Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Busy Bee

Hello everyone, thanks for your encouraging (aka nagging) words on posting frequency and regularity. I'll be sure to eat lots of Blog Bran to keep those posts coming on time :-)

Apparently half the bloggers in Nunavut are reporters or otherwise with literary backgrounds, so I feel at liberty to share some otherwise tediously boring details of my day:

I'm going to submit my masters thesis final-draft tomorrow; a 120-page document that I've spent the last week polishing, like the chrome fender of my pimping ride (academically speaking).

The examiners each get their own copy of the thesis and scribble all over it in red pen. Then I have to go through each copy, page-by-page, and fix all the omissions, ambiguities and punctuation errors. It would be a lot easier if this was in MS Word, but I have to use a typesetting program called LaTeX.

Here's what that looks like:
\scriptsize $R_{2} =\newline E_{k_{a_{2}}}(E_{k_{b_{2}}}(v_{2}))$&
\scriptsize $\sigma_{2} = P_{\beta}(2)$&
\scriptsize $k_{a_{\sigma_{2}}}$ &
\scriptsize $I_{\sigma_{2}}=E_{k_{b_{\sigma_{2}}}}(v_{\sigma_{2}})=D_{k_{a_{\sigma_{2}}}}(R_{\sigma_{2}})$ &
\scriptsize $k_{b_{\sigma_{2}}}$ &
\scriptsize $\varsigma_{2} = P_{\varphi}(2)$&
\scriptsize $v'_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)}=D_{k_{b_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)}}}(I_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)})$\vspace{3mm}\\ \hline

I spent much of the day talking about revisions to another academic article that just got accepted. This one's a tough one. Although I started out as the main author, it has ballooned to include numerous authors. I have little experience trying to streamline the style and voice of so many people. The kitchen is crammed with cooks... and tonight's dinner features beef stuffed with chicken stuffed with pork with a side of potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous and 9 seasonal vegetables.

Fun photos will come another day.


Kennie said...

So ... Aleks .... I'm guessing that that is math or something similar up there ....

Julie said...

I'm sure that is some sort of genius math equation. But to me it looks like what happened when my old imac blew its logicboard! lol

I guess my brain can only process intelligent stuff like silly cat and dog photos! lol I'm hoping Sookie will make her debut on here soon!

Congrats on those 120 pages by the way! I bet it feels good!

jen said...

Yer so right Julie!!
More sookie pictures for us dummies...:)

Nathan said...

As you probably know already Aleks, I hate LaTex. It's such an out of date and useless practice that it blows my mind that the academic world still insists on it.

I mean.... it was great and all back in the 80s! Now its just obtuse and needlessly difficult and confusing.

That's my two cents!

Aleks said...

Nathan commented! :-O

Typing in markup tags by hand *IS* out of date, and yet no better academic typesetting program exists.

There's no Dreamweaver for LaTeX

Shelagh said...

Now I understand why so many students pay someone else to complete the revisions to their thesis.

Nathan said...

If you truly believe that there isn't a better program out there then what you should do is do one of the three following things:

a) Write a program that allows you to edit/write academic papers in an easy graphical fashion. Then distribute it across the globe

b) Find out how to program an addon for Open office that allows you to gain all the abilities that makes LaTex useful. Then distribute it across the globe

c) Do the same as B except do it for Word and sell it to MS. Then they could distribute it across the globe and make millions.

I think those are all reasonable answers to toppling the tyrannical dictatorship that is LaTex.

So says Nay Nay.

Aleks said...

If you had to learn how to navigate a sailboat tomorrow, you'd probably go by a GPS.

But what if you already knew how to rock a sextant? Why spend the bucks?

Female Nerd said...

There are WYSIWYG editors for LaTeX, Lynx for instance. I don't know if you have tried any of those?

Personally, I prefer hand crafting LaTeX - but then again, I've probably always been hopelessly out of fashion.

Nathan said...

Your right, there are editors out there for LaTex. Unfortunately from my experience they all suck, I don't think there is any reason why a quality editor/Word plug in could not be created. But then it wouldn't be LaTex at all...:)...

It's like creating a website, while you CAN edit a website using the base code .... you would be crazy to do that anymore. The base code is still there, we just don't look at it.

I think if I knew how to use a sextant I would still use a GPS.... for those cloudy days...:)

Aleks said...

"LyX is designed for authors who want professional output with a minimum of effort and without becoming specialists in typesetting."

Well, I haven't actually used Lyx, but on the other hand I'm already a specialist in LaTeX.

Don't cry for me, I'm already gone.... :-D