Pandoc 2

There’s a new Pandoc available that has a ton of new features and improvements. You can see the (substantial) list of new features in the Pandoc 2.0 release notes. There’s also a Pandoc 2.0.1 release with a few bug fixes and cleanups.

There are many improvements in the processing of Org files—both reading and writing. If you’re writing in Org you can use ox-pandoc to publish your document in a large number of formats right from Emacs. Even if ox-pandoc doesn’t support your desired format, you can still call Pandoc directly to output in any of the Pandoc supported formats.

Follow the Pandoc 2.0.1 link to get the the latest binary for your platform. If you have Haskell installed and want to build it yourself, there’s also source code available.

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Autocomplete Boilerplate

If you haven’t already, be sure to take a look at Bin Chen’s EACL package. The idea is that if you have some boilerplate in a project, you can type the first few characters and EACL will grep the project looking for matches. It presents the candidates in the usual Ivy way and will insert the candidate of your choice.

The project is available on Melpa. You can see an automated gif of it in action at Chen’s post or the project’s GitHub page.

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A New Generation of TOR Onion Services

The TOR project has announced a new generation of Onion services. The project has been ongoing for four years and just released its alpha version. See here for the changes and how to try out the new system.

The new version is intended to improve the security of onion services. It features new crypto algorithms and a new protocol. These changes are intended to prevent data leakage and reduce the attack surface.

The project is looking for coders and testers so if you want to be part of this, follow the link to find out how you can help. If you’re not a coder but still want to help, they also welcome donations.

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Bloat? What Bloat?

Via Karl Voit:

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Emacs in the Humanities

I stumbled across a link to this post in the Emacs reddit and ignored it but curiosity go the better of me so I went back to it. Like most Irreal readers (I assume) the label nerd or geek can appropriately be applied to me so the question, “Is anybody using emacs in the humanities or divinity?” wouldn’t normally interest me. Except for the Emacs part.

In any event, I did follow the link and found a pretty interesting discussion from folks in the humanities on how they are using Emacs—and often AUCTeX and Org mode—for their work and writing. It’s a tribute to the power and usefulness of Emacs that people so far removed from the technical world that most of us live in nevertheless find it useful and worth the pain of learning it.

These folks deserve our admiration not only for taking the trouble to learn Emacs but also for enduring the friction it adds to their everyday work. Remember that Word stands supreme in the humanities and if you’re using Emacs you have to worry about converting your work to a form that your colleagues can read and work with. As for writing \LaTeX with Word: shudder.

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Association List Library

Back in August, I wrote about a series of libraries for handling hash tables and key/value pairs, and a general library for handling hash tables, alists, and arrays. A little later I came across another library for handling alists by Troy Pracy but forgot to write about it until now.

You might think that there’s not much required for alists other than assoc and assq but Pracy provides a large number of functions that make some of the routine coding associated (heh) with alists a bit easier. The list includes creating, filtering, and mapping functions. Take a look at the README for the complete list and documentation on each.

If you prefer to use libraries for handling data structures and none of the other libraries we’ve discussed meets your needs, perhaps you’ll find Pracy’s useful.

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Emphasize LaTeX Code in an Org Buffer

A couple of months ago, Ben Maughan over at Pragmatic Emacs posted a tip that I pretty much ignored at the time but have since come to embrace. The tip is simple: it’s how to make \LaTeX markup stand out a bit more in an Org buffer. It doesn’t seem like much but it turns out to be nice for quickly spotting \LaTeX markup in an Org file.

As usual, the facility is more flexible than just dealing with \LaTeX. You can highlight any of \LaTeX markup, super- and subscripts, or entities. It’s just a variable taking a list of what you want to highlight so it’s easy to experiment with it and just turn it off (by setting it to nil) if you decide you don’t like it.

Right now, I have it set to highlight \LaTeX and entities. Highlighting entities makes it easy to pick out UTF-8 characters, which is sometimes useful. In the future, I’ll have to remember not to ignore tips from Maughan.

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PDF-Tools: Setup and Annotation

I installed PDF-tools a few months ago and really like it. Their site has warnings about using it with macOS but the installation on a Mac is easy and it works perfectly. Recently, I have seen two posts that address PDF-tools. The first, by Ben Maughan over at Pragmatic Emacs, discusses setting it up on the Mac and a couple of tricks for making annotations to a PDF. If you’re an Ivy user, pay particular attention to his advice about mapping Ctrl+s back to isearch-forward when in pdf-view-mode because Swiper doesn’t work with PDFs.

Whereas Maughan’s post gives some hints for adding annotations to a PDF, Marcin Borkowski over at talks about ways to review and follow annotations already in a PDF. As Borkowski points out, that’s perfect for blending in changes to a paper from an editor or a reviewer but also useful anytime you’re working with collaborators and using PDFs as your lingua franca.

If you work with PDFs and are an Emacs user, you definitely should check out these two posts. They’re full of good ideas and are sure to improve your workflow.

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Good News for Mu4e Users

DJCB (Dirk-Jan C. Binnema) has announced the release of mu/mu4e version 1.0-alpha0. The NEWS file hasn’t been updated yet so it’s hard to tell what’s changed except by looking at the commit log.

I really, really love mu4e for handling my email so I’m eagerly looking forward to the final release of Version 1.0. The current release is still at the Alpha stage so it’ early days yet but the new version is now in sight.

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Howard Abrams on Eshell

Howard Abrams has another excellent video up. This one, given to The London Emacs User’s Group, is on eshell. Like me, Abrams has moved as much shell work as possible into eshell. Unlike me, he’s learned how to take maximum advantage of it. One example of that is learning to make effective use of the Zshell-like glob filters that are built in to eshell. Every time I see them used, I think to myself that I really need to start using them myself but I never followup. Perhaps this video will provide me with a tipping point.

About half the video is a demonstration of eshell’s capabilities and some of the ways it differs from a “regular” Unix shell such as Bash or Zshell. One of the major differences is that eshell effectively has two command parsers. One parses “normal” shell input and the other parses lisp. Interestingly, you can combine the two syntaxes in one input string in useful ways. This part of the video is really interesting and if you’re new to eshell, it’s probably the most important part. Watching it a couple of times will help jump start your eshell use and mastery. Abrams has provided a complete transcript of the talk (including the output of the commands he demonstrates) so you don’t have to worry about copying them down from the video.

The second half of the video considers ways of hacking on and extending eshell. He shows how to do things like writing your own glob filters and leveraging the way pipes are implemented in eshell. This part is a bit more advanced but necessary if you really want to master eshell.

The video is 42 minutes so you’ll have to schedule some time. My only complaint is that the international connection made it difficult to hear to audience’s questions at the end but it’s otherwise a great video and very much worth your time.

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