Archive for December, 2010

Downloading Stanford Lectures

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Many Stanford classes are posted online as part of SCPD. Occasionally I get the hankering to learn something new and think that it would be great to download all of the videos from the past quarter and watch them at my leisure long after they've been removed from the SCPD website. Unfortunately, SCPD doesn't go out of its way to make it quick or easy to download the videos.

Luckily, someone named Jon went ahead and wrote two scripts that are very useful. The first is a python script that uses mencoder to download the videos if you pass it a list of links. Getting the video URLs by hand is tedious though, so Jon wrote a Greasemonkey script that grabs all of the links for you.

Unfortunately, Stanford updated its SCPD page format at some point since the script was first published, so when I tried using it the other day it kept on throwing errors. I fixed the Greasemonkey script and posted the changes back as a comment to the original blog. But the scripts are really useful, so I decided to mirror them here just in case they ever vanished from the original author's site.

So without further ado, here are slightly modified scripts (original versions here) that you can use to magically download all of the video lectures at the end of the Stanford quarter. I want to emphasize that they will only work *for current Stanford students* because you need to authenticate to get to the links page. If you are unsure about how to use Greasemonkey or python, please ask The Google.

Greasemonkey: scpd_links.user.js

Rough Skinned Newt

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

We came across a newt while hiking a few months ago. It happens surprisingly infrequently so I took a picture to identify it later. When we got home, I realized that it was a rough skinned newt, which was especially cool because one of my 'sense of touch' collaborators at Stanford studied the newts in her graduate work and we'd talked about them a few times. In her graduate work, she researched a tetrodoxin arms race between the rough skinned newt and garter snake. Here's a newspaper article that nicely summarizes it. What it all boils down to is that if you come across a brown newt around the Bay Area, don't lick it. Here are some more photos and videos.

Rough skinned newt

Camping in Mendocino National Forest

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

We went camping near Lake Pillsbury in Mendocino National Forest the weekend of May 8th. After we got there, we realized that there weren't any hiking trails and lots of motorized vehicles, so we mainly wandered around, napped and relaxed. Highlights include climbing a big rock, seeing a herd of tule elk, and doing absolutely nothing for hours on end.

High Up
Long Way to Go
Tule Elk
Southern View