Welcome to my spot on the Internet!

Hi! My name is Tom Desair (but you probably figured that out already) and this site is about me, my personal thoughts, experiences I want to share and technical stuff that I find interesting. If you want to know more about me or if you want to contact me, make sure to check out the About Me and Contact pages.

I like to blog about many different things but most posts are related to computer science/programming or photography. In this post I explain my main motivation for creating this website. I suggest you read it if you want to better understand the purpose of this site.

Furthermore there will be pages about projects I did or participated in, but these are still under construction. An example is the page about my bachelor’s thesis. I also have a separate blog feed about my master’s thesis (in Dutch).

Happy surfing and don’t hesitate to contact me!

Tom.

BlackFox UV Pro Filter Review

Today I received the BlackFox UV Pro Filter I ordered from Amazon for my new Sony Alpha A57. I’ll write a quick review based on my first impression. The BlackFox UV Pro Filter is a multi-coated (16x) UV protection filter. The multi-coating (MC) is important to prevent reflections and flares in your images and to keep the overall image quality. The filter is not very expensive and great value for money.

Packaging

The filter comes in a sturdy box that offers good protection for the filter. Unfortunately the website mentioned on the side (http://www.blackfox-info.de/) is not available (at the time of writing).

Front

Front

Side

Side

Back

Back

Installing

The UV filter of BlackFox has a normal thickness. The filter feels solid and fits nicely in the lens of the camera.

Thickness of the BlackFox UV Pro Filter

Thickness (filter sits between lens cap and lens)

 Reflection

Because this filter is a multi-coated, it should prevent reflections and keep the image quality. I compared this filter with another uncoated filter to see if there is any difference. I tested the both reflections of the sun as well as direct reflections.

Reflection of the sun (left: MC BlackFox filter, right: Uncoated filter)

Reflection of the sun (left: MC BlackFox filter, right: Uncoated filter)

Direct Reflection Test (left: MC BlackFox filter, right: Uncoated filter)

Direct Reflection Test (left: MC BlackFox filter, right: Uncoated filter)

I think it’s safe to say this filter leaves an excellent first impression. The multi-coating works very good and the filter feels very solid. I would have been better if the filter was a bit slimmer. But for this price (€ 14) it has excellent quality.

LaTeX Paragraph Spacing and Indentation

In this short post, I’ll show you how you can modify the paragraph spacing and indentation in LaTeX. Why would anyone want to change the spacing and indention? Well, if you write a text in Dutch it is customary to leave a blank line after each paragraph and to not indent a new paragraph. This is different from English texts and the default in LaTeX where you do indent new paragraphs and don’t leave a blank line at the end.

To obtain a Dutch paragraph style, you have two options:

1. The package parskip

Include the package parskip in the preamble using following command:

\usepackage{parskip}

This will automatically cancel paragraph indentation and append a blank line at the end.

2. Set the parindent en parskip length

If the previous approach doesn’t work or if you want more fine-grained control, you can manually set the length of the indentation and the height of the blank line. You can do this by putting these commands in the preamble of your document:

\setlength{\parindent}{0pt}
\setlength{\parskip}{1.3ex plus 0.5ex minus 0.3ex}

The first command sets the indentation to 0 and thus cancels paragraph indentation. The second command sets the height of the trailing blank line. This is done using the LaTeX measure ex. One ex corresponds to the height of a lowercase ‘x’ in the current font style. I use 1.3 because I want the height of a capital letter. The “plus 0.5ex minus 0.3ex” part tells LaTeX that it can increase the height with at most 0.5ex and decrease it with maximum 0.3ex to make a decent layout. This means that the minimal height of the blank line is 1ex and the maximum 1.8ex.

And that’s it! Using one of these two options you can change the paragraph spacing and indentation in LaTeX.

The source (in Dutch) I used which has much more LaTeX tips: http://www.ntg.nl/doc/oostrum/latexhnd.pdf (846.7 kB)

How To: Create your CV in LaTeX

Currently I’m in my graduating year so I had to get my CV ready. And of course, I wanted to write it in \LaTeX. Today I’m summarizing my findings in this small how to on creating your CV in \LaTeX. There are really tons of packages and templates to create a CV. So there is no point in developing a package of my own (it’s a bit stupid to reinvent the wheel). I’ve searched and looked at a lot of PDFs and templates and I think I finally found my favorite: Moderncv.

Moderncv is a \LaTeX document class for typesetting curriculum vitaes in various styles. It’s created by Xavier Danaux who is also the main maintainer. In my opinion it is one of the best tools out there to create your CV and has received far too little attention. The template that is included in the download is self-explanatory but I’ll list some quick pointers and tips:

  • Use the \LaTeX commands \section{} and \subsection{} to give structure to your CV.
  • The document class has following color options: blue, orange, green, red, purple, grey and black. You can also define your own colors for the sections and symbols with the commands:
    \definecolor{sectionrectanglecolor}{rgb}{0.2,0.0,0.4}
    \definecolor{sectiontitlecolor}{rgb}{0.2,0.0,0.4}
    \definecolor{subsectioncolor}{rgb}{0.2,0.0,0.4}
    \definecolor{footersymbolcolor}{rgb}{0.2,0.0,0.4}

    Remark: it’s best to use web-safe colors.
  • It also allows you to type-set your motivation letter, very useful!
  • I use the \cvdoubleitem{} command to list specific skills in a compact way. For example:
    \cvdoubleitem{\textbf{Programming Languages}}{C, C++, Java, Prolog, Scala, Go}
    {\textbf{Web}}{HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, JSP}
  • Be sure not to use more than two pages and put the most important things at the top.
You can download a censored version of my CV as an example. Do you have other suggestions for nice \LaTeX CV packages? Or any other remark? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment bellow!

 

The Internet A Decade Later

I just wanted to share an infographic by BestEdSites.com with you:

Continue reading

Prolong the Life of your Lithium Batteries

This post is an update of a post I published on my previous blog. I summarize some tips to prolong the life of your gadget’s batteries based on various articles.

The baseline is that the speed by which lithium-ion ages is governed by temperature and state-of-charge. Based on this observation, there are following Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t discharge the battery every time to (nearly) 0%: The discharge should go ideally to around 50%. This gives you the longest total battery life. Following table of Battery University illustrates this:
Depth of discharge Discharge cycles Total battery life (1 full cycle = 2,5h)
100% 300 – 500 750h – 1250h
50% 1200 – 1500 1500h – 1875h
25% 2000 – 2500 1250h – 1562,5h
10% 3750 – 4700 937,5h – 1175h
  • Don’t leave it fully charged and plugged in: Every battery constantly leaks some of its power. When you leave your battery plugged in, it will recharge a little amount of leaked power over and over again, each time triggering a new cycle. These consecutive very short cycles are very bad for your battery’s health.
  • Most gadget batteries should be calibrated by applying a deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges (every month): You can do this by running the battery down in the equipment. If you neglect to do this, the battery metering will become increasingly less accurate and in some cases cut off the device prematurely.
  • Keep the lithium-ion battery cool: Avoid a hot car or leaving your gadget in the sun. For prolonged storage, keep the battery at a 40% charge level in a cool place.
  • Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power: The worst condition is keeping a fully charged battery at higher temperatures, which is the case with running laptop batteries.
  • Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use: But if you buy one, pay attention to the manufacturing date. Do not buy old stock, even if sold at clearance prices.
  • If you have a spare lithium-ion battery: Use one to the fullest and keep the other cool by placing it in the refrigerator. But do not freeze the battery! For best results, store the battery at 40% state-of-charge.

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