Friday, July 13, 2007

LaTeX... Beautiful?

There's this old saying that says you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That's why I occasionally visit Reddit, whore house of the free software movement. At the top of their programming section currently is a story entitled "The beauty of LaTex".

Yes, you read that correctly. The beauty of LaTeX. In case you're not familiar with LaTeX (I won't blame you), LaTeX is a "document processor" that reads a text file containing nerdy codes and translates it into another nerdy format (DVI), which you can then convert to another nerdy format (postscript), which you can then convert to a normal person format (PDF). As you may have guessed, this is technology from the 1980s and totally superfluous today, but still there's nerds all over the planet that use it. Probably because they can't afford proper computers and proper software, such as Microsoft Word. Wake up guys!

Here's a piece of LaTeX code for your enjoyment, I got it from Wikipedia (yes, it's useful for some things -- don't get me started on Wikipedia):

\maketitle \LaTeX{} is a document preparation system for the \TeX{}
typesetting program. It offers programmable desktop publishing
features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of
typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and
cross-referencing, tables and figures, page layout, bibliographies,
and much more. \LaTeX{} was originally written in 1984 by Leslie
Lamport and has become the dominant method for using \TeX; few
people write in plain \TeX{} anymore. The current version is
% This is a comment, it is not shown in the final output.
% The following shows a little of the typesetting power of LaTeX
E &=& mc^2 \\
m &=& \frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}

How sad is that? Who gets this? You expect a normal person to understand this? Do you think these people heard of evolution, about progress? The only progress made in this LaTeX world is that there is now a script that converts this geek code directly to PDF. Very impressive. Still fellas, you're 20 years behind what people in the normal people's world are doing. We use these things that you call WYSIWYG editors, where you actually see how your text is going to look when it's printed. Yes! Culture shock!

Anyway, the web server that the "The Beauty of LaTeX" article runs on is down, I get a nice 500 Internal Server Error, not surprising. The site probably uses some crap like Perl and other fetish software. Plus, there are probably hundreds of other people who are just as intrigued as me by seeing the words "LaTeX" and "beauty" used in one sentence.