Archive for September, 2009

Emacs and Threading, Take 2

I’ve recanted. Contrary to my earlier post on this topic, I now think implementing threading in Emacs is possible. A patch from Giuseppe Scrivano inspired me, and I started my own patch to do it.

This was sort of fun. I wrote a batch script in elisp to rewrite some of the Emacs sources — yay semantic patching!

Thanks to Giuseppe, this is now hosted on Gitorious. We’re both working there, on different branches, merging code back and forth. I’ve mostly been working on variable bindings, and he’s very active, both with low-level changes and cool things getting Gnus to work in a separate thread.

If you’re interested in helping out, we discuss it on emacs-devel, but really we’d welcome any sort of contact.

Man on Wire

This movie came recommended by my friend Dave Bourgeois.

Awesome film! A documentary in the Errol Morris style; it managed to keep me in suspense until the end, even though I already knew how it ended.  Also, it had some extra emotional impact because the WTC played such a central role.

Emacs 23

Much to my surprise, the Fedora Emacs maintainers pushed Emacs 23 into the (ostensibly stable) Fedora 11 repository.  I was a bit afraid to upgrade, since Emacs really is the cornerstone of my entire workflow.  My desire for new features quickly overcame my fear, though.

The first thing you will notice is that Emacs is much prettier.  It now uses XFT to render, so you get antialiasing.  For normal work, I don’t really care much, but this is why I used CVS Emacs last year for presentations: it makes a huge difference in situations where prettiness matters.  Unfortunately this seems to have negatively affected redisplay performance.

Another major feature I have been loving is support for multiple terminals.  I use this in two ways.

I run my Emacs on my main machine, of course.  This is the centerpiece of my desktop: I use it for hacking, for mail and news, and for irc.  Previously, if I used my laptop, I couldn’t easily access all this state; but now I can ssh to my main machine, run emacsclient -t, and have access to everything.

I’ve also set EDITOR to emacsclient -t.  This means that when I run git commit in a shell, the commit message shows up in a new emacs frame on that terminal.  This is very convenient for “quickie” edits, because it means not having to switch my focus. (If I had to pick a single reason that Emacs improves my productivity, this would be it: it makes it very easy to keep one’s focus.)

Funnily, though, I don’t actually run git commit in a shell very often any more, because the new vc-dir mode is good enough that I can do some common git operations without leaving Emacs.  If you tried VC in earlier versions of Emacs, then you probably remember it as a horrible joke — it worked fine for RCS, but was miserable at anything else.  vc-dir is something like a generalized pcl-cvs, so you can work on a whole directory tree at once (and do so efficiently, unlike the old vc-dired).  vc-dir is still pretty new, and there are some necessary operations that aren’t exposed (git push), but it is still a very nice step forward.

This release is definitely worth upgrading to.

Wish List Item

I’ve been trying for a while to figure out how best to read blogs.

Right now I use three different methods — I use iGoogle for some things, plain old web browsing for some, and then gnus for one feed.  What a pain!  I’ve also tried other readers in the past — a couple web-based one, Azureus, maybe something else.

None of these are ideal for me.  I think what I would really like is to use Gnus for everything, except Gnus blocks annoyingly while fetching the feeds.  So, I could use nntp//rss.  But then I am setting up and configuring yet another program, setting it up to run when I log in, forgetting to copy its configuration to my laptop, etc.

I wish there were “gmane for rss” — a site that ran nttp//rss for me and let me subscribe to any old feed using my news reader.  Anybody know of one?

Wait!  I have other complaints too!  I’ll save those for later… I’m turning into the sort of person who wishes RSS were NNTP and that Common Lisp were popular again.  What is happening to me?!?


OliveYou may have noticed that I have not blogged for quite some time.  I’ve been otherwise engaged… Olive Emmanuelle Tromey was born May 1.  As you can see, she appears to have an outlook on life quite similar to Elyn’s and mine.

We’ve been posting oodles of photos of her on facebook, so if you’re wanting to see more, ask me for a URL or friend me there.