RGB LED Matrix with the Raspberry Pi

Here I show how to attach a WS2812 based LED strip or matrix to the Raspberry Pi.

Short introduction on how to actually install the rpi_ws218x library on the Pi:

    1. Install build essentials:
      sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install build-essential python-dev git scons swig
    2. Clone the repository and build the library:
      git clone https://github.com/jgarff/rpi_ws281x.git
      cd rpi_ws281x
    3. Compile and install the Python library:
      cd python 
      sudo python setup.py install

Also, I have written this small example program, large parts were taken from the supplied example programs in the repository:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import time
import math
import colorsys
from neopixel import *

# LED strip configuration:
LED_COUNT = 64      # Number of LED pixels.
LED_PIN = 18      # GPIO pin connected to the pixels (must support PWM!).
LED_FREQ_HZ = 800000  # LED signal frequency in hertz (usually 800khz)
LED_DMA = 10       # DMA channel to use for generating signal (try 10)
LED_BRIGHTNESS = 255  # Set to 0 for darkest and 255 for brightest
# True to invert the signal (when using NPN transistor level shift)

def plasma (w, h, t):
    out = [ Color( 0, 0, 0 ) for x in range( w * h ) ]
    for x in range( w ):
        for y in range( h ):
            hue = 4.0 + math.sin( t + x ) + math.sin( t + y / 4.5 ) \
                + math.sin( x + y + t ) + math.sin( math.sqrt( ( x + t ) ** 2.0 + ( y + 1.5 * t ) ** 2.0 ) / 4.0 )
            hsv = colorsys.hsv_to_rgb( hue / 8.0, 1, 1 )
            out[ x + y * w ] = Color( *[ int( round( c * 10.0 ) ) for c in hsv ] )
    return out

# Main program logic follows:
if __name__ == '__main__':
    # Create NeoPixel object with appropriate configuration.
    strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(
    # Intialize the library (must be called once before other functions).

    t = 0.0                                                                       # time
    dt = 0.1                                                                      # speed of time

    for i in range( 0, strip.numPixels(), 1):                                     # iterate over all LEDs
        strip.setPixelColor( i, Color( 0, 0, 0 ) )                                # set LED to black (off)

    while True:
        t = t + dt                                                                # increment time
        pic = plasma( 8, 8, t )                                                   # render plasma of size 8x8 at time t

        for i in range( 0, strip.numPixels(), 1 ):                                # iterate over all LEDs
            strip.setPixelColor(                                                  # set pixel to color in picture
                pic[ i ]
        strip.show()                                                              # update LEDs
        time.sleep(0.001)                                                         # white a short while before loop


Parsing compiler or grep output for emacsclient

This short bash snippet allows you to copy and paste any grep or compiler output of the form some/file.java:12:34 to emacsclient to jump to the specified file, line and column in Emacs:

function emacsClient()
  local IFS=":"
  set $1
  if [ $# -eq 3 ]
    emacsclient -n +"$2:$3" "$1"
  elif [ $# -eq 2 ]
    emacsclient -n +"$2:1" "$1"
    emacsclient -n "$1"

alias ec=emacsClient

Example call:

$ grep -nH custom init.el
init.el:93:  (setq custom-file (expand-file-name "custom.el" (or (file-name-directory user-init-file) default-directory)))
init.el:94:  (load custom-file)
init.el:95:  (global-set-key (kbd "") '(lambda () (interactive) (load custom-file)))
$ ec init.el:95:

Update: I forgot to make the IFS variable local to the function. This would break things like git-bash-prompt, if the IFS is suddenly set to something else.

Simple rsync backup of your remote server w/ crontab

If you have a remote server, e.g. for you website, small business or whatever, it is a good idea to replicate it regularly onto local storage. You at least want /etc, /home, /var/www, /usr/local to be in the backup. Maybe more stuff, depending on what you are doing.

For now I assume you are running the backup on OS X’s user with admin/sudo rights, or some Linux user with sudo rights.

The reason why we want to do this with sudo and root on the remote system is to have a simple way to backup the whole system with all files, users and permissions. If you only want to backup a remote user, you don’t need the whole sudo and root part, but can use the remote user login instead.

First, you need the backup script:


if [ "${UID}" != 0 ]
    echo "Must be run as root."
    exit 1

shopt -s nocasematch

pushd `dirname $0` > /dev/null
popd > /dev/null

if [[ "${PWD}" != "${SCRIPTPATH}" ]]
    echo "Wrong path: ${PWD}"
    exit 2

RSYNC_RSH="ssh -C -o IdentitiesOnly=yes -i /Path/to/key/without/password"
RSYNC_CMD='rsync -aP --delete --delete-after'

($RSYNC_CMD -e "${RSYNC_RSH}" root@${RSYNC_HOSTNAME}:/etc :/home :/root :/usr/local :/var/www . > /tmp/rsync.log 2>&1 ) || \
(>&2 echo "An error occured while doing the backup: " ; cat /tmp/rsync.log )

exit $?

Adjust your hostname accordingly and also the directories to be backed up. Use the :/dir notation to reuse the SSH connection. Also make sure to use SSH key authentication, so no password is needed, since this backup is supposed to run via crontab. SSH access as root must only be allowed via key exchange! Make sure to disable password access, or else you are running a security risk! Also, keep the SSH key secret — it is the door to your server!

There are probably more secure ways, but they are more complicated than this.

Next up, put you script somewhere your sudo user can run it, and edit the crontab via “crontab -e”:

MAILTO=user@domain  # or simply your local user, to put it into the local mbox
0 * * * *       cd /Users/youruser/Documents/Backup && sudo /Users/youruser/Documents/Backup/backup.sh

You can make the script runnable with sudo without password by adding the following line to your /etc/sudoers file:

# allow passwordless access to the backup script
youruser ALL = (ALL) NOPASSWD: /Users/youruser/Documents/Backup/backup.sh

The script will only generate output on an error, hence cron will only send an email if there is an error.

If you are now also running TimeMachine, your server will have a nice, hourly history of backups.

Indexed Java 8 enums with gaps

This is an example enum for Java 8 that supports gaps in its indices is relatively fast for enums with a large amount of values:

import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.stream.Collectors;

public enum TestEnum {
   VALUE1( 0 ),
   VALUE2( 2 ),
   VALUE3( 50 );
   private final Integer id_;
   private static Map< Integer, TestEnum > values_ = 
      Arrays.stream( TestEnum.values() ).collect( Collectors.toMap(e -> e.id_, e -> e) );;
   private TestEnum( int i ) { id_ = i; }
   public static TestEnum fromInteger( int i )
      return values_.get( i );