The Chronicle

of a ColdFusion Expatriate

The Right Tool for the Job

August 26, 2017

I’ve become somewhat more of an Emacs celebrity than I could have predicted. After giving that talk and spending a couple years blogging and tweeting about Emacs, people frequently ask for my opinion or advice regarding its use, how to learn it, or whether to learn it at all.

Today I want to share my long-form answer to a few related questions that I get asked pretty often. Those questions are, roughly:

  • Should I start using Evil Mode right away, or learn “pure” Emacs first?
  • Should I learn Vim before using Evil Mode?
  • Is Emacs the right editor for me if I am a: computer science student, professional programmer, astronaut, whatever?

The answer is: maybe.

Organizing Notes With Refile

March 19, 2017

As the first quarter of the year reaches its end, my department is deep into planning the work we will do in the second quarter. As you all know, I use Org Mode to sort out all of the details of my work life, including imminent tasks, meetings I need to schedule, and projects I want to work on.

For the last three months I’ve kept notes for all of the projects that my team could possibly put effort toward, as I thought of them. This resulted in a pretty haphazard list of rough ideas and specific tasks intermingled. I needed to get this into a clean, prioritized list… So I learned how to use Refile.

Let me teach you how to use it, too.

Don't Use Terminal Emacs

December 29, 2016

If you are a terminal guy as I am, or if you’re a terminal gal, you may be inclined to use Emacs in the terminal as well. A couple of my friends who took up Vim got used to running it within tmux and exchanged one terminal program for the other. This is wrong.

The GUI Emacs program is not just a crutch for the ignorant fools with their fingers all gnarled by mouse overuse; no, GUI Emacs is much more powerful, and there is almost no reason at all to run Emacs in a terminal. Ever.

Let me explain why.

Org Capture From Anywhere on Your Mac

November 24, 2016

I’m going to show you how you can create a “bookmarklet” button in your browser that will capture a note or link directly into Org Mode in your running Emacs. That’s right, you press a button in, say, Chrome, and Emacs pops up and displays your Org capture interface with the current webpage’s information in it.

Fair warning: this is a Mac-only post. What I will talk about is surely possible in Windows, but I have no idea how, so don’t ask. If you do know (or find out) feel free to use the comments section to share your knowledge with everyone else here.

How is this achieved? Through a little bit of magic called “Org Protocol.”

Creating Org Mode Structure Templates

November 23, 2016

Hopefully you already know that you can insert common markup blocks in Org Mode by entering a prefix like <s and pressing <M-TAB>. Org Mode publicly calls these “Easy Templates” but internally calls them “structure templates.” I wanted to be able to insert a couple of other common Org-specific blocks, so I figured out how to add my own.