How I use Emacs
I used to use PlannerMode a lot. Then I switched my blog to Wordpress (http://sachachua.com) and started using Emacs Org + Toodledo for my task management. Now I use org2blog to post some entries from my Giant Org File of Awesomeness.
I used to use Gnus, the built-in mail/newsreader that slices, dices and juliennes - not as easy to integrate into a Windows-based workflow, though. When I used it, I had basic splitting set up to file my mail into separate groups neatly organized in a hierarchical tree that allows me to see at a glance how much mailing list messages I’ve received. I used “c” to catch-up groups or even whole subtrees, mark threads as read or even uninteresting. Adaptive scoring meant that I don’t have to manually specify my reading preferences - gnus learned what I don’t like to read, so that I don’t have to read related messages next time unless I really want to. I’d set it to score down all messages from hotmail or aol unless I like the author. ;) I elided mailing list identifiers so I don’t see those [….] things, banners like the ads at the end of yahoogroups, really long signatures or To: headers. Gnus is definitely a mail/newsreader for the netiquette-sensitive. :-)
BbdbMode integrated well with Gnus, so I could easily bring up or create contact records for the people I receive mail from. I had Gnus automatically add notes for the people I know, and it’s interesting to see what mailing lists people are subscribed to. I could add notes, check phone numbers, and even see when someone wrote me last. (Time to write a “Haven’t heard from you in a while!” note…)
Mail is a somewhat dangerous thing to experiment with, of course. :-) I had lost some outgoing mail due to masqmail silently failing if you specify the -f flag (evil!), but some debugging later turned up a message-sendmail-f-is-evil variable I could set to t. I have since then moved to postfix so that I could use + as an address separator, so I haven’t needed that.
(outdated - I no longer send text messages from my computer. I’m in Canada now, and text messages are expensive!)
Ah, yes, text messaging. SMS is pretty big here in the Philippines. I am a lazy computer geek who would rather type than fish out my cellphone and start texting. Besides, I kinda like having all of my text messages stored on my laptop - search, store, reply, and even see threaded displays. :-) I used to use gnokii, alamin, postfix, bbdb and gnus in order to have practically seamless SMS sending. :-) Here’s how it works. I’ve set up alamin (a GSM-SMS gateway that can talk to a gnokii-supported phone) to poll my cellphone for incoming text messages and convert any such to e-mail messages from alamin+<SOMENUMBER>@localhost to sacha@localhost. I receive those messages in Gnus in my mail.text group, and BBDB steps in to fill in the name from my contact database thanks to (gnus-summary-line-format “%U%-40,40uB %S\n”), (bbdb/gnus-summary-prefer-bbdb-data t) and (bbdb/gnus-summary-prefer-real-names ‘bbdb) in the group parameters. My reply is processed by postfix and piped through email2sms, a short Perl script I wrote that just invokes alamin’s client program. Alamin queues the message and tries to resend it at regular intervals until it is finally sent. No more dealing with “Message failed.” or lack of signal, and I get a full record of all of my text messages, and I can text while in class.. ;) Unfortunately, I don’t have a serial port any more, and my phone is not Linux-friendly. Can’t pull off this neat hack these days.
I keep my notes in plain text files. I find that typing on my laptop encourages me to keep more complete notes because I can type faster than I handwrite (and it’s much less tiring!). OrgMode makes it easy to keep my notes in outline mode.
ERC! EmacsIRCClient forever. Well, not really forever, but I’ve tried quite a few Internet relay chat clients and I must say that ERC is really cool. erc-track lets me keep track of channels that have changed even though I’ve got my notes maximized, and since it’s part of my editor I can easily cut/paste/navigate/tweak/do-funky-stuff. I hang out on Freenode #emacs, and it’s tons of fun.
We’ve been working on tidying up the house: getting rid of stuff we aren’t using, organizing the things we have. This is why I’m conscious of having a small cabinet full of stationery and various containers full of pens. Knowing what you have makes it easier to not want more. I did order a bunch […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Pens are not the limiting factor for writing (Sacha Chua's blog)
It’s easy to look at a book instead of reading it. I’ve been there too: reading a textbook chapter without retaining enough information for an exam, reading self-improvement books without slowing down enough to think critically about the advice and plan how I’m going to use it. Fortunately, I remembered one of the acronyms that […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Read more effectively by asking yourself questions while you read (Sacha Chua's blog)
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I found myself needing to download a whole bunch of JSON data from a server that had a weird authentication thing that Chrome could deal with but wget/curl/Ruby couldn’t. Since my Firefox was on the fritz, I couldn’t use Selenium IDE or the Selenium Webdriver. iMacros to the rescue! (Chrome, Firefox) That plus lots of […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Automating bulk web stuff with iMacros (Sacha Chua's blog)
It was a busy month getting ready for the trip. =) Lots of drawing, though! Blog posts Learning Mapping what I’m learning Experience report/invitation: Pick my brain through Google Helpouts Thinking about how to get better at asking questions Finding the right balance between thinking, learning, doing, and reviewing How I review my notes Drawing […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Monthly review: November 2013 (Sacha Chua's blog)
I had a ton of fun hanging out with my friends. =) Blog posts Weekly review: Week ending December 6, 2013 Decision review: Clipboard managers, and why you should get one Make the most of a day of lectures Check out these getting started guides – suggest more! Doodle Thursday: Going through BrainDoodles’ lessons On […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Weekly review: Week ending December 13, 2013 (Sacha Chua's blog)
I’ve been thinking about how I relate to people: what I enjoy, and what I’m probably going to move away from. I had started feeling guilty about being out of touch with some people, but I also realized that it might be a good idea to move on, and that some connections were easier and […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: On introversion and friendships (Sacha Chua's blog)
Jason John Wells told me about braindoodles.net in a comment on my Google Helpouts update (it’s funny how these interests cross), so I checked it out. It’s a site with basic sketchnoting tutorials geared towards high school students, but apparently it gets the five-year-old kid seal of approval too. And this thirty-year-old! =) Here’s what […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Doodle Thursday: Going through BrainDoodles’ lessons (Sacha Chua's blog)
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I’ve been making little one-page guides to help people learn about topics. It turns out they’re fun to make. =) Click on the images for larger versions. Feel free to print out/share! How can you get started with visual note-taking? Getting started with mind-mapping Getting started with bulk cooking Getting started with Ledger There’s this […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Check out these getting started guides – suggest more! (Sacha Chua's blog)
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Intense learning can be exhausting. Here are some tips to manage your energy and make the most of a long day of lectures. Click on the images for larger versions! Energy is the first part of the equation. If you’re not alert, you’ll have a harder time understanding and remembering important topics. Full disclaimer: In […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Make the most of a day of lectures (Sacha Chua's blog)
I’d gotten spoiled by the way that Emacs can stash multiple clipboard items in its “kill ring” (kill being its idiosyncratic word for “cut”), so when I found myself juggling lots of text in the process of posting social media updates and publishing sketchnotes live during a fast-paced conference, I looked for a clipboard manager […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Decision review: Clipboard managers, and why you should get one (Sacha Chua's blog)
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Between jet lag and family, I haven’t had much time to draw or write these days. Things will settle down eventually. =) Blog posts Weekly review: Week ending November 29, 2013 Quick show update: Learning Together #01, Helpers Help Out #02 Setting up virtual machines with Vagrant Rock those meeting minutes Think about your delta: […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Weekly review: Week ending December 6, 2013 (Sacha Chua's blog)
I minimize the number of decisions I care about. What I’m going to do with my life? Big decision worth spending time on. Is something worth it? I can spend hours analyzing the trade-offs. What do I want to eat? I don’t particularly care. I’m trying to avoid decision fatigue. Decisions take up time and […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Making decisions that don’t matter that much to me (Sacha Chua's blog)
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I’ve been drawing my thoughts for years, on and off. I found some sketchbooks with old mindmaps and explorations. Still, writing was the main way I thought through things, and I made good progress in learning how to outline so that I could think about progressively larger topics. In September, I re-started the habit of […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Update: Developing thoughts further (Sacha Chua's blog)
What kind of difference do you want to make? How can you make an even bigger difference? I can’t remember where I picked up this idea—a book? a podcast?—but lately I’ve been thinking about my delta (D or d). In math and science, delta represents change. What kind of difference do I want to make […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Think about your delta: increasing the difference you want to make (Sacha Chua's blog)
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It boggles me when people don’t take minutes during a meeting. How do people make sure that all the important decisions and actions are captured? When people run from meeting to meeting or get buried in e-mail and calendar entries, it’s so easy to let things fall through the cracks. In my consulting engagement, I’m […]
Read the original or check out the comments on: Rock those meeting minutes (Sacha Chua's blog)