Jun 042014

If you saw Hilary Parker‘s awesome post Sunsets in Google Calendar using R and got all excited about it, but have no idea how to use R, fear not. This post will help you go the distance!

First, install R. I myself use MacPorts

Susnset statue of Liberty

Susnset statue of Liberty (Photo credit: Adorenomis)

, so I did:

$ sudo port install R

which took a while and had a lot of dependencies, but whatevs, it eventually worked…

Next, save Hilary’s createsunsetcal.R file somewhere on your computer.

Open that up and modify it to use your own sunset location and lat/lon coordinates (I used Google Maps and looked at the lat/lon coordinates in the URL to fill in the data I wanted). Save it.

Now, in that same folder, open an R prompt like so and do the following:

$ R

> install.packages(“StreamMetabolism”)

… (follow the prompts here, choose a mirror, etc.)

> library(StreamMetabolism)

> source(“/path/to/downloaded/file/createsunsetcal.R”)

> createsunsetcal()

then <control> + d to exit your R session.

Congrats, you should now see a file called sunset.csv, hooray!

Thanks for the awesome write-up Hilary.

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May 082013
Mudd Truck Spot - West Village

Rainy 7th Ave and West 4th, West Village (Photo credit: heathbrandon)

Hello from sleepless 05:30.

It rained all night here in the sleepy West Village, and despite falling asleep around 22:30 last night, I’ve been wide awake for the last two and a half hours or so. The sound of the raindrops on our windows, skylights, and air conditioners is peaceful, and yet my mind will not shift into sleep mode. Unable to lie in bed any longer, I figured I’d update y’all on life, so here goes…

After about six months of working on the New York side of Zemanta, I decided  to switch jobs in order to work among a team of engineers again. I’m now a backend engineer at GetGlue, and so far so good. The team is smart, the industry space is competitive, the product is cool, the culture is fun, and the perks are great!

What else lately? I got down to Houston to see my pop, I’ve seen a few friends that I haven’t seen in a long time (and there are some others that I have yet to see, don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about you!), I’ve been riding my bike a bit (we got up to Bear Mountain last weekend), Brooke has been running (and is doing the Brooklyn Half Marathon in a couple of weeks), some good friends have gotten engaged,  I cut my own hair, got a new phone, and some new shoes, a bunch of people have stayed at our apartment, and we’re finally fully moved in (I think?).

I’m also totally caught back up in all the insanity that is New York. It’s beautiful, it’s my favorite city in the world, and the place I always planned on ending up, and yet it’s nuts. The constant struggle to see the people you care about and maintain contact seems so much more exaggerated here compared to anywhere else. I think we’ve slowed down a bit since the initial shock of moving back, but it really does never end. I haven’t been seeing as much music as I used to, which kind of bums me out, but I’ll work on remedying that. I think the gist of it is that I’ve kind of boycotted places like Terminal 5, or any ticket that costs more than $15, really. I should really try to make more exceptions though.

Christopher Park in the West Village.

Christopher Park in the West Village. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The seasons are changing (or so my allergies tell me), and the summer is fast approaching, but between Memorial Day, bachelor parties, and weddings, it feels like the calendar is already pretty full. Hopefully we can take some time to just relax and enjoy the summertime before it starts cooling down again (has it even heated up yet?). I guess to that point, hopefully we’ve learned something from our European friends about taking some time to slow down and relax.

Well it’s 06:15 now, and still raining, but starting to get brighter out, so maybe I’ll give sleep another shot. I hope you’re all well out there in internetland.

Until next time


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Jan 222013
English: View of Ljubljana from Castle Hill, u...

View of Ljubljana from Castle Hill, under the snow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 07:24, and I’m awake.

I could curse the jet lag, as I’ve been lying awake in bed for about two restless hours now, but I won’t, because the morning is here and if it weren’t for the jet lag, I never would have known. What wouldn’t I have known? How truly awesome 07:24 can be. If I were adjusted to the time, I’m sure I’d still be asleep for a while longer, clutching onto those last precious moments, and then when I finally woke up it would be forced and unpleasant. Instead, here I am, awake, warm, sipping a hot tea, and totally at ease. I watch from behind a hand-made window as the snow falls on beautiful Ljubljana, a guest in someone else’s beautiful home. The street lights begin to dim out and a train rolls through Tivoli in the background. The sound of cars begins to become more frequent, and Davorin‘s Foursquare checkins light up my phone. I put it back down though, for my workday mindset hasn’t started yet, and the frenzy of another busy New York City morning is light years away.

More tea…

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Dec 172012
English: Day 3 of the protest Occupy Wall Stre...

English: Day 3 of the protest Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Monday, you guys!

In today’s installment of Mondays and Tips, I’d like to talk about student loans. My international friends probably have no idea what I’m talking about (you lucky ducks), but for the rest of you Americans who will be stuck throwing a big chunk of your paychecks to these huge stupid corporations for the foreseeable future because you didn’t know any better when you were 18, I’m sure you can commiserate.

Either way, with all of the moving expenses I incurred, in addition to attempting to pay down credit card debt that has accumulated with the last few years of galavanting around Europe on a Slovenian salary, as well as now living in one of the most expensive places in the world, making my monthly student loan payments has become more and more difficult as of late. To combat that, I applied to postpone my loans for a few months this morning via forbearance while I get settled into NYC living and attempt to pay off some debt. What is forbearance, you might ask? Well, I did a bit of research and found out that there are two ways of postponing your loans – deferment and forbearance.

Deferment means that the government pays interest on your loans during the period of postponement.

Forbearance means that you are responsible for the interest accrued.

Obviously deferment is the better option because the government helps you out, but there are some qualifications you have to meet in order to be eligible for deferment, such as demonstration of financial hardship (which means making less than 150% of the official poverty level of the place where you live), or serving in the military or peace corps. I don’t meet any of those qualifications, so I went with forbearance. The application process (via stupid Sallie Mae) was straightforward and simple, and I called afterwards to confirm that it went through OK, and hopefully the next few months will allow me to get my financial situation sorted out a bit.

That’s all for now. Debt-free by 2014 or bust!

(I’m assuming it’ll likely be bust. Either that or all of our financial burdens will be absolved in the next few days with the coming apocalypse anyway, right?)

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Nov 272012
Nicolas Jaar and band live at Rex Club, Paris

Nicolas Jaar and band live at Rex Club, Paris (Photo credit: TheArches)

Good morning folks, been a while..

Well, it’s been a wild journey, what with moving across the Atlantic, working in a new office, commuting from Long Island, seeing family, finding an apartment, three weddings (Manhattan, Long Island City, and Chicago), finding furniture, Hurricane Sandy, not having power, Maine, moving into the new apartment, getting furniture into the apartment, DC, and Thanksgiving…

But now I’m happy to say that I think real life is actually starting. Real life where I can predictably wake up in the same bed in my new digs in Manhattan’s beautiful West Village every morning. I have yet to fall into some sort of regular routine (obviously, as today is only day one), but I look forward to reading my music news and blogging being part of that regular routine.

So without further ado, here’s your daily dose of fun…

Be good! Until next time…
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Mar 282012
Android Robot. Français : le logo d'android 日本...

Android Robot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, I know that I’ve been gone for a while, and no, this post won’t have anything to do with music, except to tell you that if you’re in Ljubljana tonight and missing Nils Frahm at Menza pri Koritu then I don’t know what to tell you.

No, today’s post is about finishing and what that means. I was going to start with a dictionary definition, but I think you all know what “finish” means. It means bringing a task or activity to an end; completing something that you started.

In truth, I don’t finish many of the things I start. When I was a kid I quit hockey. In middle school, The Boy Scouts. In high school I quit the swim team after one year. I started a company in college that we disbanded a few years later – in that time (Facebook‘s early days, when there was still space there) we built an entire social network that we never launched to more than a few hundred people. I remember when Facebook first opened their platform, and some of the proofs of concept Facebook apps that I came up with. I was also there with a handful of ideas and prototypes when Foursquare launched their API. Several years ago now, I wrote an entire autonomous Twitter bot platform that I’ve never officially done anything with. Before I moved to Slovenia I spent a few months screwing around with an Arduino, never to actually build anything long-standing or useful. In the last year and a half, I wrote the meat of a brilliant and complex social/gaming web application, working with an excellent UX person who is plugged into New York City’s thriving tech scene (she has friends at TechCrunch, in several influential tech startups, etc.), yet we still haven’t brought it across the finish line. When Android first came out I switched to TMobile and bought the G1. I was at all of the NYC Android meetups. In the last few years, I’ve written seven or eight interesting Android apps that are in a half-finished state sitting in my Eclipse workspace and/or on only my phone. I have all the excuses in the world (hockey got rough, boy scouts got boring, swimming wasn’t fun, no time, lost interest, etc.), but when all is said and done, what it boils down to is that I don’t finish things.

As a side note to any employers who think that they hired/are hiring/will hire a dud, I’m speaking strictly about things that I do/build in my free time; when it comes to a job and being professional, yes I do finish all of the tasks required of me. It is in my code of ethics to uphold my contractual obligations.

But why don’t I uphold that same code of ethics for things that I don’t get paid for? Why don’t I finish things?

I think that the answer lies in the fact that I love making a good proof of concept. I love mock ups. I love the kind of instant gratification that a prototype offers. I love spending enough time with a technology to learn about how it works, grasp it, and build something with it. Maybe my quest for knowledge is breadth-first? Back when I was a junior dev in my first startup, our chief architect (also a good friend) used to compare me and my colleague, saying that I’m like a sponge, soaking up all of the knowledge that I can about everything that I work on, while my colleague strived to finish each assignment as quickly as possible without needing to know why things worked, just that they did. I guess it’s good to have both types on your team. The yin and the yang.

Fast-forward to yesterday in the office: I was about to show off an Android app that I built this past weekend to a few coworkers, when my friend Drazen asked if it was the same app that I showed a few weeks before. I replied that it was something new that I cooked up from my bed this past Sunday morning. Drazen laughed and (rightfully) pointed out the fact that I don’t finish anything. At the time I was like “yeah, yeah” and shook it off, but his words stuck in my head for the remainder of the day. Last night at around midnight I fired up Eclipse, determined to finish what I started. At around 02:30 I had a fully working implementation of my gag app with basic functionality. I quickly read the release docs for the Android Market (now “Google Play”), registered for a developer account, paid the $25, signed my .apk file, posted a couple of shitty screen grabs and descriptions, and by 03:30 I officially had a finished product sitting on the Android Market, available to the masses!

I now present to you, Talking James! A proof of concept of finishing.

QR code for Talking James on the Android Market

QR code for "Talking James" on the Android Market


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