Dependency hell with darwinports

I have had the need to produce charts and graphs for my work lately – and wanted to start using gnuplot. Should be easy right?  After all, there is a darwinports port available, and install should have been a breeze, with just a:

sudo port install gnuplot

Or so I thought.  For some unknown &!@^% reason, darwinports with its immense intelligence decided that it needed to download 75 other ports that I did not ask for, including its own version of X11, even though Apple does provide a perfectly decent implementation that I have installed.

And guess what, there is not way to uninstall these 75 at one go either. You will need to uninstall one or a few at a time using the

sudo port uninstall <junk>

command and hope that the dependency hell does not bite you … or else it is multiple rounds of fiddling with the command line and hoping that the current uninstall invocation is the last round. Argh!

The solution (to installing gnuplot, that is) was much simpler. After cleaning out the junk that darwinports installed, I proceeded to download the latest gnuplot source and the excellent Aquaterm for a OSX friendly render terminal.

After installing Aquaterm (which is a simple dmg, drag-to-Applications and you are done install), I untarred the gnuplot source, ran the following standard configure/build commands, and was running gnuplot in less than 5 minutes.

./configure –with-readline=builtin
make
make test
# This launches Aquaterm and runs some nice tests which demonstrate gnuplot’s capabilities
sudo make install

Take that, darwinports!

P.S.:  The bit about using the builtin readline is necessary on my version of OSX (10.5.7) as there is some nasty interplay with the system provided readline version.

Do you Twitter?

Twitter is one of those Web 2.0 applications that at first 
glance seems to beg the question: why? But first, a description of the service 
from its home page:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and 
stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple 
question: What are you doing?
In short, it allows you to post a short description of what you are doing right 
now (or in fact, any short phrase at all – the trend seems to be for posting 
witty or funny comments).
The next obvious thing is to track what others are doing – which can be a 
limited set of your friends, or for anyone who has chosen to make their status 
public.
Another interesting use is to use it as a virtual SMS mechanism on the 
web – you can choose to only track your friends, and use the service to keep in 
virtual touch with each other.
Twitter offers tracking and update via the web, IM as well as SMS via a 
cell-phone.
The service has already gained a large following, and many web celebrities such 
as Marlin Mann of 43Folders fame or Cali Lewis from 
GeekBrief TV are on board.
Yours truly is also testing the waters right now, and has the handle evolve75 
on the service.
There are also quite a few tools already available to make the usage easier. A 
Firefox extension called twitbin enables live tracking via 
a side-bar on your browser, and OS X dashboard widget called 
Twadget is available for updating Twitter from your Mac desktop (for 
Vista users, an alternate version for the sidebar is available 
here).
Whether Twitter is just another Web 2.0 meme – or here to stay – remains to be 
seen. The service is useful, but carries the risk of the novelty fading away 
to becoming a chore 😦
~ Anupam