This series is written by a representative of the latter group, which is comprised mostly of what might be called "productivity users" (perhaps "tinkerly productivity users?"). Though my lack of training precludes me from writing code or improving anyone else's, I can, nonetheless, try and figure out creative ways of utilizing open source programs. And again, because of my lack of expertise, though I may be capable of deploying open source programs in creative ways, my modest technical acumen hinders me from utilizing those programs in what may be the most optimal ways. The open-source character, then, of this series, consists in my presentation to the community of open source users and programmers of my own crude and halting attempts at accomplishing computing tasks, in the hope that those who are more knowledgeable than me can offer advice, alternatives, and corrections. The desired end result is the discovery, through a communal process, of optimal and/or alternate ways of accomplishing the sorts of tasks that I and other open source productivity users need to perform.

## Tuesday, February 21, 2012

### Fourth installment: How to write a business letter using TeX/LaTeX

I continue my experiments with TeX/LaTeX. There's just something I like about working with mark-up. I suppose that for most people, the mark-up would hopelessly complicate things. But I find the opposite to be the case for me.

That dates back probably at least as far as the first word processor I used with regularity--WordPerfect (WP hereafter) 4.0. It was also a console application, one that I managed to learn my way around fairly easily. It ran on a 286 with a whopping 20 megabytes of hard drive space and probably not more than 2 megabytes of RAM.

One of the great things about that version of WP was a feature it had called "reveal codes." If some aspect of the document you were working on looked weird and you couldn't correct by selecting various canned options, you could use the "reveal codes" feature to examine the situation behind the scenes. Despite the fact that my computer knowledge was extremely paltry back then, I don't think I ever confronted a situation where, by revealing those codes, I wasn't able to straighten things out.

Skip forward about a year to when I had finally gotten rid of the old computer and was using a "modern" word processor--Word 6.0. Imagine my surprise and dismay when, having issues with documents I was creating with that version of Word, I discovered that the program had no "reveal codes" feature. I was stuck with whatever Word wanted to give me, and that was that (a more technical explanation of the matters at issue can be read here).

So, my interest in TeX/LaTeX perhaps traces, ultimately, to the frustrations I encountered long ago with using more "modern" word processing applications. Whatever the motivations, I continue to experiment--and am now even having modest successes--with TeX/LaTeX.

Recently, I had another opportunity to continue my experimentation with  TeX/LaTeX. I needed to write an official, business-type letter and decided to try writing it with TeX/LaTeX.

I must admit there were also other motivating factors--not least of which was that, since I write so few of these types of letters, I can never remember the proper format and need, each time I write one, to do some web research aimed at refreshing my memory about that prior to composing the letter. TeX/LaTeX could be of assistance here since, I assumed, the letter document class should already be set to output the proper format--which did, indeed, turn out to be the case.

The down side was that it took me an inordinately long time to compose this fairly short letter: but that was, in part, because I wasted a lot of time in a largely fruitless attempt to utilize what was supposed to be a new-and-improved letter class, something called scrlttr2, a component of what is called the "KOMA bundle." Had I just used the old letter document class and not spent so much time trying to get scrlttr2 to do what I wanted, it probably would have taken me about half as long. A long time to write just one letter but, given that it was my first try using this application and that I had some spare time to spend on it, not too bad.

I was successful in the end. Below I'll paste a template for the letter I wrote, one that contains a nice tweak that causes a scanned signature to be printed.

Without further ado, here's the template I used (some explanation below):

\documentclass[12pt]{letter}
\usepackage{fullpage}
\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage{graphicx} %so that signature graphic can be included
%\signature{Name Surname}
\address{My Street \\ My City zip \\ Phone: 555-555-5555 \\ e-mail: me@mydomain.whrvr}
\begin{document}
\begin{letter}{Recipient \\ Recipient's street \\ Recipient's city zip\\ country}
\opening{To whom it may concern:}
This letter is written for the purpose of \ldots

If you have any questions, or would like to see some additional documentation, please do not hesitate to contact me.
\closing{Sincerely,\\
\fromsig{\includegraphics[width=55mm]{Mysig.jpeg}}\\
\fromname{My Name}
}
% \ps{P.S. Here goes your ps.}
% \encl{Enclosures.}
\end{letter}
\end{document}


The first thing I'd like to explain is the use of the graphicx package, which is what allows for the graphic of the signature file to be included. Simply scan your signature and save it as a jpg file (other image formats may work, though jpg is the only one I tested). It will need to be saved within the directory from which you're compiling your letter. Stipulate the size you want for the signature, and pdflatex will include it once you compile.

The other fields in the template should be self-explanatory. I've commented out some of them (the percentage sign is the comment character in TeX/LaTeX), either because they did not apply to the letter I was writing--for example, the PS and enclosure options at the end--or perhaps because it was something that I tried but that didn't have the desired result (the "signature" option in the preamble).

The template should work as is. Just save it as a .tex file, enter your values in place of the generic information, scan your signature and save it to the same directory, then run pdflatex on the .tex file. You should end up with a nicely-formatted business letter.

EDIT: Thanks to those commenters who pointed out the the missing \end{document} tag at the letter's end--not sure how I left that out but it's now been added.

## Tuesday, February 14, 2012

### Third installment: In praise of newsbeuter

As I've mentioned previously, I'm a T.E.T. (trailing edge technology) type of guy. Rather than chasing after the latest, greatest, electronics must-haves, I'm content to sit on the sidelines watching developments, trying to scheme up ways of getting dated tech to approximate what the new gadgets can do, or sometimes even pouncing on something a bit dated when prices to drop by 50% or more once the novelty's worn off.

That sort of curmudgeonly attitude, augmented by being something of a technological late-bloomer (never touched a computer prior to age 30), it may come as scant surprise that, until fairly recently, I'd done little to nothing involving feed reading. I do recall, when first hearing about RSS, that it seemed like something well-suited to my needs and disposition. But initial attempts at utilizing it did not get very far.

Feed reading seemed attractive to me initially because, given my penchant for T.E.T. and all things low-resource, my preference for things like news reading, which I do a fair amount of, has been, for some years now, largely to use non-graphical applications. What I mean by that is that, when I want to know, via the internet, what's happening in the world at large, I want mostly words, not pictures. And most especially what I don't want when I'm looking for news is advertisements.

Well, advert aversity and my preponderating graphical ambivalence happen to go together quite well with low-resource computing--whether as cause or symptom I don't know. These proclivities led me, for several years, to do most of my news reading under text-mode browsers--primarily links/elinks and friends. I was quite pleased with that arrangement since it obviated a good deal of the bothersome advertising and allowed me to pick and choose which of the more newsworthy graphics I wished to view.

I could, for example, set up links/elinks to use a low-resource program like feh to view the graphics of my choice. That, of course, was in the days when in-line images were the standard for web pages, rather than more modern irritations like java scripts or the even more egregious flash. Should, in those bygone days, any news story hold sufficient graphical interest, I could always copy the URL into a graphical browser and have a gander at the site in its full monty manifestation.

As the web has continued its inexorable march toward chimerical perfection, text-mode browsing--as alluded to above--has become less and less practicable. For some time, one of my primary sources for news was the collection of headlines at the yahoo main page--which used to display quite acceptably in elinks. But yahoo finally sold what remained of its soul to the devil of progress and vaulted itself yet further into the 21st century, updating its main page and thereby causing it to render quite terribly under elinks.

I was adrift for a time news-wise in the wake of the demise of the old yahoo main page. I eventually settled on google news as my news page--once I discovered the proper user-agent incantation; one that would give me the mobile version of the page, containing just a clickable headline along with a line or two from the story. The full version of the page, containing whole opening-paragraphs from the various news stories of the day, was way more news than I was looking for.

But I do like to consult more than one news source each day: for example, I typically look at some Linux news site (Lxer is my preference these days), some boxing headlines, and some MMA news as well. I was ending up with 3 or 4 tabs open in elinks, refreshing each site as I wanted to check for new stories. Which didn't work too badly, by the way.

Recently, though, I decided to have another go at learning about and seeing whether RSS might suit better my news-reading needs. What I ended up discovering was an RSS feed reader that would turn out to scratch, in the most satisfactory way probably humanly possible, the wildest insatiable itch I barely even knew I had (if that statement makes no sense, read on: it might later--though I'm making no guarantees :)). That RSS application was newsbeuter.

Will it come as any surprise if I intimate that newsbeuter is a console program? Probably not. Not only can this application be used from a pseudo-terminal, it can even be used straight from the console! Now that's right up my T.E.T. alley.

"Ok, so what is it?" you ask. Well, it's a terminal application for reading RSS feeds, an application that was developed by an Austrian (as in, fellow countryman of our own American Terminator/Governator) fellow, Andreas Krennmair. The interface, such as it is, quite reminiscent of vi/vim. As he tells us, the name
"Newsbeuter" is a pun on the German word "Wildbeuter", which means "hunter-gatherer". During the stone age, people hunted and gathered their food, and these days, they hunt and gather news and information. Credits for this idea goes to Clifford Wolf, who submitted it to a little competiton that was started when I got aware that the original name would violate French and European registered trademarks.
The screenshot below offers a glimpse at what newsbeuter looks like once it's running:

Each of the entries you see in the screenshot represents an RSS feed. You use the up and down arrows to navigate them, and press the enter key to open the feed, which shows you a list of items or headlines for that feed. Note also the numeral pairs in parentheses, which shows how many items are within that group and how many of those have already been read.

Once you've highlighted one of the items using the up/down arrows and pressed the enter key, you'll be presented by something like what's seen in the screenshot below:

Note the blue bar across the bottom of the window that gives a list of keys that can be pressed and offers a description of what each does.

Again, the up/down arrow keys are used to navigate the headlines, and pressing the enter key on the highlighted headline opens a view that shows the first few lines of the story and that looks as follows (and yes, it's running in a screen session):

Here's where the real magic comes in for us command-line commandos. The application is configured to open the system's default browser for viewing the full story which, on most systems, will be Firefox or some other graphical monstrosity. But newsbeuter offers configuration options that will cause a different, more sane browser to open when the "o" (open) key is pressed, allowing you to view the story in a text-mode browser such as my preferred news reading application, elinks.

To configure newsbeuter to use a more sane text-mode browser, just open (or create, if it's not already on your system) ~/.newsbeuter/config and add the entry html-renderer elinks, and you're all set to read your news stories using elinks. Of course lots of other options can be set within this configuration file--which you can read about at the application's documentation page at http://newsbeuter.org/doc/newsbeuter.html.

Actually, a step that needs to be taken before even the tried-and-true elinks will be of any use to you in reading the news stories linked to, is to configure your feeds. To do that, you open the file ~/.newsbeuter/urls and enter in the URL's of the feeds you wish to monitor. Once that's done, you have a minimal configuration for reading news from RSS feeds with the big boys.

I must confess to being as happy as a clam with this new news-reading scheme--actually, happier. No clam grovelling in the cold mud in the murky depths could ever experience the warmth and satisfaction I've gotten from finding this RSS feed manager, which offers a way to link it up with my favored text-mode browser. So I'm actually happier than a clam--way happier (take that, you smug little bivalve molluscs).

I wish I would have discovered this solution long ago; but part of the reason I didn't was because, simply stated, I'm still very much in learning mode with GNU/Linux system set-up and administration. Had I discovered newsbeuter, say 3 or 4 years ago, I may very well have been unable to puzzle out how to configure and use it.

There are, of course, other command-line RSS feed readers. Perhaps some even work about as well as newsbeuter. I simply haven't looked further yet since what I have looks like it answers to all my needs.

One alternate project that looks interesting is rss2email. I may later have a look at it, but at the moment it's hard for me to imagine what advantages it would have for my purposes over newsbeuterThis entry, from the now--sadly--defunct blog "Motho ke motho ka botho," reviews a few others.

Thus concludes my paean to newsbeuter, the mutt of RSS readers: actually, I used mutt for about a year and gave up on it, going back to Alpine--so I'm more inclined to call it the Alpine of RSS readers. But, whatever.

All hail Andreas Krennmair, command-line RSS manager programmer extraodinaire! He deserves a Nobel prize for command-line RSS feed reader programming! Buy the man a beer in lieu of the Nobel prize he's been stinted if ever you meet him!

## Thursday, February 2, 2012

### A second addendum to the second installment

I really do have things other than outlining with nano to write about. Really I do. For example, there's the project of installing the Tinycore distribution on some older machines in our computer lab to write about--something I did about a month ago and about which I've already started an article; there's an article about the newsbeuter rss client; one about how to set a weather map as the desktop background; and so forth.  But I've gone on kind of a jag with this nano project lately, and it's complex and foreign enough to me that if I don't record it now, I'm liable to forget important details. So, you're forced to endure another installment on it. :)

What follows may be the last entry on this topic for awhile--we'll see whether any enhancements will be forthcoming soon. If not, I'll probably move on to some of those other important writing projects after this entry. Anyway, on to the topic at hand.

With help from some generous folks over at the linux questions forum, I now have a 3 scripts to share. All the scripts--one written in perl, one in python, and one in awk--add mark-up to the nano outlines I create, mark-up that causes them, once pdflatex has been run on them, to transform into documents that print nicely on paper. I'll paste below the code for each of the three scripts so that, not only will I be less likely to forget how all this works, but also for the possible benefit of others who want to do something similar to what I'm doing. I'll start with the perl script.

The following perl script will add TeX/LaTeX mark-up to the outline files I create with nano. The code can be seen in the following graphic (thanks, blogspot, for making it such a PITA to post code snippets here that I have upload graphic files in order to show them, and sincere thanks to formatmysourcecode for providing the real and effective solution evident below):

#!/usr/bin/perl
# run outl2tex.pl as follows: outl2tex.pl file.outl > file.tex

print <<END
\\documentclass[14pt]{extarticle}
\\usepackage{cjwoutl}
\\usepackage[top=1in,bottom=1in,left=1in,right=1in]{geometry}
\\usepackage{underlin}
\\linespread{1.3} % gives 1.5 line spacing
\\pagestyle{underline}
\\begin{document}
\\begin{outline}[new]
END
;

while (<>) {
s/^(\t*)=(.*)/"$1\\outl{".((length$1) + 1)."}$2"/e; print; } print <<END \\end{outline} \\end{document} END ;  (the code pasting above was made easy and possible by the source code formatter available at http://formatmysourcecode.blogspot.com/) As will be obvious, I've named the script outl2tex.pl. As should also be clear, the script is to be run by issuing the command outl2tex.pl name_of_outl_file.outl > name_of_tex_file.tex The next script--actually scripts--I'll show are the python ones. Why two? Well, it seems python is a rapidly-developing scripting language--something I found out when trying to run the first script that was created for me: it returned an error on my machine. At the same time, it ran fine on the machine of the fellow who created it. Well, as it turns out, I have version 3.2.2 installed on my machine, while he developed the script on a machine that had version 2.6 on it. So, the following script is the one he originally wrote and that ran on his computer, and one which should work for python version 2.x (he wrote it for 2.6, I ran it successfully with version 2.7, but whether it works for all 2.x versions I cannot say for certain). #!/usr/bin/python # for use with versions 2.x of python # run outl2tex.py as follows: outl2tex.py file.outl > file.tex import sys import re if( len( sys.argv ) != 2 ): print >> sys.stderr, "{0} requires one filename to process.".format( sys.argv[0].split('/')[-1] ) sys.exit( 1) try: rawOutline = open( sys.argv[1], 'r' ) except: print >> sys.stderr, "Unable to open {0} for reading".format( sys.argv[1] ) sys.exit( 2 ) print ( '\\documentclass[14pt]{extarticle}\n' '\\usepackage{cjwoutl}\n' '\\usepackage[top=1in,bottom=1in,left=1in,right=1in]{geometry}\n' '\\usepackage{underlin} '\\setlength{\\headsep}{12pt} '\\pagestyle{myheadings}\n' '\\markright{\\today{\\hfill ***Header*title*here***\\hfill}}\n' '\\linespread{1.3} % gives 1.5 line spacing\n' '\\pagestyle{underline} '\\begin{document}\n' '\\begin{outline}[new]\n' ) for inputLine in rawOutline: reMatches = re.match( r"(\t*)=(.*)", inputLine ) if( reMatches == None ): print inputLine.rstrip() else: tabCount = len( reMatches.group(1).split('\t') ) print "{0}\\outl{{{1:d}}}{2}".format( reMatches.group(1), tabCount, reMatches.group(2) ) print ( '\\end{outline}\n' '\\end{document}\n' )  This script is run in essentially the same way as the perl one. Next, the python 3.x script. As with the 2.x version listed above, I've confirmed that this one runs using version 3.2.2, though I am uncertain whether it can be expected to run under all 3.x versions of python. #!/usr/bin/python # for use with versions 3.x of python # run outl2tex.py as follows: outl2tex.py file.outl > file.tex import sys import re if( len( sys.argv ) != 2 ): print ( "{0} requires a filename to process.".format( sys.argv[0].split('/')[-1] ), file=sys.stderr ) sys.exit( 1 ) try: rawOutline = open( sys.argv[1], 'r' ) except: print ( "Unable to open {0} for reading".format( sys.argv[1] ), file=sys.stderr ) sys.exit( 2 ) print ( '\\documentclass[14pt]{extarticle}\n' '\\usepackage{cjwoutl}\n' '\\usepackage[top=1in,bottom=1in,left=1in,right=1in]{geometry}\n' '\\usepackage{underlin} '\\setlength{\\headsep}{12pt} '\\pagestyle{myheadings}\n' '\\markright{\\today{\\hfill ***Header*title*here***\\hfill}}\n' '\\linespread{1.3} % gives 1.5 line spacing\n' '\\pagestyle{underline} '\\begin{document}\n' '\\begin{outline}[new]\n' ) for inputLine in rawOutline: reMatches = re.match( r"(\t*)=(.*)", inputLine ) if( reMatches == None ): print ( inputLine.rstrip() ) else: tabCount = len( reMatches.group(1).split('\t') ) print ( "{0}\\outl{{{1:d}}}{2}".format( reMatches.group(1), tabCount, reMatches.group(2) ) ) print ( '\\end{outline}\n' '\\end{document}\n' )  Finally, here's the awk script, and it's a long 'un (unfortunately this script is now broken owing to some updates I made to the template file): #!/usr/bin/awk -f # # -v tab=8 # set tab stops at every eight columns (the default). # # -v template=template.tex # set the path to the LaTeX template file. # # run outl2tex.awk as follows: outl2tex.awk file.outl > file.tex # Convert tabs to spaces. function detab(detab_line) { if (length(tabsp) != tab) { } while ((detab_pos = index(detab_line, "\t")) &gt; 0) detab_line = substr(detab_line, 1, detab_pos - 1) substr(tabsp, detab_pos % tab) substr(detab_line, detab_pos + 1) return detab_line } BEGIN { # Set tab width to default, unless set on the command line. if (tab &lt; 1) tab = 8 # Set template name to default, unless set on the command line. if (length(template) &lt; 1) template = "template.tex" # Record separator is a newline, including trailing whitespace. RS = "[\t\v\f ]*(\r\n|\n\r|\r|\n)" # Field separator is consecutive whitespace. FS = "[\t\v\f ]+" # Configuration -- parsed from magic comments. split("", config) config["tab"] = tab config["template"] = template # We are not working on anything yet. template = "" header = "" footer = "" split("", outline) outline[0] = 1 maxspaces = 0 CURR = "" } CURR != FILENAME { # Empty line? if ($0 ~ /^[\t ]*$/) next # Configuration comment? if ($0 ~ /^%[\t ]*[A-Za-z][0-9A-Za-z]*[\t ]*:/) {
name = $0 sub(/^%[\t ]*/, "", name) sub(/[\t ]*:.*$/, "", name)
value = $0 sub(/^[^:]*:[\t ]*/, "", value) # Make the name case-insensitive. temp = name name = "" for (i = 1; i &lt;= length(temp); i++) { c = substr(temp, i, 1) uc = toupper(c) lc = tolower(c) if (uc != lc) name = name "[" uc lc "]" else name = name c } config[name] = value next } # Comment line (skipped)? if ($0 ~ /^[\t ]*%/)
next

# This is the first line of actual content.
CURR = FILENAME

# Set up tabs as currectly specified.
tab = int(config["tab"])
tabsp = "                "
while (length(tabsp) &lt; tab)
tabsp = tabsp tabsp
tabsp = substr(tabsp, 1, tab)

# Have we used a template yet?
if (length(template) &lt; 1) {
template = config["template"]
if (length(template) &lt; 1) template = "-"
OLDRS = RS
RS = "(\r\n|\n\r|\r|\n)"

while ((getline line &lt; template) &gt; 0) {
# Content marker line?
if (line ~ /^[\t\v\f ]*[Cc][Oo][Nn][Tt][Ee][Nn][Tt][\t\v\f ]*$/) break # Outline level definition? if (line ~ /^%[\t ]*\\outl{/) { level = line sub(/^[^{]*{/, "", level) sub(/}.*$/, "", level)
level = int(level)

line = detab(line)
sub(/\\.*$/, "", line) sub(/%/, "", line) spaces = length(line) outline[spaces] = level if (spaces &gt; maxspaces) maxspaces = spaces continue } # Default value definition? if (line ~ /^%[\t ]*[A-Z][0-9A-Za-z]*:/) { name = line sub(/^%[\t ]*/, "", name) sub(/[\t ]*:.*$/, "", name)
value = line
sub(/^[^:]*:[\t ]*/, "", value)

# Make the name case-insensitive.
temp = name
name = ""
for (i = 1; i &lt;= length(temp); i++) {
c = substr(temp, i, 1)
uc = toupper(c)
lc = tolower(c)
if (uc != lc)
name = name "[" uc lc "]"
else
name = name c
}

# If not in config already, set.
if (!(name in config))
config[name] = value
continue
}

# Comment line?
if (line ~ /^[\t ]*%/)
continue

# Ordinary header line. Remove comment.
sub(/[\t ]%.*$/, "", line) header = header line "\n" } # The rest belongs to footer. while ((getline line &lt; template) &gt; 0) footer = footer line "\n" close(template) RS = OLDRS # Fill in the outline levels. level = outline[0] for (spaces = 1; spaces &lt; maxspaces; spaces++) if (spaces in outline) level = outline[spaces] else outline[spaces] = level # Replace all known ~Name~ in the template. for (name in config) { gsub("~" name "~", config[name], header) gsub("~" name "~", config[name], footer) } # Replace all other ~Name~ entries in the template with empty strings. gsub(/~[A-Z][0-9A-Za-z]*~/, "", header) gsub(/~[A-Z][0-9A-Za-z]*~/, "", footer) # Emit the template. printf("%s", header) } } /^[\t ]*=/ { line =$0
prefix = index(line, "=") - 1

# Indentation size in spaces.
spaces = length(detab(substr(line, 1, prefix)))

# Find out the outline level for this indentation.
if (spaces &gt; maxspaces)
level = outline[maxspaces]
else
level = outline[spaces]

line = substr(line, 1, prefix) "\\outl{" level "}" substr(line, prefix + 2)

printf("%s\n", line)
next
}

{   printf("%s\n", $0) } END { printf("%s", footer) }  As you'll note, this script is quite a bit more complex than the others. It expects, for example, that the TeX template is located in the directory in which the script is run, since it reads values from there (neither the perl nor the python scripts expect such a template file). If it doesn't find the template, it won't process the .outl file. Furthermore, certain variables can be entered on the command line with this script--unlike the others: the number of spaces that make up a tab space can be fed to it, or an alternate name for the template file--even the title can be set as a command line option using -v title="Title". The title can likewise be entered as a commented line at the top of the outline file after the fashion % Title: A Nice Outline (the percentage sign is how commented lines are to be formed using TeX/LaTeX mark-up). That about wraps up this second addendum to outlining with nano. The only other addition I can make for the time being is to point out that I've slightly modified the TeX/LaTeX preamble for my outlines, adding in the header, instead of the author's name, mark-up that will print there today's date (\today)--information more apropos for my purposes. See below the slightly modified template: \documentclass[14pt]{extarticle} \usepackage{cjwoutl} \usepackage[top=1in,bottom=1in,left=1in,right=1in]{geometry} \usepackage{underlin} \setlength{\headsep}{12pt} \pagestyle{myheadings} \markright{\today{\hfill ***Header*title*here***\hfill}} \linespread{1.3} % gives 1.5 line spacing \pagestyle{underline} %this along with underlin package give hrule in header \begin{document} \begin{outline}[new] %\outl{1} % \outl{2} % \outl{3} % \outl{4} % \outl{5} % \outl{6} % \outl{7} % \outl{8} % \outl{9} % \outl{10} \end{outline} \end{document}  I've also altered slightly my .nanorc file so that it includes my preferred "pseudo-bullet"--the equals sign. What that means is that any line that does not begin with the equals sign--regardless of whether it's indented or not--does not get color highlighting applied. Lines that do begin with the equals sign--indented or not--do get color highlighting applied. The relevant section of the updated .nanorc is: syntax "outl" "\.outl$"
color brightwhite "(^)=.*$" color brightred "(^[[:blank:]])=.*$"
color brightgreen "(^[[:blank:]]{2})=.*$" color magenta "(^[[:blank:]]{3})=.*$"
color brightblue "(^[[:blank:]]{4})=.*$" color brightyellow "(^[[:blank:]]{5})=.*$"
color cyan "(^[[:blank:]]{6})=.*$" color brightred "(^[[:blank:]]{7})=.*$"
color brightgreen "(^[[:blank:]]{8})=.*$" color magenta "(^[[:blank:]]{9})=.*$"
color brightblue "(^[[:blank:]]{10})=.*\$"


That's pretty much it. The only other modification that might be done involves quotation marks: since TeX/LaTeX expects, not " but  (double back-ticks) as the opening quotation marks, my files produce the wrong sort of open quotation mark (back-facing instead of front-facing). If one of the above scripts could be modified to detect the opening quotation marks and replace them with the needed double back-ticks, it would make processing of the outline files more complete (ugh, I've just realized I have a similar problem with single quotes or what are sometimes called apostrophes). Otherwise, a search-and-replace will be in order prior to running pdflatex on the converted outlines.

Ya know, come to think of it, working with TeX/LaTeX is a real PITA. The final output is stunning, and no word processor I've ever dealt with comes anywhere close to matching it aesthetically. But it's still a PITA. And that's gonna to have to do it for now.