Tag Archives: LaTeX

Week 13: Carbon calculators

Since I’m storing all my literature review information my LaTeX document, there are a fair number of URLs listed. I figured there must be a way to get LaTeX to generate PDFs with clickable links, and sure enough there is. The hyperref package has lots of nifty stuff, including making URLs clickable and making internal document references also clickable. Since I’m using this LaTeX Makefile, which produces output via LaTeX -> DVI -> PS -> PDF, I also need the breakurl package.

Here’s the code I’m using, which should be the last stuff before the \begin{document} :

%% Make URLs clickable
\usepackage[colorlinks, bookmarks=true]{hyperref}

%% Since I'm using the LaTeX Makefile that uses dvips, I need this
%% package to make URLs word wrap nicely
\usepackage{breakurl}

Preliminary results from the carbon calculators are interesting. Using my own personal data, Carbon Counter believes my emissions from air travel this year total 20.58 metric tons of CO2, while Dopplr‘s estimate for my air travel plus all the driving during my road trip totals 5.87 metric tons of CO2, a very different number. Carbon Counter sells carbon offsets (their calculator seems designed mostly as an input to tell you how many carbon offsets you should buy), so it would be in their financial interest to skew results higher. However, it’s too early to tell why the calculations are different. Carbon Counter has a nice page explaining how they calculate the values, and I haven’t investigated how AMEE (the service used by Dopplr) does the calculations.

No word from Dopplr on whether they would add a method to their API to extract the carbon data from trips. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, I could use the API to extract the travel information and send it to AMEE myself.

Other than continuing my reading, the big task for this shortened week is to crank out a first draft of my tech report.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 2 new papers from literature review list
    • [DONE] Leveraging Social Networks To Motivate Individuals to Reduce their Ecological Footprints
    • [DONE] Do increases in energy efficiency improve environmental quality and sustainability?
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • [DONE] Challenging Comfort & Cleanliness Norms Through Interactive In‐Home Feedback Systems
  • [STARTED] Run through carbon calculators with my data
  • [DONE] Fix LaTeX table
  • [DONE] Follow up on Dopplr API request

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Figured out how to use ssh-agent on Leopard, so my script to sync my proposal and tech report doesn’t prompt me for my password more than once per session
  • Figured out how to make hyperlinks in LaTeX
  • Dug through old email messages for additional things to read, added to queue

Hours worked: 17 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Write first draft of tech report
  • Read 2 new papers from literature review list
    • Carbon neutral – sense and sensibility
    • How Much Energy Are We Using? Potential of Residential Energy Demand Feedback Devices
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Behaviors Using Social Marketing In Emerging Persuasive Technologies
  • Finish running through carbon metric calculators

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Nothing of note

Week 11: defining carbon footprint

I’ve been talking about “carbon footprint” as if it were a well-defined concept, but it turns out that it can be hard to nail down. I read a report that delves into how to define carbon footprint: do we include methane? what about NO2? what about emissions that don’t come from burning fossil fuels? There’s also the question of what units to represent carbon footprint in (some have suggested that it be measured in the amount of area of forest required to sequester the emitted CO2). In the end the authors come up with this definition:

The carbon footprint is a measure of the exclusive total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that is directly and indirectly caused by an activity or is accumulated over the life stages of a product.

They also discuss the methods one can use to compute carbon footprints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, calculating something’s carbon footprint is difficult. For a product or process, a bottom-up approach is suggested, but this doesn’t capture all of the indirect emissions from the supply chain. The environmental input-output method can take into account all the higher-order impacts, but works best at the more macro level of a government or industry sector.

Per Philip’s suggestion, I created a separate CSDL tech report that I will use to take a snapshot of the literature review from my proposal at the end of the semester. This snapshot will be submitted as my final report for ICS 699 this semester, and also will make up a major portion of my research portfolio (to be submitted in January 2009). To accomplish this I removed the content of the literature review chapter from my proposal body LaTeX file and put it in its own file. I left the \chapter{} in the proposal body since I don’t want that included in the tech report. However, the \include{} command does not allow chaining and the body of the proposal is already included into the main document. This helpful page (why are most LaTeX FAQs and tutorials written by graduate students working on their dissertation?) explained that \input is the other way to insert content from another file, and it allows chaining and doesn’t create a new page, which is exactly what I wanted.

Using symbolic links, the tech report includes the content of the literature review from the proposal, and also the BibTeX file. When I make the snapshot at the end of the semester, I’ll “break” the symlinks and replace them with copies of the linked file to ensure that the tech report doesn’t keep changing as the proposal changes.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 3 new papers from literature review list
    • [DONE] Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web
    • [NOT DONE] New Ways to Promote Proenvironmental Behavior: Expanding and Evaluating Motives for Environmentally Responsible Behavior
    • [DONE] A Definition of ‘Carbon Footprint’
  • [NOT DONE] Check out Dopplr’s carbon tracking for travel
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • [DONE] Motivating Environmentally Sustainable Behavior Changes with a Virtual Polar Bear
  • [DONE but not in table form] Start list of carbon footprint calculators, shown in table form in proposal document

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Created a separate CSDL tech report 08-03 to be submitted as my final report for ICS 699 this semester, and to include in my research portfolio. It uses the same underlying content as the literature review chapter from my proposal via symlinks. Isn’t LaTeX great?
  • Wrote quick script to backup my proposal (and tech report) directory to dasha via rsync

Hours worked: 15 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 2 new papers from literature review list
    • New Ways to Promote Proenvironmental Behavior: Expanding and Evaluating Motives for Environmentally Responsible Behavior
    • The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • Device-Level Power Consumption Monitoring
  • Put carbon footprint calculators in table form in LaTeX
  • Run through carbon footprint calculators with personal data
  • Check out Dopplr’s carbon tracking for travel

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Doodle is a super quick way to do informal surveys. The primary thing I use it for is coordinating a meeting time between a group of people. You select the set of days and time slots during those days, send the URL out to the people involved, and Doodle will compute which day and time works best. I especially like that you don’t have to create an account to make or participate in a poll, which makes it viable for scheduling with busy people.
  • DropSend is one of the many services designed to let you email large files to people. You send the email through their web interface, the large file (up to 1 GB) is uploaded to their server, and the recipient gets an email with the (temporary) URL to the file. Drop.io is another data storage service, which allows data input via a variety of methods but allows file storage without creating an account. The downside is that their free service only allows 100 MB, which was too small for my immediate needs.

Week 9: more reading and reference collecting

One of the types of sensors I’m looking at are mobile GPS sensors that attempt to determine what mode of transportation one is using, and from that and the GPS trajectory estimate one’s environmental impact (carbon footprint in particular). I’ve found 3 systems doing this so far:

  • Carbon Diem (previously known as Carbon Hero). Carbon Diem is designed to run on GPS-enabled mobile phones (Blackberry and Nokia N-series now, but “platform and provider agnostic”). As this article indicates they have been working on the system since 2006. They are trying to raise money, and focusing on the corporate market initially. The app claims to “tell if you drive, fly, take the train or walk”, and if they can sign a deal with a carrier or handset maker they could potentially launch to consumers in Spring 2009. According to this Guardian article, “the software was almost 100% accurate in working out when people were on airplanes or trains; it was between 65-75% accurate at guessing when people travelled on buses”.
  • Ecorio is a similar application for Google’s Android platform. It also uses GPS to detect the mode of transportation, and estimates carbon output from that. There is apparently support for detecting how efficiently you are driving, which is an interesting twist (though not sure how you provide the feedback when the user is driving). Ecorio also provides suggestions for reductions, such as links to Google Transit, and carpooling info. There appears to be some “what if” functionality built in as well, such as how much carbon will I emit if I start taking public transit half the time (screenshot in this article). Users can also purchase carbon offsets from the phone. There are plans to port the application to other platforms (iPhone is mentioned, but would be difficult given the restrictions on background processing). I wonder if this can be run in the Android SDK simulator, with Bluetooth GPS as input?
  • UCLA’s Personal Environmental Impact Report is another phone-based system. Currently in closed beta, runs on Nokia GPS-enabled phones. They are including other environmental factors, like smog.

It would be interesting to get a hold of some of these sensors and see how accurate they are compared to just recording the odometer & fuel usage information, or marking commutes on a map from memory.

I’m really liking BibDesk, the Mac OS X BibTeX manager. One really nice feature is being able to link URLs or local files to references. So you can save a PDF of a paper to your hard drive and link the BibTeX record to the file for easy access. It can also show you a nearly instant preview of how the currently selected item will be rendered in LaTeX. There are a bunch more features I haven’t dipped into yet, such as auto generation of cite-keys and automatic managment of your PDFs.

I’m still not quite sure how to cite web sites. For now I’m using the misc BibTeX type, and putting a \url{http://...} in the Howpublished field, which seems to produce reasonable output.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 4 papers from literature review list
    • Understanding mobility based on GPS data [DONE]
    • Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web [NOT DONE]
    • Displaying dynamic carbon footprints of products on mobile phones [DONE]
    • Energy efficiency: rebounding to a sound analytical perspective [NOT DONE]
  • Start building table of possible sensor inputs [STARTED]
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX [DONE]

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Added a bunch of papers to lit review on Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate
  • Added several more papers while tracking down references from PET paper

Hours worked: 15 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 4 new papers from literature review list
    • Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web
    • Energy efficiency: rebounding to a sound analytical perspective
    • New Ways to Promote Proenvironmental Behavior: Expanding and Evaluating Motives for Environmentally Responsible Behavior
    • A Definition of ‘Carbon Footprint’
  • Add more sensors to list
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • EcoIsland: A System For Persuading Users To Reduce CO2 Emissions
    • Taking the Guesswork out of Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyles

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Nothing I can think of

Week 8: BibTeX & BibDesk for annotated bibliographies

I made substantially less progress in the past week than expected for two reasons. First, a crisis came up in LILT that required me to urgently work on SocialSense. Second, as part of the Sustainable Saunders Energy Group, I was notifying the occupants of the sixth floor of the Saunders building about upcoming nighttime air conditioning shutdown that should save at least $100K annually. Hopefully both situations have subsided for now and I can focus on the sustainability research this week.

I was looking for a way to get my literature review notes into my proposal document (per Philip’s request) in a sane and maintainable way. As I read each paper, I make notes (usually just bullet points) and once I have reached a stopping point (like the end of a semester) I assemble them into something conceptually coherent. I decided the best way to do this is to enter all the papers I read into my proposal BibTeX database, and place my notes in the annote field. BibDesk is a sweet Mac OS X GUI for maintaining BibTeX databases, and has easy access to the annote field. Then the key was getting the notes into the document. There are BibTeX styles (.bst files) that provide different bibliography styles, and some will print the annote fields of each referenced item, producing an annotated bibliography. I ended up using the annotation style, which ships as a standard part of TeX Live 2008. There are other annotated bibliography styles that could be installed, but I decided to go with the built-in one for now. Obviously I will switch back to the normal bibliography style when the literature review section is done.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 2 papers from literature review list
    • Understanding mobility based on GPS data
      • Not done
    • Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web
      • Not done
  • Start building table of possible sensor inputs
    • Not done
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX
    • Not done

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Fixed formatting on my research portfolio per Philip’s suggestions
  • Moved literature review notes into proposal document per Philip’s request via annotated BibTeX entries

Hours worked: 6 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 4 papers from literature review list
    • Understanding mobility based on GPS data
    • Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web
  • Start building table of possible sensor inputs
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Caffeine, a Mac OS X application that allows disabling sleep, screen dimming, and the screen saver via a menu bar item. This is really handy for presentations, so you don’t have to keep moving the mouse to keep your system awake. There’s even a timer functionality so it only stays “awake” for a fixed amount of time, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it off. Freeware.

Week 7: LaTeX style and outline

I wasn’t as productive this week as I had hoped to be. I was feeling under the weather on Thursday and Friday, which cut into my research time. I didn’t make any progress on reading more papers, and I spent more time than I had expected integrating the latest (if you can call something from 2000 latest) LaTeX thesis style changes from the bowels of bertha into the public Google Code repository. The good news is that I don’t expect to have to spend much more time on the thesis style, though it would be good for someone to go through it once in comparison with the latest style guide from grad division. Mark Stillwell has indicated a willingness to do that update.

I’m hoping to have at least 20 new items for my literature review by the end of the semester, so given the number of weeks left, I should be reading papers at a steady rate of at least 2 per week. That’s going to be a recurring item on my weekly todo list.

The other area I need to work on is collecting all the various potential sensors into one list so I can start concentrating on which ones I will be using for my research.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 4 papers from literature review list
    • No progress
  • Look at websites with related functionality from list
    • No progress
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX
    • No progress
  • Write up outline of final tech report
    • My final tech report is my proposal, so filled in the chapters with an outline
  • Fill in more parts of research portfolio

Other accomplishments this week:

Hours worked: 7 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 2 papers from literature review list
    • Understanding mobility based on GPS data
    • Learning Transportation Mode from Raw GPS Data for Geographic Applications on the Web
  • Start building table of possible sensor inputs
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • None

ICS 699 Fall 2008 week 6: TeX and literature review

This week was spent finishing off loose ends and preparing for my literature review. I finished all the blogging related to Ubicomp, and made the UH thesis LaTeX style publicly available in a more accessible format. I started the literature review (read and commented on 1 measly paper so far), but now have a central location for my literature review notes.

At this point I feel I really have to read as many papers in the area as I can to get a better idea what has already been done, and what is likely to be done in the near future. Naturally, both those things are areas I would like to avoid.

Past weeks accomplishments:

  • Finished blogging last 2 days of conference
  • Wrote up items relevant for PET from conference
  • Wrote up lessons learned for future conference attendance
  • Installed TeX
  • Put UHM LaTeX thesis style up on Google Code for broader adoption, and Google Group for discussion
  • Created CSDL tech report for proposal draft

Hours worked: 15 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 4 papers from literature review list
  • Look at websites with related functionality from list
  • Add publications from PET workshop paper to BibTeX
  • Write up outline of final tech report
  • Fill in more parts of research portfolio

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Instapaper is a bookmarking site with a twist. It’s designed to collect URLs for things you want to read later. You use the provided bookmarklet to add things to your reading list, and then as you read things from the list they are recorded as read. That’s nice, but the real power comes from the associated iPhone application that can download web pages from your list for offline reading. It also has a text mode that does a good job of rendering web pages as rich text, which displays faster and with less clutter.

TeX/LaTeX on Mac OS X

I just installed TeX on my MacBook Pro, and boy is it a lot easier than installing it on a server a decade ago. Just download MacTeX-2008 from TUG and you’re basically done. MacTeX installs a nifty little System Preferences pane that allows you to have different versions or distributions of TeX installed and switch between them with a mouse-click. It even sets your PATH and MANPATH variables automagically using the /etc/paths.d directory facility in Leopard. In my case that didn’t work because I have a custom .tcshrc, but the “What Is Installed” document in /Applications/TeX/Utilities/Documents explained exactly what they are doing so it was easy to update my path.

It’s good to be using TeX again, though I’m still learning the new stuff. I’m doing latex, latex, bibtex, latex, dvipdf, but I think the new way would be to use pdflatex. However, it seems to choke on the EPS file I have as part of the UH thesis example document.