Online Course: MA129 OC1, Spring 2019

I'm getting emails about the online version of MA129 that will be offered this spring. Here is a summary of the format of the course. It covers the same material as the in-class version of MA129, using the same textbook, and the same set of practice problems. The pacing is the same, covering the material in 12 weeks. However, instead of attending lectures you are expected to watch online videos that explain the material. Each week there is an online WeBWorK homework assignment due. There…

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Adding local packages in MiKTeX 2.9 on Windows

I'm writing this down so I never have to search the internet again to figure out how to install local packages for my Latex installation. There are two competing installations for Windows: MiKTeX and TeX Live. The math department where I work has its own .sty files for formatting exams, and every time I've had a new install of Latex, I've had to figure out where to put these files so Latex knows where to find them. The issue this time is that I've used…

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To Fall 2018 MA129 Students at Laurier

I've put here important course information my fall students might need. (Unfortunately, students don't get access to MyLearningSpace until classes begin.)  If you email me with a question, I will simply direct you here for an answer. I don't mean to be rude, but I get a LOT of questions, so please don't be put off by my curt reply. Registration Issues I imagine in some places instructors have some control over who is allowed in their class and who isn't. I don't. I can…

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Numbered Section Headings in Word 2016

There's no way I'm going to remember this in the future if I don't write it down. And perhaps someone else will find this useful. I am writing scripts to accompany slides for teaching videos, and so, naturally, I want to have headings that indicate which slide the content that follows corresponds to. But, if I add a slide in the middle, I want the slide numbering to adjust automatically. How do I make Microsoft Word 2016 do that? It took some googling, but I…

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How to be stupid in one easy lesson

See the facts, but instead of sitting with them and letting them speak, chase down a bunch of tangentially-related dead ends. Sometimes in debugging code, examining the wonky output is all that's needed to find the bug. If I had done that today I would have saved some time and aggravation. Tikz is a Latex add-on to make wonderful graphs and diagrams in documents. However, in order to make a sequence of diagrams to become frames for an animation, some extra programming is required. I…

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Some Favourite Movies

There are many movies I admire but have little wish to see again. For example, The Revenant was beautiful and powerful, but harrowing. And it's been many years since I last watched Schindler's List, though I admire the film greatly. However, there are some movies I keep returning to. Compiling a list of these, and stepping back, I can see some patterns. Almost none of them are set in the present. Almost all of them are visually engrossing, usually for a combination of scenery, period detail,…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 4

In my last post, I explained how I think the modern evolutionary picture of the universe cries out, at least to me, the existence of a mind behind it all. In this post, I want to suggest that the intelligibility of the universe is improbable enough that a reasonable response is to think that it was intended to be understood. Suppose I turn around one day in my kitchen and I see a mouse at the far end. I might like to get the mouse…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 3

Is there a personal intelligence behind all that we see? That's the focus of this post, my third. (The first is here; the second is here.) I think I agree with atheists in saying that the existence of the universe doesn't necessarily imply there's a creator behind it. Theists tend to like the watchmaker argument: if you found an old watch lying on the ground, picked it up and examined it carefully, seeing the marvelous intricacies of its mechanism, you would naturally ask, "Who made…

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Coaxing a nice PNG out of a PDF

Using ImageMagick, it's easy to convert a PDF to a PNG. However, if you need the resulting PNG to be large and crisp, an extra trick is needed. A PDF generally scales perfectly. That's because it's not like a photo, which gets blocky when magnified too much. It's more a like a set of instructions about lines to draw, fonts to use, etc., which can be used at any magnification. On a high-resolution monitor, my PDF's look terrific when displayed full screen.  Naturally, when I…

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Annihilation: what's really going on?

First, let's start with the movie's surprise ending. Lena is the sole survivor of the team that went into the shimmer, and she's getting grilled about what happened. We know there was all sorts of mixing and scrambling of DNA/body characteristics inside the shimmer, so she's not exactly the same Lena that went in. For example, she now has Anya's tattoo on forearm. But her phosphorus-grenade trick in the lighthouse resulted in the whole shimmer/alien presence being obliterated. No more scrambling. Even the alien-Kane is…

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