Tag Archives: TeX

Nice LaTeX package: fixme

In writing my dissertation proposal, I came across this nice little LaTeX package called fixme. It provides new commands to insert notes on things that should be fixed in a document. A common way of putting these type of notes in a LaTeX document is to use comments in the .tex file, but the downside there is that there is no trace of it in the output document, so they are easy to forget about and people reviewing your PDF will never see them.

fixme is part of TeX Live 2009, so for most LaTeX users can just say \usepackage{fixme} in their preamble and start using it. You can add different levels of corrections (from note to fatal), and they are displayed in the document in a variety of formats like margin notes, footnotes, etc. The package also prepares a list of corrections which you can use to keep track of things you need to fix.

The nice thing is that when you switch your document from draft to final mode, fixme removes all the comments and the list of corrections, except for fatal ones, which cause compilation to fail. So all the notes about minor stuff that can wait until the next revision disappears from the final copy, but anything you marked as fatal will have to be fixed before you can generate a PDF.

Fixing a Wikipedia page with hosed math expressions

I came across a Wikipedia page that had imbedded errors like “Failed to parse (Cannot write to or create math output directory)” in all the places where there was embedded math. Turns out MediaWiki uses TeX to render math stuff, and caches the output. It appears that the particular server in the Wikipedia server cluster that was supposed to render the math for that page was hosed somehow, and a cached version was generated with the math errors.

Luckily, it’s easy to get Wikipedia to purge a cached page. I chose the first way: just append “?action=purge” to the hosed page’s URL. It worked like a charm. A quick Google search shows that this happens from time to time, since Google has cached Wikipedia pages in the hosed state. I checked the other Wikipedia pages that Google showed with that error, and found only one still in that state. So I purged it. Wikipedia janitorial services, I guess.

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.