5 Things I Like About East Tennessee

With recent elections behind us, it's easy to feel discouraged being a rather liberal person living in a rather conservative state. However, it's also important to reinforce positives.

So I've compiled a short list of things I appreciate about TN.

This is a selfish exercise to practice a habit of appreciation, not a passive aggressive judgement on any fellow liberal-ish leaning fellow Tennessee residents who still feel the sting of local politics and are still in understandably bad mood.

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Powerful Procrastination

I really should be working on that screenplay I told myself I'd finish by August 1st. But instead I'm writing this blog post. 

Before we go any further, there's 4 things you should know about me: 

I'm... 

  1. Interested in lots of things especially: tech, music, film, real-estate

  2. Energized by learning new things

  3. Not often bored

  4. Project oriented

  5. Not great at advanced math

So keep that in mind as you read.

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Setting up Meteor.js on Nitrous.IO

Nitrous.IO (referral link - non-referral link) is a in-browser development environment built atop Amazon's AWS.

It gives you a linux shell in the browser, as well as a text editor and collaboration features.

I wanted to learn more about the service, so I decided to create an account and set up Meteor.js. Since i'm not a linux guru, it took me a bit of time. I'm writing this post for two reasons. One: to document what I did in case I want to reference it in the future, and two: the off chance my experience with the process can help someone else.

Note: I used MongoHQ as my database service.

Part 1

Getting the various SaaS accounts and database in order. Each of the below services make it easy to create accounts, so I won't go into detail.

1) Create Nitrous.IO account

2) Provision a Node.js box in Nitrous.IO

3) Create an account and database in MongoHQ (make note of the host, port, database username, database password after the DB is created)

Part 2

Install Meteor.js (as explained in Meteor's Quick Start guide)

In the Nitrous.IO browser console run the command:
curl https://install.meteor.com | /bin/sh 

After installation, Meteor will attempt "Writing a launcher script to /usr/local/bin/meteor for your convenience." but can't do it since you don't have sudo access in Nitrous.IO

No worries. Click "Show Hidden" to reveal the hidden files in your Nitrous box. One of these hidden files is your .bash_profile.

Now you can add these lines of code to your .bash_profile:

#add meteor to PATH
PATH=$PATH:~/.meteor
export PATH

Part 3

Configure environmental variables and connect Node.js to your MongoHQ database

After creating a database in MongoHQ, you'll get the info you need to fill in the below environmental variables.

Put this in your .bash_profile so it'll become part of your environment on startup. 

#DB info
export MONGOHQ_DEV_HOST=your.mongohq.host
export MONGOHQ_DEV_PORT=your-host-port
export MONGOHQ_DEV_DB=your-database-name
export MONGOHQ_DEV_USERNAME=your-database-username
export MONGOHQ_DEV_PASSWORD=your-database-password
export MONGOHQ_DEV_URI=mongodb://$MONGOHQ_DEV_USERNAME:$MONGOHQ_DEV_PASSWORD@$MONGOHQ_DEV_HOST:$MONGOHQ_DEV_PORT/$MONGOHQ_DEV_DB

After you have your environmental variables set up, you can tell Node.js what DB to use with MONGO_URL

Example: 

export MONGO_URL=mongodb://$MONGOHQ_DEV_USERNAME:$MONGOHQ_DEV_PASSWORD@$MONGOHQ_DEV_HOST:$MONGOHQ_DEV_PORT/$MONGOHQ_DEV_DB

Download an example bash_profile in plain text

To add these changes to the environment immediately (instead of restarting) run: 
source ~/.bash_profile

For more details also see the Nitrous.IO help page

Pictures - May 9th, 2013

These are pictures I took around the yard and house this afternoon; just practicing my photography skillz.

Quadcopter, Trillion FPS camera, Screenplay Site

I recently bumped into some neat stuff on the interwebs. I say, stop thinking about tax day and start watching something awesome. (What? You weren't? My bad.)

1) The Phantom, $700, ready to fly, quadcopter from DJI Innovations for shooting video with GoPro cameras. Don't forget some sort of third party vibration mount to alleviate the "jello" effect. Also consider balancing the props, and perhaps some FPV goggles to round it out.

Oh, and it's got a big brother, the Spreading Wings S800 equipped with a Z15 gimbal that shot this incredible footage ($7k price point with camera gimbal, no transmitter, no battery packs)

2) A trillion frames per second (not an overstatement) high speed (slow motion) camera that can analyze photon trajectories. Kinda brings the whole "high speed" definition to a new level. They use many controlled light pulses and scan one plane at a time in order to achieve it. To give an idea of the magnitude of this, the speaker, Ramesh Raskar, uses the example of watching a bullet fired from a gun at this framerate. He says watching that footage at this framerate would take a year.

3) Wordplayer.com Want to write a screenplay Hollywood would buy? Well, I just found this site you may like. (Or perhaps I re-found it. The site design looks really familiar to me). Terry Rossio says he'll show you how. Even if that's not what you're going for, it seems to be a great resource for those of us interested in writing screenplays. A couple friends and I are all working on screenplays right now, which is why it's especially interesting to me.

Speaking of High Speed photography, it may not be speed-of-light, but The Slow Mo Guys use a $100k Phantom v1610 to show some beautiful, bubble bursting shots.