Tech Articles

I’ve always enjoyed working and playing with computers.  My first computer was a x286 DOS based machine that is still sitting somewhere in my parent’s basement.

On this page, you will find links to various articles I’ve written about computer programming, some do-it yourself projects, and reviews of the utilities that help me keep my life together.

Research and Academics

LyX and LaTeX

  • Customizing LyX.  Since LyX is based on LaTeX, it is enormously powerful.  There is a downside, however, the power is associated with inherent complexity and makes it difficult to customize.  But learning how is well worth the trouble.  This series of tutorials explains why and provides examples to help you get over the learning curve.
    • Create an NIH Grant Proposal Template.  LyX and LaTeX work hand in hand, but do very different things.  LaTeX is a typesetting system, LyX is about on-screen display.  To get a new document type to work, though, you need to work with both.  This tutorial explains how.
    • Character Styles and the LyX Local Layout.  One of the keys to creating a professionally looking document is through the consistent use of styles.  This includes section, paragraph and character styles.  While LyX and LaTeX abundantly support the first two types, the last is a bit of a hidden gem.  This article explains what character styles are, why they can make your life easier, and how-to use them.  It also introduces the LyX local layout and how it can be edited.
    • Automatically Importing an MS Word Document into LyX.  Microsoft Word is the most common writing program in the world, and the .doc format is the defacto file used for exchanging written information with others.  This can be a problem for LyX and LaTeX users.  This article explains one way to convert MS Word documents so that you can edit them with LyX or a LaTeX environment.
  • Typeset Your Curriculum Vitae

Statistics With R

Hannibal, Napoleon, and Joseph Charles Minard

Hannibal's Invasion of Italy over the Italian Alps

Charles Minard map showing the French invasion of Russion (1812-1813)

Relational Map: Open Source Writing

A relational map that shows the members of the Open Source Publishing tool-chain and how they work together.

The Materials and Methods of Thought

What effect does environment have on the types of ideas we are able to generate? How do communication techniques limit what we are able to say?

Espande - Singapore

Technology and Life

The Enabling Power of Technology. Technology allows us to do new things in amazing ways. This is my perspective on how it helped to topple a dictator.


“Every day you have dozens of opportunities to work faster, smarter and more efficiently – with the right shortcuts … Which is where the idea of ‘hacks’ or clever tricks come into it. A ‘hack is workaround or shortcut that overcomes the everyday difficulties of the modern world.”

Backup, Share and Sync

In an increasingly digital world, a computer crash can destroy your entire digital memory. Do you have a backup? If so, how good is it?

  • Part 1: Introduction.  How to set up a home server for file backup, sharing and sync.   Describes the server hardware and software components and how to install the operating system (Ubuntu Linux).
  • Part 2: Hard Drive Preperation and Server Configuration.  How to attach and mount USB hard-drives and configure Samba so that the hard drives can be accessed by other computers on the network.
  • Part 3: Configuring the Server for Subversion.  How to get Subversion up and running so that you can access it over http://.
  • Backup and Archive.  What’s the difference between the two?  Why does it matter?
  • Part 4: Apple Time Machine and Samba.  Time Machine is one of the very best backup solutions available on any platform, but it doesn’t play Time Machinenicely with generic network storage devices (NAS).  This article shows how to use a Ubuntu home server for Time Machine backup.
  • Part 5.1: Windows Vista Backup (Files).  How to use the automated Windows Vista File Backup and Previous Versions feature to make sure that your data is safe and archived.
  • Part 5.2: Windows Vista Backup (Disaster Prevention).  While archiving files is all well and good, it is only one part of a complete backup plan. Planning and preparing for disaster can save you a tremendous amount of pain and heartache.  This article walks you through one solution.
  • Back In Time (Part 1): Linux Backup Made Easy.  While there are many backup tools for Linux, it can be hard to find one that is both simple and reliable.  Back In Time is both.
  • Back In Time (Part 2): Over the Network and Across the World.  Despite all of its strengths, Back In Time has one major weakness: it doesn’t support backup over a network.  Luckily, however, it runs on Linux (the single most customizable operating system in the world).  So even though Back In Time might not officially support backup to a remote computer, you can still make it work with a little bit of spit and grit.  This article explains how.

Getting Started With Subversion

  • Part 1: The Basics.  A brief description of how Subversion can make your life easier while at the same time lowering your stress, enriching your existence, and restoring a child-like sense of wonder to the world.  Also covered: installation and basic commands.
  • Part 2: Advanced Stuff. While Subversion’s basic features make it an essential tool, it’s the advanced options — those things that live in the background — that make it really indispensable. In this article, we look at one of the most important: how to access the log of all your changes.


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