The Chronicle

of a ColdFusion Expatriate

Getting Started With Emacs Lisp

August 07, 2016

As you certainly know by now, I was an outspoken and enthusiastic Vim user for about 15 years. During that time, I tried Emacs a couple of times, but it didn’t really stick until last year. One of the reasons Emacs makes me so happy is its Lisp-based extension language (Emacs Lisp, or just Elisp for short).

I do not have a formal background in computer science, so I never had the experience of being forced to do exercises in Scheme or Lisp; Elisp is the first (and only) Lisp I’ve ever learned. For that reason, I’m sure I went about it all wrong, but I think I know it pretty well now and I want to share with you some of the tricks and concepts I’ve learned so you can hopefully have an easier time than I did.

Introductory Lisp articles abound, so I will try to focus on the Emacs features and functions that make Elisp development unique.

What Is Good Software?

August 06, 2016

I’m an opinionated software engineer. I have strongly held beliefs about what makes a program good or bad (as I imagine most programmers do) but as a Vim user for 15 years who changed camps to Emacs, I’m on the front lines of a turf war that shows no signs of calming.

I believe strongly that “good software” is that which is fit for its intended purpose, and that has both benevolent maintainership and a strong community. Because there is nuance of interpretation in these words, I decided to write more.

Fair warning: this post is long.

Org Navigation Revisited

July 31, 2016

In my previous post, Playing Tag in Org Mode, I talked about leveraging Org Mode’s powerful tag system to help you find the notes or references you’re looking for.

Since then, I’ve refined my use of tags and begun making better use of Org Mode’s custom ID abilities. In this post, I’ll share the new navigation code I’ve written and show you how you can use custom IDs to link or jump directly to a specific item in your notes.

Also, as a special treat, I will debut my latest Emacs package, Tiny Menu (available right now on MELPA).

Escaping the Tar Pit

April 07, 2016

If you don’t know by now, I’m sort of a personal efficiency maven. I don’t like to waste keystrokes, I’m always experimenting with different key bindings and shortcuts, and I feel almost personally offended when I see someone reach for their mouse to click a button that I know has a keyboard equivalent.

But this isn’t about my pet peeves; this is about tuning yourself in to the improvements you can make on a daily basis that will increase your lifetime efficiency dramatically.

I had the opportunity to give a “lightning talk” at the Boston PHP meetup, so I spoke on this topic. It went OK, so I gave it again at Wayfair and I let them record it. The recording quality is not the best, but I think the point comes across just fine.

The talk is called “Escaping the Tar Pit: Principles of Continuous Improvement.” Video and full slides after the break.

Playing Tag in Org Mode

March 05, 2016

Once you have achieved Org Mode Nirvana (hopefully with the help of my previous post, Dig into Org Mode) and you have over 2,500 lines of Org notes and TODO lists as I do (I’m serious; see the screenshot below), you’ll want to seriously up your agenda game so that you can find stuff quickly.

One way to collate related information across Org files is by using tags. I’m not a tagging expert, but I’ll tell you what I know.