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Archive for July, 2008

Crazy Matplotlib tutorial

I started using python’s matplotlib to plot graphs in my Oceanography courses. Matplotlib is pretty easy to understand if you already know some python. However it’s documentation is somewhat frustrating, even though it comes with a plethora of examples.

So I turned to seek help on the user’s list, and that was a great experience. I got responses almost immediately, and many times the respondent was the author of the program himself. That was very nice, but people kept telling me I should read the tutorial and user guide and I kept answering that I prefer to learn by doing. Which is true. I use another program which has a steep learning curve called latex-beamer. It comes with a wonderful 300+ pages user guide. I read bits and parts of it. But mostly, I just saw other people code and copied it and changed it to fit my own presentation needs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the same with Matplotlib, maybe because graph codes is not something people show around like beamer presentation.

So I ended up quite frustrated and I wrote the following to the mailing list:

I am a lost case about reading tutorial at the moment.
I am in a middle of a very intense course, and they expect us to do crazy stuff with matlab. so it’s either that or solving with python. I’ll do read it when I have time…

I am mostly frustrated with documentation writers who write very nice tutorials describing
how to plot completely unuseful graphs of spheres inside loops and a dolphin swimming
in the middle. Come on, this is not what users need. I am talking about what many students
feel. We need real tutorials, this why I wrote my own little tutorial here
http://www.tabula0rasa.org/?p=21.

So I vented a lit bit my frustration. The reply didn’t wait long before arriving in a very funny way:

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A quick tip: How to pause ubuntu upgrade tool

I’ve been upgrading my ubuntu laptop since ubuntu 6.06, even though sometimes I break my installation and need to do a clean install… Never the less I think ubuntu’s upgrade tool has no second in the linux world. It is mostly a reliable tool and usually does the job. But there is one thing that always annoyed me about it. Once you get it running you can’t stop it, and if you stop it cleans all the packages downloaded. It’s really annoying because when it runs it completely over takes the net usage and other net applications. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not the Gates, it’s the bars

The BBC publishes an important article by Richard Stallman. I felt this is so important and true it has to be copied an published here fully:

To pay so much attention to Bill Gates’ retirement is missing the point. What really matters is not Gates, nor Microsoft, but the unethical system of restrictions that Microsoft, like many other software companies, imposes on its customers.

That statement may surprise you, since most people interested in computers have strong feelings about Microsoft. Businessmen and their tame politicians admire its success in building an empire over so many computer users.

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