Category Archives: Short Posts

Nails Sept 2015

I played extensively with gradients (ombre) this time around. I think I need to find some China Glaze, a lot of the nail polishes were very dilute, so I had to go back and dab more on to fix the gradient.

I also used a nail polish pen to draw summer / water themed decals on top of the background gradient colors. I’m most proud of the one with the conch shell, though you can’t see the colors too well in this picture.





No USB MTP/PTP menu? Just dial *#0808# to enable USB Storage Connection Mass Storage Mode — Android 4.4.4 (Samsung Tmobile Galaxy Note 4), Ubuntu 14.04, Windows 8

Wow. Just wow. I spent three or four days just trying to get my phone to show up on my computer, and even rooted my phone. I tried everything — booting into windows and installing kies, mucking around with “mtp-detect” and “adb devices” and more on ubuntu, editing rules files.

Everyone kept saying “enable USB debugging” or “install mtpfs” or “sudo vi /lib/udev/rules.d/69-libmtp.rules ”  or “it doesn’t work on usb 3.0 ports” (I have a lenovo thinkpad x1, gen 2). Worse was the “just go to Settings > Storage >click three dots in top right > USB connection mode > Select MTP”

In the end, all I had to do was dial *#0808# to get at a menu that was completely, utterly hidden on my phone. I’ll say it again,

Just dial *#0808#

And select “MTP”


and now, when my USB is plugged into the laptop, I actually get the “select MTP/PTP” menu.


Solution found on

Prithiviraj Thambiras, thank you so, so much.


Screenshot from 2015-09-10 01:46:29

Setup Notes:

Phone, T-Mobile Galaxy Note 4 SM-N910T LTE on Android 4.4.4 KitKat

OS, Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 8

Before Fix:

My phone showed up as a ttyACM0 device under dmesg | tail:

Screenshot from 2015-09-10 01:53:07

With no “…” under storage:


Harvard MindEx conference, this Saturday, 9/12 @ Sander’s Theatre

I’m helping with a conference this weekend (it’s free and at harvard saturday) with a pretty sweet speaker lineup, and has lots of topics on mental health, which i thought some of you might be interested in.

Please join us for an event focused on the brain and mind research: the MindEx conference, on Sept 12, at Sanders Theatre at Harvard. And join us on Sept 13 at Kendall Square for PG-Palooza – a hands-on, brains-on labs day!

Full agenda here:

The event is free, and more details are included below.

the keynotes are

9:25 am Dr. Martine Rothblatt
What I Learned from Being Labeled Mentally Ill and My Views on Some Challenges Facing Cyberconscious Minds

2:00 pm Dr. George Church,
The Current State of Personal Genomics

Other speakers include Ed Boyden, Co-Director of MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering; and, Dr. Jordan Smoller, Professor of Psychiatry at HMS, whose research focuses on identifying genetic determinants of childhood and adult psychiatric disorders.

Restarting Cinnamon after freeze without losing session information

Whoo! For some reason, cinnamon freezes extremely often (multiple times a day) on my desktop, and I had been resorting to “ctrl-alt-f1” to get to a terminal and running “killall cinnamon-session”, which brings me back to login screen. Fortunately, there is a better solution, aka “ctrl-alt-esc”.

Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Cinnamon blog (

Desktop freezes

In case of a freeze or if you need to restart Cinnamon for any reason, you can now do so via a keyboard shortcut. The default key combination is Ctrl+Alt+Escape. Pressing this combination of keys restarts nemo and cinnamon-settings-daemon in case they had crashed, and launches a brand new instance of the Cinnamon desktop. Unlike Ctrl+Alt+Backspace which terminates your session and brings you back to the login screen, Ctrl+Alt+Escape simply restarts Cinnamon itself, which means your session is exactly as it was, you don’t lose any work and all your windows and applications remain open.


hack4fem: hack for feminism (conference & hackathon) logo

hack4femlogo hack4femlogoI made a logo for a new project I am starting up. It’s a mashup of a bunch of openclipart files, It combines the feminist logo (fist inside Venus sign) with STEM (wrench for mechanical engineering / hands-on, lightning for electrical engineering, then on the nails, a graph for mathematics, beaker for science, and “</>” for coding). The logo expresses my desire to combine my STEM skills with my feminist / activist passions. I refuse to choose between activism and advancing my technical prowess.

hack4femlogoHere is the SVG sourcehack4femlogo, which I release back into the public domain.

If you’re interested in helping organize the first hack4fem conference, email me! 🙂 It’s set for Nov. 7th & 8th (Sat. and Sun.), 2015, in Boston, MA.

A gif of my brain (MRI scans)

(License: Public Domain,

I participated in a research study last night and got a CD with 40 MB of scans of my brain. Yay!

I didn’t have a fancy DICOM viewer like OSIRIx, which lets you fly through the brain in any direction you want by reconstructing the data appropriately from the MRI slices, but I was able to make the above gif using just two lines on the command-line in linux.

How I made the gif

Then, upload to gfycat.

Other viewers


A DICOM viewer (kind of clunky / not well integrated into Ubuntu):

DICOM Web Viewer

A browser-based DICOM viewer that is somehow better integrated into linux:

To use, download and unzip, go to the folder for the viewer you want, and open up “index.html”. For instance:


Then click “file” and select all the files you want to open.

Scaling Gfycats (in embedded iframes)

The gfycat was pretty small, so I wanted to embed a scaled-up version here. Doing so took me a few minutes to figure out, so here it is. After getting the iframe code from, I manually set the width and height to be 2x, then set scale to be 2  and added scaling for firefox.

However, my image was now scaling off the page! From stackoverflow I figured out that I need to add “transform-origin” attributes in there. See below.

 <iframe width="512" height="512" style="-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden; -webkit-transform: scale(2); -webkit-transform-origin: 0 0; -moz-transform-scale(2); -moz-transform-origin: 0 0;" src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Update: 29 July 2015

I found a better viewer than mango and dwv. Slicer lets you see the brain scans from any angle (the defaut is top – side – back), and you can import ALL the DICOM files and it will sort out for you which ones belong to a “series” (hard to do in the native file manager since my file manager doesn’t show DICOM previews). See pictures below.

To get slicer, go to and download the .tar.gz, then extract its contents. Go into the extracted root folder (something like “Slicer-4.4.0-linux-amd64”) and run the executable in the root folder.

Screenshot from 2015-07-28 19:46:04

Screenshot from 2015-07-29 04:43:05

youtube channels!

Lately I’ve been finding some awesome youtube channels with really well-done content to watch and learn about fields I don’t really know much about.

This is Alice and my attempt at the rainbow heart cookies… we tried ^^;


I haven’t found a good one for sewing / cosplay / diy fashion / theater costumes / movie props / cosmetics stuff yet.

Anyway, the plan is, instead of going to film school, I’m going to watch youtube videos, buy a few books, and make tons and tons of crappy videos.  🙂


[edit 13 July 2015] Part II!

I decided to do a more comprehensive post, since why not, I’ve already got them in my bookmarks.

My giant playlist of nails / fashion / clothes manufacturing:

telephone hold music: analog generator

Recently a friend recounted to me a visit to a cool museum which had, in one exhibit, a “hold music” generator (you know, elevator muzak… here have some Cisco sound samples).

That is, before there was digital recording and playback, telephone switchboard operators wanted to play soothing music to callers while connecting their calls. To do so, they used little analog electromechanical playback devices — what we now think of as those cute music box toys


but which included very serious and complex devices once-upon-a-time.


Anyway, so it turns out it was the Museum Speelklok (“Musical Museum”) in Utrecht, the Netherlands:

From Zoz comes this photo of the infamous Japanese telephone exchange hold music generator: (original content ahead! whoo)

Electromechanical telephone hold music generator. Photo credit: Zoz at MIT.
Electromechanical telephone hold music generator. Photo credit: Zoz at MIT.

[the end.]


Some wikipedia articles of interest:

    Which contains this “lolwut” anecdote:

    > For those still uncertain of the difference between “song title” and “mechanical” copyrights, consider the Capitol Records lawsuit for copyright infringement against Nike some 20 years ago. Nike legally obtained permission to use the Beatles song title “Revolution” from the title’s owner, Michael Jackson. They used the Capitol Records owned recording of the Beatles’ performance, but failed to obtain and pay for permission and use. Capitol Records sued and prevailed because Nike ONLY had a license to use the title and did not have a license to use the mechanical recording


Other interesting links I dug up while hunting for this museum before giving up and emailing Zoz:


short post about toilets

First let’s start with
1) i’m chinese-american
2) I’ve travelled around the world a lot. Europe, Asia, Africa, South America.

Anyway, just commenting on how being a little more open-minded and having a different cultural background / immigrant background than a lot of English-speaking people makes it easy to poke fun at English websites.

I mean, you’d think the writer on a website dedicated to toilets would be a little self-aware and think about how different people can be within a single “culture”. But take a gander at this quote:

toilets in guangzhou
toilets in guangzhou, source:

Chinese toilets, at least those in the People’s Republic of China, can be highly communal. There is no place for privacy in a totalitarian state striving for the completely collectivist society. These are in Guangzhou, the large city formerly known in the West as Canton.


That’s uh, good to know. I guess Amsterdam, the large city formerly known in the West as the “Venice of the North“, is just s*** out of luck (pardon the pun) :'(

Judging their entire culture and society by their toilets and how they void bodily fluids, the Netherlands must be a zero-privacy hellhole, ruled by a dictator, I guess….

Photo via: Jane Dutton Utrecht (
Photo via: Jane Dutton Utrecht ( source:

So, long story short, this is why I’m announcing my new startup idea, “It’s like Yelp but for Toilets.” Not only will we help millions of people with the toilet experience, but we will also promote open-minded and inter-cultural exchange. It is truly an idea for saving the world, being a social enterprise, and making bank.

Thank you. Please stop throwing money at me. I’m so goody-two-shoes, I can only tell you to throw money at watsan (water and sanitation) charities instead.

here just click here:

or if you want to just share links and do slacktivism / clicktivism instead go here:

p.s. I bought this book and really enjoyed it; let me know if you want to borrow a copy: You can read a summary of some key points on core 77.


hg19 vs hg38 in two pictures

I took these two screenshots for work recently. Shows our evolving understanding of the complexity of the human genome at the population-scale, as reflected in the changes in the reference genome between hg19 and hg38.

hg19 / GRCh37: 2009
hg38 / GRCh38: 2013


(ignore the temp folder, not part of hg19)


Note: I make no claims as to actual accuracy or completeness of these two directory listings, I haven’t taken a close look at them in a while. But they’re interesting from a big-picture perspective.

Note to self: continue uploading interesting pictures to imgur album, (reduce bandwidth consumption on orangenarwhals)

cross-posted to