Saturday, September 29, 2007

Above and Beyond, the Right Stuff

It's not often that I genuinely get to sing someone's praises and today I received an email that absolutely deserved it.

I've been know to dabble in the production of conference or workshop proceedings and I've even given some guidelines on how to do it. This is simply paled in comparison to the latest work of Vincent Verfaille who has simply gone above and beyond this by producing a fantastic LaTeX package for proceeding editors.

The confproc package is a new LaTeX document-class for conference proceedings. It derives form LaTeX scripts written for the DAFx-06 conference proceedings, mainly based on the pdfpages package for including the proceedings papers and the hyperref package for creating proper table of contents, bookmarks and general bibliography back-references. It also uses many other packages for fine tuning of table of contents, bibliography and index of authors. The added value of this class resides in its time-saving aspects when designing conference proceedings.

He has written a short technical report on his experiences for DAFx06 and on using LaTeX to produce proceedings. Congratulations and thanks to Vincent for this most excellent resource.

UPDATE 1: I was emailing Vincent and congratulating him as well as suggesting he should submit to the PracTex Journal, he'd already beaten me to the punch and it looks like there will be a nice article in the PracTeX Journal for the November 15th issue.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Flu and down time

Seems I couldn't avoid it any longer and I've been down with a bit of a Flu. Still trying between sneezes to get some writing done.

I'll admit to having gone off on a binge to cheer myself up and I've ordered Triple Axis Accelerometer Breakout and some super bright LEDS as well as some shiny triple RGB LEDS. I know I'm going to be doing some workshops next semester on Physical Computing using AVRs and Arduinos and I was reading a nice paper ``Fabric PCBs, electronic sequins, and socket buttons: techniques for e-textile craft'' so I decided it might be nice to have a little show and tell.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dealing with ``too many unprocessed floats'' LaTeX errors

After scratching my head for a few minutes and attempting a number of solutions to the problem of ``too many unprocessed floats'' which was cropping up in my LaTeX generation process. I googled and came across this little gem from Marc Mengel.

The gist is that I've been throwing a goodly number of figures at LaTeX and it has throw a wobbler as it has simply run out of buffer space to deal with them. In the context of what I'm writing, my thesis in this case, I need the figures to hand so I can't simply space them out. The answer is to use either the \clearpage or the \cleardoublepage commands, which neatly sorted the problem.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Presence Display Mark II

I've been re-designing and re-implementing my arduino - ruby - skype - growl auditory display (see ICAD 2007 paper) and I've ended up starting almost from scratch on a lot of it. However, I've just about gotten a Rails-Skype display working as some form of RESTful Read-Only Resource service but I spent ages having serious fun with BackgrounDRb (see this intro) but it just wouldn't do what I wanted so I've ended up with a looping ruby program with some funny headers. This runs in tandem with a standard Rails app which is the more Restful bit.

require 'rubygems'
require 'rb-skypemac'
require 'rexml/document'
require 'active_record'
require 'YAML'
require 'appscript'
include Appscript

I never thought I'd been starting and querying Skype based on configuration data and then also using this to update a database! The code is still being debugged and cleaned up so once its finished I'll stick it online but at the moment, even after yesterday's head banging, Rails and Ruby are still the best full-stack framework for developing database-backed web applications that I've come across and has saved ages in development time. I used use vanilla PHP with some PEAR extensions but they are not half as sweet as Rails.

The first iteration of the second version looks a bit like this.
Presencedisplay version 2- list (20070920)

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Saturday, September 15, 2007


Friday, September 14, 2007

Northern Rock crashing and where will the ripples stop?

Does this news story - "Northern Rock shares plunge 32%" and its share price


indicate a new depression looming, will we see another Black Tuesday given that we already have a property bubble here. As Northern Rock is one of the UK's biggest mortgage lenders, one wonders....

Hat tip to Dan for point this out.