Category Archives: LaTeX

November 5, 2007, 1:48 pm

LaTeX-produced PDF's not looking right in Preview?

I’ve been noticing since upgrading to Leopard last week that PDF’s that are made using LaTeX do not always look right in Preview. Here’s the same PDF made using LaTeX (TeXShop, to be exact), opened three times in immediate succession using Preview (click to enlarge each):


The third one (rightmost) finally looks like it’s supposed to, but the other two have this strange-looking font substitution for text, and the math is just completely out of whack.

Again, this is the same PDF opened up, then closed, then opened again right after that, then again. No additional LaTeX builds were done. Also, the PDF viewer that comes with TeXShop had the same problems with fonts.
Anybody have a thought as to what’s going on here?

October 3, 2007, 8:11 pm

A math-blogging revelation

I’ve just made a major discovery: blogs, like this one, allow you to typeset LaTeX directly in your blog posts. For example:

\(x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 – 4ac}}{2a}\)

You can put in LaTeX in the comment fields, too. Here’s the FAQ entry that explains it all.  I’m appreciating my switch to more and more each day.

I found this fact out in a comment left by  Terence Tao on the blog of Timothy Gowers, both of whom are not only Fields Medal-winning mathematicians but also bloggers.

August 22, 2007, 11:05 am

Note-taking with wikis suggests that students use wikis for course note-taking. The article drops names for some basic wiki software — NoteMesh,, and PBwiki — and includes a helpful brief guide to wikis and their care and feeding. [Side note: I tried entering in my college at and got an "Application Error" message, which isn't a good sign.]

I’d add Wikispaces to that list — I’ve done two wikis using this service and found it to be very good. And I believe it’s the only free wiki service with LaTeX support, which makes it especially useful for math classes. (If you know LaTeX, that is; if you don’t, I have some screencasts for you!)

All of these services are web-based. That’s good if you want to collaborate with others asynchronously or if you need to access your wiki from different internet-connected machines. But it’s not good if you’re not always connected to the…

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July 25, 2007, 1:02 pm

A screencast in six takes

I’m working diligently to finish all twelve-or-so LaTeX screencasts by Friday. But as I’ve said before, these things are harder to do than you would expect, particularly when the creator keeps screwing up in various ways. For example, I just finished making a screencast on LaTeX packages and macros. It took me six takes to get it. Here’s what happened prior to that:

Take 1: Had to stop about 1/3 of the way into the screencast because I created a blank LaTeX document at the very beginning of the ‘cast for use later on; forgot that I had done so; then created another blank LaTeX document at the point when I needed the first one. It flashed through my mind — why am I making a new document? What happened to the one I made up in the beginning? CUT! Start over.

Take 2: A symbol taken from the amsfonts package mysteriously won’t typeset, and I’m caught “on camera” looking at the DVI output a…

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July 23, 2007, 12:25 pm

Updates on screencasts and Reconnect

Sorry for the light blogging lately. I haven’t had a whole lot on my mind lately other than screencasting and getting logistics put in place for the Reconnect conference, which is next week.

I spent the better part of last week throwing out all my LaTeX screencasts (four of them completed), restructuring the topical outline to involve fewer dependencies between ‘casts, and actually writing out scripts for the ‘casts that I would follow. (The ones that I had made were basically done off-the-cuff with only an outline in front of me, and they were a little raw.) Having done that, I made the new first two screencasts using the scripts and the special-secret video compression settings that I blogged about here. The first one came out totally unreadable; the second one mysteriously vanished from my hard drive.

So I’ve spent the better part of this morning redoing the first two, scripting out…

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June 28, 2007, 8:27 am

Rate My Screencast

After a false start earlier in the week, here’s my very first screencast. I don’t consider this to be in its final form. I used no script and went basically off-the-cuff the whole way. My main intention in making and posting this is to elicit feedback from CO9s readers on any aspect of the screencast you find comment-worthy — the content, the video/audio quality, whatever.

For context: This will eventually be the third of twelve screencasts on LaTeX. This one focuses on creating a “Hello World” document and giving users a sense of how a basic LaTeX document is structured and how the typesetting works. The first and second ones will be (once they are made!) an overview of LaTeX and a walkthrough of downloading and installing LaTeX software for Windows, respectively.

Once I’ve bought and installed the memory upgrades to my Macbook so that Parallels Desktop runs faster than a glacier on …

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June 26, 2007, 1:28 pm

Screencasting — a cautionary tale

Today’s big plan was to make my inaugural screencast and then post it up here at CO9s for everyone to view and critique. I scripted it out last night and had a couple of hours with no kids around to work on it this morning. As you can see, though, it ain’t here. What happened?

1. Mouseposé wouldn’t stay open for longer than five minutes unless I purchased a license. This, after the documentation said that it would work fine without a license but some nonessential (for me) features wouldn’t work. So, I’m out $15.

2. Then Mouseposé wouldn’t work when I had Snapz Pro X running. I resorted to a lot of distracting mouse-waving during the screencast.

3. Then my carefully constructed script turned out to suck. The ‘cast went on… and on… I realized halfway into the ‘cast that I could do this in half the time with the same amount of content if I just threw the whole script out and redid …

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June 8, 2007, 8:37 am

Wikispaces supporting LaTeX

Good news for those of us contemplating the use of a wiki to do math stuff: Wikispaces, a good free wiki service that I used this past semester in my cryptology class, now allows typesetting using LaTeX. You just include the LaTeX code inside a special tag ([[math]]) and it does the rest. More here, including screenshots.

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May 31, 2007, 6:16 am

The summer schedule

The semester ended for me a couple of weeks ago, but most of that time has been spent dealing with Peanut’s lip surgery (which went extremely well). I’ve got the kids at home by myself through the end of the week, and then summer work begins in earnest. Here’s what I have on tap, most of which I’ll be blogging about to some extent.

  • Preparing for the Reconnect conference at the end of July. I’m reading Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing by Christopher Manning and Hinrich Schutze and Machine Learning by Tom Mitchell. I’ve made it through the first couple of chapters of Manning/Schutze — pretty basic so far, but it promises to be interesting. Part of the “basics” are the basics of linguistics, which I’ve never studied before but have been curious about.
  • Revamping the mastery exams for Calculus Preparation. Students in this course (formerly known as Precalculus) have to …

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March 8, 2007, 9:36 pm

Fun with tags

Note for the curious: Technorati tags are NOT case-sensitive.

I was curious as to who else in the world might be blogging about LaTeX — you know, the mathematical typesetting language — and guess what kinds of stuff come up when you go looking for all blog posts tagged with that word, in which the L, T, and X are not capitalized?