Why finl? A manifestoSticky

In 1994, LaTeX2e was released as a transitional step towards LaTeX 3. 26 years later, there still isn’t a 1.0 release of LaTeX 3. In the interim, we’ve seen the rise of HTML and the web, the dominance of PDF as a format for representation of printed material (and now there is a plan to have […] →Read more

Stupid Mac tricks

I recently switched from Dropbox to sync for my synchronized cloud folder needs. Along the way, I moved all the files that were in ~/Dropbox to ~/Sync  I had a terminal window open with a shell cd’d to ~/DropBox/PreppyLion for the book I’m working on. I expected to get an error about that directory being in use and I couldn’t move […] →Read more

Page references

I’ve been thinking about page references lately and how they translate to non-print presentations. At the moment, I’m reading The Rust Programming Language by Steve Klabnik and Carol Nichols and I noticed that there was a page reference when they wrote: We’ll discuss this concept in detail in “Variables and Mutability” on page 32. This, in […] →Read more

Looking at rust is already beneficial

In addition to programming, I’m also a minor writer of fiction. One thing that I often do while working on a novel is write a short story to develop some aspect of craft. For example, part of the motivation for writing my story, Saint Jude’s Medallion was to work out how to tell a story through […] →Read more

Choosing a programming language revisited

A comment from someone on Hacker News who happened to stumble across this site, inspired me to give another look at rust as a programming language. Having spent a few months digging into C++, my initial thoughts are that as pros: ICU for Unicode support harfbuzz for text rendering within the limits of compiler support […] →Read more

The things we forget

Looking at a post on tex.stackexchange.com I found myself digging into man pages to find out about some (comparatively) new options on the modern TeX engines and not remembering what virTeX was (it’s TeX with no format preloaded). Along the way of refreshing my memory, I stumbled upon this post from thirty years ago (almost […] →Read more

Character substitutions in text

TeX handles some character sequence substitutions by (ab)using the ligature mechanism, e.g., “→“. This works reasonably well for Computer Modern which defines these in its ligature table, but falls apart once we start trying to use non-TeX fonts. Furthermore, there’s the added complication that most fonts put the characters ‘ and ` in character positions […] →Read more

Mistakes of LaTeX: the tabular environment

One constant annoyance that I’ve encountered when people learn LaTeX is the default behavior of the tabular environment. Rather than presenting itself as a separate paragraph block, it is instead automatically in TeX’s horizontal mode. This means that if, for example, a user writes: some text\begin{tabular}{…}…\end{tabular}more text the tabular will be presented left-ish aligned (actually, […] →Read more

Defining a document markup language for finl

The markup language for finl will be based on LaTeX, but many of the pain points of LaTeX come from the macro-expansion approach that Knuth’s TeX takes towards parsing the document. I can remember being a teenager reading The TeXbook and puzzling over the whole mouth-gullet-stomach description and finding that challenging to follow.  LaTeX attempts to […] →Read more

Choosing a programming language

There are five platforms in common usage in 2020. On traditional computing platforms, we see Windows, Linux and MacOS. For mobile we have Android and iOS. Other platforms exist, but they have negligible usage (e.g., various BSD variants and quixotic efforts at creating a third OS for mobile). Of these, iOS is the most restricted […] →Read more