LaTeX to Lulu, the Making of AOSA: Fonts and Captions

The two volumes of The Architecture of Open Source Applications were typeset with LaTeX and printed through Lulu. I couldn’t have finished the AOSA books without the generosity of people all over the world who posted their LaTeX tips to forums and blogs. This series of posts pays some of that back by sharing what I learned.

This is the second post in the series.

LaTeX to Lulu

  1. Headers and Footers
  2. Fonts and Captions
  3. Table of Contents and Chapter Title Pages
  4. Custom Commands and Environments
  5. Other Useful Packages and Settings
  6. Pulling It All Together

Today’s post is about specifying fonts and captions.

Read the rest of this entry »


LaTeX to Lulu, the Making of AOSA: Geometry, and Headers and Footers

The two volumes of The Architecture of Open Source Applications were typeset with LaTeX and printed through Lulu. If you’re publishing through Lulu or another self-publisher and you want to create a polished book without spending the earth on a desktop publishing package, LaTeX is a good choice. It provides a professional result and it’s infinitely customizable — if you have the patience to put it together and the resourcefulness to figure out how. I couldn’t have finished the AOSA books without the generosity of people all over the world who posted their LaTeX tips to forums and blogs. This series of posts pays some of that back by sharing what I learned.

LaTeX to Lulu

  1. Headers and Footers
  2. Fonts and Captions
  3. Table of Contents and Chapter Title Pages
  4. Custom Commands and Environments
  5. Other Useful Packages and Settings
  6. Pulling It All Together

Today’s post is about specifying the size of the book, and the headers and footers.

Read the rest of this entry »


Announcing The Architecture of Open Source Applications, Volume II

The Architecture of Open Source Applications, Volume II CoverI am proud to announce the release of The Architecture of Open Source Applications, Volume II. It’s a twenty-four chapter, thirty-one author book, the production of which has consumed, oh, 40% of my waking hours since last summer (or so it seems). I worked on it with Greg Wilson and a large supporting cast of authors, reviews and editors, and I think we’re all very pleased with it.

It’s not over yet; the PDF and ebook editions are still to come. I’m also planning a few blog posts about the making of the book — I want to share some of our “Lessons Learned”.

Here’s the press release:

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Thanks from Amnesty International

I received this lovely note from Amnesty International, thanking us (which means anyone who bought The Architecture of Open Source Applications) for our donations.

Thank you note from Amnesty International(I send them cheques for the royalties from the Kindle book, because the process to get them sent directly from Amazon is too byzantine to bother with.)


“Green”: You’re Missing the Point

I stumbled across this post today, asking about whether one of those coffee makers that consumes a new disposable pod for every cup (pot?) of coffee is “green”.

Ooh, miss! Miss! I know, miss! I know! Pick me!

No. No, a device which consumes a non-recyclable plastic cup in a process which normally only consumes a piece of paper (or even nothing disposable at all) is not green. It’s just not. REDUCE is the first R. Did you know they’re in order? Of course you did: reduce > reuse > recycle. There is nothing green (environmentally-conscious, sustainable) about this kind of coffee maker. There is no way to make it sustainable apart from buying their reusable filter and using regular coffee, which is exactly what they don’t want you to do because they mark up the price on their little pods like crazy, just like every other processed food is marked up like crazy.

I read on:

Specifically, how do they shoot hot water through a plastic cup with no harmful leaching from the plastic, including BPA?

See, now you’re somehow (I blame the hippies) getting greenness (environmental-consciousness, sustainability) mixed up with chemophobia (irrational fear of things you don’t understand). There is still some question of whether BPA is the boogeyman we’ve been led to believe it is, and further even if it is, we’re still not sure if it’s getting into our bodies through oral exposure or some other avenue. That may or may not make you feel better, but either way, that has no bearing on the environment.

My point is, don’t say “green” when you mean “contains no oogedy-boogedy scary chemicals”.


Early Childhood Education

Delphine was the first baby I ever knew. I was the baby of my family – I had no younger siblings or cousins, so I didn’t have any exposure to babies when I was a child. In adulthood, I was only the second of my social circle to have a baby. All I knew about babies was that I wanted one.

Fortunately, for me and for Delphine, I had amazing role models: my in-laws. They showed me, by example, how to hold her, how to carry her, talk to her, read to her, and play with her. They showed me how to make every object in the house an interesting artifact to be shown to and discussed with the baby; every object including the ones with text on them. Through my in-laws I learned to show Delphine letters and words, to sound them out, to talk about the shapes of letters and the sounds they represent. She and Cordelia and their baby cousin Charlie were saturated in text ever since they could focus on it.

So I was surprised when I asked a four-year-old of my acquaintance whether her name started with A or H (Anna or Hannah) and she couldn’t tell me. I was more surprised when a friend reported with pride that her son had come home from kindergarten and spelled his name for the first time. How, I thought, do you send a kid off to kindergarten without being able to spell his own name?

It turns out most people don’t have in-laws like mine, or any other role models to teach them how to introduce their children to the world of reading. That’s why I couldn’t agree more with this call to extend schooling to younger children. I don’t mean sitting-in-desks, worksheets-and-homework school, I mean the kind of excellent research-based, play-centred early childhood education that is offered in Ontario’s registered daycares. (At least all the daycares my kids were in.) And I’m not suggesting that kids be taken away from their parents for hours every day; I like the idea of a combined drop-in centre/childcare/kindergarten which is available at low or no cost to whoever chooses to use it, and allows children to participate at the pace that works for them and their family.  And I really like the idea of putting such centres into Toronto’s underused schools, instead of closing schools and forcing kids to bus or travel further.


Letter of the Month: President’s Choice Cocoa

President’s Choice Customer Relations
1 President’s Choice Circle
Brampton ON L6Y 5S5

To Whom It May Concern:

I have recently been alarmed to learn of the use of child labour and even slavery in the processing of cocoa, especially in Ivory Coast. I understand that major chocolate producers purchase cocoa at commodity exchanges where Ivory Coast cocoa is mixed with cocoa from other sources.

I would like your assurance that President’s Choice doesn’t distribute chocolate made from cocoa produced by child slaves. I understand that it is difficult to be sure of the provenance of a commodity like cocoa. However, I will no longer purchase chocolate from companies who do not take responsibility for the production of the cocoa they use, and who cannot assure me that their chocolate was not made by child slaves.

Two hundred years ago my ancestors in England gave up sugar to protest the slave trade – I can surely do the same with chocolate now.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Sincerely,
Amy Brown