January 18, 2007

Wiki Spam II

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 4:58 am

The preceding flurry of posts was brought on by the imminent demise of my Columbia student account, my inability to get the PHP-based PmWiki working on the NYU servers, and my realization that all of the code supporting community editing of this stuff was a waste of bits. Whereas this blog is the most parsimonious use of bits imaginable. Have a nice day.


Restaurants In Japan

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 4:51 am

[Editor’s Note] This is old material imported from my now-defunct Wiki

Here’s the first thing you need to know about Japan: you’re not going to find anything if you don’t have a map, preferably a map with the thing you’re trying to find clearly marked on it. If you buy a guidebook, it will warn you that things are hard to find. This is a lie. Things are impossible to find. Very few streets have names, very few buildings are numbered, and very few numbers go in order. Outside of Tokyo, and even in the less touristy parts of Tokyo, very few businesses have Roman script on their signs—an establishment’s name written in kanji is an essential item for finding anything.

The second thing you have to know: if your Tokyo guidebook is more than a year out of date, it will be almost completely worthless for restaurant recommendations. Said worthlessness will be disguised for a time by the difficulty of finding anything, but eventually you will figure out that the restuarant you are looking for is not just very hard to find, but non-existent. In fairness, the guidebooks will suggest that calling ahead is a good idea. In fact, if you have your heart set on eating at a particular restaurant, calling ahead is absolutely required, or else your heart might very well get broken.

The good news is, if you’re willing to eat almost nothing but noodles and rice, you can get a decent meal at almost any ramen, udon, or soba shop you pass. Tasty, filling, and usually pretty cheap.

I spent my honeymoon in Japan in June 2005 with the guidance of Time Out Tokyo (3rd edition 2003) and Lonely Planet Japan (8th edition 2003). Here are some addenda for travellers of the future.

Time Out Tokyo

Time Out does not give the kanji for anything. Outside of the central city, this can be a problem.


(p. 125) Couldn’t find it. Ended up at a perfectly wonderful, seemingly quite popular place in the same area near the fish market. (BTW, the guide books aren’t kidding when they say to arrive early for the fish market. We got there around 11 AM and it was like a ghost town—no signs of commercial activity whatsoever.)

Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium

(p. 128) This exists and is in fact quite easy to find. Time Out errs in not making it clear how strange and interesting this theme park dedicated to steamed and fried dumplings is to the Western visitor. Definitely check this out.


(p. 128) Couldn’t find it. In addition, Roppongi is overrated. Like Bourbon Street mixed with Times Square. (Every neighborhood in central Tokyo is like something mixed with Times Square.) We ended up at Freshness Burger, which wasn’t too bad, if a little stingy with the meat.

Pumpkin Cook Katsura

(p. 148) We scoured the neighborhood looking for this restaurant and I’m pretty confident in saying it doesn’t exist. Kiddy Land, around the corner from where this restuarant used to be on Omotesando, is a great place to stop for Japanese toys.


(p. 149) We were pretty tired of searching for restaurants when we came looking for this one, but I’m pretty sure it’s not there.

Lonely Planet Japan (Tokyo)

Lonely Planet gives the kanji for all the restaurants (and other sites) that appear on the neighborhood maps. Location on a map + kanji = good stuff.

Keika Kumamoto Ramen

(p. 194) No English sign; kind of a surprisingly dumpy little place. But the ramen was quite good. The salad comes with corn flakes.


(p. 196) No longer exists. This was kind of mind-bending, because this was kind of a “food mall” that occupied a whole block. We thought we might be losing our minds when we couldn’t find it. But the waiter at the (very tasty) okinamaya restaurant on the 4th or 5th floor across the street confirmed that the building had been torn down and replaced with a mall full of clothing stores.

Lonely Planet Japan (Kyoto)

Tagoto Honten

(p. 366) Don’t be fooled by the description of this restauarant as “one of Kyoto’s oldest” soba restaurants: it is located in a shopping arcade and looks brand new. We walked past this several times before we realized it was the place. There is no English sign, as I recall.


(p. 367) We found this one, though not with the help of an English sign. It is quite good, though fairly expensive and has a very pleasant deck on the river.


(p. 369) Found this one with no problem, just a few blocks off the Philosopher’s Walk.

Harajuku Girls

Not a restaurant, but none of the guide books make it clear that the infamous fashionistas of Harajuku show up in full force on Sunday afternoon, in the square just South of the JR station. You will see the odd Gothic Lolita on other days of the week, but Sunday is the day to see them on parade in Harajuku.


Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 4:44 am

[Editor’s Note] This is old material imported from my now-defunct Wiki

Here’s where things about LaTeX get discussed. I’ll have you know that WikiWords kind of drive me nuts and the title of this page should give you a hint why.

The single best hint I can give anyone using LaTeX is to bookmark /usr/share/texmf/doc/index.html. (This is assuming a standard teTeX installation (including the package tetex-doc) on Red Hat Linux or Ubuntu. On Mac OS X, fink installs the docs in /sw/share/texmf-dist/doc.) For some reason, it took me several years to discover this documentation and it has almost totally replaced the Lamport and Goossens books for everyday reference. One problem with the books (especially the graphics book) is that they are out of date and some of the key packages documented have changed. The online documentation is also out of date, but not quite so much. The documentation is mostly in DVI format, so you will have to have a working DVI viewer (e.g., xdvi) or convert them to PS/PDF.

UPDATE: I recently acquired the 2nd edition of the companion book and it is really great. It answers a lot of the questions I wanted to cover on this page, particularly about fonts!

pdfLaTeX and letter paper

On many systems, pdfLaTeX defaults to A4 output, even with the letterpaper option to the article class. The simplest solution: add \usepackage{hyperref} to your preamble. hyperref sets the right paper size for PDF output (as if by magic). Thanks for this tip goes to Oliver Haynold at Northwestern University.

NOTE: The tip works, but I’d like more info on root causes.

Future Work

Some things I’d like to put here:

  • A definitive discussion of Type 1 fonts, etc. What is the difference between “\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}” and “\usepackage{times}” (and the like)? What is the purpose of “dvips -P cmz” or “dvips -P pdf“?
  • How to fix the braces in alltt without breaking math mode.
  • Tips for dealing with pstricks, .eps files, and positioning graphics.
  • Paper sizes… or, why can’t letter and A4 get along?
  • Prosper, HA-Prosper, slideware, ugh…

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