I actually made a tiny bit of progress in a math text today; I learned that Markov chain problems could be easily handled with matrices, whereas I had fought them in Probability II using repeated conditioning. (That probably doesn’t even mean much to those who have a clue what Markov chains are. Basically: I fought tooth and nail over something that would have been quite easy had I been shown this other method.)

When I described this epiphany to Eric, he was reminded of Octave—the freeware equivalent to MatLab—which would be handy when dealing with matrices. [While MatLab isn’t as nice as Maple (both are mathematical software packages), a free MatLab clone wins hands-down over an expensive Maple license.] This evening, then—after dancing—I downloaded and installed Octave (via Fink, a nifty way of dealing with Unix-based open-source software).

That became a messy prospect which culminated in my having to run X11 (a Macintosh version of Unix’s X-Windows) and type in arcane command-line commands.

I managed, but there’s a damned reason I own a Macintosh. (Still, for free software, I can’t complain… much.) I’m working on reducing the number of messy strings I have to type to get Octave running, but have only succeeded in losing hours of my life.

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