Category Archives: Technology

Blackboard rubric to record absences

I have been using the rubric in Blackboard to record absences.  There are advantages to keeping this data in Blackboard.  I have heard another option is to record each day as a separate grading column and there are some advantages to that.  However, due to the simplicity of presentation to the student, only having to deal with one column during the semester and only having to reference one column for calculated columns, I am going to stick to this method this semester.

There is some setup involved but it can be made easier by following this trial and error advice: Continue reading


Screencasting example correcting a student writing assignment

Here is a screencast ESL example of an instructor using a screencast for correcting grammar on a writing assignment.

I found this in the article, “Show me!  Enhanced Feedback Through Screencasting Technology” in the TESL Canada Journal Vol 30 No 1, 2012.

Saving Citations Part II : Zotero

I have been using Zotero for saving my references which is under a general public license so there is no cost to use it.  There are a couple of great features it has.  For one, it can be web accessible for the actual citation but then I can store attachments locally.  Storing attachments locally is great since I can store the article pdf and also my notes with it (e.g. class summary papers I wrote on the article).  Second, I can just enter the ISSN, ISBN or DOI of the article or book and it will enter all the bibliographic information.  Finally, it will export to BibTeX so I don’t have to enter APA article information in my papers (i.e. that is done automatically).

Inline APA Bibliography entry in LaTeX

Here’s another inline bibliography example but not using apacite:

The apacite package must be v.6 2012/2 or newer for it to compile correctly.

Below is what the example looks like after it is compiled:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 7.07.02 PM

For this a bibtex file is needed and the main tex file.  I have included both files below in their entirety.  Just copy and paste them into the appropriately named file and they should compile.  Also, comments are provided to identify the important pieces of information.


% the next two packages are needed for this example.
% bibentry is for the inline bibliography example
% apacite is the package
% Important to use apacite v6.01 [2012/02/25] or possibility newer
% It didn’t work initially for me with an older version
% Below is from the apacite documentation for v6.01 [2012/02/25
% 8.4 bibentry
% bibentry is a package that allows including a complete reference list entry in the text
% (or a footnote, which is arguably more common). Previous versions of apacite were
% incompatible with bibentry, but I believe this has been xed now. However, the
% APA reference format, which uses periods to separate the elements of a reference
% list entry and not commas, does not appear to be very suitable for in-text use,
% so this is most likely only useful for footnotes that do not contain any other text.
% Also note that the nal period of the reference entry is not suppressed.

% The next few lines are to include header information
\lhead{My Name}
\chead{Inline Bib Entries}


% The next line is needed before the inline bibliography
% don’t worry that it says no bibliography.
% A bibliography can still be included later

\section{Inline Bibliography Example}
% command for inline bibliography

% below is included since I don’t have any citations in this document
% if I had citations, I wouldn’t need it.

% My APA bibliography style and then the final bibliography command


%% This BibTeX bibliography file was created using BibDesk.
%% Created for at 2013-01-26 19:02:33 -0600
%% Saved with string encoding Unicode (UTF-8)

Author = {Sample, Person},
Date-Added = {2013-01-27 01:01:59 +0000},
Date-Modified = {2013-01-27 01:01:59 +0000},
Journal = {Journal of Sample},
Month = jul,
Number = {1},
Pages = {71–86},
Title = {This is an article for a sample Bibliography},
Volume = {116},
Year = {2010}}

Author = {Sample, Person2},
Date-Added = {2013-01-27 00:42:36 +0000},
Date-Modified = {2013-01-27 01:02:26 +0000},
Journal = {Journal of Sample},
Month = jul,
Number = {1},
Pages = {71–86},
Title = {This is another article for a sample Bibliography},
Volume = {116},
Year = {2010}}

Trees in LaTeX

A recent assignment required trees so I checked the following resources:
LaTeX for Linguists resources at UTA

Upon reading the options I decided to try xyling style.  It uses xypic.sty so I just put it in the same directory as my other .sty files.  It is noted that converting it to PDF might be problematic and I was having trouble with this so instead I decided to use qtree and did the same with its .sty file.  I would be interested if someone has had more success than me with xyling style though since it seems to have some versatility.  The qtree.sty worked with no issues for me.

Below is a quick sample I did in qtree for this post.

The code for it is below.  One note is that the nodes are defined as [.node ] with the dot before them.  If more than one word is needed then use curly braces {}, such as, [.{Two words} ].  Also, the code will not compile if the closing bracket does not have a space.  For example, [.Node daughter1 daughter2] is not good but [.Node daughter1 daughter2 ] is fine.





\lhead{Hello World}

\chead{A Simple Tree}

\rhead{Fall 2012}



\Tree[.{S Node} [.NP [.Det a ] [.N dog ] ] [.VP [.V ran ] ] ]


R Functions, Part 1

The following are a few simple observations regarding functions in R using this code to demonstrate: [grep(“yellow”, colors())]
This code looks for all colors in the color palette that have the string “blue” in them.
I got this code from: efg’s Research Notes:  Color Chart

Declare a function in R as follows:
myfunctionname <- function(argument1, argument2, …) { }

Note that the arguments are not typed (i.e. they don’t have to be declared for type, for example as integer or string etc. ).  Also, another function with the same name but a different number of arguments can not be created in R.  Thus, default arguments must be used to create a function that takes different arguments.

Therefore, I can make a simple function to look for colors in the color palette.
mycolors <- function(mycolor) { colors()[grep(mycolor, colors())]}

Then to use it, mycolors(“yellow”);
[1] “greenyellow” “lightgoldenrodyellow”
[3] “lightyellow” “lightyellow1”
[5] “lightyellow2” “lightyellow3”
[7] “lightyellow4” “yellow”
[9] “yellow1” “yellow2”
[11] “yellow3” “yellow4”
[13] “yellowgreen”

I could also use this to display some routine general statistics. Although, if more than one output to the screen is needed, then “print” must be used.
For example, the following is an example without he intended results:
helloworld <- function () {hello<-“hello”; world<-“world”;  hello; world;}
[1] “world”
And in the next example, the intended results can be seen:
helloworld <- function () {hello<-“hello”; world<-“world”; print(hello);print(world);}
[1] “hello”
[1] “world”

Useful resource:
R in a Nutshell [Kindle Edition]


This post discussed simple functions examples in R and other observations are welcome in comments of course. It mainly treated a functional view on the R functions rather than R’s Object Oriented view which I haven’t delved into.

Setup information:
2010 13 inch Mac OS X 10.6.8, 8G Ram with R x64 2.15.1 and R studio 0.96.330 running in Windows 7 running in VMware Fusion 3.1.2 (wanting to get more information or test out virtualbox since it was recommended to me)