Look, I am in fact a career academic. I know exactly what's attractive about it, I've made considerable financial and personal sacrifices to get myself to a position where I can work in a university environment and spend my time doing groundbreaking research. And yet. The gateway into this life is a PhD, and the PhD system is deeply, deeply fucked up when it isn't actively abusive. Doing a PhD will break you. It's pretty much designed to break you.


If you have every admirable personal quality you can think of, if you have every advantage in life, still, getting through a PhD will grind you down, will come terrifyingly close to killing your soul and might well succeed. It will do horrible things to your mental and physical health and test to breaking point every significant relationship in your life.

This short-cut guide to setting up a scientific paper is simple, effective and intuitive. Sure, it was designed with ecology in mind, but it should apply to most scientific disciplines. It appeals to most of our students, and we have both been asked for copies by other supervisors over the years. Our original intention was to write a paper about writing papers to flesh out the full Méthode, but that has yet to happen.

Therefore, for the benefit of the up-and-comings (and perhaps to a few of those longer in tooth), behold La Méthode Brookoise for writing papers:

Att särskrivningar skapar missförstånd och försvårar förståelse stämmer alltså inte. Däremot kan de ställa till andra problem, och då snarast för skribenten. Läsarens irritation över den språkliga missen övergår till negativa tankar om den som skrivit. Även harmlösa normbrott kan på så sätt få stort signalvärde. Ett skäl så gott som något för att skriva ihop, för den som vill bli hörd.

One of the many oddities of the English language is the multitude of different names given to collections or groups, be they beasts, birds, people or things. Many of these collective nouns are beautiful and evocative, even poetic.

Rubber is a program whose purpose is to handle all tasks related to the compilation of LaTeX documents. This includes compiling the document itself, of course, enough times so that all references are defined, and running BibTeX to manage bibliographic references. Automatic execution of dvips to produce PostScript documents is also included, as well as usage of pdfLaTeX to produce PDF documents.

To pad out this section I will include a variety of inane facts about the subject of the research that I gathered by Googling the topic and reading the Wikipedia article that appeared as the first link. I will preface them with "it is believed" or "scientists think" to avoid giving the impression of passing any sort of personal judgement on even the most inane facts.

This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.

In this paragraph I will reference or quote some minor celebrity, historical figure, eccentric, or a group of sufferers; because my editors are ideologically committed to the idea that all news stories need a "human interest", and I'm not convinced that the scientists are interesting enough.

EtherPad is the only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time.

When multiple people edit the same document simultaneously, any changes are instantly reflected on everyone's screen. The result is a new and productive way to collaborate on text documents, useful for meeting notes, drafting sessions, education, team programming, and more.

Complaining about poor internal documentation is an old practice, but there's a reason that doing it right is important. Your comments are the only way you have to speak to the next person looking at this software (that may be you) about the larger scope of the software, not just this line-or-two. What were you thinking when you wrote this code? Yes, "self-documenting code" is a goal, but it's arrogant to assume that you've achieved it, any more than it's arrogant of me to assume that my words need no editing. (They do. I'm happiest when I have an editor.)

Another common problem in comment ugliness is developers who update the code and don't update the comments; as one consultant pointed out, comments aren't tested. But doesn't that show a lack of attention to detail, too? Anytime you aren't paying full attention, you're apt to drop a logic bit.

AbiCollab.net is a collaboration service based around the free AbiWord word processor. It allows you to write documents together with your friends in real time.


No Media Kings

nomediakings.org/, posted 2009 by peter in art comic indie media writing

I'm Jim Munroe, a novelist who left HarperCollins to showcase and propagate indie press alternatives to Rupert Murdoch-style consolidation. This site is a launching pad for the stuff I make, articles about how to make them, and a source of my two main food groups: inspiration and feedback.

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