Main · Et Al

This page was last modified on 29 October 2008, at 00:33 NZST

This is the place for left overs, miscellanea, outdated links and things that do not fit anywhere else. Just in case, et al. is the latin abbreviation for et alii (and others, referring to people) and et alia (and other things).

Page contents:

  • Python: a scripting — and much more — language.
  • Splus/R: statistical software.
  • LaTeX: a typesetting system.
  • C++: a low level programming language.
  • Weather for New Zealand and Australia.
  • Recipes for cooking great food.
  • Various things that do not fit anywhere else.

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Python is a really nice scripting language that I use for rapid development and prototyping. Python and Python Numerical extensions (NumPy) allow the functionality of ‘Matlab style’ programs, with the advantage of a higher level language and it is for free! There are tools for creating stand-alone versions of the programs, graphical user interfaces, CGI scripting and whatever you may have in mind.

I have started moving my resources to a separate page.

  • Python language home page.
  • Download Python Numerical Extensions (NumPy).
  • NumPy tutorials by David Ascher.
  • Scientific Python: an introduction by Konrad Hinsen.
  • wxPython, a Python interface to wxWindows, a crossplatform GUI developing system.
  • py2exe program to create stand-alone Python applications.
  • Pyrex, a language for writing Python extension modules. Pyrex ‘lets you write code that mixes Python and C data types any way you want, and compiles it into a C extension for Python’.
  • StatPy: Statistical Computing with Python, an excellent list maintained by Tom Loredo.

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Splus and R

Splus is an excellent general statistical software, that I use for models not covered by AS Reml. Until a few years ago I used SAS, but the licensing system is awful (one does not buy SAS, but rents it; specific analysis tools need to be licensed separately) and the integration of new analysis technologies takes forever. Splus seems to be much more flexible: no need to renew the license every year, maintenance is cheaper, most statistical procedures come with the main license, a very active community developing new functions and, if the developers go bankrupt, one can always go to the R system (an open source implementation). In fact, I mostly use R these days and the only things that I miss from Splus are interactive graphics and easy imports from spreadsheets.

Update: now back in academia I have again access to SAS, which is the most popular statistical software at the university.

A few links to Splus/R resources:

  • S-Plus and R Libraries, Functions, and Documentation maintained by Frank Harrell, Vanderbilt Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt Medical Center.
  • Brian Ripley’s site, home to the MASS library and of the ‘S programming’ and ‘Modern Applied Statistics with S’ books.
  • S poetry is a free book (in PDF format) geared towards people programming Splus rather than using the point and click interface.
  • Home page of the S news email list, including the archives. In my opinion, the search function is not great, and it works much better to use Google using a query like: this one. Including “s-news” will limit the results to material related to Splus.
  • Some Splus materials from the US Naval Postgraduate School.
  • A site explaining Splus and R for ecologists, with emphasis on multivariate statistics in vegetation ecology (including PCA, CCA, etc.).
  • Quantum Forest contains some posts on issues I have faced working with Splus and R. The post on COM connection seems to be quite popular.

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LATEX is a document preparation system, not a word processor, that allows the creation of complex documents (specially with lots of math). There are several systems available (either free or quite costly), and I normally use in my mac. I also keep a PC in my office, where I use MikTeX, which is an excellent alternative for machines running Windows. Some good additional software and references for LATEX are:

  • TeXnicCenter, which is a great free LATEX editor for Windows. If you are into spending some money you can buy WinEdt.
  • I prefer to create Acrobat PDF documents as output, using pdftex. You can find a tutorial about PDF creation (including internal and external hyperlinks) in Ringlord’s page. An additional useful resource is this page. Have a look to their hyper.pdf document.
  • There is a lot of useful information at the TeX User’s Group web site.
  • Since mid 2006 all my LaTeX writing has been done in a mac. I use TexShop, which is an excellent front-end/editor.
  • I did test LyX, which is a more graphical front-end to LaTeX. Document importing was not great, and I could not see a great advantage over working with a simple editor.

I am keeping some information on my setup in my LATEX page.

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I was using a bit of C++ to implement prototype programs initially written in Python. It is quite an interesting language that, when using the standard libraries, makes a lot of sense. However, I have not used it much the last couple of years. In spite of this, these links might useful for someone else.

  • Links to the C++ FAQ lite and to a detailed C++ FAQ language pages.
  • Metrowerk’s Codewarrior C/C++/Java compiler page (the one I’m using now).
  • Accelerated C++ by Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo. A good introductory book to C++ programming.
  • oonumerics: a page on scientific computing in object-oriented languages. Here you find links to some C++ numeric libraries.

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You can find forecasts for most of the planet in Weather Underground. Australia and New Zealand’s information is updated every 12 hours.

New Zealand: links to most cities and towns.

  • Christchurch is home now.
  • Palmerston North: the place where I used to study, current conditions and two days forecast. A highly probable forecast in case there are problems with the link: windy and cloudy (but there is always hope).

Australia with links to towns by state. The list for Tasmania shows even the smallest (lousiest) towns.

  • Hobart is the beautiful city in Tasmania where Orlando was born. Most of the time there is decent weather, but a little bit windy sometimes.

Satellite image: Australia and New Zealand captured from a Japanese GMS satellite. This is an enhanced infrared image from James Cook University, Australia. Updated every day (~130Kb, GIF image).

WorldBuddy: a neat tool when you have friends all over the planet. It presents the current weather in thousands of localities, as well as the current time.

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Apart from a few quick recipes in the ASReml Cookbook, I am collecting other ones here:

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Links to miscellaneous resources that do not fit anywhere else:

  • Astor Piazzolla is one of my favourite musicians. An excellent site, with plenty of music to download is If you like the blend of tango and classical music check Yo-Yo Ma’s Soul of the tango.
  • I suport the work of Amnesty International, “a worldwide campaigning movement that works to promote all the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards”. You can also check their Australian site.
  • Ricardo Baeza’s explanation on why I am American too. Not very well written, but does the job.
  • Mathematical quotations.
  • Whatever happened to Tannu Tuva? Web site of Friends of Tuva. A site for us Tuvan music (and other things) lovers. You can also visit Yat Kha’s site, one of my favourite bands of Tuvan music.
  • My bookmarks in
  • You can use GeoURL to look for websites that are geographically close to this one

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear-
I will choose free will.
Neil Peart, Rush