Installing Padrino on Ubuntu / Debian

I’ve been tinkering with Padrino this week. Padrino is a ruby web framework built on top of the delightful sinatra microframework. I found it attractive because

  • it appears to have a simple design, as you’d expect of something built on top of sinatra,
  • it rolls in the various elements that you’d expect for a fully fledged web framework (i.e. orm, database, mailer) but makes no commitments to the particular modules used for each *
  • it had a default Admin interface (which is a huge win for Django IMO).

There’s quite a bit of supporting material on the web, but my impression after a few hours is that it’s still pretty beta and has a strong leaning towards RHEL linux. So this post details the steps I had to take to be able to work through the basic project guide with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. Continue reading “Installing Padrino on Ubuntu / Debian”

Latex on Karmic Koala

I needed latex this morning. My quick tip for installing it on Ubuntu Karmic Koala is to install Texmaker via the “Ubuntu Software Centre” (which you should be able to find at the bottom of the Applications menu) and then install the

  • texlive-fonts-recommended
  • texlive-fonts-extra

packages on the command line with aptitude.  This sorted me out very quickly, and the interface for the new texmaker version in karmic seems excellent – attractive and intuitive.

Eclipse + Ubuntu + Groovy pain

A couple of days ago the v2 Groovy Eclipse plugin was released, but sadly I’m still not able to use it on my Ubuntu desktop because of a fairly convoluted set of configuration problems.

The first is that the linux download of eclipse doesnt work very well in the latest version of Ubuntu (Karmic Koala). A work around is described here with further links to Ubuntu’s issuelist. But actually the work around is only a partial fix because Eclipse sometimes starts a copy of itself and, when it does, it ignores the work around. This affects me as I’m currently trying to develop plugins.

One alternative approach that has worked for me so far is to use the version of eclipse that’s in the Ubuntu repositories. However, this version wasn’t taken from the final release of the eclipse codebase and the groovy plugin install, which patches the JDT (Java Development Toolkit) just wont install in this version.

So to use the groovy plugin it looks as though I’ll have to wait for Eclipse 3.5.2 (which is due on February 29th).

Tectonic shifts

I’m absolutely gobsmacked by the list of datasets that the City of London has declared it will publish today. This is a huge democratising step that I am very impressed by. I dont know the back story – in my experience this sort of thing takes years to happen – but I’m sure the City of London will be immediately rewarded with innovative visualisations of their data because there are lots of motivated and very capable people in that city. Exciting stuff.

Scripting languages in Java – manipulating an EMF model

I’m currently attempting to embed a scripting engine into a Java application. The Java Scripting API means this exercise should be quite straightforward (at least to get something up and running) and there is a huge choice of script languages to choose from so one of them ought to match my requirements, right?

I’m taking baby steps while I explore the space of possible options.  So far I’ve prototyped an expression evaluator that accepts data in the form of simple Java  framework objects and allows boolean expressions to be evaluated over them. In today’s baby step I thought I’d try and manipulate some non-framework Java objects built with an EMF model that I’m currently working on and two different scripting languages, Groovy and Rhino. Groovy is a scripting language that has grown out of the Java community in response to Python and Ruby.  Rhino is a Javascript engine implemented in Java from the Mozilla foundation that is bundled as the default scripting engine in the Java6 JDK.  I got somewhere with Groovy but got completely stumped with Rhino because I just couldn’t load my custom classes.

Continue reading “Scripting languages in Java – manipulating an EMF model”


I’ve been using the online favourites repository service, delicious for a few years now and it’s something I really like. I add a link several times a week these days, much more so than I update my blog – so I’ve added an “Interesting…” widget on the right.

When I save a link to delicious I have two rules that I’m not always able to keep:

  1. Always write a description and
  2. Never use the word “interesting”.


Came across siftables today for the first time via a link from O’Reilly Radar, which referenced a post from that very nice Phil chap’s coverage at ETech (wish I was there).  This is very nice kit.  The video on the siftables site is really quite exciting.   And it shows footage from a media lab – another awesome project from MIT that I’d forgotten about.  All very life affirming.

Apparently there was a New Scientist article about it a month or so ago so I was surprised I’d missed it.  I suppose it must have been in that issue that got lost in the heavy snow 😦

I recently discovered and I’m loving it. It’s another social link aggregator like digg or reddit, but I find the quality of the links excellent. I have space in my schedule for about two good, longish articles a day, and this site is producing more than I can handle. An embarrassment of riches. Examples from a day earlier this week include:

  • Big dog video – impressive, very expensive looking robotic quadruped from DARPA
  • Blowing up – a 2002 article from New York Times focussing on Nassim Nicholas Taleb – a hedge fund investor looking for black swans.
  • Shell shock – a write up of a researcher at MIT interested in biologically inspired self-assembling materials.