Dictating instead of writing today

I have done something to my back that makes it very painful to sit at the computer today. It’s probably because I’ve been sitting too long at the computer the last couple of days. I have had this problem before, but usually only if I’ve been using the mouse too much. That hasn’t been a problem lately, but I do spend a lot of hours at the computer these days compared to some weeks ago. Anyway, I have some lecture notes that I would like to finish this week, so I can’t really give it a complete rest. So this gives me an excuse to try dictating text instead of writing.

I am dictating this blog post on my phone. I am dictating in the Ulysses editor. That is the editor I use for blogging. For some reason, I cannot dictate in Ulysses on my iPad. On the iPad I can dictate to iA Writer, but not Ulysses. On the phone I can dictate in both.

I’m surprised at how well dictation is working. When I tried it some years ago it really didn’t understand my thick Danish accent. Now it seems to understand most of the words I’m saying; I do have to change a few of them after I’ve dictated, but mostly to get stuff right. I still prefer using the keyboard over the microphone, but dictation is a working solution while my back is painful.

Object-oriented programming in R

I just finished the first chapter of my next book: Object-oriented programming in R. This time I am planning to go through the object-oriented systems in R and write what I can about how to write object-oriented programs in R.

I’ve put the book on Leanpub but to my shock they now require payment for publication there. US $99 + VAT, which is about the same as I have received in royalties from my other two books. If I include my Grammarly subscription in expenses involved in writing books, I am loosing money on this now.

I can only hope that I can actually make that much with sales in the long run. I am not even a third way there with Functional programming in R which has the same length as I aim at for this book. With Introduction to data science and statistical programming with R I’ve sold for just a tad more than $100, but that is a longer book and that was in the first two months of sales. I’m not really selling any copies any longer.

Since it is now actually costing me money to write books I have put a minimum price on the books. I won’t do that for the new book — I don’t think it is fair to charge for a book that isn’t even finished yet — but I have put a minimum price on the other two. It is $0.99+VAT for Functional programming in R and $1.99+VAT for Introduction to data science and statistical programming with R. It is about a third of the recommended price, so it is still pretty cheap, and it might make me enough money that I can afford publishing a fourth book.

Filter, Map, and Reduce

Just finished the next chapter in Functional Programming in R. This chapter covers the Filter, Map, and Reduce functions and the family of apply functions and a short introduction to the purrr package.

The chapters seem to be getting a little shorter here towards the end of the book, but there isn’t that much to say about these functions. I will think about it a little and see if I can add a little more, but I don’t feel like padding the chapter just to get its length up to the same size as the previous chapters.

I have thought about how to get the previous chapter a little longer. The continuation-passing-style is not that easy to get around mentally if you haven’t seen it before, so I think I will add another example to that section. I just need a good example to use. Will have to think about that.

Anyway, now that this chapter is drafted I will go back to working on Introduction to Data Science and Statistical Programming in R and get that edited so it is ready when teaching starts in two weeks.

Writing update

My writing is going slow the last couple of days. I actually had planned to write a bit in the weekend but then got side tracked by the units project so I only wrote about a thousand words. It was about the same today, but I did manage to get some proofreading done on the Data Science book at least.

I need to get the Data Science book ready for classes, which are now only two weeks away. At least I need the first eight chapters, the rest can technically speaking wait another seven weeks, but I would prefer to have the entire book edited before I hand it out to my students. So I will mostly be working on that this week and hopefully get it done by he weekend.

I just want to finish the current chapter in Functional Programming in R before I put it aside. It isn’t that hard to write but it is looking to be a little short compared to the previous chapters so I am thinking about what I could possibly add to it. I am drawing a blank right now, but maybe I will have an idea tomorrow.

I have imported the entire book isn’t Ulysses and it is nice to write there, but annoying to have to export every time I need to compile it. I don’t know if that could be automated. That would be another fun project if it is possible.

Trying out the Ulysses editor

For some reason iA Writer stays at ~50% CPU on my laptop, draining the battery and heating up the entire house, so I went looking for another editor to play with.

I have been looking at Ulysses for a while and found it a bit pricy, but what the hell, if it is a great editor it is worth it. So I am trying it out, and I am writing this post on the iPad version. For some reason I had trouble connecting with WordPress from the laptop.

Actually I can not connect to WordPress.com on either version of the app but I can connect to my own server on both. There is just a timeout when I try to publish from the laptop. I will look into that later.

I am pretty happy with it so far. There is a nice distraction free mode, reasonable word count and other statistics, and the way text is organized as sheets you can move around, although something you need to get used to, is pretty neat.

My only main concern is that you only have all the features if your files are imported into the application. You can edit plain Markdown files but you only get a limited number of the features then. Which means that it is better to import but for my writing that destroys the workflow I have with knitr and Pandoc. I have to remember to export explicitly before I can compile a document.

Now Ulysses actually have some nice style sheets for exporting so I guess it isn’t a problem for most, but I do need to run my documents through knitr for evaluating R code so I can’t work exclusively with Ulysses. I will see how it goes during the next week where I will try to do my writing in Ulysses.

I haven’t tested things like cross reference and citations yet so I don’t knowi what f it can do that. Otherwise I definitely need the Pandoc workflow and then it is annoying if it is necessary to explicitly export.

We will see how I like it after a week, I guess.