Is LaTeX worth learning?

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about learning LaTeX (or any of its brethren like Overleaf or Lyx) for ages now. I like the markup approach, but it is not user friendly. The latex jokes are tired. And ye gods I hate that font, first thing I learnt to change. For the purpose of this post I lump the ‘prettier’ helpers like Lyx, Overleaf, TeXStudio, KILE with LaTeX. From a websearch, the most promising potential alternatives are Scribus and SILE. And there is the option to fall back on LibreOffice Writer …. So, is LaTeX worth it?

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Art-Science Initiatives in Scandinavia

I’m planning a three month (give or take) residency in Scandinavia – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It needs to be in winter because I’m still obsessed with the northern lights and other phenomena (check it out: And yes, also, because maybe I want to leave SA. Who doesn’t, at this point? And if I go, I need to know I can survive the winter. I’m also seriously considering buying a place in Hopefield, because, animals, space… so not that serious about leaving SA. Maybe a halfies halfies thing, at best.

While there I have to make myself useful, and because I’m on this game thing at the moment, connecting with art-science initiatives like geospatial art is a great way to make networks, get inspired and maybe start a North-South collaboration that could result in something like the Eden Project in SA, or ‘Skills on a Train‘ vocational training or … in short, have fun. This page is researching what is out there – including funding to get me there.

To do: ask Thomas Niederoest and Hadley Arnold. And keep an eye on the DIYBio stuff. urban interventions – natalie jeremijenko?

While open-ended, I’m particularly interested in information design, biotechnology (in the DIYBio sense), geospatial, urban interventions and urban resource flows. Lower priority areas include animatronics, biomimicry, entertainment. I would prefer working with independent organisations rather than academic institutions, and open-source mindsets.

I guess I could just go to a well functioning hacker space with my own projects and then just see what emerges. I just realised though, that I want to be beyond the arctic circle (latitude 66.5), and the stuff seems to happen on the 60th latitude (Oslo 59.95, Helsinki 60.17, Stockholm 59.32, and Copenhagen 55.67, by the way, via Wiki). (ha! I thought, why not do a symmetrical collaboration, but Cape Town is a measly -34 degrees latitude. So not an easy marketing move)

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Refining the game idea at DebConf19

The slide presentation using reveal.js for my talk is here:
The video recording of the talk (30 minutes) is available on the DebConf website:

After the talk I thought more about the privacy issue, and remembered a slightly different version of what I planned to do, that I revisit here. I think this is more achievable to start with, and possibly more elegant.

The complete setup of the game is like a macaron.

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SAGTA presentation: The metaverse, gaming and the metabolism of cities; Building connection across boundaries


This talk was given at the South African Geography Teachers Conference (SAGTA) in Pretoria on 21 June 2019. The talk was well received and I found useful resources related to GIS. I hope to pilot a version of the game, or at least the data gathering and interpretation in a school project which would help update the geography curriculum too.

The presentation is in html and can be found here (link to follow) or downloaded in pdf here (link to follow).

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Braindump: Metaverse, gaming and metabolism of cities talk

As soon as my talk appointments solidified I froze up with writer’s block, and the, to me, massive challenge of learning all the stuff just to tell the story of what I want to do, nevermind doing it! For a start, I would like to give the talk in Javascript to make it interactive and allow better transfer between platforms (I think … html and all that??), which is enough of a challenge already. So, to help myself unclog, a dump of the rough notes I’ve been accumulating. This post will probably change often, but stay messy, and each talk will get its own dedicated post as the focus will be unique for each.

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Magicverse and urban resilience

The Fortnite, Water and the Metaverse post was barely cold when a friend sent me this article about Magic Leap, under the leadership of Rony Abovitz, and their Magicverse. 

From the Magic Leap blog: “The Magicverse is an Emergent System of Systems bridging the physical with the digital, in a large scale, persistent manner within a community of people. “

“Essentially, Magic Leap envisions a future in which any location — ranging from a room to a whole country — has not only a physical presence, but also a digital one that takes the form of various layers. One layer might focus on health and wellness, for example, and another on entertainment, and still another on mobility.”

magicverse layers
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