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NullVoid » 2005 » April NullVoid » 2005 » April

Archive for April, 2005

my home from sky

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005 -- By ET

Google implemented the satellite function on its map:

Here is my home from sky:

A more detailed view:

my research platform

Monday, April 4th, 2005 -- By ET

As a researcher, I have to deal with figures, equations, references a lot. A research platform is important to me. It should not only give me the text processing power to create beautiful documents and also give me the way to do my calculations.

The usual Microsoft Word + Equation Editor (MathType, maybe) + Endnotes +Excel combination simply does not work for me.

  • Word is very bad in dealing with equations, to input an equation, I have to click on many buttons one by one, this drives me mad when I just want to quickly record what comes to my mind. For this single reason, I won’t use it to write my papers.
  • When you have a lot of equations, your Word file becomes huge. Sometimes it just gives you a “memory full” warning (though I have 3GB ram).
  • Excel does not excell in numerical manipulation.
  • Each time I change my laptop, I have to reinstall Endnotes, and I need to buy new versions when I upgrade my OS and Office.

So I started to look for alternatives, and after a few years playing around with all kinds of alternatives, I finally rested on my current solution.

The solution is based on Linux (though everything has Windows ports, it is much easier to use them under Linux).

The figure above shows the screenshot of my linux desktop. (Quantian is based on Knoppix, which is a live CD full of Tools needed by Scientific Computing).
For numerical calculation, I have Octave, which is very similar to Matlab. For Econometrics, I have R, which is very similar to S-plus.

For references, I use the BibTeX format, and graphics GUI tool to be used with it on Linux is Pybliographic 1.2.4.
In the figure above, I show the interface that I have on my WinXP machine. (Yeah, for other things, I do need to use WinXP). The Quantian Linux CD is actually run as a Virtual Machine on VMWare. There are open source Virtual Machines like qemu, but VMWare gives me great speed.

Behind Pybliographic is my LyX, which is a graphical interface for LaTeX. Anyone who needs to input equations and use LaTeX should use LyX, it is a big life saver. I do not have to go through the lines to check my LaTeX syntex any more.

For Bibliography, I also use Jabref, which is an open source Java based BibTeX GUI. It is also very powerful and easy to use.

By pressing Ctrl-D in LyX, I can preview my paper with xdvi:

Then I can export it to a PDF file. So everything is included in the one CD, after I create the PDF file, I can mail it to myself and my coauthor, take out the CD and reboot to get back to WinXP. (of course, if I use VMware, I just close the window. :-)

Daylight Saving Time

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005 -- By ET

Each year I would forget about the time to swtich to and back from Daylight saving time.
So here I’ll make a little note.


2001 April 1 October 28 March 25 October 28
2002 April 7 October 27 March 31 October 27
2003 April 6 October 26 March 30 October 26
2004 April 4 October 31 March 28 October 31
2005 April 3 October 30 March 27 October 30
2006 April 2 October 29 March 26 October 29
2007 April 1 October 28 March 25 October 28
2008 April 6 October 26 March 30 October 26
2009 April 5 October 25 March 29 October 25

Note: US calculator valid 1976-2099; EU 1996-2099.

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