I’ve been thinking for a while that I would like to learn how to use LaTeX. Aside from being something that geeky types seem to love, it makes documents that look beautiful. It actually looks easier than getting Word or LibreOffice to behave in predictable ways beyond simple text. So why am I finally learning how to use this? I want to submit an article to a journal and they require all submissions be in LaTeX format. (As an aside, why did they have to make the capitalization of LaTeX so odd? It’s hard to type!) I thought I would post some notes on tools I found useful for learning.
You need both a LaTeX engine and an editor. I installed MikTex as the engine and TexMaker for the editor.
Michelle Krummel has a multi-part video tutorial on YouTube that moves at a good pace (not too fast or slow). She teaches all the basics you need to understand how to set up a document and how formatting works. Even though it’s specifically geared towards mathematics, the concepts all apply to what you would need for other sciences as well.
Winston Chang wrote an excellent cheat sheet to remind you of the basic formatting you’ll need.
I just started using ImpactStory to track my impact in the world of Academia. The site is beautifully simple. And when it works, it’s fantastic. Occasionally though (I’ve been doing this less than 24 hours, but still) something goes wrong and finding help is almost impossible, given the simple nature of the site (just add a help page with commonly asked help questions, please!).
For example, what do you do when you upload something to a linked account (FigShare, SlideShare, etc.) but ImpactStory doesn’t update? Now is when you make use of that “Import individual products” link. Pay careful attention. On the right side, the graphic tells you what you can put in the box and it’s not the same for all the sites.
Some platforms work with URLs (the link you use to get to the page) for the item. That’s easy.
But some - CrossRef, Dryad, FigShare – work with the DOI assigned to the item. PubMed uses an article ID called a PMID. For the platforms that use DOIs or PMIDs, leave out the URL and just input the DOI or PMID. They can be found on the page that contains details for the item you want to add to ImpactStory. If you try to give it the whole URL, it doesn’t work the way you want it to… trust me.
(Sarcasm!) Thanks, R & Inkscape! I totally wanted to mark my outliers with the letter q!
Have you ever opened a PDF of a graph made in R in Inkscape? For some reason, it appears that my graphs are made with characters from the Dingbats font, which I guess Inkscape doesn’t like, so when I open the file in Inkscape, it changes all of my nice circles to the letter q. That’s awesome. How do you fix that? Inkscape doesn’t let you batch change the text inside a textbox, as far as I can tell. So, here’s one way to fix it:
- Open the PDF file in Inkscape and save it as an SVG file. Yes, you’ve now got qs instead of os. It will be ok.
- Close the file.
- Open the SVG in a text editor (I like Notepad++).
- Do a Find & Replace, finding “q” and replacing with “o”. I recommend reviewing each instance it finds rather than using “replace all”, because one of those qs might be something else. Here’s the general kind of text you’re looking for: id=”tspan4049″>q</tspan></text> See that q? Change it to a o.
- Save the files and close.
- Open it up in Inkscape and see what you’ve got.
If anyone has a more elegant way to do this, let me know! I’m sure there’s a way to change the R output from the start so you don’t have this problem, but this solution was quicker than messing with R for now.
Plants need eyes, right? Maybe not. But these floppy heaps of native grasses that my HOA planted in front of my house needed something, especially for Halloween. Giving your plant eyes is easy. These were made out of ping-pong balls (with circles drawn on with permanent marker) hot glued to wooden skewers. You just stick the skewers in the ground and you’re good to go. If you had a shrub, you could glue a loop of string instead of the skewer and hang them on a branch like Christmas ornaments. I have been contemplating how to make teeth for my little grass buddies next, you know, just to make sure the neighbors really question my sanity.
Marxan is confusing. There’s lots of pages of documentation and tutorials, but as a visual learner, all that text makes my head spin. I find myself drawing pictures once I understand what’s going on so I can refer to them later. The diagram above is a cleaned up, attractive, and cheerful rendition of the diagram I drew for myself on the whiteboard in my office (thank you, Inkscape, for having way more colors than I have for whiteboard markers). The idea is taken from database diagrams. The bold text is the table name and I put the recommended file name under it for easy reference. The list beneath this is the column names for each file. The lines connect columns with data that match (primary keys and whatnot). So there you have it. Maybe later I’ll post a new version with more notes about each file. Let me know if that would be helpful.
At the pet store every now and then, I see a staff person vacuuming out the gravel in the display tanks. It’ s so efficient to just get under the rocks and siphon out all of the gunk that settles in there. But I’ve got a little fish bowl, well, really and indoor pond since I don’t have fish, just live (and plastic) plants and some aquatic snails. One of those big fish tank vacuums would be overkill. And, yes, I can drain out all 2 gallons of water and wash out the gravel, but the plants really don’t like having their roots disturbed very often. You can’t leave the scum in there because it will rot and take all the oxygen from the water. That’s what killed my shrimp.
One day it hit me: a turkey baster. Yup. Simple, cheap, effective.
How it works: squeeze the air out of the blub before you put it in the water. Bubbles disturb things too much. Then gently nestle the end of the baster down into the rocks, particularly around the live plants where the majority of the debris collects. Ease pressure off of the bulb and watch the brown water slide up into the baster. Just squirt the water down the drain and you’re well on your way to a cleaner tank. Sometimes small rocks or snails end up in the baster. When that happens, I empty the baster into a cup to keep the rocks or snails from going down the drain. Then I return them to the bowl.
Which baster should you use? Get one that the bulb fits on the end of the tube nice and tight. Mine comes off frequently and it makes the job much harder. Also, a plastic tube is a good idea since you’re jamming the end into gravel.
The turkey baster cleaning method isn’t something that you can use all the time. Occasionally, you’re going to have to do a full cleaning including removing and cleaning the rocks. Plants, get over it!.
I’m the family florist. My freshman year of high school, I took Floristry to fulfill my art requirement (Tangent: Why didn’t I take the drawing class? Who can remember that now? Logic isn’t the forte of a 13-year-old.) and ever since I’ve been providing floral services for family members. I’ve done countless arrangements for my mom (parties, work events, etc.), arrangements to cheer people up (the snowman made out of mums was EPIC), and now I’ve made the bouquets for my cousin and my sister’s weddings. This last one presented some unique challenges and I’m going to tell you how to solve them: Masking Tape!
The goal: turn several dozen roses, mums, stock, and freesias into 4 bouquets, 2 corsages, and 4 boutonnieres using an ample supply of wire and ribbon and 3 rolls of floral tape. That’s not unreasonable. But the floral tape was terrible. It stuck to itself fairly well with some coaxing, but it really would rather stick to my fingers. I taught another bridesmaid and a groomsman to wire and tape roses to make things go quicker, and about 30 minute into the process of making the bouquets, we were all so sticky that the tape would only stick to our fingers and not to the flower stems. We muddled through, washing our hands when things got too sticky with harsh dish soap to get the wax off.
When all the roses were wired, I started putting the first bouquet together and disaster struck. The tape wouldn’t hold around anything larger than 3 stems. I had a dozen roses to get into this bouquet plus other flowers. The boyfriend cocks his head to the side, knits his eyebrows together, and says, “What about masking tape?” Genius! Since the individual stems were already wrapped, the masking tape wouldn’t get wet and fall apart. So, the clumps of stems got a heavy wrap of masking tape, then the ribbon wraps went on so no one knew what was holding it all together.
Can’t tell what’s under that map ribbon, can you?