12 Nov 2018

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Mike Gabriel: Results produced while at "X2Go - The Gathering 2018" in Stuttgart

Over the last weekend, I have attended the FLOSS meeting "X2Go - The Gathering 2018" [1]. The event took place at the shackspace maker space in Ulmerstraße in Stuttgart-Wangen (near S-Bahn station S-Untertürkheim). Thanks to the people from shackspace for hosting us there, I highly enjoyed your location's environment. Thanks to everyone who joined us at the meeting. Thanks to all event sponsors (food + accomodation for me). Thanks to Stefan Baur for being our glorious and meticulous organizer!!!

Thanks to my family for letting me go for that weekend.

Especially, a big thanks to everyone, that I was allowed to bring our family dog "Capichera" with me to the event. While Capichera adapted quite ok to this special environment on sunny Friday and sunny Saturday, he was not really feeling well on rainy Sunday (aching joints, unwilling to move, walk interact).

For those interested and especially for our event sponsors, below you can find a list of produced results related to the gathering.


2018-11-09 Mike Gabriel (train ride + @ X2Go Gathering 2018)

2018-11-10 - Mike Gabriel (@ X2Go Gathering 2018)

2018-11-11 - Mike Gabriel (@ X2Go Gathering 2018 + train ride)


12 Nov 2018 2:25pm GMT

Chris Lamb: Review: The "Trojan Room" coffee

I was recently invited to give a seminar at the Cambridge University's Department of Computer Science and Technology on the topic of Reproducible Builds.

Whilst it was an honour to have been asked, it also afforded an opportunity to drink coffee from the so-called "Trojan Room" which previously housed the fabled Computer Laboratory coffee pot:

For those unaware of the background, to save hackers in the building from finding the coffee machine empty, a camera was setup on the local network in 1991 using an Acorn Archimedes to capture a live 128×128 image of the pot, thus becoming the world's first webcam.

According to Quentin Stafford-Fraser, the technical limitations at the time did not matter:

The image was only updated about three times a minute, but that was fine because the pot filled rather slowly, and it was only greyscale, which was also fine, because so was the coffee.

Whilst the original pot was sold for £3,350 in 2001 what, you may ask, did I think of the coffee I sampled? Did the historical weight of the room imbue a certain impalpable quality into the beverage itself? Perhaps this modern hacker lore inspired deep intellectual thoughts in myself? Did it infuse a superlative and indefinable depth of flavour that belied the coffee's quotidian origins…?

No, it did not.

(Thanks to Allison Randal for arranging this opportunity.)

12 Nov 2018 12:20pm GMT

Norbert Preining: TeXConf 2018 – the meeting of the Japanese TeX Users

On Saturday I attended the yearly meeting of the Japanese TeX Users, TeXConf 2018, which this year took place in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Since there is loads of information in Japanese on this meeting, I give a short summary of the talks in English.

Having attended several international TeX conferences, I am always surprised how many Japanese TeX users find their way to this yearly meeting. This year we were about 50 participants. We had five full talks and two lightning talks, followed by a very enjoyable dinner and after-party.

The first talk was by Takuto ASAKURA (朝倉卓人) on llmk - The Light LaTeX Make (slides). Takuto gave a short overview on the available TeX make alternatives and why he saw the need for a new tool, which is written in texlua. After some short examples of usage he mentioned a few advanced usage scenarios. He will write an article for the TUGboat and plans to present llmk at the TUG conference 2019 in the US. As an old-school guy I prefer make, which is by far more powerful, but I welcome additions to make building TeX documents easier. My only wish would be a "no-markup-do-your-best" build system - guess I will start writing my own 😉

Next up was my own talk on Continuous Integration Testing for TeX Live (slides), where go into the nitty-gritty details of DevOps for TeX Live - mirroring the Subversion repos into git, and linking them to CI services, as well as using deployments to get binaries back. I hope to have an article about this ready for the next TUGboat.

After lunch, Takashi SUWA (諏訪 敬之) presented his work on a new typesetting system with a static type system, SATySFi. With his background on formal verification Takashi took an interesting approach to type-setting. Due to the complete static typing of the input source, error messages can be much more informative - one of Takashi's biggest complaints with current TeX, but it also makes the input format a bit bothersome in my opinion. For me one of the biggest achievements of DEK is the definition of a no-thrills easy to read and write input format for mathematics. Takashi has also written an book documenting SATySFi, and I have urged him to make an English translation.

The next talk was by Keiichiro ISHINO (石野恵一郎) on Breaking Paragraphs into Lines with the AHFormatter, a commercial typesetting program targetting businesses with XSL-FO, CSS, XML,.. formatting abilities. It was very interesting to see how commercial products deal with the very same problems we are facing.

Hironori KITAGAWA (北川弘典) reported on the state of luatex-ja (slides), in particular his work on line adjustments in the presence of inline math formula, as well as usage of the luatex-fontspec sub-package. I cannot repeat it again and again, I consider this package one of the most important and is in daily use on my side.

The day closed with two lightening talks, first was by Keiichiro SHIKANO (鹿野桂一郎) on the usage of Encapsulated PostScript (eps) files in TeX (slides). Unfortunately, he didn't really rehearse his talk and his time was over before it got interesting 😉 Fortunately we can read his slides online.

The last talk was Hironobu YAMASHITA (山下弘展) on How to become happy when typesetting Japanese with LaTeX (slides). A very funny and informative talk on the incredible work Hironobu is doing for the TeX community - development of large amount of packages, support and updates of the source code of several programs, the list is long.

I love to attend TeX meetings, and the Japanese TeXConf is in particular always interesting, in particular because TeXies here have a tendency to be rather tech savvy, one could even say \expandafter-maniac. This was in fact the biggest complaint during our walk to the dinner location, that there weren't enough mentioning of \expandafter in the talks.

It is now nearly ten years that I attend the Japanese TeX User meetings, and I think we have come a long way - from a rather separate group of TeX developers and users distributing their stuff on Japanese only wikis and private pages, to a group that is now very strongly integrated in our global TeX community (TUG conference in Tokyo) as well as contributing to many projects. Thanks a lot!

12 Nov 2018 1:52am GMT