Category Archives: curiosity

Things I want to learn more about. Things I have just started to explore.

Questions: macports vs homebrew, mac & bash, Rails versions

I have . Are people using Homebrew now instead? got rid of macports in favor of homebrew
As for me, I haven’t installed homebrew. I’m gonna hang on to my existing macports installation.

The comment at says
sudo chown -R $USER /usr/local
so i did that so now I don’t have to write sudo gem install anymore.

GENERAL MAC QUESTION: My bash profile and PATH variable is all kinds of fucked up. says: “When bash is invoked as an interactive login shell, or as a non-interactive shell with the –login option, it first reads and executes commands from the file /etc/profile, if that file exists. After reading that file, it looks for ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login, and ~/.profile, in that order, and reads and executes commands from the first one that exists and is readable. The –noprofile option may be used when the shell is started to inhibit this behavior.” I looked at /etc/profile and didn’t understand anything there, so that’s okay. I looked for ~/.bash_profile, which didn’t exist. Neither did ~/.bash_login . But ~/.profile totally existed, and all it had in it were two lines: one from me installing macports, and one from me installing a newer version of python.

I found:
which told me the difference between .bash_profile and .bashrc . More importantly, it told me about the existence of .bashrc. I looked and although I didn’t have a .bash_profile, I totally had a .bashrc, and there was one line, obviously added by Tirea Aean’s . It makes an alias for his vrrtepcli program. Now things started to make a little more sense. Obviously, my terminal was never getting to .bashrc (wtf?!) because the vrrtepcli alias had never worked before–after I installed, I could never type vrrtepcli, but I could cd to the place where I knew vrrtepcli was installed and run it as ./vrrtepcli. Anyway now I understand: during the install of vrrtepcli, it added an alias for itself to .bashrc assuming that my bash would call .bashrc … but my bash never calls .bashrc. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway so I created a .bash_profile file in my home directory (I remain confused about why I don’t have one already or didn’t already know about this problem). I followed the advice in and told my .bash_profile to look in .bashrc. Then I copied the stuff I already have in .profile into .bashrc. Now at least I know .bashrc is getting hit eventually.

RUBY: Today I completely fucked up my Ruby on Rails. I’m going to try to describe what I’ve done.

Last night, I read my OLD pdf, version 2.3.8 of the book. That version is from last year and uses Rails 2, and was released by the author for free because he was still writing it or something. I’m using an old version of Ruby and an old version of Rails to go along with the book. I don’t remember what version of Rails I had, only that it was before 3. Everything was fine until I got to the part about installing a plugin for gravatar. I installed the gravatar plugin using
$ script/plugin install svn://
which put the gravatar plugin into my project’s vendor/plugins folder. My tutorial said that now I should just be able to use the gravatar_for method in a .erb file, but my tests were all failing: it didn’t know that the gravatar_for method existed. When I fired up script/console, it knew that GravatarHelper was a Module (cuz I typed GravatarHelper.class in the console and got Module), but it didn’t know about gravatar_for, which is a method in “module PublicMethods” in my app’s vendor/plugins/gravatar/lib/gravatar.rb. Soooooooooo I didn’t know what to do, so I tried updating the gem. Then I did gem –update system, because I read about that somewhere (on the rubygems website probably). Then I did gem –update.

Why on earth would I do such a thing? I knew that I was using an old Rails, and I was using an old Rails on purpose, so that I could use my old tutorial. I was vageuly aware that Rails 3 is different. Anyway I thought that somehow the gem –update tool would know that I was using an old rails and only update my gems up to that version of Rails. Obviously I forgot that rails is itself installed as a gem. Sooooo it upgraded my Rails (and everything else).

Right now, when I type ruby -v, I get
ruby 1.8.7 (2009-06-12 patchlevel 174) [universal-darwin10.0]

When I type rails -v, I get
Rails 3.1.0


So the project I started (and got halfway through) last night doesn’t work at all anymore D: and I don’t know how to roll everything back easily.

I guess I’ll start the tutorial (and my website project) over. The book for rails 3 is available on the website, which just means that I’ll have to work on it with an internet connection, which is okay.

Also I’m going to try to learn to use rvm , which I found out about from Robert, the teacher for the Ruby class at the SF Public Library on Tuesdays.


bicycle generators and almaty friends

Today I was looking at my google+ stream, and I saw a post that my friend Morgan was, well, Hanging Out. I hadn’t used the Hangouts feature of google+ before and I’d kept hearing about how awesome it was, so I clicked the friendly “join” button. I found myself staring at the faces of Morgan (who is in San Francisco) and his friend Asya (who is far far away). After Morgan went back to work, Asya and I chatted for like an hour.

She has an idea to use bicycle generators to power a projector for free screenings of movies in public parks. I think this is a genius idea and am shocked and appalled that this isn’t already happening at Dolores Park every week or something. Therefore I put forth a motion to make Almaty-SF sister bicycle generator projects. Hahahaha. Maybe later we can group chat with them using bicycle-powered laptops or something (the time difference would be kinda weird but you know, whatever). To that end, we’ve looked at an instructable, a website, and some articles about people who made the instructables and websites… haha.

She says she was inspired by the timeless way of building by Christopher Alexander. She would love to see a world where we make stuff in our own communities. “Maybe it will be a whole movement, like slow cooking.” I hope so.

She showed me the Dombura in her room after I asked about it, because I could see it on a dresser in the background. We talked about how we are both night owls. We talked about other projects too. She told me about these berkeley guys that took coffee grinds from the waste stream and grew mushrooms, and her oakland friend who organized a surplus fruit exchange complete with jam-making parties.

I really get a kick out of this. Today, I learned about self-sustainability and the reduction/re-purposing of waste in an increasingly globalized world, but from someone really really far away, because we have the internet and the exchange of ideas is free.

TEWTI! Na’vi friends in 3D-picture form!!


You can’t tell from my 2d picture, but this is a piece of cardboard with plastic over the picture, and the people pop out as if it were a 3d picture! I think that they traced each person and assigned them a depth in a simulated 3d space (cuz I don’t think this was taken with a 3d camera). It’s like the 3d photos of Grace and Neytiri and Neytiri’s sister on the fridge at the iknimaya station!!!

It JUST came in the mail today from Xelloss, all the way from France. He’s the one with the bracers next to me in the pic–he came here to california last year just for the Learn Na’vi workshop weekend with Karyu Pawl, hosted by Prrton. Here’s the company/technology used to create the 3d picture:

The Learn Na’vi community is truly amazing!

introspective at 3am

It’s easier to microblog than to post here. Here, I have to talk in complete sentences, and my strings of words have to make sense. In microblogging, I can just throw my chaff to the wind and watch it sparkle in the wind on the fading sunlight.

I don’t know how I feel about Egypt. How can we exist with our mundane little lives when people are marching across a bridge and embracing their military on the streets?

I am still in the process of moving. I’ve got boxes and boxes of spices saved up over the years, that have come with me through several moves, and I am loath to throw any of them away, but I never cook. And I never cook because I believe that I can’t. They’re so full of potential, though, asking me to put them in some delicious food, waiting patiently for the day I realize that I can do whatever I want.

I just hosted my third GSL finals viewing party at Eudemonia. Barely fewer came to this one (~65ish people) than my last one (~72 people), but this one was MORE AWESOME, for the following reasons:

  • Dean got a second projector.
  • I contacted chromate, the organizer of the epic Toronto theater finals shows, and arranged for the best of my local players to play some showmatches against the best of his local players. I threw together a last-minute small tournament and got local celebs dOpa and HD to play against slayersBekho and combatex. dOpa 2-0ed bekho, and HD 2-1ed combatex after getting some outrageous troll BM out of combatex, which is, after all, what he’s known for.
  • The OSL finals happened to be the same night. OSL is one of the two biggest Brood War tournament series. Beloved BW commentator moletrap rolled in and commented over an OSL stream live for us!! He gets SUPER DUPER excited when he commentates live, so it was SO epic to watch and listen to. Also none of us were expecting an all-kill O.o. We had some technical difficulties at first, but we were able to broadcast his re-stream of the OSL re-stream with his english commentary (and it is automatically recorded as well!), and when I peered at the #s towards the end, he had 707 people tuned in to his stream. =)
  • VTArlock organized an inhouse tournament after the OSL ended… and he went on to win it =)
  • I ordered WAY more pizza this time, and the dude I ordered from at West Coast hooked me up with some deals (10 pies for $99 plus 3 pies for $30 HELLZ YEAH) and each person was allowed to have 4 slices. It ended up being a near-perfect amount of pizza (which isn’t a good thing, because I’d rather not be so close to running out of pizza before everybody gets to it!). Still it was better than last time.

bigLUCC took photos again! Here’s one…


It was a great event, and I’m TOTALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING MORE. WAYYY MORE. And tournaments. And all-night lan parties. AUAUUGHGHGHHG

Also, things are really starting to move on the 25mts front. We may be embarking upon an experimental side project involving videos, and getting better sound equipment. !!! We want to organize epic League of Legends events on the scale of my GSL viewing parties, too. =D

I now live in a house of electrical engineers. The first project I’m really jazzed about will be an 8x8x8 LED cube. Since I am not realistic, and my random number generator is seeded with a unicorn, I will also magically learn how to use all these open libraries for Kinect hacking and I will set up the LED cube as a 3d display for the Kinect. You’ll be able to see yourself represented in the cube. AWWW YEAH DREAM BIG. And we already have all kinds of plans… from shooting guns, to riding horses, to RC airplanes, to BBQs in our nice backyard (seriously it’s amazing) (so is our kitchen)… We have an engineering space set up in the garage and everything. It’s going to be epic living here.

Last night, I watched my first-ever episode of Xena. I loved it.

kinect: day 2

I got it to work! I got both libfreenect and ofxKinect to compile and run. The community has figured out how to get access to the regular video camera, the IR camera for depth, the status LED, and the tilt on the Kinect. No mic access yet, but it’s only a matter of time, I think.

There isn’t much else to do right now, because I haven’t managed to make sense of any of the code. At some point I’d like to magically become a programmer again and make some Kinect apps for fun, but I’m a long way away. For now, here’s some proof that I’ve got it to work =D

ofxKinect is mac-only. It comes with blob detection. It uses darker grey to show if something is closer to the Kinect.

what ofxKinect shows

libfreenect is for mac, windows, and unix. It uses a rainbow of colors to show the topographical map. Very striking. I spent a lot of time staring at myself with my mouth open.

what libfreenect shows

kinect for the first time

Today, we got a family xbox. I wanted a Kinect so much because people are programming applications for it using OpenFrameworks.

Open source, community-made Kinect drivers for mac and linux:

Bird puppet:
3d drawing in space:

and so on.

But the one we got doesn’t have a USB cord =( =( =( because it came with a newer model of the xbox that has a proprietary port for the kinect. If you use an older xbox, you have to buy a kinect with a cord that splits into a USB plug and a power plug. But this new Kinect+newXbox bundle doesn’t come with a USB cord cuz the new proprietary port handles both data and power.

I REALLY hope that I can buy a converter. It’s not as simple as just getting another cable, unfortunately, because it seems that you can’t just exchange cables…. the proprietary cable is actually stuck into the kinect with molded plastic. =( I am devastated that I cannot hook it up riiighhhtt nooowwww. Hopefully I’ll figure it out soon.

steady as she goes
Sat. Nov 27 - Kinect Adventures
and away we go!

Among other things, I want to program:

  • a learn na’vi game, with an “explore” mode and a “test” mode… plus a “play with your friends” mode where you try to beat each other by acting out vocab words quickly (like “jump” , “fly” , “run”). it would have to have little na’vi avatars.
  • lisa’s plankton avatar creator…
  • a drawing tool to aid with learning chinese characters. you could trace characters with your hand, in air, while watching yourself on the screen and learning the correct stroke order. we did this in 2nd grade, in chinese school.
  • modern dance and mixed-media drawing. draw a puppet that a dancer can manipulate in real-time