Miskatonic University Press

Installing R from source (updated)


Last year I wrote up how I install R from source. I’ve refined it a bit so it’s easier to copy and paste, and here it is, suitable for use with the fresh release of R 3.3.0.

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Rosie or Nunslaughter

music metadata

I’ve decided to get rid of my CDs, so I’m ripping them all (to FLAC) with Rhythmbox. It can talk to MusicBrainz to get metadata: album title, album artist, song titles, genre, etc. Sometimes that doesn’t work, and then it’s nice to use the feature of EasyTAG (which I use to edit metadata) where it can look up the information on FreeDB based on the raw information about track lengths and such. Almost always, that works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. One time, it presented me with a strange choice:

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Passing blocks to a thread in Sonic Pi

sonic.pi music code

A short example of how to pass a block to a thread in Sonic Pi, where it will be run and control will return to you immediately. The block can contain whatever you want. (Thanks to Sam Aaron, creator of Sonic Pi, for this; he sent it to the mailing list but I can’t find the original now.)

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There Wasn't No Party Like the Rdio Party, Then the Rdio Party Stopped


Back in October 2012 I was in Montreal for Access. One evening I was over at the cool place where Dan Chudnov and his wife were staying. Some cool music was playing: hard bop with a trumpet lead, maybe Lee Morgan. It was all cool.

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The Idealist

reviews open.access aaronsw

The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet, by Justin Peters, is a workmanlike overview of Swartz’s life and the mass JSTOR download that got him arrested and ultimately led to his suicide. It’s also a rambling partial history of copyright and open access in the United States. All of its inadequacies are set out by the author himself in his introduction, except for one: it’s not available through open access. It should be.

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My 0x10: AC/DC


  1. “Hells Bells” (Back In Black, 1980)
  2. “Thunderstruck” (The Razors Edge, 1990)
  3. “Back in Black” (Back In Black, 1980)
  4. “Shake a Leg” (Back In Black, 1980)
  5. “Jailbreak” (‘74 Jailbreak, 1984)
  6. “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N’ Roll)” (High Voltage, 1975)
  7. “T.N.T.” (High Voltage, 1975)
  8. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
  9. “Bad Boy Boogie” (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
  10. “Whole Lotta Rosie” (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
  11. “The Jack (Live)” (If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, 1978)
  12. “Let There Be Rock (Live)” (If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, 1978)
  13. “Rocker (Live)” (If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, 1978)
  14. “Highway to Hell” (Highway to Hell, 1979)
  15. “Who Made Who” (Who Made Who, 1986)
  16. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” (For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), 1981)

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The Triple Staple

staplers york libraries

On Wednesday 10 February 2016, at about 3:45 pm, at the ref desk at Steacie, I hit a new record: three consecutive questions about refilling staplers. We have three staplers here and they all emptied within minutes of each other. Three questions, three different staplers. I call this the Triple Staple.

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Cato in fiction

stoicism literature

I’m reading Dictator, by Robert Harris, the last in his wonderful trilogy about Cicero. It’s narrated by Tiro.

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staplr sonification music theatre york librarystats sonic.pi

Next Tuesday STAPLR + a live feed of anonymous desk activity data + Twitter streams will be the basis for a performance by the students in Doug Van Nort’s class DATT 3200, Performing Telepresence, which will take place simultaneously in the DisPerSion Lab and all the branches of York University Libraries. You can watch, listen, participate and help perform from anywhere in the world. If you’re in or near Toronto, you can experience it in person.

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Saturday night I was passing by Soundscapes, the best music store I know in Toronto, so I went in to see what they had. I usually only buy CDs at gigs now, because I use a streaming music service, but I saw something that isn’t available streaming and I would like to have as a real object: the full eight-hour performance of Sleep by Max Richter.

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sonification libraries staplers music art staplr sonic.pi

Announcing STAPLR: Sounds in Time Actively Performing Library Reference. It is a live streaming sonification that turns the reference desks at York University Libraries into music.

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Diana Athill on reading


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Westlake and Powell

literature reviews

“When Widmerpool appeared on his ‘run’ in the cold late afternoon mist, wearing a sweater once white and a cap at least a size too small, Jenkins was returning from the High Street.”

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reviews libraries code4lib

I recommend John Palfrey’s new book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google to anyone interested in that unending question of what is the future of libraries, because he sets out a future I agree with.

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Zotero and Mozilla


A quick pointer to Automated Scanning of Firefox Extensions is Security Theater (And Here’s Code to Prove It) by Dan Stillman, lead developer on Zotero, about how extension signing (meant to make Firefox more secure) could cause serious problems for Zotero.

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