LaTeX and \flushleft

March 5th, 2008

I’m assembling a big report for MSHA in LaTeX and using the book document class, which normally justifies just splendidly. So when it stopped justifying paragraphs correctly and was giving ragged right edges, that was a problem.

Long story short: I copied some different environments (description, etc) from the web and brought in a \flushleft, which I thought would just apply to that element. Wrong. It changed the setting from then on. Removed all the \flushlefts, and it sets the paragraphs correctly.

And hurray for science and methodical debugging…..”Well the first section is right, and the beginning of section two, and then it goes to shit after this list here. Hey, what’s this \flushleft doing here?”

HOWTO: 2-column images in LaTeX

February 15th, 2008

From Jason Rennie’s LaTeX Tips and Tricks:

2-Column Images
When in 2-column mode (using either \twocolumn or the multicols environment (package multicol)), use \begin{figure*} and \begin{table*} to create figures and tables that span the entire width of the page. \begin{figure} and \begin{table} span only one column.

Censorship on BoingBoing

February 14th, 2008

Background: BoingBoing just put up a post that was ‘Sponsored by Windows Mobile’. Not surprisingly there was a lot of blowback and discussion in the comments about having ‘Sponsored’ posts instead of just separate ad blocks on the site, and notably what this said for transparency and honesty in these posts.

I left for about two hours and came back to follow the discussion further and see what else people had said. The discussion was totally gone, without even so much as an “Update: The discussion got out of hand we moved/suspended/did something else with it”.


Here is the letter I sent in:

Frauenfelder I’m calling you out.

An hour and a half ago there were 58 comments on this story. I’ve reloaded the story several times and switched browsers in disbelief, but now there no comments on the Win Mobile story. In fact, you went so far as to nuke the ‘discuss’ link from the story. There’s not even an “Update: We’re moving the discussion somewhere else” note.

Tell me I’m wrong and you didn’t stoop this low.

For the entirety of it’s existence bb has been the paragon of well reasoned civlib discussion, a beacon for transparency and frank discussion. If this is what it looks like this beacon just burnt down, fell over, and sank into the swamp.

We all understand, you’ve gotta pay the bills, the sidebar/header ads are completely reasonable, even the Honda thing no big deal, but mixing ads and content crosses a line. You should have expected some discussion on that. But to kill the discussion and hide it’s corpse blows right past that line and sails straight into the land of ‘lost’ emails, “No Comment”, and retroactive immunity we’ve come to know and loathe.

So Mark, Xeni, Cory, any of you…. please tell me this is a bad dream.


And here is the link to the story: Hamster’s Lunch at Coco’s in Los Angeles

UPDATE: *Mostly* a bad dream.  Frauenfelder posted a rebuttal, and comments are to exist again at some point.  But, um, order of operations here people?  Don’t demolish the bridge before you put up the detour signs……….just sayin.

REPOST: More grilling tips (vegetables)

February 8th, 2008

In the interest of finishing the repost, here is part two of the grilling tips article, Vegetables.

Again, original from, this copy obtained from The Wayback Machine:

More Grilling Tips

Time for some updates. After re-reading Everything You Thought You Knew About Grilling Is Wrong, I realized that I’d left out quite a few things that will help raise the bar on your grilling efforts. That particular essay was all I needed to move from never buying steak as an adult (for fear that I’d have to be the one to cook it) to grilling it at least once a month — sometimes much more — during the summer.

But what about the grill temperature? you ask. What if I want to grill some potatoes, or other vegetables? How long can I expect the food to take?

Okay, okay. I just finished cooking up a truckload of steak and veggies for the family, and noticed a few things I’d left out, so here are a few more helpful grilling hints.

Too Hot Is Bad (also see: Flames Are Bad)
I have a gas grill, so I’m able to more accurately regulate temperature. I typically keep the flame as low as my grill will allow. The only exception to this is when I feel like grilling in October or December and the external temp is maybe forty or fifty degrees. But in the heat of the summer, keep it dialed down as low as possible. For charcoal, you don’t want any open flames. Coals are the best. Be forewarned, that even with the lowest heat, you’re likely to get some flames shooting upward, charring the meat. If you’re tending the grill, this might be mitigated somewhat, because you’ll see a lot more smoke coming out than normal. More often than not, this will happen when you’re cooking a lot of chicken — especially thighs — and the juices drip out. Flip early flip often to manage this. Otherwise — as I had to do earlier today — just stick ’em up on a higher rack in the grill. Flames will mess with the schedule, blackening the outside and leaving the inside raw.

Cook Potatoes Longer
Whenever I add potatoes to the grill, I throw them on a full ten minutes before anything else. And I forget about them. The flip, flip, flip rule does not apply to potatoes. They take longer to warm up for one, and I like at least one side to appear a little browned. Constant flipping will certainly cook them, but they won’t necessarily be as aesthetically pleasing as if you let them cook on one side for fifteen or twenty minutes before flipping.

Simple Potato Recipe #1: cut some baking potatoes in half (lengthwise, so the halves are shallow). Create a criss-cross pattern with your knife across the tops, cutting about a quarter of an inch deep. To do this, do one set of parallel lines, then rotate the potato slightly and repeat. Smear butter across the top, then salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in foil — you do this tightly so the potatoes get grilled, not steamed. I tear off a big sheet of foil, then fold it back on itself so it doesn’t accidentally get punctured while I’m moving it around the grill.

Simple Potato Recipe #2: quarter a bunch of baby new potatoes. Dice half an onion or so. Highly specific measurements, I know. Dump both into a large Reynolds Foil Pouch, along with a bunch of butter and salt and pepper.

Give yourself half an hour for the potatoes, either variety.

Truth be told, pretty much any combination of vegetables in a foil pouch with salt, pepper, and butter, works out well. Just mix and match. Green beans by themself are fine, but you might want to add fresh dill. Diced tomatoes and onions with sliced summer squash is also nice and the optional quartered mushrooms are good too.

Slice Steak Before Serving
You’ll rarely have leftovers if you do this, plus you’ll be able to serve steak without steak knives. You’re the cook, right? You prepared the marinade. You carefully tended the hot grill, making sure to flip the steak early and often. And now you’re just supposed to throw a slab on somebody’s plate so they can say “whoa, too much,” or “darn, not enough?”Get a nice serving plate. Cut the steak for everybody, in nice, thin, diagonal stripes, across the grain, similar to how you might cut a flank steak. Instead of worrying about “eating an entire steak” your guests are free to select one or more strips. They won’t need the steak knife because you’ve already done the work for them. If they’re selective about how done the meat is, your nice strip will clearly show varying stages of pink. When they’re done, believe me, they’ll go back for “just one more.” The only time I’ve ever had left-overs was when I over estimated the amount of steak I’d need by about a pound and a half.

REPOST: Everything you thought you knew about grilling is wrong

February 8th, 2008

Originally from: but the site seems down (permanently maybe….) so I’m reposting the version I got from the Wayback Machine

Personally I tend to use the bonus marinade recipe at the bottom a lot, hence the repost.

The short version:

  1. Flip early flip often
  2. Rotate multiple items around the grill
  3. The squishiness test for doneness
  4. And don’t put barbecue sauce on right at the start, it’ll burn
  5. + 2 marinades

Original after the break….

Read the rest of this entry »

Uni. South Florida Master’s Thesis: “Analysis of VTOL MAV Use During Rescue and Recovery Operations Following Hurricane Katrina”

January 31st, 2008

At long last, here are all the materials from my Master’s Thesis:


There can be little doubt that Hurricane Katrina will always be remembered for the damage and devastation it caused. But it also provided the first opportunity for MAVs to be used and evaluated during Search and Rescue (SAR) as well as recovery operations. Researchers from The Center for Robot-Assisted Search And Rescue (CRASAR) made two separate deployments to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina: one during initial SAR operations and a second deployment during recovery operations 90 days later. Using data and observations from both of these deployments, this work draws four key findings about semi-autonomous Miniature UAV (MAV) operations in urban environments. These findings are intended to guide future MAV research as well as serve as a roadmap for the evolution from semi-autonomous to fully autonomous MAV capabilities. These findings are as follows: the minimum useful standoff distance from inspected structures is 2-5 m, omni-directional sensor capabilities are needed for obstacle avoidance, GPS waypoint navigation is unnecessary, and that these operations currently require three operators for one MAV.

Link to the PDF: Master’s Thesis

And linked offsite to save space (so, email me if these links ever break):

The sources (LaTeX, BibTeX, style class, and images to build the pdf):

The Keynote presentation: Master’s Defense
PDF export of presentation + videos: Master’s Defense PDF
(there is a list of which video goes to what slide in the zip)

And finally, as with the thesis itself, all of this is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: CC 3.0 By-NC

Where to run in Boulder when in town on a business trip

October 16th, 2007

I visited Boulder, CO a few weeks ago at attend a conference put on by UC Boulder, and since I’m training for a half-marathon coming up in a few weeks, I wanted to go running one morning.  That, and I couldn’t not get outside and enjoy the fantastic weather compared to the hot/humid gross that is Florida summer.

So, where to run in Boulder on a quick trip when you don’t know the town all that well.  Why, the Boulder Creek Path of course:

If you go anywhere in town you’ll walk on it or over it, and follows the creek all the way across town and right into the Front Range.  And also, you end up with some pretty swanky sunrises coming back out of the mountains at dawn….worth it even if it does make you a few minutes late for the conference breakfast.

MySQL Dyld error.

October 16th, 2007

Apparently dyld errors happen with lots o’ packages (though I’m still not 100% on what the root cause is…..JFGI).

I most recently got one of these loading MySQL into a new apache2 install on OS X (10.4). I, and by I I really mean Gabe, was able to fix it with a little symlink action, thus:

/usr/local/mysql/lib/mysql root# ln -s ../libmysqlclient.15.dylib

links the .dylib from the parent directory to the /mysql dir where it was looking for it, and gives us

/usr/local/mysql/lib/mysql root# file libmysqlclient.15.dylib
libmysqlclient.15.dylib: symbolic link to `../libmysqlclient.15.dylib'

The End.


Original source is post #13 here:

Other Theses with CC

August 17th, 2007

I will be publishing my Masters’ thesis under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial license (, so I’ve started a collection of other theses and dissertations doing this.
Access to Knowledge in a Network Society by Karsten Gerloff, published by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)

A Framework for Open Source Projects by Gregor Rothfuss
BoingBoing post on CC licensed dissertations BoingBoing post pointing to some of the earliest known cases of CC-licensed academic work in the wild.  It should also be noted that my licensing my masters this way is primarily due to Cory’s evangelism on this count, and particularly some comments about the nature of “The Academy”

(also wicked old and posted from LAS waiting for HNL)

Slide master/title master is crappy HCI and crappy engineering

January 30th, 2007

Using powerpoint on mac, it took me ten minutes to figure out how to add a new title master to a presentation.

Even though you open a new presentation and it automatically adds a blank title slide, you the View > Title Master option doesn’t exist. And from this view you can’t create one. First, you have to view the slide master (incorrectly applied to the title slide) and then you can add a new title master. This operation is an exercise in frustration and how to not design interfaces.

Perhaps its time for that Keynote purchase….


It’s good I wrote this down I’ve had to look at this *every* time I make a new presentation since then.

Yes.  It’s still obnoxious.