Nice Octave Plots

One thing I look for in a numerical package is the ability to make nice plots (typically PDF) of what I’m working on. I know I could almost always work on my data, export it, and make a great graph… but in keeping with the 80/20 rule I want to be able to do most of my plots without a lot of extra work. This is especially true if I’m making a one-off plot for class notes. For publications, I’d be happy to hand draw the figure in blood while standing on my head if I had to. The bottom line is: it’s 2009, making a nice looking PDF plot should be easy.

Here is an example along with some quick tips I’ve found along the way. Hopefully these are easier to find for you than they were for me (digging through docs and searching through listservs). Remember, Octave is scriptable so you can save this in a plot template or a function, and make your plots even easier.

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PDFkit in Firefox

There was one reason I used Safari rather than Firefox, and it has recently evaporated. I read a lot of PDF files (>20 per day browsing papers etc) so I was tired of the extra files accumulating in my download folder. You may know that Safari uses Appe’s PDFkit to display PDF files in your browser window, no muss no fuss. Until recently, the options in Firefox were the Adobe plugin (slow) or a privately developed solution tht requires an Intel machine. Enter a fantastic add-on, available at firefox-mac-pdf – Google Code.

BibDesk & Google Scholar

BibDesk.appThere is a lot to like about the BibDesk citation manager. First off, it works with BibTeX (in fact it’s file structure is BibTeX). There have been a lot of reviews, most of them positive of course… what’s not to like about open-source native cocoa applications that “do the right thing”? I wanted to post here, just in case readers haven’t seen it or heard about it, but also to highlight one of the coolest new features in the latest version: automagic citation retrieval from the web. Continue reading