I had an adversarial relationship with Brighton all morning. He’s been a little whirlwind of destruction.
I finally drew a line and insisted that he pick up the cards and pieces of Candyland that he’d scattered through the hall.
“Can I have some mango?”
“No, not until you pick up Candyland.”
“I’m not hungry.”
And so on. After extensive pouting and pretending to nap and semi-voluntary confinement to his room and plenty of whining, he comes up to me.
“Daddy, would you help me pick this up? I would ‘preciate that.”
I didn’t know Aaron well, but I admired him deeply. The remembrances at Remember Aaron Swartz give a picture of just how much he meant to so many people.
These photos are from the last time I saw him, at a small wiki meetup in Boston in 2009. In my favorite, he’s huddled around a screen with SJ and Mako, and they’re all geeking out over these videos of procedurally generated educational games and and books that are written with Word macros. His passion was infectious and beautiful.
Joseph Reagle’s excellent article “Free as in Sexist?: Free Culture and the Gender Gap” just got published.
He thanks me in the acknowledgements.
I ordered a Raspberry Pi (which should arrive in a few weeks), and my first project was going to be to set it up as an always-IRC connection using quassel. I use IRC regularly, usually from my desktop, but I don’t like leaving my 200w computer running all the time. (The electricity cost adds up quickly!) . If not for IRC, I’d set it to hibernate after 10 or 15 minutes of inactivity. Then I realized, why wait until I get the Pi? I’ve got my old Android phone (a Droid Incredible), which could serve just as well. Now I’ve got a quassel-core that I can leave on all the time, which runs on about 2 watts! It’s pretty easy, if you’ve got a rooted android phone you aren’t using.
First, install a standard Linux distro on the phone. I did this using Debian Kit, which let me put Ubuntu 12.04 on without much hassle. Just follow the instructions.
Then, within your Linux terminal, run:
apt-get install quassel-core
That should get you everything you need. To start it, just run:
Then plug in your phone and turn off the screen, and it’s ready to set up as your always-on IRC connection. (You need to be connected to your wifi network, and the phone should be set not to sleep, so that it maintains the connection.) You probably also want to follow these instructions to set up SSL, especially if you run an open wifi network at home. They worked for me verbatim; just run this before starting up quassel-core:
openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:1024 -keyout ~/.config/quassel-irc.org/quasselCert.pem -out ~/.config/quassel-irc.org/quasselCert.pem
Find out the local IP address of that phone, and then you can run a quassel-client (not a quassel monolithic build, which combines the core and client into one program) on any or all of your computers on the same network. You’ll need to use one of the desktop clients (Linux, Windows, or Mac) to begin, and at the first connection it’ll let you set up an administrator account. Once you’ve created that account, you can also log in from other Android phones using Quasseldroid. (It can’t set up the initial account, though.)
After that, as long as quassel-core is running, you can use whatever computer you have handy to chat on IRC, everything that happens while you are offline gets synced each time you connect to the core. This is how IRC is supposed to work!
After becoming enamored with the pair of cheap phone lens attachments I bought, I decided to try out the common “60x” microscope. Although it doesn’t use the same magnetic ring attachments and is supposed to go with iPhones (it uses a form-fitting case to attach), I saw a review where someone mentioned gluing the ring magnet from another lens onto it to make it work with other phones. So I ordered one to give that a try.
A bit of superglue and a spare ring magnet makes it quite usable on my HTC One XL. Here are the same pixels from my television, shot with the microscope and with the macro lens. The fine structure of individual pixels resolves a little better with the microscope.
Here is an ink and paper drawing (a closeup of this) illuminated with the LEDs that come with it.The main downside with this lens is that the visible area makes up only a small portion of the sensor. The shots above are “zoomed”; the visible area is actually about 1/3 the width of an uncropped image. Still, the design of the barrel along with the built-in lights makes it easier to get a good, well-lit image than it is with the macro (which creates disruptive shadows over the subject in most lighting). So, $5.23 well-spent.
Phone lens attachments are my new favorite thing. I got a pair of them (this fisheye and this macro/wide-angle) for around $11, and they are delightful. You put a little stick-on metal ring on your phone’s camera, and the lenses attach magnetically. In the first shot from the gallery you can see the field of view for the macro, the un-augmented camera, then the wide-angle and fish-eye.
Enough chatter. See some highlights of the fisheye and macro from my first few days with them (using my HTC One XL).