Sunday, 25 April 2010

Using a blog as a Logbook

Last productivity post for a while I promise, then back to proper physics.

I'm trying out using a private blog (secured and unlisted etc) as a logbook. Logbooks are so important, the first time you realise you need one it's too late. My reasoning for going online goes:
  1. I can access from anywhere, including emailing in posts from my phone. For example I could take a photo of a whiteboard discussion and send it to the blog so I won't forget about it.
  2.  It's safely backed up on the servers of whoever's hosting it.
  3. I'm more likely to actually make entries because it's easy.
  4. A blog is much like a logbook anyway so it's naturally suited.
I can see some downsides but they're all pretty minor. Security could be an issue but how sensitive is the information you put in your logbook? Well mine isn't much, I don't want to accidentally broadcast my latest idea but it wouldn't cause a new climategate or anything. Besides, I think it's pretty secure.

I've chosen to use WordPress for my logbook for one simple reason. The LaTeX integration is fantastic. It's so good I'd consider moving this blog if it wasn't such a pain (for the record I otherwise like blogger). In wordpress you do this:

I will now insert an equation here, $latex E=mc^2$, inline with the text.

which would look like
although the superscripts do appear to have messed up the alignment... Otherwise it does a brilliant job at interpreting the tex and inserting the image. If you need a lot of LaTeX then there are programmes that convert between regular .tex files and the wordpress format.

There are similar things available for blogger but I think you lose your source code in a more drastic way. Anyway, I'm going to see how it goes.


  1. I've actually been using a mediawiki (or rather, I mean to use my wiki). It also has really good latex integration. --Yael

  2. Yes I like the look of those. Although I don't have anything I can install it on except my local desktop. I imagine it's especially good for collaboration.

  3. Well, you'd think so, shame it doesn't work when your collaborators never look and the damn thing and all your correspondence involves you looking at them on iChat while they search through their inbox for documents that you sent them way back when (which are up on the wiki). Sigh.