Friday, October 6, 2017

Installing PsychoPy 1.85.3 on Ubuntu 17.04

This is a bit fiddly. The following worked for me:

N.B. Do not try to do just Stage 2. This will not work and may break stuff.
Stage 1
Install psychopy from the neurodebian repository (see PsychoPy website), but ensure you use --install-suggests i.e.

sudo apt-get install --install-suggests psychopy

You also should install flac if you don't have it

sudo apt-get install flac

This should give you a working version 1.83.

Stage 2

However, some scripts written in the current version 1.85.3, won't work, so you now need to update to the latest version. You can do this using  pip install (as covered on the PsychoPy website). I installed the following components listed on the psychopy website, which is mainly the core bits (I did not try to install button box support etc.):

pip install numpy scipy matplotlib pandas pyopengl pyglet pillow moviepy lxml openpyxl configobj psychopy

pip install xlrd

pip install psychopy_ext

pip install python-bidi

pip install cffi pysounddevice pysoundfile

In addition I also had to install the following things not mentioned on the PsychoPy website:

pip install json_tricks

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Paying for free stuff through Patreon

My monthly Patreon payments just went out - Bryan Lunduke ($2) - Linux journalist and activist - and Zoe Blade ($2) - just super-cool electronic music artist.

Making the W3C more open

The W3C is the standards body for the world-wide web. Recently, they approved a standard for DRM, an action which seemed to me to be fundamentally against the open principles on which the web was formed. Bryan Lunduke
 decided to join the W3C to try an shake things up a bit there - the cost of membership is $2500. So I donated £20 to help out a little bit (during his 24-hour youtube telethon). Go for it, Bryan!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

Paying for Free things

Free Software and Creative Commons materials are free as in freedom, not free as in beer. They take real time of real people to develop and maintain, and this requires money. Where does it come from? In my view, we should routinely pay people to produce and maintain Free and Open content. So, I'm pledging (mainly to myself) to spend 1% of my gross income on such projects (about £50/month if you're interested). And I'm going to use this blog to record my expenditure. So, here's the first one:

$50 USD to support the Center for Open Science.

Donate here: https://www.crowdrise.com/centerforopenscience


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Open computing milestone @ Plymouth University

Although I knew a couple of people at Plymouth University who had got Linux onto their standard work-issue PCs ('PLYMDESK'), they'd done this without knowledge of the university's IT services. This had required some ingenuity, as these machines general don't boot from DVD or USB, and the BIOS is password protected. If you ask for the password, you're usually told you can't have it (I was).

So... I thought I'd see if I could get Linux onto my work machine with the full knowledge of IT services, through their official support systems. Long story short... I could! An IT guy came and changed the boot order so the machine would boot from the DVD drive. I then installed Ubuntu 16.04 (with dual boot to Windows 7) on the machine myself with no difficulties. 

Plymouth University don't provide tech support for Linux as a desktop environment (only for Windows 7, plus OS X for a minority of use cases), so I'm on my own in that regard, but that's OK. It still feels like an important milestone for increased acceptance of open computing at the University.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Command line world

When I started using computers regularly (around 1983), there was only the command line. You typed in commands, and you got text in response. By 1998, through some combination of Xerox, Apple, RISC OS, and Windows, I (and most of the rest of the world) was doing everything with a graphic user interface. Psychologists were writing at the time how GUIs were a much better way to interact with computers.

For some tasks, they were right, and GUIs certainly reduce 'entry cost' for most tasks, leading to nearly everyone now being a computer user. But, for research, is often worth trading a slightly higher entry cost for a longer-term increase in power, speed, and a reduction in errors. By about 1998, I ended up doing analyses in Excel that I would previously have done in BBC BASIC and, while that felt like progress, it turned out to be a bit mistake.

Excel is not a good way to pre-process or analyze data. The chances for human error are great, and most operations require substantial clerical effort. Data and analysis are not kept separate, making it hard to document, reproduce, and reuse analyses. The same goes for SPSS, at least if you use the GUI rather than syntax.

In 2012, R got me back into command-line data analysis, and it's fantastic. But it goes way beyond this. The additional insight was to use an operating system that has a proper command line interface. This means Apple OS X, or Linux. Then, pretty much anything you do on a computer (other than the directly artistic e.g. illustration) can be done better, faster, and with less errors, using the command line interface ('terminal') rather than the GUI. As ever, getting started on task X with the command line takes longer than with a GUI, but for any task you do more than about once a week, the time invested quickly pays off.