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9:00 PM
@PauloCereda Oh, my, god. I thought that was an actual bug. Don't do that again.
And yes, I'm very gullible.

@FaheemMitha ;)

@PauloCereda I tried to make this my profile pic, but it doesn't allow the animation... :(

@AlanMunn Thank god for small mercies.

@AlanMunn Oh my, that would be epic. :)

@JosephWright @Johannes_B @PauloCereda How do you explain to somebody who doesn't speak very good English that \usepackage{something} will not work with something.docx? And why is it not like \usepackage{lipsum}? Obviously there are potentially good answers to this question, but what if you have 19 or so other people also needing your attention?!

9:07 PM
@Alan: on the other hand, my Live profile has an animated picture. It's very annoying. :) Let me show it.

@cfr Face to face or written correspondence?

@PauloCereda I'm sure it is annoying.

@Johannes_B Face to face!

@AlanMunn ^^

@PauloCereda OMG that really is awful.

9:09 PM
@AlanMunn Woody Woodpecker FTW.

@cfr What do you mean by not like\usepackage{lipsum}?

@cfr Oh my, that's tricky. :(

@cfr "The .docx file is written in a different language that the LaTeX program cannot understand."
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@cfr Is this in the context of your LaTeX course? Or is the person trying to use LaTeX inside Word? It's hard to know what the right answer is without knowing what the person's goal is.

@Johannes_B I think the idea was that \usepackage{lipsum} adds stuff to your document. So LaTeX should be able to get stuff out of other things, too, like Word documents, in the same way.
@AlanMunn In the course. So he's trying to use LaTeX. But he couldn't understand how you could write things not in Word.

9:11 PM
@cfr If \usepackage{lipsum} prints the contents of lipsum \usepackage{docname} should print the contents of the docname, right?
@cfr How does he write emails? Yak, html comes to do markup

@cfr "\usepackage{lipsum} tells LaTeX to take instructions from another file, lipsum.sty. But the .docx file doesn't contain any instructions for LaTeX, instead it contains instructions that only Microsoft Word can understand."

@Johannes_B Yes. The only question was how to figure out which paragraph number to use for docname.
@Johannes_B I have no idea. Does Office 365 cooperate with Word? Because our email is MS Office 365.

@cfr When I tried to introduce students in a music course to basic HTML I found the biggest barrier was just understanding the concept of a plain text file and installing and using a text editor.

@cfr No freakin' idea ;-)
@AndrewCashner I know that.

@cfr Doesn't stop you using a proper text editor for email (Office 365 offers IMAP)

9:14 PM
@cfr Ah, ok. I guess I would be in the mode of "Word docs are created/read by Word; TeX docs are created/read by TeXworks."

@AndrewCashner That sounds good... but I don't think his English was sufficiently good to explain anything quite that abstract.

@cfr And yes, that's a lie, but at least its a cross platform lie.
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I have often read, in english and in german: You need to do \usepackage{geometry}. Nothing parses the human-readable part.
@AlanMunn :D

@AlanMunn Yes. I told him you needed to get the stuff into a .tex file in order for LaTeX to use it. (I know this isn't quite true. But I didn't think I could manage the concept of 'any plain text file'.)

@AndrewCashner My dad still has problems on data sizes. :) For a long time, he used to use floppy disks as unit digital information. :)

9:17 PM
@cfr But I guess that was my point. He understands that Word uses docx, so you tell him that TeX uses TeXworks. Then you avoid the whole issue of 'plain text file'.

@JosephWright I know. But you asked what the student used - and I'm guessing. I'm well aware it offers IMAP. You don't think I use Office 365 directly, surely?

@cfr A typewriter is kinda plain text

@cfr :-)
@cfr Our place is making the same move: sad times

@Johannes_B \ttfamily :)
@JosephWright boo

@AlanMunn Yes. I'm agreeing. I just didn't tie it to a specific editor. I didn't want to say that TeX uses Overleaf.
@JosephWright :( My sympathies. The only thing I can say for it is that it is marginally less bad than our previous system.

9:20 PM
@DavidCarlisle Can this be one of your former accounts?
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On pp. 203–204 of the TeXbook, Knuth describes how TeX absorbs macros' arguments: delimited go until the first appearance of the delimiter, and undelimited go until the next token, in both cases respecting brace groups. But then he says: In both cases ,if the argument found in this way has t...

@JosephWright That gives you some idea of our previous system...

@cfr the tex file is your manuscript, written with something like a typewriter and is later processed by LaTeX. Since you cannot make things large, or bold, you have to somehow mark what should be done with the text pieces on the page using only the typewriter.

@cfr I'm guessing this is coming from the common illusion that a Word doc IS plain text (look on the screen, it's just my words, right?). People don't understand that the computer is actually processing something much more complex.

@Johannes_B I think he'd understood that much. He understood the formatting needed to be done in the .tex file. He just wasn't sure how you told it which bit of the Word document to apply which formatting to...

@PauloCereda -- typewriters, you say? take a look at tinyurl.com/p232hva -- it's so full of anachronisms that today would have been the perfect day to publish it. (reference, with some commentary, coming in my next tugboat column.)
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9:23 PM
@AndrewCashner Maybe that's right. I'd not thought of it that way. (Isn't it obvious it isn't plain text? It doesn't look plain!)

@cfr People don't know plain text exists! I had never seen a terminal until I started trying out LaTeX and was told I had to run biber in the terminal. I searched on my Mac for "terminal" and this mysterious window appeared that looked like the old DOS command line I remembered from my dad's blue-screen computer back in the 90s. I had no idea it existed.

@cfr That are the magical 3d glasses applied to the plain text (or xml) that make it look different :-p

@percusse Ask somebodz to open a text file nowadays. It is horrifying.

@Johannes_B Why? Change the extension and then mail them. They are too lazy to bother
So it will open in notepad

9:27 PM
@cfr I didn't really get it until I learned about ASCII character codes. The idea that each letter is a series of eight ones and zeros in a special code, and that a plain text file is nothing more than a series of these codes.

@percusse ?

@percusse Talking about forums and stuff, without mails ;-) show us the contents of the blg file

@DavidCarlisle It reads a little like your answers. And Ryan's answer starts with discussion with David so I thought maybe that is one of your former accounts unmerged

@AndrewCashner I can understand not getting the concept of 'plain text'. But I can't understand thinking that what you see in Word is plain text...

@cfr Why not? It is plain text with garbled XML on top.

9:31 PM
@cfr You just open it up and type in it, right? And you never use any other program to type except for e-mail, where you never save anything.

@percusse But it doesn't look plain. If I didn't know what plain text meant, I wouldn't think it would look like that. I might not know what plain text was. And I might be wrong about it. It just seems weird to think that's it.
@AndrewCashner Well, maybe. Yes, I see what you mean.

@barbarabeeton Reminds me of thesis guidelines.

@barbarabeeton ooh

9:48 PM
@cfr Actual quote from a student evaluation: "He also forced us to submit our essays as text files instead of Word Documents in a very particular manner, which was quite annoying and unnecessary. "

Is scrpage2/scrheadings a reasonable substitute for fancyhdr in scrlttr2?
@AndrewCashner By text files, did he/she mean LaTeX?

@AndrewCashner I would be annoyed at that too. I only accept PDF files, but having people submit plain text files for most things seems a bit searching for adjective.

@Faheem No I just asked for plain .txt files with no formatting (or simple Markdown if they knew it). These were very short essays. I told them to use gedit but it was a giant mess. I doubt I will try again.
@AlanMunn It was a dumb decision. There was no advantage to anyone in the end.

@AndrewCashner I see.

Accepting Word files. ^^

9:54 PM
There is a lot to be said for plain text. But mostly I default to LaTeX for most things. It just looks too good to pass up.
@AlanMunn What is wrong with text files?

@PauloCereda Where do you find this stuff?

@AlanMunn <3

@AlanMunn he has a secret library of it stashed away.
Once upon a time there was a way you could freeze a gif. I miss those days.
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@AlanMunn But the student comment also illuminate the problem of @cfr's student: they had to use this "weird" file format instead of Word (which is normal). So Word is "plain text" as in "a normal document file" for many users.

@FaheemMitha Well, as we've been discussing, the average student has literally no concept of a plain text file, since their only interaction with text and computers is usually through Word. And except for the most simple things, completely unformatted text isn't very readable, so plain text for me isn't a viable format.
@AndrewCashner Absolutely.

9:57 PM
@AlanMunn plain text isn't really that bad. You can print it via emacs and it sort of looks ok.
I used to print out code like that once upon a time.
And I think you should try to educate people, even though they struggle and protest.

@FaheemMitha Of course for code, plain text makes sense. But for most other things it's too impoverished a format.

Here is a text file. This is not a text file.
@AlanMunn Well, I would have thought it fine for simple essays.

@FaheemMitha @barbarabeeton I write class notes in Markdown and then print them in Latin Modern Teletype by importing them into fancyvrb using a shell script. Such advanced technology to produce typewriter output.

@AndrewCashner Well, it is the 21st century.
"importing them into fancyvrb"? You mean LaTeX?

@FaheemMitha Well in my field minimal essays require real formatting (equation-like) but with words.

10:00 PM
@Faheem Yes, into a verbatim environment in LaTeX using fancyvrb

@AlanMunn I see.

@AndrewCashner Why don't you use pandoc?

I mean, I would have thought one of the other, not both.

@AndrewCashner Or did I forget today's date?

@AlanMunn I just meant doing *this* for titles. I meant Markdown as a basic way to format plain text. Like I said, this is an old battle that I don't want to fight anymore. In the future I plan to ask for PDFs for essays and make sure students know LaTeX exists as an option, but not push it.
@AlanMunn I would like to teach students basic HTML as part of 21st century basic literacy, and important to know if you are going to have to be promoting yourself as a musician on the web for your whole career. But that means teaching text files and text editors, which takes class time and annoys people. (Can't you just drag and drop with WordPress?)

10:05 PM
@AndrewCashner I was referring to your using fancyvrb etc. for your own notes. It seems like you would be much better served using pandoc for Markdown -> LaTeX conversion.
@AndrewCashner Hmm. I turned our lab webpage into Wordpress so that anyone in the lab can do stuff with it. Otherwise I became the single point of knowledge, which is deadly.

@AlanMunn I genuinely like monospaced typewriter-like output for my own notes. (But I prefer lmtt to Courier.)

@AndrewCashner Sure, but the pandoc solution still seems simpler than what you're doing.

@AlanMunn ;)

@AlanMunn All I'm doing is printing out the source code verbatim, it's nothing complicated. But you may be right. I used pandoc a lot in the past but I should look into it again.
Nice chatting with all of you today. Take care.

10:26 PM
I know this is a bit vague, but I have a filename and a date, which are a bit close together. What might be a good space to separate them? About the length of a word would work.
@AndrewCashner Nice chatting with you too. Have fun in LA.

@AlanMunn I got somewhat annoyed when a student wouldn't give me the .tex source for a PDF submission just because it is so much easier to mark up a text file than PDF. Word is OK to mark up, too. But that was only because I knew she'd produced the PDF from .tex. I don't ask for the source when they've used Pages.
@AndrewCashner I do this by just including a colophon in my course materials which explains the software used to produce it. Students who are interested notice. Those who don't care just ignore it.
But generally I try to discourage students and colleagues from using LaTeX because I would be their only source of information....
@FaheemMitha Any particular word?

10:45 PM
@JosephWright and all: since next Saturday is Holy Saturday, should we postpone the “Unanswered” session to April 11?

11:16 PM
@DavidCarlisle I have never used psfig`
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You were loading some ancient (undistributed for decades) packages such as psfig but once I removed those, the error message seemed quite clear ! LaTeX Error: \begin{minipage} on input line 82 ended by \end{center}. because you had a duplicated line \end{center} so I deleted one of them th...

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