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Multiple LaTeX Document Versions Using Switches

LaTeX is great for typesetting equations and figures to look just the way you want. There are plenty of options for alignment and spacing. However, what if you regularly make major changes and need to keep multiple latex document versions? In this post, I’ll talk about how to do this using switches.

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How to Make Better Plots in MATLAB: Plot Wrapper

This is third and final of a series of posts on plotting in MATLAB. This series is focusing on suggestions and considerations to get your plot looking “just right” for your paper or presentation. In the first post, I talked about how to improve the look of curves. In the second post, I talked about fixing up the text, including axis labels and legends. Here, I will talk about using a plot wrapper to automate most of your work. I will also talk about exporting your figure to whatever format you need.

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How to Make Better Plots in MATLAB: Text

This is the second of a short series of posts on plotting in MATLAB. This series is focusing on suggestions and considerations to get your plot looking “just right” for your paper or presentation. By the end, you will have a plotting function that will do most of the tweaks automatically. In this post, I’m talking about text in figures. These include axis labels, legends, and other annotations.

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Fixing Bibtex Files Made by Mendeley

Mendeley is a popular citation manager but it doesn’t properly export bibtex files. Bibtex files (with a .bib extension) are used to add your references to papers compiled in LaTeX. You can find many reports of these problems, including the Mendeley support page. Some of these problems haven’t been officially fixed for over 6 years! In this post I will share some code that addresses these problems, including:

  • Constraints on what you can write in the “year” field
  • Extra curly braces around titles
  • Incorrect format of “month”
  • Ability to select what types of entries include the URL (instead of only webpages)

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How to Make Better Plots in MATLAB: Curves

This is the first of a few posts on plotting in MATLAB. I’ll be describing more than the mechanics of calling the plotting (and related) functions. This series will present suggestions and considerations to get your plot looking “just right” for your paper or presentation. By the end of the series, you will have your own plotting function that can automate as much as possible. I’m focusing on 2D plots generated by the MATLAB “plot” function, which is the most common in MATLAB, but most of the ideas also apply to the other plotting functions, too (like “histogram”), or even to plotting in general (via MATLAB or elsewhere). In this first post, I’m talking about improving the curves themselves. The next post describes annotations and other text.

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Wrapping Functions in MATLAB

If your research relies on simulations, then you typically have parameters that you need to change for every simulation you run. If you use a software platform like MATLAB, then you can try getting away with changing parameter values directly via the command line. Generally, though, it’s a lot more flexible if you assign parameters in a function or script that runs your simulation. An even more flexible strategy is to use a function wrapper. This post is an introduction to using function wrappers in MATLAB.

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My Journey to Dropbox for Backups

This week a friend was describing what is probably one of the worst nightmares of research. They lost all of their code. ALL of it, along with everything else on their (presumably stolen) laptop. What made it even worse is that they’re literally one signature away from defending their thesis. The real irony in this story is they had just transferred their work files over from a student lab PC that got a new image, and extra copies made on two separate flash drives were in the same bag as the laptop. I believe that my friend will still be able to graduate, but this is probably one of the harsher lessons for not following the complete backup rule of three. Read more

Did You Know that MATLAB has a Variables Window?

Did you know that MATLAB has a Variables Window? It does, though the documentation does an excellent job of not saying much about it (searching within the documentation got me nothing but a search engine got me to this helpful page). I’m guilty of giving introductory workshops without mentioning the Variables Window. I never would have talked about it until after one workshop there was a student asking a question and I opened the Variables window to help. The student thought it was very useful but they were surprised because they had never seen the window before. I assumed that this was because they were new to MATLAB. Read more

How to Quickly Change Beamer Colors

Have you ever been to Frankfurt? I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Frankfurt a few times, albeit usually just through the airport. It’s the first city where I stayed in a Doppelzimmer mit Frühstück (double room with breakfast). Frankfurt is also the name of a popular theme in the LaTeX document class Beamer, which is used for making presentations (not coincidentally, Beamer is the German word for projector).
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