Mobile widgets

You know what I hate? Waiting for widgets to update. (It’s barely acceptable in Mac OS X’s Dashboard because of the convenience of bringing it up.)

Screen shot 2010-05-30 at 7.45.20 PM.png

Having to wait half a second (on a good day) is one of those interface delays that is unavoidable but unacceptable. This is a purely personal and subjective opinion of “acceptable” — I want to be able to hit a key and see the weather without having a brain stutter while yesterday’s weather flickers out and is updated.

This is fine, just, on a computer. But I have a hard time imagining the idea of widgets on iPhone or iPad. Can you imagine swiping through screens and having to wait for a network pole before your weather is correct? Or only of having some odd chance of the weather on the unlock screen being correct? Widgets don’t even get background processes on Mac OS X — there’s no chance you’d ever see a widget updating itself without direct user input.

And given the delay from user input and network delay and interface updating, I just don’t see widgets working on any kind of mobile device.

Update: Thanks to S.-S. P. for reminding me that it is in fact possible to have background processes in Dashboard widgets. Not sure what I was thinking there.



If you’re reading this and you’re interested in the things that I do or say related to LaTeX, go here: http://latex-alive.tumblr.com/. I’ve decided that having separate areas to write about separate interests really is a good idea.


Living in the mountains

I’ve joked around with people before about living in the mountains one day. I honestly don’t know how it would ever happen. I’ll organise it (just like I’ll organise the rest of my life) when I’ve stopped tearing myself into too-small pieces with the different projects I’m working on. I hope that happens one day sooner rather than later.

Why do I want to do it? Matthieu Ricard makes a good argument:



Installing noweb nowadays

Brief thoughts installing Norman Ramsey’s noweb. Which being the best literate programming tool out there, from my limited experience, although I’d like to make a big shout out to FunnelWeb, written by a friend of mine also from Adelaide.

I’m using Mac OS X, but I doubt the procedure below wouldn’t also work under Linux. Need to sort out how to do this on Windows, though, so I can use noweb with a new student I’ll be working with. The wayback machine has some instructions but I haven’t tried them yet.

For now I am going to take Norman’s advice and write here for using/installing noweb2, the current stable release. (Updating version 3 to a modern version of Lua and packaging it up for LuaTeX would be the ultimate. But not yet.)

The big, huge, important point when installing noweb is that you do not want to use the deprecated awk version over the new (relatively) and exciting Icon version.

So first download binaries of Icon from the University of Arizona and add it to your default path. (Side note: why does the Icon Makefile when compiling from source require a switch for the platform? Isn’t that easily automatically detectable?) Installing binaries is a matter of personal taste but I moved the Icon binary distribution to ~/bin/icon-v950 and then added

export PATH=~/bin/icon-v950/bin:${PATH}

to my .bash_profile. Then download noweb and configure its Makefile in src/ appropriately:

  1. Change the line LIBSRC=awk to LIBSRC=icon
  2. Chage the line ICONC=iconc to ICONC=icont
  3. Set the TEXINPUTS line to

     TEXINPUTS=$(shell kpsewhich -expand-var='$$TEXMFLOCAL')/tex/latex/noweb

Then hit the familiar

cd src/
make all
sudo make install

and you should be set. I’m a bit confused about the correct procedure for getting man pages found automatically, so I also had to include the following in .bash_profile

export MANPATH=${MANPATH}:/usr/local/noweb/man

in order to get man noweb and so on working. There’s a lot of documentation in these man pages that you do not want to miss out on!

Finally, to check that it’s all working, let’s compile the PDF documentation for the (La)TeX support:

cd tex/
noweave -autodefs tex -index -delay support.nw > support.tex
pdflatex support && pdflatex support

Skim over the resulting support.pdf document and witness yourself the amazing abilities of literate programming. (Especially notice the improvements over LaTeX’s docscript format.) But don’t use that document to try and work out how to customise noweb with LaTeX; the user-friendly documentation is inside man nowebstyle.

And now to start using it for work rather than playing around with getting it installed.