It seems that you can’t claim that a project has started until there is a bug of some sort that has nothing to do with any code that you have written. In fact, it’s a bug in you setting up your system, which often tends to convince folks that the stars are lined against them, and they should just quit. Don’t quit. Just be patient, and you’ll find the way.

I will be building the visualization that I created for the MovieLens Recommendation System as my project in Visualization. It is probably the most awesome thing that I’ve planned on doing in a long, long time. To do the visualization, I will be taking advantage of an IMDB API written in Ruby by a one Stephen Becker IV. I need the API to pull out information from IMDB that isn’t available in the data that we are given in the text file.

And so today I am setting up the environment as a proof-of-concept, and I immediately run into a problem. Others seem to have had this problem, and seem to have solved it by waving their hands in the air and changing the magnetic field around themselves by just enough to switch the necessary bits on their hard drive. Unfortunately, I was never very good at waving my hand in the air like I just don’t care.

The problem was that an included extension wasn’t building properly, and therefore when it was called it was puking the following output:

monvural$ ruby imdb.rb
/usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/rubygems/custom_require.rb:32:in `gem_original_require': no such file to load -- hpricot_scan (LoadError)
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/rubygems/custom_require.rb:32:in `require'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/hpricot-0.6-jruby/lib/hpricot.rb:20
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/rubygems/custom_require.rb:32:in `gem_original_require'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/rubygems/custom_require.rb:32:in `require' from imdb.rb:12

I thought to myself, “Well damn, there’s no way I’ll figure this out.” The solution however was quite trivial. Props must go to the blog aki note that had the answer written in Japanese. I used my amazing powers of reading the English characters to solve the issue at hand. The following steps will fix the error:

cd /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/hpricot-0.6/ext/hpricot_scan/
sudo ruby extconf.rb
sudo make install

The result was a working program! The first major obstacle tackled, I can now get the information that I want from IMDB. Now I need to learn how to efficiently use Java3D.