Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blogger Tips: Readability and Post Width

Alright well I am slowly cleaning up my blog, and I have started to notice how ugly and hard to read it was. Appearance is everything for things like this because you want people to stop and check your blog out. Usually people have googled something and are quickly scanning pages (this is what I do) so you want something to capture your reader which is easy to read and aesthetically pleasing.

First I have changed my font color and post background color. To me, from what I have mentally gathered, a dark font with a light background or vice-versa works best. I personally like a darker font with a lighter background. This all can be changed easily in the Design Tab in Blogger.

Screenshot from my blog:  I guess if you are reading this it probably looks the same, :P.

I had something like this before.  It was a darker grey with a yellow tinged font.  Not very easy to read...

This one is better, but I think, IMO, it is better not to get too fancy.

And please don't do something like this...it looks like a 14 y/o girl's MySpace or Xanga (sorry, no offense, just not professional).  Seriously, I saw a PhD student who was applying for a professorship at my school who presented his equations in this color in a font size of 8...really?

Next I changed the layout. I have a blog archive as one of my gadgets on the sidebar like most people do (it seems pretty standard, and you can see mine in the images and probably now of course). However, I first had the archive gadget in a small width gadget space which crammed it and made it ugly and unreadable.

So I finally figured out you could move the gadget to a wider gadget space in the layout design tab.  I also had columns on both sides of the post, but I found it is better if you have one column on one side because it will increase the width of your post area.  Also, I like the column on the left because I like to use X-Large picture formats and they spill over on the right side of the site.  Even though I figured out you (reader) can click on the image and it will enlarge.

Also, it is nice to use a decent size font.  Right now I am using Times Roman at an 16pt.  I think in my format it is the perfect size.  It is big enough, but not distorted like 18 or above.

Anyways, this post was supposed to be about how to widen your post.  I thought changing to the one column format helped a lot.  However, I went to the Design tab and under Edit HTML couldn't really follow this blog tip (John Deere Mom: How to widen your columns on Blogger) :

I am going to post some links and screenshots of some examples of what I am talking about.  Here is the link again to the one I just mentioned:

John Deere Mom: How to widen your columns on Blogger

See (image above) how she has a simple white background with a black font color.  Font is nice a big, very readable.  She also has a nice blend of her post area and gadget area.  I think this is due to the Design Template.  I use the Awesome, Inc.

Here is the Simple:

She also has some (it looks) customized stuff which I haven't gotten to yet but will post about when I get there.

This is a screenshot of Please Make a Note.

Tony also has a very nice layout.  Good font, background contrast.  Very readable.  He also has some nice customized stuff.  I also noticed his tab at the top on the internet browser has a blue sphere instead of the Blogger emblem.  Got to figure out that trick!!

Well, I just found the adjust width tab under the Design tab.  Geez, it couldn't have been any more obvious.  Haha, oh man, maybe it's new??  Anyways here are some screenshots:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Advantage of Ubuntu over Windows: File Naming

A quick observation here.  One thing I have noticed between Ubuntu and Windows is that when naming files, I haven't (in Ubuntu) run into any problems with file length.  I think the Ubuntu file name system even takes some symbols like the colon (:).  Also, another small but helpful and cool thing (to me at least) is that when renaming a file, I can leave the PDF open in Foxit and rename it without any issues unlike in Windows with Adobe (it may be just an Adobe thing, I haven't checked).  However, if you are sharing files with a Windows user, the Windows system can't/won't copy the files.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My wiki page at Zoho

I love to share information and keep a central location for everything.  I decided to create a wiki page again inspired by Tony Saad. A wiki page seems like a good way to distribute a myriad of information in a website format. So instead of having to create a website from scratch a wiki page will give you a beginning format similar to Blogger. A wiki page seems to be more structure than a blog. However, after getting more into Blogger and my blog later they may be quite similar and competitive. I guess wikis are good for collaboration amongst a group or I have seen formats for educational purposes (grade school). I will post more later on differences once I come across them.

Anyways, there is a myriad of wiki host around the web that usually offer a free service. Both a wiki site and general website builder that I began with was Google's Sites. I began my site also named the same as my blog Scared to fly? But I love rocket science! At first I figured I would move on to a wiki site later, but I wanted to experiment and start a simple website/wiki which Google Sites seemed (and is) perfect. I began it by creating a simple about me, listing interest, education, and publications. In hindsight, I am glad I kept the site (I thought I had deleted it!) because after working with Blogger some more (Sites is obviously based on the same format) Sites seems to be just as good as any other wiki, that I have noticed so far.

A screenshot:

After experimenting with Google Sites, I first tried out Wikispaces but was not impressed by, IMO, the limited editor (I did end up deleting this one).


I then found Zoho's Wiki. Zoho is, in their words,

"Zoho provides a wide, integrated portfolio of rich online applications for businesses. With more than 20 different applications spanning Collaboration , Business and Productivity applications, Zoho helps businesses and organizations get work done. Our applications are delivered over the internet, requiring nothing but a browser. This means you can focus on your business and rely on us to maintain the servers and keep your data safe."

They have online office apps, plus much more. I will blog on them later. I first saw Zoho from the Ubuntu repositories.

Anyways, I really like Zoho Wiki so far, and it looks very robust. I also named this one Hate to fly? But I love rocket science! I am keeping both a blog and the website, and I will update the differences/advantages of both.

Here is a screenshot:

Finally, my friend and mentor, Tony Saad, uses Wikidot for his wiki page Science Talk or SciTlk.

Some screenshots:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

RSS Feeds for Facebook and Twitter

This is kind of random, but I wanted my Facebook status updates to link to my Twitter account. There is a Facebook app that does Twitter to Facebook, but not the other way around. I search the Facebook apps and found Twitter Feed which allows for blog or any other RSS feed to post to Twitter and/or Facebook. I then found how to do your status updates in Facebook as an RSS feed here:

Hacking Facebook Status Updates Into RSS Feeds

I now have my blog post updates and Facebook status updates linked to my Twitter!! Cool! You can also make RSS feeds for notifications and friend updates, etc.

I will blog more later on RSS feeds and Twitter Feed with images.

LaTeX Curriculum Vitae (CV) Template

I will post here any LaTeX CV templates that I come across surfing the web.

From Jason R. Blevins


From Ted Pavlic


LaTeX Line and Page Breaking

I did not write any of this by the way. I have only reposted from the following site:
did not write any of this by the way. I have only reposted from the following site:

LaTeX Line and Page Breaking

The first thing LaTeX does when processing ordinary text is to translate your input file into a string of glyphs and spaces. To produce a printed document, this string must be broken into lines, and these lines must be broken into pages. In some environments, you do the line breaking yourself with the \\ command, but LaTeX usually does it for you. The available commands are

\\ start a new paragraph.
\\* start a new line but not a new paragraph.
\- OK to hyphenate a word here.
\cleardoublepage flush all material and start a new page, start new odd numbered page.
\clearpage plush all material and start a new page.
\hyphenation enter a sequence pf exceptional hyphenations.
\linebreak allow to break the line here.
\newline request a new line.
\newpage request a new page.
\nolinebreak no line break should happen here.
\nopagebreak no page break should happen here.
\pagebreak encourage page break.



The \\ command tells LaTeX to start a new line. It has an optional argument, extra-space, that specifies how much extra vertical space is to be inserted before the next line. This can be a negative amount. The \\* command is the same as the ordinary \\ command except that it tells LaTeX not to start a new page after the line.


The \- command tells LaTeX that it may hyphenate the word at that point. LaTeX is very good at hyphenating, and it will usually find all correct hyphenation points. The \- command is used for the exceptional cases, as e.g.



The \cleardoublepage command ends the current page and causes all figures and tables that have so far appeared in the input to be printed. In a two-sided printing style, it also makes the next page a right-hand (odd-numbered) page, producing a blank page if necessary.


The \clearpage command ends the current page and causes all figures and tables that have so far appeared in the input to be printed.



The \hyphenation command declares allowed hyphenation points, where words is a list of words, separated by spaces, in which each hyphenation point is indicated by a - character, e.g.
\hyphenation{man-u-script man-u-stripts ap-pen-dix}



The \linebreak command tells LaTeX to break the current line at the point of the command. With the optional argument, number, you can convert the \linebreak command from a demand to a request. The number must be a number from 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more insistent the request is.The \linebreak command causes LaTeX to stretch the line so it extends to the right margin.


The \newline command breaks the line right where it is. The \newline command can be used only in paragraph mode.

The \newpage command ends the current page.



The \nolinebreak command prevents LaTeX from breaking the current line at the point of the command. With the optional argument, number, you can convert the \nolinebreak command from a demand to a request. The number must be a number from 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more insistent the request is.


The \nopagebreak command prevents LaTeX form breaking the current page at the point of the command. With the optional argument, number, you can convert the \nopagebreak command from a demand to a request. The number must be a number from 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more insistent the request is.



The \pagebreak command tells LaTeX to break the current page at the point of the command. With the optional argument, number, you can convert the \pagebreak command from a demand to a request. The number must be a number from 0 to 4. The higher the number, the more insistent the request is.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Inkscape and Tex Text

I have found for Ubuntu the best software for drawing figures for research is Inkscape.  It is cross platform which is a big bonus, and of course it is free!   It is also found in the Ubuntu software repositories.

I wanted a vector graphics drawing program vs a raster graphics program which essentially means that the quality of the image holds up when zoomed in (aka no pixel-ation). Please see the Wikipedia article link and image below.

Vector graphics (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Another big requirement for me is that the drawing software should be able to handle equation input easily and quickly since I work a lot with math in my research. Inkscape does this flawlessly and uses LaTex math input!! However, there are two ways to go about this. The first is using the built in InkLaTeX (see InkLaTeX - Extensions for drawing LaTeX text on Inkscape for more info).

Unfortunately, the formula cannot be re-edited if need be.  However, the second option allows this and is what I recommend.  It is using Textext in Inkscape. To install simply download the files: textext.inx and textext.py. Then, depending on what version of Ubuntu you are using the files will go into ~/.config/inkscape/extensions/ for Inkscape 0.47 versions or later (the ~/.config folder can be found in your homefolder and will be named what ever you called it; mine for example is timbarber/.config since that is my login name; you will also have to click on "Show Hidden Files" under the View menu) and in ~/.inkscape/extensions/ for earlier versions. Also for Linux installations some additional requirements are: (see Textext for additional platform installation help as well; I do not know why these are needed either)

On Linux, you’ll need to have pdflatex and one of the following installed:

- Pstoedit with its plot-svg back-end compiled in, or,
- Pstoedit and Skconvert, or,
- Pdf2svg (the one by David Barton & Matthew Flaschen, not the one by PDFtron)

I think you can get all this done under the Ubuntu repositories for the Inkscape installation (see next image).

Once installed simply go to Extensions and there should be a separate Tex Text file.

The next few images is an example of inserting an equation and editing it.  Simply click the equation image and select Extensions->;Text Text again.  If an error or warning pops up like I have shown, I am not sure why or what it is for but just click "Ok" and everything should be fine.

For additional information please also see this blog post:

The Typethinker
Trying to make sense

Integrating Inkscape graphics in LaTeX

and this website:

LaTeX in Inkscape
jblevins.org » log » latex-in-inkscape

by Jason R. Blevins


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

LaTeX - Math Commands

Here are a few more links for math in LaTeX. One day I hope to have uploaded pdfs and re-write some of the more common symbols and commands for quick reference. Now I just have some scattered and ugly posts, :P.

LaTeX:Commands WikiBook - http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/Wiki/index.php/LaTeX:Commands

LaTeX Math Commands - Drexel University Liki - http://physics.drexel.edu/liki/index.php/LaTeX_Math_Commands

Edit/Update: 7-6-11

This is a link for some quick reference math in LaTeX from a pretty cool sounding software called Aurora. Aurora, it seems, is a software capable of writing LaTeX math in Microsoft Word documents (boo) and more. Check it out if it sounds like it could be for you. Before I dumped Windows, I might have looked into this further. Not too bad a price either, $35 for academic and $45 otherwise.

Here is the description for the site. I can't believe I just stumbled upon this googling for LaTeX math commands.

"Aurora lets you use LaTeX in Microsoft® Word, PowerPoint®, Visio®, Excel®, and many other programs. It makes sure that your formulas look good, print prettily, and play nice with the rest of the text. Aurora takes care of the little things like numbering equations and positioning them on the page, and stays out of your way the rest of the time."

LaTeX basics

Common expressions

Commonly used symbols

A link to LaTeX special characters. Some are using/in the latexsym and amssymb packages.

Special LaTeX Characters - http://www.combinatorics.net/weblib/A.8/a8.html