Quoting with Org Moke

Grant Rettke, whom Irreal has mentioned from time to time, has a nice screencast on how he adds quotes to an Org document. Like many of us, Rettke takes notes on material he is watching or reading with Org mode. Sometimes he wants to add a verbatim snippet into his Org notes.

In the screencast, he shows three ways of adding these “quotes” to his notes and what the result looks when he exports the notes to, say, HTML. There's a little less than seven minutes of content so it's easy to find time to watch it.

I love videos like this because I always learn something from seeing how others use their tools—especially Emacs and Org mode—to lubricate their workflow. Even if you already know about the features that a particular video demonstrates, seeing how others use them can give you new ideas. I know that's most often the case for me. In any event, Rettke's video is interesting and well worth watching. It's also nicely produced. Give it a look and see.

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High Entropy

And I'm pretty sure there would be no NSA backdoor.

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Not an Editor, Not an Operating System...

This is where its power really comes from.

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Metadata and Privacy

By now, I hope, no Irreal reader believes the “it's just metadata” mantra from the nosey Parkers intent on snooping into every aspect of our lives. A recent study from Stanford quantifies the privacy-stripping power of metadata (you can read the study itself at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website).

The study shows that with a very small set of telephone metadata it is possible to identify the participants from publicly available records. The researchers also demonstrate that they could accurately infer when a subject was in a relationship and then (trivially) identify who the other person in the relationship was.

They were also able to correctly infer that one of the participants had a specific heart disease and that another owned a semiautomatic rifle. Read the report to see the wide range of sensitive data that can be teased from metadata.

Actually, all you need to know about metadata is what former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden famously said about it: “We kill people based on metadata.” Remember that the next time you hear your Aunt Millie or one of the nannies say, “It's just metadata.”

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Something Wrong

At least they know who we've been calling.

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The Truth About Open Offices Revealed


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Count Days Between Dates

Álvaro Ramírez points out that Emacs has the built-in capability to calculate the number of days between two dates. It's easy to do; the tl;dr is:

M-x calendar
<mark the region between the two dates (inclusive)>
M-= (or M-x calendar-count-days-region)

Ramírez has some animated screen shots that show how it works and also a shortcut for going to the endpoints of the date range.

It's a nice trick and it's all already there. Read the post and try it out.

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Schrödinger's Backup

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What's Emacs

This is exactly how I think of Emacs

It's almost a cliché but Emacs really is much more than an editor. It's the way I organize my workflow.

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Sabotaging Your Competitors

Charlie Stross was browsing through an old, recently declassified OSS manual on sabotaging the enemy's production and started wondering about how you could apply the same principles to sabotage your competitors by injecting bad policies into their environment. He lists 10 policies that, if adopted, would tend to destroy an organization.

First on the list is Irreal's longtime favorite policy for destroying morale and productivity: open plan offices. The others would be equally effective at causing mayhem in your competitors' offices. Be sure to read the list.

Then read the comments. Warning: there are a lot of them—155 at the time of this writing. The comments are in response to Stross' solicitation of further ideas. The result is a catalog of all the dysfunctional ideas that “management consultants” and other criminals have foisted off on our work places. You'll probably start off laughing but by the end you'll be shaking your head with tears in your eyes.

Most of these ideas are so ridiculous that your first thought is that no one would implement them. Then you'll remember about open plan offices. Or, if you're really unlucky, you'll remember that awful company you used to work for—or maybe still work for—that does have policies like these. One of the most telling comments notes that the commenter no longer considers Dilbert funny because it just documents what is happening in many companies.

It's an enjoyable post made all the more so if you have time to browse through the comments.

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