24 November 2007

step 2: actually typeset something

So if you haven't picked up on this, I'm trying to learn about LaTeX and I'm going to keep a blog to track my progress and motivate me to keep learning at a reasonable pace. I am not very good at computers so if you are, this is going to be terribly dull for you to follow. It will involve much oversimplification but what do you expect from a (disappointingly) computer-illiterate mathie who needs to break things down that way to understand? Haha, if you are good with computers and you're reading this you must think I'm a complete idiot. I'm not completely incompetent, I promise. I can write history essays. And, uh, write history essays.

Anyway... after reading a couple chapters detailing the intricacies of different dashes in TeX and adding emphasis to words, I became terribly bored and just wanted to try something out. The quadratic formula part is, for the most part, shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia's TeX entry.

Obviously I still have a lot to learn but there it's definitely a lot easier to learn things just by doing. A short summary of what I've learned and tried so far:

-Every document begins by defining what kind of document you're typesetting. I just used /documentclass{article} because that's what's in all the examples and I haven't explored the other options yet.
-You must add \begin{document}. You can add other things between these two commands but I don't know about them yet!
-$ and $$ set off formulas
-Bold and italics can be incorporated as follows: \itemphasis\rm or \bf{emphasis} with it being italics, bf being bold font and \rm being a closing tag meaning roman font
-As described in the sample, one should be conscious of dashes and hyphens. One hyphen(-) will produce a simple hyphen (for hyphenated words), two (--) will produce an en dash suitable for ranges, three (---) will produce an en dash for punctuation to represent a break in thought, and a hyphen inside a formula will produce a minus sign (use $-$).
-LaTeX will automatically adjust the spacing, so I added some errant spacing to observe this effect
-This introduced me to a few commands used in formulas like the square root (\sqrt) and how to represent fractions (\over).

This was the result:

08 November 2007

history graduate students ass'n book sale!

As you probably inferred from the title, I bought some books at the book sale in the SUB and I'm showing them off!

I got 2 essays by Arundhati Roy in the book The Cost of Living and a copy of my great grandmother's anthropological life history. I've never had a copy of During My Time to call my own, so I'm pretty happy I managed to pick one up for a dollar. I'll be blogging about The Cost of Living later.

04 November 2007

I've actually installed MacTeX this time...

I've always wanted to learn TeX but I kind of suck at computers. I'm not letting this stop me so let's get going!

I somehow managed to struggle with actually downloading TeX for hours. If you know anything about computers, this probably seems impossible and maybe it is a little. Actually I'm so bad with computers that this blog probably happened by accident, but I digress.

Anyway, after a few trials in the last month or so, I decided to give this download another try. I followed the instructions on the TeX users group, much like I did the other times, but this time it worked. Hurrah!

I clicked on the download then worked on my essay while I waited. When it finished:

1)Click on this:
Picture 3

2)Now you'll see this open. Click on the only option:
Picture 2

Now a very autonomous and straightforward installer opens. Go through all the steps and look in your applications for the program.

I have no idea how I managed to screw this up before.

03 November 2007

The Truth Experiment

I read the Science Creative Quarterly on a regular basis. Well, I've just started recently but I intend to continue. I came across SCQ's truth experiment which I think is worth a click. Aside from the fact that I do agree with many of the points presented, mostly it's the idea of playing with Google's results that is interesting (obvs). Check it.