and point AnyConnect to some libraries from Firefox to get things working.

The basic procedure remains the same as in my previous post, but I had to install some additional libraries and do things in a slightly different order this time around.

  1. Download the AnyConnect installer from your VPN server or get a copy from your VPN administrator. (Why these clients aren't freely available I have no idea. You can only connect to something that someone paid Cisco for, so I'm not sure why the clients can't just be out in the wild. If you Scroogle around you may find some download links here and there but of course use at your own risk if you don't get the client from an authorized source.)

  2. Do a chmod +x on the installer (which for me was called and then run the installer using sudo. This will throw a couple of errors but they can safely be ignored.

  3. Install ia32-libs and lib32nss-mdns

    • sudo apt-get install ia32-libs lib32nss-mdns

  4. Download a fresh copy of Firefox, expand, and move to /usr/local

    • I downloaded to my Downloads directory, expanded there, and did sudo cp -R firefox /usr/local

  5. Do a cd into /usr/local/firefox and create symlinks for the Firefox libraries in /opt/cisco/vpn/lib as follows:

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

    • sudo ln -s /opt/cisco/vpn/lib/

  6. Start the VPN daemon: sudo /etc/init.d/vpnagentd_init start (If it doesn't start without errors, double-check all your symlinks.)

  7. Launch AnyConnect. You should have a launcher under Applications -> Internet, but If not you can launch it from /opt/cisco/vpn/bin/vpnui using your normal user account (i.e. not using sudo).

After AnyConnect launches you can enter your VPN server address, accept the certificate, and log in as per usual.

Installing Ubunutu 10.04 On a System76 Machine

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Restoring Your System76 Computer

System76 Netbook Customers see Restoring Your Netbook. This How To is for System76 Laptops and Desktops

System76 computers use a standard Ubuntu installation disc and the System76 Driver to fully restore your system to factory settings. This action will reformat your hard drive and remove all data from the computer. Backup any personal files in your home directory before installing.


Download Ubuntu 10.04 LTS from You can also request free installation CD's from the Ubuntu website.

This action will reformat your hard drive and remove all data from the computer. Backup any personal files in your home directory before installing.

  • Insert the Ubuntu Installation CD
  • Boot from the CD by pressing either the Escape key, F8, F10, F11, or F12 (Depends on your system)
  • Complete the installation with your desired options
  • Log into your newly installed system
  • Connect to the internet (verify you're connected by going to a website)
  • Go to System > Administration > Update Manager
  • Click "Check" and then "Install Updates"
  • If you have nVidia or ATI graphics in your system go to System > Administration > Hardware Drivers to install nVidia's or ATI's proprietary driver
  • Reboot
  • Download the latest System76 Driver from this page (click the second link from the bottom)...

  • Double click on the downloaded package to install
  • Go to System > Administration > System76 Driver
  • Choose the Restore tab and click Restore. Restore will take a few minutes.

That's it - your system is fully restored!

System76 Driver Information

For detailed information about the System76 Driver click here

If you have a System76 machine and want to do a clean install of Ubuntu 10.04, this outlines how to restore the System76 drivers. Quick and painless.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Adding Launcher to Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition

Quick tip for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04--if you want to add a launcher to your menus, go to "System," then "Main Menu." Open that up and it should look familiar from there.

Also, UNE 10.04 doesn't seem to suffer from the native window bug that was present in 9.10, so you don't have to worry about doing this fix anymore.