Home
Research
Teaching
Services
Bio & CV
Personal
Sitemap
Short essays

In November 2006, I started to write short essays (some call them blogs) on a regular basis in the iQua research group web site. The series of writings focus on my views of research in the area of distributed systems and networking, as well as computing in general. The intention is to maintain an on-line "paper trail" of my professional experiences, such that I could revisit them in person at a much later time. They are also open to public reviews and comments.

Computing

I use Mac OS X Snow Leopard as my computing environment: a Macbook Pro 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB memory as my travel computer, an iMac Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz with 24 inch display as my home computer, and a Power Mac G5 Quad with 4 GB memory and 1.5 TB of nonvolatile storage as my work computer. In Mac OS X Snow Leopard, I use Omnigraffle to produce figures, and BibDesk to manage my growing collection of bibliographies. I use the rsync utility to backup and restore my home directory to Mac OS X servers. I use Keynote for presentations, Pages for writing non-academic documents, iChat AV and iSight to engage in video conferencing sessions, and iPhoto to manage my family photos.

I resort to Linux for operating Intel-based servers. For this purpose, I use Ubuntu Linux. I have also been using Windows before I encountered Mac OS X. In Windows, I use Cygwin to emulate an UNIX environment. I enjoyed working in Microsoft Word before 1995, when I used Microsoft Word 2.0 in Windows 3.1 to typeset my Bachelor's thesis.

LaTeX

After many years trying out different versions and installations of LaTeX on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, I have settled on the MacPorts distribution of LaTeX, called teTeX 3.0, in Mac OS X. Installation cannot be easier:

Step 1. Install MacPorts 1.6.2 for Mac OS X Snow Leopard;

Step 2. sudo port selfupdate

Step 3. sudo port sync

Step 4. sudo port install teTeX +no_x11

Depending on the hardware, these commands may take a while to finish.

Editors

Vi has been my preferred editor for many years. Particularly, I find vim 7.2 to be a lightweight, stable and feature-rich editor for everyday text editing tasks in both Linux and Mac OS X. Here are some tips that I have been using over the years:

gq} justifies the text of the current paragraph. This is especially useful when writing LaTeX sources of academic papers;

:%s/\r/\r/g replaces DOS (^M) new line characters with UNIX new line characters;

— The m command marks a position in the text that could later be used to cut/copy larger blocks of texts. For example, if ma is used at the beginning of the text to be copied, and y'a to be used at the end, a text block of any length can be copied;

— The . command repeats previous commands.

Nowadays, I use TextMate to edit TeX source files and web pages. This represents my first switch of the preferred text editor in 15 years.

Names

When naming a newborn boy, you might prefer a name so that the baby will grow up to be wealthy or gifted. To be wealthy, you may think of the name Bill, with the obvious example (Bill Gates). However, I have observed over the years that the name Steve might be more convincing: Steve Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft); Steve Jobs (CEO, Apple), Steve Case (Former chairman, AOL Time Warner); Steve Forbes (CEO, Forbes magazine). If being academically gifted is more of an objective than wealth, name him Stephen: Stephen Cook (Recipient, Turing award), Stephen Wolfram (Founder, Wolfram Research), Stephen Hawking (Scientist and Author, A Brief History of Time). It is left as future work to research names for girls as well.

Excursion

Back when I was a teenage boy, I used to play computer games on my beloved Apple II. When I was in Tsinghua University, I also played a number of great games on my first personal computer, an IBM PC with an 80386 processor (33MHz CPU, 120MB of disk space, 4MB of memory). There have been quite a number of memorable games over these years, but one of the first that I have played was the best that I held dearly: Lode Runner. Out of nostalgia, I wished that I may indulge myself and travel back in the time machine, to experience my ecstasy again as elegant solutions were found.

© 1995 — 2011, Baochun Li (bli@eecg.toronto.edu)