Archive for Windows

LaTeX issues from Vienna

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2017 by xi'an

When working on the final stage of our edited handbook on mixtures, in Vienna, I came across unexpected practical difficulties! One was that by working on Dropbox with Windows users, files and directories names suddenly switched from upper case to lower cases letters !, making hard-wired paths to figures and subsections void in the numerous LaTeX files used for the book. And forcing us to change to lower cases everywhere. Having not worked under Windows since George Casella gave me my first laptop in the mid 90’s!, I am amazed that this inability to handle both upper and lower names is still an issue. And that Dropbox replicates it. (And that some people see that as a plus.)

The other LaTeX issue that took a while to solve was that we opted for one chapter one bibliography, rather than having a single bibliography at the end of the book, mainly because CRC Press asked for this feature in order to sell chapters individually… This was my first encounter with this issue and I found the solutions to produce individual bibliographies incredibly heavy handed, whether through chapterbib or bibunits, since one has to bibtex one .aux file for each chapter. Even with a one line bash command,

for f in bu*aux; do bibtex `basename $f .aux`; done

this is annoying in the extreme!

The Night Angel Trilogy

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on January 31, 2010 by xi'an

“There was no thesis, counterpointed with antithesis, harmonized into synthesis. It wasn’t that kind of music. The music of logic was too patrician for the streets, too subtle, the nuances all wrong.” Brent Weeks, Shadow’s Edge

I have finished the Night Angel Trilogy quite a while ago but felt so far little inclination to comment on it as I was quite disappointed by the series. The third volume, Beyond the Shadows, is quite unappealing and at some point it turns into such a bleak story of rape and slaughter that I was close to give up on the book. (This is when one of the main and so far “good” characters turns into a mad homicidal and sadistic Godking. Maybe a necessary part of the plot but unpleasant nonetheless, especially because Weeks makes it sound so reasonable…)

“You realize it might make a quantitative rather than qualitative difference?” “Huh?” Brent Weeks, Beyond the Shadows

As posted earlier, I did like the first volume The Way of Shadows as it truly made for a compelling and unusual read. But the characters do not evolve nor take much depth in the subsequent volumes, Shadow’s Edge and Beyond the Shadows (except for the female assassin Vi who alas often acts as a lovelorn teenager…) The interesting parallel structure of the thief society all but disappears once the new king comes to power, the influential (Aes Sedai or Bene Gesserit like) sisterhood is almost invisible and thus hardly influential. The fight for survival of the (future) king Logan in the dungeon filled with psychopaths is a better-written part, but the psychopaths turn up being a wee too nice to be credible! The central character Elene who was creating the (rather predictable) tension about the antagonistic inclinations of the other central character Kylar, torn between a prospect for family life and a magical assassin’s career, mostly drops from the last volume, Beyond the Shadows, only to reappear at the end to save the day. While the disappearance of major characters is a good novelist’s trick to keep the pace going and the reader hooked, I find the slaughter of many main characters overdone.  At last, the crudity and cruelty of the story, which were innovative in the first volume, end up wearing up in the following ones. Unless you specialise into gory fantasy (!), I would thus not recommend the Night Angel Trilogy. (There is an interview of Brent Weeks by Patrick Rothfuss that does not bring much about the books… Patrick Rothfuss should better be working on the sequel of The Name of the Wind I am desperate for! I also just found Linus Torvald, yes THE Linus Torvald!, recommended the trilogy two years ago…)

Mac versus Windows

Posted in Linux with tags , , on October 1, 2009 by xi'an

A rather hilarious entry in the Guardian poking fun at the (commercial) video suggesting to have house-launching parties for the release of Windows 7…! (Warning: Linux advocates are considered there “even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners”, presumably because we do not hold house parties for the release of Karmic Koalas!)