Probably the best Beef Wellington in London

02 May 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

I love Beef Wellingtons! The concept of a thick fillet covered in mushroom sauce and encased in puff pastry is very appealing in itself and it is relatively easy to find decent ones in regular supermarkets.

Sometime time ago, I found G. Kemp & Son near my house. A very good butcher selling a impressively good beef wellington,but I always wanted to try one in a restaurant, which is not easy to find.

After some research, I found some places in London. The first attempt was Riding House Café. Great deception. They were not serving Beef Wellington in the time I came, so I had to improvise. The result was an overpriced hipster meal (fancy names and fancy ingredients) with nothing special to offer.

But the second attempt was spot on! The Grenadier pub. I usually avoid Greene King pubs, but this one seemed to be an exception. All the comments and photos suggested it was a place of good food, so I tried. It was amazing! It does not feel as a Greene King pub, with standardized menus and crappy beers. Actually, the menu is very original and they were offering at least two decent real ales.

pub The Grenadier

As planned, my girlfriend and I ordered two beef wellingtons and they were perfect! The meat, the pastry, the sauce and the gravy. Even the regular vegetables on the side were better than usual (not from frozen apparently). The desert was ok, but the main definitely was worth the visit alone.

Beef Wellington

Although it is a bit pricey and busy, I strongly recommend The Grenadier if you want to try a Beef Wellington.

Where should I publish?

26 Apr 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

A common recommendation for those starting to publish in academic journals is try to go for the journal you read the most. Of course this could mean a highly competitive journal, in which case you may need to consider other options, but the idea behind this advice is that by reading papers from a journal you get familiar with its style, purposes and so on and, therefore, all this would reflect in your paper.

When I heard this advice my computer programmer brain thought: I could write a script to do this for me!

Since I use Zotero and Zotero is a very friendly open source software, I decided to try to write a script in Python that would search its database. After checking the tables, I could identify where the information I needed was (see the query below).

SELECT * FROM itemData INNER JOIN itemDataValues ON itemData.valueID=itemDataValues.valueID
WHERE fieldID=12 ORDER BY value

For those interested: 12 is the id for the "publication" field, which contains the title of the journal for "journal article" items.

You can use the query above in any software that can read SQLite (I recommend SQLiteBrowser on Linux). But if you are not experienced with such things, you can just download the script available on my github or here (this link may be outdated).

After unzip it, you will get a .py file. Save it on main Zotero's folder (you will see a zotero.sqlite file in it) and run the script. It depends on some very basic Python library, which I believe are installed in most computers being regularly used. The screenshot below shows the result.

screenshot

Now, you just need to scroll the list and find the most common journal in your library (pay attention to small variations in the title of the journal - the script is sensitive to them). For me, it was the Educational Studies in Mathematics.

Presentation using beamer via pandoc

09 Apr 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Beamer is a tool to create slide presentations using Latex. Since I was "forced" to use Latex for a project I am involved with, I am trying to use it as much as possible to get acquainted with its quirks; which, by the way, are a lot.

Some time ago I heard of Pandoc. A tool that allows you to export text created with markdown (supposedly the most intuitive way to format text without using an interfaced software such as Libreoffice). The idea of exporting my notes, such as below, directly to a slide(image further down) is very appealing to me, so I decided to combine both to generate a pdf presentation directly from my notes.

## The lesson plans

- 12 lessons plans grouped into 3 packs (one per term);
- Worksheets + Comments for the teacher + cut-outs;
- Topics covered:
    - equivalent fractions,
    - comparison of fractions,
    - addition and subtraction,
    - mixed numbers and improper fractions,
    - word problems.

slide generated with pandoc and beamer

You can check the complete file with my notes in markdown (actually, just a part of it - just enough to show the most important codes in markdown) and the resulting pdf presentation.

Once you have pandoc and latex (with packages to run beamer) installed, use just have to use the following command to compile the presentation:

pandoc inputfile.md -t beamer -o output.pdf

Basically, pandoc generates a latex file and then uses latex+beamer to create a pdf formatted as a presentation.

Some comments

  • The first block of content is the metadata, which generates the front page and set some parameters regarding the layout. The slide_level parameter determines how many sections and subsections (marked by # in the md file) are before something is an actual slide. The header-includes are some parameter to change the layout of the theme I used. The others are sort of self explanatory;
  • I really do not like beamer's default themes, so I used metropolis. It is well documented and very elegant. It has some limitations and small bugs, but it does work and looks really nice;
  • The standout slide (last one) did not work perfectly for me. When I used it in the middle of the presentation it affected the title of the next slide. I guess it is a problem in the interaction between pandoc and the theme;
  • Beamer does not offer fields for supervisors and funders, so I had to improvise. Apparently it is possible to solve this issue by tweaking the theme and I will try to do so when I get some spare time.
  • I decided not to use any reference system because in presentations I use to include just a few references, but bibtex should work as usual;

The complete presentation can be seen here.

Aspects of the social research process

20 Feb 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Martyn Hammersley is my favourite methodologist in the social sciences. His views are pragmatic without being superficial, simplistic or favouring certain tendencies or approaches.

Recently, he published the paper What is ethnography? Can it survive? Should it?. By the end of the paper, the author proposes a table showing the options for the design of research in social sciences and this table is complemented by a diagram attached in the end of the paper. Because the diagram was poorly designed, I contacted the author asking for clarifications. Martyn kindly answered and even provided some complementary notes on the table and diagram.

As a result, I compiled all the information in the diagram below.

Diagram based on Hammersley's view on research design

The svg file can be downloaded here.

I find it extremely useful to clarify ideas related to research design and choices that a researcher has to make during this process.

Some comments

Some choices in one stage may limit, or even determine, the options available in the next stages. So, it is not possible (or it just does not make sense) to combine all the possibilities freely.

The table is not a suggestion of order in terms of when the choices should be made.

The "Choice of cases" aspect is discussed in the chapter So, what are case studies? in the book What's wrong with ethnography?.

Hammersley recognizes that the item Data Analysis deserves more details, but he had " not even attempted to map the dimensions involved [t]here".

Credits

The content of the post was totally based on papers by Martyn Hammersley and should by treated/referred as usual in academic papers. When I contacted him, he was clear that I could use the extra material for whatever end I wanted. However, the diagram above is my reading of his work and was not extracted directly from his papers.



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