June 16, 2005

Hipster PDA: Waste of paper?

June 16, 2005 - Categories: emacs

An insightful but anonymous person wrote in:

Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but even though the HipsterPDA is excellent for notetaking etc., it really is a waste of paper!

"My notes and to dos are NOT a waste" I hear you cry. But that's not what I'm referring to. I'm referring to using ONE index card for writing a phone number, or an address, or a task. When this information is then transferred to the necessary electronic or paper area, the card is thrown in the trash - what a waste!

I apologise to those of you who recycle your cards, but from the many articles, comments I've read re: HipsterPDA, most people just trash the card and that's it.

I'm not a great fan of the digital world, but this disrespect for paper (and ultimately the rainforests) is just not on.

Hmm. Good point. Index cards require more processing than cheap paper notebooks do. I like the feel of heavy paper, and index cards require more chemicals and raw material than paper notebooks do.

I use one index card for all my notes regarding a meeting (and sometimes two if I need to segregate topics or spill over). I throw the card away after I get the data into my Planner. I don't really use my index cards for keeping track of tasks, as most of my tasks so far have been computer-related. My deck of index cards is really more for jotting down notes, making quick sketches, or giving information to other people.

I feel the trade-off is justified. I work better with index cards. A pack of 100 or 500 index cards is a small price to pay if it helps me keep track of things I should do or little nuggets of information I should pass onto other people.

Even if you multiply that by all the billions of people in the world, as long as they use their index cards to help themselves keep track of things worth keeping track of, then I think that's a net win for the earth.

Conservation is important, but it is not enough to see the evil in little things. We make a lot of choices that cost the environment. Food. Clothes. Housing and furniture. Should we stop eating because cooking by gas or electricity uses a lot of energy from non-renewable sources and the amount of waste going on in fast food places and restaurants is staggering? Should we stop patronizing bookstores because the vast majority of books don't get read and reused? Should we take our fingers off our keyboards now in protest against the way computers contribute to environmental problems? Should we take direct steps to end the world's population problem? We make choices.

In this case, I think my pack of index cards is certainly worth it. I respect paper, which is why I write down things that are worth writing down. I respect trees. I really, really like trees, and wish we had more in the city.

After I fill up the card and store it somewhere, I won't be able to use it a lot. I could write on my cards with a pencil and erase my writing until the card falls apart, but my time and the earth's time isn't worth that.

It's good to look for ways to save the environment. Reduce, reuse and recycle. However, don't lose sight of the forest for the trees. Little things matter, but if they help you do better things, then maybe it's worth it. You just need to make sure that what you're doing is worth the cost.

It's one more thing to add to the pile of recyclable material (not that garbage is really segregated in this country), one more problem contributing to the death of the earth, but it's something I choose to use. Not that this is going to convince hard-core environmentalists that I'm not a selfish, evil person, but at least I know and take responsibility for my choice.

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Emacs snippet for pmwiki attachments

June 16, 2005 - Categories: emacs
(defun sacha/dired-marked-images-as-attach ()
  "Return a list of images ready to be inserted into a pmwiki page."
  (kill-new (mapconcat
             (lambda (item)
               (concat "Attach:" (file-name-nondirectory item)))

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