Author’s Toolbox

Tools & Processes used

The third edition is published by De Gruyter. The main difference for the paperback is not the technical stuff, but the many changes, provoked by reviewer and editor.

The following is a list of tools used in the process, for those interested.

Latex LogoWord-Processing. I use Word a lot in my day-job. Maybe for this reason, I was not too happy about using Word. It simply isn’t good enough. I knew about Latex, and when I saw something written by a good colleague, Jens Hee, I decided to try it out. I have not looked back since. Well, maybe when I was creating the e-book – see further down.
I implemented a number of enhancements in the second edition, such as improved micro-kerning. This makes the text even prettier. I am sure that I have benefited from being a programmer. Not that I have programmed anything in Latex, but the entire concept feels good when you are used to programming and compiling.
To be precise, I used pdflatex, with MikTex for editing.

The third edition goes through yet an enhancement phase at De Gruyters.

Diagrams. In the first edition, I used MS Visio for diagrams. It has a good collection of elements that you can piece together, but it lacked a number of features. For the second edition, I switched to CorelDraw. I loved Corel in the old days, but believed it was dead. It wasn’t. It’s not straight-forward to use, but neither is Visio.

In the first edition, all graphics were exported as PNG-files. This was OK for screen-shots, but a big mistake for vector-graphics. I should have known better, but got fooled by looking at PDF on-screen. The PDF-viewer by default shows things differently than they are printed. Always test on print!
Naturally, I did print the whole lot several times, but when I got to that point I had fooled myself to think that it could not look better.

From the second edition onwards, vector-graphics (from Visio and Corel) are exported as PDF into Latex, which in reality passes it “as is” to the printer. Much better.
Excel graphs are also exported as PDF. A hidden gem in Excel.
Getting PDF-graphics right on the printer is a challenge – see my blog-post on Raster-Image-Processing: RIP.
Process-wise I would like CorelDraw to have a batch-mode export (see below on backup).

Graphs. The sines, spectra etc. in the DSP-chapter are now generated in Python. This is a major change from the first and second edition. The main reason for the use of Python is that it is free. This should make it more interesting for the reader to toy around with the code which is listed in the book. As Python is also used for network simulations this gives a better flow in the book. The graphs in the SPC-chapter are generated in Excel.

Screen-Shots. I have simply used Microsoft’s Snipping Tool for this and exported as PNG’s in both editions. For the second edition I re-did many of these to make them more readable. Mostly this was done by focusing on only parts of the screen, or by increasing font-size. The latter was done with all WireShark images. In the first edition I ran all screen-shots through Gimp, to make them look better in Black & White. It became clear that this added no real value, and the concept was dropped in the second edition. In the third edition many figures are improved.

Backup. For backup I used “git”. It is one of many tools described in the book, so it made sense to take my own medicine. See e.g. Table of Contents.

I saved versions on a daily basis. This works great with Latex text, but when using graphics there is no compression. I need to save the CDR-files from CorelDraw. This takes a lot of space.
When the git repo is pulled to another PC to work from here, it is cumbersome to go through all CDR-files manually, exporting them to PDF, so I also saved PDF’s whenever I thought I was “done” – which was often not correct. Thus the repo grew fast. This would not be so extreme if CorelDraw supported a batch-mode export, allowing me to treat CDR as source and PDF as compiled output.

When I worked on the first edition I did not use git, but a simple backup script that saved all content to a Google Drive (described in the book as “poor mans backup”). This was easier to work with, from a backup point-of-view, but using git allowed me to look at “diff’s” and to retrace my footsteps – just like working with code.

Wireshark. In a way this is just one of many tools demonstrated throughout the book. However, no other single tool appears on so many screenshots. I owe Gerald Combs, founder of Wireshark, a huge THANK YOU for allowing me to use Wireshark screenshots in the book. Wireshark is the tool to use when capturing & analyzing Ethernet traffic.

Python has been mentioned a few times. I use the Anaconda Spyder for code & debug.

Misc. “R” was used to lookup SPC-constants for the SPC-chapter. I also simulated some of these in Python (the ones I could not calculate in Excel). It took millions of iterations to get to the same constants as R gives in a split-second.

E-Book

This is now handled by De Gruyter.