Early February Miscellany

In no particular order:

• After fussing with it enough I was able to move the website for Erie Looking Productions over to a different provider. Eventually there will be an SSL certificate once that actually generates within the next day or so. The transition had a few too many moving parts to it which resulted in a bit of breakage. Fortunately the website wasn’t down too long.

• I got word back that the almost-novella story I submitted for a contest didn’t make it to the list for judges to consider. It is a pretty big contest. The question now is what to do with the story. It is long enough that if I utilize the novel class in LuaLaTex with appropriate font choices and set my paper size wisely I could possibly make a print offering somewhere like Lulu and just release it as an independent pocket book as well as make an ebook offering on Leanpub. Since the story was originally written step-by-step in a gitit wiki I also ended up using the markdown package found on the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network to easily shift into submission format using the science fiction manuscripts class the raw text with some bash scripting and coreutils usage. Yes, it is happened to be a dirty hack that I’m not ready to stick on Launchpad anywhere but it worked nicely. No, pandoc was not used in this scenario.

• So far none of the packages I have installed on my Focal Fossa machine have significantly broken on me. This is good. I have been using the machine for day to day use.

• I’ve disappeared from IRC again as the droplet on Digital Ocean that had my ZNC bouncer had to be turned off. I’ll figure something out eventually and make a return when resources permit.

• There may be a need for me to start a newsletter on tinyletter to try get familiar with the platform and otherwise be able to evaluate it. I cannot actually engage in podcasting right now for some ironic reasons. Considering that I cannot being on a microphone and outside being a writer or post-production editor it seems maintaining a newsletter would be an interesting side trip for now. We’ll see if I have to go ahead and launch that project. Watch this space for details…

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I’ve been trying to go through the daily digest e-mails I get from ArXiv to see what papers are of interest.  This is a sample of what I have found.  Eventually I will be able to read through them and try to make an appropriate bibliography for deposit.

Agarwal, Pushkal, Sagar Joglekar, Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Nishanth Sastry, and Nicolas Kourtellis. “Stop Tracking Me Bro! Differential Tracking Of User Demographics On Hyper-Partisan Websites.” ArXiv:2002.00934 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00934.

Borradaile, Glencora, Brett Burkhardt, and Alexandria LeClerc. “Whose Tweets Are Surveilled for the Police: An Audit of Social-Media Monitoring Tool via Log Files.” ArXiv:2001.08777 [Cs], January 23, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1145/3351095.3372841.

Bright, Jonathan, Nahema Marchal, Bharath Ganesh, and Stevan Rudinac. “Echo Chambers Exist! (But They’re Full of Opposing Views).” ArXiv:2001.11461 [Cs, Stat], January 30, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.11461.

Chiaraviglio, Luca, Cristian Di Paolo, Giuseppe Bianchi, and Nicola Blefari-Melazzi. “Is It Safe Living in the Vicinity of Cellular Towers? Analysis of Long-Term Human EMF Exposure at Population Scale.” ArXiv:2002.00910 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00910.

Dai, Enyan, Yiwei Sun, and Suhang Wang. “Ginger Cannot Cure Cancer: Battling Fake Health News with a Comprehensive Data Repository.” ArXiv:2002.00837 [Cs, Stat], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00837.

Dulam, Rohit Venkata Sai, Meghana Murthy, and Jiebo Luo. “Seeing through the Smoke : A World-Wide Comparative Study of e-Cigarette Flavors, Brands and Markets Using Data from Reddit and Twitter.” ArXiv:2002.01575 [Cs], February 4, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.01575.

Goldani, Mohammad Hadi, Saeedeh Momtazi, and Reza Safabakhsh. “Detecting Fake News with Capsule Neural Networks.” ArXiv:2002.01030 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.01030.

Gong, Zhaoya, Tengteng Cai, Jean-Claude Thill, Scott Hale, and Mark Graham. “Measuring Relative Opinion from Location-Based Social Media: A Case Study of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” ArXiv:2002.00854 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00854.

Gupta, Rohit, and Rohit Panda. “Block the Blocker: Studying the Effects of Anti Ad-Blocking.” ArXiv:2001.09434 [Cs], January 26, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.09434.

Leung, Weiwen, Zheng Zhang, Daviti Jibuti, Jinhao Zhao, Maximillian Klein, Casey Pierce, Lionel Robert, and Haiyi Zhu. “Race, Gender and Beauty: The Effect of Information Provision on Online Hiring Biases.” ArXiv:2001.09753 [Cs], January 16, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.09753.

Leyva-Mayorga, Israel, Radoslaw Kotaba, Fresia Maria, and Petar Popovski. “Wireless Mesh Networking with Devices Equipped with Multi-Connectivity.” ArXiv:2001.11208 [Cs], January 30, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.11208.

Luceri, Luca, Silvia Giordano, and Emilio Ferrara. “Don’t Feed the Troll: Detecting Troll Behavior via Inverse Reinforcement Learning.” ArXiv:2001.10570 [Cs], January 28, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10570.

Mallari, Keri, Kori Inkpen, Paul Johns, Sarah Tan, Divya Ramesh, and Ece Kamar. “Do I Look Like a Criminal? Examining How Race Presentation Impacts Human Judgement of Recidivism.” ArXiv:2002.01111 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.01111.

Nadjem, Alexandre, Juan-Manuel Torres-Moreno, Marc El-Bèze, Guillaume Marrel, and Benoît Bonte. “Predicting Personalized Academic and Career Roads: First Steps Toward a Multi-Uses Recommender System.” ArXiv:2001.10613 [Cs], January 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10613.

Ni, Bo, Zhichun Guo, Jianing Li, and Meng Jiang. “Improving Generalizability of Fake News Detection Methods Using Propensity Score Matching.” ArXiv:2002.00838 [Cs, Stat], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00838.

Noever, David. “The Enron Corpus: Where the Email Bodies Are Buried?” ArXiv:2001.10374 [Cs], January 24, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10374.

Ojetunde, Babatunde, Naoki Shibata, and Juntao Gao. “Secure Payment System Utilizing MANET for Disaster Areas.” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems 49, no. 12 (December 2019): 2651–63. https://doi.org/10.1109/TSMC.2017.2752203.

Papadopoulos, Panagiotis, Peter Snyder, and Benjamin Livshits. “Keeping out the Masses: Understanding the Popularity and Implications of Internet Paywalls.” ArXiv:1903.01406 [Cs], February 3, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/1903.01406.

Pasi, Gabriella, and Marco Viviani. “Information Credibility in the Social Web: Contexts, Approaches, and Open Issues.” ArXiv:2001.09473 [Cs], January 26, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.09473.

Pierri, Francesco, Alessandro Artoni, and Stefano Ceri. “HoaxItaly: A Collection of Italian Disinformation and Fact-Checking Stories Shared on Twitter in 2019.” ArXiv:2001.10926 [Cs], January 29, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10926.

Rajtmajer, Sarah, Ashish Simhachalam, Thomas Zhao, Brady Bickel, and Christopher Griffin. “A Dynamical Systems Perspective Reveals Coordination in Russian Twitter Operations.” ArXiv:2001.08816 [Cs], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.08816.

Ravikiran, Manikandan. “What’s Happened in MOOC Posts Analysis, Knowledge Tracing and Peer Feedbacks? A Review.” ArXiv:2001.09830 [Cs], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.09830.

Sikdar, Sandipan, Rachneet Singh Sachdeva, Johannes Wachs, Florian Lemmerich, and Markus Strohmaier. “The Effects of Gender Signals and Performance in Online Product Reviews.” ArXiv:2001.09955 [Cs], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.09955.

Silva, Márcio, Lucas Santos de Oliveira, Athanasios Andreou, Pedro Olmo Vaz de Melo, Oana Goga, and Fabrício Benevenuto. “Facebook Ads Monitor: An Independent Auditing System for Political Ads on Facebook.” ArXiv:2001.10581 [Cs], January 28, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10581.

Szanto, Aron, Nir Rosenfeld, and David C. Parkes. “A Kernel of Truth: Determining Rumor Veracity on Twitter by Diffusion Pattern Alone.” ArXiv:2002.00850 [Cs, Stat], January 28, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1145/3366423.3380180.

Washington, Anne L., and Rachel S. Kuo. “Whose Side Are Ethics Codes On? Power, Responsibility and the Social Good.” Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, January 27, 2020, 230–40. https://doi.org/10.1145/3351095.3372844.

Zhang, Songyang, Tolga Aktas, and Jiebo Luo. “Mi YouTube Es Su YouTube? Analyzing the Cultures Using YouTube Thumbnails of Popular Videos.” ArXiv:2002.00842 [Cs], January 27, 2020. http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.00842.

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Making A Service Launch

I hinted previously that I would launch this and that there were ironic reasons for doing so. It is best that I explain myself. Explanations generally make things clearer.

There was a push for Erie Looking Productions to return to producing at least general programming. Now that I am no longer a federal civil servant the restrictions that held me back for six years from doing so are off. The problem is that the current studio space suffered physical damage. The audio equipment and the recording computer are fine and secured but the physical space is not usable. We don’t have a fallback space at this time nor do we have the economic means to procure one. Repairs to the physical space were supposed to be done this month but I have not heard much about the status of that lately.

I am also dealing with some long-term recovery from some surgery that was done. While I can talk to people it can sound slightly garbled at times. The last check-in at the doctor’s office didn’t show me breaking any speed records to be able to move ahead in matters so I am stuck with “slow and steady” for the time being. That is going to possibly not be fixed properly until some point in April.

While I know the folks behind the Ubuntu Podcast are planning to return to air shortly I will instead be taking a different path. The current hotness appears to be launching your own newsletter such as this technology one. Since podcasting is not feasible at the moment the reformatting of content to a strictly textual form seem like the simplest way forward for now.

I could operate an announce-only mailman list on a minimal Ubuntu 19.10 droplet on Digital Ocean. However, my current economic circumstances have instead pushed me over to trying to utilize tinyletter.com instead. To quote the 13th & 21st US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, in an apt manner: “As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

The newsletter is entitled “The Interim Edgewood Stratagem”. Release frequency should be once weekly but I haven’t settled a firm day yet but it would likely be out on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday each week. We’ll see how it develops. I am pretty sure we are not initially going to dive into unknown unknowns if we can help it.

Twice a month there is the chance that the text of my sermon presented on Sunday morning at the nursing home may be presented that week. Initially the first release would be in fact the text of my sermon from Sunday. That is planned to go out later in the day on February 12th.

The first regular essay would go out during the week of February 16th. In that essay I want to get to would be to talk about a bit of an unresolved mystery case involving a Pacific island nation suffering an Internet blackout. Style-wise this wouldn’t be Darknet Diaries but rather something a bit different. After the Pacific jaunt would hopefully be an essay on the changing business regulation climate in the US that may not help folks in the open source world who “hang their own shingle” to work as independent contractors. Once through that we would see where stories go. I do know I do not want to talk about the presidential primary campaigns if at all possible as nothing productive comes out of worrying about them while other craziness is in play.

You can sign up at the subscribe page for free. Support is welcomed though not required through avenues such as Liberapay. If you just want to drop in a quarter via PayPal or maybe just two cents that is doable as well. The shopping wishlist for replacement gear also still exists as I watch equipment fail and otherwise decay.

This is an adventure that I am nervous about starting. Once upon a time I was a working journalist who was routinely published in print, no less. The media landscape isn’t the same these days but this will likely feel like getting back on a bicycle to ride again after a long time away.

To quote a commercial that aired quite a bit a few years ago: “Let me tell you a story…”

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Trying A Minimum Working Example

When you make assertions in a channel like the Ubuntu Podcast’s Telegram chatter channel they sometimes have to be backed up. Recently I made reference to how you could utilize Markdown within a LaTeX document. I should take a moment to discuss a way to use LuaLaTeX to make your Markdown documents look nice. We’re going to build a “Minimum Working Example” to illustrate things.

First, I will refer to a package on the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network simply named markdown. That handles processing Markdown input. In its documentation you find that you can actually input a separate Markdown-formatted file into the macros provided which will convert them into appropriate LaTeX code and add that programmatically into your document. LaTeX is a Turing-complete programming language after all.

Using the basic default article class and bearing in mind that I am based in the United States of America, we can have something like this:

\documentclass[12pt,letter]{article}
\usepackage{hyperref}
\usepackage{xurl}
\usepackage{markdown}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{Liberation Serif}

\begin{document}
\markdownInput{file.md}
\end{document}


Taking that example line by line we mostly have a preamble and a very short document. First we declare the document’s class as “article” and pass the global options of wanting 12 point type and since I am in the USA I want to use Letter paper. Next we load the hypertext support package hyperref. We then load the smaller support package xurl which allows for URLs to break at any alphanumeric character in text. Our main player markdown then gets loaded. Since we’re using LuaLaTex to compile the document we then load the fontspec package to allow using any OpenType fonts. Liberation Serif is a font that ships in the basic install for any Ubuntu flavour so we’ll choose that. While we could have done something obscure like use Public Sans we’ll stick to basics today.

You can save that file locally as mwe.tex. Now, we need our Markdown file. We’ll keep it simple with this:

We have a **great** help system at [AskUbuntu](https://askubuntu.com/).


Save that single line as file.md. You’ll want to have both files in the same directory. From there you can then appropriately invoke LuaLaTeX with shell escape enabled and you’ll get a file with the line typeset and the link showing as a footnote. The link in the footnote will be clickable.

This is a very minimal example. You can modify what is essentially a driver file for LaTeX to process through your Markdown creations to make them look nice. Pandoc does something similar but this allows a bit closer ability to fiddle with settings. This can be included in automation chains to make pretty print output fairly readily with contemporary web stylings.

For further introduction to LaTeX, the guide that really helped me is “A short introduction to LaTeX2e” mainted by Tobias Oetiker which you can find in your appropriate language on the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network.

Good Luck & Good Hunting.

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Late February Miscellany

Sometimes I don’t have enough to write a single discrete blog post. Those times result in a miscellany of brief items. In no particular order:

• My local member of the US House of Representatives held “open office hours” today locally. For British readers this is akin to a Member of Parliament holding a “surgery”. Strangely enough, I went and was seen. I had a “Memorandum Of Conversation” prepared relative to the points I needed to raise and his staff was appreciative. It was footnoted and full of background details for later staff review. I’m not sure I’ll see any action but out of my group I had the simplest presentation and the only one with concrete suggested courses of action included.

• Feature Freeze and Debian Import Freeze are coming up later this week per the release schedule for Focal Fossa. If you’re not sure what a Feature Freeze happens to be, you should read the definition. This LTS release will come out after Easter the way the calendar falls.

• Lent begins in much of the world with Ash Wednesday on February 26th. The cycles and seasons of the year continue to march ever onward.

• The e-mail newsletter is continuing to go out. The most recent installment discussed why folks in the EU get 451 errors while trying to look at some US-based news websites. The newsletter is free to subscribe to, of course.

• My broadband has been having sudden fade-outs locally as has the electricity service. Frankly I’m getting tired of listening to the UPS units scream and hear breakers pop when the power fails. Irritants like that are why I made the joke I did to my congressman earlier today which he thankfully understood and laughed at.

• The laptop I am currently using is getting old which is resulting in compounding mechanical difficulties. To consider re-purposing Raspberry Pi hardware for mobile usage with it running Ubuntu appropriately is something I still have in mind. There is a relevant magazine article that I need to re-read. I don’t think the Adafruit DIY project has been updated for the Raspberry Pi 4, unfortunately.

• After taking time to re-read ”How to develop your own document class — our experience”, I need to look at how to adapt a package from CTAN such as either newspaper or papertex. Then again, it would be odd if I said I was looking at trying to establish a print newsletter or other small press item at the immediate moment.

• I know I wrote about the usage of Markdown in LaTeX not that long ago but I should state that TUGBoat, the publication of the TeX Users Group, had a nice article about the package recently.

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