linux and windows tips, mathematics, and some recipes

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Gihan's Fruity Penne with Chorizo

Here's a delightful meal I whipped up this lunchtime. It was very scrummy, so I thought I would share it. The recipe below is for two people.

You will need:
  • one chorizo sausage
  • 200g penne
  • two nectarines
  • a handful of corriander
Boil the penne according to the packet instructions. While you're doing this, slice and skin the chorizo (the slices should be about 5mm in thickness). Fry them gently in a little olive oil. Slice the nectarines and cut each slice in half. Coarsely chop the corriander.

When the penne is boiled, drain it and add to a warmed plate. Add the chorizo and drizzle the chorizo oil over the pasta. Add the sliced nectarines and corriander. Season with a little salt and pepper.

This dish is delicious with a nice herb salad consisting of baby spinach, roquette, corriander, lollo rosso, chives, and frisee. For a light dressing, just add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.

Simple Margin Adjustment in LaTeX

LaTeX enforces beauty upon its documents, sometimes to the detriment of practicality. By default, LaTeX margins are extremely generous. This leads to good-looking documents, but there are occasions when it may be better to have smaller margins —— for instance, if you want a document to fit entirely within one page.

Page layout with LaTeX is a complicated matter. A cursory glance at the LaTeX documentation shows that the layout is determined by 11 different parameters. However, I find that the following commands are sufficient for most purposes:


where a, b, c are numerical quantities such that a=2b. The effect of these commands is to increase the extent of the horizontal material by a inches and increase the extent of the vertical material by c inches.

If you want more control over your margins, then I highly recommend the LaTeX geometry package. The author of the geometry package is careful to ensure that all page settings are correctly assigned, leaving a straightforward interface to the user. As a simple example, add the following to your preamble:


This sets the left and right margins to be 3cm and the top and bottom margins to be 3.5cm. Full details are set out in section 5.3 of the geometry user manual.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Easing the Firefox / Adobe Acrobat experience

If you use the Firefox web browser, you may experience surfing woes with the Adobe Acrobat plugin. The plugin is notoriously buggy and often hangs my web browser. However a simple solution is at hand which requires no downloading at all!

The simplest solution is to ask Firefox always to open a pdf document in a separate Acrobat window. To do this, open the Tools menu and select the Options... dialog box. Choose the Downloads tab and click View & Edit actions. From here, you can tell Firefox what to do whenever it is presented with a particular type of file. Naturally, this extends way beyond Adobe Acrobat and can be used for many different file types. Of course, it would be easier not to install the plugin in the first place, but this approach provides one with a certain degree of flexibility. For those who require an extra degree of flexibility, you may wish to try the PDF Download Firefox extension. This queries the user on what to do each time a pdf link is clicked.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Easy Get Mail - Multiple Thunderbird accounts made easier

Like many Thunderbird users, I have multiple email accounts. Thunderbird checks both my accounts every 10mins. However, until today the simplest way to manually check my multiple accounts was to click the arrow to the right of the large "Get Mail" button and choose "Get all new messages" from the drop-down box. A two click operation!

Today, I found Easy Get Mail. Easy Get Mail makes account checking context-sensitive.

Formerly, pressing the Get Mail button would check email only for the selected account. After the installation of Easy Get Mail, pressing Get Mail will check the email for all accounts, unless an account root folder is selected in the folder pane, in which case only the selected account will be checked.