Frank's Blog

Unevitable Bugs 

Now that I'm using my Mac for writing anything regarding to my thesis (my personal "notebook"), I also have a more demanding use for Keynote. Before I only used it for short presentations, say 15 slides, like the one I gave at the BPM2005 in Nancy, France. The last couple of weeks, however, I'm busily preparing some 90 minute lectures about my current research. Together they contain around 150 slides split into three Keynote files. Each Keynote file includes around 100 formulas dropped as PDFs from Equation Editor. And now there is this bug after working for some time with such (big) presentations: Used from Microsoft Powerpoint under Windows where the slide previews turned very coarse just before the software gave up, Keynote presented me the spinning beach ball each time I wanted to change the slide. Even worser, the text inside my PDFs suddenly turned crazy looking! Finally, the only things I saw in Keynote was that beach ball!

However, what I wanted to say is that either 1) Keynote and Powerpoint share virtually the same code or 2) writing a working presentation program is indeed an NP-complete problem. Have I talked about OpenOffice Impress 1.x yet? No? This software even has unsolvable problems with time and switching to the next slide while actually giving the presentation! Maybe it all gets better with the 2.0 release coming next week.
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Scientific Writing & Mac 

This time I came across some nice links regarding scientific writing with the Mac. Typically, scientific people use LaTeX for typesetting their notes, papers, articles, thesis, etc. However, sometimes you just might want a simple page, maybe a letter or slide, with a nice formula within. Then you can use software like Equation Editor. This little piece of software accepts a LaTeX math formula and creates a nice looking PDF containing the rendered formula. This formula can then be drag-and-dropped to its target location - Pages, Keynote, OmniGraffle, whatever program supports PDF (Microsoft Word works very ugly, it converts the vector graphics to a low resolution bitmap). Another nice solution is Equation Service that works the same way like Equation Editor but adds an entry to your Macs service menu. If you use an application that is integrated with this Mac-special-feature you can simply type your LaTeX equation and convert it with some keystrokes to an embedded PDF. You just need to fire up you text editor, e.g. Pages, type in your LaTeX formula, e.g. \Sum_{i=1}^x di press Alt+Shift+Left (to select the formula), and then press Option+\ to invoke the service. More useful hints about scientific writing at the Mac can be found here.
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SOC & Pi 

Just another crazy task is done. Last Tuesday I was looking around for call for papers just to give me some deadline to work to. After searching through some 2,500 dbworld mails, I found a call for papers for the 3rd International Conference on Service Oriented Computing (ICSOC 2005). Fortunately, the deadline has been extended one week - to exactly July 6th. My colleague, Hagen, and I decided to prepare a paper about our approach on mapping a graphical notation for business processes (the BPMN) to a nice formal algebra, the pi-calculus. We went straight to our professor and told him our idea. His first response was: that's just seven days! Indeed, we responded, not seven - just five. Both of us will be going on vacation the weekend between - without any computer.

Writing the paper was actually quite funny as the content focused more and more at the conference than on our initial idea. Finally we created a paper about using the pi-calculus in the area of service oriented computing. We will see if the "be the first" approach will work this time also. Currently, there is just one "hard" scientific paper about using the pi-calculus for workflow on the market - whereas there is a strong demand.

However, we managed to finish our beautiful paper just in time and now wait for notification - that's not before September, 15th.
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