TeXtalk: an interview with Andrew Stacey

2012-06-20 by . 0 comments

Welcome to the TeXtalk! We have a very special guest for today: our friend Andrew Stacey, a well-known member of our community, trusted user, 40k+ rep, 274 badges, and one of the resident TikZ experts. Get ready for this great interview! From this episode on, we are using the new interview format as discussed in our meta site. Hope you guys like it! :)

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Representing TeX.SX in TeX and LaTeX Contests

Contests are a nice way of pursuing our TeX passion. We have an enjoyable competition, show our TeX skills and learn something new, while producing our contribution, and by seeing the results of other fellow TeXnicians. We already had a contest on TeX.SX, celebrating the first birthday of our site.

Contests are also a way to reach out to TeX users who did not visit our site yet: if such a contest happens somewhere else, and if we go there and show our skills.

Currently there’s one running on LaTeX-Community.org. LaTeX users are invited to write a small article, the best articles will be rewarded with a prize. Packt Publishing has sponsored two copies of the gnuplot Cookbook written by Lee Phillips for the winners. Matching the subject of the book, the topic of the contest is LaTeX and graphics.

The contest will close June 20th. So, there are some days left. Even small articles just like blog posts are very welcome. I would appreciate if some of our fellow TeX.SX users would join the competition. I know, we have very capable TeXnicians here on the site, also regarding the contest topic.

For more details about the competition and for a contact, have a look at the LaTeX Contest announcement.

Filed under Contests, LaTeX

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to LaTeX3

2012-05-23 by . 1 comments

Introduction

As with the original Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, this blog post won’t actually be all that useful to someone wanting to truly explore LaTeX3. It’s more of a “What I did on my holidays” kind of guide. I’ve recently had my first go at doing some coding with LaTeX3 and I thought it might be interesting to record my experiences.

The main site has certainly made me more aware of the LaTeX3 project. Familiarity, in this case, has not bred contempt but rather it has meant that LaTeX3 has seeped into my consciousness so that I’ve become vaguely familiar with it without ever actually having to think about it. Before this current experience then I had had a bit of exposure to LaTeX3 through making a few adaptations to the (most excellent) unicode-math package, but that was very definitely a case of “Monkey see, Monkey not really have a clue what he’s doing so it’s a million to one chance but it might just work.”. To really get to grips with something new, I need a problem to work on. Finally, along came a problem that I wanted to solve in TeX but which was very definitely a regular programming problem. So the prospect of doing it in ordinary TeX was too daunting to contemplate. For this problem, learning LaTeX3 seemed the lesser of two evils.

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KOMAscript: new English manual

2012-05-19 by . 0 comments

Markus Kohm, maintainer of KOMAscript has published a new version (3.11) of the KOMAscript bundle. There is one extraordinary issue: The new version includes a new manual in English. Markus said on his webpage:

»A new English user manual with the same structure and completely translated content of the German user manual is provided. There are still several issues with the translation, nevertheless, it’s much better than the previous English manual.«

As far as I can see, all the features of KOMAscript 3 are documented, the same as in the German version.

As TeXLive 2011 is frozen right now , you probably need to download the new version yourself from Berlios; follow the links on Markus’ website. Users of MiKTeX will probably get it soon.

Alexander

Filed under LaTeX, Packages

A Tale of Two Questions

2012-05-18 by . 4 comments

Introduction

For quite some time I’ve had the idea of writing a blog post about what makes a Great Question. The first problem with that is that it is highly subjective. I’ve no real problem with that (and this is the blog part of the site, after all) but it needs to be done carefully. The second is that it would be very easy to make it about what is wrong with questions rather than what is right. Particularly when comparing questions to see why one is great and another isn’t. So the post keeps getting started and then stopped as it trails off into a lengthy discussion about the quality of sand.

Fortunately, a recent question has given me a way in to this post. It’s almost a duplicate question, in fact. And the two questions are useful ones to compare to see the difference between a Good Question and a Great Question. Both questions are good questions, but the second version had a little bit extra which lifted it.

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Using sprite sheets with LaTeX

2012-05-04 by . 3 comments

Sprite sheet is the name of a big image containing several smaller images or icons. It’s a technique usually employed by webdesigners to reduce the number of requests the browser makes to the server – reducing the number of HTTP requests can make a Web page load much faster. It’s also used a lot in animation engines.

I was wondering if I could use a sprite sheet in a LaTeX document, so I got a sample image from the Tango Desktop Project and mapped it:

All icons are placed in a big image, like a matrix, and the size is fixed at 24px × 24px per icon. How can I select one of the icons from a LaTeX document? Thanks to our friend and moderator Martin Scharrer, including sprite sheets is a breeze with adjustbox!

This amazing package, amongst other features, allows us to adjust images with \adjustimage. We can also use \includegraphics with the clip option which we can use for mapping our sprite sheet. For instance, let’s include the warning sign in our document. We need to collect some data first:

We have all the parameters for including the warning sign. It’s now a simple call to \includegraphics[clip,trim=48px 96px 120px 48px]{sampletango.png} or \adjustimage{Clip=48px 96px 120px 48px}{sampletango.png} and the correct icon is included! The parameters to the trim/Clip option are:

  • 2 icons from left to right: 2 × 24px = 48px
  • 4 icons from bottom to top: 4 × 24 = 96px
  • 5 icons from right to left: 5 × 24 = 120px
  • 2 icons from top to bottom: 2 × 24px = 48px

The full code is as follows:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{graphicx} \usepackage{adjustbox}

\begin{document}

\begin{figure} \centering % using includegraphics % \includegraphics[clip,trim=48px 96px 120px 48px]{sampletango.png} % using adjustimage \adjustimage{Clip=48px 96px 120px 48px}{sampletango.png} \caption{A warning sign.} \end{figure}

\end{document}

The output:

There we go, sprite sheets with LaTeX. :)

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Voting Up, Voting Down

2012-04-22 by . 4 comments

(This is by Joseph Wright but he’s having difficulty logging in to the blog so I’m posting it for him.)

Voting up, voting down

Voting is an important part of how StackExchange works. Voting for answers means that good answers are easier to identify, which is vital when you don’t know the best way to do something! Voting for questions is also important, as it helps to sort out the good questions from those that are less clear. When you are searching for help, what you want is to know that you are reading the right questions and getting the right answers.

Now, we have some very clever people answering questions, and they deservedly get a lot of upvotes. It’s always tempted to vote for answers from the ‘celebrities’ because of who they are, or because there are already lots of upvotes, but content should always be the key. So it’s vital to read the answer (or question) before voting up.

Of course, not every question or answer is great. Many are simply middling: they don’t deserve an upvote, but also don’t deserve a downvote. On TeX-sx, we’ve been pretty cautious about downvoting material, in the main. Apart from spam, downvoting should only be used very sparingly. That’s particularly true when voting on something from a new user: posting a good first question is hard, and so some helpful comments are usually what is needed.

Our regular graphical artist and interviewer Paulo Cereda created a ‘flowchart for downvoting’.

voting flowchart

Of course, being prescriptive is not the idea here: it’s a reminder to think before you vote.

So, vote early, vote often, but vote carefully.

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TeXtalk: an interview with David Carlisle

2012-04-14 by . 0 comments

Welcome to the TeXtalk! We have a very special guest for today: our friend David Carlisle, member of the LaTeX3 project, editor of the MathML spec, a very active member of TeX.sx, 16k+ rep, 104 badges, and 325+ answers so far. Get ready for this awesome interview!

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TeXtalk: an interview with Gonzalo Medina

2012-03-27 by . 2 comments

Hola amigos, welcome to the TeXtalk! We have a very special guest for today: our friend Gonzalo Medina, one of the most active members of TeX.sx, trusted user (44k+ rep), with 849+ answers so far and 208+ badges. Get ready for this great interview!

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A great milestone

2012-03-23 by . 7 comments

Today is a very special day. It’s indeed a great milestone for our community. Our friend Enrico Gregorio, also known as egreg, completed one year of TeX.sx. One year devoted to help TeX users through their journey in the typographic land, one year spreading kindness and friendship across the whole world. His profile says “visited 365 days, 365 consecutive”. If I could, I’d replace the counter by the ∞ symbol; after all, egreg is with no doubt in the pantheon of great TeXnicians. It would be a sacrilege to count his days in our community. Like Augustine of Hippo once said, “what is time?”.

At the moment of my writing, egreg’s reputation is now 75,148. And counting, believe me. Even the StackExchange algorithm can’t track this number. If we do the math, it’s an average of 205.8 reputation points per day. It’s like reaching the daily reputation limit – our beloved “rep cap” – every single day. With an impressive number of 1,895 answers so far, egreg made the community a better place, built with a vast knowledge and with a fine touch of wisdom. By the way, his first answer was accepted.

As a mathematician and educator, egreg always uses his intuition to look to a question through several angles. Doing so, he helps us to free our criativity and stimulate thinking. The human touch, the sensibility, the insight, they are all there, in every single answer. There are no downvotes. Not with egreg.

Everybody is unique, each one of us has a different story to tell. When answering a question, egreg makes every questioner feel welcome. Do you know why? Because egreg introduces TeX to the questioner, and not the other way around. There is a strong commitment.

Not only a “fanatic” in the main site, egreg is also a chat resident. It’s a pleasant moment when we all get together and talk about everything. He’s an expert on several subjects, including sports, music, food and travel. Every day you can find him in the chat room. Why don’t you go there and say “hi”? The chat room is vibrant, full of life. Also thanks to egreg.

It’s really an honour for me to write a few lines about my great friend. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to put into words and express the importance of egreg for our community and for every one of us in particular. Thanks for everything, Enrico.

I once read a phrase which comes to my mind in this very moment. It goes along these lines: “A fantastic educator writes in the board with one hand while the other one moves the whole world.”

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