Software & Manuals

How to Typeset Equations in LaTeX

LaTeX is a very powerful tool for typesetting mathematical expressions. However, when looking at a typical document one often finds that mathematical equations that are too long to fit on one line or that consist of several equations in one block are often only poorly typeset in spite of the power of LaTeX.

This short introduction tries to show how a nice typesetting is done easily and efficiently. It includes an introduction to the less known, but very powerful tool "IEEEeqnarray".

Download:

More information about IEEEtran can be found on Michael Shell's website. An easy-to-read and very informative manual about LaTeX is The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e by Tobias Oetiker.


English Grammar: Infinitive or ing-Form?

English is — in spite of what some people might say — a very difficult language. In particular it is very difficult to find rules that work. Nevertheless, I have tried to attack (or is it "try attacking"!?!) one of my biggest English difficulties: when to use the infinitive and when the ing-form... Perhaps this might be useful for you, too! In any case, I would be happy to receive feedback!

Download:


mygpg: Secure Password-File Management based on Perl and GPG

The number of passwords that I should be able to remember nowadays is far over 100. So unless I choose them all to be all the same or use some other very insecure tricks, the only way to survive is to keep a file with them written down. However, among all tricks that help with remembering passwords, this is about the most insecure and silly thing to do...!

My solution is to keep a password file, but to have it securely encrypted using one of the best encryption standard there is: the open-source and free program GPG. I use a separate and unpublished private/public key-pair only for that particular file. For more details about GPG, see my How-To of GPG.

So the only problem is how to access and edit the secure password file. I do not want to store the passwords unencrypted on my harddrive at any time, not even temporarily for editing! For that reason I have written a small script mygpg that accesses the file, decrypts it, invokes an emacs, and passes the decrypted information into a buffer of the emacs. At the end the emacs will take care of the encryption and will write the encrypted file back to disk. The unencrypted information is never stored anywhere but solely kept in the memory of the computer during the accessing/editing time.

System Requirements:

Installation:

  • Download mygpg (version 4.0, February 2012) and decompress it.
  • Put it anywhere you like, e.g., into ~/bin/, and make sure that the executable bits are set ("chmod a+x ~/bin/mygpg")
  • Edit the file "mygpg" and change the value of the variables "$file" and "$gpgcommand" according to your encrypted file and the correct encryption command.

Usage: For normal use simply call "mygpg". The optional argument "-h" will print a short help message and exit. For calling the emacs inside the terminal (if there is no X11 environemnt) use the option "-t". For only reading the file without the possibility to edit, the file can also be displayed using 'less'. To do so, use the option "-l". To create an empty password file, use the option "-c".


GnuPG: A Mini How-To

This very brief introduction to GPG is already some years old, but it should still be up-to-date (more or less...). I hope it is useful...
GnuPG for daily use: a mini How-To


Fix for CardDAV Bug in Apple Address Book of OS X 10.6

OS X 10.6 has a bug in the Apple Address Book that prevents the program to correctly connect to CardDAV servers (404 error or similar). There is a simple fix to this problem.

  • My setup: I run calendarserver (see calendarserver.org for instructions on how to set it up) on my iMac and use my MacBook and my iPhone as clients to synchronize both calendars and addressbook.
  • The problem: the Address Book does not manage to get the correct path to the CardDAV server.
  • Fix:
    • Firstly setup iCal and Address Book in the usual fashion. iCal will work perfectly, however, Address Book will not.
    • Quit Address Book. Navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/Sources/[some random sequence of letters and numbers]/Configuration.plist and open it with the Property List Editor (or some other tool)
    • Look for the key 'servername'. It's value will look something like http://calendar.example.com:80(null). This value is wrong and causes all the problems. Now you have to set it to the correct value. To find the correct value, the easiest trick is to open iCal, navigate to the Preferences and look at the details of your corresponding CalDAV account. You will find a path that looks something like /principals/__uids__/3e4f8b25-fe37-51fa-b4cf-2db3f993e7b/. Copy this into the plist-file of Address Book. The 'servername' key should now have a value that looks like http://calendar.example.com:80/principals/__uids__/3e4f8b25-fe37-51fa-b4cf-2db3f993e7b/ or https://calendar.example.com:443/principals/__uids__/3e4f8b25-fe37-51fa-b4cf-2db3f993e7b/
    • Save the Configuration.plist and restart the Address Book. It should now correctly connect to your server.

Typesetting Chinese Characters in LaTeX: A very quick manual

Typesetting Chinese in LaTeX used to be quite a headache. I remember spending hours and hours in trying to set my system up. In the meantime, things have simplified considerably (or I have simply learned how to do it properly...). Here are some very brief instructions on how to proceed.

I distinguish two different situations: the case where I want to compose a large document containing a lot of Chinese characters and the case where I only need to incorporate a few Chinese characters (like, e.g., my Chinese name) in a otherwise Western document.

  • Large Chinese LaTeX document: Here the way to go is to use XeLaTeX. Every modern LaTeX installation comes with that fully functional, i.e., the setup should be trivial: you only need to include some packages and define the font. Try the following:
    \documentclass[a4paper,12pt]{article}
    
    \usepackage{fontspec}
    \usepackage{xeCJK}
    \setmainfont{Times}
    \setCJKmainfont{BiauKai}
    
    \begin{document}
    
    Simply type some Chinese text like 莫詩台方 and English text intermixed.
    
    \end{document}
    
    Here, we have defined the default font of English text to be Times and the the Chinese characters will use BiauKai (this is the default Chinese font on Mac OS X for traditional Chinese). You can use any other font that is installed on your system. Simply check the names of your available fonts using any other typesetting tool like Word or similar.
    Instead of the usual latex, the document has now to be compiled using the command xelatex, which will generate a PDF directly.
    A couple of comments:
    • Do not use the package inputenc. The behavior of inputenc is already included in XeLaTeX.
    • XeLaTeX will automatically figure out what part of the text is in Chinese and what not. However, sometimes this decision might turn out wrong (for example for punctuation signs). Then you can force the choice using the fontspec-command:
      \fontspec{BiauKai}ˇ
      \fontspec{Times}ˇ
      
    • The real strength of XeLaTeX is that any font available on your system can be used. This is also true for the English font. Try for example:
      \setmainfont{Zapfino}
      
  • Only add a few Chinese characters in you LaTeX document: Here, you can keep using the normal LaTeX and add some more packages. Try the following:
    \documentclass[a4paper,12pt]{article}
    
    \usepackage[encapsulated]{CJK} 
    \usepackage{ucs}
    \usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc} 
    \newcommand{\cjktexta}[1]{\protect\begin{CJK*}{UTF8}{bkai}#1\end{CJK*}}
    \newcommand{\cjktextb}[1]{\protect\begin{CJK*}{UTF8}{bsmi}#1\end{CJK*}}
    
    \begin{document}
    
    The Chinese characters can now be typed using the cjktexta- and
    cjktextb-commands as follows: \cjktexta{莫詩台方} and \cjktextb{莫詩台方}.
    The two versions result in a different font.
    
    \end{document}
    
    This document can now be compiled using the normal latex or pdflatex command.

addrbook: Address-Management with Perl and LaTeX

Most available address-management tools have either too many or too few features for me. I have therefore started writing a small (partially LaTeX-based) Perl-script that takes care of my addresses: I keep an ASCII-file with the necessary information (name, address, telephone, email, birthday, remarks). The script then generates (via LaTeX) a printable version that I can carry with me. The advantages are obvious:

  • in a common address booklet with hand-written entries space is always too limited in some parts of the alphabet, while in other parts most entries are empty...;
  • if I lose my address-book, I just print it out again;
  • I don't need any computer, battery or what-so-ever to check addresses, however,
  • if I am online, I can search for addresses electronically;
  • I have added a lot of small additional features like
    • automatic alphabetical ordering
    • sub-groups of people (e.g., friends, business relations, emergency numbers, etc.)
    • listing of birthdates
    • an automatic birthday reminder e-mail
    • a web-interface for online search of your addresses! This can be included into your homepage as shown for example here.
    • The most recent feature is a calendar reminder system: either birthdates or general calendar entries (from a different data-file that contains calendar entries instead of address entries) will be sent by e-mail at the corresponding day as reminder!
Here you can have a look at

System Requirements: Any Unix-flavored system or Mac OS X with working Perl and LaTeX. For usage as (birthday or general) reminder system and for electronic search of entries (including the web-based version) no LaTeX is needed.

Download:

The program is freeware, but I would be very happy if you let me know () in case you consider using it.

If you want to be informed about updates, please send me an email, I will put you on my mailing list (don't worry, you won't get many emails if you do so!).


Link to my personal address book (password needed)


afptunnel: Secure AFP-Connections (Apple File Protocol) via SSH Tunnel

System Requirements: Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5 (both tested) or 10.3 (not tested, but I'm pretty sure it works as well).

Problem: You are using your laptop (or another computer) away from home and would like to access your files at home. Apple offers the convenient AFP connection ("Connect to Server..." or command-K). However, if you don't have the Mac OS X Server version there is no way to make this connection secure, i.e., everything that is transmitted over the Internet is clear-text, including your login and password! Furthermore, you have to open your computer at home to the world which includes a guest-access. While the guest-access is restricted, of course, you still might feel uncomfortable with it, particularly if you are sure that you actually don't need it.

Solution: Open a SSH connection to your home computer (the remote computer) and then pipe your standard AFP connection through this SSH tunnel. Unfortunately, the commands to do so are very UNIX-like and cryptic. I have therefore written a small shell-script that will do everything for you. You only need to follow the following steps:

  • Start the terminal and type "afptunnel"
  • Provide your password when prompted
  • The normal "Connect to Server..."-dialog appears: log in as usual
  • The connection you establish is both secure and compressed, i.e., you even save bandwidth!
  • When you have finished, unmount your files by clicking on the eject button or by dragging it to the trash
  • Press enter in the terminal to disconnect the SSH tunnel.

Installation:

  • Download afptunnel (version 2.2, December 2008) and decompress it.
  • Put it anywhere you like, e.g., into ~/bin/, and make sure that the executable bits are set ("chmod a+x ~/bin/afptunnel")
  • Edit the file "afptunnel" and change the value of the variable "TARGET_HOST" to match the IP-address of your home computer
  • On your remote computer (at home) open the System Preferences:
    • Sharing->activate Personal File Sharing
    • Sharing->activate Remote Login
  • If you want to disable the guest-access (and any other access that does not use the secure SSH connection), you need to setup your firewall to block Port 548. This way the "Personal File Sharing" Service is blocked from outside and only available within your computer. Unfortunately, you cannot edit the OS X built-in firewall to do exactly this while Personal File Sharing is active. You need another interface to the firewall. A possible solution is the shareware tool Flying Buttress. A standard setting would be, e.g., about as follows:
    • Outgoing: Allow
    • Incoming: Deny
    • Remote Login (SSH): Allow TCP from Internet (any Port) to MyComputer (Port 22)
    With such a setup you actually block everything apart from SSH.
    Another possibility is to manage the firewall manually as described in Exploring the Mac OS X Firewall.

For Advanced Users: For more options of afptunnel type "afptunnel -h".


mailtunnel: Sending Mails If You Don't Have an SMTP Server

System Requirements: Any UNIX-like system like Mac OS X.

Problem: You are using your laptop abroad and would like to send some email. Usually you then get into problems because you either

  • don't know the SMTP server of the net-access you are using,
  • there is no SMTP server on the net-access you are using, or
  • you don't trust the SMTP server of the net-access you are using.

Solution: Open a SSH connection to your home computer (the remote computer) and then relay your mails via your home computer to your usual SMTP server at home. This way your mails look like being sent from home, your mails are securely sent through the unknown net-access you are using, and your mails are even compressed in case your net-access is slow! You only need to follow the following steps:

  • Start the terminal and type "mailtunnel"
  • Provide your password when prompted
  • Tell your mail-program to use "localhost" at port 1025 as SMTP server
  • When you have finished, quit your mail program and press enter in the terminal to disconnect the SSH tunnel.

Installation:

  • Download mailtunnel (version 1.3, December 2008) and decompress it.
  • Put it anywhere you like, e.g., into ~/bin/, and make sure that the executable bits are set ("chmod a+x ~/bin/mailtunnel")
  • Edit the file "mailtunnel" and change the value of the variable "TARGET_HOST" to match the IP-address of your home computer and the value of the variable "SMTP_HOST" to match the IP-address of your usual SMTP server at home
  • On your remote computer (at home) open the System Preferences->Sharing->activate Remote Login

For Advanced Users: For more options of mailtunnel type "mailtunnel -h".


Various Useful Shell-Scripts

Installation: To install any of these scripts, download the script, decompress it, and put it anywhere you like, e.g., into ~/bin/. Then make sure that the executable flags are set (chmod a+x script-name).

Usage: Simply type the name of the script into a terminal.

mp3move

The script mp3move (version 4.1, April 2009) is a script that I wrote when I needed to arrange the files on a MP3-CD: the script renames all files in the current diretory as follows: firstly a given number of letters is removed from the filename starting at a given position (e.g., removing an old counting), then a new consecutive numbering is added in place of the removed letters. The numbering starts at a given point and has a fixed number of positions.

multicopy

The script multicopy (version 2.2, September 2010) copies all files starting with a certain string to a new file with a new name, preserving the original ending of the filename.

multimove

The script multimove (version 2.2, September 2010) renames all files starting with a certain string, preserving the original ending of the filename.

pdfa4toletter New!

The script pdfa4toletter (version 1.0, April 2013) converts a pdf-file in a4 format into letter format by cropping, not scaling. For more info, type "pdfa4toletter" without arguments.
Requirements: This script requires pdfjam to be installed on your system.

pdfinsert New!

The script pdfinsert (version 1.0, January 2013) inserts a pdf-file into another one at a specified page. For more info, type "pdfinsert" without arguments.
Requirements: This script requires pdfjam to be installed on your system.

pdflettertoa4 New!

The script pdflettertoa4 (version 1.0, April 2013) converts a pdf-file in letter format into a4 format by cropping, not scaling. For more info, type "pdflettertoa4" without arguments.
Requirements: This script requires pdfjam to be installed on your system.

pdfnupsmart

The script pdfnupsmart (version 1.1, May 2010) rearranges the pages of a pdf-file: two pages are put onto one page in such a way that the odd pages are on the right-hand side like in an open book. Moreover, to avoid problems with some printers, the file is then rotated to normal portrait style.
Requirements: This script requires pdfjam to be installed on your system.

pdfselect

The script pdfselect (version 1.0, May 2010) lets you pick an arbitrary range of pages from a pdf-file, similar to psselect. For more info, type "pdfselect" without arguments.
Requirements: This script requires pdfjam to be installed on your system.

prefixadd

The script prefixadd (version 1.0, October 2010) adds a prefix to all files ending with a particular string.

psnupsmart

The script psnupsmart (version 1.1, May 2010) rearranges the pages of a postscript-file: two pages are put onto one page in such a way that the odd page numbers are on the right hand side like in an open book.
Requirements: This script requires psnup and psselect to be installed on your system.

stuffzeros

When exporting photos from iPhoto, the numbering system is not UNIX-like: they are called photo-1.jpg, photo-2.jpg, ..., photo-10.jpg, etc. This way the numbering is not in alphabetical order which can cause problems with other programs. The script stuffzeros (version 3.2, June 2009) automatically corrects this. It will add zeros in front of the numbers so that the files afterwards are named photo-01.jpg, photo-02.jpg, ..., photo-10.jpg, etc.

suffixadd

The script suffixadd (version 2.1, October 2008) adds a suffix to all files starting with a particular string.

timer: A Simple Stopwatch in the Terminal

I sometimes need to have a simple stopwatch or timer (version 3.3, June 2012) handy, so I wrote this small Perl-script. Maybe someone else might find it useful, too...
Requirements: Your perl-system needs to have the perl-package Term::ReadKey installed.

watchdog

The script watchdog (version 1.1, October 2008) regularly checks a file and informs by email if the file has been modified. This is done either once, or continuously until the file is renamed or deleted.


-||-   _|_ _|_     /    __|__   Stefan M. Moser
[-]     --__|__   /__\    /__   Senior Researcher
_|_     -- --|-    _     /  /   ETH Zurich, Switzerland
/ \     []  \|    |_|   / \/    Web: http://moser-isi.ethz.ch/


Last modified: Thu Dec 19 09:50:07 UTC+8 2013