wxMaxima on Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10 with MacPorts

How I got wxMaxima to work on Yosemite.

I recently switched from fink to MacPorts on one of my computers – an ageing 17″ MacBook Pro, because it seemed MacPorts would allow me easier access to GNU Radio.

One of the softwares I occasionally use is wxMaxima (a GUI shell around maxima). MacPorts can provide wxMaxima, and in theory all you need to do is

sudo port install wxmaxima

to get wxMaxima installed. However, that did not work: the GUI would not connect to the command-line program maxima.

From there things got bad, worse, disastrous as I got caught in MacPorts update loops and other problems as I tried to fix things.

Now, the machine carried a lot of history and crud, so I decided to start from scratch: clean install of Mac OS X 10.10.

After a few days of reinstalling, I finally came back to the same point: installing wxMaxima. Dismay: it did the same.

Maxima process terminated” in the status line, and “Not connected to Maxima!” when I tried to evaluate an expression.

So, I dug in. First I made sure wxMaxima was referring to the proper command line maxima.

I changed the wxMaxima preferences so it referred to /opt/local/bin/maxima (rather than the default maxima). No go.

Nothing in the various logs that could shed any light on the issue.

So I created a command line script called maxima in my personal bin folder, which resides in ~/bin. 

Then I changed the preferences in wxMaxima to refer to /Users/kris/bin/maxima instead of /opt/local/bin/maxima. 

(P.S. ‘kris’ is the name of my home directory. wxMaxima does not like the use of the tilde ~ as a shorthand for the home directory, so I had to spell it out: /Users/kris/bin/maxima instead of ~/bin/maxima).

In my script I had the following temporary hack:

/opt/local/bin/maxima "$@" > /tmp/t.1 2>&1

This in an attempt to get a bit more info.

The contents of /tmp/t.1 gave me the necessary clue: maxima could not find sbcl.

sbcl is installed in /opt/local/bin by MacPorts, so it looked like a simple path problem.

My workaround: I now use a script /Users/kris/bin/maxima that contains

PATH=$PATH:/opt/local/bin; export PATH
/opt/local/bin/maxima "$@"

(Don’t forget to chmod +x ~/bin/maxima or something similar).

Then I changed the wxMaxima preferences to refer to /Users/kris/bin/maxima instead of to /opt/local/bin/maxima

That made it work!

Programming Baofeng UV82 (and possibly others) on Mac OS X 10.10

I purchased a few Baofeng UV82 radios to play around with.

I am using the chirp 0.4.1 software (see http://chirp.danplanet.com) to program the radios, and that proved sometimes elusive. I am using a Prolific-based USB programming cable I got from AliExpress.

I installed a Prolific driver for Mac OS X which I downloaded from http://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php and sometimes things would work, sometimes not.

A possibly important note: my Mac is currently running with a boot flag that allows improperly signed extensions to load on OS X 10.10. I needed to execute the command line

sudo nvram boot-args="kext-dev-mode=1"

and then reboot in order to allow my USB-to-HDMI adapters to work.

This setting might or might not affect the loading of the Prolific drivers – so if the procedure below does not work, try setting the ‘kext-dev-mode’ boot flag, reboot, then try again.

Often the chirp software would refuse to upload or download with a ‘Radio did not respond’ error message.

I think I’ve found a way to make it work for me:

1) Quit chirp if running.

2) Disconnect the programming cable. Turn radio off.

3) Start a Terminal session and navigate to /System/Library/Extensions

4) Unload the driver:

sudo kextunload ./osx-pl2303.kext

5) Start chirp

6) Connect the programming cable to the radio (but not to the computer). Turn the radio on.

7) Connect the USB of the programming cable to the computer

8) Reload the driver

sudo kextload ./osx-pl2303.kext

9) In chirp, now upload or download

By no means do I want to imply this is the only proper sequence. Maybe some of the steps above are unnecessary, or can be executed in a different sequence. I’ve not experimented that much. But this is what seems to work for me. Hopefully it helps someone else struggling with the same issues!

365 Pictures – A Year’s Worth

During 2014 (more precisely, from 30 December 2013 till 29 December 2014) I did a ‘365’ – i.e. made at least one photo each day. This is mainly an exercise to get better at photography.

It was hard at times. A fair number of the photos are what I call ‘desperation photos’. Like, it’s 5 to midnight, and I haven’t taken my photo yet, so I’d grab anything and make a picture. Hence, you’ll find pictures of bookshelves, bathroom cabinets, ukuleles… Also, most of the pictures are from around Plimmerton.

I do feel the experience as a whole improved my technique – I can recommend the exercise! The picture below is actually a slide show from Flickr; you can click on the left or right side of the image to go backwards and forwards.

It starts and ends with the same landscape shot, taken 365 days apart.

On 30 December 2013:

On 29 December 2014:

Here’s the complete 365 on Flickr:


Normally, you will not see all 365 pictures: I restricted viewing of the family pictures in the set to only ‘Family & Friends’.

Unless you register yourself on https://www.flickr.com and then request to be listed in my group of ‘Friends an Family’, you’ll see slightly less than 365 pictures…

More bit stuff

Out of curiosity, I worked out the carry bit for the addition of two 8-bit symbolic words, a[7]…a[0] and b[7]…b[0].

I intend to work out some method of intelligently re-collapsing common subexpressions.

For all I know, that’ll be a non-effective, circular endeavor; i.e. what I started with might be no more complex than whatever end result I come up with.

I am currently mucking around with what I call ‘tree expressions’: a complex expression gets reduced to a tree of

expression = symbol . primarySubTree | secondarySubtree

where symbol is an atomic symbolic bit (e.g. either ‘x’ or ‘!x’), and both primarySubTree and secondarySubTree don’t contain that symbol.

I.e. I first simplify the expression to a list of terms, each term a ‘flat’ list of symbolic factors.

a.b.c | a.b.!c | a.!b.d … | b.c.d | … or whatever

then find the most common symbol (e.g. a), and convert the expression to

a.(b.c | b.!c | !b.d…) | (b.c.d | …)

then repeat recursively on both subtree, until everything is either expressed as a tree or of a simpler form.

To get a feel for how re-collapsing would work: I let my program express the carry as a tree expression, then manually reduced the carry expression to (using lower case x, y, … for intermediate results):

x = a[7].!b[7] | !a[7].b[7]
y = x.(a[6] | b[6])
z = y.(a[5] | b[5])
t = z.(a[4] | b[4])
u = t.(a[3] | b[3])
v = u.(a[2] | b[2])
w = v.(a[1] | b[1])
carry = a[0].b[0].w | a[1].b[1].v | a[2].b[2].u | a[3].b[3].t | a[4].b[4].z | a[5].b[5].y | a[6].b[6].x | a[7].b[7]

which has a nice symmetry to it.

The ‘normal’ carry expressions work out as follows (using upper case X, Y,… for intermediate results):

X = a[0].b[0]
Y = a[1].b[1] | X.(a[1].!b[1] | !a[1].b[1])
Z = a[2].b[2] | Y.(a[2].!b[2] | !a[2].b[2])
T = a[3].b[3] | Z.(a[3].!b[3] | !a[3].b[3])
U = a[4].b[4] | T.(a[4].!b[4] | !a[4].b[4])
V = a[5].b[5] | U.(a[5].!b[5] | !a[5].b[5])
W = a[6].b[6] | V.(a[6].!b[6] | !a[6].b[6])
carry = a[7].b[7] | W.(a[7].!b[7] | !a[7].b[7])

which seems to be about the same complexity.

Note: If we write the XOR operator as ^, then a ^ b == (a.!b | !a.b)

This is the same, using the XOR operator:

x = a[7] ^ b[7]
y = x.(a[6] | b[6])
z = y.(a[5] | b[5])
t = z.(a[4] | b[4])
u = t.(a[3] | b[3])
v = u.(a[2] | b[2])
w = v.(a[1] | b[1])
carry = a[0].b[0].w | a[1].b[1].v | a[2].b[2].u | a[3].b[3].t | a[4].b[4].z | a[5].b[5].y | a[6].b[6].x | a[7].b[7]

The ‘normal’ carry expressions:

X = a[0].b[0]
Y = a[1].b[1] | X.(a[1] ^ b[1])
Z = a[2].b[2] | Y.(a[2] ^ b[2])
T = a[3].b[3] | Z.(a[3] ^ b[3])
U = a[4].b[4] | T.(a[4] ^ b[4])
V = a[5].b[5] | U.(a[5] ^ b[5])
W = a[6].b[6] | V.(a[6] ^ b[6])
carry = a[7].b[7] | W.(a[7] ^ b[7])

What I like about the new form is that it starts down from the high bits. If we read it in pseudocody words, it says:

– if both a[7] and b[7] are set there is a carry (a[7].b[7] in the carry expression)
– else if a[7] and b[7] are clear there is no carry (x is 0, hence y, z,.. are all 0)
– else if a[6] or b[6] are set there is a carry (y is 1)
– else if a[5] or b[5] are set there is a carry (z is 1)

It’s not very exciting, and I don’t see any practical uses for it, but it’s satisfying to see that the program came up with a nice, symmetrical alternate expression for the carry.

What I did in my holidays

During the quiet(er) days around the end of the old and beginning of the new year, I’ve been playing around a bit with symbolic bit expressions.

Note: the contents of these post(s) should not be confounded with anything like ‘a paper’. It’s more like ‘my lab notes’: it’s not concise, and I am writing all kinds of stuff down, including wrong turns and mistakes. A proper paper is filtered – this stuff is unfiltered mucking around. Just sayin’.

I’ve only done a cursory search, but by the looks of it there is not much publicly available around manipulating symbolic bit expressions.

E.g. I wanted to do things like: if a and b are some bits, simplify a.b.c | !a.b, where | stands for ‘or’ and . stands for ‘and’.

Or, prove that the two expressions a.b.c | !a.b and b.(c | !a) are equivalent.

I am sure this software exist, as any Verilog or VHDL compiler must have this kind of code inside of it to compile complex schematics, but I did not find much during a quick search.

I’ve been attempting this kind of stuff before, but always ran out of time before it got interesting.

This time around, I managed to get the software into a more advanced state: it’s a Java program that can handle complex bit expressions.

In case you’re wondering: if a[3]…a[0] and b[3]…b[0] are two 4-bit words, and you add them, then the carry bit, fully expanded will amount to:

 | a[0].a[2].b[0].b[1].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[0].a[1].b[0].b[2].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[0].b[0].b[1].b[2].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[0].a[1].a[2].a[3].b[0].!b[3]
 | a[0].a[2].a[3].b[0].b[1].!b[3]
 | a[0].a[1].a[3].b[0].b[2].!b[3]
 | a[0].a[3].b[0].b[1].b[2].!b[3]
 | a[1].a[2].b[1].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[1].b[1].b[2].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[1].a[2].a[3].b[1].!b[3]
 | a[1].a[3].b[1].b[2].!b[3]
 | a[2].b[2].b[3].!a[3]
 | a[2].a[3].b[2].!b[3]
 | a[3].b[3])

or, converted to a tree-like format:

        a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
      | b[2].(
        a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
    | b[1].(
        a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
      | b[2].(
        a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
| a[1].(
      a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
    | b[2].(
      a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
| a[2].(
    a[3].!b[3] | b[3].!a[3]
| a[3].b[3]

I have the expressions for 8 bits too, but they’re even more boring. I don’t think any of this is useful, but I had fun writing and optimizing the Java code to handle arbitrary expressions of symbolic bits; the 8-bit addition takes a few minutes to resolve, and does not run out of memory.

2015 Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution for 2015: staying off Facebook. It sucks up way too much ‘real life’ time, and I am tired of glancing over irrelevant stuff, and I generally dislike the direction of where social media is going, Facebook being one of the worst offenders. This lobster is out of the pot!

However, I occasionally want to share stuff with family and friends. So that’s what this blog is about.

It’s simply about stuff that I want to share. Any stuff – there is no rhyme nor reason to what might pique my interest.

And rather than push it down everybody’s throat on Facebook: on the odd chance that you’re interested in what I am up to in real life, you’ll have to come and visit this site; I won’t be in your news feed.