Weekend Project - Install SteamOS

This weekend I championed my way through installing SteamOS (the Debian distro by Valve that will be the installed on the upcoming Steam boxes). I had to do some pretty crazy stuff to get it working including dropping out of the automated install to manually inject grub-pc and then compiling the drivers for my wireless card. All in all it was a triumph!


and then finally:


This was an early beta release but they made some weird choices - like handicapping the basic Debian installer by fully automating it and only supporting efi. I was actually a bit disappointed when I finally finished because the end result is not really different from simply installing Ubuntu and setting Steam big picture mode to auto start, I am not sure what exactly I was expecting though. SteamOS is much more for OEMs than the DIY crowd at the moment but I can see that Valve is super invested in Linux at this point with a ton of additions to their own repositories. Good things are going to come of this I can feel it!

* Edit *

Almost all the hacking I had to do has been wrapped in Ye Olde SteamOSe 

* Edit 2 *

Wow Valve released an updated version of the beta addressing a lot of the problems Ye Olde SteamOSe addressed and they allegedly collaborated to get this done! This is why Valve is going to win the next generation - working with the community. Full story here

Becoming a Web Developer at Shopify

Now that Grad School is over I’m moving on to the next exciting chapter of my career - I’m joining a great company called Shopify in the fall and I am going to be working as a Web Developer! I’m quite excited, in fact so excited I took a course from Udacity to get up to speed on some Web Dev basics.

CS 253 Web Development - Building a Blog with Steve Huffman (for those who don’t know this is the guy who started Reddit so he might know a thing or two about building websites) was a really great course and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the web. I also really liked Steve’s teaching style - while he did a great job explaining things simply he also wasn’t afraid to show how he really works i.e. in the terminal and using Linux/Unix commands etc. The course could have easily hidden all of this away but I think it was important to show - using windows and gui’s just isn’t how people work in this industry so why should the course be taught like so? Good job Steve for keeping it real!

Taking the class was really worthwhile as it helped tie together a bunch of knowledge I had accumulated randomly over the years and it helped make some sense of some of the Django hacking I did once upon a time(I say hacking because I got stuff to work but didn’t totally understand everything).

Here is my hard-earned certificate! I completed the course with High Distinction meaning I did all the homework, the final and the bonus question!

I also pushed all my code to my GitHub account:



Google Summer of Code 2013

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2013 was an absolute blast! The majority of my heavy coding is over so I wanted to post a bit about the experience. It has been fantastic I’ve learned so much and done so many different and unexpected things. And before I go any further I want to give a big thanks to all the Shogun devs who helped me out and made this program so great and also thanks to Google for running such a kick ass program.

My project was to code several Independent Component Analysis (ICA) algorithms specifically those based on Approximate Joint Diagonalization (ADJ) of matrices. The application is for Blind Source Separation (BSS) - think the cocktail party problem. It was pretty cool and similar enough to my thesis work that I was able to jump right in fairly quickly. It was an interesting change of pace for me, as I like to put it: it’s called Google Summer of Code not Google Summer of Research and having the code be the number one priority was a welcome change of pace for me. As the focus was code I spent a lot of time translating research papers and author’s source code into production code. I like to think I am quite the wizz with porting between numerical libraries now (matlab -> python,  python -> c etc.) Also I’m now so familiar with NumPy, Octave and Eigen3 (and almost R) that I can pretty much work fluently in each and change between them quickly almost without noticing. Have a look at my recent post One Example Three Languages!

One of the other things I got into this summer was playing with the Shogun Modular interfaces which are created using SWIG. I once tried to play with SWIG for one of my own projects but unfortunately never got far. This summer though I updated a few of the typemaps to add support for NDArray which some of my classes needed. I also playing with updating the ruby modular interface to use the newer and more active NMatrix numerical library (not included in Shogun as of yet though). Anyways playing with typemaps was an interesting experience and I definitely learned more than a few things.

One of the other things I learned was the softer side of class and framework design. I realized that even though I’ve been doing OOP for years one thing I still need more experience with is laying out a new class from scratch. The first time I had to do this I actually had to stop for a second and think, I actually wrote a basic foo bar style class example to double check that what I wanted to do would work. In the end I am quite happy with the class structure I came up with and I look forward to being involved in this type of design more often in the future.

Thats all I can think of now! If you’re a student I highly recommend doing GSoC!

Also here is a link to my final project: