Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Things Done with Gmail

I've shared this lifehacker post in my Reader shared items already, thanks to SdC, but it is life-changing.  Enable multiple inboxes and superstars in GMail and go through the steps and you can have a nicely organized inbox like this:

This rakes in a lot of positive shoulder-surfing comments, and it's productive.  I would also suggest enabling keyboard shortcuts.  The shortcut "s" will iterate through the superstars.  The inboxes on the right panel do not refresh immediately, but you can always force this with "gi".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Using LaTeX from Blogger

So, you've just moved to Blogger and you want to blog with properly typeset equations? That seems like a requirement for some sorts of blogs (possibly not possessing an astoundingly large audience).

Unfortunately, a web search only revealed no ready-made solutions. The most promising option was a Greasemonkey script from Wolverinex021. But, it used a web service to interpret
\LaTeX which is no longer supported. The second most promising option was the wonderful site CodeCogs. CodeCogs has many ways to render \LaTeX, a page on Blogger integration, and two JavaScript scripts to automatically render snippets in the page. There is only one problem with their suggested approach. Most readers use an RSS aggregator to follow feeds, and the JavaScript will be bypassed. But CodeCogs does have a CGI renderer just like the one used by the Greasemonkey script.

All that is needed then is to combine the two options. My trivial contribution to Blogger equation typesetting is this Greasemonkey script.2

The following has changed since the original script:
  • Use CodeCogs for rendering.
  • Use CodeCogs to render the icon in the Blogger editor.
  • Some formatting changes for readability.
  • Support for unrendering. This was a useful missing feature.
  • Added alt text for typeset equations.
Install it as you would any other Greasemonkey script. To install in Chrome, you can save the file and then drag it onto the browser window. In the Blogger rich editor for creating new posts or editing existing posts, there will be two new buttons labelled
\LaTeX and {\rm un}\LaTeX. They do what they say. \LaTeX equations should be included between double dollar signs, not single dollar signs or \(\) or \[\]. And the script will fail miserably if the equations contain double quotes.

Typeset away...

\int_0^1 x^2 dx = \frac{1}{3}

1 I believe this is his blog.
2 In Blogger settings, choose the "old" editor.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog Move! And Why I'm a Google Devotee...

In the bygone days of what was 2003, I started this humble blog on Livejournal. Friends followed. I posted irrelevant nonsense. All was well. In 2005, I moved my email and blog to a privately hosted domain.1 The time has come for another shift.

I'm ditching my personal Wordpress install for the comfort of Google Blogger. The domain remains the same but links will change. As a follower, you may need to update the URL for the RSS feed. Wordpress seems plagued by security problems in each new version and the comment spam was unmanageable. I hope to get away from that.

This is one more step into the Google cloud for me. Android was the first step, then Mail & Contacts, Chat, Calendar & Tasks, Reader, Voicemail and now Blogger. I know people who are still reluctant to give a third-party corporate entity so much control over their information. But Google continues to add value. My next lost phone won't also lose all my contacts. Google Talk was first to bring video to XMPP. Calendar and Reader have sharing.2 When Google stops adding value, that's when they'll lose me.3

Hopefully now, with less comment spam and administration overhead, I will post more frequently.4

1I cannot recommend Linode highly enough. They are great!
2And see LWN for a recent comparison of RSS aggregators.
3On the other hand, I still fail to see lasting value in Facebook...
4Famous last words!