Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A glimpse of Dubai

I spent three days in Dubai for a World Economic Forum "global agenda council" gathering. We were in the Jumeira Hotel complex. My favourite sight of the trip was this abandoned car sitting outside the hotel. 'My other abandoned cars are a Porsche, a Hummer, and a Rolls', perhaps?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Typo hunting

I finished the book Sustainable Energy - without the hot air a week ago, and got the proofs today. I promptly managed to find a couple of small typos that I hadn't spotted before. Nothing too bad, happily. Unlike the English-speaking makers of this road sign in Swansea...
The Welsh translation translates back as "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to use latex2eps.sh to make beautiful postscript fragments

is a super utility I picked up when I started using magicpoint.

Simple example

If file1 contains

$$\mbox{Power} = \frac{1}{2} \rho A v^3$$

and you run

latex2eps.sh Wind0 < file1

then you will get a file Wind0.eps, which is a beautiful postscript file looking like this


More complex example: Package options

You can give package options when running latex2eps.sh. For example, if you like \usepackage{booktabs} or \usepackage{colordvi}, here is what you can do.
Let's say that file2 contains:

\multicolumn{3}{c}{ \ \OliveGreen{$v=6$\,m/s} (force 4)}\\ \midrule
Wind farm & & \Blue{2\,W$\!$/m$^2$ flat ground} \\

Then we run the command:

latex2eps.sh -sty colordvi -sty booktabs Wind1 < file2

and we get this lovely object:


My favourite blogs

The blogs I read are:

The blogs I write are:

Identity Theft

This morning I got a letter in the post from Virgin mobile. It said "Thank you for arranging to pay your mobile bills by direct debit; please contact us if any of these details are wrong".
I didn't recall arranging to pay for a Virgin mobile phone by direct debit, so I phoned the number. After about 30 minutes of listening to annoying music as the Virgin organization tried to figure out what to do with my phone-call - it wasn't appropriate to talk to the direct debit department about it, of course; no, I needed customer service... - I eventually spoke to a nice lady whom I'll call Mary. Mary asked me a bunch of questions about the letter and me (including, strangely, asking for my Virgin mobile password, which didn't seem relevant), and then she explained (after another few minutes of elevator music) that it seems someone else is using my identity (name, address, date of birth) to register a phone. It's not clear to me why they would do this, as the direct debit wasn't coming out of my bank account. Anyway, she said she would file a Fraud Alert with the Credit Report people, so maybe my name will be blacklisted from credit requests in the future.
She recommended that I contact Equifax to find out if other credit application frauds have happened using my name, and whether my credit score has been damaged. So I took at look at the Equifax webpage, and found a bunch of Equifax organizations, all with the same logo, all rather keen to take my name, address, date of birth, credit card number, and other security details. And keen to charge me money to answer the question "what is my credit history, and is anything funny going on?" I'd never heard of Equifax before and once bitten.... I feel rather reluctant to go typing all my personal details into a form. It seems Equifax are an international organization that handles everyone's credit history. And then charge everyone in sight for that information, including banks and the innocent civilian.

All about this blog (ITILA)

The ITILA blog is named after Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms, the first book I wrote. (It's available free online, so do help yourself!) One of the themes of that book was that everything is connected. Not only information theory and machine learning, which are two sides of a single coin; but also communication, data compression, evolution, sex, satellites, discdrives, solitons, thermodynamics - pretty much any topics you care to mention. ITILA is a textbook about information theory whose goals include bringing out these connections, and making information theory and statistics fun.
This blog is not only for posts about ITILA the book.
I'm going to use this blog to post work-related stuff - all the things that I used to slap into my now rather unwieldy home-page;
and for occasional personal items that I think might interest work colleagues.
Anything I'm excited about, I'll probably put a post here.
By the way, I do have another blog, withouthotair, which is where I post anything to do with energy. Like this blog, that blog is also named after a book - "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air" - which should be published in November 2008. (It's also free online.)