Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Does anybody know how to do this?

The following method didn't really work for me-- the width wouldn't work. But
here it is:

Brad DeLong did it at : .

His HTML is a mess, but it looks as if he used some application or add-on called SCRIBD, maybe using Java.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Quick Document Viewers??

Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat are bloated and slow. So is StarOffice. Does anybody know of quick-starting applications for when you just want to view a *.xls, *.pdf, or *.ppt document? Wordpad is good for *.doc.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


I like to use my own spreadsheet program on my own computer for grades, rather than Oncourse's, but Oncourse is useful for letting the students see their grades as the course proceeds. Here is how to do that.

1. Download the roster from Oncourse as a *.csv file, using the export feature.

2. Open it in Excel or some such program. Create a new column for each item to be graded. Make sure to put a number at the start of each item's name, because Oncourse will resort them in alphabetical order. Also, you need to put a blank space plus [nc] after each item's name. Thus, your items might be "01quiz1 [nc], 02quiz2 [nc], 03midterm [nc], 95final [nc], 99coursegrade [nc]". The [nc] entries turn off a bothersome Oncourse feature that tells students the total number of feasible points.

3. Add whatever excel features you want-- things such as widening the name columns so you can read the entire name or putting a formula in to specify the total point score the semester. Save as a *.xls file.

4. Add grades as you go along. I put the full email addresses in there too.

5. Do NOT delete the original Oncourse columns with the names and the userids. Oncourse needs these to upload your changed file.

6. When you want to upload to Oncourse, delete any columns that you don't want students to see or that have more than 8 characters in a cell (e.g., email addresses). Then save as a *.csv file. This new file will not have any of your formulas or formatting.

7. Upload your new *.csv file to Oncourse, using the import feature in the Gradebook.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


I like to set up my own email lists for contacting students rather
than using IU's standard Oncourse software. Here is how to do that.

1. Download the roster from Oncourse. This will generate a *.csv
spreadsheet on your computer.

2. Download my template file from

3. Copy two columns from your roster file to the email.listblank.xls
student name, and userid.

4. Save email.listblank.xls as a plain text *.csv file.

5. Open email.listblank.csv with a text editor.

6. Delete all the commas, spaces (which are invisible), and "
quotation marks. Save as email.listblank.txt.

7. You will be left with a plain text file of email addresses all run
together and thus suitable for plugging into the TO: box for an email

Friday, 16 January 2009


The best way to make the font larger when viewing a webpage in Firefox is to hold down the CTRL button and scroll up using the mouse wheel. This is very useful when showing a web page to a class using a projector. (Source: RF in G492)

To see other tips like this, go to my html or mozilla files at:

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Some New Latex Commands

I've gotten a couple of new Latex books (the typesetting language) and found a bunch of commands I didn't know about. I've written them up at and and An example is doing footnotes inside tables and math:

Use the \footnotemark command to insert the footnote number. To
insert the footnote itself, use

\addtocounter{footnote}{-1}\footnotetext{Here is my footnote}

outside the table or math but trying to be on the same page.


x = y\footnotemark


\addtocounter{footnote}{-1}\footnotetext{Except when $ x= 8$. }



lattice & $d$ & $q$ & last column\footnotemark \\


square & 2 & 4 & 1.763 \\



\addtocounter{footnote}{-1}\footnotetext{ That's two words in that
entry. }

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Removing Duplicate Email Addresses in an Address Book

After searching for a free easy program to do this for me, a Mozilla Thunderbird user, I decided the best way is to use Excel, like this:

First, export the address book to *.csv comma-separated format.


Open the file in Excel. Select all of it. Do DATA then FILTER, then ADVANCED FILTER, then check off UNIQUE RECORDS ONLY. That will show only the unique records. Then COPY what is showing to the clipboard. Go back to DATA then FILTER then ADVANCED FILTER then Do NOT check off UNIQUE RECORDS ONLY. Then the whole file will show. Press the DELETE key to delete all the rows. Then do CTRL-V to paste in the uniquely filtered rows. Then SAVE the file, and all the duplicates will be gone. Then import the *.cxv file back into the email address book.

There isn't a way I know of to filter on just duplicates in one column and deleting all rows that have duplicates in that column even if they are different in other columns.

This and other Mozilla tips are at:

Friday, 15 August 2008

Open Source Alternative to Scientific Word for Latex Editing

Papers written on latex and Beamer presentations are becoming the norm of academic work. Although Latex is open source, it's cumbersome to learn for people familiar with what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) software, such as MS Word.

There is a open source alternative to Scientific Word/Workplace ($535 academic version) for editing documents in Latex using a graphical interface, particularly useful for formulae.

Stata Advice Source

Babur De Los Santos told me of this site for STATA regression advice:

He found it really helpful to search through the archives for past solutions: