Day: April 9, 2005

  • Is Ubuntu the Server Platform I\’ve Been Waiting For?

    Ubuntu Logo

    Ubuntu has been getting a lot of press and generating a lot of buzz in the desktop space recently. The Ubuntu installer also allows for a server-oriented installation. That begs the question: how cool is that!?

    I really like running a Debian-based server because I can keep in touch with security and program updates with a quck apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade. Right now stable is a bit mummified for my taste, but testing (Sarge) will become stable any month now, and has been quite solid for awhile. Sarge will be a great server platform for about the first year (year and a half?) after it is released. After that it will suffer from ancient packages and the inability to run the “cool new stuff” while at the same time it will be a tried and true and solid as can be server platform.

    I think that running an Ubuntu-based server may actually be the best of all possible worlds. Here’s why:

    • Ubuntu is based on Debian Unstable with additional packages
    • There is a new Ubuntu release every six months based on these packages
    • Each Ubuntu release is supported for 18 months after release (or 3 release iterations past the release).

    This means that an Ubuntu release is running the latest packages, but because of the intense six month release cycle, these packages are scrutinized a lot and fixes made for an Ubuntu release head upstream and are usually patched in Debian proper. When the bleeding edge is a bit too harsh, you can often choose between versions. Enabling Universe and/or Multiverse opens up easy installation of thousands of packages that do just about everything you can think of. I don’t think I’ve come across a desktop app that I really needed that wasn’t in one of these repositories.

    Security updates are also availble for a reasonable amount of time after release so that a major upgrade only need be executed every year and a half if you would rather not track the latest release. If you prefer the bleeding edge, apt makes it fairly painless to upgrade between releases and any known peculiarities will be addressed in the release notes.

  • The Wayback Machine Bookmarklet

    While looking for an archived version of a website at The Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I noticed that they had a bookmarklet. I hadn’t noticed it before. I don’t know how long it’s been there, but Phil Gyford wrote it back in 2001.

    It comes in handy every once in awhile and now sits next to the Experimental post to bookmarklet in my bookmarklet bar.

    No mention of The Wayback Machine is complete without a link to an ancient snapshot of Slashdot, Dell’s website circa 1996, or a minimalistic

  • Python for Series 60 App: QuoteGrab


    I had 15-20 minutes to kill Wednesday night before class, so I wrote the first fully functional version of this little hack/app. It first prompts the user for a stock ticker symbol (like NOK, AAPL, YHOO). For now it expects your stock ticker symbol to be in uppercase. After the input is received, it grabs a .gif image from Yahoo! Finance, then displays the image using appuifw.content_handler. Once you are viewing the image you can zoom in, zoom out, and view the image fullscreen.

    After I got the basic app working, I took a few minutes here and there over the last few days to work in some basic exception handling. I wasn’t able to catch a TypeException error thrown from content_handler, so I have it checking if content was downloaded successfully before launching content_handler.


    Quotegrab asking for a stock to look up Initial Content_handler view of the downloaded graph Zooming in using the content_handler controls Zoomed all the way in

    The first screenshot is asking for a stock ticker symbol to look up. The second is the initial zoom level when content_handler is called on the downloaded graph. The third screenshot is zoomed in a bit using the content_handler controls. The last screenshot is a fullscreen view of the graph.


    • A Series 60 phone, 3650 or newer (tested on N-Gage and 6630)
    • Python for Series 60
    • GPRS network access (not just WAP access)



    Download and transfer it to your phone using Bluetooth, IR, email, or other means. When you open in from your inbox, it will prompt you for installation. If you have an MMC card reader or N-Gage, you can place it in /system/apps/python/my on your MMC.


    QuoteGrab is licensed under a BSD-style license.


    While a complete running app, this 62 line Python program does one thing, once, and does it pretty well. I would like to widen the scope of this app in the future to allow you to download and view the graph of the stock over 5 days, 3 months, or any other length of time that Yahoo! Finance offers. I would also like to add the ability to download and display basic stock information such as current price, change, and other vital stats. It would also be really awesome to be able to link to Yahoo! mobile for more information.