Markdown and LaTeX

Just a quick note to say that someone has implemented a (very crude at this stage) Markdown to LaTeX converter, and I’m jealous. He’s way ahead of me here, in that I’ve been thinking along these lines for a while now, and actually getting it done gets the credit.

Actually, my implementation was going to be written in TeX, just to see if I could do it — I have a feeling that it might not very robust in the end, but then again the requirements aren’t particularly great.

I suspect that his method (or proposed final method, rather) of keeping Markdown a perl script that transforms the output to LaTeX is the best idea.

Now that I think of it, txt2tags is a similar program to Markdown, but which converts to LaTeX (among others) as well as HTML, so it’s really even better than Markdown, if you’ll excuse its slightly less elegant syntax (and I mean “slightly”).

Hmmm. Should check that out, since it totally doesn’t get enough kudos, at least, if it is indeed as good as it looks. I guess that’s the problem with invention: the best salesman always wins; and John Gruber sure knows how to put a nice wrapper on things and is read by a whole lot of people.


Apple shares: not for me, right now

For posterity, or something, I thought it would be a good idea to say that right now, just after Apple shares have slumped, is theoretically a great time to buy them.

In fact, I previously told myself that next time such a thing happened, I would buy some. But I’ve actually decided against it. The first is that I don’t know how to buy shares. That’s a bit of an embarrassing reason.

The other reason is that it just doesn’t make sense. I have some savings, but I need it to live off over the next few years. I’m not a gambler by nature, so were I to buy shares now, even if they increased threefold as they have already over the last few years, my end return would be, in the scheme of things, not that much.

So — no riches for me. I’ll wait ‘til I grow up (by which I mean “get a real job”) before learning how to invest money.


PDF interlude

Don’t be alarmed. I’m still doing stuff. It’s just that I got out of the habit of writing insignificant things, and I’m sort of weaning myself from some distractions that really weren’t of any use to me. General Apple and Mac trivia, for example.

This entry has been prompted by a PDF document that has been generated from TeX, somehow, that is totally broken (a thesis). It won’t print, and Mac OS X’s Preview won’t even open the file. Ghostview gives lots of errors, but Adobe Acrobat displays it fine.

Isn’t this the type of thing that got us in trouble with HTML? If there is a standard, then documents with incorrect syntax simply should not be permissible. I know there are arguments for flexible syntax parsers, but the context there is a little different (RSS and so on; I don’t care to investigate the matter deeply).

The PDF format is supposed to be archive quality (or was, originally? I’m never too good with such facts), but it is becoming increasingly clear to me that it isn’t the panacea I had previously assumed it to be. I’ve had a PDF not print correctly on a set of business cards, with the printers substituting a font they thought “looked similar” but really didn’t look very good. (Next time I’ll know better.)

So, a short story long, getting a colleague to export the PDF to PostScript and re-distill it with Adobe Acrobat fixed the problem – but bleah! What a way to have to go about it.

I’d also like to mention that it’s a pity that theses published in 2003 still use bitmap fonts. While the technology was great for its time, bezier curves are totally the way to go now — smaller file sizes and faster, and generally higher-quality, output. (Neglecting the differences in designing a bitmap vs. vector font, but the differences are mostly academic, anyway.)

Ah well. One day I’ll never have to worry about document formats, but the way there is sure a struggle sometimes.