Posts tagged ‘latex’

Ligature Alternatives in LaTeX

I’ve been corresponding with Dario Taraborelli and Will Robertson, and we have concluded a couple things about LaTeX and alternative glyphs for ligatures: Don’t bother reading behind this cut if you don’t use LaTeX →

Vannevar Bush would be proud

To any LaTeX people using Macs:

Get XeTeX on your box and tell me what you think of TeXing with the font Zapfino (which has been installed on every Mac). My first impression, looking round the Tubes, is that it’s gorgeous, with its swashes and alternatives for every character. However, it appears to need a bunch of extra macros, and it might be problematic understanding everything. I wish that I could try this out myself, except Zapfino is prohibitively costly just to mess around a bit. So anyone who has it without shelling out a dime, if you could give me your opinion I’d appreciate it much. I guess I ought to simply buy a Mac (despite the cost) because I’ve wanted one for ages and they look so very nice.

$\sqrt {x_1 + \sqrt {x_2 + \sqrt {x_3 + \ldots}}}$

Bonus nerd points to anyone who gets the reference in the title.

The story so far: three honors students on the Duke lacrosse team were accused of rape after attending a party at which a stripper claimed to be gangbanged. The media dragged them through the mud, talking about how horrible they were to rape this girl. Two years later, they were proven wholly innocent of any wrongdoing (mostly because they left the party before the rape purportedly occurred, and the DNA evidence did not point to them in any way whatsoever). Now, the head prosecutor for the case has been disbarred due to unethical conduct during the trial. He was apparently running for public office, and wanted to use the case to show how he’d crack down on crime. He frequently told the media how he was going to make life horrible for these guys, and then proceeded to hide the results of the DNA test from the defense attorneys for months because it would have shown that they were not in any way guilty. I’m glad to see this has happened and former district attorney Mike Nifong plans to accept the disbarment as a fair consequence of his actions.

There seems to be some push-back about my previous allegations that it was an invasion of privacy to require all government labs employees (even those without security clearance) to submit to investigations of their medical, military and financial records. When pressed on the issue, I argued that it seemed wrong because it unnecessarily pries into one’s personal life. Well, an employee at JPL has written a much more eloquent discussion of it to his congressman. In it, he claims that the Privacy Act of 1974 makes it illegal for a government agency to obtain these records without voluntary written consent, and these people have been given the choice “of either waiving our rights as guaranteed by law and the Constitution, or losing our jobs.” He furthermore states that this will have a chilling effect on the workplace environment because it sets the precedent that the government can come in and request any records it wants for no particular reason. Goddard Space Center employees are similarly disconcerted, and further echo that this “consent” to private records is hardly voluntary and borders on coercion.

I can understand that it’s important to have in-depth investigations into anyone who is granted clearance to work on sensitive material, and that it’s important to only allow people with clearance to have access to this information, but it sounds like this investigation is not going to grant anyone such clearance (though those who already had it are likely to keep it). I still don’t see how the government can request this of citizens that it will not treat as having special clearance: if you want to screen these people, give them clearance (which comes with a $10,000/year raise, which the government is loathe to grant), or treat them like the ordinary citizens as which they have been classified and accord them all rights to which they are entitled by law (take that, preposition danglers!).

A bit too advanced…

I figured out the “answer” to my TeX question from yesterday—it’s undecidable! There is no way I can get my code to perform correctly and still finish up in a finite amount of time. The way to show this is similar to the proof that the halting problem is undecidable.

A quick sketch of the proof →

Yes, I’m a big computer nerd. Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested in (La)TeX.
The TeXbook is incredibly neat! →

Mac, eat your heart out!

Behold! It turns out that if you start with the proper background knowledge, this sort of thing is trivial, but no one seems to know where to begin learning about stuff like this.

Also, I’m going to be mentoring a high school robotics team this summer! Whee! I’m apparently going to be doing stuff on the software/vision side of things. They have really nice equipment, including a CMUCam2. It turns out that a $30,000 budget can buy a lot of neat toys.

Back in MN

The schoolyear is now over, and although I didn’t finish everything I wanted to, enough got done. I graduated, and the ceremony was alright, all in all. The most amazing part, in my opinion, was at the very beginning. We were all dressed in our caps and gowns and medals, and started to walk down to the tent near the library where the real ceremony was, and all of the profs lined up on either side of the street and applauded for us as we walked past. Cheezy as it sounds, it practically brought tears to my eyes. The rest of the ceremony was uneventful; the usual fare but with an exceptionally boring speaker (that is to say, Prof. Platt gave a boring history of the college without anything related to graduation, advice for the future, or anything any of my classmates and I could actually use or learn from. Libby’s speech, on the other hand, was fantastic). We had dinner at Buca’s with the Panishes, the Harrises, the Couplands, and Kevin.

By the way, if you didn’t know, my brother is going to go to Mudd next year. This is going to make my visits as a sketchy alum a little bit weirder. We’ll see how that turns out.

I’m now back in the Twin Cities, and I already really miss Mudd. Although it’s certainly nice to see some of my friends from the area, all the really interesting ones seem to still be off in Texas/Iowa/Illinois/elsewhere. The company here is enjoyable but not at all intellectually stimulating, and I’m beginning to find myself bored in their company. Have I really changed that much in the past year? We’ll see how the summer progresses; perhaps this feeling will pass.

As for my overall plans this summer, they’re already starting to fall apart. I am definitely going to DEFCON, but I’m almost positive I will not get to AAAI this year – it’s a bit expensive without getting a college/company/etc to pay for you. Including travel, lodging, and admission, AAAI adds up to ~$1000, while DEFCON, in contrast, shouldn’t be much more than $200.

I had also hoped to learn a bunch of TeX and do some crazy TeX programming this summer. Although this is still doable, my computer (which I thought I was bringing home) is now in storage out in California, so I’m stuck on a Windows box with none of my previous code for a few months. I had the foresight to put all of the TeX, LaTeX, and AMSTex manuals on my CS account so I can still get to them, but I need to first learn about TeXnicCenter. I’ll get to it eventually, but the going right now is a lot slower than I expected.


If you have time and inclination, I invite you all to come see the LaTeX talk today (Friday) at 4:15 in Galileo Edwards. I made the slides, with a bit of editing from Mac, and I’m currently making the handout. I don’t yet know if I’m giving the talk, but I suspect I am.

After that, I invite you all to come see the robotics talk I’m giving along with Mac, Ricco, and Ben on Saturday. We’re giving it at 4:30 in Galileo Edwards. This talk has the potential to be awesome or horrible, depending on how smoothly things go tomorrow: we have to build the robot, find computers to run it (we still have the software, but we need 2 laptops with Visual Studio and OpenCV, as well as two of the webcams in the lab) and rehearse our talk (we haven’t given it since about September). Still, it should be fun. It was a really great project with some really great results. And we might even do a demonstration!

I now have to go start the handout for the talk in my psych class to which you’re not invited… :-P

We’re having a birthdayful week here. Yesterday was Elicia’s birthday, and today was both Whitney’s and Rami’s. Whitney spent the day at home with Zack, so I IM’ed her. Rami, however, was here. We got a group of 11 people, went to Buca’s, came back and had cake, and then 8 of us went bowling. What a fantastic night for bowling! Amanda got a 132, Robert got a 134, Rami got a 146, I got a 136, Nadia got a 117 (which is fantastic for her – it was the only time she broke 100), and then Robert got a 159(!). Rachel, however, had a bad night – she only broke 80. Well, she’ll do better next time.

Let’s see… Amanda bought an X-box over break, which is kind of neat. Then, this past week, Elisa and I (among others) went to an informational meeting about Microsoft. I’m a bit torn: they offer fantastic internships and it would be wonderful to get one. However, I spent much of the summer purging my system of anything Microsoft-related. I doubt I’ll be offered an internship, but if I am, I’m not sure if I want it, because on the whole I can’t stand Microsoft’s products. They’re like the AOL of operating systems: many people are reliant on them because they make it easy, and hold your hand every step of the way. However, you can’t get anything useful done on their machines, and they’re full of problems. I can accept that they offer a great service to the barely computer-literate masses, but they’re certainly not for me. Well, we’ll see. I doubt I’ll have to make a choice in the first place. I bring this up because they had a raffle, and Elisa won a game for the X-box (which she has given to Amanda), and I won a copy of Halo for the PC. Argh! Halo is a neat game, but I can’t use it, since I’m not running Windows. Robert has offered to lend me his computer if I want to play it.

Bridge Etc is closing down in a week, and in honor of that, there is no admission fee for the last game. Sheri and I will be going to that, but we really need to get our conventions straight before then. She’s coming over tomorrow to do that, and hopefully it’ll go well. But there are several things where we adamantly disagree on certain, important things (for example, she claims that jump responses are weak, while I say that that is preempting your partner, and they had better be strong). I don’t know who is right, but hopefully we’ll find out. On a related note, I’ve started work again on the guide to bidding that I began over the summer. First step: to switch it to LaTeX (\/\/00T!). If you are into math or science and don’t know about LaTeX (or another variation, such as MikTeX), you should definitely learn. It’s just wonderful. I now type up all of my homework in it.

So, I had a prefrosh named Mark yesterday and today. He’s a pretty cool guy. I hope he gets in here.

Well, that’s about it. Good night!