I made a bookmarklet for the Rutgers Library’s proxy server by changing the URL format from the UChicago ProxyIt! link:


You can cut and paste that into a link in the bookmarks bar of your browser.

If you’re working from home and want to get access a resource (for example, a journal paper) that requires Rutgers authentication, you can just make this bookmarklet into a button and it will redirect you authenticate via NetID. This requires that JavaScript be turned on in your browser.

At Allerton I finally set up the eduroam network on my phone and laptop. It was great — with the UIUC system you had to log in with a special temporary ID and password each time, but with eduroam it would automatically connect and authenticate like any other normal wireless network.

Basically you use the same login/password as for other authenticated services on your campus. At Chicago it’s called your CNetID, but the credentials will be different from place to place. The key is that you validate to the network using those credentials and not some locally-given account.

It seems that the system has been expanding — if your institution doesn’t support it then you should ask them to do so. Of course, maybe we should just have more open networks, but at least with this you can get wifi on many campuses without having to deal with the bureaucratic overhead of the IT services.

I have an iPad now (hooray research funds) and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it more useful for me research-wise. Here are some apps I’ve found, but I would love recommendations on others that are useful for academics who do math-y stuff.

OmniFocus is a task management app — it’s a little heavy-featured and expensive, but I’ve been using it to help myself reorganize (and sync) when on planes and the like.

iAnnotate PDF is a PDF annotation tool that syncs to Dropbox (among other things). I now drop the papers I have to review in to a folder there and then read and mark them up. Given that my review load has doubled recently, being able to make notes without printing is nice. I think it will get even better once I get a stylus.

In terms of media, IEEE Spectrum is available, as is Communications magazine (but not Signal Processing).

I use Prompt to SSH into machines on the few times that I need to do that from the iPad. It has saved my butt once or twice.

PDF Presenter is supposed to be nice for doing slides, but I haven’t used it yet.

There’s an old post on LaTeX for the iPad, but nothing really looked that appealing.

Anyone else have some recommendations?

A friend posted an article from the New York Times on Kura, a sushi chain that uses sushi-making robots. This of course got me thinking about how I like to sit at the sushi bar and have a conversation with the sushi chef. How might that go with a robot? I fired up ELIZA (M-x doctor) and…

I am the sushi chef. Please, describe your problems.


Can you elaborate on that?

Good evening

Why do you say good evening?

I would like to have some sushi for dinner.

What makes you believe i might want to have this sushi dinner?

I was hoping you would make me a sushi dinner.

Earlier you said
i would like to have this sushi dinner?


I would appreciate it if you would continue.

What would you recommend?

Maybe your life has something to do with this.

It’s true, I am often indecisive. I really love sushi!

Perhaps you could tell me about your relationship with sushi.

Well, it started when I was in high school.

Talk about your school.

I took four years of Japanese. Koukou de yon nen kurai benkyou
shimashita. Demo zen zen wasuremashita.

Is it because of your plans that you say demo zen zen wasuremashita?

Well, I have always wanted to learn again.

You mentioned that
i would like to have this sushi dinner?

Yes, I am very hungry. What fish is fresh today?

Perhaps the people you hang around with have something to do with this.

Maybe a mackerel temaki?

Are you sure that
maybe a mackerel temaki?

Is the mackerel good?

Do you really think you love sushi?


Go on, don’t be afraid.

I really do.

Is it because of problems at school that you are going through all this?

I’m done with school, thank goodness.

Does it bother you that your grades could improve?

Too late for that now.

I need a little more detail please.

How about salmon skin?

Is it because of any hobbies you have that you say
how about salmon skin?

What, like Silence of the Lambs?

Earlier you said
i would like to have this sushi dinner?

Yes, I’ll have the omakase.

How do you reconcile hangups you have?

The NY Times has an article about compromising data on DRAMs via freezing them and reading the bits off. This would let someone read your encryption keys right off the chip.

It’s kind of funny — all of these crazy-complicated cryptographic schemes can be compromised by what amounts to breaking and entering. I’m sure someone will end up writing a paper entitled “Baby It’s Cold Outside : Zero-Knowledge Proofs With Freezing Verifiers.” Actually, that’s not a bad title…

When running a fast optimization tool such as CVX, it is important to wear a helmet to protect you in case of crashes or attacks by monkeys:


IEEE uses a two-column format that is a bit narrow for large formulae, and it makes parenthesis resizing a pain when you have to break lines, because LaTeX (apparently) will not match parenthesis sizes across lines. For example, consider


So if you have a \exp \left( followed by some tall expression, like - \sum_{i=1}^{n} \frac{1}{2^i} \int_{\mathbb{R}} \langle f_i(t), g(t) \rangle dt + \prod_{i=1}^{n} f_i(0) - \lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{g(t)}{2 \pi} you start to run into problems fitting the whole thing on the line so that the corresponding \right) fits within the page margin. Furthermore, if the equation has multiple opening brackets and different size elements, the opening and closing brackets may not match in size when you break the line.

My old hack for this was to manually resize the \left( by using \Big\left( or something like that, putting empty \right. commands before the line break, and then starting the next line with empty \left. commands. If you have multiple opening and closing brackets you have to futz around, putting a \Big or \Bigger around each delimiter to make it fit, but a (somewhat) easier hack is to insert a tall whitespace like this:

\\rule{0pt}{15pt} \\right. \\right. \\nonumber \\\\
\\left. \\left. \\rule{0pt}{15pt}

This isn’t too great a savings, since I now have to resize 2 things instead of 4, but it’s something at least, and the delimiters end up the same size. I could probably write a macro to do this, but that seems like a waste of time.

I spent about 3 hours in the last two days trying to figure out how to switch from TeXShop’s terrible editor to Aquamacs, because Aquamacs has AUCTeX support. Unfortunately, I use dvips and psp2df since I do figures in pstricks, and AUCTeX comes in two modes — just latex with xdvi and pdftex. What’s even stupider is that if I do C-c C-c view it won’t even properly call the external DVI viewer (TeXniscope.app), so I have to futz around with the AUCTeX configurations, which still doesn’t seem to do anything. Furthermore, I don’t get any diagnostic information, and if I just bind the xdvi command to dvips it fails to even run that. This suggests to me that something even more screwed up is going on…

It seemed for a bit that this guy was trying to do the same thing as me, but when I tried applying his solutions I still got nothing. I really don’t see why this should be difficult, but it’s now well-exceeded the amount of time I’m willing to spend on it. Are my needs too niche? Does everyone use pdftex these days?

I can only hope that this Gaussian will appear:

\mathbb{P}(X \le x) = \int_{-\infty}^{x} \frac{1}{\sqrt{2 \pi}} \exp(- y^2/2) dy

How to do it:

  1. Install the WP-Cache plugin. Note that you have to muck with file permissions and it’s somewhat non-intuitive.
  2. Install the MimeTeX plugin.
  3. Stress out about the fact that for some equations the terminating quote ” in the alt tag for the image has turned into a fancy quote. Come up with a hack involving placing an empty img tag right after every piece of LaTeX. Hope that you figure out a way around it.

At MIT I used the xwindows program xmh to read my email. It was a pretty bare-bones program, but had one really great feature. Instead of having to drag a message to a folder to refile it, you could just right-click on the folder title and it would mark it as beign destined for there. Then you could commit all of the moves in one fell swoop. Neither GMail nor Thunderbird nor Mail.app seem to have this feature, which I regarded as a genius piece of interface in what was otherwise a pretty ugle program, all told. Maybe I’m the only one who got a lot of mileage out that feature, but I can’t help but think that our modern mail clients are missing something.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 858 other followers