Recurse Center, 2014-07-20

Saturday & Sunday

  • During the weekend, I had this idea of building a personalized "radio" for myself using a Raspberry pi. The idea is to have a service where all my bookmarks, and feeds are accumulated to, instead of eating up valuable browser tab real estate. And then, I could use a Raspberry pi to randomly play content off of it, based on a theme.
  • I worked on getting things together for it, during the weekend. The project is more like a "thing that needs to be done", rather than something that puts me out of my comfort zone, atleast as far as I can see. So, I'm just going to work on it as a background thing, between other projects, etc.
  • Festival seemed OK initially, while I was trying things out, but when I actually used it to read me a blog post, it was really terrible! I tried demos of a few commercial tools, and they seem much better than what festival had to offer. I wonder what it would take to get Festival, up there. I tried using Google's translate service's tts (unofficial API) and it seemed so good! But, it limits each request to 100 bytes, and the audio will have to be downloaded via the Network.
  • Madhu pointed me to MaryTTS, which seemed to be an active project and it seemed to be much better than Festival, though not as good as Google's tts. I'm going to try getting it to run on a Pi, next.


  • I don't really know what I'm doing to work on, today. I have been playing around with the Pi, for the past week-ish, and it has been fun! Kyle and I will probably work more on tweaking it, to get it to work the way we want it, for the party!
  • I also did a little bit of Julia with Sean, and it was fun. I may try playing around with it, a little bit, but not sure what to work on. May be continue working through the think-complexity book using Julia?
  • Or jump into something I totally don't know about, inspired by listening to Julia Evans' podcast for Ruby Rogues. I just got this idea of trying to write a window manager to understand how X works, and what wayland is… I could try porting dwm or i3wm to Julia.
  • There's a whole new bunch of excited Hacker Schoolers in the space, and its very exciting!

Recurse Center, 2014-07-17

  • Kyle and I did a demo of our spectrum analyzer/visualizer during the presenations. It was fun to work on, though we mostly just followed a tutorial on the web, and made use of a bunch of libraries.
  • I spent the night in HackerSchool.
  • I was cleaning up the code in the tutorial we were trying to follow.
  • Also, cleaned up the used by lightshowpi project to not do all the ugly sudo setups, and use a Python virtualenv and install into that.
  • Refactored the ugly looking music part of the tutorial into a smaller script with only the functionality that we were going to use.
  • We hit an interesting bug that would light up all the LEDs on the strip, once in a while. I didn't notice it during the night, because I had a "decay" factor (the max factor by which the height of the columns should get reduced between successive updates) was 0.9, but when the decay factor was reduced to a lower value, it would happen quite often. Also, we didn't see this happening before. So, we thought the bug was in the code I had written, when I should have been sleeping. After reading and debugging my code for a bit, with Kyle and Sean, I thought it was something hardware related that we were doing wrong. But, it turns out that a library we were using lit-up the whole strip, when start and end values were both zero, instead of not lighting up anything!
  • Also, we hit another off-by one error, just before the demo. I didn't do the math for splitting the strip into columns too carefully, and we hadn't noticed the off-by one error until we taped up the strip into different columns on a pillar for demo.
  • There were some cool presentations by others. I'll update the list on Monday, since I currently don't remember them all! Looking at the list of names on the registration sheet would help!
  • The cleaned up code is here