[texhax] test for LaTeX typist ?

David C. Walden dave at walden-family.com
Thu Apr 27 01:18:50 CEST 2006

So here's my reasoning.

1.  The first test is for basic typing speed and quality.  My old company's 
department always did these tests before I saw someone.  Then see several 
and ask for any reference letters they already have.  In my experience, 
good secretaries
sometimes ask for reference letters when they leave.

2a.  You want evidence that they are not put off by intricacy (e.g., one of
the following: they have  created HTML at the explicit markup level, have used
Illustrator, have created a "process" or whateves they call them in Lotus 
have created a form for Access, have setup their own home computer without
help, make up their own knitting patterns, play contract bridge, use MS Word
at more than a basic level, ...,
OR do anything else at a pretty high level (people who can get really quite
good at one thing typically can get at least modestly good at something else).
2b.  You want them to be ambitious and thus willing to do what it takes to
learn stuff, help you for a while, and then move on to the next job (although
this means you may have to hire someone new in 18 or 24 months).

3.  Decide what you are looking for from this person helping you with LaTeX:
-- beautiful typesetting
-- lots of fancy math equations
-- high productivity
and then look for evidence of interest, experience, or discernment in that 
For instance, a person with artistic interests might have an eye for fonts 
and layout;
a person may not know LaTeX but have already done math typing.

4.  If you think LaTeX is advantageous for whatever you are doing compared with
the alternative, probably it will be easy for the person you hire to see its
advantages compared with those same (inferior) alternatives, e.g., trying 
to do lots
of fancy math using Word -- they want to be efficient too.  I see no reason 
who is interested can't learn and be happy using LaTeX; after all, for years
secretaries used WordStar, nroff/troff, RUNOFF, etc., and got plenty good 
at it.
Attitude, inclination, and good work ethic seem like key ingrediants.

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