Emacs 26 Pretest #2

Nicolas Petton has announced that Emacs pretest 26.0.91 is out and available for testing. It’s the second pretest for the upcoming Emacs 26.1. If you don’t mind living on the edge a little, give it a try and help out with the testing.

As always, thanks to Nicolas, Eli, John, and all the others who have worked so hard to bring us Emacs 26.

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Twenty Bash Tricks

Most, if not all, developers make heavy use of a shell even if, like me, they run those shells from within Emacs or some other editor. There are lots of shells, of course, but the default these days is almost certainly bash. Ian Miell has two nice posts that explain some of the finer points of bash use.

Even as a long-term bash user, I learned a few things I didn’t know. For example, did you know that bash supports associative arrays? It does and Miell tells you how to use them. There’s lots more so be sure to give the two posts a read.

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For those of you who are active on reddit, Matthew Carter has written redditor-mode. It allows you to browse reddit from the comfort of Emacs. That’s one more task that can be moved into Emacs. It’s not yet in Melpa but has been submitted so we can expect to see it there soon.

All my visits to reddit are from links to individual postings so I haven’t tried this package but it looks very nice. If in the future I start browsing reddit directly, I’ll certainly give this package a try.

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The New Luddites on iPhone Addiction

Farhad Manjoo writing for the New York Times has a particularly silly article on “Tech addiction” and how it’s up to Apple to fix it. The Apple part is the usual Tech Press anti-Apple nonsense. Given that Apple has a relatively small share of the smart phone market, it’s hard to see why Apple—and only Apple—should be responsible for fixing it. The Macalope does his usual fine job of mocking and demolishing Manjoo’s article but I’m not interested in the Apple aspect so much as the whole idea of “tech addiction.”

The notion of tech addiction is popular among the new Luddites and we keep seeing articles about its horrors and how it’s leading to the imminent demise of our children’s mental health. As even Manjoo admits, tech addiction isn’t a real addiction like drugs or alcohol can be. So what is it? Is it even a real thing? John Gruber doesn’t think so and neither do I.

The new Luddites like to point to psychology studies that have examined the putative problem but these studies are from a field that has a reproducibility rate of less than 50%. That’s less accurate than flipping a coin. Why should we credit anything they say? It always ends up that they find that kids would rather interact with their friends on their smart phones than listen to adults talk about things they don’t care about. Do we really need psychologists to tell us that?

If you think you have a problem with using your smart phone too much, delete your Facebook and Twitter accounts. They’re only exploiting you anyway. If that doesn’t work, get rid of your smart phone or seek help. It’s not up to Apple or any other company to solve the problem for you.

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New Org Mode Repository

As part of Org Mode’s migration to a new server, its ELPA repository has also moved. It used to be part of the GNU ELPA repository but is no longer housed there. Instead, Org now has its own repository. If you like to upgrade Org with the package system, you should add the new repository to your init.el.

To do that, simply add

(add-to-list 'package-archives '("org" . "https://orgmode.org/elpa/") t)

to your init.el.

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Scale All Emacs Windows for Presentations

If you use Emacs in or for your presentations, here’s a nice tip from Robin Green on how to scale all the windows up for better presentation:

You’ll have to load Drew Adams’ zoom-frm.el but if you give a lot of presentations where Emacs and its buffers play a significant role, you may find it worthwhile and helpful.

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Org Mode Cookbook Revisited

Way back in 2014, I posted about Eric Neilsen’s excellent Emacs org-mode examples and cookbook. I recently came across a reference to it and was reminded what a great resource it is. It’s easy to browse through and just read one or two entries when you have time. In skimming through it, I learned—or perhaps relearned—how to insert in-line calculations in a document.

As I wrote in the original post, Neilsen is a researcher and his cookbook is oriented at using Org mode to produce documents of various types. Still, that covers a lot of territory and there are many good examples of powerful Org mode use cases in it. The Document has moved or, really, taken up a second residence. It was originally hosted at Fermilab, where Neilsen works, and it’s still there but it’s also available at his own site. The two documents are identical so it doesn’t matter if you use the new link or the original one pointing to FNAL.

If you’re an Org user, especially if you use Org to produce documents, you should take a look at Neilsen’s cookbook and bookmark it for future use.

Update [2018-01-16 Tue 16:18]: Revistited → Revisited

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When Emacs Users Lend Their Computer

This is amusing and most developers—Emacs users or not—have probably experienced something similar. I find, though, that it’s the opposite that happens more often. I’ll be using a layperson’s computer and press Caps Lock expecting Ctrl. The expected hilarity ensues.

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Things Seen That Can't Be Unseen

Whatever your opinion on the relative merits of the original Star Trek versus Star Trek TNG, there’s no debating that Jean-Luc Picard was one of the franchise’s iconic characters. The following image is therefore deeply disturbing:

Via Karl Voit.

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The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article of one of the last extant pencil factories in the United States. The article includes a photo essay on on how pencils are made. Although the manufacturing involves many machines, it’s still amazingly low tech depending on workers to do much of the process by hand.

Pencils are one of those items that, although ubiquitous, we never think about. Every now and then we buy a box or get one from work. Most people use a pencil several times a day and would probably be lost without one (or a substitute such as a pen). It’s worth clicking through if only to look at the pictures. They’re amazing.

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