2009-11-08

What we lost

Just to recall that we had a free, generic, distributed and simple file exchange framework with a broad user basis for exchange of documents, pictures, music and video. Namely Napster, eDonkey and co. It is all gone now due to the greed of the big music labels, only on the basis that some files for which they had licenses for were shared on those networks. Think about it the next time you buy something from them and when you are searching a rare old track that you cannot buy nowhere nowadays. Napster and co would likely have solved your problem.
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2009-10-27

A case for LaTeX against WYSIWYG

Nobody would argue that Word, WordPad and OpenOffice writer are easy to use tools that quickly produce output. In comparison with LaTeX even more so!

However, often hidden information is transported in files of aforementioned editors like the username, date of creation, even version histories with previous edits. With LaTeX you really see and permanently work on the (hopefully) only input to the tools that then actually produce the pdf or other output format. Thus it eliminates hidden information in your own documents. Last week a professor recommended copy and pasting the text into a new WordFile before submission - what an utmost ugly solution, and ineffective with for instance usernames and "white font" text etc.

Another thing that I just recognized is that LaTeX sources might enable an easier semantic search on text documents. Like in programming you abstract when you write documents. I just finished some document where I used the dialogue package to state that this part of the document forms a dialog between persons, but not just by formatting it like:

A: lorem ipsum
B: ipsum lorem
C: A habla lorem ipsum

but:
\begin{dialogue}
\speak{A} lorem ipsum
\speak{B} ipsum lorem
\speak{C} \refer{A} habla lorem ipsum
\end{dialogue}

This has the advantage that a software can automatically deduct that a dialog is actually going on and which persons are speaking, etc; in contrast to the first part where it is only deductable that some colon was used.

Of course the dialogue package only uses this info for formatting reasons. But imagine searching semantically for dialogues where Socrates has some say and getting better results through such a technique. Of course some tasks would be harder in WYSIWYG editors.
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2009-10-25

Video Surveillance

With all the growing video surveillance in the cities and everywhere else, one has to wonder which spots are actually free as in freedom? Also of interest, how are the videos retained and who has access to the tapes?

If there isn't one yet, one should create a database with the cameras and overviewed places.
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2009-02-02

Right to Left assignment (Left := Right)

Quite everyone seems to have settled on the convention that "further-right-things" are built of "further-left-things" according to the left-to-right reading order. Grab any scientific paper and check for that. However the most basic mathematical building blocks say "let x be -y-" where the order really is reversed, as in most equation/assignment formulations and definitions.

Are the roots of that found in the Arabic influence of Al-Khwārizmī with the Arabic "right-to-left" writing? Fact: I don't know.

Anyways, I find it quite irritating to have right-to-left assignment with left-to-right reading order. So one of those should change, choose one. You should read a construct (expression, definiendum, etc) and understand it before a name is chosen, because the first is required to be understood to get an idea what the last will stand for.

Put in other words: The "information flow" direction (in an very informal manner) should stay the same throughout any text for easier comprehension.

So how can any mathematician justify that very basic notation order besides tradition?
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Been a long time

Simple reminder to make the world work: Don't let yourself tell what is best, think for yourself and do the thing that YOU think is best for everyone. That is the only way community works!
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