Learning jQuery Sunday, Apr 27 2008 

Learning from mistakes

This post is about my experience of learning jQuery. I’m developing some JavaScript for use with MathTran, and from past experience I know that I need a library. Elsewhere I explain why I’ve chosen jQuery. On Friday I started learning jQuery, mostly from the two Packt books, and yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday) I’ve started with some coding.

I’m fairly new to JavaScript programming, and it’s easy for me to trip up on some of the language features. For example, it’s my Python habit to write ‘self’ when I really should be saying ‘this’. I addition, I’m not used to the widespread dynamic creation of functions, to be attached to DOM elements to handle events. So in addition to learning how to think jQuery, I’ve also been learning how to think JavaScript and DOM.



Using MathTran in blogs and wikis Wednesday, Feb 27 2008 

This post is mainly for system administrators and developers who want to add mathematics capabilities to a blog or wiki that they host or develop. We hope that in a year or so some of the ideas we describe here will be available to ordinary users who have a blog, say on WordPress.

After an Introduction, we discuss Light-, Medium- and Heavy- weight installation of MathTran. Then we discuss how to print mathematics using MathTran. Finally, we revisit the examples in the introduction, and state conclusions.


Microsoft loves Yahoo … Saturday, Feb 9 2008 

… but will they be happy together?

Microsoft loves Yahoo, but will they be happy together? To find out visit the LoveGraph page for this match.

LoveGraph uses a special algorithm to generate data about the potential of the match, which it then graphs. Do pay particular attention to the “Spheres of Interest Overlap” chart.

LoveGraph uses charts and graphs generated by Google Charts.


Django and the MathTran website – AJAX and templates Saturday, Feb 2 2008 


In my previous post I spoke about ReST. It’s not able to do what I want, which is a nuisance. But most of the post of about coding forms such as that on the MathTran home page using Django templates. In the course of the post I come to the conclusion that providing such forms is a matter just for the template, and has nothing much to do with the view! Finally, I make some remarks about AJAX, which is used (along with some rather improper dynamic HTML) in the present implementation.


Django and the MathTran website – ReST Saturday, Jan 26 2008 

This weekend I’m doing some work on the MathTran website. The main goal is to move it to Django, and to clean up and improve the content while I’m at it. I’m not much of a web-wizard. I know about HTML and JavaScript of course, and to get dynamic baseline alignment of bitmap mathematics I even did a bit of Ajax programming. But I’ve not developed on a website that has a database backend yet, although that is one of my ambitions for the MathTran site.


Google Charts, MathTran and editable PNG files Monday, Jan 14 2008 

This post is about putting charts and formulas in your web pages, creating editable and scalable PNG files, and the need for a standard for embedded application data in image files.

Earlier today I looked at Google Charts, which allows you to ‘dynamically generate charts’. Send a Google a suitable GET request and you will get a pie chart, a bar chart or whatever, as specified in your query string. Their example is


which will produce the chart
Hello world pie chart

This is rather similar to MathTran, where are URL such as


produces the image
1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + \ldots + 1/2^n

Google Charts allows you to dynamically create graphs, and MathTran allows you to dynamically create rendered mathematical formulas. The Google API is rather better than MathTran’s, and it is certainly better documents. But MathTran has something that Google Charts doesn’t have … yet. The PNG’s returned by MathTran can be edited.


Happy birthday, Don Knuth! Sunday, Jan 13 2008 

Earlier this week Don Knuth turned 70. This posting, inspired by a coordinated series of posts by admirers in mathematics and computer scientists, is my own personal statement of appreciation of his work. Mostly, I’ve been influenced by TeX, which Don Knuth wrote both as a labour of love, and as a means to the end of writing his multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming (which is also a labour of love).

My first real contact with TeX was in 1987, five years after the first release of what has become the current version of TeX. Now the version number of TeX is, famously, converging to pi, but then it was something like 2.1. Previously I had written my PhD thesis out by hand, and skilled technical typists typed it up page by page, using the admirable IBM golfball typewriters. To obtain a special symbol, the typists had to manually change the golf-ball sized typehead. In 1986/7 I wrote a mathematics paper user the eqn preprocessor and the troff typesetting system that came with Unix. I was able to do this only because I had a lot of help from a technical typist who had several years experience with troff.


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