18 Mar 2009

The book manuscript is being moved into Latex, a somewhat-dated yet extremely effective text editor. It was created back in the 1970s-80s before Microsoft existed, back when programs were lean and fast, before feature-creep and bloated buggy features. The big deal with Latex is that when you tell it to do something it does it. It’s almost a programming language where in-line keywords control formatting for text, figures, pictures, and tables, while the bulk of the text just kind of goes along for the ride. When it’s told how to deal with pictures, it just does it, not like Word where what you tell it is treated more as a suggestion than a command, and which it’ll changes on its own when it feels like it. Latex is what nearly all math-intensive books are (or were) written with because it so easily handles creating formatted equations and formatting tables.

Here’s something that I found amazing. The author of Latex has a standing offer that if anyone finds a bug he’ll pay them a cash award. Granted it’s been out a long time, but the point is, he stands up for his product. Imagine how Microsoft products would be if they took as much pride in their products. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have gone with Latex mostly from fear of the new and different (and the associated timesink.) However, reader Justin took it upon himself to get my manuscript into Latex. This is huge because it speeds up the learning curve by about a million times since I learn fastest by example and I’ll have examples of virtually everything I need. Once it’s in there I can take over, adding more sections and using his examples of how to handle formatting. Hopefully this will end the battle with the tools rather than getting the job done.

The plan for this weekend, now that the rear suspension points are more or less in place, is to make a pair of wood A-arms and double-check that I haven’t made any bonehead CAD errors. After that, engine disassembly!