Babblings of an aging geek in love with the Absurd, his family, and his own hubris.... oh, and Lisp.


Emacs is Hard

22 Feb 2015

After reading the Wired article, Why We Should Design Some Things to Be Difficult to Use, I finally realize that Emacs should be hard to use, and we really should just give up making it easier for new-comers.

This quote sums up my 20 year experience with Emacs:

[Fujifilm took] the controls out of deep menu functions and putting them back on chrome knobs that just beg to be twiddled.

I bought a Fujifilm X100 two years ago. It was the first piece of technology I’d bought in 15 years where I had to read the manual. Actually, I’ve read the manual at least four times. Now I’m taking the best pictures of my life, and I love it. By being hard to use, my X100 made me a better photographer.

Key Sequences in Emacs

20 Feb 2015

In Emacs, a key sequence is special key binding that uses multiple keys in a series. Since they require more effort to type, a sequence is chosen for functions that interrupt the normal editing flow.

Let’s explore some code associated with key sequences as well as write a macro to help make these more palatable.

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The Tao of Emacs

16 Feb 2015

I’m not saying the Emacs Way is objectively better, but you may find your work-style improved if you incorporate this way in your workflow. Let me demonstrate the way with a few examples.

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Emacs is my Window Manager

17 Jan 2015

I have played with a lot of window managers, and while many claim to be unobtrusive and minimal, I really just want Emacs in full-screen mode. So, I create an .xinitrc file that contains only:

exec emacs

That’s right, folks, Emacs is my window manager.

Read more… or simply check out the results.

Squashing Commits with Magit

23 Dec 2014

Manipulating the commit history in Emacs isn’t as straight-forward as other Magit processes, so I thought I would share my notes.

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Artistically Perfect

6 Dec 2014

Saw this video with Woz, where he describes how he wanted every trace on the original Apple board to be placed where the chips would be in the best position. He then said:

It had to be that artistically perfect to me, because it represents yourself when you do a great design.

Yeah, we can relate.

I was totally aware that a revolution was close to starting, that pretty soon we were going to have computers that were affordable... You would type on the keyboard and see your words on the television...ask questions and give answers. That was a turning point in history.
—Steve "Woz" Wozniak   [Note]

Literate DevOps

26 Nov 2014

Maintaining servers falls into two phases: First, bang head until server works; second, capture effort into some automation tool like Puppet or Chef. Recently, I’ve been playing around with making the first phase closer to the second.

For lack of a better word, I’m calling it literate devops.

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Computer Languages Suck

25 Nov 2014

I like to publish only positive essays on my blog, and I’ve been conflicted about publishing my perspective on perching on Paul Graham’s shoulders to extend his essay on the Hundred-Year Language. So keep in mind that any snarkiness is my inept attempt at humor.

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Teaching Programming…Again

30 Oct 2014

After many years of teaching Scratch at my local elementary school, I decided to start teaching an after-school session at my local Middle School. With diverse interests and abilities (not to mention, I’m considerably more busy during my day job), I thought I would try a new approach: nothing.

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Journaling with org-mode

26 Oct 2014

Regardless of whether you are into capturing personal data as part of the Quantified Self movement, or simply like to reflect on your day, I thought Emacs and org-mode would be a good approach to journaling.

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Online Presentations

26 Aug 2014
I'm speaking at Open Source Bridge 2013

After all the fun I had this summer at the Open Source Bridge giving my talks on both Lisp/Clojure and Emacs, I figured that I would upload them to YouTube:

Just noticed that the audio to my talk, Literate Programming now has the audio online, however, without the Emacs demonstration of org-mode, I wonder how helpful it would be.

Eschewing Zshell for Emacs

6 Sep 2014

The Emacs Shell, or EShell, is a unique and quite powerful shell that allows you to write your supporting functions in Lisp. This article beyond my original introduction to explore it deeper.

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Scratch Tutorial

14 Aug 2014

Gave a tutorial on Scratch to 50 children at the OSCON Kids Day. Lot of fun, so I made a special online Scratch tutorial, where a kid could run my video in one browser window, and follow along in a second window running Scratch.

Squashing Git Commits for Gerrit

20 July 2014

Now that my company is starting to use Gerrit, I decided to resurrect some old essays on Git usage.

Good Git practice encourages developers to create a history of useful commits. This essay is a ‘recipe’ for squashing multiple… uh… less than helpful commits into a single commit using the Git’s interactive rebase command.

This is a good technique if you start to use the Gerrit Review system.

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Why Emacs?

17 Mar 2014

As a professional software engineer, I’m stunned that put up with an editor that insists that you bind your fingers to someone else’s accepted practice.

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Clustered Random Numbers for Art

9 Feb 2014

Using functional programming techniques and the standard functions from Underscore to generate random numbers that favor particular numbers. Useful for picking colors.

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Getting Started with Emacs

19 Jan 2014

Just learning? Well, this ancient editor can be modernized for someone without much memory already embedded in their fingertips.

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A/B Testing at jQuery Summit

6 Sep 2013
I'm speaking at the jQuery Conference 2013

The jQuery 2013 Summit published my A/B Testing Tutorial with jQuery presentation. Why yes, I did have a lot of fun with SP Studio.

New Design

For half the web sites I visit, I use either a tablet or w3m (in an Emacs window, of course), I’ve realized that I should make my own web more accessible and flexible.

You’re viewing the results.

Everything should be simple, open, and easy. Oh, and did I mention that I’m publishing directly from Emacs. Yeah, that is how old men do.

My original blog was originally written in Markdown. Once easy to write in, org-mode is much better. To convert or not convert them all? I’ve done these, but most of my original essays will continue to date themselves.