Back to LaTeX!

Berkeley, Thursday, February 26, 2020 3:17 AM

It was not necessarily that I had free time yesterday, but by 5 PM my brain was already tired, and I needed to complete my readings, and do assignments.

I moved places from my desk to the graduate library. Shifting places is helpful. But also it has been a while that I wanted to be back to write in LaTex.

The last attempt I think was around August 2018, through vim. The time did not allowed me to go in deep into vim, but perhaps it was not what I was looking. Though getting familiar to vim is still a pending thing, but I got that it is a good text editor, and I need compilers depending what I want to compile.

I invested between 5 to 7 hours getting TexShop to work. Yet there were bugs in bibliography to fix, plus it is not necessarily the environment that I was looking for.

Today, after a meeting and before going to my Landscape Processes class, Bing!, I checked if TexStudio, where I learned LaTex in 2014, was available. Great news. It is available for Mac.

i just love that it is everything in an environment. i love having things in a structure, where I can easily call other files, by typing them, or I get hints for citing from my library, if I created a good list of references.

I bet that some of these things might be possible in vim. Will see.

TexStudio made me be back typing on LaTex. The computer will be a more work now. I bet that while typing things in Word is at work as well. I just love the process structuring things in LaTex. Compiling what I write. And even making some formatting edits, which would work for the next similar king of document.

I am not making that strong arguments now for it. but somehow having the clear and transparent path of editing things from the sources, from Donald Knuth to Lamport and others, it is challenging, and it makes it quite interesting as well.

LaTex is very useful while one is working on long term, or even short term, specific projects. I think that it is useful as well when one is working independently on this, as collaboration and reviews becomes harder with it.

The outcomes are great. While of course the ideas are the primary purpose, but when writing in a good format, are more attractive to read. Or perhaps even more inspiring to produce the best product.

While can do as well great things in InDesign, but for the purpose of writing just text and creating diagrams, I stick with LaTeX.

I like much more typing that clicking the commands, that would be a big difference.

It is good to mention, that is quite important to standardize products, and those would be available for communication, collaborations, or to get things done faster. I think that then Word or other platform where one see what write directly, not depending on compilers, and so on coding instructions for producing the text, is more important.

Yet, I will stick LaTeX to write my dissertation and other manuscripts that would come.

I will write more about LaTeX in other times. Particularly, I really admire Donald Knuth, who created TeX, as a result that he was not satisfied with the format that publisher proposed for his book the Art of Computing Programming. Thus, he created TeX for producing the font types ands frames I guess that he envisioned.

Dr. Knuth created TeX in the late 1970s. I think he is still active and still is around.

While the efforts to get the ideas released through LaTeX is definitely harder than with any of the other very good softwares, such as Microsoft Word, where there have been years of human hours, improving its interface and products to make it practical, professional, and easy. Yet, going through those bugs and difficulties of these semi-plain codes, such as LaTeX, for producing a manuscript has something attractive itself on focusing on details, fixing errors, and so keeping one alert, and getting better on solving issues. [I said semi-plain codes, because it is not a hard code. It has packages and macros. There is support for those, as people is active pushing the TeX language, if that is the correct way to refer to it, forward. Those packages have manuals, which sometimes are 4 pages but others exceed 300.]

Conventional wisdom might be against LaTeX, which would make sense. I guess it can work for each person, depending conditions and needs. I particularly feel motivated to keep learning from Donald Knuth, and better than applying one of his inventions, and beyond that understanding his thinking, to which I very much sympathize.

In the abstract of an article that he authored, title “Learning from our Errors”, in a Journal of Software Development, he cited one of his favorite poems from Piet Hein. I have wrote this poem in the past, I think around August 2018, here in the blog as well, but I provide her an additional of the person and thinking of Donald Knuth rather just his inventions and academic contributions. the following does not only apply to write software, which by the way is not my focus, but definitely transcend its boundaries as the author might have conceived:

The road to wisdom?
Well, it's plane
and simple to express:
Err
and err 
and err again
but less
and less
and less. (Hein, P.)

Well while that might apply to invention, and Socrates always was a critic of poets, by trying to apply their thoughts to reality, and finding out them either not true or not real. [Read Socrates’ Apology by Plato]. I have might tendency also to correlate or to think what Jesus would said for the case of that poem. He actually is much more pragmatical, and even simpler. He would say:

“Go and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn 8, 11)

Well, this last part is nothing to do to LaTeX and more a critic to poetry. While beautiful, and sometimes true. My mistake here to put my feet on an unknown field, and to make generalizations. Just I wanted to clarify the extend of errors.

Sources:

Knuth, D.E., 1992. Learning from our errors. In Software development and reality construction (pp. 28-30). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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