Installing Google Earth in 64-bit Ubuntu Linux

Google does provide 32-bit and 64-bit .deb files for installing Google Earth in Ubuntu.  Unfortunately, the 64-bit version does not work in newer (12.04+) versions of Ubuntu.

The solution: run the 32-bit version!


Modifying, Building and Installing From Source in Ubuntu

Sometimes, you encounter something in Ubuntu that you'd like to change.  Most of the time, you can do this by opening some sort of preferences menu and checking a few boxes.  Other times, you might need to fire up dconf-editor or gconf-editor to manually modify keys in the dconf and gconf configuration databases.  This works well and is relatively simple, but it's up to the developers what settings you can change this way.

On other occasions, you may want to modify the program's source code instead.  This may be because you want to make big changes such as adding or removing major features, or it may just be that a configuration parameter that you want to change has been hardcoded into the source [which is arguably bad design!].

One of the major advantages of open source software is that the source is open, so this is possible!  It's also very straightforward, once you learn how.


Bash Terminal History Completion in Ubuntu Linux

You know how Google will autocomplete your searches based on searches you've previously done?  Ubuntu Linux can do something similar.  To recall a previously-run command, simply type the first part of the command and use the up and down arrow keys to navigate backward and forward through your command history:

To add this function, make the following changes in the .bashrc file in your user folder:


Water Lichtenberg Figures

Lichtenberg figures and the associated 'electrical treeing effect' have been studied scientifically since the 1700's and known since ancient times. Heinrich Hertz used them in his proofs of James Clerk Maxwell's famous equations, and the physics involved inspired the creation of the photocopier.

They're created when a dielectric — a material that resists the flow of electricity — experiences a catastrophic failure.  As such, they're often found in failed insulation when high-voltage equipment kills itself.

Hit any dielectric with a high enough voltage and you can generate one. The most impressive modern artistic examples are the Beam Trees made with a block of acrylic and a linear particle accelerator:

If you are unlucky enough to be struck directly by lightning, you may receive a Lichtenberg figure tattoo, sometimes called a 'Lichtenberg Flower' (Google Image Search at your own risk).


Microwave Beginnings

Microwave plasma?  Yeah, I can do that.

Why did my resonator stop resonating?


The New Lab

Two weeks ago, I changed research labs for my graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley.  The transition has been smooth and painless thanks to some great people on either side of the transfer, and I'm looking forward to spending the next few years in the laboratories of Drs. David Graves and Doug Clark.

A change like this is generally considered to be a Big Deal, but my graduate school experience (aka 'several prime years of my life') will be a much better one as a direct result.  If something in your life is falling flat, draining your energy, failing to inspire you to do your best work... by all means, make a change.  This may require overcoming substantial psychological, social, institutional, or societal inertia.   Do it anyway.  The rest of your life happens exactly once, and there is no time to waste in non-ideal situations — bad school, bad job, bad relationship — that you can change if you take the initiative.  Don't let laziness, a preoccupation with being comfortable, and Status Quo Stockholm Syndrome ruin your life.

This place is a Maker's paradise.  A few photos from my first week of messin':


Strange Beautiful Music

Music is an important part of my life.  As such, I'm constantly seeking out new and inspiring intersections of music and technology.

Plasma Speaker

Last week, I adapted my high-voltage flyback driver to function as a plasma speaker.

From the video description:


Looking Back, Moving Forward: July & August 2013

July: one of my favorite months, and an especially beautiful time to be in the Bay Area.
August: summer's last call before classes start up again!


Epson Stylus NX130 on Ubuntu 12.04

SUMMARY:  this post will get the Epson Stylus NX130 scanner working under Ubuntu.

As the Amazon reviews suggest, the Epson Stylus NX130 is not a combination printer and scanner that you should buy on purpose.  The ink cartridges are unreasonably expensive and contain a chip that makes them automatically stop working after a certain amount of printing, so you can't refill the Epson cartridges and most generic cartridges won't work.  If you want cheap, low-maintenance at-home printing, get yourself something nice like a Brother Duplexing Monochrome Laser Printer (they even have a version that supports Google Cloud Print) and some toner refills.
That being said... most of my Berkeley belongings are found, not bought.


Hello World

"But don't you already have a blog?"

Correct!  And Higher Still has become my professional blog; this will be my personal blog.

What happens over there?  I share lifestyle advice, primarily.  Read those articles like an instruction manual, and hopefully they'll improve your life.

Over here?  I'll share various and sundry opinions and talk about the more interesting things going on in my own life.  Travel and adventure, books and music, politics and tech news?  Over here.  Reading these articles will almost certainly not improve your life.

Don't forget food porn.
Trying some of this stuff at home is more likely to end it.