you cannot access a heroku database from an outside website or application (http://docs.heroku.com/database), but you can download a current copy via the heroku db:pull command. however, you must first install the taps gem, which has some undocumented prerequisites, i.e., just doing a sudo gem install taps will likely fail.

you must first install the ruby-dev package. after installing this, you can then proceed to install the taps gem via sudo gem install taps. success!


next, to pull the database down to local, had to install more libraries/packages:
  sudo apt-get install libpq-dev
  sudo gem install pg
  sudo gem install sequel