Monthly Archives: September 2007


My friend Leah gave me her mix of the recording of the Chorallaries Spring Concert 2007. It sounds beautiful. I also have three video recordings of the concert from different cameras, and I have been trying to combine them into a unified concert DVD. In the process, I have come upon a vexing problem. One of the videos appears to have been recorded about 0.1% too slow. This would not be noticeable, or even measurable, under normal circumstances, but over the course of the two-hour concert it means that the video and audio are several seconds off, and this is distinctly unacceptable.

So now I’m trying to figure out what to do with this audio and video. It doesn’t help that, unlike MIT, Harvard doesn’t provide students with access to video editing workstations. I’m doing the editing on my own computer, which is fun, but difficult, because there are no good video editing programs for Linux.


Today was the photo shoot for the upcoming Chorallaries CD. We took about a million pictures, and we will now use all sorts of Photoshop tricks to turn them into album art. That was fun.

After the photo shoot I debugged my OLPC program some more. It is now absolutely working, and working very well. That makes me happy. It’s also great timing, because the latest roadblock to work on my actual research project has been lifted, so I can get back to work in the lab.

Things are going great, and they’re only gettin’ better.


I just got back from the Biophysics retreat, on the southern coast of Maine (which, by the way, is a really big state). It was a lot of fun, and talking to the professors was very cool. I do wish I’d been able to sleep more, but going to bed requires so much willpower when you’re at a costume party and have just been assigned the role of King…


I had my first real bicycling injury in a long, long time, today. After working at the OLPC HQ, a bunch of people were going to a Vegan restaurant. I told them I’d bike and meet them there. Instead, on the Boston side of the BU bridge, I found a hole.

I was riding on the sidewalk, to avoid cars. The sidewalk on the Boston side of the bridge is under construction, and there is a large section that has not yet gotten its final layer of concrete. This section was marked by orange barrels and caution tape, but someone had moved aside one of the barriers, and in the dark I could not see the drop. I landed on my hands and knees, mostly on my left side due to the placement of the bicycle. I was lucky to have only scrapes; even my laptop in my backpack was unharmed. But my minor injuries are not nearly as interesting as my response.

My “fight or flight” reaction worked fairly well; I immediately got up, checked myself for damage, noted that my glasses had not come off, assured a few concerned strangers that it could have been a lot worse, and started walking my bike, trying to figure out what to do next, now that I was sort of bleeding.

Within 30 seconds I was mostly deaf, my hearing muted and replaced by a loud high-frequency buzz. In another 15 seconds I was nearly blind, and so out of balance that I collapsed on the island in the middle of the street, half-under my bicycle and ignored by a crowd of uninterested passersby. Delirious, I took out my cell phone and considered dialing 911.

One stranger happened to be a EMT. He stopped to ask me questions, and I gradually regained my senses enough to convince him that I was alright. I checked my balance with an aerial 360, which worked out pretty well. I felt almost normal, except for the strange headache just behind my ears. When that faded I got back on my bike, making sure not to get any blood on my handlebars, and rode to the restaurant in Allston, where I cleaned up with soap and water.

Dinner was excellent, much better than expected for vegan fare. After I got home I went to CVS and got some bandages. I’ve employed my usual cloth-tape construction, which is quite effective but makes bandages look big, ugly, and menacing. The Biophysics department retreat starts in less than 8 hours. I’ll probably get to tell this story many times.


I got a radical haircut this morning; I almost look military. I also got myself an MIT Alumni ID card, which made it easier to get into the OLPC offices.

I spent the day debugging at OLPC, which was fun, but also trying. My program now works somewhat more often than it did yesterday, which is not nearly as well as I had hoped. However, in the process, I identified a quirk in the recording hardware, which we will fix tomorrow with a driver modification. That seems likely to solve the problem.

The next day, Thursday, is the Biophysics department retreat, for which I am supposed to acquire a medieval outfit…

175 North Harvard St

That’s the address of the Harvard Free Surplus Furniture Depot, in Allston. I dropped by there today, since my work in lab is stalled, pending the arrival of a 64-bit Matlab license, and the weather was nice. I was looking for an ancient piece of computer technology, to use as a prop for the group photo on the next Chorallaries CD. The last time I went there was almost exactly a year ago, when I found the office chair on which I am now sitting, and there were literally tons of old computer and office junk strewn about.

I was disappointed; they had cleaned the place up considerably, and all that was left had been moved behind a fence. It seems that one must go on Thursday from 11 AM to 2 PM to get at the free junk now. Unfortunately, I will be at the Biophysics Retreat. The Chorallaries will have to find some nerdy-looking junk without me.

I spent the afternoon (before dinner with my grandparents, which was lovely as always) at the OLPC HQ, debugging the latest version of Acoustic Tape Measure. It now works intermittently, which is frustrating, but better than last week, when it worked not at all. Maybe in a few days it will just plain work.


The first draft of my OLPC project is in some sense complete, or at least ready for testing. If you’re the sort of person who likes to read Python code, you can find it here. If you have a pair of OLPCs or emulated images with working sound, you can even test it out.

Otherwise, this is of no interest.